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New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

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

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

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

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Monday
Jun082015

The Commentariat -- June 9, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has cleared the way for most of a restrictive Texas abortion law -- that among other things requires clinics to meet hospital-like standards and providers to attain special credentials with local hospitals -- to go into effect. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, all but seven of the clinics in the state stand risk of closing." Includes copy of decision.

Nick Gass of Politico: "Unmarried Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says that if he becomes president, he will have a 'rotating first lady.'” CW: I think I'll vote for Lindsey just so I can watch a first lady rotate. As well as being an experienced first lady, Michelle Obama is a very good dancer & athletic gymnast. Lindsey should pick her.

Nick Gass: "Just one Iowan showed up at [Rick Santorum's] 2 p.m. campaign stop Monday at a restaurant in the unincorporated community of Hamlin, population 300, according to a report from The Des Moines Register -- Peggy Toft, an insurance agent who chairs the county's Republican Party.... Eventually, there were four Iowans gathered at Santorum's table.... Santorum told the Register that the low turnout was not surprising, but that it is all a part of the plan."

Samantha Marcus of NJ.com: "The [New Jersey] state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Gov. Chris Christie can slash billions of dollars in contributions from New Jersey's troubled public employee pension system. The court's ruling caps an intense fight for pension funding and deals a major blow to the state's labor unions, who challenged Christie's spending cuts. Christie had sought to dismantle the pension law, which he argued was unconstitutional. Judges split 5-2 reversing the lower court's ruling that ordered Christie had broken his own landmark pension law and had to work with the Legislature to comply with it."

Jessica Wohl of the Chicago Tribune: "McDonald's tapped two outsiders for key brand roles on Tuesday, the latest signal from the world's largest restaurant company that it wants to ignite change in the organization. Robert Gibbs, former press secretary for President Barack Obama, was named global chief communications officer. Silvia Lagnado, a past chief marketing officer for Bacardi Limited, was named global chief marketing officer, a position that was vacant for five years."

*****

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Days before the Supreme Court hands down a ruling that could drastically undermine the Affordable Care Act, President Obama will deliver a speech on Tuesday extolling his health care law as a moral and practical victory that was decades in the making." CW: The speech is at 11:50 am ET. I'll try to embed it here, but if I can't be here -- a possibility -- go to WhiteHouse.gov/live . ...

     ... UPDATE: You can view President Obama's remarks here. The President begins speaking 2:30 min. in.

Kate Connolly of the Guardian: "The G7 leading industrial nations have agreed to cut greenhouse gases by phasing out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has announced, in a move hailed as historic by some environmental campaigners." ...

... Kate Connolly: "Barack Obama has used the close of the G7 summit in Germany to deliver his strongest criticism yet of Vladimir Putin, lambasting the Russian president's isolationist approach as the seven leaders signalled their readiness to tighten sanctions against Russia if the conflict in Ukraine escalates.... World leaders, including the summit's host, ">Angela Merkel, presented a united front against Putin": ...

... Julie Davis & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama said on Monday that he has asked the Pentagon for a plan to accelerate the American military's efforts to train and equip Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State, acknowledging that the militant group's recent gains indicated a need for a shift in strategy.... Earlier Monday, Mr. Obama met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq, where he reaffirmed the world powers' commitment to supporting Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State, which has made major gains in recent weeks." (Also linked early yesterday afternoon ET.)

** Walter Pincus of the Washington Post: "What better way to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Edward Snowden's first leak about the National Security Agency's operations than to have the latest story from his cache of stolen government documents create another misleading public understanding of an NSA program, this one aimed at catching foreign hackers. As with the initial Snowden-generated story about the NSA's collection and storage of American telephone metadata (every call, date, time and duration) the newest story does not report any violation of law or misuse of the data that the NSA collected -- only the implication that the program could be abused." Read the whole column.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "In an important separation-of-powers decision, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel. The vote was 6 to 3, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for five [other] justices, said the question of the status of Jerusalem is 'a delicate subject.' But he said the Constitution conferred exclusive authority on the president to recognize foreign governments." (Also linked early yesterday afternoon ET.) ...

... Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: The Supreme Court "resolved a sensitive modern question and decided one of the most enduring -- and, until Monday, unanswered -- questions about the meaning of the Constitution.... The ruling in Zivotofsky v. Kerry obviously was a difficult one for the Court: argued in early November, the case took more than seven months to prepare, emerging Monday in five separate opinions in a six-to-three split."

Lyle Denniston: "Raising significant new questions about how much protection the Constitution's Second Amendment actually gives to gun owners, the Supreme Court on Monday left intact a local ordinance that restricts access to guns even within one's own home. The denial of review drew a fervent dissent from two Justices [Scalia & Thomas], who argued that the Court is narrowing the amendment's 'right to keep and bear arms.'"

Paul Waldman: "Here, courtesy of GOP Senator John Thune, is the tweet of the day, and probably the month:

Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

"As this blog predicted. No snark I could come up with would add anything to the rampaging stupidity on display here." ...

... Angela Keane & Justin Sink of Bloomberg: President "Obama said [in response to a question at his G-7 summit press conference that] he has confidence the court, which has upheld other portions of the law, will again rule in favor of keeping the program intact.... 'I'm optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight when it comes to the interpretation,' he said. 'If it didn't, Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision.' That won't happen, said John Barrasso of Wyoming, the fourth-ranking Republican in the Senate. 'Instead of bullying the Supreme Court, the president should spend his time preparing for the reality that the court may soon rule against his decision to illegally issue tax penalties and subsidies on Americans in two-thirds of the country,' he said in a statement. 'Congress will not pass a so-called "one-sentence" fake fix.'" ...

     ... digby: "It wouldn't be a fake fix at all, of course. Whatever sabotage the Republicans come up with would be the 'fake fix.' If the Supremes reject the administration's argument they are basically giving the GOP a cudgel with which to destroy sick people's lives. And they know it." ...

... Now the Wayback Machine Takes Us to Oral Arguments in King v. Burwell: Justice Antonin Scalia to Solicitor General Donald Verrelli: "I don't care what Congress you're talking about. If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and whatnot, yes, I think this Congress would act." Via Charles Gaba....

... Daniel Marans of the Huffington Post: "On Monday, President Barack Obama said the Supreme Court should not have taken up the challenge to the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell. 'This should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably should not even have been taken up,' Obama said during a press conference at the G-7 summit in Germany.... The president called the legal challenge 'bizarre' in light of the law's successful implementation.... When asked whether the administration had a 'plan B,' in the event that the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in states that do not run their own health insurance exchanges, Obama said there are no easy solutions." ...

... Susan Cornwell & Caroline Humer of Reuters: "U.S. Republicans face a potential political backlash from voters if the Supreme Court rules soon against President Barack Obama's healthcare law, and are split over what to do about it, with some calling on the Obama administration for help. But the White House, perhaps sensing a chance to blame Republicans for trouble, is showing no outward signs of crafting a contingency plan in case of an adverse outcome in King v. Burwell, expected to be ruled on by the end of this month." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "It may be easier than expected for states to save their ObamaCare subsidies, if the Supreme Court rules against the law this month. Two states -- Pennsylvania and Delaware -- said this week they would launch their own exchanges, if needed, to keep millions of healthcare dollars flowing after the decision. Both want to use existing pieces of the federal health insurance exchange, like its website and call center -- a path that would be far less costly than the way most other states have created their exchanges. If those plans win approval, many of the other 36 states that stand to lose their subsidies could then pursue a similarly simple strategy." (Emphasis added.) CW: As soon as King v. Burwell made the news, this is exactly what I said progressive states would/could do. States led by Republicans? Many would require a public outcry to get off the dime. ...

... Sarah Kliff of Vox: "The GOP has 5 plans to fix Obamacare if the Supreme Court blows it up. They're all a mess." ...

... Jonathan Chait sums up the problems the GOP faces if they "win" King v. Burwell. ...

... CW: Here's a related problem: Burgess Everett of Politico finds plenty of indicators that the Senate is returning to a state of gridlock.

** Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "Fifty hospitals in the United States are charging uninsured consumers more than 10 times the actual cost of patient care, according to research published Monday. All but one of the these facilities is owned by for-profit entities, and by far the largest number of hospitals -- 20 -- are in Florida. For the most part, researchers said, the hospitals with the highest markups are not in pricey neighborhoods or big cities, where the market might explain the higher prices.... Community Health Systems operates 25 of the hospitals on the list; Hospital Corp. of America operates another 14.... By comparison, the researchers said, a typical U.S. hospital charges 3.4 times the cost of patient care." (Emphasis added.) ...

... CW: Guess what greedy, wicked bastard used to be CEO of Hospital Corp of America before the board of greedy, wicked directors kicked him out just prior to settling the largest fraud case in U.S. history? Thanks again, Florida, for twice putting this steaming pile in the governor's mansion.

Sarah Larimar & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: Dennis "Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in the history of the House, is expected to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon, emerging in public for the first time since the indictment was announced."

Dennis Hastert goes to court today. ...

... ** Todd Purdum in Politico: "A reassessment of Hastert's leadership began in earnest following his indictment two weeks ago. In hindsight, it now seems clear his avuncular persona ... served to deter broader scrutiny of congressional misdeeds, including an Illinois land deal of his own that netted him millions."

We turn now from reminders of scumbag politicians to a sweet, uplifting & informative piece by Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post on what it was like to cover the funeral of Beau Biden. The contrast is startling.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: Charles Pierce did a nice job yesterday of reprising the Sunday showz. It comes as no surprise to me that John DICKerson, who has taken oven the CBS show, remains as big a DICK as ever & a strict adherent to he-said/she-said "journalism." Pierce gives him the House Cup. It's worth noting that Chris Wallace of Fox "News," who probably just doesn't like Rick Santorum, did his job a helluva a better than Dickerson did his. (See also yesterday's Commentariat.) Also, it's pretty rich that Chris Christie, who could soon find himself under indictment for abuse of office, is accusing his entire state of fraud & corruption. Unless it's your job to watch this crap, I'd advise finding a better way to spend Sunday mornings. I spent mine tearing up a kitcken counter, which was no fun at all, but much less stress-inducing than witnessing what passes for mainstream journalism in the USA. ...

... digby does an excellent job of debunking a New York Times "First Read" "analysis" (linked here yesterday), the gist of which was that Hillary Clinton isn't going the "bipartisan" route that her husband took in 1992 to win the presidency: "... the fact that they even lamented that 'campaigns don't engage in persuasion anymore' tells us that haven't given up their precious derp just yet." CW: I would go further, tho. What I think Democratic candidates have figured out is appealing to many conservative voters, because poverty, near-poverty & fear-of-poverty are bipartisan, largely thanks to conservative policies.

Presidential Race

Greg Sargent on how Hillary Clinton might develop her economic agenda & theme, & whether or not Wall Street is skeert of her taking a populist, anti-Street tilt. 

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: "A charity administered by the New York Times received a $100,000 check from the Clinton Family Foundation on July 24, 2008, months after the paper endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, according to a New York Times spokesperson. However, the check was a 'replacement check' for one that had been sent in 2007 that the Times never received, the spokesperson said." CW:  Wingers seem rather excited about this story. Seems like a big meh to me.

Steve Benen: Jeb Bush, who thought he would be the anointed one by the time he stopped collecting secret money & formally announced his presidential candidacy, just fired his non-campaign director & replaced him with long-time GOP media operative Danny Diaz. CW: Of course, Jeb's failure to leave the pack in his wake has nothing to do with the candidate himself. Iraq.

The Profligate Son. Steve Eder & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Among the serious contenders for the presidency, [Marco] Rubio stands out for his youth, his meteoric political rise — and for the persistent doubts about his financial management, to the point that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign flagged the issue when vetting Mr. Rubio as a possible running mate in 2012, interviews show.... A review of the Rubio family’s finances — including many new documents — reveals a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent: significant debts; a penchant to spend heavily on luxury items like [an $80,000 speed]boat and the lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7; a strikingly low savings rate, even when Mr. Rubio was earning large sums; and inattentive accounting that led to years of unpaid local government fees.... [Rubio] has long portrayed himself as a champion of financial austerity, railing against excessive government spending and runaway debt."

Charles Pierce: Scott Walker, the roadkill candidate. CW: I don't see what Pierce's problem is. Roadkill is an excellent source of protein, one which all the Wisconsinites Scotty has reduced to poverty can well-afford, as long as they have butcher knives & freezers. As we've already learned from Fox "News," "Ninety-nine percent of them have a refrigerator." So there you go.

Beyond the Beltway

Bruce Smith of the (South Carolina) State: "A white former North Charleston police officer was indicted on a murder charge Monday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who was running away from the officer after a traffic stop. The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander and showed officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away. The shooting rekindled an ongoing national debate about the treatment of black suspects at the hands of white officers." (Also linked early yesterday afternoon ET.)

Rick Rojas of the New York Times: His unprecedented escape from an upstate New York maximum-security prison was not the first time two-time-killer Richard Matt eluded law enforcement: "In 1986, he had escaped from a jail in Erie County. About a decade later, after Mr. Rickerson’s death, Mr. Matt fled to Mexico, where he killed an American man at a bar and served several years in prison before being brought back in 2007 to stand trial here in Niagara County."

American "Justice," Ctd. Michael Schwirtz & Michael Winerip of the New York Times pick up on the story of the suicide of Kalief Browder, the teen who was jailed for three years without trial on New York City's Rikers Island, kept in solitary confinement for two years & repeatedly beaten. Jennifer Gonnerman of the New Yorker first brought Browder's ordeal to public attention; yesterday I linked her story on his death.

Yoni Appelbaum of the Atlantic on how white Americans, over the decades, have figured out how to segregate swimming pools.

Your Tax Dollars at Work. John Shiffman of Reuters: The Virginia Board of Medicine has accused Dr. John Henry Hagmann, who "has received more than $10.5 million in business from the federal government," of giving U.S. military "trainees drugs and liquor, and direct[ing] them to perform macabre medical procedures on one another.... The report alleges Hagmann told students to insert catheters into the genitals of other trainees and that two intoxicated student were subjected to penile nerve block procedures. Hagmann also is accused of conducting 'shock labs,' a process in which he withdrew blood from the students, monitored them for shock, and then transfused the blood back into their systems."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A days-long manhunt for two escaped killers prompted a burst of police activity on Tuesday as investigators converged on an upstate town about an hour from the prison where the men had been incarcerated. The prisoners, Richard W. Matt and David Sweat, were discovered missing from their cells at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., 25 miles from the Canadian border. On Tuesday, law enforcement officials swarmed Willsboro, a small town about 40 miles southeast of Dannemora."

Washington Post: "Rebels announced the capture of a strategic army base in southern Syria on Tuesday, in the latest of several sweeping offensives by forces­ battling President Bashar al-Assad. A coalition of moderate rebel factions known as the Southern Front took control of the Brigade 52 base by early afternoon, spokesman Issam al-Reis said. Brigade 52 is the largest military installation in Daraa province, which borders Jordan, and is key to the defense of northern routes leading to the Syrian capital, Damascus."

Los Angeles Times: "Vincent Bugliosi, the Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who gained worldwide fame for his successful prosecutions of Charles Manson and his followers for the brutal 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, has died. He was 80."

Sunday
Jun072015

The Commentariat -- June 8, 2015

Mid-Day Update:

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "In an important separation-of-powers decision, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Congress may not require the State Department to indicate in passports that Jerusalem is part of Israel. The vote was 6 to 3, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for five justices, said the question of the status of Jerusalem is 'a delicate subject.' But he said the Constitution conferred exclusive authority on the president to recognize foreign governments."

Julie Davis & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama said on Monday that he has asked the Pentagon for a plan to accelerate the American military's efforts to train and equip Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State, acknowledging that the militant group's recent gains indicated a need for a shift in strategy.... Earlier Monday, Mr. Obama met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq, where he reaffirmed the world powers' commitment to supporting Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State, which has made major gains in recent weeks."

Bruce Smith of the (South Carolina) State: "A white former North Charleston police officer was indicted on a murder charge Monday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man who was running away from the officer after a traffic stop. The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander and showed officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away. The shooting rekindled an ongoing national debate about the treatment of black suspects at the hands of white officers."

*****

Marianne Levine of Politico: "The Obama administration is on the verge of possibly doubling the salary levels that would require employers to pay overtime in the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade. And it doesn't need Congress's permission. As early as this week, the Labor Department could propose a rule that would raise the current overtime threshold -- $23,660 -- to as much as $52,000, extending time and a half overtime pay to millions of American workers. The rule has already come under fire from business and Republican opponents who say it will kill jobs and force employers to cut hours for salaried employees."

David Cohen of Politico: "Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was repeatedly booed and heckled Sunday as he spoke in New York City at a Jewish-themed conference sponsored by The Jerusalem Post. Haaretz, an Israeli news organization, characterized the reaction to Lew's remarks 'as one of the surliest reactions ever accorded to such a high-ranking administration official by a Jewish audience in the United States.'" CW: Lew is an Orthodox Jew. ...

... Here's the full text of Lew's remarks, via the Jerusalem Post: not exactly anti-Israel.

Mark Mazzetti, et al., of the New York Times: "Around the world, [the Navy's SEAL Team 6 has] run spying stations disguised as commercial boats, posed as civilian employees of front companies and operated undercover at embassies as male-female pairs, tracking those the United States wants to kill or capture. Those operations are part of the hidden history of the Navy's SEAL Team 6, one of the nation's most mythologized, most secretive and least scrutinized military organizations. Once a small group reserved for specialized but rare missions, the unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global manhunting machine. That role reflects America's new way of war, in which conflict is distinguished ... by the relentless killing of suspected militants. Almost everything about SEAL Team 6, a classified Special Operations unit, is shrouded in secrecy...."

Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "A series of legal setbacks have halted the government's intensive preparations to move forward with President Obama's executive actions shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, even as community organizations continue a rapid push to get ready for the programs, according to U.S. officials and immigrant advocacy groups."

New York Times Editors: "In a suit filed in Federal District Court on April 28, Florida charged that the Obama administration had threatened to cut off federal funding for a separate program that reimburses hospitals for charity care unless the state expanded its Medicaid program. [Gov Rick] Scott said this was an effort to 'force our state further into Obamacare.' This was a preposterous allegation. The two programs are not linked in any way, and the administration had already made clear that it had problems with the charity care program, which was due to expire soon.... Mr. Scott's disingenuous argument illustrates the lengths that some Republican leaders will go to avoid being blamed for not protecting their poor and uninsured citizens by expanding Medicaid, the federal-state program. The Republican governors of Texas [Greg Abbott] and Kansas [Sam Brownback], also apparently needing protective cover, have filed amicus briefs supporting the lawsuit."

strong>Paul Krugman: Be wary of "experts" & experts who tell you what you want to hear.

Janet Hook of the Wall Street Journal: "A new analysis of Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll data finds a marked increase in the share of registered voters identifying themselves as liberals, and an even bigger drop in the share saying they are conservatives.... The analysis by GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who looked at survey data from 2010 to 2015, found that the biggest ideological shifts came among women, young people, Latinos and well-educated voters, as well as people in the West and in cities."

Jeet Heer of the New Republic on why the majority of libertarians are white dudes.

David Pegg of the Guardian: "More people started buying drugs online in 2014 than ever before, despite the closure of the Silk Road website the previous year, according to new research.... The results of the Global Drug Survey 2015, an online survey that attracted more than 100,000 responses from individuals around the world about their drug use, suggests that the site's closure has failed to stem an increase in the number of people buying drugs online.... Other research has indicated that the darknet drug economy is expanding." CW: I would give little credence to an online survey.

Presidential Race

Ha! Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Bernie Sanders scored 41 percent in a straw poll vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention this weekend -- finishing a close second to Hillary Clinton, who won 49 percent. The Vermont senator received 208 of 511 delegate votes at the state convention in Milwaukee on Saturday, while Clinton won votes from 252 of the delegates, leaving her just short of a majority." ...

... John Queally of Common Dreams: "As Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to attract overflow crowds, it was 'standing-room-only' at a large community center in Keene, New Hampshire on Saturday where the presidential candidate continued to describe how a grassroots-driven 'political revolution' is needed in the country in order to make real progress on debilitating levels inequality and student debt, the increasing threat of climate change, and the firm grip on the nation's democracy held by the billionaire class and corporate interests."

Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post: "In one of the most explicitly union-friendly speeches of her young presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton called in to a convention of low-wage workers Sunday morning to deliver a message of support and solidarity. 'All of you should not have to march in the streets to get a living wage, but thank you for marching in the streets to get that living wage,' she said. 'We need you out there leading the fight against those who would rip away Americans' right to organize, to collective bargaining, to fair pay.'" ...

E. J. Dionne: Hillary "Clinton's proposals [on universal voting] ought to win wide assent.... But the core issue ... involves the same principle that motivated the sponsors of the Voting Rights Act in 1965: Are we a genuinely democratic republic in which the federal government guarantees broad participation, or will state politicians be allowed to shape the electorate to keep a particular class -- i.e., themselves -- in power? The question for the future of American politics is whether Republicans will be forced to moderate and modify their current tilt to the right in response to demographic changes in the electorate, or whether they will manage to keep enough of the new America away from the polls that they don't have to listen to it at all." ...

... Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be dispensing with the nationwide electoral strategy that won her husband two terms in the White House and brought white working-class voters and great stretches of what is now red-state America back to Democrats. Instead, she is poised to retrace Barack Obama's far narrower path to the presidency: a campaign focused more on mobilizing supporters in the Great Lakes states and in parts of the West and South than on persuading undecided voters."

Bridgegate, the Sequel. Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "... a sworn statement by David Wildstein, a former Port Authority official and the admitted mastermind of the [George Washington Bridge] access-lane closings..., describes [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie breaking the law as he exercised a heavy hand over state politics from the front office. Mr. Wildstein's statement, in a civil case separate from the federal prosecution in the bridge case, offers the first insider confirmation of a long-rumored tale of New Jersey political corruption, and places Mr. Christie at the center of it. It also portrays the governor, a former United States attorney, casually revealing information about a grand jury proceeding he had overseen, which violates federal law.... Even apart from the potential violation of grand jury laws, the statement reinforces the image of Mr. Christie as an intensely hands-on manager who used the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the George Washington Bridge, to deal with political problems. And Mr. Wildstein ... says he has emails and further 'documents to be produced for inspection.'" Wildstein's statement -- actually, objections & answers to interrogatories -- is here. ...

... CW Life Lesson: Do not publicly humiliate a guy who's got the goods on you.

Front Man for the Plan. Patrick Healy & Monica Davey of the New York Times: "More than any of his potential rivals for the White House, [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker, 47, is a product of a loose network of conservative donors, think tanks and talk radio hosts who have spent years preparing the road for a politician who could successfully present their arguments for small government to a broader constituency. Mr. Walker has embraced those goals in Wisconsin, and the promise of his fledgling presidential campaign is to do the same in Washington." ...

... Scott Herbert Walker Bush. Jordyn Phelps of ABC News: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he wouldn't rule out a full-blown re-invasion of Iraq if he were to become the next commander-in-chief.... Earlier this year, he referred to Ronald Reagan's firing of air traffic controllers in a 1971 strike the 'most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime' and also suggested that his experience battling union protesters in Wisconsin has helped prepare him to take on ISIS fighters in vying to become the next commander-in-chief." ...

... Andrea Beasley of MSNBC: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he would favor a constitutional amendment [banning same-sex marriage] if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court’s historic decision on the nationwide legalization of same-sex unions is expected this month. 'I personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,' the likely 2016 presidential candidate said on ABC's 'This Week.'"

Richard Luscombe of the Guardian: "... now that he is running for president, and enjoying a popularity surge that placed him top of the crowded field of Republican White House hopefuls in last week's CNN/ORC poll, questions over [Marco] Rubio's fiscal propriety [when he was speaker of the Florida House] appear to be coming back to haunt his campaign. Opponents will seize on his misuse of a party-issued credit card, and separate accusations that he treated hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to two conservative action committees he established before he became speaker as a personal slush fund."

Eli Stokols of Politico: Jeb Bush is "going to Germany, Poland and Estonia -- [which] indicates that the focus of the trip will be Russia, a complex problem but one that underlines his central foreign policy argument: that the Obama approach has enabled a more bellicose Vladimir Putin, alienated U.S. allies and made the world less safe.... For Jeb..., the trip is a chance to showcase his gravitas -- and amplify his critique of the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton foreign policy. That a two-term governor who's taken 89 trips to 22 countries on six continents since leaving office in 2007 is spending his last week before announcing his presidential bid traveling in Europe shows just how much the current primary debate is focused on foreign policy." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "Don't expect Barbara Bush to hit the talk-show circuit to publicly support her son in his likely White House bid. 'I've promised that during this next campaign season, I will not talk,' the former first lady told granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager in an interview airing Monday on NBC's 'Today.'"

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Lindsey Graham has weighed in on Caitlyn Jenner's transition and unlike some Republican presidential candidates, he avoided saying something foolish about transgender people, and even made an effort to use the correct pronouns.... Graham welcomed Jenner to the Republican party.... 'I'm a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy' and framed American unity in the most frightening way possible. '... In the eyes of radical Islam, they hate you as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner,' he said. 'They hate us all because we won't agree to their view of religion. So America, we are all in this together.' Basically, if LGBT Americans aren't that worried about their own rights, but passionately agree that there's 'too much debt, too many terrorists,' Lindsey Graham's their candidate."

John Amato of Crooks & Liars: Fox "News"'s Chris Wallace calls out Rick Santorum for his support of the flat tax. After Wallace explains what a crock it is, Santorum responds, "And I just reject that. I mean, that's just a flat earth way of looking at economic growth." CW: There isn't a GOP candidate out there who lets the facts get in the way when they're carrying water for the rich -- which is always. ...

... ALSO, TOO. On Monday, Santorum had criticized [Pope] Francis for pushing action on global warming, saying the pontiff should leave 'science to the scientists.'

Two points, if he's not a scientist, and, in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry, neither are you ... And the second point is somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of scientists who have studied this say that humans, men -- human activity, contributes to climate change. So, I guess the question would be, if he shouldn't talk about it, should you? -- Chris Wallace to Santorum

     ... From a post by Daniel Politi of Slate. Worth reading. CW: It would seem that in Santorum's view, only a "scientist" who abandoned scientific inquiry & declared a theory an immutable fact would have a "legitimate" claim to knowledge. I think this is how the god-mind works: it "knows" certain things -- like what God herself has in mind -- and everything else is "speculative."

Beyond the Beltway

Noelle Phillips of the Denver Post: "A 17-year-old driver behind the wheel of a stolen Honda did not hit two Denver Police Department officers who shot and killed her, according to a letter released by the city on Friday.Still, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said he will not prosecute Officers Gabriel Jordan and Daniel Greene for the shooting death of Jessica Hernandez on the morning of Jan. 26. The officers were justified because they reasonably believed the teen was accelerating toward Jordan and that he was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering a serious injury, the district attorney wrote in his decision letter."

No Black Kids Allowed. Kim Bellware of the Huffington Post: "A Texas police officer has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation after video surfaced showing one cop pulling a gun on a crowd of teens at a pool party while others handcuffed teenage partygoers." Funny, pretty much the only teens the cops went after were of a darkish hue. ...

... David Mack of BuzzFeed: "Grace Stone, a white 14-year-old, told BuzzFeed News that when she and her friends objected to the racist comments about public housing an adult [white] woman then became violent.... 'Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,' said [Brandon Brooks, the white teen who shot the video & uploaded in on YouTube]. "[The cop] didn't even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible."

Jennifer Gonnerman of the New Yorker: "Kalief Browder, 1993–2015." ...

When you go over the three years that he spent [in jail] and all the horrific details he endured, it's unbelievable that this could happen to a teen-ager in New York City. He didn't get tortured in some prison camp in another country. It was right here! -- Paul Prestia, Browder's attorney

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "Chief executives at the largest U.S. corporations lowered their outlook for economic growth and planned less spending and hiring amid reduced expectations for sales during the next six months, according to a new survey."

CBS News: "The Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief returned for a second hearing Monday in his closed espionage trial at an Iranian court. Jason Rezaian first appeared on May 26, but his lawyer Leila Ahsan didn't get a chance during that session to being mounting her defense against the charges, which Rezaian's family and employer have dismissed as baseless."

Saturday
Jun062015

The Commentariat -- June 7, 2015

Nedra Pickler & Julie Pace of the AP: President "Obama kicked off an overnight visit for the Group of Seven summit of world leaders by focusing on mending relations with host Germany, with a visit to this picturesque Alpine village [Kruen. Germany] with Chancellor Angela Merkel." ...

... Julie Davis: "One year after President Obama rallied core allies to join the United States in punishing Russia for its bellicose ways, he will use a gathering on Sunday of the world's largest industrialized democracies to urge them to stand strong, and together, in isolating the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. But this time, Mr. Obama faces an additional challenge: It is not entirely clear that their efforts are working. The tough economic sanctions that have been the linchpin of American and European efforts to confront Moscow over its annexation of Crimea last year and its continuing aggression in Ukraine have, along with the lower price of oil, exacted a toll on Russia. They may even have helped deter Mr. Putin from escalating his intervention."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who began his life on the national stage more than four decades ago under the dark cloud of a family tragedy, laid his elder son, Beau, to rest on Saturday, marking yet another moment of grief in a long political career shaped by it. At a funeral Mass that drew about 1,000 mourners, including President Obama and members of the cabinet, former President Bill Clinton, a four-star general and members of Congress, Mr. Biden and his family remembered Joseph Robinette Biden III, who died of brain cancer on May 30 at the age of 46":

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "This morning as I watched President Obama give an incredibly moving eulogy for Beau Biden, I couldn't help but think of another political family that has also had to shoulder more than their fair share of grief. That's because today [Saturday] is the 47th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.... It is hard not to wonder how this one man's death changed the trajectory of our country." LeTourneau cites a portion of Kennedy's speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. ...

... NPR: "Here's an astonishing speech by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who in 2010 became the second African-American appointed as federal judge in Mississippi. He read it to three young white men before sentencing them for the death of a 48-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson in a parking lot in Jackson, Miss., one night in 2011. They were part of a group that beat Anderson and then killed him by running over his body with a truck, yelling 'white power' as they drove off."

New York Times Editors (June 5): CIA torture of prisoners was much worse than the U.S. government admits. "If the fully unredacted story of that treatment ever has a hope of coming out, it won't be through the American government, which continues to hide key details of torture and abuse from the public."

Amanda Terkel & Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "During the 2004 elections, George W. Bush's campaign, managed by a closeted gay man, pushed a series of anti-gay ballot initiatives across the country. The House of Representatives, led by a male speaker who allegedly sexually assaulted a male minor, moved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage after beating back attempts to strengthen hate crimes legislation. And the White House, led in part by a vice president with a lesbian daughter, eagerly encouraged a conservative evangelical base hostile to gay rights.... [House Speaker Dennis] Hastert wasn't a strident culture warrior during his time in Congress. But he was a vital cog in the anti-gay political machinery that the GOP deployed for political benefit.... During his tenure, he was a clear foe of the LGBT community." ...

... Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "After a relatively slow start to his career as a consultant and lobbyist, J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, became very busy in 2010.... He also made an unusual request to one of his business associates: to find a financial adviser who could come up with a plan for an annuity that would generate a substantial cash payout each year. According to the associate, J. David John, the former speaker also asked that the adviser not be told of Mr. Hastert's involvement. The request came just a few weeks before Mr. Hastert, according to charges in a federal indictment, made his first payment to a man known as 'Individual A' in what was to be a total of $3.5 million." John & Hastert later had a falling-out, & John has sued Hastert.

Your Forever Stamps Are a Bad Investment. Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "The U.S. Postal Service will have to roll back a portion of its largest rate increase in 11 years after a federal court ruled that the higher postage prices in place since January 2014 can't be permanent. Postal regulators had agreed to a 3-cent emergency postage hike for first-class letters, to 49 cents from 46 cents, after the Postal Service said it needed to recoup billions of dollars it lost during the recession.... But regulators set a cap on the amount of revenue USPS could recoup with the higher prices. The cap will be reached this summer.... The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the emergency rates should not become permanent.... As of Friday, it was unclear when the rates will be rolled back and by how much."

Kellie Woodhouse of Inside Higher Education: "It didn't take long for the criticisms to begin rolling in after Harvard University announced a $400 million donation to its engineering college."

Marie's Sports Report

Melissa Hoppert of the New York Times: "American Pharoah, the flashy colt with the smooth stride, won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in a generation and etching himself in the history books":

     ... And now you'll never remember how to spell "pharaoh."

Presidential Race

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship in Salon: "Far from being an outsider, [Bernie] Sanders is paddling his way along the mainstream of American public opinion."

In the New York Review of Books, Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast has a long, ostensible review of Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash. CW: I haven't the time to read it, so any reviews of the review would be welcome.

Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times: "As Republican presidential hopefuls negotiated a motorcycle ride and pig roast Saturday in Iowa farm country, the race was on for who had more swagger -- the bikers who could become the party's nominee, or the woman senator leading the trip.... 'Joni's 1st annual Roast and Ride' was part fundraiser, part campaign stop on the road to Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucus next year, drawing not only [Scott] Walker and [Rick] Perry, but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Carly Fiorina. Rubio, who didn't ride but was planning to join the roast, provided much of the buzz as Iowans begin to take a closer look at the candidate who they ranked second, after Walker, in the crowded GOP field, according to a recent Bloomberg Politics-Des Moines Register poll." ...

... MEANWHILE, Jebbie was in Kennebunkport celebrating his mother's 90th birthday & no doubt looking over the new "cottage" Barbara Bush is having built for him there. ...

... AND Who Knows Where This Guy Was? Tyler Bridges of the Washington Post: "Just weeks before he is expected to announce his presidential campaign, Bobby Jindal is at the nadir of his political career. The Republican governor is at open war with many of his erstwhile allies in the business community and the legislature. He spent weeks pushing a 'religious freedom' bill that failed to pass, while having little contact with legislators trying to solve Louisiana's worst budget crisis in 25 years."

Steve Benen on "an alarming concern raised separately by several Republican presidential candidates: the imaginary prospect of Christianity being 'criminalized' in the United States."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that dealt a blow to his ambition to rewrite Turkey's Constitution and increase his power."

New York Times: "The State Police and other law enforcement agencies were continuing on Sunday to hunt for two fugitive murderers in the wilderness and rural communities of northern New York, a day after the two men escaped from the maximum-security state prison here. In a news conference on Sunday afternoon, officials said investigators were sifting through more than 150 leads. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state was offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the inmates, or $50,000 for tips leading to each one."

New York Times: "Ronnie Gilbert, whose crystalline, bold contralto provided distaff ballast for the Weavers, the seminal quartet that helped propel folk music to wide popularity and establish its power as an agent of social change, died on Saturday in Mill Valley, Calif. She was 88."

Friday
Jun052015

The Commentariat -- June 6, 2015

Nicole Perlroth, et al., of the New York Times: "The same Chinese hackers who breached the records of at least four million government workers through the Office of Personnel Management appear to have been responsible for similar thefts of personal data at two major health care firms, Anthem and Premera, according to cybersecurity experts. The multiple attacks, which began last year and were all discovered this spring, appear to mark a new era in cyberespionage with the theft of huge quantities of data and no clear motive for the hackers.... the attackers seem to be amassing huge databases of personal information about Americans. Some have high-level security clearances, which the Office of Personnel Management handles, but millions of others do not, and the reasons for their records being taken have puzzled investigators." ...

... Brian Bennett & Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times: "The investigation into the cyberattack on computers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is proceeding on the theory that the hack was directed by the Chinese government and aimed at uncovering sensitive, personal information that could have been used to blackmail or bribe government employees to obtain secrets, officials said Friday. Social Security numbers, email addresses, job performance reviews and other personal information of about four million government workers were siphoned out of the computer servers, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity...."

Jacob Weisberg of Slate: "Rather than leaving [Edward] Snowden's status as a problem for his successor, [President] Obama should make resolving his case part of his presidential legacy as well. His Justice Department could offer Snowden a plea bargain, under which he would not serve prison time in exchange for his cooperation. Or the government could charge Snowden under the standard laws covering disclosures of classified information by government officials.... Snowden clearly broke the law in revealing government secrets. But he did so for valid reasons and with an outcome that now has the endorsement of both the legislative and executive branches. That is reason enough for Obama to show him mercy."

Ashley Halsey of the Washington Post: "In a scathing self-examination, federal regulators acknowledged Friday that for years they failed to adequately address a 57-cent defect in an ignition switch that killed 109 people and injured more than 200 others. The ignition-switch problem, which could prevent air bags from deploying, endured for a dozen years before General Motors recalled 2.6 million cars last year."

Your Tax Dollars at Work. Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "A senior National Weather Service official helped write the job description and set the salary for his own post-retirement consulting post -- then came back to the office doing the same job with a $43,200 raise, the agency's watchdog found. The deputy chief financial officer also demanded that he be paid a $50,000 housing allowance ... in violation of government rules for contractors, one of numerous improprieties in a revolving-door deal sealed with full knowledge of senior agency leaders, according to an investigation by the Commerce Department Inspector General's office.... His procurement of his own post-retirement job appears to be commonplace throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the Weather Service's parent agency."

White House: "In this week's address, the President recognized Immigrant Heritage Month, an occasion that allows us to celebrate our origins as a nation of immigrants":

Gilad Edelman of the New Yorker: "... a legal system formally blind to race is just as often blind to racism." Or How to Get an All-White Jury while Pretending Not to be Racist. Turns out that is pretty easy.

Mark Stern of Slate on how a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit came to strike down some of the worst provisions of Idaho's anti-abortion laws. And, yes, there's an heroic woman at the center of the story: Jennie Linn McCormick, a poor, single mother who terminated her own pregnancy because there were no abortion clinics in her vicinity. And then kept fighting for the rights of other women.

Joel Gehrke of the winger National Review is worried about all the ways a win for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell could backfire on Republicans & make them "complicit" in extending ObamaCare. Via Paul Waldman. ...

... Paige Cunningham of the wingnut Washington Examiner: "Millions of Americans could lose Obamacare subsidies under a Supreme Court ruling this month, but many in the GOP don't need their votes anyway. That's a major political calculus for Tea Party Republicans, who are likely to resist any efforts to extend the subsidies, even temporarily. They're much more worried about angering their base by appearing to concede to Obamacare than whether a handful of constituents lose their subsidies." CW: Yeah, so who cares?

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "A Democratic legal fight against restrictive voting laws enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled state governments is being largely paid for by a single liberal benefactor: the billionaire philanthropist George Soros." CW: This is an excellent example of how not to write a declarative sentence.

Presidential Election

... Clinton begins speaking about 18 min. in. ...

New York Times Editors give Hillary Clinton two thumbs up for her push for expanding voting rights: "it is very encouraging to see Mrs. Clinton championing this central democratic principle so early in the campaign. President Obama said very little on voting rights until deep into his second term.... Making voting easier for all eligible voters should be the epitome of a nonpartisan issue. Unfortunately, stopping people from voting has become a key part of the modern Republican playbook." ...

... Charles Pierce: "The speech that Hillary Rodham Clinton gave at Texas Southern University on Thursday regarding the right to vote even was better than I expected it to be.

And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state officials conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election of 2000."

     Yeah, she went there. That purge -- which is estimated to have eliminated over 12,000 eligible voters from the rolls in a primary that Bush's dim brother won by a margin of 537 -- was central to the Republican effort to keep the election in Florida within the margin of shenanigans, thereby enabling the Supreme Court to hand the White House to C-Plus Augustus and thereby inaugurate eight full years of utter calamity. That HRC tracks the campaign of voter-suppression back to that ur-event is not merely faithful to history, but also a remarkably shrewd maneuver." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Clinton's embrace of voting rights ... serves to demonstrate to the party's core constituents something elemental, and true: At the current moment, there is only one party that respects their rights as citizens." Chait runs through the GOP's objections to expanding voting opportunities, & they are transparently bogus. ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: Clinton's "strategy involves staking out a variety of progressive issue positions that enjoy broad support, but it's not as straightforward as simply identifying the public sentiment and riding it to victory. The key is to embrace these objectives in ways that makes standard Republican counterspin completely unresponsive, and thus airs out the substantive core of their ideas: Rather than vie for conservative support by inching rightward, Clinton is instead reorienting liberal ideas in ways that make the Republican policy agenda come into greater focus." ...

... Chris Christie bites, making a case that only Fox "News" viewers would buy. Salvadore Rizzo of the Bergen Record: New Jersey "Governor Christie lashed out at Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Friday, saying her new push to expand voter rolls across the country was a ploy designed 'to commit greater acts of voter fraud.'" ...

... Paul Waldman: "Looks like it's time for some traffic problems at the polling place." ...

... AND Rick Perry Is Still Stupid. Caitlin MacNeil of TPM: "On 'Fox and Friends' Friday morning, Perry ... brought up the requirement to present a photo ID in order to fly on commercial airplanes numerous times while defending his voter ID law. 'When I got on the airline to come up here yesterday, I had to show my photo I.D. Now, Hillary Clinton may not to have had to show an ID to get on a airplane in a long time...' he said. 'She's on a private jet,' Brian Kilmeade, one of the 'Fox and Friends' co-hosts, jumped in to say." CW: It seems Perry is arguing that the reason Clinton doesn't see the need for photo IDs is that she doesn't have to show her ID when she flies on noncommercial planes. Congratulations, Rick. This is even dumber than the fake voter-fraud "rationale." ...

... Steve M.: "... Perry apparently thinks only people who do fly, or can afford to fly, should be able to vote. In 2003, a Department of Transportation survey noted that 'About one out of five adult US residents (18 percent) reported that they had never flown on a commercial airline. Compared to flyers, non-flyers were much more likely to.'"

Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "The presidential candidacy of Ben Carson, a tea party star who has catapulted into the top tier of Republican contenders, has been rocked by turmoil with the departures of four senior campaign officials and widespread disarray among his allied super PACs.... Carson's associates ... [said] the retired neurosurgeon's campaign chairman, national finance chairman, deputy campaign manager and general counsel have resigned since Carson formally launched his bid last month in Detroit. They have not been replaced, campaign aides said.... [Carson's] his campaign has been marked by signs of dysfunction and amateurism.... Two independent super PACs designed to help Carson are instead competing directly with Carson's campaign for donations and volunteers, while campaign chairman Terry Giles resigned last month with the intention of forming a third super PAC." ...

... Neil Irwin of the New York Times explains how a successful campaign is organized. However, when you're a know-it-all like Ben Carson, running under God's direction, you really don't have to bother with all that. It looks as if God is pushing for a return Fox "News" gig for Dr. Ben. Or God is a bad CEO.

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn on the GOP presidential candidates: "says that Rand Paul scares him to death, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are not ready for primetime, Rick Perry is not capable enough, and America will not elect another Bush to be president. Of all the candidates, he said Marco Rubio is his favorite." Quite an entertaining read. ...

      ... CW: Coburn really doesn't like Ben Carson. He said in the Sirius XM radio interview which Kaczunski cited that he had 'a personal bone to pick with him on integrity that I witnessed.' The former senator said Carson was asked not to attack President Obama in his National Prayer Breakfast speech but said 'his speech was nothing but an attack on the president.'" In December 2014, Coburn said, "I wouldn't vote for Ben Carson."

To put herself to sleep, Gail Collins repeats factoids about the 2016 presidential candidates.

Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "John Edwards will never be president, but everyone running for the job today is cribbing from his campaign." CW: Tankesley covered Edwards in the 2008 campaign, & it sounds as if he still has a man-crush on Edwards. Edwards' campaign policy package was just a repackaging of standard Democratic ideals designed to appeal to a wide populace, so it's hardly a surprise that today's Democratic candidates are repackaging these ideals once again.

Beyond the Beltway

Jean Hopfensperger of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Ramsey County Attorney's office filed criminal charges Friday against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for 'failing to protect children' from an abusive priest. The charges stem from the archdiocese's oversight of former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, who is now serving a prison term for abusing two boys while he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

On D-Day, our crew took off at 2 a.m. in a formation of 36 B-24s. The pilot was a man named Beckham. We thought we were following the lead element. But when the sun came up, we didn't see anybody; we couldn't find our group. We had been following a light, but the light was some other group. It's a wonder a whole mess of people didn't run into each other that night. We unloaded our bombs after daylight close behind the lines. -- Co-pilot Frank Waterhouse, who was 19 years old on D-Day, from an oral history

News Ledes

New York Times: "Two convicted murderers serving life sentences in adjoining cells staged an elaborate escape from New York's largest state-run prison overnight, fooling guards with makeshift dummies made out of sweatshirts and using power tools to drill a tunnel through the prison's 30-foot-tall walls, officials said. The men remained on the loose late Saturday as a broad swath of law enforcement authorities conducted an extensive manhunt...."

Washington Post: "More than 400 people came midday Saturday to the National World War II Memorial [in Washington, D.C.] for the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the massive landing and battle on the coast of France."

AP: "Jurors on Friday convicted a female Los Angeles police officer of felony assault for repeatedly kicking a handcuffed woman who later died. The jury of 11 women and one man reached its verdict after about two days of deliberations in the trial of Officer Mary O'Callaghan, 50. She pleaded not guilty to assaulting a civilian in the 2012 arrest of Alesia Thomas, 35.