The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

Reuters: "The ringleader of a beating ritual that led to the death of a Florida college marching band member was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and felony hazing, the first case to go to trial in an incident that drew national attention to hazing abuses. A jury convicted percussionist Dante Martin, 27, for his role in a November 2011 ritual involving the Florida A&M University's celebrated 'Marching 100' band that led to the death of Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major." ...

... CW: Why are these college students so old?

Los Angeles Times: "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, part of a commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, crashed during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson and the FAA. At least one person was killed." MSNBC is saying two were injured as well.

New York Times: "Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public. Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left. The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, 'currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.' The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.” Thanks to James S. for the link.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

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

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

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Monday
Oct272014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 28, 2014

NEW. Gov. Rush Limbaugh. Marc Santora & Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: New Jersey Gov. Chris "Christie continued to defend his state's mandatory quarantine program on Tuesday morning, even as a growing number of scientists and public health experts condemned the restrictions as overly broad and possibly harmful in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. The New England Journal of Medicine, in an editorial published on its website, said the approach taken by New Jersey, New York and several other states 'is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal.'"

Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations. The number of requests, contained in a little-noticed 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service's inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.... The audit found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization." ...

... Eric Tucker of the AP: "While Congress mulls how to curtail the NSA's collection of Americans' telephone records, impatient civil liberties groups are looking to legal challenges already underway in the courts to limit government surveillance powers. Three appeals courts are hearing lawsuits against the bulk phone records program, creating the potential for an eventual Supreme Court review." ...

... Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the Nation, in the Washington Post: "It is time for President Obama to offer clemency to Edward Snowden, the courageous U.S. citizen who revealed the Orwellian reach of the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance of Americans. His actions may have broken the law, but his act, as the New York Times editorialized, did the nation 'a great service.'"

Michael Shear & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "The federal government on Monday announced a new set of monitoring guidelines for people arriving from West Africa that stopped short of the tough measures instituted in New York and New Jersey last week, an effort to bring uniformity to a messy patchwork of responses by states. The new policy, which federal health officials said was an effort ... to strike a balance between safety and civil liberties, would require returning heath care workers, or people who had been near Ebola patients, to submit to an in-person checkup and a phone call from a local public health authority." ...

... Jon Swaine & Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Federal health officials attempted on Monday to bring some order to a chaotic response to the latest Ebola diagnosis in the United States, after the United Nations criticised earlier restrictions placed on healthcare workers returning from west Africa.". ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Since each state sets its own quarantine rules, governors can keep imprisoning health-care workers if they want. The army immediately undermined the federal government's new guidelines by announcing that soldiers returning from West Africa are being quarantined for 21 days, though they show no signs of illness and had no direct contact with Ebola patients." ...

... The Most Misunderstood Man in New Jersey Is Misunderstood Again. Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media: " Gov. Chris Christie insisted during a campaign stop today he hasn't reversed his decision on mandatory quarantines for people traveling to the U.S. from West Africa, even as a nurse who had been held at University hospital was released earlier this afternoon. The governor, speaking to reporters in Florida, said his policy hasn't changed. The statement came just hours after the administration announced the nurse under quarantine at University Hospital in Newark after treating Ebola patients in Africa will be discharged. 'I didn't reverse any decision, why are you saying I reversed my decision?' Christie responded to a question today about the nurse, Kaci Hickox." ...

... Susan Livio of NJ Advance Media: Hickox "will be expected to quarantine herself at home, according to the Maine Health Department, which pledged to 'work collaboratively' with her and coordinate any food or medicine she might need if she begins to show symptoms." ...

... Liz Robbins, et al., of the New York Times: "Even as New Jersey officials on Monday released a nurse they had kept quarantined in a tent since her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, an unapologetic Gov. Chris Christie dismissed those who questioned his handling of the case and denied that he had reversed himself.... Mr. Christie said he had no reason to talk to [nurse Kaci] Hickox. 'My job is not to represent her,' he said. 'My job is to represent the people of New Jersey.'" ...

... CW: Yesterday, Steve M. asked "Is Chris Christie being mean enough to Kari Hickox to win the Republican nomination in 2016?" Yeah, I think, "Fuck you, International Hero Nurse," is just mean enough. (It would have been better if Hickox had been both a nurse AND a nun who dedicated herself at great risk to helping the helpless, but you can't have everything.) ...

     ... Oh, sorry, I was wrong. Lucy McCalmont of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday over his Ebola response, saying it's the Republican governor who should be quarantined for siding with President Barack Obama ahead of the elections. 'So one week before the election, once again, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has caved. We need to quarantine Chris Christie is what needs to happen here, folks. This is the second election in a row,' Limbaugh said on his radio program.... Comparing Christie's Ebola response to his Hurricane Sandy hug with the president ahead of the 2012 elections, Limbaugh said Christie is 'responding to Obama's demands.'" ...

... Steve M. explains Christie's mistake: "If he were whining now that he was forced to [release Hickox] by jackbooted Obama administration thugs, or possibly by evil trial lawyers (... Hickox was threatening a federal lawsuit), he might be looking good right now in the eyes of Limbaugh and his crowd.... You leave her in the tent, or you say you were forced to free her by the fascist political correctness police. Christie had an enemy -- as Mark noted in my comments, the right was already mounting a hate campaign against Hickox, noting that she's (gasp!) a registered Democrat, and has worked for (horrors!) the CDC." ...

... Abby Ohlheiser & Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: Hickox "was specifically critical of Christie, who had told reporters Saturday that Hickox was 'obviously ill.' 'First of all, I don't think he's a doctor,' Hickox told CNN on Sunday, in an interview from her isolation tent.... That same day, she hired civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who told NBC News that Hickox planned to sue for her release." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "Saying that he was 'sick and tired of having my medical credentials questioned,' Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) had himself sworn in as a medical doctor on Sunday night. Dr. Christie acknowledged that becoming a doctor generally requires pre-med classes, four years of medical school, plus additional years of residency, but he said that the Ebola epidemic compelled him to take 'extraordinary measures, as we say in the medical profession.'" ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York: "Christie's own politics, his instinctive pugilistic communitarianism, may seem a little anachronistic in a country less inclined to see outsiders as enemies.... Already there is something that feels characteristic about Christie in this episode, in which he rushed to the barricades to fight an enemy that no one else could see."

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "The office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said on Monday that [New York C]ity's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the contractor, Computer Sciences Corporation, created schemes that would trigger [fraudulent Medicaid] reimbursements on tens of thousands of false claims.... [The] reimbursements ... amount to tens of millions of dollars.... The lawsuit, which follows a whistle-blower's complaint, was filed under the False Claims Act. The lawsuit demands triple damages and penalties, but does not specify how much it is seeking.... '... we strongly disagree with the allegations, which we believe involve technical billing issues, not fraud,' the [city's] Law Department said."

A Kindlier, Gentler ISIS Media Campaign? Adam Taylor of the Washington Post: "In a remarkable new video released by the Islamic State militants, British hostage John Cantlie gives a tour of the Syrian city of Kobane and denounces Western coverage of the fighting in the city."

Kate Cox of the Nation: "All across the United States, prison populations are graying, growing old and infirm behind bars.... This is a man-made crisis that tracks back to the nation's long obsession with retribution, which peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. That's when the 'tough on crime' and 'war on drugs' ideologies reigned supreme, spawning mandatory minimum sentences and 'three strikes' laws, among other things.... Spending on inmates ages 50 and older tops $16 billion annually.... Perpetrators and victims -- and the public at large -- could benefit from a system that recognizes retribution must be paired with earlier release and more support for re-entry, as well as repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws and refocusing our energies on diversion, community supervision and community-based sanctions and services."

November Elections

Dan Balz & Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post: "Republicans enter the final week of the midterm campaign holding higher ground than the Democrats, [link fixed] aided by public dissatisfaction with President Obama's leadership, with the overall direction of the country and with the federal government's ability to deal with major problems, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "... it is perfectly possible that neither side will emerge from next Tuesday with victory sealed. Runoffs are likely in Georgia and Louisiana. We could have to wait until early January to find out who controls the upper chamber."

John Dickerson of Slate: "This year's contest is a no-mandate election, in which the winning side will succeed with no great animating idea other than the fear (or avoidance) of the Obama nightmare. Republican debates, speeches, and advertisements have been so thoroughly concerned with the president and how much the Democrat on the ballot agrees with him, there is no other message that competes. That's a smart political strategy, but it's not a governing strategy. Republicans may take control of Congress, but it will have been by clobbering a president they'll then have to work with...."

Coming Soon -- the Ebola Senate Majority. Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics: "Last week marked a spike in TV ad buys in Senate and House races featuring either the word 'Ebola' or images of emergency workers in protective suits and masks, according to data from Kantar Media's CMAG, a tracking firm. The uptick coincided with polling showing worsening prospects for Democrats in some of the same states where the ads are running, including Georgia." ...

... David Espo of the AP: "Senate Democrats unleashed a late-campaign round of attack ads Monday accusing Republicans in key races of harboring plans to cut Social Security and Medicare. The commercials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Louisiana and elsewhere appear aimed at older voters, who cast ballots in relatively large numbers in midterm elections and have tended to support Republicans in recent years."

Georgia. Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "David Perdue, Georgia's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, defended himself Sunday night against charges that he paid female managers less than male ones when he was CEO of Dollar General, saying 'it was less than 2,000 people' who brought the lawsuit against the company.... We had upwards of 70,000 employees at that company.'" ... Paul Waldman suggests, "Maybe he should turn this into a slogan: 'David Purdue: The majority of people who worked for me didn't sue for discrimination.'" ...

     ... CW: If you read the underlying Mother Jones story, you'll see that more than 4,000 employees sued Dollar General during Perdue's tenure as CEO: 2,100+ in the gender discrimination suit & another 2,000 in a suit claiming "that the company had made them managers in name only so it could deny them overtime they would have earned as store clerks." In mediation, Dollar General paid off the employees & former employees in both class action suits.

Kentucky. The Louisville Courier Journal Editors in endorsing Alison Grimes. notes that Mitch McConnell has refused to speak to the board: McConnell "now is identified largely as the master of obstruction and gridlock in Washington. Kentucky needs a U.S. senator who sees a higher calling than personal ambition and a greater goal than self-aggrandizement." ...

Lexington Herald Leader Editors, endorses Alison Grimes for U.S. Senate: "The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis [Mitch] McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction. Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, McConnell told his fellow Republicans that their strategy was to deny the new president any big wins. The country was in two wars and at deep risk of sliding into a depression, but making an adversary look bad was McConnell's main mission. His signature cause - flooding elections with ever more money - corrupts. He poses as a champion of the right to criticize the government, but it's really his rich buddies' right to buy the government that he champions." ...

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: After asking McConnell's various offices a dozen times, a spokesman finally confirmed that Mitch McConnell "wants to repeal the full health care law, including not just the federal subsidies for people purchasing on exchanges like Kynect, but also the mandates and taxes on high-cost plans and other features of the legislation." CW: Say adios to affordable health insurance, 500,000 Kentuckians & millions of Americans. ...

... CW: Despite his despicable character & Dickensian policies, Mitch makes a humanizing campaign ad, proving, if nothing else, that Mad men are awesome. If you can make the Turtle seem like a good-natured human being, you can make even that dead guy in New Hampshire (see below) come to life:

Louisiana. Phil Mattingly of Bloomberg Politics: "Senator Mary Landrieu [C-La.] used the absence of her top opponent in her re-election race at Monday's debate to highlight her differences with President Barack Obama and her efforts to work across the aisle during her time in office.... The no-show, Rep. Bill Cassidy "has consistently led Landrieu in head-to-head polling."

Maine. Matt Byrne of the Portland Press Herald: "Two Portland-area lawmakers will roll out a referendum petition drive this week to enact ranked-choice voting in Maine gubernatorial elections. Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, who is running for re-election, and Sen. Richard Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth who is not running again, said Monday that ranked-choice voting offers a fairer way for Mainers to choose their governor." CW: Good for Russell & Woodbury, but this system should be used for other races, too.

Massachusetts. Charles Pierce stands up for Martha Coakley & rips the Boston Globe for its endorsement of Charlie Baker which "doesn't make a very compelling case for Baker over Coakley on any grounds save for the fact that he's not her."

New Hampshire -- where a dead politicians weighs in on today's U.S. Senate campaign. He didn't like Jeanne Shaheen when he was alive, & he doesn't like her now that he's dead, apparently. Anyway, the GOP thought what was good in 2008 is good for 2014. Whatever. Dave Weigel, via Margaret Hartmann.

Wisconsin. "Scott Walker to Chris Christie: Thanks for Nothing." Alexander Burns of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he needs more help from the national GOP in his reelection fight -- and an upcoming visit from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to cut it.... '[Christie] is coming because he asked if he could come and we weren't going to say no,' Walker said. 'But we're not looking for surrogates.'" CW Note to Scottie: Maybe your likely 2016 presidential rival doesn't want you to win this one.

Presidential Election

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "As [Chris] Christie considers a run for president, the question of how his image as a no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip executive will play in the far-flung precincts of Iowa and South Carolina, where politics tends to be less in-your-face than in New Jersey, is increasingly relevant. His Ebola decision thrust both his persona and his policy-making style back into the spotlight."

Surprise! Hillary Business, After All. Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed. At a rally for Martha Coakley Friday, where she & Elizabeth Warren both spoke, Hillary Clinton said, "Don't let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs." Speaking Monday at a rally for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney" (D-N.Y.), Clinton corrected herself: "The Republican alternative is a discredited economic theory that will hurt middle class families. So-called trickle-down economics has failed. I short-handed this point the other day, so let me be absolutely clear about what I've been saying for a couple of decades. Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America and workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out -- not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas." CW Translation: "Send more cash, my Little Wall Street Angels." ...

... Jonathan Chait adds some context in a post titled, "In gaffe, Hillary Clinton endorses communism."

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times profiles Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is gearing up to run for president.

Beyond the Beltway

Michael Schwirtz & Michael Winerip of the New York Times: "The New York City Correction Department’s top uniformed officer, facing criticism over underreporting of violence at Rikers Island, will step down, a department spokesman said Tuesday. The officer, William Clemons, a 29-year veteran correction official in New York, was appointed chief of department just five months ago by Mayor Bill de Blasio's reform-minded correction commissioner, who described him at the time as a 'superb corrections professional.'... The move is a blow to the commissioner, Joseph Ponte, who has stalwartly defended his decision to promote Mr. Clemons in the face of unsettling revelations about his competence in recent weeks." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "In a major shake-up at the New York City Correction Department, three high-ranking officials, including the top uniformed officer, are stepping down amid mounting criticism over the handling of violence and corruption at Rikers Island.... Mayor Bill de Blasio's handpicked correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, had promoted all three within the last five months."

News Ledes

AP: "An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site in eastern Virginia. No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA's commercial spaceflight effort. The accident at Orbital Sciences Corp.'s launch complex at Wallops Island was sure to draw criticism over the space agency's growing reliance on private U.S. companies in this post-shuttle effort."

USA Today: "Amber Vinson, one of two Texas nurses who tested positive for Ebola after treating an infected patient, is free of the virus and will be discharged Tuesday from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, according to the hospital."

Atlantic: "Darren Wilson, the police officer accused of shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer..., has not been seen since August 9.... It's now being reported that a total of six criminal cases have been dismissed, because Wilson, as the arresting officer, isn't showing up to court to testify."

CNN: "South African prosecutors will appeal the verdict and the sentence in the Oscar Pistorius case, a spokesman for the country's National Prosecuting Authority told CNN on Monday."

Sunday
Oct262014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 27, 2014

Paul Krugman: "... nowadays we simply won't invest [in public projects], even when the need is obvious and the timing couldn't be better. And don't tell me that the problem is 'political dysfunction' or some other weasel phrase that diffuses the blame. Our inability to invest ... reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party."

Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: "Combat operations in Helmand Province officially ended on Sunday for the United States Marines and British troops stationed there, bringing an end to a decade-long struggle to keep a major Taliban stronghold and the region's vast opium production in check. Officials commemorated the handover during simultaneous ceremonies at Camp Leatherneck for the Marines and Camp Bastion for the British forces, conjoined bases that made up the coalition headquarters for the region."

Matt Flegenheimer, et al., of the New York Times: "Facing fierce resistance from the White House and medical experts to a strict new mandatory quarantine policy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday night that medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa but did not show symptoms of the disease would be allowed to remain at home and would receive compensation for lost income." This is a revision of the NYT story linked in yesterday's News Ledes. ...

This is government's job. We have taken this action, and I have no second thoughts about it. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on quarantines of people who have come into contact with Ebola ...

... CW: Um, actually Christie did have second thoughts. This, from today's NYT piece by Flegenheimer, et al.: "After Mr. Cuomo's announcement, Mr. Christie issued a statement saying that, under protocols announced on Wednesday [??], New Jersey residents not displaying symptoms would also be allowed to quarantine in their homes." ...

... BUT. Jonathan Cohn: "Meanwhile, Hickox remains in her tent, at least as of this writing. Her presence could discourage health care workers from going overseas in the future. That would be tragic -- and dangerous." ...

... Steve M.: "Is Chris Christie being mean enough to Kari Hickox to win the Republican nomination in 2016?" ...

... Elizabeth Cohen, et al. of CNN: "Kaci Hickox, a nurse placed under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey, went on CNN on Sunday and criticized the 'knee-jerk reaction by politicians' to Ebola, saying 'to quarantine someone without a better plan in place, without more forethought, is just preposterous.' Hickox, an epidemiologist who was working to help treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, has tested negative twice for Ebola and does not have symptoms, she said." With video. ...

James Hambin of the Atlantic has a long piece on the U.S.'s response to Ebola, in which he cites the work of interviews Steven Hatfill, who "was very publicly, very falsely accused of killing several people with anthrax in 2001.... As he wrote....: 'The initial response to the outbreak of Ebola in the United States has been badly designed, and poorly and incompetently implemented.... The leading health authorities of the United States have made far over-reaching statements and assumptions that are not fully supported by the existing scientific literature.' For one objection, Hatfill wants it known that ... aerosol droplet transmission of Ebola virus has been shown in animal studies. 'It is therefore irresponsible for government health officials to emphatically state that aerosol transmission does not occur,' he writes. He also believes the argument against a national quarantine is 'inexcusable in light of the size of the current West African epidemic.' Hatfill's concerns are backed by some compelling evidence and the clout of a long, storied career." ...

Jonathan Chait: "If Republicans recapture the Senate majority, Mitch McConnell has a plan ... [to] restore the Senate to its glorious, dignified place in American political life ... [as it was] before Harry Reid degraded the institution.... It takes an exceptionally principled politician to elevate procedural fairness over his own political goals. That doesn't sound like a description of Mitch McConnell."

The New York Times has an extensive review of how the Affordable Care Act has performed: "After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama's main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash." ...

... CW: I know for sure it's working. I had the TV on in the middle of the night, & some rip-off outfit was urging people to call in to get ACA health insurance. If the crooks have found it, it's working.

Today's History Lesson. Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government's ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show." ...

... CW: So here's a question for you. And for Congress. Should these ex-Nazis, who worked for the U.S., get Social Security benefits? See also this story.

Digby gives her take on Thomas Frank's essay (linked in the Commentariat yesterday) on the parallels between the Obama & Carter presidencies. ...

... Scott Lemieux writes the "Shorter Thomas Frank." ...

... Paul Waldman: "I'm not going to bother going through all the things that are wrong with Frank's argument (Bill Clinton was 'passionless'?), but one thing's for sure: There are no liberals left who think that the savagery of the right is best dealt with through some kind of mushy-headed post-partisanship. Frankly, I don't know how many of them there were to begin with, even those who were smitten by Barack Obama in 2008. They didn't love Obama because they thought he'd melt conservatives' icy hearts; one of the things that made him so compelling was the fact that not only was he inspiring and new, he was also obviously a shrewd tactician who knew how to wield the knife, as he showed in dispatching Hillary Clinton."

Kara Lankford of Ocean Conservancy in Politico Magazine: "Yes, BP did damage the Gulf." CW: This seems to be Politico's mea culpa. They used the same format for Lankford's piece as for BP exec Geoff Morrell's piece in the magazine last week. In an earlier opinion piece outlining damage to Gulf, Politico made abundantly clear that the work was "only the author's opinion."

Yishai Schwartz of the New Republic on the documentary film Citizenfour, by Laura Poitras about Ed Snowden: "Despite Poitras' best efforts, the movie confirms the views of [Snowden's] critics."

God News Follow-up. Mark Kleiman of the Reality-Base Community: "Shorter Ross Douthat: All Popes are infallible, but reactionary Popes are more infallible than others. Note especially two extraordinary claims: * That what Douthat admits is a traditionalist minority deserves deference because of its energy. Apparently Douthat wants his faction to dominate the Church the way the Tea Party dominates the GOP. * That it would be outrageous for Pope Francis to use the power of appointment to move the Church into the future in precisely the way his two predecessors used it to move the Church into the past."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Charles Pierce reviews the Sunday shows.

November Elections

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Many of the governor's races remain exceedingly close, according to the latest round of data from The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online panel of more than 80,000 respondents.... On balance, Democrats seem set to pick up two or three states, mainly because the Republicans enter the elections with twice as many Republican-held seats. But it is easy to imagine the Republicans holding their advantage -- there are 29 Republican governors and 21 Democratic ones -- or the Democrats picking up a half-dozen seats." ...

E. J. Dionne lists four "underappreciated facts" about the midterm Senate elections. "If Democrats upset expectations, these underappreciated factors will be the reason." ...

... Nate Silver reviews the lastest polls, noting that the GOP's Senate "advantage remains consistent but not decisive."

Maine. Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald: "Republican Gov. Paul LePage has opened a lead over Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the closing weeks of the gubernatorial campaign, according to a Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald poll. The findings mark a significant shift from previous polls showing both candidates running in a virtual dead heat. LePage leads Michaud 45 percent to 35 percent, with independent Eliot Cutler at 16 percent and 4 percent undecided...." CW: If Cutler actually cares about Maine, he should drop out now & not make this the second gubernatorial race he's given to LePage.

Massachusetts. The Boston Globe editors endorse Republican Charlie Baker for governor.

New Hampshire. Marin Cogan of New York: Elizabeth Warren aims to defeat Scott Brown -- again. "... no matter how well Scott Brown does on election day, he is poised to make history: either as the first politician to be elected senator from two different states in nearly a century and a half, or, as [N.H. Sen. Jeanne] Shaheen hopes, as the first to run in two states and be defeated by two women." Shaheen, BTW, is "the first woman to serve as both governor and senator of a state in U.S. history."

Presidential Election

Arlette Saenz of ABC News: "In an interview in College Station, Texas, this week, George P. Bush told ABC News' Jonathan Karl he thinks his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will 'more than likely' run for president in 2016." ...

     ... UPDATE. Charles Pierce reminds of Pee's youthful stalker days. Apparently, being the son of a wealthy Republican means having to do some illegal, creepy things to women.

... Peter Baker of the New York Times tells you just what all the members of the Bush family think about President Jeb." ...

... CW: I cannot think of how this country could better demonstrate to the world that it has become retrogressive, dynastic & dull than to have another Bush-Clinton race, starring two old fogies. A Romney-Clinton race would not be much better. I think either would be described by future historians as the endpoint of U.S. global leadership, although the pivotal point probably came in 2001, when the Supremes elected Dubya. An uninspiring presidential face-off would/will be another, significant event in the decline & fall.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was reelected by a whisker in a second-round head-to-head vote, after one of the closest, most aggressive campaigns in the country's recent history."

Guardian: "Pro-Europe parties secured a big win in an election in Ukraine, a partial vote count suggested on Monday, with President Petro Poroshenko hailing people's support for his plan to end a separatist war and pursue democratic reforms sought by the west."

Seattle Times: "A second student has died after a freshman’s shooting rampage Friday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Gia Soriano, 14, died Sunday night at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, a hospital official announced at a news conference. She had been hospitalized in critical condition since the shooting."

Saturday
Oct252014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 26, 2014

Sabrina Tavernise, et al., of the New York Times: New York's "carefully planned response was a world apart from the scene that unfolded in a Dallas hospital last month when a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, became the first person to test positive for Ebola in the United States.... The often rudderless response [in Dallas] lasted two weeks, and in the end, two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, fell ill with the virus. Both have recovered, but the searing experience stunned experts, and shook Americans' confidence in their health care system.... In effect, the United States has become 19th-century Britain: We provide superb education for elites, but we falter at mass education." ...

... As Marvin Schwalb points out, not every response to Ebola in these parts is perfect (blame Chris Christie!):

... Anemona Hartocollis & Emma Fitzsimmons of the New York Times: "A nurse who was being quarantined at a New Jersey hospital after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone criticized her treatment on Saturday as an overreaction after an initial test found that she did not have the virus. 'I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa,' the nurse, Kaci Hickox, wrote in an essay on the website of The Dallas Morning News, in collaboration with a friend who works for the paper. 'I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear, and most frightening, quarantine.'" ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New Republic: "The authorities in New York clearly lied in their press conference ... about Craig Spencer, the New York physician who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. Among the many accurate pieces of information that Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett disseminated to the public was the following whopper: That Dr. Spencer acted entirely appropriately and responsibly.... This is clearly not true.... He decided to ride the subway, go bowling, and frolic at the High Line Park on Wednesday." Scheiber is okay with the lie because it avoided public panic. CW: I think the lie was stupid & I thought so when I read it because I already knew Spencer had been all over the city. And that too was damned stoopid.

Nicholas Kristof: "THE best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken.... A new Pew survey finds that Americans consider the greatest threat to our country to be the growing gap between the rich and poor. Yet we have constructed an education system, dependent on local property taxes, that provides great schools for the rich kids in the suburbs... and broken, dangerous schools for inner-city children.... Too often, America's education system amplifies not opportunity but inequality." ...

... CW: You know where Education Secretary Arne Duncan is on this? Nineteenth-century Britain.

WHERE'S ARNE? Surely he's here somewhere.

Thomas Frank on how Barack Obama is just like Jimmy Carter. Thanks to Terence for the link.

Charles C. W. Cooke of the National Review, in the New York Times: "If supporters of the right to keep and bear arms want their pleas to be heard in their proper context, they might consider talking a little less about Valley Forge and a little more about Jim Crow -- and attempting to fill their ranks with people who have known much more recently what tyranny really looks like." CW: This is a remarkable essay: historically & theoretically correct -- & stunningly naive. If black people want to get shot dead with impunity, they should openly pack heat in stand-your-ground states.

God News

Ross Douthat with News from the Vatican: Oh my god oh my god. The Holy Roman Catholic Church is in CHAOS. Stop the gays! Stop the divorcees! "... this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him." ...

... Bad News, Ross. Cathy Grossman of Religion News Service: A new survey by religion researcher David Kinnaman finds that 38 percent of Americans are "churchless"; that is, "roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually 'post-Christian' and 'essentially secular in belief and practice.'" Via Steve Benen.

Sarah Jones in Americans United for Separation of Church & State: Alabamians will vote next week on a ludicrous state constitutional amendment to outlaw Sharia law. To make the amendment look less silly, its authors didn't use the word "Sharia." "At Americans United, we are often asked why we don't support these bills. The answer is always the same: Because there isn't a real threat that our courts or legislatures are implementing Sharia law. We have yet to receive a report about a Muslim community or Muslim elected official attempting to legislate based on Sharia principles.... We do, however, receive many reports about fundamentalist Christians doing exactly that." Via Benen.

CW: Isn't it time for conservative Christians to do something about the shocking fact that four months of the year -- January, March, May & June -- are named for pagan gods? It's bad enough that two months are named for pagan dictators -- July & August -- but gods? In Christianland, the calendars months should be something like Epiphany, February, Easter, Josephus, Mary, Jesus, September, October, November, December, Reaganus, Christmas.

November Elections

Alabama. See God News, above.

Kentucky. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is giving his reelection campaign a $1.8 million personal loan to stave off a new round of attack ads from Democrats."

Mississippi. Geoff Pender of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger: "The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of Chris McDaniel's lawsuit over his June GOP primary loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. The court ruled four to two, upholding a lower court decision that McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge of his loss. Three justices did not participate.... Neither McDaniel nor his lead attorney Mitch Tyner answered definitively on Friday whether the ruling will put end to his trying to overturn the election...."

Beyond the Beltway

Another Murder in Gunland. David Ferguson of the Raw Story: "A Gary, Indiana man shot and killed a 13-year-old neighbor boy for laughing at him on Friday night. According to the Gary Post-Tribune, police have not released the shooter's name, but said that he shot Kobe Jones, 13, nine times.... Gary Police Lt. Thomas Pawlak told the [Gary] Post-Tribune that the gunman's home was broken into and robbed some time on Friday afternoon..... As [the shooter] was having a noisy tantrum in his back yard, a crowd of neighborhood residents gathered. Jones made the mistake of laughing at his neighbor's histrionics."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Under the cloud of a bitter war in their nation's east, Ukrainians on Sunday were projected to have elected the most pro-European parliament in their country's 23-year-old history, firmly backing an effort to steer their nation away from Russia's orbit."

New York Times: "The Obama administration has been pushing the governors of New York and New Jersey to reverse their decision ordering all medical workers returning from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients to be quarantined, an administration official said on Sunday."

     ... The Washington Post story is here.

Friday
Oct242014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 25, 2014

Marc Santora of the New York Times: "The governors of New York and New Jersey announced Friday afternoon that they were ordering all people entering the country through two area airports who had direct contact with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to be quarantined." ...

... Michael Paulson of the New York Times: "Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse who became infected with Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient, walked out of a Maryland hospital on Friday, thanked God and others for her recovery, then went to the White House for a hug from President Obama before her return home to Dallas." ...

... Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: The Soviet Union once worked on developing Ebola as a biological weapon. "The research began amid intense secrecy with an ambitious effort to assess Ebola’s potential as a biological weapon, and it later included attempts to manipulate the virus’s genetic coding, U.S. officials and researchers say. Those efforts ultimately failed as Soviet scientists stumbled against natural barriers that make Ebola poorly suited for biowarfare.... Now, at a time when the world is grappling with an unprecedented Ebola crisis, the wall of secrecy surrounding the labs looms still larger...." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown [D] blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services." With audio. CW: Sherrod Brown is one of my very favorite Senators. And proof that somebody with a coif like Rand Paul's can still be a righteous smart guy. ...

... Gail Collins: "Two years after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the top gun-control priority in the United States is still background checks. There is nothing controversial about the idea that people who buy guns should be screened to make sure they don’t have a criminal record or serious mental illness.... The problem, of course, is the National Rifle Association, which does not actually represent gun owners nearly as ferociously as it represents gun sellers." Read the whole column.

The Two Faces of John Roberts -- Are Both White! Garrett Epps of the Atlantic on Chief Justice John Roberts inconsistent holdings on race: when it suits him, he says the law should be abolutely color-blind. But when a lower court concluded that the Texas voter ID the law was purposely racially discriminatory (i.e., not color-blind), Roberts let it stand anyway, so as not to inconvenience the state or something. 

"What Happened to that GOP Lawsuit?" Josh Gerstein of Politico: "It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the Capitol to the federal courthouse just down the hill, but House Republicans haven’t managed to make that trip in the four months since they announced they’d be suing the president.... Some attribute the delay to electoral politics — suggesting that Republicans were worried it could rile up the Democratic base — though the GOP is mum on why the suit has yet to be filed.... 'I thought this was a constitutional crisis and the republic was in jeopardy because Obama overstepped his bounds. Now, they can’t even get around to filing it?' asked former House Counsel Stan Brand, a Democrat. 'It, to me, emphasizes the not-serious nature of it.'”

Paul Krugman: "Profits are very high, so why are companies concluding that they should return cash to stockholders rather than use it to expand their businesses?... This kind of divergence — in which high profits don’t signal high returns to investment — is what you’d expect if a lot of those profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns on capital."

Josh Marshall of explains Sarah Palin AND Fox "News": "... Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol have now spoken out about their notorious boozy family brawl, recasting Bristol's attack on the event's host as a morality tale about violence against women and media bias.... In talking about themselves they're already railing about Hunter Biden and Chelsea Clinton and media bias and the 'war on women' and the rest. As she has since she stepped onto the national stage six years ago, Palin is the ultimate avatar of base Republican culture since she views herself as an eternal victim, with all the grievance and resentment that entails.... In very broad terms, the origin of Fox News is analogous."

** Annals of Journalism, Ctd. "When Politicians Lie." The Washington Post publishes an essay "excerpted from the Press-Enterprise Lecture [former Post editor Ben Bradlee] delivered at the University of California, Riverside, on Jan. 7, 1997."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Lynne Marek of Chicago Business: "Chicago Sun-Times journalists, whose colleague Dave McKinney resigned this week, are asking the newspaper's owners for reassurance that the latter won't seek to influence editorial content. The request comes in a petition that's posted on the reporters' union website. It follows the exit of Mr. McKinney, the Springfield bureau chief, who questioned in his resignation letter whether the newsroom is insulated from owners' interests." ...

... CW: Back in the Dark Ages when I lived in Chicago, the Sun-Times, although published in tabloid format, was a decent alternative to the righty-right-wing Tribune. Not any more, I guess. I haven't linked to it very often as (a) their Website sucks, & (b) their content is usually fairly sketchy.

November Elections

Tim Murphy of Mother Jones introduces us to Dan Patrick, the next lieutenant governor of Texas: "Man Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through 'Duck Dynasty' Is About to Be Texas' Second-in-Command." We live in one stupid, scary country. ...

... CW: How Republicans can stop the flow of immigrants without building fences: publish truthful profiles of themselves in all the major media of the world. Who would want to come to a place run by people like this?

Presidential Election

Katharine Seelye & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: The Boston Two-Step. When Hillary met Liz. Also, Martha was there. ...

... Maggie Haberman of Politico has more on the Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren offstage meeting.

The Most Interesting Man in Washington, Ctd. Paul Waldman: "... what if placating the right isn’t as hard as it appears? That question is right now being contemplated by Rand Paul, who is running for the White House harder than anybody. Paul has now given a speech outlining his foreign policy vision (which every candidate is supposed to have). The speech shows just how Paul is navigating the tension between the two competing incentives that will define his candidacy.... If you took out the five Reagan references and changed some words and phrases here and there, the speech Paul gave could have been delivered by Barack Obama. The difference between a Republican and a Democrat, apparently, is that the Republican says that we should always be prepared for war, but war should be a last resort, while the Democrat says that war should be a last resort, but we should always be prepared for war.... And also, Reagan Reagan Reagan." ...

... Steve M.: "Unless you think all the older Republicans are going to stay home while under-35s do all the voting, this is a recipe for failure in the GOP primaries." ...

... CW: I dunno. In the 2012 GOP primaries, Romney beat off a handful of professional wingers. Yeah, he said he was "severely conservative," but even the dumbest of dumb bunnies knew he was less conservative than the other candidates (including Jon Huntsman, Jr.). Somehow millions of actual severe conservatives pulled the lever for Mitt. Why? Because Mitt looked & sounded more like a president than, say, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. Winning is everything.

Beyond the Beltway

AND Anthony Weiner, who is not Rep. Anthony Weiner or Mayor Anthony Weiner is still Anthony Weiner. Jordan Sargent of Gawker: "It's been three years (only!) since Anthony Weiner's political career went limp because he sent photos of his dick to random women via social media, and yet he has still not learned how to use Twitter." CW: Actually, he's known all along how to use Twitter: as a medium for sending sexy pictures, this time "favorite-ing" a body-shot of "Sugarfuzz," a woman who urges married men to contact her "to indulge your sexual fantasies by having an affair." Calling Dr. Kate Madison.