The Ledes

Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

NBC News: "A holiday storm system played havoc Wednesday with the Thanksgiving travel plans of tens of millions of people — wiping out hundreds of flights in the Northeast, dumping rain on busy roads and threatening more than a foot of snow in some places.

Washington Post: "Police cleared the remaining barricades from one of Hong Kong’s largest protest sites Wednesday and arrested two pro-democracy leaders as authorities stepped up their efforts to end the two-month-long civil disobedience campaign. Hundreds of protesters chanted for 'full democracy' as workers in red caps and 'I love Hong Kong' T-shirts began clearing the metal and wooden barricades in the shopping streets of Mong Kok, a crowded working-class neighborhood that has become a flash point between protesters and opponents during the occupation."

The Wires

CW: Looks as if the Google News & stock market widgets are kaput & the Reuters widget is intermittent. We'll see what happens over the next few days with these.

The Ledes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

Washington Post: "This week’s winter storm is shaping up to be a travel nightmare for Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and the busiest travel day of the year. A coating to several inches of snow could accumulate along the I-95 corridor on Wednesday. While temperatures have been unseasonably warm early this week, snow is still likely to accumulate along coastal interstates, especially during periods of heavy snowfall."

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
November 26

2:15 pm ET: President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey (Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, not so much)

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

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

CW: For those of you who don't like hassling with DVDs, I accidentally found a cheap alternative to Netflix. Although I will continue to subscribe to Netflix's streaming videos, Netflix doesn't stream most decent movies. Instead, you have to maintain a (second) monthly subscription, then order & return the DVDs. However, YouTube now allows you to stream movies (you can watch them -- more than once -- during a 48-hour period.) There's no monthly fee, & you can play the movies on your TV via various devices. I have a Google dongle on one TV & a Blu-Ray box on another. The YouTube streaming videos work on both (you have to download on the Chrome browser). Setting up an account was very easy. Since I watch few movies, this works perfectly for me. When Ben Bradlee died, I watched "All the President's Men" for the umpteenth time, & today I watched "Good Night & Good Luck." Big advantage: instant gratification! I'm not sure if YouTube is good for more recent movies.

The Rockefellers Are Leaving the Building. New York Times: "By this time next year, they will have vacated the 56th-floor aerie [in 30 Rock] they have occupied since 1933 and moved to somewhat less rarefied headquarters across 49th Street. One of the country’s great dynastic families is downsizing."

Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

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Monday
Nov242014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2014

 

This Week in American Violence

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "The truth is that the law gives wide berth to the police’s use of deadly force.... When you add this climate of legal deference to the particular circumstances of the grand jury trial — including McCullough’s reputation for supporting police officers, and his decision to avoid a recommendation for charges — the non-indictment was almost inevitable. Barring something extraordinary, Wilson was going to walk free. The judicial system as we’ve constructed it just isn’t equipped — or even willing — to hold officers accountable for shootings and other offenses. Or put differently, the simple fact is that the police can kill for almost any reason with little fear of criminal charges." (Emphasis added.) ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging protests in Ferguson & elsewhere in the U.S. ...

... Chico Harlan, et al., of the Washington Post: "A night of rage left behind the kind of scars that Ferguson has witnessed before: smoldering buildings, looted storefronts, fire-gutted cars. What marked even more difficult ground Tuesday was finding a way forward as police braced for more unrest and many African American protesters said their only recourse was the streets." ...

... John Eligon & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "After a chaotic night of demonstrations that erupted in many fires, frequent bursts of gunshots, looting and waves of tear gas, Gov. Jay Nixon said early Tuesday that he would send additional National Guard troops to help quell the worst violence this battered St. Louis suburb has seen since a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August." ...

... James Queally, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "At least a dozen buildings were burned and 61 people arrested during a night of violence and chaos in Ferguson, Mo., that followed a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, police said early Tuesday." ...

... St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, speaking at a press conference at 1:30 a.m., said he was grateful nobody was killed but was disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area. 'What I've seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that's truly unfortunate,' he said. He said that there was basically 'nothing left' along West Florissant Avenue between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road." ...

... CW: All this violence is just as inexcusable as a policeman unnecessarily shooting dead a citizen. I find it more banal than aggravating, just a bunch of stupid people playing their expected roles. What percentage of these assholes in the streets do you suppose work to make the system better or even vote? The vandals have cancelled out any outrage I might have felt at a completely-expected outcome. Pardon me, but my liberal bona fides do not carry me into excusing violence as an acceptable form of remedial "justice." ...

... Julie Bosman, et al., of the New York Times read through thousands of pages of grand jury testimony & publish their overview here. ...

... Timothy Phelps of the Los Angeles Times: "Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., in a statement released late Monday, appeared to try to distance the ongoing federal investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of Michael Brown from that of local authorities. St. Louis County Prosecuting Atty. Robert McCullough, in announcing earlier Monday that no charges were being brought against Police Officer Darren Wilson, repeatedly said that there had been close cooperation between county and federal investigators. 'While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing,' Holder said. 'Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now," the statement said." ...

     ... Holder's full statement is here. ...

... Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Darren Wilson issued a statement. ...

... For those interested in seeing the pictures, released late Monday afternoon, of Darren Wilson taken shortly after he killed Michael Brown, NBC News has them here. ...

... Here's the transcript of Darren Wilson's grand jury testimony, via Slate. ...

     ... Update: The Washington Post (and other news outlets) now has documents & transcripts of all of the evidence online. ...

... The police are firing smoke bombs at protesters in Ferguson. The officers are wearing gas masks. MSNBC is reporting there are few protesters. Chris Hayes of MSNBC said he heard gunshots in the area of the Ferguson police HQ. Protesters broke into a store, per MSNBC. There's a building on fire on Ferguson (or Florrisant) Ave., & MSNBC is reporting about four blocks of "chaos in the streets." There's a vehicle on fire outside of central downtown Ferguson. ...

... Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch liveblog.

President Obama is speaking @ 10:09 pm ET. Update: Here are the President's remarks:

... Paul Waldman: "Seldom in Barack Obama’s presidency has he looked quite so impotent as he did last night, pleading from a podium in the White House for calm while the cable news split screens showed clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. He repeated the same themes as every time he has spoken about this subject — people have legitimate grievances but there’s no excuse for violence, we’ve come a long way but we have a ways to go, and so on. It never rang more hollow. But ...." ...

The New York Times story on the Darren Wilson grand jury decision is here. CW: So far, seems as if everyone is performing to type. No surprises anywhere. Earlier today, the Onion (thanks to James S.) got this part of the story right: "Ahead of a grand jury’s decision over whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, police in the city of Ferguson have reportedly heavily increased their presence this week to ensure residents are adequately provoked. 'We’ve deployed additional officers throughout Ferguson in order to make absolutely certain that residents feel sufficiently harassed and intimidated,' said St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, assuring locals that officers in full riot gear will be on hand to inflame members of the community for as long as is necessary." (Satire) ...

... As Joe Concha of Mediaite points out, McCullough's decision to make the announcement at night is "borderline reckless." CW: Yeah, but it sure fits in with the Onion "story." Moreover, the fact that McCullough & Gov. Jay Nixon "announced the announcement" hours ahead of time allowed for maximum trouble. The disinterested observer surely suspects the power structure there was going for "provocation" & "inflaming members of the community."

... The New York Times has live updates here. The Guardian has live updates here.

... McCullough is telling his version of what happened in the confrontation between Wilson & Michael Brown. He says a number of witnesses made statements inconsistent with the physican evidence; some changed their statements after news media reported the physical evidence. Wilson fired 12 rounds at Brown. ...

... Beth Ethier of Wonkette captures the essence of McCullough's presser: "St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch announced that Wilson will not face charges relating to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, as the grand jury found 'no probable cause' to charge him with anything. Social media, however, is definitely guilty. McCulloch spent 10 minutes on a laundry list of all the great things he did when he presented the case to the grand jury and how Ferguson is just a huge pit of liars, and how lucky the world was that he, Bob McCulloch, was able to guide the grand jury through the hellscape of deception to the sweet Land of Truth, where they found that physical evidence showed Officer Wilson had not committed any crimes." ...

...Alana Horowitz of the Huffington Post: "CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin called the press conference 'an extended whine' and 'entirely inappropriate and embarrassing.'" ...

... See also Charles Pierce's post on Utah police killings, linked below, for his view on Bob McCullough's performance & record. ...

... Here are McCullough's remarks at his presser:


... McCullough announces that the grand jury decided that no probable cause existed against Wilson & returned a no-true bill. So there ya go. Here's the Washington Post story. ...

... McCullough is dragging this out but so far it sounds as if the grand jury did not return an indictment. ...

... St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCullough will announce the grand jury's decision in the Darren Wilson case sometime after 9 pm ET Monday. The New York Times is carrying the announcement live on the front page.  ...

... Julie Bosman & Campbell Robertson of the New York Times: "Records show that Officer [Darren] Wilson, 28, and Officer [Barbara] Spradling, 37, were married on Oct. 24. One of the two witnesses at the ceremony was Greg Kloeppel, one of Officer Wilson’s lawyers. Christopher B. Graville, a municipal judge in Oakland, Mo., performed the ceremony." ...

... ** Think about This. Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune: "In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members. Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse. And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners. As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.... Nearly all of the fatal shootings by police have been deemed by county prosecutors to be justified. Only one — the 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard by West Valley City police — was deemed unjustified, and the subsequent criminal charge was thrown out last month by a judge." ...

... Charles Pierce: "There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we'd all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse. Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people.... Dick Cheney's one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers." Pierce also has a few unkind words to say about Bob McCullough. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, [Anthony] Elonis’s postings [on Facebook] constituted a “true threat” to his wife and others." ...

... David Carr of the New York Times calls out the media, including himself, for enabling Bill Cosby's alleged serial assaults & rapes. ...

... Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg View: "The default response when powerful men behave badly is to say they didn’t: priests, presidents, athletes, TV evangelists and movie stars." ...

... Dahlia Lithwick on the Rolling Stone article on a University of Virginia gang rape (I write "a" because there was more than one): "Our confusion about the objectives in addressing campus rape problems has led to confusion in the solutions we have forged. If the purpose of the current internal adjudication [as opposed to going through the criminal justice system] is to increase transparency and reporting, that runs against the most basic institutional incentive to hide bad news. If the object is to counsel and support survivors, it’s not clear that has worked very well either. And if the object is to keep the campus safe, it has failed spectacularly." ...

... Lithwick's summary of UVA's reaction to the Rolling Stone piece is telling:

A passive statement issued by President Teresa Sullivan was full of deflection and jargon, with a promise to have the police investigate the substance of the Rolling Stone charges. Then came Rector George Martin’s staggering decision to appoint as independent counsel a former federal judge named Mark Filip. Immediately after which it was revealed that Filip had once been rush chair of a different chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity at the center of the campus’ gang-rape scandal. Filip was taken off the job the next day. Last week Phi Psi voluntarily suspended its operations. On Saturday, Sullivan announced in a letter to students and alumni that all the school's fraternities have been suspended effective immediately."

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Rudy 9/11 Giuliani's "insights" about black-on-black crime: "The American people have one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world. Almost all of these people are killed by other Americans. War hustlers and Bin Laden pimps love to go around screaming, but 9/11! Three thousand people died on 9/11. Nearly 15,000 Americans were killed in 2012. Americans perpetrate roughly five 9/11s against other Americans every year." ...

... CW: It's impossible to quantify, but I always wonder how many Americans have been killed because of the gun lobby & its politician-enablers. ...

... BUT. The crime rate has actually dropped dramatically over the past several decades. Dana Goldstein of the Marshall Project lays out "10 (not entirely crazy) theories explaining" the decline. Via Paul Waldman.


Mark Landler
of the New York Times: "Right after President Obama announced the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the White House on Monday, he walked over to a meeting of his entire National Security Council staff, where he told the embattled group that they were critical to an ambitious foreign policy agenda. The timing was a coincidence, but it seemed an unmistakable sign that Mr. Hagel’s departure does not portend a broader internal shake-up. If anything, it may represent the final triumph of a White House-centric approach to national security.... With his core team intact, and with none of the candidates to succeed Mr. Hagel likely to show the independence of Mr. Obama’s first defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, the White House seems likely to keep a tight leash on foreign policy for the remainder of Mr. Obama’s presidency." ...

... Shane Harris of the Daily Beast: "... President Barack Obama’s decision to replace Hagel ... doesn’t come as much of a shock. But the timing is conspicuous and fuels allegations that Hagel is being made a scapegoat for the myriad foreign policy crises that the White House has bungled, from the rise of ISIS to the resurgence of a nationalist Russia to the response to an outbreak of Ebola. Hagel wasn’t brought in to tackle these crises, and some defense sources say he simply wasn’t up to it. The presumption at the beginning of his tenure was that he would be a drawdown defense secretary — something that world events ultimately wouldn’t allow." ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM interviews Steve Clemons on Hagel's departure. Clemons cites several factors that contributed to Hagel's uneasy fit in the Obama administration. ...

... Dana Milbank: "When Barack Obama looks in the mirror these days, he must see a terrifying visage staring back at him: that of George W. Bush. In a cruel echo of history, Obama is morphing into the president whose foreign policy he campaigned to overturn. Obama on Monday morning sacked his Pentagon secretary, Chuck Hagel, after huge midterm election losses in the sixth year of his presidency — just as Bush did in sacking Donald Rumsfeld after midterm losses in the sixth year of his presidency. As with Bush, the ouster comes as a war in the Middle East is going badly — then, the Iraq war, now, the bombing of the Islamic State terror group. Rumsfeld’s ouster led to the surge in Iraq, and Hagel’s departure comes amid signs of an expanded role for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. And, as under Bush, this guarantees that Obama will leave his successor an ongoing U.S. war in the Mideast — quite possibly the sort of ground war Obama vowed to undo."

Gruber v. Issa. This Should Be Amusing. Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Jonathan Gruber, the former ObamaCare adviser in hot water for his comments about the 'stupidity of the American voter,' has agreed to testify at a House panel next month, setting up a healthcare showdown in what could be the final week of this Congress. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will also hear from Obama administration official Marilyn Tavenner, who is under fire this week for using inflated enrollment figures for the healthcare law."

CW: I've covered this before, but it bears repeating. Norm Ornstein in the Atlantic on the "sweeping steps" Mitt Romney promised he would take to disable the ACA. "... Romney would have acted unilaterally to thwart the intent and specific language of the law. Compared to extending protections from deportation to family members of those already under the umbrella of protection, or making choices about deportation when Congress, by providing much less funding for that purpose than necessary to deport all undocumented people, explicitly gives the president discretion to make choices, Romney’s proposed moves were more daring, more cutting edge, more of an application of executive power to the max. I have searched to find cases of conservative lawmakers like Ted Cruz, or constitutional scholars, much less columnists like Charles Krauthammer, raising alarm bells about this brazen plan to short-circuit the policy process, give the middle finger to the Senate, and thwart a duly enacted law, or raising questions about an imperial president-to-be shredding the Constitution. Strangely enough, I can’t find any." ...

... CW: So, "conservative family values" look like this: allowing people to suffer & die by depriving them of healthcare coverage -- A-Okay. Keeping families intact -- un-fucking-constitutional.

Peggy McGlone of the Washington Post: "President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — to a diverse and distinguished group of activists, artists, scientists and public servants Monday afternoon, including actress Meryl Streep, Congressman John D. Dingell, physicist Mildred Dresselhaus and musician Stevie Wonder." ...

... Here's a list of the winners. CW: Sadly, Tom Brokaw was among them. The only thing I can say in Brokaw's defense is that he once reported on the capture of a guy who "assaulted" me. Maybe I'll comment on that. ...

... White House: "President Obama honors the 16 recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors":

Peter Beaumont of the Guardian: "A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character. Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved 'national rights' for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist. The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language." ...

... Juan Cole: "Netanyahu’s measure is much worse than that of Mississippi fundamentalists who want to declare Mississippi a principally Christian state and want to celebrate the white-supremacist Confederacy as part of the state’s heritage.

Presidential Election

Arlette Saenz & Jeff Zelany of ABC News: "Sen. John McCain is prodding one of his closest allies in the Senate to consider a run for the White House – Sen. Lindsey Graham. 'I think he is looking at it, and I am strongly encouraging him to take a look at it,' McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News. 'I know of no one who is better versed and more important on national security policy and defense than Lindsey Graham, and I don’t think these challenges to our security are going away. He is eminently qualified,' McCain added." CW: Aah, McCain is just finagling for my First Lady spot.

Charles Pierce sees Rudy 9/11 Giuliani as the Republicans' 2016 law-and-order candidate, a stance Pierce reckons will find an audience "in the rural precincts of Iowa," especially if Ferguson blows up (CW: as it apparently is doing as I write).

Sunday
Nov232014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 24, 2014

President Obama & Secretary Hagel both spoke this morning about Hagel's resignation. They said lots of nice things about each other:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team amid an onslaught of global crises. The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said. The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ." ...

... Missy Ryan & Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submitted his resignation Monday, bowing to pressure from the White House to step down after less than two years in the job in what could portend a broader shakeup among President Obama’s national security team.... Hagel will remain as defense secretary until Obama can pick a replacement, who must also be confirmed by the Senate. Possible contenders include Michele Flournoy and Ashton Carter, former high-ranking defense officials during Obama’s first term who were passed over for the top job in favor of Hagel two years ago." ...

... David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "... the pattern of corruption and patronage in the Iraqi government forces threatens to undermine a new American-led effort to drive out the extremists, even as President Obama is doubling to 3,000 the number of American troops in Iraq."

Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama argued Sunday that his plan to suspend enforcement of U.S. immigration law for certain violators won't clear the path for a future Republican president to take similar executive actions regarding tax laws he or she doesn't like. In an interview on the Sunday show 'This Week,' ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the Democratic president whether one of his successors, unable to get Congress to cut taxes, could simply opt to look the other way if wealthy people decided not to pay a percentage of their capital gains tax."

... Here's a transcript of the full interview.

Sunday with Lindsay

Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said Republicans are partially responsible for not passing comprehensive immigration reform. 'Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that’s national security, that’s cultural, that’s economic,' Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Senate has passed an immigration bill three times, Graham said...."

Benghaaazi! Rebecca Shabad: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack. 'I think the report is full of crap,' Graham said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.'... After Graham was asked whether the report exonerates the administration, he initially ignored the question, and then eventually said 'no.'” ...

... Catherine Herridge & Pamela Browne of Fox "News": "Graham, along with his two Republican colleagues, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have been outspoken advocates of a special investigation, because they say then-acting director of the CIA Mike Morell misled them about his role in crafting the so-called media talking points that blamed an opportunistic protest gone awry for the assault." ...

... Steve M.: "The preferred Beltway narrative is that responsible establishment Republicans make up the majority of the party, and all they really want to do is 'show they can govern,' but they have to keep fending off a few pesky extremists, and they occasionally have to make extremist noises themselves to fend off primary challenges from the right. Oh, please.... The reality is that the entire Republican Party is crazy -- the differences are just in degree.... The crazies in this case are three of the most prominent establishmentarians in the Senate.... No, Benghazi isn't going away."

Rebecca Shabad: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday did not rule out a 2016 presidential bid. 'I'm thinking of trying to fix illegal immigration and replacing sequestration. I will let you know if I think about running for president. It's the hardest thing one could ever do. You go through personal hell. You have got to raise a ton of money. I'm nowhere near there,' he said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.' Asked if his response could be labeled as a 'maybe,' Graham nodded and said, 'That’s what it was.'” ...

... CW: Super! I'm running for First Lady. My competition is stiff: Kelly Ayotte, John McCain & Joe Lieberman, ferinstance. Pick me! Pick me, Lindsey, darlin'!


Lost & Found, Rachel Bade
of Politico: "An Internal Revenue Service watchdog has located an estimated 30,000 of the lost Lois Lerner emails, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told congressional staffers Friday the emails belonging to the most controversial figure in the IRS controversy were located on disaster recovery tapes." CW: Yo, Darryl Issa! We can hardly wait for some new selective leaks.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul is calling for a declaration of war against the Islamic State, a move that promises to shake up the debate over the military campaign in Iraq and Syria as President Obama prepares to ask Congress to grant him formal authority to use force." ...

... CW: Never mind that it's mighty unusual for Congress to declare war at all -- it has only done so five times -- and the country has never declared war on a group of revolutionaries, as opposed to a nation-state (no, the war on terror, the war on drugs & the war on Christmas don't count). ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "For months, Rand Paul has been trying to shake claims that he is an isolationist like his father. His recent op-ed 'I Am Not an Isolationist' didn't do the trick, so this weekend the Kentucky senator told the New York Times that he wants to formally declare war against ISIS.... As the Congressional Research Service explains, the former [declaring war] would automatically give the president broad wartime powers, while the latter [authorization to use military force] would not." ...

... CW: So for a guy all worried about Obama's "imperial presidency," it doesn't make a lot of sense to give this President broader powers, including for instance, the authority to suspend habeas corpus. But then, as I pointed out this weekend, Rand Paul says whatever comes to his addled mind, & historical context & accuracy are immaterial. As a Senator who is unfamiliar with American history, Paul is a disgrace; as a President, he would be truly dangerous.


New York Times Editors: "Now that they will dominate both houses of Congress, Republicans are planning to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece instead of trying to repeal it entirely. They are expected to hold at least one symbolic vote for repeal in the next session so that newly elected Republicans who campaigned against the law can honor their pledges to repeal it. But Republican leaders know they don’t have the supermajorities needed to override a presidential veto, so they will try to inflict death by multiple cuts. All of the provisions they are targeting should be retained — they were put in the reform law for good reasons." ...

... Moops! A Tale of Two Laws. John Harwood of the New York Times writes a very good piece contrasting the way (1), in 1997, Congress & the President cleaned up ambiguities & other technicalities in the 1996 welfare reform act, and (2) the current Congress will not cooperate in any way to amend the ACA. This, of course, has left the Grumpy Old Men on the Supreme Court to interpret & re-legislate even obviously-mistaken language. ...

... Charles Blow: "This hostility and animosity toward this president is, in fact, larger than this president. This is about systems of power and the power of symbols. Particularly, it is about preserving traditional power and destroying emerging symbols that threaten that power. This president is simply the embodiment of the threat, as far as his detractors are concerned, whether they are willing or able to articulate it as such."

** Now Let Us Pause for some Good News. Diane Cardwell of the New York Times: "The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas." ...

... Impossible! Lewis Page of the U.K. Register: "Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible."

Paul Krugman: "... one of the most striking aspects of economic debate in recent years has been the extent to which those whose economic doctrines have failed the reality test refuse to admit error, let alone learn from it. The intellectual leaders of the new majority in Congress still insist that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel; German officials still insist that the problem is that debtors haven’t suffered enough. This bodes ill for the future. What people in power don’t know, or worse what they think they know but isn’t so, can very definitely hurt us."

CW: "60 Minutes" had a good segment last night on the U.S.'s crumbling infrastructure. I embedded it here, but it was messing up other videos, so I've removed it. You can view it here.

Chelsea Marcius, et al., of the New York Daily News: "Veteran NBC employee Frank Scotti says he helped Bill Cosby deliver thousands of dollars to eight different women in 1989-90 - including Shawn Thompson, whose daughter Autumn Jackson claimed the actor was her dad. The ex-aide also tells the Daily News he stood guard whenever Cosby invited young models to his dressing room, which eventually led him to quitting after years on the job."

Beyond the Beltway

Skinhead Ira Hansen in happier days.Hoorah! Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story "The embattled incoming speaker of the Nevada State Assembly notified his colleagues Sunday morning that he was withdrawing as Speaker Designee, saying, 'Politics of personal destruction win. I need to step down,' reports Nevada journalist Jon Ralston. Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R), who was recently elected as the legislature’s next speaker, had come under fire for a series of columns he had written over the years for the Sparks Tribune. In one of his columns, Hansen had written, 'The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.'” ...

... CW: I believe that would be the "politics of self-destruction," White Boy. Here's Hansen's full statement, via Ralston. Also, bear in mind, Hansen's history of racist, homophobic, sexist remarks wasn't a secret that just came out in theme media last. Nevada's Republican state legislators knew who this guy was, & they picked him as their leader anyway. That choice is as much or more of a stain on Nevada as is Hansen himself.

White America's Mayor. White police officers wouldn't be there if you weren't killing each other. -- Rudy Giuliani, on "Meet the Press," to Michael Dyson, who is black (video at the link)

... Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "Most murder in the United States is intra-racial, according to data from the Justice Department: White people are more likely to kill white people, and black people are more likely to kill black people. Nearly 84 percent of white victims from 1980 to 2008 were killed by white assailants, the department's numbers show. During the same period, 93 percent of black victims were murdered by someone of the same race."

Brian Stelter of CNN: "Practically every journalist covering the death of Michael Brown would like to interview Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown. In the pursuit of that interview, several high-profile television anchors have secretly met with Wilson, according to sources at several TV networks. All of the meetings were off the record, meaning the anchors could not describe what was said."

... Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: In St. Louis, "a woman appears to have accidentally fatally shot herself in the head with a gun bought to prepare for possible Ferguson-related unrest, according to sources briefed on the police investigation.... [Her] boyfriend, who wasn't identified, told police that the couple had bought a gun because of fears of unrest related to the pending grand jury decision on the shooting of Michael Brown, the sources said.... He told investigators that as they drove late Friday night, the victim waved a gun, jokingly saying the couple were ready for Ferguson, the sources said. He ducked to get out of the way of the gun and accidentally rear-ended another car. He said the accident caused the gun to go off and she was struck by a bullet in the head."

CW: Haven't had a chance to read the story, but Deborah Sontag's piece in the New York Times on the growing opposition to big oil in North Dakota looks interesting.

Presidential Election

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: Hillary "Clinton’s views on many crucial issues [-- Keystone XL, NSA snooping -- ] remain opaque. She seems to be repeating the same mistake that she made in 2008, when the inevitability of her candidacy overwhelmed its justification."

Sunday
Nov232014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 23, 2014

Eli Saslow of the Washington Post profiles xenophobe Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who has led the fight against immigrants. The headline: "Conservative expert on immigration law to pursue suit against executive action." Kobach & his wife Heather are dismayed that people are picking on him just because he believes "in rules and fairness." Kobach is an expert on immigration law like Dick Cheney is an expert on environmental protection law.

What Could Possibly Be Wrong with This?:

Gary Varvel of the Indianapolis Star.

... Jeff Taylor, Indianapolis Star executive editor: "Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama's decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States. But we erred in publishing it.... [Varvel] intended to illustrate the view of many conservatives and others that the president's order will encourage more people to pour into the country illegally." ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "At one point on Saturday, the newspaper apparently edited out the 'immigrant' man's mustache.... The newspaper later removed the cartoon altogether." ...

... CW: What Thompson fails to mention is that before publication, the Indy Star edited out the "immigrant" man's sombrero, serape & machete & put smiles on the faces of his menacing posse of disease-riddled braceros. Sensitive. ...

... Pilgrims' Progress. Kelly Conaboy of Gawker: "Is there a time more befitting of a cartoon lampooning unwelcome foreign guests than during the United States' holiday Thanksgiving?" ...

... Caroline Bankoff of New York: "It's fitting that President Obama's decision to temporarily protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation came just before Thanksgiving, which celebrates the generosity this country's original inhabitants showed to the undocumented immigrants who landed on their shores in 1620. Unfortunately, the connection was lost on Gary Varvel, an Indianapolis Star cartoonist who doesn't seem to like the idea of sharing anything with people who do not look like him."

Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post: "In advance of coordinated strikes at Wal-Marts across the country on the day after Thanksgiving, a labor union-backed group is accusing the world's biggest retailer of driving its associates into starvation -- and Wal-Mart is fighting back harder than ever, saying it's just providing low-cost groceries to the masses.... This is the third year in which Making Change at Walmart, a campaign financed and run by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union -- which represents employees at Wal-Mart's competitors, like Safeway and Giant -- will have staged protests on Black Friday."

This Week in Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a Huffington Post opinion piece: "I believe President Obama deserves deference in picking his team, and I've generally tried to give him that. But enough is enough." Warren goes on to elaborate on why Obama's nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department -- Antonio Weiss -- is a horrible choice. "It's time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy making. Sure, big banks are important, but running this economy for American families is a lot more important." Thanks to Whyte O. for the link.

Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "William C. Dudley, the president of the New York Fed, defended the agency, but Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, at one point told him, 'You need to fix it, Mr. Dudley, or we need to get someone who will'":


Manuel Roig-Franzia
, et al., of the Washington Post: "Sixteen women have publicly stated that [comedian Bill] Cosby, now 77, sexually assaulted them, with 12 saying he drugged them first and another saying he tried to drug her. The Washington Post has interviewed five of those women, including a former Playboy Playmate who has never spoken publicly about her allegations. The women agreed to speak on the record and to have their identities revealed. The Post also has reviewed court records that shed light on the accusations of a former director of women's basketball operations at Temple University who assembled 13 'Jane Doe' accusers in 2005 to testify on her behalf about their allegations against Cosby."

Rolling Stone: "Following Rolling Stone publishing Sabrina Rubin Erdely's harrowing report 'A Rape on Campus,' which detailed a pattern of sexual assault among the fraternities at the University of Virginia, many women who attended UVA emailed Rolling Stone sharing their own similar stories. After 'A Rape on Campus' went viral, the school itself acknowledged the Rolling Stone article by promising to make changes to their student sexual misconduct policy. Now, the University is taking even more stern action. President Teresa A. Sullivan announced in a letter to students and alumni that the school's fraternities have been suspended effective immediately. The suspension will last until January 9, 2015, which marks the beginning of the spring semester."

Presidential Election

Michael Barbaro & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "... as the 2016 White House campaign effectively began in the last week, it became apparent that this [GOP primary] race might be different: a fluid contest, verging on chaotic, that will showcase the party's deep bench of talent but also highlight its ideological and generational divisions."

CW: Let me just say how mightily the major media piss me off when they describe Kris Kobach as an "expert" & the nasty boys of the GOP as a "deep bench of talent." If you want to know why millions of people vote Republican, it's partly because the "liberal media" validate these extremist bastards.

Andrew O'Hehir of Salon: "Defeating Hillary Clinton as a political candidate does little or nothing to defeat the deeply corrupt and only half-visible spectacle of power and politics that produced her and infuses her, and in which she is embedded. Defeating 'Hillary Clinton,' on the other hand, is about exposing and dismantling that spectacle and its system, brick by brick and from the ground up, such that it does not produce future Hillary Clintons as our only plausible political leaders. A lot easier said than done, I realize. But if America is ever to escape the paralytic political duopoly of the 21st century, it's a mandatory task."

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Wallis of Reuters: "Two men suspected of buying explosives they planned to detonate during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, once a grand jury decides the Michael Brown case, were arrested on Friday and charged with federal firearms offenses, a law enforcement official told Reuters."

Jon Herskovitz & Jim Forsyth of Reuters: "The Texas State Board of Education, whose decisions can have national ramifications, on Friday approved nearly 100 textbooks despite criticism the books exaggerated the influence biblical figures had in forming the U.S. system of government." ...

... Morgan Smith & Bobby Blanchard of the Texas Tribune (Nov. 21): "Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pulled its U.S. government title just before the State Board of Education's Friday meeting, where the 15-member board is set to take a final vote on nearly 100 products for eight different social studies courses that will be used in Texas public schools for the next decade. According to the latest documents posted publicly, the publisher declined to make changes in its government textbook that would add greater coverage of Judeo-Christian influence -- including Moses -- on America's founding fathers." ...

... CW: I'm quite certain some of the Founders were doofuses, but I doubt many of them gave a lot of thought to Moses -- an entirely fictional character -- when they were drawing up the Constitution & the Bill of Rights. ...

... Here's more from Laura Isensee of NPR.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Marion Barry Jr., the Mississippi sharecropper's son and civil rights activist who served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and then came back to win a fourth term as the city's chief executive, died early on Nov. 23 at United Medical Center in Washington. He was 78." Barry's New York Times: obituary is here.

Washington Post: "Negotiators working to slow Iran's nuclear program and ease sanctions pressed forward with talks Saturday amid indications that they are at an impasse with two days left before a deadline for an accord." ...

... Reuters: "Iran says it will not be possible by a 24 November deadline to reach a comprehensive deal with world powers aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported on Sunday." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "With a deadline for an agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program just a day away, American officials finally acknowledged Sunday that the two sides would not reach a deal by Monday's deadline but would probably extend the talks a second time to explore a series of possible solutions."

Guardian: "The Obama administration announced the release of another Guantánamo Bay detainee on Saturday, rebuking recent calls from congressional Republicans to stop the transfers entirely. A Saudi man who has spent 12 years at the wartime detention facility, Muhammed Murdi Issa al-Zahrani, will return to Saudi Arabia and enter the kingdom's rehabilitation program. The transfer brings the detainee population of a prison Barack Obama has vowed for six years to close down to 142 men, 72 of whom the Pentagon considers pose little enough threat as to be eligible for transfer."

Friday
Nov212014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 22, 2014

Charles Pierce linked to this video of CBS News's early coverage of President Kennedy's assassination.  Audio bulletins repeatedly break into the "regularly scheduled program" -- the banal "As the World Turns" & its commercials. The news video feed doesn't come in till about 30 minutes in:

White House: "In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes":

... Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "President Obama opened up a campaign for his executive actions on immigration on Friday as he told an audience of mostly Latino students at a high school rally [in Las Vegas, Nevada,] that Congress had to revamp what he called the nation's broken immigration system.... The president said that he had urged Mr. Boehner to let the Senate bill come to a vote on the floor of the House, but to no avail. 'I cajoled and I called and I met,' Mr. Obama said. 'I told John Boehner: "I'll wash your car. I'll walk your dog. Whatever you needed to do. Just call the bill." And he didn't do it.'... Around the country, Mr. Obama’s critics began searching for ways to block his action."

... Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.) have introduced legislation to prohibit funding to implement President Obama's executive action on immigration. Their bill, titled The Separation of Powers Act, would block the use of funds for deferring deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally or providing work permits." ...

... Liberal Professor Encourages Tea Party Radical"s. Law Prof. Peter Schuck, in a New York Times op-ed: "... the pro-impeachment Republicans are right: There is a plausible case for ... impeachment..., [which] is a political accusation and initiates a political remedy, not a legal one. It is pretty much up to Congress to define and apply 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' and no court would second-guess it. The next Congress could find that the president had violated his oath to 'faithfully execute' the laws.... But even if Congress has constitutional authority to impeach the president, that doesn't mean it should.... However truculent Mr. Obama's defiance may be on this issue, Congress has other ways to stymie it -- for example, barring the action by statute. Such tactics are within the normal give-and-take of interbranch disputes." ...

... CW: Thanks, Pete. I'm sure those "pro-impeachment Republicans" will appreciate your "on-the-other-hand" nuance, there. Excellent work. At least President Biden may think so. ...

... Sen. Ron Johnson (RDumb-Wisc.) & Jonathan Turley (who characterizes himself as "a liberal academic," failing to mention his Fox "News" gig & alluding in only the most oblique way [a link to another article] to his new job as lawyer for House Republicans suing the President), in a Washington Post op-ed: "Now is the time for members of Congress and the judiciary to affirm their oaths to 'support and defend the Constitution' and to work to re-establish our delicate constitutional balance. It will not be easy, but the costs of inaction are far higher. We need to look beyond this administration -- and ourselves -- to act not like politicians but the statesmen that the framers hoped we could be." CW: In the "Annals of 'Journalism'" department, the Post itself does not bother to mention Turley's outside interests, either. And of course the link will not appear in the print edition. ...

... Hey, Let's See What the Most Interesting Man in Politics Thinks. Daniel Strauss of TPM: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) likened President Barack Obama's decision to take executive action on immigration to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order authorizing putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. '... there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious,' Paul said. 'Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people 'we're going to put you in a camp. We're going to take away all your rights and liberties and we're going to intern you in a camp. We shouldn't allow that much power to gravitate to one individual. We need to separate the power.'" ...

     ... CW: Yes, Randy, because granting reprieves & imprisonment are pretty much the same thing. Also, never mind that Roosevelt received "considerable pressure" to intern ethnic Japanese from, um, members of Congress and that Congress gave authority to the military to decide whom should be interned (Public Law 503 of the 77th Congress) And never mind that in a series of cases, the Supreme Court upheld the actions of the President, the Congress & the military in regard to interning Japanese-Americans. Yup, "separating the power" was really, really important when it came to this brand of "ethnically cleansing" the West Coast. Let me put it another way: Rand Paul, you don't know WTF you're talking about. Maybe you should start plagiarizing again, so you can get some facts right. ...

... Your Louie Gohmert Weekly Reader. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "In an interview yesterday with Dan Cofall, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, accused President Obama of using immigration and the Ferguson case to provoke violence."

     (... CW: Here's something I did learn from Louie: "If you look at the conservative gatherings, we even pick up our own trash." A brief Google exploration reveals this particular perfect-us-v.-them point is a conservative meme. So, libruls, start picking up after yourselves. Seriously. ...)

... Jonathan Chait: "Immediately after the election, when John Boehner asked Obama to hold off on unilateral action, reporters asked if he would promise to bring an immigration bill to the House floor. He refused. A senior administration official pinpointed this as the moment when any chance of delay ended.... There are no serious legal questions about the administration's plan.... After years of legislative muddle, [President Obama] was able to detach himself completely from Congress and articulate his own values." Read the whole post. ...

... Juan Cole: Obama "punked ... the party of skinheads." ...

... Ezra Klein: "Instead of coming up with their own immigration policy, [Republicans have] been able to just unite against Obama's. But fury isn't a policy.... One way or another, Republicans need to decide what to do with the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country now.... They are, arguably, the governing party -- they will soon control the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, most state legislatures, and more governorships. And the governing party needs to solve -- or at least propose solutions -- to the nation's problems.... Republicans don't seem to want to do anything except stop Obama from solving the problem." ...

... Steve Benen: "There's a striking asymmetry, not just between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to presenting policy solutions, but between Republican responsibilities and Republican intentions -- they're a post-policy party with an aversion to governing, which is a problem for a party that has been given broad authority by voters to shape policy and govern." ...

... Even Politico Notices the GOP's Got Nuthin'. Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim: "The lack of a unified response from the GOP risks further fracturing the party just as Republicans prepare to take over Capitol Hill and attempt to prove themselves a responsible governing majority. And Obama's nationwide tour pitching his plan threatens to blunt Republicans' momentum and messaging heading into a long holiday recess, exposing frustrations by both conservatives at a lack of direction on how to respond to Obama's moves and of party elders who worry the GOP's right flank will overreact to the immigration action with talk of impeachment and government shutdowns. Republicans, for now, have offered little other than rhetorical criticisms and a variety of suggestions not yet endorsed by GOP leaders...." CW: You can, of course, forget that part about "prove themselves a responsible governing majority." That was never a GOP goal. ...

... CW: There's an excellent, if discouraging, discussion in yesterday's Comments of the media's coverage of President Obama's immigration order & the GOP's reaction toward it. Apparently, the MSM, en masse, is more impressed with cries of imperialism than with granting reprieves -- apparently legally -- to millions of undocumented residents.

Ashley Parker: "House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president's executive authority." ...

... Paul Waldman: "The actual complaints in the suit were always strange -- they're suing Obama for delaying the employer mandate, a provision they despise. If they won, he'd be forced to speed up implementation of the mandate, even as Republicans are pressing to eliminate it altogether. And by the time the suit wends its way through the courts, the issue will probably be moot.... As for the other of the suit's complaints, on cost-sharing subsidies, if Republicans are successful in killing them it would mean that poor people would have to pay more in copays and deductibles.... So apart from the satisfaction some Republicans might receive from making life harder for the working poor, even if they win this lawsuit they won't have dealt the ACA a serious blow. Legal experts who have looked at this suit haven't found much merit in it...." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View: "The suit is likely to fail. The first issue is 'standing.' To get into court, the House would have to prove that it was damaged by the way the administration carried out the ACA, and courts have consistently rejected that idea. Beyond that, it's far from clear that the administration's actions ... were beyond the normal discretion the executive branch has to carry out laws. Just because some Republicans want to pretend that before January 2009 presidential power had been limited to pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys doesn't mean they are right. And if Republicans win, it would be terrible for Congress.... In effect, it says that the courts, not Congress, should have the last word when there's a dispute between branches." ...

... Michael Lynch & Rachel Surminsky elaborate in a Washington Post article on the many reasons the House lawsuit is likely to fail. ...

     ... CW: Lynch & Surminsky don't mention the main reason the suit will flop because they don't acknowledge its real purpose: to distract or assuage Congressional Tea Party flamethrowers. Good luck with that, Orange Man. (Or as Zandar puts it in Balloon Juice, "Please proceed, gentlemen. It's a lose-lose and you know it, as the case will get laughed out of court and will never satisfy the red meat cravings of INPEECH OBUMMER Teabaggers.") My belated congrats to Jonathan Turley for wasting our taxpayer dollars in pursuit of a quixotic farce. You're a great American, Turkey. (Sorry, the "l" is right next to the "k". You all know I'm a typo queen.) ...

... Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "In a clearly coordinated campaign against what Republicans have labeled as Obama's 'imperial presidency,' Boehner announced the filing of the lawsuit minutes after he publicly denounced Obama's executive action on immigration. And later in the day, the first legislative hearing on the immigration order was scheduled." CW: The report also covers Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's speech at the Heritage Foundation. ...

... Ave, Imperator! Jeff Sessions, in a USA Today op-ed: "Apparently, America now has its first emperor." Blah-blah-blah. (Paraphrase.) ...

... CW: I forgot "Mean Girls" pre-splained today's GOP. Via Susie Madrak:

Mark Mazzetti & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "President Obama signed a secret order in recent weeks authorizing a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year. Mr. Obama's order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year...."

Ali Watkins, et al., of the Huffington Post: "The White House's briefing [by Chief of Staff Denis McDonough] to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate's classified torture report, Senate sources told The Huffington Post. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America's post-9/11 torture program." ...

... "Time Is Running Out." David Firestone of the New York Times: "Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush-Cheney Administration.... The incoming chairman of the committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, thinks the report amounts to a political hit job on the Bush years. Mr. Burr has said the report is full of unspecified inaccuracies. He not only opposes its release, but also all public hearings of the Intelligence Committee.... [Jay] Rockefeller [D-W.Va.] said he feared any senator who tried [to read the report on the Senate floor] would be 'grabbed' and hauled away. Presumably he's referring to the exceptions in the Constitution's speech or debate clause, which says members can't be arrested while speaking in either chamber, except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace. But someone -- possibly Mark Udall, who will not be returning as a senator from Colorado -- should consider testing that clause. Is it treason to inform the public how government officials broke international law and permanently stained the country's moral reputation?"

Your Friday Afternoon Docudump. "House Intel Panel Debunks Many Benghazi Theories." Ken Dilanian of the AP: "A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.... Many of [the report's] findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May." ...

... CW: I don't believe Fox "News" will be going big with this one. Wonder if the report covers the fake hacking of Sharyl Atkisson's computers. However, Politico did manage to take a gulp & report the committee's findings. ...

... Lauren French of Politico: "Some Republicans in Congress have continued to cling to initial reports that surfaced after Ambassador Chris Stevens and two others were killed in the attacks.... But Rogers' committee has long said its investigation would disproved those myths. The report, released quietly on a Friday night, dismisses the bulk of the most damning critics against the administration." ...

... Update. Charles Pierce "interrupt[s] your regularly scheduled weekend with this special report.... A few things should happen now, though I do not believe all of them will.... Sharyl Atkisson's newly minted career as a martyred truth-teller should experience something of a downturn although, rising to her defense, the burble caucus has retrenched on Fast And Furious, which is an even deader parrot. The Sunday Showz should apologize to America for wasting time on this thing. And, please god, Chris Stevens and the other people who died at the consulate finally can rest in peace. And to that, all say amen."

Fulfilling Today's Gossip Quota. Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Administration and congressional officials have argued that the transgressions of [Harry Reid's top aide David] Krone -- publicly challenging the president, betraying the Oval Office code of silence and acting more like a senator than a staff member to one -- have damaged Democratic unity at a time when the party can least afford it, as its numbers in Congress dwindle and the president sorely needs discipline in his ranks to advance what is left of his agenda.... Aides in Speaker John A. Boehner's office, who avoid emailing Mr. Krone because of an earlier breach, said that the aide has 'burned both sides of the aisle.'... One person who did not seem bothered at all was Mr. Reid." Krone is married to "Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former West Wing staff member who is extremely close to the president.... In an interview, Mr. Krone acknowledged that his battles with the White House and his recent speaking out had put his wife 'in a tough spot.' Ms. Mastromonaco, who declined to comment, this week announced that she had taken a job at Vice, the Brooklyn-based media company...."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd. New York Times Editors: "Richard Nixon was president when Albert Woodfox landed in solitary confinement, along with another inmate, both convicted of the 1972 murder of a Louisiana prison guard named Brent Miller. He is still there. Mr. Woodfox, now 67 years old, has maintained his innocence of the murder from the start. He has been held in isolation longer than any prisoner in the United States, and perhaps in the nation's history." CW: This is unconscionable. Whether he is guilty or not, Woodfox should be removed from Bobby Jindal's jurisdiction.

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has expressed concerns privately to Missouri officials this week about their recent actions in advance of a grand jury's decision in the Michael Brown case. A top aide to Holder called the office of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) earlier this week to express Holder's displeasure and 'frustration' that the governor had declared a state of emergency at a news conference and activated the National Guard in advance of the grand jury decision in the Ferguson shooting, expected to be announced in the next few days, according to a Justice Department official. 'Instead of de-escalating the situation, the governor escalated it,' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.... 'He sent the wrong message. The tone of the press conference was counterproductive.'" ...

... Josh Margolin of ABC News: "The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown. In addition to the FBI, other federal agencies have also mobilized staffers to get to St. Louis today, sources told ABC News. A decision by the grand jury is expected soon, but St. Louis authorities said today that the grand jury is still meeting." ...

... Daniel Wallis of Reuters: "Prosecutors made preparations to announce the eventual decision by a grand jury on whether to charge a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager and some local schools said on Friday they would close next week in anticipation of unrest."

Loose Lips Sink Contracts. Mark Binker of WRAL Raleigh: North Carolina "State Auditor Beth Wood has terminated a contract with MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber after the health care policy expert came under fire for controversial comments involving how the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.... The same comments that have caused a firestorm among conservatives prompted Wood, a Democrat, to dismiss Gruber on Wednesday."

Sarah Larimer & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "The death toll from a monster blizzard is still rising in western New York, where structural damage from the heavy snow is making roofs creak and officials in and around Buffalo are bracing for possible flooding, according to reports.... The extreme lake-effect storm, which has dumped as much as 85 inches of snow on the area, has claimed 13 victims so far. Most of them, the [Buffalo] News reported, were killed by 'cardiac issues when victims attempted to shovel snow or push vehicles.'" ...

... "Jet Stream Weirdness." Chris Mooney of the Washington Post: "There's growing evidence that global warming is driving crazy winters."

Nick Madigan & Lorne Manly of the New York Times: "The uproar over allegations that Bill Cosby had molested or assaulted several women, in some cases years ago, was almost nowhere in evidence on Friday night during a sold-out performance by the 77-year-old comedian on a college campus [in Melbourne, Florida].... Outside the theater, however, three protesters held signs criticizing 'victim shaming,' while another sign said, 'Rape is no joke.' The protesters were kept more than ​2​00 yards ​from the theater and next to a main road, on orders from the police. Earlier on Friday, three women -- Renita Chaney Hill, Angela Leslie and Kristina Ruehli -- were the latest to publicly detail their experiences with Mr. Cosby, all telling similar stories of being given drugs or alcohol before being sexually assaulted."

CW: Maybe the real reason there are so many nonviolent drug offenders in jail is that nonviolent drug offenders are fucking stupid. Jessica Roy of New York: "Two doofuses in Worcester, Massachusetts, thought they were being super slick by staging their drug deal outside in broad daylight.... A Fox 25 anchor was reporting on a local snowstorm when two dummies walked up behind him, did a couple of sketchy maneuvers that could really only be interpreted as a drug-and-cash swap, then casually parted -- all while the cameras were rolling.... The anchors back in the studio couldn't stop laughing":

Presidential Election

Michael Kazin of the New Republic: "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, I think Sherrod Brown should run for president. I know that, barring a debilitating health problem or a horrible scandal, Hillary Clinton is likely to capture the Democratic nomination. I realize too that Brown, the senior senator from Ohio, has never hinted that he may be tempted to challenge her.... Yet, for progressive Democrats, Brown would be a nearly perfect nominee. During his two decades in the House and Senate, he has taken strong and articulate stands on every issue which matters to the party's broad, if currently dispirited, liberal base." CW: I share Kazin's pipedream.