The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

U.K. Telegraph: "Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of Jewish children from the Holocaust in 1939, has died aged 106, his family said. Winton earned himself the label 'Britain's Schindler' for saving the lives of 669 children by sending them from Prague to London by train." ...

     ... UPDATE: Winton's New York Times obituary is here.

Al Jazeera: "At least 130 bodies have been found after an Indonesian air force C-130 crashed in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra, according to military officials. The plane came down on Tuesday hitting empty residential buildings after bursting into flames shortly after takeoff."

New York Times: "Record numbers of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to reach the shores of Europe in the first six months of this year, and most of them were entitled to be resettled as refugees under international law, the United Nations said Wednesday."

AP: "Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that Julie Hamp, its first female managing officer, had resigned following her arrest last month on suspicion of illegally importing the painkiller oxycodone into Japan. Hamp, a U.S. citizen, leaves Toyota about a month after she relocated to Tokyo to become the Japanese automaker's chief communications officer. Her appointment was part of a drive by the company to diversify a male-dominated, mostly Japanese executive line-up."

Public Service Announcement

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."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 2

2:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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Wednesday
Apr082015

The Commentariat -- April 9, 2015

Afternoon News:

Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Iran’s supreme leader challenged on Thursday two of the United States’ bedrock principles in the nuclear negotiations, declaring that all economic sanctions would have to be lifted on the day any agreement is signed and that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors.The assertions by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be tactical...."

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "The State Department has finished its review of Cuba’s presence on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and forwarded its recommendation to the White House, President Obama said Thursday. Obama said he is waiting for his top aides to review the document and place it before him for a final decision."

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The Clinton Foundation reportedly accepted millions of dollars from a Colombian oil company head before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to support a trade deal with Colombia despite worries of human rights violations." Here's the original report in International Business Times.

*****

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "President Barack Obama warned the Supreme Court in an interview Wednesday that a ruling to invalidate Obamacare subsidies would be 'a bad decision' and result in 'millions of people losing their health insurance.'... In a separate interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Obama called the lawsuit 'the last gasp' of Obamacare opponents. The remarks in the pair of interviews represent the most extensive thoughts the president has offered recently on King v. Burwell...."

President Obama on the impacts of climate change on public health:

... CW: Sometimes I imagine myself being asked the same questions President Obama is asked. And each time I realize that my responses would not be a quarter as thorough or compelling as Obama's answers. We are really fortunate to have a president who is, as Joe Biden once put it, "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." Me, I'm clean.

Michael Shear of the New York Times:"President Obama is calling for an end to ... therapies aimed at 'repairing' gay, lesbian and transgender youth. His decision on the issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights. In a statement that was posted on Wednesday evening alongside a WhiteHouse.gov petition..., Mr. Obama condemned the practice, sometimes called 'conversion' or 'reparative' therapy, which is supported by some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors."

Michael Shear: "A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday angrily denied the federal government’s request to allow President Obama’s immigration executive actions to proceed, even as an appeals court signaled that it might disagree with the judge when it takes the issue up next week. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, refused late Tuesday night to lift the injunction he had placed in February on the president’s immigration program, saying that to do so would cause irreparable harm."

Carol Leonnig & Keith Alexander of the Washington Post: "The Secret Service has put a senior supervisor on leave and suspended his security clearance after a female employee accused him of assaulting her after-hours at agency headquarters last week, the agency said Wednesday.... The Secret Service also took away his gun and badge after agency investigators launched a preliminary review of the complaint and conducted 'subsequent corroborative interviews' Thursday afternoon...."

Nicholas Kristof: "A newly released global index finds that America falls short, along with other powerful countries, on what matters most: assuring a high quality of life for ordinary citizens.... As an American, what saddens me is also that our political system seems unable to rise to the challenges.... Our children — so our political system remains in gridlock, even as other countries pass us by."

David Sanger of the New York Times: "The C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, speaking Tuesday night at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, suggested that a key to the deal [on containment of Iran's nuclear program] was the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who had hardly been the supreme leader’s first choice. It took more than two years, he suggested, for the new president, a former nuclear negotiator himself, to persuade the far more isolated Ayatollah Khamenei that 'six years of sanctions had really hit,' and that the economic future imperiled the regime."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: Sen. Tom "Cotton said any military action against Iran would not be like the Iraq War and would instead be similar to 1999’s Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton." ...

... Steve Benen: "Look, we’ve seen this play before, and we have a pretty good idea how it turns out. When a right-wing neoconservative tells Americans that we can launch a new military offensive in the Middle East, it won’t last long, and the whole thing will greatly improve our national security interests, there’s reason for some skepticism.... But don’t worry, America, Tom Cotton thinks this would all be easy and we could drop our bombs without consequence. What could possibly go wrong?" ...

... Yo, Bibi!

     ... Via David Knowles of Bloomberg.

Presidential Race

"Rand Paul Gets 'Testy' on Abortion and Foreign Policy Flip-Flops." Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: Rand Paul's "defensive demeanor in response to tough questions has reporters wondering if Paul is truly prepared to run for president.... in a pair of contentious interviews during his first stop in New Hampshire, Paul found himself on the defensive – on topics ranging from Iran and Israel to abortion and his confrontations with women – as political watchers raised questions about whether Paul would be too extreme for the world’s biggest campaign stage.... The testy exchange [between Paul & NBC's Savannah Guthrie] was quickly seized upon as another example of Paul being condescending toward a female reporter, following a February interview on CNBC in which he 'shushed' anchor Kelly Evans and told her to 'calm down'." ...

... Gail Collins: "Once Paul began sniffing the presidential air, position changes started coming rapid-fire, and he’s gotten quite touchy when people point that out. 'No, no, no, nonononono,' he said, accusing NBC’s Savannah Guthrie of 'editorializing' when she listed several of his recent shifts." Also, Rand has put the kibosh on asking him any questions about things he said prior to his getting into politics, which was way back in 2010. ...

... Fortunately for us all, as Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's commentary, for a mere $20 we can now purchase Rand Paul Flip-Flops from his own campaign:

Show off your support with these full color, and vibrant flip flops. -- Small print in the ad.

CW: As Akhilleus pointed out, the main text of the ad describes the flip-flops as "sandals." It appears to me Rand's crack staff did some careless editing. Probably the original description of the footwear used the term "flip-flops"; then for some completely unknown reason, somebody decided "flip-flops" were an inauspicious campaign product. Unfortunately for Senator Flip-Flop, the campaign editor missed the small print & forgot to change the title of the product photo, which includes the word "flipflop". Those little red flames on the flip-flops may signify what Randy is going down in.

... Here's Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post journosplaining why Rand's mansplaining is not good campaign strategy. CW: Cillizza doesn't mention that the Democratic nominee in all likelihood will be a woman. Should Randy be her opponent, there's a mighty good chance we'll see Rand's shushing & mansplaining in Democratic campaign ads.

... Philip Elliott of the AP: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ... is dodging a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned? In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Paul would not say if his opposition to abortion rights includes an exception in cases of rape, incest or risk to the life of the mother.... In the past, Paul has supported legislation that would ban abortion with exceptions, while at other times, he's backed bills seeking a broader bar on abortion." ...

... Eric Bradner of CNN: "Rand Paul says he doesn't want to be grilled about abortion until Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz answers similarly tough questions. Wasserman Schultz hit back -- highlighting Paul's testy interviews with female television anchors, too, by saying she hopes he can 'respond without 'shushing' me.' But Paul, the Kentucky Republican senator who launched his 2016 presidential campaign this week, said her answer made it sound like she is indeed okay 'killing a seven-pound baby.'" ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... for all his natural talent, Paul can't reconcile his beliefs with his ambitions. That's a huge problem for a national politician. It will define his candidacy." ...

... Paul tells Wolf Blizter he gets "universally short-tempered & testy with both male & female reporters" & describes his hostility as "pretty much equal opportunity." Video.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times tries to figure out the sources of Ted Cruz's $31 million -- the amount his campaign claims a network of secretive SuperPACS has raised this week. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Beyond the Beltway

Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "The federal investigation into the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge appears to be coming to a head, with an announcement of indictments as early as next week.... [Chris] Christie’s political ambitions wait on [U.S. Attorney Paul] Fishman. As [the investigation] has dragged on, he has pushed past the dates he set for a decision on whether to run for president in 2016.... Even if the investigation produces no legal problems for Mr. Christie, any indictments will almost certainly add to his political challenges. People close to the case say prosecutors are likely to bring charges based on a rarely used provision of a fraud statute...."

Wesley Lowery & Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post: "The mayor of the South Carolina town [-- North Charleston --] where a white officer was filmed fatally shooting an unarmed black man called the incident a 'horrible tragedy' as he announced that all patrol officers would be outfitted with body cameras." ...

... Lauren Williams of Think Progress: "The popular crowd-funding site GoFundMe rejected a campaign to raise money for the South Carolina officer charged with fatally shooting an unarmed black man last week." ...

... Alan Blinder & Marc Santora of the New York Times: "For many in [North Charleston, S.C.,] a city that has long had a troubled relationship between the police and black residents, [the police killing of Walter Scott] was proof not just of a possible crime but of a pattern of abuse — a concern that mirrors many of the issues over policing that have played out nationally. As in other parts of the nation, the distrust here was rooted in police tactics put in place many years ago to combat rising violence that have remained in force as crime has ebbed.... On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered outside City Hall in North Charleston to protest what they said was a persistent abuse of power by the police." ...

... CW: Jamelle Bouie looks at the traffic stop itself, which is what caught my eye immediately upon first reading the story about the video of this apparent murder. "Where traffic safety stops are mostly painless (other than tickets), investigatory stops involve searches, impromptu interrogations, and occasionally handcuffs and weapons.... In investigatory stops..., drivers are stopped for exceedingly minor violations — driving too slowly, malfunctioning lights, failure to signal — which are used as pretext for investigations of the driver and the vehicle.... In [a national] study, 60 percent of all stops for whites were for traffic safety, versus 35 percent for blacks. By contrast, 52 percent of all stops for blacks (versus 34 percent for whites) were for events in which the reasons were minor (“You didn’t signal at the stop sign”). ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "Of more than 22,000 stops in 2014 in North Charleston, 16,730 involved African Americans — almost 76 percent of stops, much higher than the city's black population. Most of those, some 10,600, involved black men, like Scott.... Two-thirds of stops that failed to produce a ticket or arrest involved black drivers.... Slager wasn't the only officer charged in South Carolina on Tuesday. Justin Gregory Craven, an officer in North Augusta, was arrested and charged in the death of Ernest Satterwhite, whom Craven shot repeatedly after a car chase that ended in Satterwhite's driveway. That shooting, too, was caught on video. " ...

... Jeff Stein of the Ithaca Voice in Salon: "South Carolina police have fired on 209 suspects over the past five years, but only a few have been charged and none have ever been convicted, according to The State, a South Carolina newspaper.... Legal documents present a stunning account of police brutality in North Charleston, where the population is 47 percent black but the police force is about 80 percent white, according to the [New York] Times." ...

... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: "For the second time in exactly seven months, an unarmed African American man was shot by a white South Carolina police officer in broad daylight during a routine traffic stop. For the second time, the law enforcement officer fabricated events to bolster his 'felt threatened' defense. For the second time, video emerged showing the truth.... A routine traffic stop is never routine when you’re black." ...

... Matt Apuzzo & Timothy Williams of the New York Times: "While cameras frequently exonerate officers in shootings, the recent spate of videos has raised uncomfortable questions about how much the American criminal justice system can rely on the accounts of police officers when the cameras are not rolling.... Though the courts have held that people have a constitutional right to record the police, those who do are frequently challenged by officers.... Data is [sic.!] still spotty, but an early study in Rialto, Calif., suggests that when officers carry body cameras, they are less likely to use force." ...

... But for the Video. Ryan Grim & Nick Wing of the Huffington Post write a report of the police killing of Walter Scott as if the video of the actual shooting had never been shot or become public. Their story "relies entirely on local news reports, which sourced their version of events to information from police, the attorney for the officer, 'witnesses' and police statements. Many of those claims turned out to be lies. Slager has been charged with murder. Whenever possible, this article pulls verbatim from local news reports."

Ana Swanson of the Washington Post: "Kansas became the first state to sharply restrict second-trimester abortions on Tuesday, opening another front in the battle between anti-abortion and pro-choice activists at the state level. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong opponent of abortion, signed the law on Tuesday surrounded by anti-abortion activists and poster-sized images of fetuses. The law, which takes effect July 1, will ban a type of abortion called dilation and evacuation."

Hunter Schwarz of the Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Bobby "Jindal said he plans to support his state's own [marriage discrimination] bill. Judging from how Indiana's bill catapulted Gov. Mike Pence (R) to the national spotlight, Jindal could soon see the same thing happen for him — and not necessarily in a good way.... Louisiana's Marriage and Conscience Act is more focused and deals specifically with religious beliefs in relation to same-sex marriage.... The bill would allow private businesses to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage and not provide the same benefits to same-sex married couples...."

Mark Stern of Slate: "In March, Florida’s severely conservative House of Representatives did a surprisingly good thing and voted to repeal a state law barring gay couples from adopting children. The vote was entirely symbolic, since the blatantly unconstitutional statute had already been invalidated by the courts.... In response to the adoption ban repeal, Republican representatives are supporting a 'revenge' bill that would give state-funded adoption agencies the ability to refuse to adopt out children to gay couples in the name of religion.... In a recent Florida House Judiciary Committee meeting, [10-year-old] Nathaniel Gill — the son of the gay man who successfully toppled Florida’s adoption ban in the courts — ...was abruptly cut off [mid-testimony] by Republican Committee Chair Charles McBurney." ...

... CW: Stern doesn't seem to understand that being mean to kids is an integral part of the GOP platform.

Tuesday
Apr072015

The Commentariat -- April 8, 2015

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama's push for a historic opening with Cuba faces its first major test this week as he travels to a summit meeting in Latin America, where he hopes to highlight momentum toward ending a half-century of isolation from the island nation.Even before Mr. Obama was to board Air Force One on Wednesday, White House officials signaled that the administration was nearing a decision on whether to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism." ...

... Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Cuba ends more than five decades of official isolation in the Western Hemisphere this week when President Raúl Castro attends a regional summit with up to 35 heads of state and government, including President Obama. The White House said there will be 'many opportunities' for conversations between the two leaders at the two-day Summit of the Americas that begins Friday in Panama, but noted that no formal bilateral meeting had yet been planned."

Dana Milbank on "the rush to humiliate the poor": Missouri's "surf-and-turf bill is one of a flurry of new legislative proposals at the state and local level to dehumanize and even criminalize the poor as the country deals with the high-poverty hangover of the Great Recession.... Last week, the Kansas legislature passed NPR study last year found that defendants are routinely charged for public defenders, room and board in jail, parole supervision and electronic monitoring devices -- items that were once free.... In their budget plans in Congress, Republicans propose 'devolving' food stamps and other programs to state control by awarding block grants with few strings attached." ...

... The Double Standard Imposed on the Poor. Emily Badger of the Washington Post: "There's virtually no evidence that the poor actually spend their money [on luxuries].... The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.... Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits -- farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks -- don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too.... We begrudge [the poor] their housing vouchers, for instance, even though government spends about four times as much subsidizing housing for upper-income homeowners. ...

... Speaking of Double Standards.... Greg Sargent: "The debate is intensifying in Congress over what lawmakers should do to place limits on President Obama's authority to implement a deal with major world powers and Iran over the future of that country's nuclear program.... At the same time, however, the discussion among lawmakers has vanished entirely on ... whether Congress will vote to limit Obama's authority to wage war against ISIS. This double-standard was pointed out to me by Senator Chris Murphy..., who is emerging as a voice of sanity on Iran."

Judging Chuck. Ed Kilgore: "... if Schumer thinks representing New York means viewing Wall Street and Bibi Netanyahu as needy constituents, who cares if he's feeling no electoral pressure? So let's see how Schumer handles this year and next and then decide whether it's worth the trouble to stage noisy protests over this man's supposedly inevitable ascension to the leadership." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "The White House is trying to bottle up bipartisan legislation that would give Congress 60 days to review a final Iran nuclear deal. The pushback may be having an effect": -- Senators Chris Coons & Mark Warner, who the GOP counted in their court, are now saying they're thinking about it. Also Ben "Cardin, who took over the top Democratic slot on the panel after [Robert] Menendez stepped aside in the wake of corruption charges, indicated in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that he wants to see changes to the bill to address the administration's concerns." ...

... Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Senior officials, important clerics, lawmakers and Republican Guard commanders [in Iran], who in the past have reflexively opposed any accommodation with the West, now go out of their way to laud Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team of negotiators [of the pending nuclear deal], as well as the government of President Hassan Rouhani."

AFP: "Washington deepened its involvement in the Saudi-led air war in Yemen on Wednesday as aid agencies scrambled to deliver help to civilians caught up in the campaign now heading into its third week. The Red Cross has warned of a 'catastrophic' situation in main southern city of Aden, where militia loyal to the fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi have been holding out against Houthi Shia rebels and their allies within the security forces.... The US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence-sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition."

Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: "Russian hackers behind the damaging cyber intrusion of the State Department in recent months used that perch to penetrate sensitive parts of the White House computer system, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president's schedule."

Presidential Race

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post fact-checks Rand Paul's announcement speech. You'll find a heavy presence of words like "misleading," "falsely," & "myth." ...

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "... libertarians remain too young and too few to present Senator [Rand] Paul with a realistic path to the nomination. He has to win over a much larger share of more reliable Republican primary voters, who will have considerable reservations about Mr. Paul's policies. The other problem he faces: Many of the voters most receptive to libertarian views tend not to vote." ...

[E]very piece of anti-discrimination legislation passed over the past few decades ignores one of the basic, inalienable rights of man -- the right to discriminate. -- Rand Paul, 1982, op-ed in Baylor U. newspaper

The arc of history bends toward the 1870s.... ** Rutherford B. Paul. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Rand Paul would be the worst president on civil rights since the 1800s.... Paul continued to espouse the same opposition to civil rights laws that he expressed as an undergraduate until months before his election to the Senate. And, while Paul has since learned to be more careful in his rhetoric, his public statements on the Constitution are entirely inconsistent with a legal regime that protects women and minorities from businesses that engage in discrimination.... Paul lives in a world of theory untouched by the lessons of history and evidence." ...

... Our Screwed-up Liberal Democracy Has Usurped Li'l Randy's FREEEEDOM to Violate Copyright Laws. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "If you're looking for Rand Paul's presidential announcement on YouTube, bad news. As of writing, the video has been blocked by the video streaming site, thanks to a copyright claim from Warner Music Group.... Rand Paul's spirited cry against government intervention has been blocked from view because YouTube lets huge music companies preemptively apply copyright law." CW: Still down at 11 pm Tuesday. ...

     ... AND still down at 10 am Wednesday. Maybe Randy doesn't think this presidential announcement thing is important enough to get right. Or maybe he's planning to use this glitch to finger the vast left-wing conspiracy. Also, see Nisky Guy's commentary in today's thread. ...

... Here's a screenshot of Paul's presidential announcement video:

... McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "One of the high points from Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign kickoff Tuesday came when a black local pastor named Jerry Stephenson delivered an impassioned mini-sermon on behalf of the candidate.... After the event, however..., Stephenson got on the subject of the religious freedom debate and ... began musing about why he believed President Obama wasn't backing up conservative Christians. 'In five years we'll find out what [Obama's] real religion is,' Stephenson said." ...

... Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "Don't let Rand Paul fool you on climate change. He's a not-so-secret denier posing, if briefly, as a realist.

David Gram of the Atlantic provides "a cheat sheet" on GOP presidential candidates. He begins with this note about Rand Paul's announcement: "... he marked the kickoff with a speech at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (The name seems a little on the nose.)"

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "... late last month, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders helped push the Democratic Party a little to the left.... Social Security expansion has entered the Democratic mainstream, touted by lawmakers and pushed by presidential candidates like Martin O'Malley.... But the real test of Social Security's resurgence as a liberal cause is Hillary Clinton. When Social Security solvency meant benefit cuts, she was open to benefit cuts. Now it doesn't. But we don't know where Clinton will fall.... That, after all, is what primaries are for." ...

... Digby has an excellent essay on the same subject in Salon. She assumes Hillary Clinton will have "evolved," along with most of the Democratic party, on expanding Social Security. "... the people who stand to benefit the most from this are the most hardcore members of the Republican base. Will they turn down a raise?" ...

... Kate Brower, author of the book The Residence, which is based on interviews of White House service staff, dishes on Bill & Hillary Clinton in a Politico Magazine piece. CW: Expect a lot of this type of "journalism" in the coming year-and-a-half; I hesitated to link the story, but decided WTF. You can show better taste by deciding not to read it.

Beyond the Beltway

NBC 5 Chicago "Rahm Emanuel won his re-election contest Tuesday night and bested challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia to remain in charge of Chicago for another four years, the Associated Press projects."

John Eligon of the New York Times: "... voters [in Ferguson, Missouri,] elected two black candidates to the City Council on Tuesday, increasing the number of African-Americans on the governing body to three. But in a blow to the protesters who had pushed for sweeping changes to the city's law enforcement and judicial policies after the shooting last August, voters rejected several candidates who had the direct backing of protest activists." ...

... Stephen Deere of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Perhaps the most significant aspect of the results for Ferguson City Council was that 30 percent of the city's 12,738 registered voters cast ballots -- more than double the typical turnout."

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away. The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he feared for his life because the man took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man -- Walter L. Scott, 50 -- fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening." It appears Slager planted the stun gun near Scott's body." Includes video. ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress shows how the police department initially told the story before the video surfaced. "On Saturday the police released a statement alleging that Scott had attempted to gain control of a Taser from Slager and that he was shot in a struggle over the weapon.... By Sunday, the police department had clammed up...."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "A federal jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 charges for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 260, ruining lives and limbs and a city's sense of peace. He was also found guilty in the murder of a police officer. Tsarnaev is now eligible for the death penalty." ...

... The New York Times story is here.

Guardian: "The former head of the CIA in Pakistan should be tried for murder and waging war against the country, a high court judge ruled on Tuesday. Criminal charges against Jonathan Banks, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, were ordered in relation to a December 2009 attack by a US drone which reportedly killed at least three people."

Reuters: "US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter kicked off his first Asian tour on Wednesday with a stern warning against the militarisation of territorial rows in a region where China is at odds with several nations in the East and South China Seas."

Washington Post: Stan "Freberg died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. at age 88.... Before National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, way before, there was Stan Freberg."

Monday
Apr062015

The Commentariat -- April 7, 2015

"Surrender at Appomattox," by Thomas Lovell.... ** Brian Beutler: "... April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War.... And to mark the occasion, the federal government should make two modest changes: It should make April 9 a federal holiday; and it should commit to disavowing or renaming monuments to the Confederacy, and its leaders, that receive direct federal support." ...

... CW: I'm sure everyone will jump on this idea. Let's ask Jefferson Beauregard Sessions about it, for starters. Also, I never knew who Edmund Pettus was. So I looked him up: "He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War.... After the war he was a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and a Democratic U.S. Senator.... [He was] an enthusiastic champion of the Confederate cause and of slavery...." ...

... Steve M.: "Yeah, that's all we need: another reason for right-wingers to feel put upon.... In the real America, Southern whites have persuaded themselves that the flag of the Confederacy is about 'heritage' rather than slavery or treason, and the defense of 'heritage' in the modern world is part of a noble resistance to anti-white racism, which manifests itself in affirmative action and excessive social spending on Those People."

Sarah Bailey of the Washington Post: "President Obama teased his critics in his Easter remarks as religious leaders gathered at the White House for a prayer breakfast Tuesday. Obama noted the biblical call that Christians are called to love each other. But he said he sometimes hears 'less-than-loving expressions by Christians.' He added, 'but that's a topic for another day,' to applause and some jeering and laughter, 'I was about to veer off. I'm pulling it back.'"

When Crazy No Longer Pays. Dana Milbank: "Climate-change deniers are in retreat.... They're resorting to more defensible arguments that don't make them sound like flat-earthers.... For politicians and climate-denial groups, the elixir of life is money. Now that corporations are becoming reluctant to bankroll crazy theories, the surrender of climate-change deniers will follow."

Timothy Cama of the Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday sent to the White House its controversial regulation to redefine the extent of its authority over water pollution control."

Trevor Potter & Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, in Politico Magazine: "Before [Aaron] Schock [R-Illinois] becomes a footnote in history, it's worth reflecting on how he represents everything wrong with the way Congress raises money.... The rise and fall of Schock embodies the reality of the current campaign finance system. Members are now valued by the Leadership and fellow Members because of their fundraising prowess, not their legislating abilities.... The true scandal is that he was doing what all 'successful' Members of Congress now do -- ignoring Congressional grunt work and instead raising money." Potter & McGehee suggests some at-least partial solutions -- which aren't going to happen. Because $$$.

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Edward Snowden avoided saying whether he had read every NSA document he handed over to journalists in an interview with comedian John Oliver on Sunday, as the HBO host posed uncomfortable questions to the NSA whistleblower in Moscow." ...

... Alan Yuhas: "The New York parks department on Monday removed a large bust of Edward Snowden that was installed in a Brooklyn park, shortly after covering it up with a tarp and thwarting the artists' stated intent 'to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies'. The Snowden bust still stood at Fort Greene Park's Prison Ship Martyrs monument, atop a single Doric column."

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer ... is strongly endorsing passage of a law opposed by President Barack Obama that would give Congress an avenue to reject the White House-brokered framework [on Iranian nuclear capabilities] unveiled last week." ...

... Eyder Peralta of NPR: "On Friday, Netanyahu insisted that any final agreement with Iran had to include 'clear and unambiguous Iranian commitment of Israel's right to exist.' In his interview with [NPR's] Steve [Inskeep], Obama dismissed Netanyahu's demand. 'The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,' Obama said. 'And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.'" With audio. ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic on what's wrong with Netanyahu's arguments. "... if America follows Netanyahu's advice, Iran's isolation will ease and America's will grow. Perhaps it's no surprise that a leader whose policies have so isolated his own country from the world is urging the United States down a similar path." ...

... Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Whereas Israel's public diplomacy has so far focused on what many have said was an unrealistic demand for the complete dismantlement of Iran's potentially military nuclear infrastructure, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it 'more reasonable.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Amanda Holpuch & Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "The University of Virginia fraternity chapter at the center of Rolling Stone magazine's retracted article A Rape on Campus said on Monday that it planned to sue the magazine for what it called 'reckless' reporting that hurt its reputation." ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "No one at Rolling Stone magazine is going to be fired: How can that be?"

I don't trust the press. I think I trust Iran more than I trust the American press. I don't want the American press interpreting this for me. -- Bill O'Reilly, one of the nation's few honest journos

Presidential Race

NEW. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, aiming to upset the political order in Washington and disprove those in his own party who doubt that a fiercely libertarian conservative can be a serious contender." ...

... Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will become the second major GOP presidential candidate to officially launch a White House bid on Tuesday.... He intends to focus heavily on young voters and minority outreach, and will make the pitch to Republican primary voters that his efforts to expand the party make him the candidate with the best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election." ...

... Jeremy Peters: "On Tuesday, when Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination at a rally here, his father, Ron, the former Texas congressman, will have a silent role. The elder Mr. Paul, who is known for eagerly commenting on the crisis of the moment, has been much quieter lately. Last week, he was declining all interview requests." ...

... Josh Rogin of Bloomberg: "In the first salvo of the 2016 Republican ad wars, a conservative group is about to unleash a seven-figure ad campaign targeting Senator Rand Paul for being out of step with the party on Iran, just as he launches his presidential campaign. The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, a 501(c)(4) group led by veteran Republican operative Rick Reed, will go live with its campaign against Paul on Tuesday, while the senator is in Louisville, Kentucky, announcing his presidential candidacy.... Reed ... was the architect of the 2004 'Swiftboat Veterans for Truth' campaign that attacked John Kerry's national-security record and credentials."

Robert Samuels of the Washington Post: "... Jeb Bush boasts that an executive order he signed that ended race-based college admissions in Florida upheld conservative principles while helping minorities.... But[, as predicted,] at Florida's two premier universities, black enrollment is shrinking.... Bush ... is the only governor who has signed an order ending affirmative action.... The growth in minority enrollment that Bush now points to is primarily a result of the state's booming Hispanic population.... As the number of black students dwindles, a sense of isolation has grown among them, particularly during episodes of perceived prejudice." ...

... Juanito! Ed Kilgore: "... when Poppy caused a brief flurry of controversy by referring to Jeb's kids as 'the little brown ones,' it probably didn't occur to him that Jeb might come to think of himself as a 'little brown one' by association -- or perhaps by the projection of a pol hungry for votes. Any way you slice the cantaloupe, though, you have to wonder how this news went over with Steve King." ...

... As Unwashed remarked in yesterdays Comments, "Just to be safe, we might want to get out the tape measure to check the circumference of [Jeb's] calves to make sure he didn't sneak across the border carrying a couple bales of contraband." ...

... A Family Rejects It's Northeastern WASPy Heritage. David Frum of the Atlantic: "Just as George H.W. Bush turned his back on the Northeastern Republicanism of Prescott Bush by traveling to Texas and throwing his lot in with Goldwater conservatism; just as New Haven-born George W. Bush defined himself as the Texas-most of the Texans; so Jeb says he is not a WASP, but a bicultural man, raising a bicultural family. He emancipated himself from one identity by adopting another."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Expressing reverence for [Ronald] Reagan has been almost a requirement for Republican presidential candidates since 1988, but [Scott] Walker has taken to it like an apostle to his creed. As he prepares a White House run, and envisions competing against candidates named Bush and Clinton, Mr. Walker is going to great lengths to claim the Reagan legacy all for himself."

Obama to Walker: "You're an Ignoramus." Domenicao Montanaro of NPR: President "Obama scoffed at Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's suggestion that he would, on Day 1, revoke any nuclear agreement with Iran if he is elected president. 'It would be a foolish approach to take,' Obama said in an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, 'and perhaps Mr. Walker -- after he's taken some time to bone up on foreign policy -- will feel the same way.'" ...

... Greg Sargent: "Walker’s attack [on the Iran deal] is a reminder that Republicans continue to frame their opposition to any Iran deal in narrow terms -- I pledge to stick it to Obama and undo his capitulation to Iran on Day One!!! -- when in fact the talks also involve major allies, meaning all sorts of consequences could result from blowing up an international deal to which they are parties. Obama's response did hint at the general idea that recklessly undermining our agreements with other countries would 'embolden our enemies.'"

Josh Rogin of Bloomberg: "Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn't yet said whether he's running for president, yet he will announce Monday that if he wins the White House he intends to trash President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran as one of his first official acts." ...

... As digby asked the other day, "Am I the only one who finds it just a little bit odd that the American officials loudly claiming Iran cannot be trusted to fulfill any deal are simultaneously pledging that they will not fulfill any deal? Is it possible they have such little self-awareness?" ...

... CW: Sorry, digby, but "Rick Perry" and "self-awareness" only appear in the same sentence when someone is pointing out he has none. ...

In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.... From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. -- Pope Francis, in his Easter Message ...

... An Easter Message from Pope Francis to Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, et. al.: David Knowles of Bloomberg: "Pope Francis wants to give peace with Iran a chance. Delivering his Easter message from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sunday, the pope gave his backing to the nuclear deal reached between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. 'In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,' the pope told the throngs of followers gathered in the rain." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Every day, you figure the odds go up that some conservative politician like Rick Santorum or Bobby Jindal is going to come right out and claim to be more Catholic than the Pope."

The Gospel According to Ted -- Does Not Run Thru the Supreme Court. Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News: "On his first Iowa stop as a presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz warned Wednesday that a Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage nationwide would be 'fundamentally illegitimate.'... 'Because of their partisan desire to mandate gay marriage everywhere in this country, they also want to persecute anyone who has a good faith religious belief that marriage is a holy sacrament, the union of one man and one woman and ordained as a covenant by God,' he said.... He reiterated his vow to press for a constitutional amendment that would clarify the power of state legislatures to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If the high court does legalize gay marriage nationwide, he added, he would prod Congress to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, a rarely invoked legislative tool." Via Charles Pierce. ...

Andy Borowitz: "The Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz's constant references to Jesus Christ in his speeches and campaign ads are sparking a strong interest in atheism among millions of Americans, atheist leaders report."

... If you are trying to think up some sly, disingenuous ways to justify bigotry, among the fellows who are glad to oblige are Rick Santorum, who thinks he should be POTUS, & Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who thinks he should be pope. Charles Pierce reports. CW: For starters, all these old boys should take a look at the Good News in the Good Book (see my Sunday post), & quit making up shit. Next, they really need to get over their weird obsession with other people's sex lives & wedding plans. (See also "Daily Show" clip below.)

AND 90-percent-presidential-candidate Carly Fiorina blames liberals for the California drought.

Senate Race

Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic: "Veteran U.S. Sen. John McCain will announce Tuesday that he will seek a sixth term in 2016. McCain, R-Ariz., plans to officially declare his bid for re-election during a speech before the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Arizona Biltmore resort in central Phoenix." McCain will turn 80 in 2016.

Gubernatorial Race

Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: Gavin Newsom, California's leutenant governor, who is running for governor, Newsom, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking state official to support legalization [of recreational marijuana]. If an expected 2016 ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana includes safeguards that he views as crucial, Newsom will endorse it and effectively be the public face of the effort."

Beyond the Beltway

Nik DeCosta-Klipa of the Boston Globe: "On the same day closing arguments were heard in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial for the Boston Marathon bombings, Massachusetts Catholic leaders reaffirmed their opposition to the death penalty. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference released a statement Monday afternoon, signed by local bishops, including Cardinal Seán O'Malley."

Republican Men Should Not Be Allowed out at Night

The Man in the Orange Jumpsuit was once the head of the South Carolina GOP.WIS TV, Columbia, South Carolina: "The former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party was arrested Monday on a criminal domestic violence charge. James John Todd Kincannon, 33, was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center Monday evening....

Just Another GOP Mugshot.... Michael Brindley of New Hampshire Public Radio: "Senator Kelly Ayotte says she has accepted the resignation of her state director, after he was arrested Friday, charged with solicitation of prostitution. Nashua police say David Wihby was one of 10 men arrested as part of a special sting operation last week at two city hotels." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Mike Weisser in the Huffington Post: "This past week Kansas became the sixth state to align itself with something called the Constitutional Carry Movement which interprets the 2nd Amendment to mean that anyone can carry a concealed weapon without having to undergo any kind of licensing requirement at all.... The [Supreme Court's] 2008 Heller decision ... explicitly defined the 2nd Amendment as granting Americans the right to keep a gun in their homes.

Sunday
Apr052015

The Commentariat -- April 6, 2015

Afternoon News

Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Whereas Israel's public diplomacy has so far focused on what many have said was an unrealistic demand for the complete dismantlement of Iran's potentially military nuclear infrastructure, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it 'more reasonable.'"

*****

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama made a detailed case Sunday for a new framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program, calling it a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table' and potentially bring regional stability to the Middle East. Obama's comments were part of a major sales pitch launched by the administration Sunday in an effort to marshal public support for the tentative pact, even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congressional Republicans took to the airwaves to blast the accord. ...

... The New York Times interview is here. With video clips. (See also Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. below.) ...

... Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday stepped up his attack on a nascent deal to curb Iran's nuclear program, calling the framework agreement announced in Switzerland last week 'a very bad deal'. The framework did not do enough to dismantle Iran's nuclear infrastructure, Netanyahu said, and world powers were making a mistake by offering Iran a path to sanctions relief without demanding more in return." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to decry the landmark deal between the U.S. and Iran, more evidence is emerging that Israel's current leadership is alienating Americans in droves: '... Only 54% of Americans polled said that Israel is their country's ally, a decline from 68% in 2014 and 74% in 2012.'" ...

... Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor to Bill Clinton, in Politico Magazine: "This is a good deal. We should not be distracted by talk of a better one. Enacting new, tough sanctions in an effort to force Iran toward a 'better' deal would mystify and alarm the rest of the world, isolating and weakening us. Such sanctions would crumble under their own weight -- amounting to, as Shakespeare said, 'sound and fury, signifying nothing.'"

Mike Barnicle in the Daily Beast: "Why do so many Republicans seem so angry all the time at so much around us? The fury of some like Ted Cruz is understandable. It's fueled by his massive ego and outsized ambition along with his personal belief that he is so smart and the rest of us are so pedestrian that he can manipulate opinion to win the Republican nomination for president with the support of the mentally ill wing of his party." Barnicle devotes much of his post to ragging on John Bolton, who never conceived a war he didn't like, although he never had any intention of actually serving in the military. Because hippies or something.

Eric Lipton of the New York Times on how Comcast pays the influential to influence the FCC. This is precious: "David L. Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president who oversees the company's sprawling lobbying and public relations program, said in an interview on Friday that he was proud of the job the company had done in campaigning for the deal.... He did not dispute that many of the voices supporting the deal received donations from Comcast. But he said he was offended by the suggestion that their endorsements had been made in return for the financial help." ...

... Another example of why Bob Menendez's favors-for-friends program fails to horrify me.

Paul Campos, in a New York Times op-ed, on the real reasons for the huge rise in the cost of a college education: while the conventional wisdom puts the onus on cuts in state funding: "In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s." (Because the number of students has exploded, per-capita public investment is down somewhat.) And it isn't highly-paid professors, either; "... the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970." Campos puts much of the blame on vastly-growing administrations & overpaid administrators.

Paul Krugman: "Elections and politics.... The evidence suggests that the politically smart thing might well be to impose a pointless depression on your country for much of your time in office, solely to leave room for a roaring recovery just before voters go to the polls. Actually, that's a pretty good description of what the current British government has done, although it's not clear that it was deliberate."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

You get one guess & one guess only as to the identity of President Obama's New York Times "interviewer." Here's the lede, which should constitute the only clue you'll need:

In September 1996, I visited Iran. One of my most enduring memories of that trip was that in my hotel lobby there was a sign above the door proclaiming 'Down With USA.' But it wasn't a banner or graffiti. It was tiled and plastered into the wall. I thought to myself: 'Wow -- that's tiled in there! That won't come out easily.'

... Your answer here: Tom Friedman, because everything Tom Friedman writes is about Tom Friedman -- even an interview of the POTUS

... Ah, I knew you'd get it right. Here's the full video. Sorry, Mr. President, I couldn't watch:

Paul Farhi & Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post: "A months-long investigation into a flawed Rolling Stone magazine article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia has concluded that the story reflected failures at virtually every level, from reporting to editing to fact-checking. In a 12,000-word report that reads like a reportorial autopsy, a three-person team at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism called the November article 'a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.... The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting' that would likely have exposed the story as dubious." ...

... Sheila Coronel, Steve Coll & Derek Kravitz write the Columbia U. Graduate School of Journalism report, published in Rolling Stone: "'A Rape on Campus' -- What Went Wrong." ...

... Here are statements, via the New York Times, by Sabrina Erdely, the author of the Rolling Stone story, & by Theresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

NEW. Anchorman! Frank Rich: "For all the histrionics, [the Brian Williams] incident of media blood sport was much ado about not so much. The network-news anchor as an omnipotent national authority figure is such a hollow anachronism in 21st-century America that almost nothing was at stake. NBC's train wreck played out as corporate and celebrity farce rather than as a human or cultural tragedy because it doesn't actually matter who puts on the bespoke suit and reads the news from behind a desk."

Presidential Race

The Former Most Interesting Man in Politics. Karen Tumulty & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "When the presidential buzz began building around Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a couple of years ago, the expectation was that his libertarian ideas could make him the most unusual and intriguing voice among the major contenders in the 2016 field. But now, as he prepares to make his formal announcement Tuesday, Paul is a candidate who has turned fuzzy, having trimmed his positions and rhetoric so much that it's unclear what kind of Republican he will present himself as...."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: Jeb "Bush ... was born in Texas and hails from one of America's most prominent political dynasties. But on at least one occasion, it appears he got carried away with his appeal to Spanish-speaking voters and claimed he actually was Hispanic. In a 2009 voter-registration application, obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Mr. Bush marked Hispanic in the field labeled 'race/ethnicity.'" Here's the form. ...

... Jessica Roy: "When contacted by the Times, Bush's spokesperson had no idea why he'd listed himself as Hispanic, which is probably the first honest response ever elicited from a spokesperson."

NEW. Jason Zengerle of New York writes what is billed as "a sober assessment" of Hilliary Clinton's chance to be our next POTUS.

Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Gary Hart has serious reservations about a Hillary Clinton candidacy. The prospect of a billion-dollar Clinton campaign 'ought to frighten every American,' he said in an interview with Politico, and Democrats would be better served by a competitive primary that forced her to speak in more depth about the issues.... The post-Citizens United campaign finance environment has sullied the presidential process, he said, benefiting establishment politicians who cater to financial backers."

Beyond the Beltway

Kansas Legislators Think up New Ways to Harm Poor Families. Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post: "Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's desk by the state legislature. The bill also prohibits welfare recipients from spending their benefits at certain types of businesses, including liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools and cruise ships.... 'This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent,' Liz Schott of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in an email. 'Moreover, it actually takes money from the pockets of poor families since they will need to pay 85 cents for each additional withdrawal after the first one in a month, and often more with ATM transaction fees.'"

Brandon Rittiman of KUSA Denver: "The [Colorado] Department of Regulatory Agencies determined that a Denver bakery did nothing wrong when it refused to write anti-gay words on a cake. In the ruling released Friday, the Colorado Civil Rights Division rejected the argument that Azucar Bakery discriminated against the customer's religion when it refused the order in March 2014. The state ruled that the cake shop had every right not to make the cakes on the grounds that the message on the cakes would be 'derogatory.'"

News Ledes

Guardian: "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's fate now moves to the hands of a jury, after a vehement and emotionally charged closing statement from the prosecutor in the Boston bombing trial on Monday."

New York Times: "The Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, a grandson of slaves who took over a Baptist pulpit in Brooklyn in 1948, when overt racism defined much of American life, and became an influential voice for civil rights and one of the nation's most eloquent churchmen, died on Sunday in Durham, N.C. He was 96."