The Ledes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

New York Times: "Artur Fischer, a German inventor who registered more than 1,100 patents, including the first synchronized camera flash and an anchor that millions of do-it-yourselfers use to secure screws into walls, died on Jan. 27 at his home in Waldachtal, in southwestern Germany. He was 96."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 9

1:00 pm ET: Senior administration officials discuss the President's FY2017 budget

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Friday
Nov202015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 21, 2015

** Alec MacGillis in a New York Times op-ed: "In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process. The people in these communities who are voting Republican ... [are voting], in part, [as] a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to overturn lower courts and declare that the president has the authority to allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain and work in the United States without fear of deportation. The administration petitioned the justices to step in only 10 days after a federal appeals court ruled against President Obama's program. Unless the Supreme Court agrees to consider the issue and overrules the lower court, Obama has little chance of carrying out the program before he leaves office in January 2017."

As long as I'm president, we will keep on stepping up and ensure American remains, as it has always been, a place where people who in other parts of the world are subject to discrimination and violence have in America a friend and a place of refuge. -- Barack Obama, in Malaysia

... Josh Lederman of the AP: "Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence ... 'as long as I'm president.' Obama commented Saturday at a learning center in the Malaysian capital that serves the poor, including some refugees." ...

     ... The New York Times report, by Michael Shear, is here. ...

... Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), in a New York Times op-ed: "... many of my fellow governors have been quick and loud in proclaiming their states off limits to Syrian refugees -- even though governors lack authority to close state borders to refugees. They spoke before knowing what the review process entailed, and in some cases punctuated their comments with divisive and misguided rhetoric that appeared to saddle all Syrians with the crimes of the Islamic State. The House bill, which President Obama has said he will veto, would essentially halt the resettlement of refugees fleeing Syria. That's a mistake driven by fear, not sound policy making." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... ** Still a Hero. Yvonne Abraham of the Boston Globe: "If you want them here so badly, why don't you take in a refugee? That was the inevitable response from some of congressman Seth Moulton's [D-Mass.] critics this week, after he called out Governor Charlie Baker [R-Mass.] for saying he didn't want Syrian refugees coming to Massachusetts until his concerns over security are assuaged. Actually, Moulton has opened his home to a refugee. In this and other ways, the representative from the Sixth District speaks from experience as he takes a blessedly unequivocal stand in favor of compassion and common sense on this issue." Via Charles Pierce. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) says he changed his vote on Syrian refugee legislation after colleagues in the House 'surrounded' him and pressured him to support the bill. Just prior to the Thursday vote, Russell gave an impassioned speech on the floor calling the SAFE Act 'xenophobic' and a 'knee-jerk reaction' to the Paris terrorist attacks last week." ...

... Digby, in Salon: "The explanation as to why 47 Democrats would join in this immigrant bashfest is as prosaic as it is depressing. They fear being called 'soft on terrorism.' A bunch of hysterical voters who listen to demagogues on cable TV and talk radio called their offices to demand they put a stop to this foreign threat. Rather than be leaders and try to calm the waters, they just went with the flow, knowing that this legislation is unlikely to become law, but wanting to be able to tell their constituents they voted to bar refugees from our shores and keep the children safe. (Well, the good American children anyway. Syrian children will not be so lucky.) ...

... Eric Posner in Slate: "Psychologists who have studied these reactions have identified a number of factors that predict when people place excessive weight on a low risk. All of these factors point, with remarkable clarity, to the reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis. People underestimate risks that are familiar, under their personal control, voluntarily incurred, ignored by the media, and well-understood. Driving an automobile is the best example.... The opposite qualities are true for the risks that people fear the most.... People also overreact to risks that may produce especially dreaded or gruesome outcomes.... People put up with risks if they trust the institutions that manage them. [Here Posner, a confederate, pauses to blame President Obama, which is a requirement for every right-wing political essay.] Once people get it into their heads that someone or something poses a big risk to them and their families, it's hard to do anything about it."

... Seems like a waste of space to mention that Steve King (R-Iowa) is still Steve King. Andrew Kaczynski & Nathan McDermott of BuzzFeed: "Republican Rep. Steve King, while discussing on Thursday the Obama administration's plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, said President Obama is 'filling our country up with people that will continue to attack us' and cited Obama's upbringing in Indonesia as giving him an entirely different idea of what America should be like." CW: Thing is, Steve, that's exactly what the U.S. needs & has always needed: people who don't hold xenophobic, parochial views. Like yours.

Jonathan Chait: "Former Bush Speechwriter [-- that would be Michael Gerson of the Washington Post --] Attacks Obama As Vicious Peacemonger."

Hamza Hendawi, et al., of the AP: "The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials. Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The GOP "Reality Gap." Steve Benen: Republicans think unemployment has gone up while President Obama has been in office. After an initial increase brought on by the Bush recession, the unemployment rate has decreased significantly. "This is by no means limited to unemployment. President Obama increased border security, and Republicans are absolutely certain that he's done the opposite. The deficit has dropped by $1 trillion in the Obama era, and Republicans just know in their gut that the deficit has ballooned. The Affordable Care Act has lowered the uninsured rate to unprecedented depths, but Republicans are confident that 'Obamacare' hasn't improved the uninsured rate at all. The United States' international reputation has improved dramatically since the end of the Bush/Cheney era, though Republicans believe it's deteriorated."

Devin Henry of the Hill: "Republicans are taking aim at a new 'Green Climate Fund,' as they look to weaken President Obama's hand in global climate talks later this month. The pot of money, a $3 billion climate change pledge the president's administration made last year, is something officials hope to bring to the negotiating table at United Nations summit in Paris. But Republicans -- hostile to the climate talks and bent on doing whatever they can to derail a deal in Paris next month -- say they're going to deny Obama the first tranche of money he hopes to inject into the fund."

Charlie Savage of the New York Times (Nov. 19): "When the National Security Agency's bulk collection of records about Americans' emails came to light in 2013, the government conceded the program's existence but said it had shut down the effort in December 2011 for 'operational and resource reasons.' While that particular secret program stopped, newly disclosed documents show that the N.S.A. had found a way to create a functional equivalent. The shift has permitted the agency to continue analyzing social links revealed by Americans' email patterns, but without collecting the data in bulk from American telecommunications companies -- and with less oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Jonathan Cohn & Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post: "The Affordable Care Act has gotten some bad news lately. It's not a sign of impending disaster, as the law's critics say, but it may be a sign of some real problems on the horizon. UnitedHealth Group announced on Thursday that it has lost $425 million on the policies it has been selling through the Obamacare exchanges. The reason is pretty simple, according to Stephen Hemsley, the company's chief executive officer: UnitedHealth hasn't attracted a sufficiently balanced mix of healthy and sick customers." CW: As Reality Chex commenters pointed out yesterday, we should not be crying for UnitedHealth's profits. Hemsley walked home with $66mm last year. So boo-fucking-hoo. ...

... Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post: "Federal health officials Friday proposed changes to the rules for health coverage sold through insurance exchanges, including a possible floor for how many doctors and other providers each plan must include. The rules are intended to make it easier for consumers to compare their options in the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. They would define standard deductibles and co-payments, and allow insurers to sell plans with that specific benefit design."

** Andrew Higgins of the New York Times: "For a man who saved the world, or at least helped ensure that Adolf Hitler never got hold of a nuclear bomb, 96-year-old Joachim Ronneberg has a surprisingly unheroic view of the forces that shape history. 'There were so many things that were just luck and chance,' he said of his 1943 sabotage mission that blew up a Norwegian plant vital to Nazi Germany's nuclear program. 'There was no plan. We were just hoping for the best,' Mr. Ronneberg, Norway's most decorated war hero, added."

Jeremy Stahl of Slate: Now that spy Jonathan Pollard has been released from prison, his lawyers are contesting the terms of his parole.

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times Magazine on women in film. There are too few of them, they don't get paid enough & they get to make too few films.

Presidential Race

Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a new accord between America, its closest allies and Russia as well as Arab nations as a major plank on how to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 'We must create an organization like NATO to confront the security threats of the 21st century -- an organization that emphasizes cooperation and collaboration to defeat the rise of violent extremism and importantly to address the root causes underlying these brutal acts,' the Democratic presidential candidate said Thursday during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C." ...

Charles Pierce compares the proposals of Hillary Clinton & Marco Rubio to destroy ISIS. Both candidates say they'll do what President Obama is doing, only more so. Except for the refugee thing. The major difference is in their tone. Oh, & Marco also makes up stuff.

... Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Donald Trump went on a Twitter rampage late Thursday after Politico revealed that a GOP group was planning to spend at least $2.5 million on an ad campaign aggressively targeting the real estate mogul, whose four-month stint atop the Republican primary polls has alarmed many in the party establishment." ...

... Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Republican operative Liz Mair is planning a 'guerrilla campaign' aimed at knocking Donald Trump out of the GOP presidential race, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Mair, a former online communications director at the Republican National Committee who also worked on behalf of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's presidential campaign earlier this year, has formed Trump Card LLC 'to defeat and destroy' Trump's candidacy, according to the report." CW: The Walker campaign fired Mair for disparaging Iowa voters. Anyway, good luck with your guerilla campaign, Liz.

Maggie Haberman & Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "Under assault from Democrats and Republicans alike, Donald J. Trump on Friday drew back from his call for a mandatory registry of Muslims in the United States, trying to quell one of the ugliest controversies yet in a presidential campaign like few others. In a post on Twitter, Mr. Trump complained that it was a reporter, not he, who had first raised the idea of a database. And his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, insisted that Mr. Trump had been asked leading questions by the NBC reporter under 'blaring music' and that he had in mind a terrorist watch list, not a registry of Muslims. Still, nowhere, even on Friday, did Mr. Trump, who has rarely acknowledged being at fault in a campaign predicated on his strength as a leader, clearly state that he was opposed to the idea of a registry of Muslims." CW: Also, too, the reporter who asked the question about the difference between Trump's plan & registering Jews in Nazi Germany asked the same question four times. Trump appears to hear every word the reporter said, "blaring music" or not. This portion of the conversation begins at about 1 min. in. There is no music playing when Trump expounds on his "good management" of the registry data:

... CW: If Trump can't manage conversations with reporters, how is he going to manage threats of terrorism? ...

... Maggie Haberman & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's remarks Thursday that he would 'absolutely' institute mandatory registration of Muslims drew sharp condemnation from Democrats on Friday, and a number of other Republican rivals spoke out against the idea in more muted tones.... In a Twitter post linking to an article about the remarks, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote, 'This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country.' The post was signed with an 'H,' signaling that the candidate, and not her staff members, had written it." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Greg Sargent: Jeb "Bush unequivocally declares Trump's intentions towards Muslims to be 'wrong,' and doesn't shy away from labeling them demagoguery. Rubio's approach suggests a reluctance to call out Trump in this fashion, which perhaps also reflects a desire to avoid alienating conservative voters. Of course Rubio is rising among GOP voters, and Bush is falling, so maybe Rubio's apparent calculation is right.... The problem with tiptoeing around Trump's various prescriptions is that he is perpetually engaging in 'demagoguery inflation,' which is to say that he's always calling for something worse than what preceded it." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Kay Steiger of Think Progress: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seems to be going further than even Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in advocating the crackdown of U.S. Muslims. He doesn't just want to consider shutting down mosques, as Trump says, but wants to shut down 'any place where radicals are being inspired.'" ...

... digby: "Now we have the leading establishment candidate saying we have to 'shut down' not just mosques but websites, cafes, diners --- anyplace where radicals are being inspired. He left out libraries and book stores but surely that was an oversight." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The United States should have a database on every immigrant who enters the country, Ben Carson said Friday, addressing comments from Donald Trump that he would not rule out creating a registry of Muslims to track for terrorist activity. At the same time, he called Trump's call for tracking and targeting Muslims specifically as something that would be 'setting a pretty dangerous precedent.' '"Well, I think we should have a database on everybody who comes into this country,' the retired neurosurgeon told reporters at a media availability in Concord, New Hampshire, after filing for the state's Feb. 1 primary election. It was unclear whether Carson was referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency...." CW: It was "unclear" because Carson seems to have no knowledge whatsoever of ICE & its existing "database." Listening to Carson's "ideas" is like listening to the guy at the end of the bar: he knows almost nothing, but he has an opinion on everything.

Tim Egan explains to Republicans the difference between civilization & a cult. It's a difference most of us knew intuitively; yet it is lost completely upon most of the GOP candidates & half the Congress.

Eric Bradner of CNN: CNN announces their criteria for selecting GOP candidate eligibility for the fifth set of debates.

Gubernatorial Race

Julie O'Donoghue of the Times-Picayune: "In what is anticipated to be the closest governor's race in more than a decade, Louisiana voters head to the polls Saturday (Nov. 21) to pick the next man to lead the state. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, are both vying to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has headed up the state for the past eight years. Polling stations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The ballot also includes two other statewide races for attorney general and lieutenant governor as well as some local elections. Incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, both Republicans, are running to be the state's top lawyer. Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, a Republican, and Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, a Democrat, are competing to be second-in-line to the governor."

Kevin Robillard of Politico: "A year after Louisiana voters booted their last Democratic statewide officeholder by double digits, the dirtiest political race in America comes down to whether a lurid but decade-old sex scandal is enough to pry Southern conservatives away from the Republican Party, even amid renewed fears of terrorism at home. After an in-the-mud, four-week runoff also full of loaded attacks on crime, race and religion, Republican Sen. David Vitter faces a potentially embarrassing rebuke in Saturday's election by voters in a GOP-dominated state."

Beyond the Beltway

Richard Fausset of the New York Times: "In Mississippi on Friday, luck smiled on a Democratic state representative, Blaine Eaton II, who had been forced, by state law, to draw straws for his seat after his race for re-election ended in a tie.... If [his Republican rival Mark] Tullos had won, his fellow Republicans would have gained a three-fifths supermajority in the State House of Representatives, the threshold required to pass revenue-related bills. At stake, potentially, was hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. The three-fifths requirement has allowed the Democratic minority to block Republican tax-cut proposals in the past on the grounds that Mississippi needs the revenue to finance schools and other services."

Katherine Krueger of TPM: David Bowers, "the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, apologized Friday for his recent remarks comparing the current threat of terrorism in the U.S. to the national mood after Pearl Harbor, invoking the internment of Japanese-Americans in his call to block Syrian refugees.... His unprompted statement came amid a wave of Republican governors saying they oppose the relocation of Syrian refugees to their states, citing the Paris attacks that left 130 dead. None of the suspects identified in those attacks have been Syrian refugees." Didn't intend to offend, blah-blah.

Dylan Matthews of Vox: "Leaving aside the broader question of whether [Woodrow] Wilson's name should be removed [from buildings & programs at Princeton University], let's be clear on one thing: Woodrow Wilson was, in fact, a racist pig. He was a racist by current standards, and he was a racist by the standards of the 1910s, a period widely acknowledged by historians as the "nadir" of post -- Civil War race relations in the United States. Easily the worst part of Wilson's record as president was his overseeing of the resegregation of multiple agencies of the federal government, which had been surprisingly integrated as a result of Reconstruction decades earlier." ...

... CW: I've changed my mind (see yesterday's Commentariat). Matthews does a good job of outlining what an "unreconstructed," vile ass Wilson was. There are racists & there are racists. Wilson was a racist. ...

... Corey Robin in Slate: "Too often in our debates about freedom of speech, we assume that it already exists and that it is campus activists, particularly over questions of race, who threaten it. But what Princeton's students have shown is that, before they came along, there was in fact precious little speech about figures like Wilson, and what speech there was, was mostly bland PR for tourists and prospective students. Even more important, Princeton's students have shown us that it is precisely the kinds of actions they have taken -- which are uncivil, frequently illegal and always unruly -- that produce speech. Not just yelling and shouting, but also informed, deliberative, reasoned speech."

Dora Scheidell of Fox "News": Students in ninth grade at Salem Junior High School [in Salem, Utah,] were given a homework assignment where they were told to draw a propaganda poster for a terrorist organization. After parents complained, the assignment was canceled."

Way Beyond

Anne Barnard & Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "Exactly a week before Friday's siege in Bamako, Mali, the Islamic State ... shocked the world with attacks across Paris that killed 130 people. Militants linked to Al Qaeda took credit for the hotel attack [in Bamako]. And while the group cited local grievances as the rationale, it was also clear that the hostage-taking played into the growing and violent rivalry between the two groups. Once united under the Qaeda brand, they split over differing strategies in Syria. The Islamic State has since emerged as the most dynamic, popular force among radicalized Muslims, fueling a competition for recruits, cash and bragging rights among extremists who see bloodletting as the best way to advance an Islamist agenda. That competition has led to lethal one-upmanship that will be difficult to stamp out, given innumerable soft targets, even if armies can weaken the groups in their bases in the Middle East and Africa." ...

... Kodji Siby, et al, of the Washington Post: "Security forces surrounded gunmen inside a luxury hotel in Mali&'s capital on Friday after attackers stormed past guards, killing at least 20 people and holding hostages as others among the 170 staff and guests fled for safety. Hours after the standoff began, it appeared many people had managed to reach safety outside the besieged hotel compound in a city that serves as a logistics hub for French forces helping fight Islamist insurgents. An al-Qaeda-linked group asserted responsibility." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) Story has been updated: "The State Department said a U.S. citizen was among the dead. A department spokesman had reported earlier that no Americans were killed or injured in the attack." ...

... Joe Heim & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: Anita "Datar, a 41-year-old international development worker from Takoma Park, Md., is the only American known to have died in the attack.... Datar, the mother of an elementary-school-age son, was a senior manager at Palladium, an international development firm with offices in Washington."

... Dionne Searcey & Adam Nossiter of the New York Times: "A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the devastating attack. An unknown number of gunmen, perhaps four or five, took 'about 100 hostages' at the beginning of the siege, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army. He said soldiers had sealed the perimeter and were now 'inside looking for the terrorists.' By afternoon, there were no more hostages being held, said Colonel Salif Traore, Mali's minister of interior security, but the operation to retake the hotel was still underway. Two assailants had been killed, he said, and the remaining attackers were holed up in a corner of the hotel." Also linked yesterday afternoon. The story has since been updated. ...

... Mamadou Tapily, et al., of the Guardian: "A nine-hour hostage situation at a high-end hotel in Mali's capital is over after special forces stormed the building, officials said, but an unspecified number of attackers remain on the upper floors and are continuing to resist arrest." (Also linked yesterday.)

Michael Martinez, et al., of CNN: "Belgium has placed Brussels at the highest terror alert level, citing a 'serious and imminent threat that requires taking specific security measures as well as specific recommendations for the population.' The announcement by the Crisis Centre of the Belgian Interior Ministry is advising the public to avoid places where large groups gather -- such as concerts, sporting events, airports and train stations -- and comply with security checks. The rest of the nation will maintain its current terror level."

Our Friends in the Middle East. David Batty of the Guardian: "A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia's nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam. A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling." ...

... Kamel Daoud, in a New York Times op-ed: "The West's denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: It salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world's chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture. The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.... All of which leaves one skeptical of Western democracies' thunderous declarations regarding the necessity of fighting terrorism. Their war can only be myopic, for it targets the effect rather than the cause." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

News Ledes

AP: "Bangladesh executed two influential opposition leaders on charges of war crimes during the country's 1971 independence war, a senior jail official said Sunday, despite concerns that the legal proceedings against them were flawed and threats of violence by their supporters."

Washington Post: "Austin H. Kiplinger, a Washington publisher, civic leader and philanthropist who sustained the growth of his family's media empire and whose interests ranged from raising wheat to collecting memorabilia of the city's history, died Nov. 20 at a hospice in Rockville, Md. He was 97."

New York Times: "Bringing to a close a tumultuous bargaining season with American vehicle manufacturers, the United Automobile Workers ratified contracts Friday with General Motors and Ford Motor."

Thursday
Nov192015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 20, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Kodji Siby, et al, of the Washington Post: "Security forces surrounded gunmen inside a luxury hotel in Mali's capital on Friday after attackers stormed past guards, killing at least 20 people and holding hostages as others among the 170 staff and guests fled for safety. Hours after the standoff began, it appeared many people had managed to reach safety outside the besieged hotel compound in a city that serves as a logistics hub for French forces helping fight Islamist insurgents. An al-Qaeda-linked group asserted responsibility." ...

... Dionne Searcey & Adam Nossiter of the New York Times: "A senior United Nations official said that as many as 27 people had been killed, with bodies found in the basement and on the second floor, according to a preliminary assessment of the devastating attack. An unknown number of gunmen, perhaps four or five, took 'about 100 hostages' at the beginning of the siege, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army. He said soldiers had sealed the perimeter and were now 'inside looking for the terrorists.' By afternoon, there were no more hostages being held, said Colonel Salif Traore, Mali's minister of interior security, but the operation to retake the hotel was still underway. Two assailants had been killed, he said, and the remaining attackers were holed up in a corner of the hotel." ...

... Mamadou Tapily, et al., of the Guardian: "A nine-hour hostage situation at a high-end hotel in Mali's capital is over after special forces stormed the building, officials said, but an unspecified number of attackers remain on the upper floors and are continuing to resist arrest."

Hamza Hendawi, et al., of the AP: "The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials. Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris."

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), in a New York Times op-ed: "... many of my fellow governors have been quick and loud in proclaiming their states off limits to Syrian refugees -- even though governors lack authority to close state borders to refugees. They spoke before knowing what the review process entailed, and in some cases punctuated their comments with divisive and misguided rhetoric that appeared to saddle all Syrians with the crimes of the Islamic State. The House bill, which President Obama has said he will veto, would essentially halt the resettlement of refugees fleeing Syria. That's a mistake driven by fear, not sound policy making." ...

... ** Still a Hero. Yvonne Abraham of the Boston Globe: "If you want them here so badly, why don't you take in a refugee? That was the inevitable response from some of congressman Seth Moulton's [D-Mass.] critics this week, after he called out Governor Charlie Baker [R-Mass.] for saying he didn't want Syrian refugees coming to Massachusetts until his concerns over security are assuaged. Actually, Moulton has opened his home to a refugee. In this and other ways, the representative from the Sixth District speaks from experience as he takes a blessedly unequivocal stand in favor of compassion and common sense on this issue." Via Charles Pierce. ...

... Maggie Haberman & Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's remarks Thursday that he would 'absolutely' institute mandatory registration of Muslims drew sharp condemnation from Democrats on Friday, and a number of other Republican rivals spoke out against the idea in more muted tones.... In a Twitter post linking to an article about the remarks, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote, 'This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country.' The post was signed with an 'H,' signaling that the candidate, and not her staff members, had written it." ...

... Greg Sargent: Jeb "Bush unequivocally declares Trump's intentions towards Muslims to be 'wrong,' and doesn't shy away from labeling them demagoguery. Rubio's approach suggests a reluctance to call out Trump in this fashion, which perhaps also reflects a desire to avoid alienating conservative voters. Of course Rubio is rising among GOP voters, and Bush is falling, so maybe Rubio's apparent calculation is right.... The problem with tiptoeing around Trump's various prescriptions is that he is perpetually engaging in 'demagoguery inflation,' which is to say that he’s always calling for something worse than what preceded it."

*****

Yesterday's Comments center on an excellent discussion of the politics of fear. Keep up the good work. I have to finish tiling the bathroom before the plumber comes. I'll be back this afternoon. -- Constant Weader

Jennifer Steinhauer & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to slap stringent -- and difficult to implement -- new screening procedures on refugees from Syria seeking resettlement, seizing on the fear stemming from the Paris attacks and threatening to cloud President Obama's Middle East policy. The bill, which passed 289 to 137, with nearly 50 Democrats supporting it, would require that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence confirm that each applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat, a demand the White House called 'untenable.'" ...

... Charles Pierce: "In the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, 47 Democratic politicians voted for terror. They voted for terror as a useful political emotion in their districts, and they surely voted for terror as a successful tactic abroad. There were 47 Democrats who voted for terror on Thursday. These are their names."...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) says a House bill suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees ... will not make it to President Obama's desk.... Reid said at a press conference that Democrats will block the legislation that requires the secretary of Homeland Security to affirm to Congress that every refugee being admitted is not a security threat. Senate Democrats are pushing alternative legislation, to be unveiled after Thanksgiving, that would tighten up security gaps in the visa waiver program.... Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, earlier in the week said a pause of the refugee resettlement program may be necessary. On Thursday he took that option off the table."

McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "A leading voice on the religious right sharply criticized the 'dangerous' anti-refugee sentiment that has permeated the recent political debate in the United States -- and warned that some Republican presidential candidates may turn off Christian voters with their lack of compassion. Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that he was shocked by the 'overheated' rhetoric being employed by high-profile politicians in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris."

Eric Beech of Reuters: "Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday threatening the White House with suicide bombings and car blasts and vowing to conduct more attacks on France....The latest threat comes one day after the militant group put out a video showing scenes of New York City, which suggested it was also a target."

Zachary Tracer of Bloomberg: "The biggest U.S. health insurer is considering pulling out of Obamacare as it loses hundreds of millions of dollars on the program, casting a pall over President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. UnitedHealth Group Inc. has scaled back marketing efforts for plans sold to individuals this year and may quit the business entirely in 2017. It's an abrupt shift from October, when the health insurer said it was planning to sell coverage through the Affordable Care Act in 11 more states next year, bringing its total to 34. The company also cut its 2015 earnings forecast."

Ana Gonzalez-Barrera of the Pew Research Center: "More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S."

Digby, in Salon: Winger macho-boy Erick Erickson, who once threatened to take out any U.S. census worker who stepped onto his property, wrote that he was afraid to go to the movies to watch "Star Wars 97" or whatever it is because theaters don't have metal detectors to save him from 3-year-old Syrian refugees. But then he realized big boys pack heat at the movies, so he deleted his remark & now says "he is not afraid to go to the movies because he will be carrying a gun and assumes that others will too. If that's true, a lot of people should rethink their plans to attend Star Wars. With theaters full of armed men who are quivering in fear and ready to fire at the first loud noise, does seem wise to avoid that situation." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election? Stay tuned."

In a straight news piece, David Fahrenthold & Jose DelReal of the Washington Post outline just how extremely anti-Muslim (mostly Republican) elected leaders & wanna-bes have become. ...

... BUT It's Obama's Fault. Greg Jaffe, in another straight WashPo news report: President "Obama's response to the attacks also raises a more political question: Why hasn't a man known for his rhetorical gifts done more to address the fear the attacks instill in ordinary Americans?"

Brian Beutler on why Republicans insist on using the term "radical Islamic terrorists," but when the shoe is on the other foot, cannot abide the term "right-wing extremists" when applied to this country's right-wing extremists.

Charles Pierce: "Six people were shot to death over the weekend in a place called Palestine. Did you read much about it? No. Because this Palestine is in Texas, and because it was just another example of the price we are expected to pay for our Second Amendment freedoms..., and that is the terrorism that supposedly is the cost of our Constitutional liberties, the terrorism that is our birthright as Americans. It was a land dispute so, naturally, this being America and all, guns had to become involved.... Not much on this from the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, one of the 20-odd governors currently trembling with fear that the prospect of Syrian toddlers invading their states."

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: "Federal regulators on Thursday approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner tables."

Peter Baker & Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times: "Jonathan J. Pollard, the American convicted of spying on behalf of Israel, walked out of prison early on Friday after 30 years, the Israeli prime minister said, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him leave the country and move to Israel as he requested." ...

... Eric Tucker of the AP: "'The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan Pollard,' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come,' he said."

Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The D.C. government will pay $16.65 million to settle a federal lawsuit after a jury found that D.C. police framed an innocent man who served 27 years in prison for a rape and murder. The settlement Thursday in the civil rights case of Donald E. Gates, 64, is the largest in city history, District officials said. A nine-person jury on Wednesday found that two D.C. homicide detectives fabricated all or part of a confession purportedly made by Gates to a paid police informant and withheld other evidence in an attack on a 21-year-old Georgetown University student in Rock Creek Park."

Spencer Hsu: Douglas Hughes, "the Florida postal worker who landed a gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol to protest campaign finance laws, vowed to continue speaking out against 'wealthy special interests' as he prepared to plead guilty to a felony charge of operating his aircraft without a license Friday morning."

David McCabe of the Hill: "YouTube will pay court costs to the creators of some videos accused of copyright infringement in cases that the online video giant believes represent clear cases of fair use. The company, owned by Google, said Wednesday it will keep those videos online despite copyright takedown notices. It will also cover up to a million dollars in legal costs associated with fighting the takedown." The YouTube statement is here.

The News in Tweets (must be nonpartisan):

House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees. Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish @CNNPolitics https://t.co/5RvZwVftgD Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) November 19, 2015

CNN source informs me that Elise Labott has been suspended for two weeks for tweet about House vote on refugees: https://t.co/XTKTabRadeErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 20, 2015

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Gabriel Sherman of New York: NBC News chair Andy Lack "is looking to give a show to the campaign chroniclers John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. According to four media executives, Lack is in talks with Bloomberg Television to simulcast Heilemann and Halperin's politics show With All Due Respect on MSNBC." CW: I can hardly wait. But since I still have no idea where MSNBC is on my cable line-up, I guess I'll have to.

Gabriel Arana of the Huffington Post: "The media's default of erasing distinctions between terrorists and non-terrorists, and between attackers and victims in the Muslim world is why we are currently in the midst of an insane discussion (if you can call it that) about allowing Syrian refugees into the country." And, no, it's not just Fox "News." "A recent survey from the Pew Center of 11 countries with substantial Muslim populations shows widespread negative attitudes toward the terrorist group -- in no country did support for ISIS rise above 15 percent. That's a smaller percentage than Americans who believe in UFOs (21 percent), think there's a link between vaccines and autism (20 percent) and deny climate change (37 percent). Strong majorities in most of these countries also support the recent airstrikes against ISIS."

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Thursday for accelerating the American-led operation to defeat the Islamic State, going well beyond what President Obama has proposed by urging a no-fly zone with coalition forces to protect Syrians, more airstrikes and an expanded deployment of special operations troops to assist local ground forces.... Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Mrs. Clinton contrasted her outlook with those of the Republican presidential contenders as 'a choice between fear and resolve.'... Expanding on her previous call for a no-fly zone, Mrs. Clinton said it should be limited to northern Syria, where Turkey has proposed a buffer zone to protect civilians...."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders offered a robust defense of democratic socialism on Thursday, defining his political philosophy in explicit terms and arguing that his views would bring economic fairness back to America. Anticipated as a major speech in Mr. Sanders's campaign for the Democratic nomination, the senator from Vermont described his views as being in the mainstream and rooted in the reforms introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression."

Gene Robinson: "The impact of the Paris attacks on the Republican presidential race may turn out to be minimal, especially since the establishment candidates aren't making any more sense than outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson."

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Donald Trump would not rule out tracking Muslim Americans in a database or giving them 'a special form of identification that noted their religion', Yahoo news reports in a long interview with the Republican presidential candidate." CW: The argumentum ad Hilterum just stop being ridiculous....

     ... The interview, by Hunter Walker is interesting in a Cliff Clavin sort of way. The problem of course is that Cliff was a fictional jerk; Trump is a real one who could be president. ...

CW: I see I'm not alone in being unable to avoid making the Nazi comparison. Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News: "Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, sounded incredulous when he was asked about Trump's comments, telling NBC News: 'We're kind of at a loss for words. What else can you compare this to except to prewar Nazi Germany?' Hooper asked. 'There's no other comparison, and [Trump] seems to think that's perfectly OK.' Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the nonprofit Interfaith Alliance, drew the same comparison Thursday night.... Trump was repeatedly asked to explain how his idea was different. Four times, he responded: 'You tell me.'"

Mad Dogs? Ben Carson Has Been Too Long in the Midday Sun. Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Ben Carson likened Syrian refugees fleeing the country;s bloody civil war and Islamic State violence to dogs on Thursday.... Speaking to reporters following a campaign stop in Mobile, Alabama, Carson ... noted there should always be a balance between safety and humanitarian concerns. 'For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you're probably gonna put your children out of the way,' Carson said. 'Doesn't mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.' Continuing his analogy, the Republican presidential candidate said that screening refugees is like questioning how you protect your children, even though you love dogs and will call the Humane Society to take the dog away to reestablish a safe environment. 'By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly.'..."

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Carson both defended his knowledge of foreign affairs and distanced himself from adviser Duane Clarridge, a former CIA agent who publicly raised doubts about Carson's intelligence, as well as Carson's longtime political confidant and business manager, Armstrong Williams.... Carson tried to publicly separate himself from Williams, a longtime adviser who appears frequently on television on Carson's behalf. 'Armstrong is an independent agent,' Carson said. 'He happens to be a friend of mine. He has nothing to do with the campaign.' However, when a reporter asked Carson who he consulted with about his recent op-ed in The Washington Post, the candidate said he sent the column to Williams to edit." CW: It was Williams who suggested the New York Times contact Clarridge. Williams also said that Carson couldn't answer a simple question on "Fox 'News' Sunday" because he "froze."

Politico "Asked Marco Rubio to Lay Out His ISIL Strategy. Here It Is": "Whatever it takes.... Never relent.... Obama ... dithers."

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "John Kasich has attacked Donald Trump relentlessly in debates and now his super PAC is planning to invest $2.5 million in the most aggressive takedown of the poll leader yet -- on behalf of an increasingly anxious GOP establishment." ...

... Jack Torry of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch: "One day after urging the creation of a federal agency to promote 'core Judeo-Christian, Western values,' Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said on Wednesday he instead would upgrade the existing Voice of America to 'engage in the war of ideas' against Islamic State.... Critics complained that Kasich wanted to increase the size of the federal government with a new agency and that he wanted the U.S. government to promote religious values.... 'I don't think we should be promoting Judeo-Christian values in the Arab world,' one of Kasich's GOP rivals, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, told Real Clear Politics. 'I think that was the Crusades.'" ...

... CW: I don't think Kasich has backed off the Crusades aspect at all; he is responding only to the criticism that creating a new federal agency would not be "fiscally conservative." Those lucky-ducky kiddies in the Middle East will still get to hear Bible stories on Sunday mornings.

Beyond the Beltway

Steve Annear of the Boston Globe: "Harvard University police are treating the discovery of strips of tape placed across photographs of black professors outside of a lecture hall as an act of hate, officials from the university said Thursday. In an e-mailed statement, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, said police are investigating who defaced portraits of black faculty members displayed at Wasserstein Hall."

Molly Redden of the Guardian: "Ohio this week became the latest state poised to defund Planned Parenthood in reaction to dubious videos accusing its employees of violating federal law. But in an apparent first, its lawmakers are not going after the family planning funds that legislators in many other states have targeted. Instead, Ohio abortion foes are taking aim at $1.3m Planned Parenthood uses to conduct STI and HIV tests, and infant mortality reduction programs to supplement the state;s troubled healthcare system.... In defense of the cuts, senators disseminated a list of alternative providers that include dentist offices, school nurses and a food bank as options for Ohio women." (Emphasis added.)

Liam Stack & Gabriel Fisher of the New York Times: "Princeton students ended a 32-hour sit-in in the university president's office on Thursday night after administrators signed a document that committed them to begin conversations about addressing racial tension on campus, including possibly removing the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from some public spaces, the university and students said. The sit-in came amid racial tension and escalating student activism on college campuses nationwide and focused in part on what students called Wilson's legacy of racism. Shortly after the document was signed, an administrator received a bomb or firearm threat by email. It was being investigated late Thursday." ...

... CW: This is fairly quixotic. Almost all of our former presidents were racists (and sexists, too) from slaveholder George Washington to civil rights leaders Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. It's okay with me if people wants to rename Washington, D.C., Washington state & Lincoln, Nebraska. If Americans want to rename all of the places honoring racists, we will forget where we are. (Writing from Lee County, Florida. At least Fort Myers was named for a Jewish man, but oops!, his claims to fame were fighting Seminole Indians & serving in the Confederate army. I rest my case.)

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The last execution currently scheduled to take place in the United States this year was carried out Thursday evening when Georgia executed a man [Marcus Jordan] convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1994."

Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post: "Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle was sentenced Thursday to more than 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges related to child pornography and sexual conduct involving minors."

Way Beyond

Guardian: "The Paris prosecutor has announced three people died during Wednesday night's raid on an apartment in St-Denis, where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks, was killed. The third person's identity is not yet known." From the liveblog at 9:51 am GT. ...

     ... Update: Here's the Washington Post story, by Anthony Faiola & others, with more detail.

Steve Erlanger & Kimoko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "Shocked by the carnage of the Paris attacks, France and Belgium moved aggressively on Thursday to strengthen the hand of their security forces, pushing Europe more deeply into a debate that has raged in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001: how to balance counterterrorism efforts and civil liberties. With their populations stunned and nervous and political pressure growing on the right, the French and Belgian governments made it clear that, for now, they would put protecting their citizens ahead of other considerations."

Andrew Higgins & Kimoko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times: "... [Abdelhamid] Abaaoud, 27, is believed to have organized a string of attacks that made him the most talked-about -- and, in jihadist circles, feted -- terrorist since Osama bin Laden. French intelligence officials have concluded that Mr. Abaaoud was involved in at least four of six terrorist plots foiled in France since the spring.... Before his deadly ambitions culminated in the massacres in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people, they included a thwarted attack on a Sunday-morning congregation at a Paris church and an attack on a Paris-bound train this summer that was halted when passengers overpowered the gunman." ...

... Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post on how French intelligence officers located Abaaoud & his associates in Saint Denis. Also, it turns out the woman who blew herself up during the raid was not Abaaoud's cousin.

Dionne Searcy of the New York Times: "At least two gunmen stormed a Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, on Friday morning and seized 140 guests and 30 staff members as hostages, according to the company that runs the hotel. Northern Mali fell under the control of Islamist militants in 2012, but a French-led offensive ousted them in 2013, although remnants of the group have staged a number of attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian forces. The hotel is known as a popular place for foreigners to stay in Bamako, a city with a population approaching two million that is the capital of Mali, and French and American citizens were among those taken hostage."

Ruth Eglash of the Washington Post: "Two separate attacks by Palestinians against Israelis on Thursday left five people dead, including one American and one Palestinian, and several injured, Israeli authorities said. The killings marked a surge in violence after several days of relative quiet following weeks of near-daily stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks in Israeli towns and cities and violent ­clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank."

Wednesday
Nov182015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 19, 2015

Aurelein Breeden, et al., of the New York Times: "Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian militant suspected of orchestrating the Paris terrorist attacks, was killed in a police raid in the northern Paris suburb of St.-Denis early Wednesday, the French authorities announced on Thursday. The confirmation of Mr. Abaaoud's death followed fingerprint analysis, the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said in a statement. Mr. Abaaoud's body was heavily riddled with wounds from gunfire and a grenade detonated during the raid. 'We do not know at this stage whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not,' Mr. Molins's office said" ...

... Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post: "...French lawmakers gave their backing to extend state-of-emergency powers for three months even as officials across Europe sought suspected plotters in the Paris bloodshed and suggested other sites could be targets, including St. Peter's Basilica." ...

... Karen DeYoung & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "French President François Hollande called on world powers Wednesday to overcome their 'sometimes diverging interests' to unite in the fight against the Islamic State. On Tuesday, he will make his case in Washington to President Obama and then travel to Moscow with the same message for President Vladi­mir Putin.... So far, U.S.-Russian cooperation extends only to 'deconfliction' notifications to ensure that their warplanes are not operating in the same airspace at the same time. The Obama administration remains leery of Putin's eagerness to form a grand military coalition, to include intelligence sharing, against the Islamic State...." CW: Look for Hollande to be greeted like Lafayette. ...

... Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama insisted Thursday that any political solution to end the bloody Syrian civil war must include Bashar Assad stepping down from power, rebutting Russian suggestions that the U.S. could bend on a key demand in the interests of aligning efforts to take on Islamic State.... 'It is unimaginable that you can stop the civil war here when the overwhelming majority of people in Syria consider him to be a brutal, murderous dictator,' Obama said. 'He cannot regain legitimacy.'... Obama has said that Assad's status remained a sticking point to such coordination with Russia...." ...

... Steven Mufson & William Booth of the Washington Post: "Belgian authorities had close contact with some of the men believed to be behind the bloody terrorist attacks in Paris last week, a pattern that raises questions about how the suspects could slip through the fingers of law enforcement officials. Over the past year, Belgian security forces tapped at least one bomber's telephone and briefly detained and interviewed at least two other suspects -- one for his travels to Syria and the other for his radical views, according to law enforcement officials here." ...

... Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post: "A massive police raid Wednesdays killed the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks during a blitz-style sweep, two senior European intelligence officials said, after investigators followed leads that the fugitive militant was holed up north of the French capital and could be plotting another wave of violence. More than 100 police and soldiers stormed the building during a seven-hour siege that left two dead including the suspected overseer of the Paris bloodshed, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian extremist who had once boasted he could slip easily between Europe and the Islamic State strongholds in Syria." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... BUT. Lilia Blaise, et al., of the New York Times: "When it was all over, the police had swept eight people into custody and found at least two mangled bodies. [Abdelhamid] Abaaoud had not been taken alive, the authorities said -- and it was not clear whether one of the bodies was his. 'I am not able to give you the definitive number and identities of the people who were killed,' the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said, adding that neither Mr. Abaaoud nor Salah Abdeslam, another suspected Paris attacker who has been on the loose, was among those arrested." ...

... Today's Guardian's liveblog on the aftermath of the Paris attacks is here. ...

... Rouba El Husseini of AFP: "The Islamic State group said Wednesday it had killed a Chinese and a Norwegian hostage, as French and Russian air strikes on its Syrian stronghold were reported to have left 33 fighters dead." ...

... Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "French media reported that the woman who set off a suicide blast as security forces closed in Wednesday during an anti-terrorism raid in Saint-Denis was Hasna Aitboulahcen. The 26-year-old French citizen was a cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected architect of the Paris attacks." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

David Graeber of the Guardian: "Not only has [Turkey's President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting Isis; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding Isis itself.... How could Isis be eliminated? In the region, everyone knows. All it would really take would be to unleash the largely Kurdish forces of the YPG (Democratic Union party) in Syria, and PKK (Kurdistan Workers' party) guerillas in Iraq and Turkey." Thanks to Keith H. for the link. ...

... Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "... one lesson of Iraq (and Libya) is that wars are always more complicated than they sound and often create new sanctuaries — which then also, somehow, must be destroyed." ...

... Rukimini Callimachi & Robery Mackey of the New York Times: "The Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula last month, released an image that purports to show the improvised explosive device used to kill all 224 people aboard the flight from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. In the latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State's glossy online magazine, first disseminated through Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, a picture shows what ISIS says were the components of an IED: A Gold Schweppes Pineapple tonic water can and two devices containing wires that appear to be the detonator and the switch." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Frank McGurty of the AP: "New York City police are aware of a newly released Islamic State video that suggests that the largest U.S. city was a potential target of attacks such as those in Paris last week, but that there are no current or specific threats, the department said on Wednesday." ...

... Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times: "The Paris attacks, the deadliest in France to date, have sharpened the focus on the inability of security services to monitor the large and growing number of young European Muslims who have fought alongside the Islamic State or to spot terrorist plots in their early stages, even when the participants are well known to them. It appears so far that as many as six of the assailants who killed 129 people with guns, grenades and suicide bombs at six sites last Friday were Europeans who had traveled to Syria and returned to carry out attacks at home -- precisely the nightmare scenario security officials have been warning about for the past two years." ...

... Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "House Republicans are moving forward with a plan that would prevent Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States unless the government can verify they don't pose a security a threat.... But the Obama administration on Wednesday issued a veto threat, arguing the legislation 'would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people' and only 'create significant delays and obstacles in the fulfillment of a vital program that satisfies both humanitarian and national security objectives.'" ...

... "Regular Disorder." Dana Milbank: "Three weeks ago, Paul Ryan accepted the speaker's gavel with a vow to return to 'regular order,' in which the Congress runs by deliberation rather than fiat and lawmakers have loose rein to amend and shape legislation.... That dream died about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night. That's when House leaders announced they would take up a never-before-seen piece of legislation, written that very day, to rewrite the rules of the U.S. refugee program for those coming from Syria and Iraq. There had been, and would be, no hearings or other committee action before the legislation was rushed Thursday to the House floor, where no amendments would be allowed. H.R. 4038, the 'American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act' (a contrivance to produce the abbreviation 'SAFE Act') ... was drafted in response to panic whipped up by Republican presidential candidates after the terrorist attacks in Paris."

... Profiles in Cowardice, Ctd. Cameron Joseph & Larry McShane of the New York Daily News: "The NRA -- and their gun-loving Republican cohorts -- are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A. A legal loophole allows suspected terrorists on the government's no-fly list to legally buy guns, but a bill to fix that will likely wither on the vine. The federal Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, even in the wake of last week's terrorist killing of 129 people in Paris, remains a long shot due to its rabid pro-gun opponents.... More than 2,000 suspects on the FBI's Terrorist Watchlist bought weapons in the U.S. over the last 11 years, according to the federal Government Accountability Office."...

... Seung Min Kim of Politico: "A core group of Senate Democrats are preparing a response to the terrorist attacks in Paris, in an effort to focus attention on what the Democrats say are more pressing potential security threats even as Congress remains largely focused on the nation's refugee resettlement program. The plan, according to a source close to the negotiations among Democratic senators, would reform the visa waiver program and shut off the so-called 'terror gap,' which would specifically bar members of terrorist organizations from possessing or buying firearms. The source noted that the Democrats' plan would not endorse pausing the current refugee resettlement program...." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday said it may be necessary to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. Republicans immediately seized on Schumer's comment, which breaks with other Democrats who have argued against halting the program." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ABC News: "French President Francois Hollande today promised that 'France will remain a country of freedom,' defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

** Juan Cole: "Top ten reasons governors are wrong to exclude Syrian refugees." Something to commit to memory to try to shut down your Neanderthal relatives at Thanksgiving. Yeah, I know, good luck with that.

... ** Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post: "... would keeping refugees out actually make anybody safer? Few experts deny that it's possible for terrorists to conceal themselves among large crowds of refugees in some areas -- for example, Al-Shabaab has infiltrated the flow of Somalis fleeing conflict into Kenya. But even fewer think that sealing off borders is likely to prevent future attacks, either." ...

... The Center for American Progress outlines the 21 steps a refugee must pass through to gain refugee status in the U.S. ...

... The other day a contributor asked about sponsoring a Syrian refugee. In the U.S., it can't be done. Canada has a private-sponsorship program. ...

... Paul Waldman: "It took about a day and a half for Republican politicians to move from 'What happened in Paris was awful!' through 'Barack Obama is weak on evildoers!' to 'Terrorist foreigners are coming to kill your children!'... [The] hurricane of xenophobia and cynical opportunism makes for a truly odious display. But sadly, it's also good politics for Republicans, at least in the short term.... Someone who wanted to come to the U.S. to commit a terrorist act could do so with a student visa or a tourist visa; there'd be no point in going through the lengthy, multi-layered vetting process to gain refugee status, which ... requires up to a two-year wait."

... Paul Krugman: "It took no time at all for the right-wing response to the Paris attacks to turn into a vile caricature that has me feeling nostalgic for the restraint and statesmanship of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney." Krugman points to remarks by "the reasonable wing of the modern right." ...

... Dionne Searcey & Marc Santora of the New York Times: "Boko Haram, the militant group that has tortured Nigeria and its neighbors for years, was responsible for 6,664 deaths last year, more than any other terrorist group in the world, including the Islamic State, which killed 6,073 people in 2014, according to a report released Wednesday tracking terrorist attacks globally."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The Federal Reserve, setting aside its habitual reticence, is issuing increasingly explicit warnings that it is likely to start raising its benchmark interest rate in December."

Gail Collins: "In honor of the coming vacation travel season, the Senate is working on a bill that would loosen the requirement that pilots take medical examinations.... 'The U.S. Senate has an excruciatingly difficult time doing anything, and here they're dismantling something that's been working pretty well,' complained Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.... More than two-thirds of his colleagues are co-sponsors.... The bill's lead sponsor, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, is a very enthusiastic 81-year-old pilot who starred in an exciting airborne adventure about five years ago, when he landed his Cessna at an airport in Texas despite A) The large 'X' on the runway, indicating it was closed, and B) The construction crew working on said runway, which ran for their lives when he dropped in.... Some small-minded observers suspect he also has personal skin in the game, what with having had quadruple bypass heart surgery and all."

K-Men. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker comments on Ken Vogel's big scoop about the "Koch Intelligence Agency." The boyz have been doing covert surveillance on perceived enemies for a long time.

Brady McCombs of the AP: "A Utah county prosecutor said Wednesday he is investigating U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada in connection with a pay-to-play scheme involving two former Utah attorneys general. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, a Republican, said in a statement that he's looking into allegations related to the Democratic senator. Rawlings declined to disclose the allegations.... Reid, who hasn't been charged, fired back at Rawlings in a statement from his spokeswoman Kristen Orthman. She said Rawlings is using "Sen. Reid's name to generate attention to himself and advance his political career, so every few months he seeks headlines by floating the same unsubstantiated allegations."

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "On Thursday..., Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver an in-depth speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York about her national security proposals and how she would combat the Islamic State...." ...

... Matea Gold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Over four decades of public life, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built an unrivaled global network of donors while pioneering fundraising techniques that have transformed modern politics and paved the way for them to potentially become the first husband and wife to win the White House. The grand total raised for all of their political campaigns and their family's charitable foundation reaches at least $3 billion, according to a Washington Post investigation." The reporters provide an in-depth look at how the Clintons did it. ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Following comments that his city should reject refugees in the way the U.S. interned Japanese-American citizens during World War II the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, has lost his spot on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's Virginia Leadership Council. Davis Bowers had been on the Virginia committee since early October.... A Clinton campaign spokesman slammed Bowers' comments in a statement." See related story linked under Beyond the Beltway.

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Dogged for months by questions about being a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders will address the subject of his political philosophy head on in a long-awaited speech on Thursday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

William Saletan of Slate: "Guilty Until Proven Christian. For Republicans, if you are Muslim, you are out of luck." Saletan amasses the bigoted remarks that have come out of the mouths of GOP presidential candidates. His post is one appalling list of horribles.

Ben Carson has a plan to defeat ISIS, which the Washington Post has published. CW: (1) I'll eat my surgical cap if Ben Carson wrote what the headline describes as "My Plan"; (2) most of the plan is "we have to beat them"; (3) jamming their social media, which Carson suggests, might be something worth trying. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Toljaso. Plus Ole Doc Tells Another Big Fib. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "A foreign policy adviser whom Ben Carson publicly distanced himself from after the adviser criticized Mr. Carson's grasp of the Middle East provided input for an opinion column Mr. Carson published online in The Washington Post on Wednesday about defeating the Islamic State. The campaign called the adviser, Duane R. Clarridge, on Monday for help with the opinion piece that was conceived to counter poor impressions Mr. Carson had made in a 'Fox News Sunday' interview the day before.... Mr. Carson said on Tuesday evening in an interview on 'PBS NewsHour' that Mr. Clarridge ... was 'not my adviser."" ...

Ben Carson -- Lying, Pandering Coward. CW: Last week I gave Carson kudos for suggesting that Republicans -- including then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, BTW -- overreached in inserting into Terri Schiavo's right to die with dignity. Turns out I spoke too soon. Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "... Ben Carson on Wednesday sought to walk back a controversial comment he made last week about the ethical and legal battles surrounding Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who died in 2005 amid a protracted family dispute over keeping her alive in a vegetative state.... 'When I used the term "much ado about nothing," my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient,' he [said Wednesday]." You can chalk that up as One More Doc Ben Lie. Here's what he actually said last week: "We face those kinds of issues all the time, and while I don't believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out. Your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up." ...

... Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Happy Geography Awareness Week!... Ben Carson's presidential campaign ... Tuesday night ... took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error." Also, he gave part of Virginia to Maryland. CW: Yeah, I trust the Middle East plan of a guy who can't find Massachusetts. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Nine things that happened during Donald Trump's visit to Worcester[, Massachusetts.] The presidential candidate cursed, promised, joked and called a protester fat." ...

... Greg Sargent: Donald Trump keeps upping the ante in his anti-immigration crusade, and Republican voters apparently view that as evidence of "strong leadership." ...

... Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump said on Wednesday that, if he or somebody else with a gun had been present during last Friday's attacks in Paris, things would have gone differently. 'So they were just shooting people: "Next! Next!"' the former reality TV star told Boston radio host Jeff Kuhner. 'Just people were totally defenseless. If you had a guy like you or me, or some other guys in that room that had guns, it wouldn't have been that way....' Trump made the comments after saying that, because of French gun laws, 'nobody had a gun' to shoot the attackers, adding that 'the only ones that had the guns are the bad guys.'" CW: I want me one a those Donald Trump Action Hero dolls. Or, better yet, a video game where you run up points on how many guys with assault rifles & bombs strapped to their chest the Donald takes out with his little platinum-plated pistol. (The game does not allow the terrorists to hit anyone, of course.) ...

... Jordan Sargent of Gawker: "This is, of course, a grand conservative fantasy: the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a big orange buffoon with a gun, or whatever. Trump is bringing that fantasy to its most logical extreme, daydreaming about whipping out a pistol and taking out terrorists armed with machine guns. All of this is to say that if Donald Trump had stood up in the crowd at the Bataclan he would been murdered immediately, and his stupid James Bond fantasy nonsense is an insult to those who really did die there." ...

... Still, compared to the Donald, Tailgunner Ted turns out to be a wuss:

... Dare & Double-Dare You, Obummer. Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: Sen. Ted Cruz, responding to President Obama's criticism of Republican rhetoric of the Islamic State, challenged the president to a debate on refugee policy. 'If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries but I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face. Let's have a debate on Syrian refugees right now,' Cruz said Wednesday." CW: A debate? With a befuddled weakling? C'mon, Ted.

Ben Brody of Bloomberg: "Jeb Bush elaborated Wednesday on his proposal to put a limited number of U.S. ground troops in combat against the Islamic State. One day after the Florida governor told Bloomberg's Mark Halperin that the U.S. is 'going to have to have ground troops' to fight the terrorist group, Bush, speaking at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, urged the U.S. to go beyond the bombing sorties already underway in the region." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dramatically blasts New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as "unAmerican" for saying that even Syrian small children should not be allowed to take refuge in the United States:

Charles Pierce: "John Kasich, the sensible choice for sensible Republicans, all three of them. He has managed in his own 'moderate' way to come up simultaneously with the worst original idea of the 2016 presidential campaign.... Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment but leave enough room for Radio Free Jesus. Kasich has lost his mind. Leave aside the obvious First Amendment Establishment problems this idea has in this country. The one thing that the Middle East doesn't need is more Judaeo-Christian proselytizing."

Beyond the Beltway

Mahita Gajanan of the Guardian: "The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, has invoked President Franklin Roosevelt's decision to place Japanese Americans in internment camps during the second world war as a way to justify keeping Syrian refugees out of the US. 'I'm reminded that President Franklin D Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to Americans from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then, Mayor David Bowers said in a statement released on Wednesday." CW: Because the internment of innocent Americans was such a high point in our history that the U.S. Congress officially apologized for it & paid reparations to the victims. Bowers is a Democrat. And evidently dumber than a post. ...

What did occur in the wake of Pearl Harbor was an irrational response to wartime hysteria, and I would say that the way that the local discourse is going on right now is we're allowing the word, the notion of Syrian refugees, to be conflated with terrorism. -- Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.)

... Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times: "A Virginia mayor ignited a backlash Wednesday after he cited America's mass detention of Japanese Americans during World War II as support for his call to deny Syrian refugees the opportunity to resettle in the United States." ...

... Jeff Guo of the Washington Post: "Its well-known now, of course, that the Japanese-Americans posed little security threat. But what might surprise casual readers of history is that even back then, the government knew this was a low-risk population. Declassified military documents show that the nation's leaders embarked on this vast incarceration project mostly to quell the fears of the the public."

David Boucher of the Tennessean: "A top Tennessee Republican lawmaker believes the time has come for the National Guard to round up any Syrian refugees who have recently settled in the state and to stop any additional Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee. 'We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,' said House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, referencing refugees." CW: So who's scarier -- Syrian refugees or Casada? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Possible American Terrorist Shuts Down College for Weeks, No Reaction from Congress, GOP Candidates. AP: "Washington College in Maryland announced on Wednesday it would be closed through the Thanksgiving holiday while authorities continue searching for missing 19-year-old sophomore Jacob Marberger."

Tuesday
Nov172015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 18, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post: "A massive police raid Wednesdays killed the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks during a blitz-style sweep, two senior European intelligence officials said, after investigators followed leads that the fugitive militant was holed up north of the French capital and could be plotting another wave of violence. More than 100 police and soldiers stormed the building during a seven-hour siege that left two dead including the suspected overseer of the Paris bloodshed, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian extremist who had once boasted he could slip easily between Europe and the Islamic State strongholds in Syria." ...

... Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "French media reported that the woman who set off a suicide blast as security forces closed in Wednesday during an anti-terrorism raid in Saint-Denis was Hasna Aitboulahcen. The 26-year-old French citizen was a cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected architect of the Paris attacks." ...

... Rukimini Callimachi & Robery Mackey of the New York Times: "The Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula last month, released an image that purports to show the improvised explosive device used to kill all 224 people aboard the flight from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. In the latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State's glossy online magazine, first disseminated through Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, a picture shows what ISIS says were the components of an IED: A Gold Schweppes Pineapple tonic water can and two devices containing wires that appear to be the detonator and the switch." ...

... ABC News: "French President Francois Hollande today promised that 'France will remain a country of freedom,' defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Dogged for months by questions about being a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders will address the subject of his political philosophy head on in a long-awaited speech on Thursday."

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday said it may be necessary to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. Republicans immediately seized on Schumer's comment, which breaks with other Democrats who have argued against halting the program."

David Boucher of the Tennessean: "A top Tennessee Republican lawmaker believes the time has come for the National Guard to round up any Syrian refugees who have recently settled in the state and to stop any additional Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee. 'We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,' said House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, referencing refugees." CW: So who's scarier -- Syrian refugees or Casada?

Ben Brody of Bloomberg: "Jeb Bush elaborated Wednesday on his proposal to put a limited number of U.S. ground troops in combat against the Islamic State. One day after the Florida governor told Bloomberg's Mark Halperin that the U.S. is 'going to have to have ground troops' to fight the terrorist group, Bush, speaking at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, urged the U.S. to go beyond the bombing sorties already underway in the region."

Ben Carson has a plan to defeat ISIS, which the Washington Post has published. CW: (1) I'll eat my surgical cap if Ben Carson wrote what the headline describes as "My Plan"; (2) most of the plan is "we have to beat them"; (3) jamming their social media, which Carson suggests, might be something worth trying. ...

... Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Happy Geography Awareness Week!... Ben Carson's presidential campaign ... Tuesday night ... took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error." Also, he gave part of Virginia to Maryland. CW: Yeah, I trust the Middle East plan of a guy who can't find Massachusetts.

*****

Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America. At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn't seem so tough to me. -- President Obama, on GOP presidential candidates, referring to a remark by Chris Christie not to admit any Syrian refugees, including "orphans under five" (video clip here) ...

... Video of the full press conference is here. ...

... David Nakamura & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama on Wednesday angrily accused Republicans of feeding into the Islamic State's strategy of casting the United States as waging war on Muslims, saying the GOP's rhetoric has become the most 'potent recruitment tool' for the militant group. Obama was responding to recent calls from Republicans, including presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), to block Syrian refugees' entrance into the United States. Bush and Cruz have suggested welcoming Christian refugees, but not those who are Muslims." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The White House defended the administration's approach toward fighting the Islamic State on Wednesday.... 'The first thing that's important for people to understand is that the United States has been involved with carrying out military strikes inside of Syria for more than a year now,' press secretary Josh Earnest said in an interview with CNN's 'New Day.'... 'And it is only because of the significant investments that this president made and ordered, in terms of collecting intelligence, carrying out military airstrikes inside of Syria -- that is what allows France to now ramp up their contribution to our effort and to carry out some strikes themselves,' Earnest said, speaking from Manila.... 'We certainly appreciate the contribution from our French allies, but none of this would be possible without the logistical support, the air refueling and the intelligence that's been collected by the United States.'" ...

... Vladimir Isachenkov & Josh Lederman of the AP: "In a striking shift, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are embarking on a tentative path toward closer ties and possible military cooperation, as the bitter rift over Ukraine gives way to common cause against the Islamic State group." ...

... Tal Kopan & Jim Acosta of CNN: "White House officials held a call with governors Tuesday evening about Syrian refugees as a growing number of state executives are saying they will not welcome resettling them in their states over terror concerns. Top staff from the White House, Department of Homeland Security and the State Department fielded questions from the governors for 90 minutes and reassured them that they were doing the most thorough vetting possible of Syrian refugees, according to brief notes from the call provided by the White House." ...

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama called on China on Wednesday to halt its construction on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, raising the contentious issue at the start of a two-day economic summit meeting at which he and other Pacific Rim leaders also discussed trade and climate change." ...

... Lilia Blaise, et al., of the New York Times: "After a series of gun battles early Wednesday, the French police arrested five people hiding out in an apartment in [the] northern Paris suburb [of St.-Denis] in an operation aimed at detaining the Belgian man suspected of organizing the terrorist attacks on Friday night. One woman died in the raid, when she detonated an explosive vest." ...

... The Washington Post's liveblog is here. ...

     ... Anthony Faoila, et al., of the Washington Post: "The operation began around 4:30 a.m., and left several police officers wounded and at least two suspects dead. The dead included a woman who blew herself up, according to the Paris prosecutor's office." ...

... AP: "Overnight raids by French police across France have resulted in 25 arrests and the seizure of 34 weapons." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Two Air France flights headed from the United States to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris were diverted on Tuesday night due to anonymous threats. Both planes have landed safely. Air France said in a statement that there was a 'bomb scare' on Flight 55 out of Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. That flight landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Flight 65 from Los Angeles International Airport was diverted to Salt Lake City International Airport." ...

... Andrew Higgins & Kimoko de Freytas of the New York Times: "When the family of Abdelhamid Abaaoud received word from Syria last fall that he had been killed fighting for the Islamic State, it rejoiced at what it took to be excellent news about a wayward son it had come to despise." ...

... Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "... German officials evacuated a soccer stadium over an apparent plan to set off a powerful bomb. Authorities in Hanover, Germany, abruptly called off a friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands that Chancellor Angela Merkel had planned to attend to show resolve against terrorism and support for the victims of the Nov. 13 attacks [in Paris]...." ...

... Reuters: "Honduran authorities have detained five Syrian nationals who were trying to reach the United States using stolen Greek passports, but there are no signs of any links to last week's attacks in Paris, police said." ...

... Tuesday's New York Times live updates related to the terror attacks in Paris are here.

     ... From the liveblog @ 6:50 pm ET: "Soccer fans in a packed stadium [at Wembley Stadium in London] were in strong voice on Tuesday night as they sang 'La Marseillaise,' the French national anthem, in an emotional ceremony before an exhibition match between England and France."

Jake Sherman of Politico: "The House is likely to vote Thursday on legislation aimed at strengthening the oversight of Syrian and Iraqi refugees who want to come to the United States. The measure is expected to force the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to certify that each potential refugee is not a threat to U.S. security. Top GOP leaders said they expect some Democratic support in the House. Republican leaders moved swiftly to draft the legislation to halt President Barack Obama's plan to accept thousands of refugees from Syria.... Later Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed putting a hold on the Syrian refugee resettlement program." ...

... Mike DeBonis & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday called for a 'pause' to the admittance of Syrian refugees into the United States, citing the national security risks in the wake of the Paris attacks. 'Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion,' Ryan (R-Wis.) said after emerging from a closed door meeting for House Republicans. 'This is a moment where it's better to be safe than to be sorry.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dana Milbank: "Congressional Republicans unveiled a new strategy Tuesday morning to defeat the Islamic State: We will kill it with clichés." ...

... David Smith of the Guardian: "Terrorists traveling from Europe without a visa pose a bigger threat to US security than refugees from Syria, according to the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee. Senator Richard Burr supported calls to consider a 'pause' in admitting Syrian asylum seekers but insisted this is not the most probable route open potential terrorists. 'I'm probably more concerned with the visa waiver programme today,' Burr told reporters.... 'Because were I in Europe already and I wanted to go the United States and I was not on a watch list or a no fly list, the likelihood is I would use the visa waiver programme before I would try to pawn myself as a refugee and try to enter under false documents,' he said."

Don Melvin & Matthew Chance of CNN: "The Russian passenger jet that crashed over Sinai, Egypt, was brought down by a bomb estimated to contain 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of explosives, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service said Tuesday, and the Russian government is offering a $50 million reward for information about those who brought it down." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Senate voted on Tuesday to block President Obama's tough new climate change regulations, hoping to undermine his negotiating authority before a major international climate summit meeting in Paris this month. The Senate resolution, which passed 52 to 46, would scuttle a rule that would significantly cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.... A second resolution, which also passed 52 to 46, would strike a related E.P.A. rule designed to freeze construction of future coal-fired power plants. Three Democrats from states in which coal plays a major role in the economy, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, broke party ranks to vote in favor of the resolutions. But three moderate Republicans who are up for re-election next year, Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois, broke from their party to vote against the resolutions and back the environmental regulations. If the resolutions reach the president's desk, Mr. Obama has promised a veto.... The House is expected to pass a companion resolution by early December, forcing a veto just as the negotiations in Paris are beginning."

Koch Ops. Ken Vogel of Politico: "The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life. The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as 'competitive intelligence' that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post (Nov. 16): "The Supreme Court turned aside an antiabortion organization's attempt Monday to get more information about a Planned Parenthood contract with the federal government. The court said it would not review an appeals court decision that said the Freedom of Information Act did not allow New Hampshire Right to Life access to Planned Parenthood's Manual of Medical Standards and Guidelines."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court's decisions protecting gay rights were not rooted in the Constitution, and their logic could as easily apply to child molesters, Justice Antonin Scalia told a room filled with first-year law students at Georgetown University on Monday. 'What minorities deserve protection?' he asked. 'What? It's up to me to identify deserving minorities?' He said those decisions should generally be made by the democratic process rather than by judges." ...

... CW: Allow me to assist, Nino. If any group of law-abiding citizens is regularly or occasionally subject to discrimination -- via either laws or practices -- based upon some aspect of who they are, then they're easy to "identify" as "deserving." Just to be clear, since you seem to find this concept so difficult, that does not include child molesters, whom you ludicrously describe as a "deserving minority." P.S. Since I know you love to go to the dictionary & often cite it in your hilarious opinions, do look up the meaning of "deserving." Jerk. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Washington Post story, by Robert Barnes, is here.

Sportswriter Bill Simmons interviews President Obama for GQ. Sports metaphors & comparisons liberally applied. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Race

Je Suis Désolée. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a onetime rising Republican star whose popularity has plummeted in his own state, abruptly dropped out of the presidential race on Tuesday, conceding that he was unable to find any traction."

Brian Beutler: "Trump and Carson certainly do have the wrong temperament for the presidency.... It's good that some Republican operatives are aware of it. Yet those same operatives seem completely unperturbed by the fact that their less impetuous candidates are courting failure in more mundane ways, overcommitting themselves such that whether they have a presidential temperament or not, the presidency will have the wrong temperament for them."

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "There is broad if inchoate agreement within the Republican Party about how the United States should respond to the Paris attacks: ramp up military engagement to defeat Islamic State terrorists and close the door to some if not all Syrian refugees. But the urgent return of national security to the forefront of debate on Capitol Hill and in the presidential race has quickly laid bare stark differences in pitch and attitude among Republican leaders. While some are urging restraint and sobriety, others are raising the decibel level to tap into the fears and anxieties that the Paris bloodshed has stoked in many Americans." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "The Obama administration is deliberately sending Syrian refugees to states led by Republican governors, Donald Trump alleged Tuesday. Trump, who was speaking to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, said of the refugees, 'They send them to the Republicans, not to the Democrats, you know because they know the problem ... why would we want to bother the Democrats?'" CW: I'd like to know his source for that allegation. ...

     ... Steve M. explains arithmetic to Donald Trump & Eliza Collins. "So, yes, there are 1316 Syrian refugees in states with Republican governors and 508 in states with Democratic governors [maybe because there are nearly twice as many states with Republican governors than with Democratic ones] But there are 1154 Syrian refugees in states that voted Obama twice (plus 41 in states that voted for him once), and only 629 in states that never voted for him." ...

... Nick Gass: "The United States will have 'absolutely no choice' but to close down some mosques where 'some bad things are happening,' Donald Trump said in a recent interview...."

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have seized on an odd argument to argue against taking Syrian refugees: The U.S. is too cold for them. Huckabee and Trump both cited Minnesota as being too cold for refugees."(Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Donald Trump on Tuesday named Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when asked about his possible running mate in 2016. 'Ted Cruz is now agreeing with me 100 percent,' he said when asked about his vice presidential pick...."

Patrick O'Connor of the Wall Street Journal: "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio leveled pointed charges Monday at a pair of Republican presidential rivals who backed efforts to overhaul U.S. bulk collection of phone records. The Florida senator criticized Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky for advocating efforts earlier this year to overhaul the National Security Agency's controversial program to collect the personal communications of millions of Americans, campaign-trail attacks that carry more weight in the aftermath of Paris." (Story is not firewalled.) (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Sen. Ted Cruz, who has said that the United States should not allow Syrian Muslim refugees into the country but should provide safe haven to fleeing Christians, plans to introduce legislation that would bar Syrian refugees from entering the country." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday panned the idea of favoring Christian refugees from Syria over Muslims, delivering a rebuttal to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a GOP presidential candidate. McCain said using a religious test on Syrian refugees, especially children, makes no sense."

** Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Ben Carson's remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject, but never more seriously than in the past week, when he wrongly asserted that China had intervened militarily in Syria and then failed, on national television, to name the countries he would call on to form a coalition to fight the Islamic State. 'Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,' Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security, said in an interview.... What is unusual is the candor of those who are tutoring him about the physician's struggle to master the subject." CW: Read the whole story. It's a hoot. Unless Carson should become president. ...

... Pamela Engel of Business Insider: "Carson's campaign pushed back ... and suggested the paper was taking 'advantage of an elderly gentleman [Duane Clarridge]. Mr. Clarridge has incomplete knowledge of the daily, not weekly briefings, that Dr. Carson receives on important national security matters from former military and State Department officials,' Doug Watts, a Carson campaign spokesman, told Business Insider in an email." ...

... Oh Really? Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "In a phone chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, [Armstrong] Williams [-- Carson's campaign & business manager --] struck a somewhat different tone -- one that expressed no criticism of the New York Times. It was Williams himself who passed along to Gabriel the name of Clarridge.... Clarridge, says Williams, has been working with Carson for the past two years or so." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Ben Carson has now topped the Republican primary polls long enough that, perhaps in combination with the recent attack in Paris, his advisers now appear genuinely terrified that he might be elected president and are doing everything in their power to stop it. Or else they hate him.... Let's sum up what we have learned. The candidate's advisers are saying on the record he doesn't know anything, has trouble learning anything, and cannot seem to recall even what little information he has managed to assimilate. I don't see how a Carson presidency could go wrong." ...

... Wait, Wait! The Carson campaign has a new excuse for Carson's recent deer-in-the-headlights moment. David Knowles of Bloomberg: "Hours after being quoted in a New York Times article saying Carson 'froze' during an interview with Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace, Carson adviser Armstrong Williams offered another take on the Republican presidential contender's seeming inability to name which allies he would reach out to first to defeat the Islamic State terrorist network. 'Dr. Carson is very dismissive of the question,' Williams said Tuesday on Bloomberg's With All Due Respect. 'It was a hypothetical, and Dr. Carson does not like answering hypotheticals and so he intentionally did not answer the question.'" CW: By this logic, Carson will not answer (or will repeat his "homina, homina, homina" moment) every time an interviewer asks him what he would do as president. So, see, it's gonna be a Surprise Presidency!

Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC News: "As part of a broad national security plan to defeat ISIS, Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich proposed creating a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world. The new agency, which he hasn't yet named, would promote a Jewish- and Christian-based belief system to four regions of the world: China, Iran, Russia and the Middle East." CW: Let's send everybody tiny Bibles. And Kasich is the "sensible" GOP candidate. ...

Jeb!, Master of the Metaphor. CW: Frogs, crabs, whatever. Every one of the GOP candidates is a joke.

Brian Mahoney & Marianne Levine of Politico: "The powerful union behind the fast food workers' wage movement endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday. The 2-million-member Service Employees International Union approved the endorsement through a vote by its executive board."

Annie Karni of Politico: "Bernie Sanders' ballyhooed speech on socialism is now on indefinite hold. Details about how Sanders would pay for his proposed single-payer national health insurance program to provide Medicare for all Americans have yet to be fleshed out -- even though a July 30 post on his campaign website says the Vermont senator would file legislation on single-payer 'perhaps as soon as next week.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... the planted axiom that a single-payer health care system or a more progressive tax system represents 'socialism' is absurd. Harry Truman proposed a single-payer system seventy years ago this Thursday, a few months before his 'Iron Curtain' speech." CW: Actually, I found the whole article absurd. The gist is that Sanders can't handle the big leagues. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gubernatorial Race

Never Let a Crisis Go Unexploited. Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Louisiana's race for governor is set to end on November 21, one week after the Paris bombings. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the struggling Republican nominee, is trying to make the race turn on one issue: Whether to let Syrian refugees settle in the United States. His closing argument depends on making Democratic nominee John Bel Edwards, a state representative who responded cautiously to the refugee aspect of the crisis, into a refugee-hugging accomplice of President Obama." (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "A Texas state legislator [Rep. Tony Dale (R)] wants the U.S. to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country. His reasoning: They might be able to buy guns in his state.... But Dale is one of the Texas legislature's most fervent gun-rights advocates.... He and his colleagues in the state legislature have blocked mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.... The NRA frequently claims that restrictions on gun purchases are unnecessary because 'criminals don't legally purchase firearms.'" Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead. ...

... "Gun Rights Are White Rights." Erik Loomis of Lawyers, Guns & Money: "The modern gun rights movement and white rights movement have always been intertwined. These connections need a lot more exploration than the occasional note that some Texas state legislator is freaking out about Muslims buying guns but wants all the whites in his state to be armed to the teeth."

Rees Shapiro & Susan Svrluga of the Washington Post: "Washington College closed its Maryland campus Tuesday morning until further notice as police and the FBI intensified the search for a 'despondent' sophomore who is believed to be armed. It was the second day the Eastern Shore campus has been on high alert, going from a shelter-in-place order Monday to a full evacuation on Tuesday. Authorities are trying to find Jacob Marberger, whose parents called college officials early Monday to report that he had left their home in Pennsylvania with a gun and that they were not able to reach him." CW: Another lovely example of white-boy terrorism.

Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Jamar Clark, the 24-year-old shot on Sunday morning following an altercation with police, died in hospital from his injuries on Monday night, police have confirmed. Clark was shot in the head by police early on Sunday morning following an altercation with officers and paramedics. Police said at first that Clark was shot following a struggle, but eyewitnesses have said he was already in handcuffs when he was shot. Family members have described Clark's shooting as 'execution-style'."