The Ledes

Monday, October 20, 2014.

New York Times: "At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease."

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

New York Daily News: "Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested twice this weekend — just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication, police said. The outgoing Republican senator from Dickson, Tenn., has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor, Lt. Todd Christian said." CW: Another fine representative of the people.

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Guardian: "A cruise ship carrying a Dallas healthcare worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port on Sunday.... A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas on 8 October, showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers the unidentified woman was tested for Ebola but the results were negative."

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 20

1o:00 am ET: Affordable Care Act Champions of Change meeting

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

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

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.

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.

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:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"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.

Christopher Schmidt says, "On Oct 8th, I was flying my quadcopter at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] when a hawk decided he wasn't too happy with my invasion of his airspace:

... CW: Thanks to Julie L. for the link. So one way to get rid of those annoying drones that will soon be hovering in your air space is to take up falconry. (Since bringing down other people's drones may be illegal, blame the bird.)

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-- Constant Weader

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Thursday
Oct162014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 17, 2014

"Privatized Politics." Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine: "The result [of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision] was a massive power shift, from the party bosses to the rich individuals who ran the super PACs.... Almost overnight, traditional party functions -- running TV commercials, setting up field operations, maintaining voter databases, even recruiting candidates -- were being supplanted by outside groups. And the shift was partly because of one element of McCain-Feingold that remains: the ban on giving unlimited soft money to parties..... A party platform has to account for both the interests of the oil industry and those of the ethanol industry; those of the casino industry and those of the anti-gambling religious right; those of Wall Street and those of labor." ...

... Spencer Woodman of Slate: "... the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, or BIPAC, [is] a political organization ... [whose] primary aim ... is to turn as many private employers as possible into 'employee political education' machines for business interests. BIPAC urges major companies to transform their workforces into a voting bloc and provides sophisticated tools that show employers how to do it. Although BIPAC claims nonpartisanship, in the races that matter most -- such as this year's hotly contested battles that will determine control of the Senate -- BIPAC has the GOP's back.... The group has partnerships with most companies on the Fortune 100 list...."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama remained at the White House on Thursday to focus on the government's response to Ebola, canceling a second day of election-season travel as the administration concentrated on what is already turning into a political as well as a public health crisis.... The drop-everything approach is a striking change for a White House that prides itself on always maintaining its cool." ...

... Michael Shear: "President Obama said Thursday evening that he might appoint an 'Ebola czar' to manage the government's response to the deadly virus, a concession to critics who have questioned whether his administration has stayed on top of the medical crisis." ...

     ... Here's an expanded Times story by Jack Healy, et al., on the czar thing. ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "The President's problem is that he appears to be reacting to events rather than dictating them. Initially, his Administration resisted calls to screen visitors from West Africa; the day Duncan died, it announced a system of screening. Until yesterday, the White House insisted that the C.D.C. had established proper protocols and systems for hospitals dealing with Ebola victims. Now it is beefing up federal oversight and promising to fly in SWAT teams." ...

... Alan Cowell of the New York Times: "Adding a new and troubling dimension to the search for Americans possibly exposed to the Ebola virus, the State Department said Friday that an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who may have had contact with specimens of the disease had left the United States aboard a cruise ship. The employee and a traveling partner, who were not identified by name, had agreed to remain isolated in a cabin aboard the vessel, the State Department said, and 'out of an abundance of caution' efforts were underway to repatriate them. A physician aboard the cruise ship had said the employee was in good health.... 'The individual was out of the country before being notified of the C.D.C.'s updated requirements for active monitoring,' [according to a State Department] statement. 'At the time the hospital employee left the country, C.D.C. was requiring only self-monitoring.'" ...

... Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Facing sharp questioning at a Congressional hearing on Thursday about the troubled handling of Ebola cases in the United States, federal health officials said that a nurse with Ebola would be transferred to a specialized unit at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, to ease the burden of the Dallas hospital where she became infected.... Both nurses [who have contracted Ebola] worked in the hospital's intensive care unit, and Dr. [Thomas] Frieden said that investigators' 'leading hypothesis' was that the women became infected in the first few days of caring for Mr. Duncan, when, according to hospital officials, they were wearing basic protective gear but had not yet upgraded to full biohazard suits." ...

... Eun Kyung Kim of the "Today" Show: "Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Briana Aguirre, who cared for her friend and co-worker Nina Pham after she tested positive for the Ebola virus, says she can no longer defend her hospital over how she claims it responded to the disease once Thomas Eric Duncan arrived. 'I watched them violate basic principles of nursing,' Aguirre told 'Today''s Matt Lauer ... Thursday.... Administrators never discussed with staff how the hospital would handle an Ebola case prior to Duncan's arrival, Aguirre alleged.... She said there was mass confusion over procedures...." ...

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director, [argued against a travel ban] on Thursday to a lineup of Republican lawmakers who wanted to know why the government hadn't banned commercial travel from the west African countries at the center of the Ebola epidemic. Frieden said authorities preferred a system where they could screen people trying to come to the U.S. by air rather than instituting a ban that would force would-be travelers to go around checkpoints and slip into the country undetected.... Frieden, with help from Democrats on the committee, also argued that a travel ban would restrict access to the 'huge quantities' of aid and personnel that needed to get in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help stem the crisis at its source. ...

... Lena Sun, et al., of the Washington Post profile Thomas Friedan, the CDC director. ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: Thomas "Frieden's ... account of how [Amber] Vinson[, a nurse infected with Ebola,] got on the plane ... was at least evasive and, depending on what he knew and what exactly Vinson was told, may have been worse. He was asked three different ways if Vinson had been told not to fly, and each time dodged the question in a way that left the impression that Vinson was some sort of rogue nurse who just got it into her head that she could fly wherever she wanted. He talked about her 'self-monitoring,' and that she 'should not have travelled, should not have been allowed to travel by plane or any public transport' -- without mentioning that his agency was who allowed it." Read the whole post. ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate writes an excellent, balanced piece on the parties' Ebola vaccine blame game. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "It isn't a surprise to see conservative media beating the drum of conspiracy and incompetence. But now, with all perspective and nuance being tossed aside, the more mainstream media is starting to pick it up, too." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... the story that many conservatives are telling about Ebola goes something like this: We'd love to eschew hysteria, and we'd love to believe our public health officials can break the chain of transmission within the U.S., but the Obama administration has proven itself untrustworthy.... Members of the media are enabling this opportunism. They should be anathematizing it.... That the risk is provably infinitesimal underscores the fact that the issue with Ebola isn't the virus itself so much as paranoia about it." ...

... Simon Maloy of Salon: "... 'the Doom-and-Disease Chorus' [is] ... nurturing along the perception that existing policies are failing horribly and the likelihood of outright catastrophe is increasing. The 'do something' politicking is the natural outflow from all their efforts to keep people scared. It won't solve the problem -- it could even make it worse -- but it appeals to the frightened person who's been made to feel that the situation is slipping into chaos and is just looking for something, anything, to be done." ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Federal officials have no indications that terrorists are seeking to use the Ebola virus as a biologic weapon against the United States, FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday. 'No,' Comey replied simply when asked whether there was any credible evidence that foreign terrorists were looking into using the virus to target the U.S." ...

... Michael Schmidt & Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "The director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, said Thursday that federal laws should be changed to require telecommunications companies to give law enforcement agencies access to the encrypted communications of individuals suspected of crimes. In a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Mr. Comey warned that crimes could go unsolved if law enforcement officers cannot gain access to information that technology companies like Apple and Google are protecting using increasingly sophisticated encryption technology."

Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "Four [Department of Veterans Affairs] executives were selected for termination in recent weeks, but two of them retired abruptly before they could be shown the door.... On Tuesday, Susan Taylor, the deputy chief of procurement for the Veterans Health Administration, announced her retirement by email, three weeks after the Veterans Affairs agency released a scathing report saying she had steered business toward her lover and to a favored contractor, then tried to 'assassinate' the character of a colleague who attempted to stop the practice. The other executive who retired before being fired, John Goldman, was accused of allowing employees at a V.A. hospital in Georgia to delete hundreds of appointments from records to hide wait times at the hospital. He submitted his resignation in September."

Famous Economists Who Don't Like Each Other. Paul Krugman: "... it's hard to escape the conclusion that people like [former Fed chair Alan] Greenspan knew as much about what the market wanted as medieval crusaders knew about God's plan -- that is, nothing.... In fact, if you look closely, the real message from the market seems to be that we should be running bigger deficits and printing more money. And that message has gotten a lot stronger in the past few days.... I'm talking about interest rates, which are flashing warnings, not of fiscal crisis and inflation, but of depression and deflation. Most obviously, interest rates on long-term U.S. government debt -- the rates that the usual suspects keep telling us will shoot up any day now unless we slash spending -- have fallen sharply."

Famous GOP Senators Who Hate Each Other. Judy Kurtz of the Hill: "Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) daughter [Meghan McCain] said on Wednesday that her father and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) 'hate each other.'"

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, according to a report. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Biden was discharged earlier this year after failing a drug test in June 2013. A lawyer and former lobbyist, Biden was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2013. He applied for a commission into the reserve as a public affairs officer at age 42."

Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post: "Facing outrage from traditional Catholics, top clergy at a Vatican meeting on Thursday altered a document meant to guide future outreach to gays and lesbians, changing the goal of 'welcoming homosexual persons' to 'providing for homosexual persons.'"

November Elections

Mark Lopez, et al., of Pew Research: "A record 25.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, making up, for the first time, 11% of all eligible voters nationwide. But despite a growing national presence, in many states with close Senate and gubernatorial races this year, Latinos make up a smaller share of eligible voters...."

Florida "Fangate," Ctd. Jim Newell of Salon: "If this weird, petty nonsense is the sort of thing that decides the next governor of Florida, it won't be a tragedy. It will be fitting. This is a race between two notorious creeps. Rick Scott is an arch Medicare fraudster. Charlie Crist, who was a Republican vice-presidential short-lister not that long ago, is one of the purest opportunists in modern American politics. The debate that eventually happened between the two last night consisted of them flinging these very valid critiques of each other back and forth. This race, like so many others in this cycle of blanket unpopularity, is not one of profound optimism and inspiration."

I waited to be -- 'til we figured out if he was gonna show up. He said he wasn't going to come to the, uh -- he was -- he said he wasn't gonna come to the debate. So why come out until he's ready? -- Rick Scott, explaining why he missed the first six minutes of his gubernatorial debate with Charlie Crist

Makes a lot of sense. -- Constant Weader

Iowa. Greg Sargent: "Democrats have unearthed new audio of Joni Ernst [RTP] in 2013, in which she details rather stark views about the relationship of Americans with their government.... In it, Ernst claims that we have created 'a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them,' and that wrenching them away from their dependence 'is going to be very painful.'" Here's more:

We're looking at Obamacare right now.... It's exponentially harder to remove people once they've already been on those programs.... We rely on government for absolutely everything. And in the years since I was a small girl up until now into my adulthood with children of my own, we have lost a reliance on not only our own families, but so much of what our churches and private organizations used to do. They used to have wonderful food pantries. They used to provide clothing for those that really needed it. But we have gotten away from that. Now we're at a point where the government will just give away anything. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "That's the fundamental belief that motivates most, if not all, the conservative opposition [to ObamaCare]: Health care should be a privilege rather than a right. If you can't afford health insurance on your own, that is not the government's problem." ...

... Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst said she would support a federal bill that gives legal personhood rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization, effectively wiping out legal abortion in the United States." ...

... Manu Raju & John Bresnahan of Politico: Tom Harkin is a selfish cheapskate, & the result maybe that winger Joni Ernst takes his seat.

Kansas. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... as Supreme Court rulings reignite a national debate over voter ID and fraud, no candidate more defines this moment of politicized voting rules than Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, who has transformed an obscure office in a place far from the usual political battlegrounds, to become a lightning rod on restrictive voting and illegal immigration.... Mr. Kobach was elected by a 22-point landslide in 2010. Now he faces an unexpectedly tough re-election fight in deeply Republican Kansas, where many think the party may have gone too far. It is the same wave threatening to swamp Gov. Sam Brownback."

North Carolina. David Firestone of the New York Times: "In North Carolina, [GOP Senate candidate] Thom Tillis is the last holdout against gay marriage.... Pursuing [an] appeal [of a lower court ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban] will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars, all so that he can rally conservative opponents of gay marriage to support his election bid. Though the appeal has no chance of success, Mr. Tillis has his eye on a very different victory." CW: So consider it a taxpayer-funded campaign contribution.

Pennsylvania. E. J. Dionne: Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania's Democratic candidate for governor, who is almost certain to oust current Gov. Tom Corbett, is "a businessman who ... thinks capitalism works best when employees have a stake in their firm's success. 'I share 20 to 30 percent of my net profit with my employees,' Wolf says. 'Everybody is a stockholder in the company. My Republican father came up with the idea. And he did it because it really works. I am judged in my company by my truck drivers, not by me. They see my customers more than I do....' Thinking of workers as stakeholders is old-fashioned. But these days, it's also revolutionary."

Beyond the Beltway

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: A grand jury witness "who said he saw the killing of [Michael] Brown from start to finish and talked to the grand jury recently -- has given the Post-Dispatch an account with some key differences from previous public statements from other witnesses.... After an initial scuffle in the car, the officer did not fire until Brown turned back toward him. Brown put his arms out to his sides but never raised his hands high. Brown staggered toward [Officer Darren] Wilson despite commands to stop. The two were about 20 to 25 feet apart when the last shots were fired."

Odd News. Patricia Wen & Martin Finucane of the Boston Globe: "An unusual witness testified Thursday in the trial of a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis said he and his wife were long-time family friends of Robel Phillipos's mother. Dukakis even took Phillipos to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he said. Dukakis testified in US District Court in Boston that several days after the Marathon bombing Phillipos's mother said she was concerned about him, so he got Phillipos's cellphone number and called him."

Presidential Election

Bro Nation. Steve M. on "The Most Interesting Man in Politics!" CW: For your amusement. Tho it won't be so funny as we watch Steve M.'s predictions come true. ...

... Most Interested Reporter at Politico Interviews Most Interesting Man in Politics. Mike Allen: "Sen. Rand Paul tells Politico that the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 could capture one-third or more of the African-American vote by pushing criminal-justice reform, school choice and economic empowerment."

News Ledes

Reuters: Alan Long, "the mayor of Murrieta, California, who led a local backlash against the arrival of undocumented Central American immigrants flooding the U.S. border, has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in an accident that injured four teenagers."

Florida Times-Union: "Twenty-three months after Michael Dunn shot and killed Jordan Davis, a judge sentenced the 47-year-old man to life in prison Friday. Dunn will serve life in prison without possibility of parole for the death of Jordan Davis and 90 years for shooting at the three other teenagers."

Washington Post: "The cruise ship carrying a Texas health-care worker who 'may have' handled lab specimens from Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan is headed back to the United States after Mexican authorities failed to grant permission for the ship to dock off the coast of Cozumel, according to a Carnival spokeswoman."

Wednesday
Oct152014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 16, 2014

They kind of blew me off. -- Dr. Sean Kaufman, when he warned the CDC that its Ebola control protocol was too lax

... Donald McNeil of the New York Times: "Many American hospitals have improperly trained their staffs to deal with Ebola patients because they were following federal guidelines that were too lax, infection control experts said on Wednesday. Federal health officials effectively acknowledged the problems with their procedures for protecting health care workers by abruptly changing them. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued stricter guidelines for American hospitals with Ebola patients. They are now closer to the procedures of Doctors Without Borders, which has decades of experience in fighting Ebola in Africa. Sean G. Kaufman, who oversaw infection control at Emory University Hospital while it treated Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the first two American Ebola patients, called the earlier C.D.C. guidelines 'absolutely irresponsible and dead wrong.'” ...

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama [said] Wednesday that the dangers of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States are 'extraordinarily low,' pointing to his own contact with medical personnel treating a patient infected with the virus":

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "After a two-hour meeting of cabinet-level officials who are in charge of the government's response to the virus, Mr. Obama promised that a review of the recent Ebola cases in Dallas would determine what went wrong that allowed two nurses to be infected. With a video link to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, the president said he had ordered health officials to determine, 'How we are going to make sure that something like this isn't repeated.'" ...

... Manny Fernandez & Jack Healy of the New York Times: "A second nurse at a hospital [in Dallas] tested positive for Ebola on Wednesday, the third case of disease confirmed in Dallas in the span of 15 days and the first to heighten fears far beyond the city. The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, 29, took a flight earlier this week from Ohio to Texas, a trip that federal health officials said should not have been taken.... The C.D.C. asked all 132 passengers on Frontier Flight 1143 to call a C.D.C. hotline.... Officials said Ms. Vinson ... was to be transferred Wednesday to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, one of four hospitals in the United States that have special high-containment units for isolating patients with dangerous infectious diseases." This story has been updated....

     ... Oh My. Here's an Update of Interest. Mark Berman, et al., of the Washington Post: "Before she boarded that flight..., Amber Joy Vinson, 29, informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that she was running a temperature of 99.5 degrees, a federal official told The Washington Post. That was below the 100.4-degree­ threshold in CDC guidelines for screening travelers who have been in Ebola-affected countries, and which triggers a secondary screening. The CDC did not prohibit Vinson from traveling on the plane back to Dallas, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue." ...

     ... CW: In both cases in which nurses contracted Ebola at the Dallas hospital, Dr. Thomas Friedan, director of the CDC, first played "blame the victim" before admitting the Ebola victim was not at fault. In the earlier case, he accused the nurse (or hospital??) of some unknown "breach of protocol." I do believe Dr. Friedan needs to have a check-up for Infallible God Syndrome, a psychological condition common among medical doctors. ...

... Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: Dr. Thomas Friedan "has become the face of the Obama administration's flawed response to Ebola in the United States, and on Thursday he is likely to face withering questions about his record during a congressional hearing." ...

... Katie Zavadski of New York: "Local Dallas reporter Lauren Zakalik tweeted that CDC officials told her there is a 'do not board' list that will evolve to cover potentially exposed people." ...

... Dianna Hunt of the Dallas Morning News: "Health care workers treating Thomas Eric Duncan in a hospital isolation unit didn't wear protective hazardous-material suits for two days until tests confirmed the Liberian man had Ebola -- a delay that potentially exposed perhaps dozens of hospital workers to the virus, according to medical records." ...

... Geoffrey Mohan, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Nurses at a Texas hospital where a Liberian man died of Ebola described a confused and chaotic response to his arrival in the emergency room, alleging in a statement Tuesday that he languished for hours in a room with other patients and that hospital authorities resisted isolating him.... In addition, they said, the nurses tending him had flimsy protective gear and no proper training from hospital administrators in handling such a patient." ...

... Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times: "The nation's largest union of registered nurses Wednesday called on President Obama to mandate uniform standards at U.S. hospitals to protect healthcare workers from the Ebola virus. 'Not one more patient, nurse or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of healthcare facility preparedness,' National Nurses United wrote in a letter to the president. 'The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.'" ...

... Steve M.: "I'm amused ... to see this union and its officers being quoted favorably by outraged conservatives at Right Wing News, CNS News, Free Republic, and other sites on the right. Do these righties know anything about their new favorite whistleblowers? [The union's co-president Deborah] Burger advocates single-payer and opposes the Keystone pipeline, as does [union director RoseAnn] DeMoro. They also advocate a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial transactions. In a Washington Post op-ed published Monday, DeMoro tied our Ebola problems to the private, for-profit nature of our health care system." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... it's hard to avoid noting that Texas -- the very sovereign State of Texas, I should clarify, where the federal government is generally not welcome -- was at a loss in dealing with a single Ebola case until the feds stepped in (per a WaPo tick-tock on the Dallas situation) [linked yesterday in the Commentariat]. ...

... Benedict Carey of the New York Times: "As health officials scramble to explain how two nurses in Dallas became infected with Ebola, psychologists are increasingly concerned about another kind of contagion, whose symptoms range from heightened anxiety to avoidance of public places to full-blown hysteria." ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Fox News conscience Shepard Smith brought a rare moment of sanity to the network this afternoon when he shut down a colleague's report that there was a 'widespread panic across the country' over Ebola. 'Oh my God, Doug, I appreciate it, but I think we both know there's no widespread panic across the country,' Smith said. 'And I think we also know that if there's a widespread panic, it's not based in fact and it's not based in reason.'" ...

... Here's Smith talking sense about Ebola to Foxbots. His advice: "Get a flu shot." Flu, & associated pneumonia, killed 52,000 Americans last year:

... THEN There's Fox "News"'s Medical Expert & Obama Shrink Keith Ablow. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Dr. Keith Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, on Tuesday said that Obama won't protect Americans from Ebola because 'his affinities' are with Africa, not the U.S. 'He's their leader.' 'He has it in for us as disappointing people. People who've been a scourge on the face of the Earth," Ablow said on Fox News Radio's The John Gibson show. 'In his mind, if only unconsciously, he's thinking, "Really? We're going to prevent folks suffering with illnesses from coming across the border flying into our airports when we have visited a plague of colonialism that has devastated much of the world, on the world? What is the fairness in that?'"... He also compared Obama to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein while claiming that Americans elected Obama because he hates the U.S." ...

     ... CW: Here's my question: Would Fox "News" allow this guy go on the air while he was wearing his Klan hood? What exactly is the network's journalistic threshold? See also Akhilleus's comment/rant in yesterday's thread. ...

... Brendan Nyhan in the New York Times: "... public concerns are likely to increase about whether the United States health care system can properly respond to an outbreak [of Ebola]. Data from surveys suggest, however, that those views -- like so many others -- are being shaped by people's partisan affilations as much as by news about the outbreak itself."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "In his first major policy speech as director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey on Thursday plans to ... say that encryption technologies used on ... devices, like the new iPhone, have become so sophisticated that crimes will go unsolved because law enforcement officers will not be able to get information from them, according to a senior F.B.I. official who provided a preview of the speech."

Linda Greenhouse: "In the space of eight days, the [Supreme Court] justices managed to touch on American society's hottest of hot-button issues

... Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "A day after the Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that had forced abortion clinics to close, some of the shuttered facilities prepared to reopen, pleased at the reprieve but mindful that the legal fight was far from over. Tuesday's order increased the chances, legal experts said, of a major face-off in the Supreme Court over a crucial question: What restrictions add up to an 'undue burden' on a woman's right to abortion?"

W. J. Hennigan of the Los Angeles Times: "The Pentagon has finally given a name to the international military effort against Islamic State militants: 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'” ...

... CW: Can we expect the same people who came up with "Operation Inherent Resolve" to defeat ISIS? Or anybody? Were they going for esoteric? Seriously, what percentage of American knows what "inherent" means? Prior to the Pentagon's settling on this brilliant handle, Paul Waldman suggested "Operation Pulverizing Power" or "Operation Glittering Justice." I myself prefer acronymical names, so something like Operation Bombs Away Motherfuckin' Assholes would be both inherently inspirational AND easy to remember. Also, it would make John McCain even crazier.

November Elections

Dana Milbank: "Republicans are so confident of anti-Obama sentiments that they aren’t making an effort to present an alternative agenda, the way they did with 1994’s 'Contract With America' or 2010’s 'Pledge to America.' The Republican National Committee drafted only vaguely worded 'principles' '“Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored')."

Greg Sargent: "... a total of six GOP Senate candidates [are] injecting Ebola into their races." ...

... Paul Waldman: "It's not your Senator's job to stop Ebola."

Alaska & South Dakota. Tim Egan: "... the fact that all the money and manipulations of the Koch brothers could be undone by a handful of native voters living in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the land is a tribute to our teetering democracy.... In Alaska and South Dakota, where the native vote could be the only thing that stands in the way of a Republican-controlled Senate."

Arkansas. Michael Winter of USA Today: "In a ruling that could affect a key U.S. Senate race, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the state's voter-identification law unconstitutional. The unanimous decision, which upheld a lower court, came just days before early balloting begins Monday for the Nov. 4 election. The justices ruled that Act 595, which required voters to show government-issued photo identification, 'imposes a requirement that falls outside' the four qualifications outlined in the state constitution: A voter must be a U.S. citizen, an Arkansas resident, 18 years old and registered to vote."

Colorado. Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post: "Ebola emerged Wednesday night as a new issue in Colorado's U.S. Senate debate with Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner, but much of their hour-long exchange focused on familiar themes. The two exchanged jabs for nearly an hour in 9News' studio as moderators Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman pushed the candidates to answer questions on everything from climate change to reproductive rights to health-care reform." ...

... Here's a lovely moment where Clark's question to Gardner on his co-sponsorship of a House "personhood" amendment begins, "A charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation would be that you’re not telling us the truth" Via Greg Sargent:

 

     ... In case you think Gardner might be right, this FactCheck.org article -- written way back in mid-August, giving Gardner literally months to come up with a better story or renounce the House bill -- debunks his ludicrous claim that the House personhood bill is merely a pro-life "statement." Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org: "... the wording of these [personhood] measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women." Also via Sargent.

Florida. "Fangate"! Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times & Mark Caputo of the Miami Herald: "In the weirdest start of a gubernatorial debate, Florida Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to take the stage Wednesday night because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted on using a fan to keep him cool. The Republican governor finally emerged at least six minutes late as flummoxed moderators struggled on live TV to figure out what to do with a bemused Crist standing solo on stage at Broward College. 'Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education and the environment and the future of our state?' Crist asked. 'I mean, really.'"

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "A Crist adviser posted a picture of the rules Crist signed on Twitter. They seem to indicate that a fan was allowed.... Later, the Scott campaign seemed to concede: a fan was fine by them after all." ...

... Charles Pierce: "It is now the conventional wisdom that Scott blew up his campaign with this stunt.... The visual was quite simply the most bizarre image to come out of a debate since Ned Coll waved a rubber rat at Edmund Muskie in 1972.... If you hung around and watched the rest of the debate, you fully understand now why the people of Florida are gagging on having to make a choice between either one of these jamokes." ...

... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice posts the candidates' closing remarks. Scott's word salad is hard to watch. "You can go to C-SPAN and watch any random clip of Scott speaking last night, and it will be just as cringe-inducing." CW Note to Gov. Ricky: No voter gives a whip about your your "mom's watching from heaven."

Idaho. Jeff Singer of Daily Kos: Idaho's Gov. Butch Otter (R) is running only three points ahead of his ConservaDem opponent A. J. Balukoff, according to a PPP poll, forcing the Republican Governors Association to drop money into a race that most assumed would be an easy victory for Otter. Singer explains why there's a good chance Otter's numbers will improve.

Kentucky. Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned on Wednesday in Louisville, Ky., with Alison Lundergan Grimes, right, the Democratic candidate who is trying to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell....." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post on Mitch McConnell's pretense that Kynect is "just a Website": "If he wants to rip out Obamacare 'root and branch,' then he has to explain what he would plant in the health-insurance garden instead. Otherwise his assurances on the future have little credibility."

Maine. The bigger issue right now is whether or not this individual had the proper papers. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine), on a person who tested negative for Ebola at a Maine hospital ...

... Portland Press Herald Editors: "Unbelievably, the governor used a potential public health crisis to point fingers at Maine’s largely African refugee and immigrant population. He’s encouraging scapegoating of those who are different, but he hasn’t bothered to point out that while the Ebola outbreak 'is strictly in West Africa' – as a Maine Med official has told the Portland Press Herald – most of the Africans in Maine are from the eastern part of the massive continent.... By making insinuations about whether the Maine Med patient was in the U.S. legally, the governor also has blatantly overstepped ethical boundaries. What’s more, it’s bad health policy to imply that a trip to the hospital for much-needed emergency care could result in being closely questioned about one’s immigration status." ...

... Linda Kintsler of the New Republic: "... thanks to the continued split between Maine Independents and Democrats, looks like it might very well result in the re-election of Republican Paul LePage, America’s craziest governor. Recent polls have the Democratic candidate, Congressman Michael Michaud, maintaining a thin lead over LePage, 40 percent to 38 percent, with the Independent, Eliot Cutler, trailing well behind at 15 percent. (Others have Michaud and Culter polling slightly higher.)... LePage, who should never have had a second shot at the governorship, now actually has a decent shot at winning. And he knows it, because this is how he got elected the first time around." ...

... If Maine is so proud of the "independence" of its voters, but the effect is to elect the wrong guys because reasonable people split their votes between or among the better candidates, there are easy & sensible solutions. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "In Louisiana, for example, all of the candidates run together in a 'jungle primary,' and then the top two candidates compete in a run-off if neither one wins a majority. Another system, known as 'instant runoff voting,' allows voters to rank their choices. Under this system, losing candidates are eliminated and their votes are redistributed to the voter’s next choice until one candidate emerges with a majority of the votes." CW: To me, the "instant runoff" seems preferable: the state doesn't have to foot the expense of two elections, & voters don't have to go to the polls twice.

FINALLY, why can't state-level debates be more like presidential debates? Via Daily Kos:

News Ledes

New York Times: "The chief clinical officer of the Texas hospital system that treated a Liberian Ebola patient apologized for what he said were mistakes made by the hospital in Dallas in the original diagnosis of Ebola and in providing inaccurate information.The remarks, part of prepared testimony for a congressional hearing later Thursday...." ...

... Hartford Courant: "Officials say Yale-New Haven Hospital expects to receive test results in the next 24 hours on a patient who recently traveled to Liberia and was admitted Wednesday night with a fever. The patient is one of two Yale University students who returned home last week after spending a month in Liberia researching the Ebola outbreak, according to the New Haven mayor's office." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead. ...

... New York Times: "Officials at school districts in Texas and Ohio shut schools on Thursday after they learned that two students traveled on the Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse infected with Ebola, and that an employee may have later flown on the same plane."

Tuesday
Oct142014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 15, 2014

Note to Leon Panetta, John McCain & Assorted Super-Hawks. Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: "A C.I.A. study has found that [arming & training rebel groups in other nations] rarely works. The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration's protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.... American officials said that the fact that the C.I.A. took a dim view of its own past efforts to arm rebel forces fed Mr. Obama's reluctance to begin the covert operation. 'One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?' said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate.... The C.I.A. report, he said, 'was pretty dour in its conclusions.'" ...

... MEANWHILE, former Defense Secretary & former CIA Director Leon Panetta is complaining to all who will listen (& help him sell his memoir/hatchet job) that President Obama made a huge mistake in not taking his (Panetta's) advice to arm Syrian rebels. CW: Panetta, who was Defense Secretary until February 2013, surely knew about these studies during his tenure & would have had access to their preliminary findings. Mazzetti's scoop completely undermines a big component of Panetta's Complaint. Mazzetti's report is the Obama Leak Squad giving Panetta, et al., the middle finger. ...

... Digby, in Salon, takes a look back at Panetta's career: "... Leon Panetta, for all his apparent talent at a wide variety of government jobs, is all about Leon Panetta. Where he was once a hero for resigning over an issue of principle, it's hard to escape the realization that he has parlayed that early admirable moral stand into a habit of burnishing his own reputation, at the expense of the presidents he works for. Like the other 'mavericks' of our time -- John McCain and Joe Lieberman come to mind -- he is concerned about one thing and one thing only: his own sense of righteousness." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

** C. J. Chivers of the New York Times: "From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule.... The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.... The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government's invasion rationale.... The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm's way and from military doctors. The government's secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war's most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds."

Amy Nutt, et al., of the Washington Post: "The hospital that treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had to learn on the fly how to control the deadly virus, adding new layers of protective gear for workers in what became a losing battle to keep the contagion from spreading, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.... CDC Director Thomas Frieden expressed regret Tuesday that his agency had not done more to help the hospital control the infection. He said that, from now on, 'Ebola response teams' will travel within hours to any hospital in the United States with a confirmed Ebola case." CW: Glad to see you've quit blaming the healthcare worker-victims of the disease for "breaches in protocol," Dr. Friedan. There couldn't very well have been a breach in protocol, because there was no standard protocol. ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gives four Pinocchios to the "absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research." CW: Yeah, and here's something absurd about your marionette analysis, Glenn. The Agenda Project ad you're blasting here never claims that "only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research." To pretend that Republicans have not been the drivers of across-the-board budget cuts is to wilfully ignore reality.

** Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have ... required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider. The Supreme Court's order -- five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices' reasoning -- represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over.... The Supreme Court, in an unsigned order apparently reflecting the views of six justices, blocked the surgical-center requirement entirely and the admitting-privileges requirement as it applied to clinics in McAllen, Tex., and El Paso. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have allowed the law to be enforced." CW: The dissenting justices, in a one-line, unsigned opinion, said that the Framers "originally intended women to be chattel; thus, purported concerns for their health and well-being represent nothing more substantial than unconstitutional sentimentality."

New Washington Scandal! "Obama Environmental Plan Tainted by Association With Environmentalists." Jonathan Chait: "Republicans are launching investigations in both the House and the Senate to expose the hidden hand of environmentalists in the crafting of environmental regulations. 'The E.P.A. appears to have a far cozier relationship with N.R.D.C. lobbyists on carbon emission rule-making than with any other stakeholders,' charges Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.... The accusation -- 'far cozier' -- merely charges that the administration worked more closely with the NRDC than with, say, lobbyists for oil and coal.... [The EPA plan] is surely a pluralistic one. Pluralism is an old-fashioned political science concept that described policies that incorporate compromises between competing interest groups.... In modern American politics, it describes policies within the Democratic Party, which draws support from business as well as labor, environmentalists, and consumer groups. The Republican Party's economic coalition, by contrast, has a monolithic pro-business cast.... Within the Republican Party, it has come to seem normal for environmental regulations to be crafted entirely along the lines demanded by business lobbyists. The existence of a significant lobbying role for environmentalists -- even the moderate, well-respected ones at the NRDC -- seems to them scandalous." ...

... ** I'm relinking this piece by Charles Pierce on Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis's spot against her GOP opponent Greg Abbott, which I linked early yesterday afternoon. Pierce puts the ad in the context it needs putting: as a pushback against typically egregious Republican practices & policies. He adds a shoutout to the media for promoting these policies by their silence.

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama will not nominate a candidate for attorney general until after the midterm elections, a White House official said Tuesday. The White House is pushing off the nomination at the request of Senate Democrats, who asked the White House to delay naming a successor to Eric Holder, who announced his resignation last month."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "The Democratic Party is held in worse regard than at any point in the past 30 years, according to a new poll. The poll, from the Washington Post and ABC News, shows 39 percent of Americans now have a favorable impression of the blue team, while 51 percent have an unfavorable impression. Both are new records. Through it all, of course, Democrats continue to have a better image than their GOP counterparts, whose favorable/unfavorable split with the American people is currently 33/56."

"Yes, I Am a Nut." -- Paul Ryan. Jonathan Chait: "During a debate last night for his election to the House, Paul Ryan was asked if he believes that human activity has contributed to global warming. 'I don't know the answer to that question,' he replied, 'I don't think science does, either.' In fact, science does know the answer.... This is another way of saying that Paul Ryan is a nut. His ideological fantasies prevent him from accepting even basic scientific facts. He is, to be sure, a lucid nut, rather than a raving nut who accosts passersby on street corners.... Ryan is in a party where this sort of thing barely even attracts attention."

Annie Lowrey of New York on Bill Gates v. Thomas Piketty. Gates "that we [in the U.S.] have not reached a state of old-world dynastic wealth and that philanthropy might be a powerful force for dissipating concentrated fortunes from generation to generation.... This is a weird, weird telescoping. Piketty is not arguing that the United States has a tradition of dynastic wealth that explains its inequality. Rather, he shows that wealth inequality has ballooned of late, meaning in the past few decades, driven by an increase in income inequality.... [A] Wealth-X study found that billionaires tend to give away but small slivers of their wealth. And there is no evidence that the country's 1 percent or 0.1 percent, writ large, are becoming more philanthropic." ...

... CW: Lowrey writes, "Half are entrepreneurs who made their own fortunes, Gates notes.... Put billionaires in an age bracket, and there's a big hump around 55 to 64, with fat tails on either end. The average American billionaire is in his early 60s." I would add that there's a good reason for that: the all-too-brief window of high funding of public education that began after WWII & started falling during the Vietnam War. That funding allowed hundreds of thousands of children of working- & middle-class American families access to higher education, & thus to high-paying jobs & entrepreneurial opportunities. In some cases, the generation of billionaires in their 60s built on the successes of their parents, the first generation to benefit from generous public education funding. Bill Gates is such a billionaire; his father went to college & law school on the G.I. bill, which allowed the father the wealth to provide his children with rich learning experiences in "exclusive" schools. Those "self-made" billionaires who despise Elizabeth Warren's populist message should acknowledge that they themselves are the beneficiaries of the ideal Warren for which advocates.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Dave Jamieson of the Huffington Post: "A Jimmy John's employment agreement ... includes a 'non-competition' clause that's surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business's inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John's, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.... The noncompete agreement is now part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed this summer against Jimmy John's and one of its franchisees." CW: Jimmy John's is a sandwich chain with more than 2,000 locations. The non-competition agreement, if enforced, would severely limit low-wage workers' ability to find similar employment elsewhere, even if they left their Jimmy Johns jobs because they moved to a new city thousands of miles away. ...

... CW: If Congress cared about workers' rights, it would outlaw companies from imposing these types of agreements on management & non-management personnel who are not privy to extensive insider information. Some states, BTW, do just that, rendering these non-competition clauses unenforceable against most workers. Unfortunately, most low-wage workers don't know their rights, & are apt to "voluntarily" comply with the unlawful agreements they signed. ...

... Of course as Susie Madrak points out, "Joke's on [Jimmy John's] -- I'll bet most workers sign it without reading it."

November Elections

Nate Silver explains again why polls might be wrong or skewed in favor of one party over the other. ...

... Paul Waldman on "unscewing" the polls. Waldman argues that Democrats aren't doing what Republicans did in the 2012 presidential race. CW: I think Waldman is right. If Republicans take the Senate & pick up a few seats in the House, I'm not going to be shocked & believe the election results were rigged & my team "really won," as many Republicans did re: the 2012 presidential election. Nothing I've read -- & I've read a lot -- suggests that the polls are methodologically & purposely skewed to favor Republicans (although they were methodologically skewed before pollsters figured out how to poll mostly-younger voters who didn't have landlines).

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Since last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has essentially given up efforts to unseat Republicans in several races, pulling advertising money from a dozen campaigns in Republican-held districts to focus on protecting its embattled incumbents. Democrats need 17 Republican seats to win back the majority, but of the 25 races still on the campaign committee's battlefield, only seven currently belong to Republicans. That means they are playing defense in 18 districts and offense in seven." ...

... CW: Re: this story & several others here, see James S.'s comment at the top of today's Comments.

A Chamber in Conflict with Itself. John Stanton of BuzzFeed: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce may want the GOP to change its tune on immigration policy, but that isn't stopping the powerful business lobby from pouring more than $15 million into efforts to re-elect nearly two dozen Republicans who disagree with them. In fact, in four Senate races in North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, and Kentucky that could determine control of the Senate, the Chamber has spent nearly $7.8 million propping up Republicans against providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants."

Arkansas. James Hohmann of Politico on last night's Senate debate among the four candidates. ...

... David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times: "Rep. Tom Cotton is running for U.S. Senate, advocating root-and-branch repeal of Obamacare as the key tenet of his platform, and he refuses to be honest about the impacts that policy change would have on Arkansans. For all of his big talk of principled stands and doing "the hard right over the easy wrong," he has shown himself afraid or unwilling to level with the people of Arkansas about the policy change he is advocating for. Cotton's explicit plan would repeal the private option, ending health insurance coverage for 200,000 Arkansans. He just won't admit it." Via Paul Waldman. CW: This, obviously, is the preferred GOP strategy, especially in states where the ACA has had a highly-significant impact. See Kentucky.

Colorado. Eric Bradner of CNN: Right-wing extremist & Denver Post darling "Cory Gardner has opened up a four-point lead [against Sen. Mark Udall (D)] in a Colorado Senate race that's key in determining whether Democrats can hold onto their majority, a new CNN/ORC poll shows."

Georgia. James Hohmann of Politico: "National Democrats are reserving $1 million more for ads in Georgia, where they see the Senate race moving in their direction thanks to attacks against Republican David Perdue's record of outsourcing. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pumped in $800,000 for the ads, to start airing Wednesday for two weeks in Atlanta, the state's biggest media market, and is in the process of snapping up another $200,000...." ...

... WXIA Atlanta: "For the first time, Michelle Nunn leads the race for Georgia's Senate seat. In an exclusive 11Alive poll conducted by Survey USA, Democrat Michelle Nunn leads likely voters 48% to Republican David Perdue's 45%. Libertarian Amanda Swafford grabs 3%, just enough votes to possibly force a runoff.... The Governor's race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democrat challenger Jason Carter[, former President & Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter's grandson] is tied. Each candidate gets 46% of likely voters."

Iowa. Katie Weiderman of KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids: "The wife of Doug Butzier confirmed Tuesday morning that it was Butzier who crashed his plane near the Dubuque Regional Airport around 11 p.m. Monday." Butzier died in the crash. "Butzier worked as an emergency room physician at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque. He was also running for U.S. Senate as the Libertarian candidate."

Kentucky. Adios, Alison. Kyle Trygstad of Roll Call: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone dark in Kentucky, where the party is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After a significant investment in support of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air." ...

     ... Update. Greg Sargent: "Some claim national Dems have given up on Alison Grimes' candidacy, based on the news that the DSCC is not currently running ads in Kentucky. But the DSCC clarified last night that Dems have just put $300,000 into voter mobilization there. While that obviously isn't big money, and while it remains to be seen whether the DSCC will go back on the air, I'd caution against reading too much into the 'abandoning Kentucky' storyline."

... Sabrina Siddiqui of the Huffington Post: "Mitch McConnell Wants Kentucky To Believe Its Obamacare Exchange Is Just A Website." CW: Yesterday I pointed out that Grimes didn't effectively challenge McConnell when he repeated this, um, lie. The governor of Kentucky issued a statement that does what Grimes failed to do. You can bet few people read the governor's accurate rebuttal, but thousands saw Grimes flub it. ...

Tonight, Mitch McConnell looked into the camera and misled Kentucky about his plan to take Kynect from more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have gained health care in the last year. Mitch told Kentuckians he'd keep the website up, while pulling the plug on federal funding, tax credits, and tearing down a marketplace that has made Kentucky a model of success for the nation -- all to advance his partisan political agenda that has Washington in gridlock to the point of paralysis. -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Monday

... Brian Beutler: "... here was McConnell..., caught in a massive contradiction about the fate of hundreds of thousands of people's health benefits, and the media still yawned it off. How to explain this? The answer lies, at least in part, with the political press corps' general indifference to policy, and its aversion to speaking fluently about substantive debates." ...

... CW: Yes, Chuck Todd, if Grimes' stupid refusal to say how she voted in the last two presidential elections is "disqualifying," why isn't it "disqualifying" to lie to voters about ObamaCare/Kynect? ...

... Why, Chuck, even GOP apologist Ron Fournier, who calls you, Chuck Todd, "my friend," & who describes McConnell a "hypocrite ... playing with the health of 500,000 Kentuckians ... [and] misleading conservatives," writes, "If running away from Obama is disqualifying, playing both sides of the fence on Obamacare might be worthy of retirement." ...

... AND ya know what Chuck's big complaint is? "... no journalist likes to be used in a TV ad. It is cheap and likely useless. And McConnell has hidden himself from questions for months." That's right: Chuck Todd is pissed because Mitch McConnell is unfair to Chuck Todd. McConnell is using Chuck's public statements in a TV ad, yet he won't speak to Chuck.

Missouri Elected Official Seeks Military Junta to Oust President Obama. Not a Parody. Progress Missouri: "Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan [R] took to her Facebook page this week to ask her military friends why no one has taken action against 'our domestic enemy ... supposedly the commander in chief.' That's right, she asked why President Obama hasn't been taken care of (or something) by the military yet. Apparently, in Dunnegan's Constitution the military has 'the authority' to oust the President for unspecified misdeeds.... Dunnegan is up for reelection as Recorder of Deeds this November. Jefferson County voters deserve better." ...

     ... CW: Looks like Little Debbie there has got herself a copy of Right Wing World's Official U.S. Constitution; you know, the upside-down one, where in this case, the military controls civilian authorities rather than the other way around. ...

... Sometimes Suggesting a Violent Insurrection Is Just a "Poor Choice of Words." Leah Ithorsen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: " Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan said Tuesday that she used a poor choice of words on a post on her personal Facebook page that some are interpreting as an attack on President Barack Obama." CW: The sweet thing about it is that Debbie asks very politely why the military haven't conducted a coup.

North Carolina. David Firestone of the New York Times: "Capitalizing on fears of a looming national security threat is an old and often successful Republican tactic. For George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it was al Qaeda; for their successors, it is the Islamic State, which is being waved like a red blanket in several other races as well. Its usefulness is one of the reasons why the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced yesterday that it would spend another $6 million on ads for [Thom] Tillis in the last three weeks of the campaign...."

Ohio. Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Ohio’s [Gov.] John Kasich [R] ... is coasting toward a second term in a state that long has been one of the nation's presidential battlegrounds, campaigning on policies he believes can put a more empathetic face on the national Republican Party. His economic philosophy is Republican orthodoxy, drawn from supply-side theory and coupled with a reformist streak. What sets Kasich apart from some others in his party, however, is his willingness to use the levers of government and the zeal with which he has embraced his own version of compassionate conservatism, with strong religious overtones." You'll enjoy reading about Kasich's Democratic opponent Ed Fitzgerald, a loser in every sense. Also, Kasich does not like to pay to park his RV, which he cites as a reason he's not running for president.

South Dakota. Larry Pressler Is No Liberal. Danny Vinik of the New Republic: Former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, now running for the Senate as an independent candidate, demonstrates how far-right the GOP has moved & why "partisan gridlock persists." CW: There is, BTW, no reason to think Pressler would caucus with Democrats if he won the Senate seat. He's said he might try to form an independent "working group" with Bernie Sanders & Angus King, the two Senate independents who do caucus with Democrats & usually vote with them.

Wisconsin. Charles Pierce thinks Cap'n. Scotty's "ship be sinking." I hope he's right.

We don't have a jobs problem in this state. We have a work problem. -- Gov. Scott Walker, during a gubernatorial debate

CW Translation: Lazy poor people are the state's biggest economic problem.

I don't think it serves a purpose. -- Scott Walker, on the minimum wage, yesterday

CW Translation: To hell with people who can't get highly-skilled, well-paying jobs.

Beyond the Beltway

Dee Hall of the (Madison,) Wisconsin State Journal: "U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ... Tuesday gave the green light to campaigns and purportedly independent groups to coordinate some political activity -- legalizing, at least temporarily, the type of activity at the heart of the now-stalled John Doe investigation.... A national campaign finance expert said he expects that order likely will be appealed -- and overturned." Thanks to Nadd2 for the link. ...

... As Ian Millhiser of Think Progress documented in May, Randa is fond of making ideologically-wingnut decisions, which the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is apt to overturn. (CW: As far as I can tell, the second matter Millhiser cites -- the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy case -- is still out on appeal.)

Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "Detroit and its last big holdout creditor said on Tuesday that they were close to a settlement, cutting short a day of planned testimony on whether the city's prized art collection should be used to help end the city's bankruptcy. Thomas F. Cullen Jr., a lawyer representing Detroit, told Judge Steven W. Rhodes, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, that 'substantial progress' had been made in talks with the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company during a weeklong break in the city's bankruptcy trial."

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Gunshot residue tests and ballistics evidence indicate that Vonderitt D. Myers Jr. fired a gun at a police officer before being fatally shot, police and union officials said Tuesday. The police department issued a statement saying that forensic scientists from the Missouri Highway Patrol crime lab found gunshot residue on Myers' hands, shirt and inside the waistband and pockets of his jeans.... Ballistics evidence also revealed three bullets that hit the ground where the officer was trying to take cover matched Myers' gun." Myers' shooting has resulted in some protests. CW: Some of Myers' relatives claimed he did not even have a gun at the scene.

Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle: "Houston's embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and ... are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city." CW: I hate to stand up for bigots, but based on the little I know from this report, subpoenaing sermons certainly smacks of a First Amendment violation. Besides, the issue in the lawsuit brought by pastors (& others, I think) is whether or not the group gathered enough signatures to put the equal rights issue on the ballot. The pastors have made clear they oppose the city's equal rights ordinance; demonstrating just how anti-gay they are seems irrelevant to the subject of their suit.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Stocks plunged Wednesday in rocky trading, closing down on a fourth straight day of losses amid a stretch of volatility in international trading that routed investors to the refuge of government bonds."

Washington Post: "Kurdish fighters have turned the tide against Islamic State militants in the battle for control of the Syrian border town of Kobane after two days of relentless bombardment by U.S. warplanes, Kurdish officials and activists said Wednesday."

New York Times: "Norward Roussell, who in 1987 arrived in Selma, Ala., as the city's first black superintendent of schools with aspirations to equalize educational opportunity -- only to be fired three years later amid racial animosities, protests and a school boycott that recalled the historic Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march of 1965 -- died on Monday in Selma. He was 80."

AP: "Riot police moving against activists sparked outrage after officers were seen kicking a handcuffed protester and dragging dozens of others away Wednesday in the worst violence against the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong since they began more than two weeks ago. Clashes that erupted before dawn Wednesday continued early Thursday, as police used pepper spray to push back crowds of protesters trying to occupy a road outside the government's headquarters."

Reuters: "Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade." ...

     ... CW: This amazes me because for years I've read that nuclear fusion was a hoax. Here's a 1989 article from the NYT wherein leading physicists said they had debunked supposed nuclear fusion claims, & they mocked the scientists who said they had achieved it in lab experiment.

New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday canceled his travel to a fund-raiser and a campaign rally so he could convene a meeting of several top cabinet members to coordinate the government's response to the Ebola outbreak, officials announced." ...

... New York Times: "Health officials authorities in Texas said on Wednesday that a second health care worker involved in the treatment of a patient who died of the Ebola virus had tested positive for the disease after developing a fever. The worker ... had been 'among those who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was diagnosed with Ebola,' at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services said."

Oops, forgot to link this yesterday. Washington Post: "David Greenglass, confessed member of the infamous Rosenberg atomic spy ring, died July 1 at 92, more than a half-century after his better-known sister, Ethel Rosenberg, went to the electric chair in part for what he later claimed was his false testimony against her." The New York Times story is here.

Monday
Oct132014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 14, 2014

Manny Fernandez, et al., of the New York Times: "The transmission of the Ebola virus to a nurse [in Dallas, Texas,] forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday to reconsider its approach to containing the disease, with state and federal officials re-examining whether equipment and procedures were adequate or too loosely followed, and whether more decontamination steps are necessary when health workers leave isolation units.

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises. The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies." ...

... Joe Romm of Think Progress: "Last month was the warmest September globally since records began being kept in 1880, NASA reported Sunday. January through September data have 2014 already at the third warmest on record. Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is taking aim at hottest year on record."

Elisabetta Povoledo & Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "In a marked shift in tone..., an assembly of Roman Catholic bishops convened by Pope Francis at the Vatican released a preliminary document on Monday calling for the church to welcome and accept gay people, unmarried couples and those who have divorced, as well as the children of these less traditional families. The bishops' report, issued midway through a landmark two-week meeting, does not change church doctrine or teaching, and will now be subjected to fierce debate and revision at the assembly." The Washington Post's initial story is linked in yesterday's News Ledes.

<>Cloak, Dagger & Greed. Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence."

Thomas Ricks of the New America Foundation, in the New York Times, reviews James Risen's new book, which "sets out to portray the many seamy sides of the war on terror during the past 13 years." ...

     ... CW: If you don't have time to read the whole review, skip down to the part about Diane Rourk, who tried to warn officials about what she assumed was a rogue operation at the NSA. As someone who is not a fan of Ed Snowden's, I must eat a dainty helping of pan-seared crow here. Rourk did more or less what I would have recommended Snowden do, and the thanks she got for her efforts were not exactly heartfelt. She says "others who discussed their concerns about the N.S.A.'s constitutional transgressions received similarly harsh handling, one reason that Edward J. Snowden fled overseas when he leaked documents...."

... Lesley Stahl interviews James Risen:

     ... The transcript of the interview is here. ...

... This follow-up segment, in which Stahl interviews former NSA director Michael Hayden & former NYT executive editor Bill Kellerman, is worth watching, too. (Click on the video featuring a picture of Dubya.)...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said in an interview released Sunday that she regrets not pushing the Times to publish a story by national security reporter James Risen about a reportedly flawed CIA effort to undermine Iran's nuclear program -- an account that unleashed a nearly seven-year drive by the U.S. government to force Risen to identify his sources. Risen elected to put the story in a book he wrote, 'State of War,' which was published in 2006, several years after the Times elected not to detail the saga.... Prosecutors have suggested in court filings that Risen's decision to publish the story despite the Times's refusal to do so undercuts his grounds for defying subpoenas demanding the identities of his confidential sources." ...

     ... Video of the interview, conducted by Lesley Stahl, is on the same Webpage as the Hayden-Keller interview. (Click on the video which features a picture of Abramson.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Not a Parody. Ira Stoll of Smarter Times: "For the price of $6,995, the New York Times is offering 13-day tours of Iran guided by Times journalist Elaine Sciolino. Promotional material for the tour on the Times website promises 'luxurious hotels' and describes Tehran as a city where 'the young and fashionable adopt a new trendy joie de vivre.' Also on the itinerary: 'a pleasant evening stroll around the colorful bazaars,' along with insights into the 'accomplishments' of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.... How fair will Times journalism be toward those calling for tougher Iran sanctions if the sanctions would force the newspaper to cancel its lucrative luxury tours of Iran? Why are Times journalists lending their reputations, such as they are, to promotional material that describes Iran as a kind of paradise -- "colorful bazaars," "trendy joie de vivre" -- while skipping over the reality of other parts of Iran, like, say, Evin Prison?" Via Scott Kaufman the Raw Story. Thanks to Bonita for the link.

Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "Police in Princeton New Jersey have been called in to enforce a mandatory quarantine imposed upon NBC Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman after she was spotted outside of her home despite agreeing to be quarantined following her exposure to the deadly Ebola virus. Snyderman's isolation came in the wake of one of her cameramen, Ashoka Mukpo, coming down with the highly infectious disease.... Mukpo is currently being treated in Omaha, Nebraska."

November Elections

Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "Republicans need to call off the voting wars for their own good.... [Here's why:] 1. The voting wars are a costly, bureaucratic nightmare.... 2. The absence of voter fraud is becoming impossible to deny.... 3. The GOP's voter suppression efforts are motivating Democrats.... 4. Rand Paul says so." ...

... ** Ed Kilgore: "... I'd offer a counter-argument based on a simple premise: the War on Voting ... is closely integrated with contemporary conservative ideology.... The highly prominent Constitutional Conservative wing of the GOP considers democracy itself -- if it aims at or even allows erosion of the Ideal Governing Scheme ... established by the Founders -- as essentially un-American (This is a republic, not a democracy, they never tire of saying).... Anything that makes exercise of the franchise more difficult -- especially by those people who so poorly resemble the white yeoman farmer property owners of the early Republic -- is presumed to be a good idea in itself.... The kind of thinking that produced Mitt Romney's '47 percent' remarks is deeply entrenched in the GOP, and its root idea is that voting by people who benefit from an active federal government (and don't pay income taxes!) is corrupt.... For a large number of Republicans, 'voter fraud' means Democrats trading other people's money (their money) for votes...."

If you want to see what a brutal pro-Democratic ad looks like, here ya go:

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: "A new TV ad blames prominent Republicans for Ebola deaths, attacking them for championing spending cuts that have gone after emergency public health funding for containing disease outbreaks.... The spot was produced by the Agenda Project Action Fund, the same progressive group that has made controversial anti-Republican ads such as 'Granny Off the Cliff.' The group's spokeswoman, Erica Payne, said Monday the ad would air in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Dakota and Kansas -- all of which feature competitive Senate races that could swing the majority." ...

     ... CW Note: Yesterday I linked a Huffington Post story by Sam Stein that makes the same point about development of an Ebola vaccine: Dr. Francis Collins, director of the N.I.H. who does not specifically call out Republicans, say severe budget cuts are the reason the agency hasn't developed a vaccine. So, ya know, maybe that fear of Ebola Fox "News" has been fanning could hurt Republicans. ...

     ... PLUS. ABC Radio News: "Dr. Irwin Redlener, who directs the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, said..., 'You only need to see what has happened to funding of the federal Hospital Preparedness Program, which was providing $515 million a year in 2003 and 2004, now cut back to approximately $250 million this year.'... 'That is simply insufficient to make sure that U.S. hospitals are ready for a large-scale bio disaster.'" ...

     ... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "Meanwhile, John McCain and his buddies are screaming for an Ebola czar (which maybe our surgeon general could be, if we had a surgeon general which we don't because the NRA torpedoed his nomination). Think Ebola is terrifying enough to make them loosen the purse strings? Think again. They'd rather fearmonger on this issue than fix it." ...

     ... Winger Erik Erikson of Red State explains why the ad "reeks of desperation." The real reason the various federal agencies are not controlling Ebola is that they're wasting all their money studying "fat lesbians..., wives who calm down quickly..., [and] "gun violence on order of the President," etc.

Kentucky. Sam Youngman of the Lexington, Kentucky, Herald-Leader: "There were a few skirmishes, but little new ground was broken as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes delivered their well-worn attack lines to each other's faces Monday night on statewide television." ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic highlights McConnell's claim -- the same one he's been making for months -- that he would repeal ObummerCare but keep the state's Kynect "Website." Uh-huh. Vinik calls out the media -- including that darling Luke Russert -- for comparing Grimes' stupid refusal to admit she voted for Obama to Mitt's outlandish pretense that the popular "Website" has nothing to do with the ACA: "Grimes' refusal to admit who she voted for is bad politics, and demonstrates a lack of political courage, but ultimately has little effect on how she would represent the state of Kentucky. But if McConnell got his way and repealed Obamacare while keeping Kynect as a website, it would cause 500,000 Kentuckians to lose their health insurance. That's not a gaffe[, Luke, you idiot]. It's a deceptive policy position. And the media's focus on Grimes is covering that up." ...

... CW: Here's one point on which Chuck Todd is half-right. Contra Chuck, it is the media's job to point out instances when politicians lie or mislead, as Mitch has been doing on ObamaCare & Kynect. On the other hand, politicians, when given such golden opportunities to rebut the lies & level with voters, as Grimes had in the debate forum, they have to do that effectively. She didn't. (Video here. The exchange begins at about 34:15 min. into the debate. Grimes gets to speak about 5 minutes later.) Grimes' effort to obfuscate her support for Obama & his healthcare plan is the reason she will -- and deserves to -- lose the election to Sen. Turtleman.  ...

... AND, speaking of Chuck:

New Hampshire. Kaili Joy Gray in Wonkette: "In video posted by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, as [former Massachusetts Sen. Scott] Brown walked through [a] sea of tailgaters [before a University of New Hampshire football game], there were shouts of 'F**k Jeanne Shaheen!' and 'Elizabeth Warren sucks!' referring to the Democrat from Massachusetts who unseated Brown from his Senate seat in that state in 2012. The language became even more graphic at points, with one man shouting 'F**k her right in the p***y'..., although it wasn't clear if he was referring to Shaheen or Warren. At 01:07 in the video, a man also appears to refer to Shaheen as a c**t." CW: It's not clear who the young men in the video are, but since Brown reportedly came to the event with a contingent of College Republicans, certainly some of the misogynistic Brown enthusiasts were College Republicans. Gray has posted the video. Brown looks as if he's having a swell time with his "frat bros" & doesn't object to their language, though it's possible he didn't hear it. Read Gray's whole post. ...

... Charles Pierce equates Brown's New Hampshire following with those Massachusetts Brown supporters who thought it would be fun to mock Warren (who believes she is part AmerIndian) with tomahawk chops & "Indian" war cries.

South Dakota. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "A race that most had thought was safely Republican is suddenly the focus of national attention, thanks to the surprisingly successful candidacy of former Senator Larry Pressler, a Republican who is running as an independent. Mr. Pressler ... has a staff of one and a small budget, but has a longstanding connection to South Dakota voters."

Texas. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune. "The pollster for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis defended her controversial TV ad Sunday, saying it's working as intended despite widespread criticism that using the image of an empty wheelchair in an attack ad on a disabled candidate was mean-spirited and unfair." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "There is nothing wrong, evil, mean, or out of bounds about that commercial, despite the fierce protestations of the sweater of the month club at Morning Joe and among the rest of our failed media. It's simply the truth. A tree fell on him. He was paralyzed. He sued and got millions. He has then spent the rest of his life doing everything he could to stop anyone else from receiving the same kind of treatment he had. It's no different from Ayn Rand receiving Social Security and Medicare and Paul Ryan using benefits to propel him to where he is now...." ...

... ** You will want to read Charles Pierce on Davis's spot against Abbott. He puts it in the context where it needs putting.

Presidential Election

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: Mitt "Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and now the tacit head of the Republican Party, visited Iowa as part of a feverish nationwide tour designed to help the GOP take control of the Senate. He has insisted that he is not interested in running for president a third time. But his friends said a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity is nudging him to more seriously consider it." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "In the past year Mitt Romney has gone from repeatedly insisting that he's not running for president in 2016 to at least pretending that he might be interested, but apparently he forgot to tell his wife about this strategy shift." ...

... Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the Romneys are launching the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases, a research facility that will focus on finding cures and new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease (known as ALS), Parkinson's disease and brain tumors.... On another matter that has been the subject of much political babbling lately -- a potential third run for president by her husband -- Ann Romney was happy to wave off the possibility. 'Done,' she said. 'Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,' she said, referring to her five sons. 'Done. Done. Done.'" ...

     ... Hartmann sez, "Okay, we'll put her down as a 'maybe.'" ...

... Steve M. is a cynic: "I'd like the timing of this announcement [that the Romneys are inaugurating a research facility] to generate at least a tiny fraction of the skepticism occasioned by the timing of Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy. Because while it's true that this is an act of generosity it's also true that the Romneys are just loving this little comeback tour they're on, and bringing a veneer of high-mindedness to a lot of down-and-dirty campaigning." Read the whole post.

... CW: I'm not sure how much the Romneys are contributing to the center they're "launching." According to the L.A. Times story, "Ann Romney hopes to raise $50 million to lay the groundwork for the center's research." So the Romneys' contribution could be anywhere from (1) millions to (2) nothing but signing fundraising letters.

Beyond the Beltway

Alan Zagier & Jim Salter of the AP: "Pounding rain and tornado watches didn't deter hundreds of protesters Monday outside Ferguson police headquarters, where they stayed for almost four hours to mark how long 18-year-old Michael Brown's body was left in a street after he was fatally shot by police. Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October protests dubbed the day 'Moral Monday' and committed acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region. In addition to the initial march on Ferguson police headquarters, protesters blocked the entrance to a major employer, held a loud rally inside St. Louis City Hall, disrupted business at a Ferguson shopping center and three Wal-Mart stores and tried to crash a private fundraiser for a St. Louis County executive candidate where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was scheduled to appear." ...

... AP: "St. Louis County police say civil rights activist Cornel West was among 13 people arrested during a protest at Ferguson police headquarters.... Police said arrests were made after protesters began bumping officers' shields and forced their way through the law enforcement skirmish line."

... Allen McDuffee of the Atlantic: "Over the course of the weekend in which hundreds -- and at times thousands -- of protesters for the most part demonstrated peacefully, clergy members called on the Ferguson and St. Louis police departments to 'repent' for [Michael] Brown's killing, as well as for other acts of violence and the structural racism that many in the community feel they face.... Arrests remained relatively low over the four days [of the protests]...."

Charles Pierce: "Is it just me, or does the fact that already it's been more than a month -- and $1.4 million a week, according to some reports -- and they still haven't found alleged cop-killer and survivalist fugitive Eric Frein down in Pennsylvania indicative of something more than Frein's finely honed woodchuck skillz?" ...

... CW: This story interests me because I have a cottage not all that far from the Poconos (I used to drive thru the Poconos regularly to get there), & it seems that every other year I was up there, I'd hear on the news that some convicted murderer/alleged cop-killer or similarly vile dangerous person had broken out of jail, was on the loose & had been sighted in the vicinity of my cottage. In one such Summer Manhunt Season, where the (alleged) cop-killer was spotted in every town anywhere near my cottage, I got home to Florida to find my husband watching the Manhunt Showdown on CNN; they cornered the guy & shot him dead not far from my place. I think maybe Manhunt Season is a sort of ghoulish "feature" of an Appalachian summer vacation.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the United States and Russia had agreed to share more intelligence on the Islamic State, as he sought to lay the basis for improved cooperation with Moscow." ...

... Our Friends in Turkey. New York Times: "In the face of increasing international pressure, Turkey took decisive military action on Monday -- not against the Islamic State militants that Turkey's Western allies have urged it to fight, but rather against the Kurdish militant group that has been battling the Islamic State. Turkish warplanes struck positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the P.K.K., in southeastern Turkey late Monday. The group, long an enemy of the Turkish state, had put down its weapons last year to talk peace. But on Tuesday, Turkish officials said the Kurdish militants had attacked a military outpost, leading to the government's first airstrikes against the group in nearly two years."

Washington Post: "The Ebola virus is killing 70 percent of those infected, and there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa by Dec. 1, a top official with the World Health Organization said Tuesday."