Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

New York Times: "The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.The four men are not likely to be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said."

New York Times: "In an apparent targeted killing, two police officers were shot in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon by a man who later fatally shot himself in head, police officials said."

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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


A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":

Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:


Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

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The Commentariat -- October 4, 2014

An Inconvenient Protest. Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama is scheduled to visit China next month, and with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, human rights could force itself onto the agenda between the United States and the Chinese in a way not seen in many years."

Steve Benen: In his speech at Northwestern Thursday, President Obama veered from his prepared text to marvel that a "top Republican in Congress said that tax cuts for those at the top are -- and I'm quoting here -- 'even more pressing now' than they were 30 years ago. More pressing. When nearly all the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent, when income inequality is at as high a rate as we've seen in decades, I find that a little hard to swallow that they really desperately need a tax cut right now, it's 'urgent.'" That "top Republican"? -- Paul Ryan, currently chief House budget guru/writer & soon-to-be chair of the Ways & Means Committee. Read the whole post. CW: Is there anyone on the right who understands that Ryan is a dunce?

Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast: "In a forthcoming book, obtained by The Daily Beast, former spy director and Pentagon leader Leon Panetta blames the White House for screwups from Syria to Afghanistan." CW: It's pretty nice of Panetta to time his rant to election season. What a dick. ...

... Luckily for Panetta, he has some dickish friends to back him up. Alexandrea Boguhn of Media Matters: "During an October 2 interview on Fox Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade ... asked [former President George W.] Bush whether he agreed with Gen. Martin Dempsey's assessment that [President] Obama should have left a residual military force in Iraq. And though Bush acknowledged that having a former president 'second guessing' is not 'good for the presidency or the country,' he said that he agreed with Dempsey's assessment." ...

... CW: Bush is saying here that Obama should not have honored the "Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which provided that U.S. troops pull out of Iraq by 2011." Bush himself signed the SOFA, an agreement/treaty which his own administration negotiated with Iraq. Maybe SOFA was a mistake, & maybe it wasn't, but it most certainly was an international agreement which both countries were bound to honor. Let's be clear: Bush says Obama should have broken the treaty Bush signed. Now let's ask ourselves if breaking the agreement would have prevented radical groups from challenging the U.S-imposed Iraqi government. And let's try to figure out how many Iraqis would have been thrilled to have a continued American military presence forced upon their country. Perhaps I should ask some AmerIndians what they think about the U.S.'s failure to honor its treaties with their forebears. ...

... CW: A more charitable reading of Bush's remarks is that he is admitting a mistake, something he is rather infamous for being unable to do. Maybe he's saying in the interview that he made a bad deal with Iraq. But you can't honestly read his remarks that way. He says, "I'm not gonna second-guess our President." That is, it was Obama, not he, who made the "choice" to withdraw troops in 2011. ...

... I tell people all the time -- off the record, by the way -- that, ah, you know, Condi Rice's relatives were enslaved in the greatest democracy ever for a hundred years. Democracy takes time to take hold. And yet there's an impatience with that process. -- Former President George W. Bush, October 2, in a Fox "News" interview

... So, black Americans -- don't be so impatient??? -- Constant Weader

Drip, Drip, Drip. Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg News: "An unidentified man posing as a member of Congress made it into a secure area backstage at President Barack Obama's appearance at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington Sept. 27, according to a White House official.... The unidentified man said he was Representative Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, the official said. One member of the White House staff determined that the man wasn't Payne, and another asked him to leave, the official said. He did so without incident and wasn't detained." The Secret Service says they screened the man -- and everyone allowed in the area -- for weapons.

Joe Nocera: "In truth, most [corporate] tax subsidies don't make much sense -- not for countries and certainly not for states. 'There is a lot of work that shows that tax subsidies vastly overpay for the jobs they create,' said Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California.... It's a good thing that the E.U. is trying to curb unjustified tax breaks. Maybe it's time to do the same here." CW: Once in awhile, Nocera shares a good idea. This is one of those times.

The Supreme Horror Picture Show. Ladies, Here Is a Stranger with the Power to Control Your Bodies, Your Lives, Your Futures. You Cannot Stop Him. He Has Been Doing It for Decades. He Will Do It Again.Ian Millhiser of Think Progress on the 5th Circuit's decision against Texas abortion rights, which conflicts with many other Appeals Courts' decisions. "By calling attention to disagreement among circuit court judges regarding the proper way to resolve abortion cases, [5th Circuit Judge Jennifer] Elrod[, who wrote the opinion,] sent a blood-red howler to the Supreme Court telling them to 'TAKE THIS CASE!' Elrod, it should be noted, is not wrong to be confident her decision will be affirmed if it is heard by the justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the closest thing the Supreme Court has to a swing vote on abortion, hasn't cast a pro-choice vote since 1992. As a justice, Kennedy's considered 21 different abortion restrictions and upheld 20 of them." ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post writes a good column on "undue burden." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... we now know what percentage of an affected population can have its constitutionally protected rights curtailed before that percentage can be considered 'significant' enough to have those rights protected from meddling by the government. The percentage is one-in-six:

The three-judge panel agreed with the state's lawyers that there was insufficient evidence that a 'large fraction' of women seeking abortions would face an unconstitutional burden because of the surgical-center requirements and clinic closings. They wrote that the data provided by one of the plaintiffs' experts, Dr. Daniel Grossman, suggested that about one out of six Texas women seeking an abortion would live more than 150 miles from the nearest clinic if the surgical-center rules went into effect. 'This is nowhere near a "large fraction,"' the panel wrote. -- New York Times

... CW: Well, no, according to the court, many more than one-in-six can face an "undue burden" before the undue burden becomes unconstitutional. One-sixth is "nowhere near a 'large fraction,'" say the judges. So what is it: 1/5, or 2/7 or 5/8? We don't know yet what constitutes "a large fraction." By this logic, as Pierce suggests, any time you are subjected to an "undue burden," it's okay as long as a "large fraction" of other people are not. Note: as Marcus points out, the right to an abortion is not a constitutionally-guaranteed right (as Pierce claims), as a result of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Rather what the decision guarantees is "a woman's right to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State." (Emphasis added.)

An undue burden exists, and therefore a provision of law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability. -- Planned Parenthood v. Casey, plurality opinion

... CW: Oddly enough, the Planned Parenthood v. Casey plurality opinion (which governed the decision) repeatedly refers to "a woman," rather than "most women" or "a large fraction of women." A novice such as I would interpret that to mean "any woman," or at least "any woman, within reason." Justice Kennedy was one of the three justices joining in the plurality opinion. The 5th Circuit would like him to rethink that opinion. There is every reason to think he will oblige.

Gail Collins: "You'd think that the people in charge of the states where climate change was wreaking the most havoc would be in the forefront of the battle to push it back. But no." Includes an extensive cast of Republican characters, with a juicy role for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, seemingly the only one of the lot who has not proclaimed, "I am not a scientist," possibly because he has a degree in biology. ...

... The lyrics to "I Am the Walrus" are purposely nonsensical. As such, they are ironically prescient of Republican pronouncements re: climate change, one incidental result of which is the dramatic shrinking of walrus habitat. As Collins writes, "We are the walrus."

November Elections

Brian Beutler: "The GOP's 2014 midterms strategy is a lot like "Seinfeld." It's a campaign about nothing -- but way less funny."

Maggie Haberman of Politico: Hillary Clinton is coming to a Senate race near you. "Hillary Clinton has mapped out much of her political schedule through Election Day, an itinerary that focuses on helping Senate candidates and includes trips to a half-dozen states, including Kentucky and presidential early states Iowa and New Hampshire...."

Daniel Strauss of TPM: "State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow 'local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement' Obamacare. Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would 'nullify' Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul's libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. It can be viewed here." CW: Never mind that both of those brilliant proposals obviously would violate federal law. Naw, Joni isn't an extremist. ...

... As Paul Waldman remarks, "... okay, so Ernst is advocating something that sounds a lot like insurrection against the federal government. But at least if your chickens crap on her lawn, she'll be totally cool with it." ...

... Waldman strikes a more serious tone here, but it boils down to the same thing: "You can put words like 'liberty' in the name of your organization all you want, but what Ernst was agreeing to here isn't liberty, it's insurrection against the Constitution of the United States."

A few weeks ago, Monica Wehby, a medical doctor & Oregon's GOP nominee for Senate, scrubbed her published health care plan when Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed revealed that she had cribbed her own "plan" from the plan of former GOP candidates & of famed healthcare expert Karl Rove. Now, Wehby has a new plan. Kaczynski: "In a weird twist, Monica Wehby's new health care is also plagiarized -- but even stranger, it's plagiarized from her primary opponent Oregon Rep. Jason Conger, whom she criticized repeatedly during the primary on health care." Oh, and she's kept some of the language from Dr. StrangeRove's plan, too. ...

... Sen. Jeff Merkley (D), whom Wehby is challenging, put out this Webvid late last month in response to Kackzynski's original revelation:

... Merkley also ran this ad, which leads with the earlier plagiarism report. Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian (Sept. 30): "The new ad comes as Freedom Partners, a group connected with conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, is halting its advertised attacks against Merkley in Oregon. The group said three weeks ago that it had canceled its October advertising campaign against Merkley and the group on Tuesday confirmed that it has not bought any additional time at this point." As Mapes reported in early August, the Koch boys had planned to spend $3.6 million to oust Merkeley. ...

     ... CW: Glad to see Mapes also picked up Kaczynski's latest scoop. ...

... According to Real Clear Politics' most recent survey of surveys, Merkley is up by more than 13 points.

Beyond the Beltway

Bill Draper of the AP: "A judge struck down part of Missouri's gay marriage ban for the first time on Friday by ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, saying state laws banning the unions single out gay couples 'for no logical reason.' The order means such couples will be eligible to sign up for a wide range of tax, health insurance, veterans and other benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has defended the state's ban on gay marriage, said his office was reviewing the ruling."

Rachel Kleinman of NBC News: Citing a lack of police resources in Ferguson, "beginning Friday and until further notice, the St. Louis County Police Department will take over control from the Ferguson P.D. for security detail related to ongoing protests in the city in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death, the county said in a release issued late Friday. Additionally, the St. Louis County Police Department's media relations staff will assume responsibility for relaying all pertinent information to the press."

I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn't our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. -- Colorado State School Board Member Pam Mazanec

When Only an Argumentum ad Hitlerum Will Do. I note Germany's World War II history. Yes, Hitler slaughtered millions of innocent men, women & children. But he also committed suicide, the ultimate sacrifice, thus voluntarily ending the Holocaust AND the European war, while ethnic cleansing & the waging of wars continue among many countries still today! Shouldn't students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that Germany is exceptional. -- Hialeah High School Graduate Marie Burns, with apologies to Mr. Koos, her 11th-grade history teacher

CW: Here's something I missed but Charles Pierce caught: Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times: "Economists said the August [jobs] figure appeared to be an aberration driven by a New England grocery store strike and a shift in when automakers shut their factories for annual summer retooling.... Part of the reason for September's stronger job growth was ... an increase of 20,000 jobs in food and beverage stores, largely reflecting the return of workers at the Market Basket grocery store chain in New England, the Labor Department said." ... CW: I shopped at my local Market Basket yesterday, & it was packed with customers.

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President highlighted that six years after the Great Recession, thanks to the hard work of the American people and the President's policies, our economy has come back further and faster than any other nation on Earth":

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation 'president for life' who plunged one of the world's poorest countries [-- Haiti --] into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63. He had a heart attack, his lawyer, Reynold George, told the Associated Press." ...

     ... here's the New York Times obit.

Guardian: "US-led war planes attacked Islamic State (Isis) targets around the Syrian border town of Kobani overnight as the insurgents pressed their assault against its Kurdish defenders, a monitoring group and witnesses said.... In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded an apology from the US vice-president, Joe Biden, and warned he would become 'history for me' over comments in which Biden said the Turkish leader had admitted Turkey had made mistakes by allowing foreign fighters to cross into Syria."

Washington Post: "North and South Korea have agreed to hold another round of high-level talks after a top-level Northern delegation, including the men thought to be second and third in command behind Kim Jong Un, paid a surprise visit to the South on Saturday."

New York Times: "The huge cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase that touched more than 83 million households and businesses was one of the most serious computer intrusions into an American corporation.... Also troubling is that about nine other financial institutions -- a number that has not been previously reported -- were also infiltrated by the same group of overseas hackers...."

Guardian: "Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong must be cleared by Monday morning, its chief executive has announced following further violent clashes. Hours after he spoke, however, tens of thousands of people flooded into the Admiralty area of the city centre in the biggest gathering for days. The Saturday night rally was called to oppose attacks on protesters by opponents of the movement on Friday, and came six days after police used pepper spray and teargas in failed attempts to disperse the crowds."

New York Times: Hospital changes its story. "Health officials' handling of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States continued to raise questions Friday, after the hospital that is treating the patient and that mistakenly sent him home when he first came to its emergency room acknowledged that both the nurses and the doctors in that initial visit had access to the fact that he had arrived from Liberia."


The Commentariat -- October 3, 2014

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

President Obama delivered an address at Northwestern University about the economy. He does an excellent job of dancing around the real issues, which IMO, are income & wealth inequality, although he does at least give it a mention:

... CW: If I were a business major who didn't know much -- that is, if I were one of the people in the President's audience yesterday --I would still not have the slightest idea that our wonderful capitalist system is sucking the life out of ordinary workers. These business students, who will go on to become the next generation of meritocrats, will repeat the same mistakes of this generation of meritocrats. A gutsy president, who has nothing to lose since he's not running for re-election -- as he points out in his address -- would set the kids straight. Instead, this address was mostly an embarrassing exercise in hubris, a catalogue of how little the President actually understands about the dynamics of capitalism, which he calls "the greatest force for prosperity and opportunity the world has ever known." It made me sick. I'm sticking with this guy:

No, this is not a Photoshop job. This is an actual artifact in a museum in Asia Minor. No doubt a great economist of the ancient world."Depression Denial Syndrome." Paul Krugman explains why "Bill Gross, the so-called bond king," made a spectacular error -- he failed to listen to Paul Krugman, the so-called economics king, about the "liquidity trap," a function of the depressed economy. Gross, instead, listened to the inflation alarmists, & his goose was cooked.

The Bank Dick. Neil Irwin of the New York Times: Ben Bernanke's bank turned him down for a loan to refinance his home mortgage. Ben & Neil seem to think the reason for this is that (a) credit is tight, (b) lenders now have to follow Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac's "strict standards" for loans, (c) Ben changed not just his job but his type of employment & the banking system is so inflexible that it ignores Ben's fabulous earnings & income potential. ...

... Wherein the Constant Weader Explains Banking & Capitalistic Principles to the Former Chair of the Federal Reserve & Renowned Economics Professor: I've got news for Ben & Neil. Any one or more of those "reasons" for the loan denial may be the bullshit excuse(s) the loan officer told Ben his loan was denied. But the real reason is that Ben & Mrs. Ben took out their mortgage in 2004, when interest rates were higher than they are now. This of course is the reason the Bernankes wanted to refinance: they wanted to pay a lower interest rate. The lower rate is precisely why the bank denied the deal. See, banks are all into this thing called "maximizing profit." And reducing the profit they would make off Ben & Mrs. Ben is antithetical to that business model. Ben, you gave the banks billions of "free money" while you were working your last gig, but that doesn't mean any of those bankers is motivated to be all thankful & cut you a break they won't cut anyone else. They're dicks, Ben, each & every one of them, & you're the asshole they're fucking over this time (to put it in the vernacular). Neil says you make up to $250K a pop for speaking engagements, Ben. So go make a couple-a-three more of those speeches like the one you were making when you revealed your bad luck at the bank, then pay off the damned mortgage altogether.

Jessica Silver-Greenberg, et al., of the New York Times: "A cyberattack this summer on JPMorgan Chase compromised the accounts of 76 million households and seven million small businesses, a tally that dwarfs previous estimates by the bank and puts the intrusion among the largest ever. The details of the breach -- disclosed in a securities filing on Thursday -- emerge at a time when consumer confidence in the digital operations of corporate America has already been shaken. Target, Home Depot and a number of other retailers have sustained major data breaches. Last year, the information of 40 million cardholders and 70 million others were compromised at Target, while an attack at Home Depot in September affected 56 million cards."

We need to be more like Disney World. We need to be more friendly, inviting. -- Former Disney World worker Julia Pierson, on the Secret Service, after she became director (CW: no, I didn't make this up) ...

... Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: Former Secret Service Director Julia "Pierson was elevated to the top spot 18 months ago to put an end to business as usual, after a dozen agents were implicated in a night of carousing with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, on the eve of an official visit by Obama. But while the administration dubbed Pierson a fresh start and a new direction for the agency, she was a deeply entrenched part of its culture. A 30-year veteran of the agency, Pierson had served as director Mark Sullivan's chief of staff and then assistant director before taking over." Read the whole article. ...

     ... Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post: "With the Secret Service under fire for a series of security lapses in presidential protection, there is one journalist who seems to have all the information. The White House, Congress and even Julia Pierson, who just resigned as director of the Secret Service, all learned details of the controversy from Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig. Why did members of the embattled agency turn to the press with concerns rather than pursuing the proper bureaucratic channels? 'I think they trusted The Washington Post more than they trusted their headquarters' leadership,' Leonnig said in an interview with The Huffington Post." ...

... Michael Bender & Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News: "The final straw wasn't something Pierson did. It was what she didn't do: Brief the president on how a man with a gun and criminal record wound up riding in an elevator beside him." CW: Yup, that one really stood out for me, too, especially since she told a House committee that she briefed the President on "100 percent" of presidential security breaches. ...

... Oh, and about those wingers being all upset at "liberal" Peter Baker of the NYT for writing a story suggesting Republicans' "concern for the President's safety" just might contain a political component? Here's this from Bender-Talev story: "[Wednesday] morning, Republicans were on the move, turning the security lapses into a political issue. In a news release, the National Republican Senatorial Committee connected them to the Obamacare rollout, underestimating the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the failures at the VA medical centers to say Democrats were 'asleep at the wheel.'" ...

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Almost as soon as President Obama decided that Julia Pierson had to go as director of the Secret Service, he knew exactly whom he wanted to replace her. On Wednesday, the president and first lady Michelle Obama, aides said, personally recommended to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough that the administration reach out to former special agent Joseph Clancy, who retired in 2011 after serving as chief of Obama's protective detail for two years."

... NBC News: "The Iraq war veteran accused of jumping the White House fence, dashing into the building with a knife and reaching the East Room before he was tackled pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a three-count federal indictment."

Everything Is Obama's Fault. Leon Panetta Dumps on Obama Again. In a Time opinion piece, which is an excerpt from his new book Knife Fights: A Memoir of Backstabbing in War & Peace (or something like that), Panetta says "the President's team" couldn't be bothered to negotiate a deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, as much as he -- Leon Panetta, Superhero -- urged the callow White House youths to muscle the Iraqis. "... without the President's active advocacy, al-Maliki was allowed to slip away. The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda's resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country." So ISIS.

Katie Thomas & Rachel Abrams of the New York Times: "In just five months at the end of last year, doctors and other health care professionals made more than $212 million on speaking and consulting engagements for drug and device makers, according to data released on Tuesday by the federal government."

A "privileged white guy" who goes by the handle of eodell "whitesplains" racism to offended racist white guys. Also what offended racist white guys should do about it. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Send a copy to all your friends on the Supreme Court. This is a concept with which they are petulantly unfamiliar.

Beyond the Beltway

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Thirteen abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close immediately after a federal appellate court on Thursday sided with Texas in its yearlong legal battle over its sweeping abortion law and allowed the state to enforce one of the law's toughest provisions while the case was being appealed. The decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, will have a far-reaching effect on abortion services in Texas, lawyers for abortion providers said. The ruling gave Texas permission to require all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as hospital-style surgical centers, standards that abortion providers said were unnecessary and costly, but that the state argued improved patient safety."

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's chief of staff left a voice-mail message for a Democrat who was on the verge of quitting the General Assembly in June, saying that the senator's daughter might get a top state job if he stayed to support the governor's push to expand Medicaid, according to descriptions from three people who heard the recording. Then-Sen. Phillip P. Puckett wound up resigning, flipping control of the chamber to Republicans and thwarting McAuliffe's signature goal of expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Puckett's abrupt exit came amid accusations that Republicans had enticed him to leave with job offers for himself and his daughter, triggering an ongoing federal investigation and inflaming partisan passions in Richmond." CW: Is the stupidest part leaving a bribe on a voicemail?

Elections Matter. Yamiche Alcindor of USA Today: "More than 3,000 people have registered to vote in Ferguson, Mo., since the death of Michael Brown -- a surge in interest that may mean the city of 21,000 people is ready for a change."

Jack Healy of the New York Times: "... after two weeks of demonstrations and a fierce backlash across Colorado and beyond, the Jefferson County[, Colorado,] school board scrapped a plan that sought to teach students the 'benefits of the free-enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights' while avoiding lessons that condoned 'civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.' Instead, the board voted 3 to 2 to adopt a compromise that would allow community members, students and teachers to join the experts who already conduct curriculum reviews for the school district." Thanks to Ken W. for the link.

Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against Alabama this week in an attempt to overturn what the group suggests may be the most radical parental consent law in the country. Under a new law that went into effect this summer, minors who are seeking to bypass their parents' consent to get an abortion are essentially put on trial. The state is allowed to appoint a lawyer for their fetus and call witnesses to testify about the teenager's character."

November Elections

Lauren Carroll of Politifact: Iowa GOP Senate nominee Joni "Ernst said [her opponent, Democrat Bruce] Braley, 'threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto (his) property.' Some might not like the way Braley and his wife handled a dispute with a neighbor -- by going to the neighborhood association and then consulting the association's lawyer. Even so, there is no material evidence that Braley threatened a lawsuit against the neighbor or was even considering one. Even the neighbor says that." CW: I have paid scant attention to the chickenshit debate (I linked one story at least a month ago), but it remains a big deal in the Senate race, with Republicans successfully characterizing the minor neighborhood squabble as a "character" issue. Now, what about the "character" issue of repeatedly lying about your opponent?

Steve Benen: "For a guy who’s been talking about 'personhood' for six years, it’s interesting to see how much Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is struggling to explain himself." Benen demonstrates what a dishonest, creepy extremist Gardner is. ...

... CW: But never mind. In November, Coloradans may choose him over U.S. Senator Mark Udall. Pema Levy of Newsweek: "The two latest polls show Gardner stealing the lead from Udall, one by a whopping eight points."

Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "Arkansas Attorney General candidate Leslie Rutledge is crying foul over the cancellation of her voter registration form. Rutledge, the Republican nominee for Attorney General, was kicked off the voter rolls after it was discovered that she failed to cancel previous voter registrations in Washington, DC and Virginia, and re-register in Pulaski County when she moved. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, a Democrat, said he was legally obligated to remove her after receiving a letter flagging this issue.... Rutledge and Republican groups are calling the removal a 'dirty trick' that was politically motivated. But what happened to Rutledge is in fact very common, and becoming even more common after the state implemented a number of strict voter restrictions. CW: Gotta go find my head. I laughed it off. ...

... digby: "That's right. It's protecting legitimate voters from vote fraud when it's done to the you-know-whos. [Link fixed.] It's a 'dirty trick' when it happens to a nice Republican lady." CW: Make that a nice white Republican lady.

News Ledes

New York Times: The Islamic State has released another video of a beheading -- this one of a middle-aged British aid worker, Alan Henning, who was abducted last year from the ambulance he had driven into Syria to offer lifesaving help."

Washington Post: "The U.S. job market rebounded in September as the economy added 248,000 jobs..., a reassuring sign of the nation's recovery. The unemployment rate crossed a key threshold for the first time in six years, falling to 5.9 percent."


The Commentariat -- October 2, 2014

Michael Schmidt & Michael Shear of the New York Times: " Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, is resigning in the wake of several security breaches. Ms. Pierson offered her resignation on Wednesday during a meeting with Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that oversees the Secret Service. The resignation came less than a day after lawmakers from both parties assailed Ms. Pierson's leadership and said they feared for the lives of the president and others in the protection of the agency. In a statement, Mr. Johnson said that he had appointed Joseph Clancy, a former agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division, to become the Secret Service's acting director. President Obama concluded that new leadership and a new direction was needed at the Secret Service 'in light of recent and accumulating reports about the agency,' Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Wednesday." CW: Always heartening when we learn that top officials read RealityChex & immediately follow our advice. (See yesterday's Comments.) ...

... The Washington Post story, by Carol Leonnig, is here. CW: Leonnig, who broke & advanced several stories about serious Secret Service lapses, probably did more than any other single person to effect Pierson's resignation. ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Some of the male panelists on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' wondered Wednesday whether Secret Service director Julia Pierson hadn't been dismissed over recent revelations of serious security lapses because of her gender. Panelist Donny Deutsch ... said that promoting women into positions of authority shouldn't be prioritized over competence. Co-host Joe Scarborough then turned the conversation to the female agent who was guarding the White House's front door when an intruder entered the building last month and managed to overpower her. 'Now, if a woman, 6' 4", can tackle a big guy or a big woman that's intruding, that's one thing,' he said. 'But we can't have people standing between the President of the United States and a terrorist that can get knocked down and that's there for politically correct reasons.'" ...

     ... Update: Erik Wemple of the Washington Post quite properly pins the blame on Mika Brzezinski for starting the men down the sexist path (and then trying to weasel out of taking responsibility): Brzezinski questioned why Pierson got the job in the first place, suggesting -- but not saying -- it was because she was a woman. As Wemple points out, "loaded in [her] question of whether a 30-year veteran of the Secret Service -- someone who'd served as chief of staff, as coordinator of the agency's drug program, as special agent in charge of the Office of Protective Operations and who, according to the New York Times's Peter Baker, 'boast[ed] a résumé much like those of her predecessors' at the time of her elevation -- had gotten her job via some kind of gender preference."

... Digby: "They've had female Secret Service agents for a long time. And no president has been assassinated since they put them in the job. In fact, the only presidents who've ever been assassinated were guarded only by men. Therefore, we should get rid of all the male Secret Service agents." ...

... Bryce Covert of the New Republic: "... it's probably not pure chance that Pierson, who held that position for just a year-and-a-half, was a woman. Time and again, women are put in charge only when there's a mess, and if they can't engineer a quick cleanup, they're shoved out the door." ...

... Wingers were vewwy upset yesterday at Peter Baker's New York Times article [linked in yesterday's Commentariat] suggesting that Republican legislators were crying crocodile tears over the Secret Service's failure to adequately protect the President & his family. Matt Lewis of Daily Caller strikes a more conciliatory note & has a superb suggestion: "I would suggest that conservative militias should begin voluntarily policing the fence around the White House, immediately. There is no border more important to protect, and there is nothing that would potentially do more harm to the cause of conservatism than for some horrible thing to happen to this president. Even if you put humanity and common decency aside, conservatives have a greater incentive than anybody to ensure his safety and security. God save the president." ...

     ... CW: I'm not sure if Lewis proposes that these noble militiamen be armed -- the District has an open-carry ban -- but having militiamen milling near the White House, harassing & intimidating tourists & other passers-by, would be swell, wouldn't it? ...

... Charles Lane of the Washington Post profiles the Secret Service's second director Hiram Whitley, who served during President Grant's administration. He was a genuine scoundrel and proud of it. Julia Pierson was no Hiram Whitley.

Julie Pace of the AP: "In a striking public rebuke, the Obama administration warned Israel on Wednesday that plans for a controversial new housing project in east Jerusalem would distance Israel from 'even its closest allies' and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians. The harsh criticism came just hours after President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House. Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said the president privately raised his concerns with Netanyahu though the two leaders made no mention of the matter in their public comments to reporters."

Paul Waldman wrote this a couple of days ago, but as a window into the future of voting rights, it's worth reading today: "The Supreme Court has granted Ohio's request to throw out a ruling by lower courts stopping the state from implementing a law on early voting passed by the Republican state legislature. Meanwhile, cases on Republican-passed voting laws in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas are also working their way through the courts, and may all wind up in front of the Supreme Court in one way or another. So here's a prediction: Republicans are going to win every single one of these cases. No matter how compelling the arguments of the opponents are, the simple fact is that there are five conservative justices who think that almost anything a state does to restrict people's ability to vote is just fine with them." ...

... CW: I continue to think that voter suppression will backfire. People are casual about rights (or anything else) given freely. So in the case of voting rights, many vote only when it's convenient. But take away rights to which people are accustomed, & they suddenly get passionate about them.

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department is not expected to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death o Trayvon Martin, according to three law enforcement officials, despite allegations that the killing was racially motivated. The federal investigation of Zimmerman was opened two years ago by the department's civil rights division, but officials said there is insufficient evidence to bring federal charges. The investigation technically remains open, but it is all but certain the department will close it."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: I sort of followed Politico's most recent jump into outrageous, but didn't think it worth linking. However, Margaret Hartmann of New York paraphrases it so beautifully I can no longer take a pass: "Politico is sorry readers thought they blamed Obama for his hypothetical assassination." Start with this closing graf in a piece by Politico guest columnist Ron Kessler:

Agents tell me it's a miracle an assassination hasn't already occurred. Sadly, given Obama's colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service.

     ... Hartmann: "After many people objected to the implication that the Secret Service will only improve if the president is killed, and that his death would be his own fault, the lines were changed.... [and an editor's note was added.] Politico is sort of sorry, but if readers mistakenly thought they were blaming the president for his own assassination, they really only have themselves to blame." ...

     ... CW: Let me add that guest columns typically get a lot of editorial scrutiny (unless they're written by prominent politicians or heads-of-state, in which case they get a spellcheck). And, um, hint to Politico: normally this scrutiny comes before the column is published. ...

... Also, Steve M. takes a peek at Kessler's history, demonstrating anew Politico's excellent editorial judgment in seeking out Kessler's opinion in the first place.

November Elections

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal appeals court has blocked North Carolina from ending same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting in connection with this fall's elections. In a 2-1 ruling issued Wednesday, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the changes appeared to run afoul of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that prohibits practices that discriminate on the basis of race."

Gail Collins: "Conservative Republicans still tend to hew to the theory that the [Social Security] system is 'going bankrupt' and needs to be turned into some kind of private retirement investment account. They also generally promise to protect people 55 or over from any change.... If you happen upon a congressional debate in the next few weeks, feel free to ask the candidates what they're going to do to protect Social Security. Bring along a 54-year-old friend who might helpfully burst into tears when anyone starts promising to protect the 55-year-olds." ...

... Here's the "Daily Show" segment Collins mentions in her column:

Greg Gatlin & Mariellen Norris of Suffolk University: "Independent businessman and political enigma Greg Orman (46 percent) is leading three-term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts (41 percent) in the race for U.S. Senate in Kansas, with 11 percent undecided, according to the latest Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll of likely voters in the general election. In the race for governor [of Kansas], Democratic state Rep. Paul Davis (46 percent) is leading incumbent Sam Brownback (42 percent), a Republican, with 6 percent undecided in the survey conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston."

Charles Franklin of Marquette U. Law School: "A new Marquette Law School Poll in the Wisconsin governor's race finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 50 percent of likely voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support."

Here's how College Republicans think they can influence young women to vote for Florida Gov. Rick Scott. CW: Apparently all college Republicans are boys who don't actually know any young women. I don't know how it's possible, but these young Republican boys seem to have come to us from 1954, which makes this ad not just the Worst Political Ad of 2014 but also kinda creepy. To be fair, the ad would have sucked in 1954, too:

     ... Via Ed Kilgore. ...

... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "At this point, it's hard not to wonder if the people being hired to do outreach to women on behalf of Republican candidates aren't all a bunch of Democratic moles." ...

     ... Update: It gets worse. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: College Republicans are spending nearly $1MM on a "digital campaign" using this ad. BUT wait. It's a generic ad, in which they plug in the name of the GOP gubernatorial candidate & his rival. The rest of the script remains the same. So Rick Scott/Tom Corbett/Rick Snyder "has new ideas that won't break your budget!"

Beyond the Beltway

Vivian Kuo & Eliott McLauglin of CNN: The Tallahassee, "Florida police department is investigating one of its officers after he shot a 62-year-old woman in the back with a Taser on Tuesday afternoon. The incident was captured on videotape by a nearby witness. The incident was captured on videotape by a nearby witness." With video. Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. Also see his commentary in today's Comments. Here's the video Akhilleus linked:

     ... CW: Besides tasing an older woman "for nothing," as the videographer says, it seems the white police officers thought it would be an excellent idea to arrest a number of black people for walking in the street. The street obviously is a residential side street, & there are no sidewalks. If pedestrians want to get from here to there & the municipality doesn't provide sidewalks, exactly where are those pedestrians supposed to walk? As the videographer says, "And they wonder why they're hated."

CW: I'm dedicating the video below to Akhilleus. You'll have to read today's Comments to see why. To my credit, even tho this video has had 100MM views, I've never heard the song before:

News Ledes

New York Times: "As a large crowd of demonstrators massed outside his offices Thursday night, Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive declared that he would not resign but said his government was willing to meet with student protesters to discuss their demands for democratic reform. But the chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who was anointed by Beijing to lead Hong Kong two years ago, said the talks would have to be in accordance with an earlier ruling by the Chinese leadership limiting the scope of political change here -- a ruling that has been a target of the mass protests that have shaken this former British colony for nearly a week."

Bloomberg News: "U.S. stocks fell, with the Standard & Poor's 500 poised for its first four-day decline of the year, as European shares tumbled on speculation central-bank stimulus will fail to revive the euro-area economy."

NEW. New York Times: "Health officials in Texas said Thursday that they had reached out to as many as 100 people who may have had contact -- either directly or indirectly -- with a Liberian man sick with the Ebola virus while he was contagious. Of those people, only a handful have been isolated, including family members and the medical technicians who rushed the patient, Thomas E. Duncan, to the hospital on Sunday. Most on the list are there simply because they had contact with people who had had contact with Mr. Duncan."

Hill: "The White House said Wednesday it will not impose travel restrictions or introduce new airport screenings to prevent additional cases of Ebola from entering the United States. Spokesman Josh Earnest said that current anti-Ebola measures, which include screenings in West African airports and observation of passengers in the United States, will be sufficient to prevent the 'wide spread' of the virus." ...

... AP: "A Dallas emergency room sent a man with Ebola home last week, even though he told a nurse that he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa, and officials at the hospital are considering if they would have acted differently had the entire medical staff been aware."


Before There Was a Beltway

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "For much of the history of the United States, the White House grounds have been reasonably open to the public, resulting in breaches far more astonishing than the one on Sept. 19, when an Iraq war veteran, Omar J. Gonzalez, rushed past a Secret Service agent at the North Portico and ran through much of the State Floor before being tackled."

In the 1920s, my grandparents had a touring car with running boards. When they traveled with the family, they fitted wooden pens to the running boards, & the family dogs rode in the pens. 

I've seen photos of my grandparents' car, with the caged dogs. As I recall, the car & pens looked a lot like this:

(I have no idea how one exits a car with animal crates so attached.)

My grandparents' practice would be regarded as animal cruelty today, but as Gail Collins has happily reminded us, Mitt Romney was pretty certain dogs enjoyed such fresh-air adventures. 

A Colorado policeman stops a Dogs Against Romney protester who was on his way to protest Mitt Romney. The cop stopped the protester, who had a fake dog in the crate, on suspicion of animal abuse.I don't know if my grandmother thought driving great distances with dogs on the running board was cruel to the family pets, but she did think the appearance of dogs on the running board was evah-so tacky. My grandmother was always one for keeping up appearances.

There was no going around Washington, D.C., in those days, so on trips south, my grandfather drove through the city. I suppose the signage wasn't all that good back then. In any event, on one such trip, my grandfather got lost driving through Washington.

Eventually he spied a couple of policemen standing around in front of a porticoed mansion. My grandfather pulled alongside the front steps, stuck his head out the window & asked the officers just where they were. 

"You're at the White House, sir," said one of the officers.

"Oh, dear," my grandmother gasped. "Drive on quickly, Asbury. I shouldn't want Mrs. Coolidge to see us like this."

If you or someone you know has breached the White House gates, do tell.