Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President celebrated the fiftieth birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives":

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, July 31, 2015.

AP: "Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, defeating the bid from Almaty[,Kazakhstan,] in a surprisingly close vote to become the first city awarded both the winter and summer games."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

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

White House Live Video
July 31

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing with Energy Secretary Ernest Munoz

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes. ...

     ... UPDATE: Turns out the university's president is biased against the bias-free language guide & he was unaware of its existence until this week. Also, a Republican state legislator is "outraged" & finds the guide a good excuse to cut funding for the state university. Naturally. Thanks to MAG for the lead.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

For an actual feel-good moment, Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post tells the story of 16-year-old small-plane crash survivor Autumn Veatch. Veatch, who was injured in the crash that killed her grandparents, walked untold mild through rough terrain until she came to a public road & parking area.

Washington Post: "Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program '19 Kids and Counting' from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program."

Washington Post: "Filmmaker George Lucas, singer-songwriter Carole King and dancer-actress Rita Moreno are among an unprecedented six honorees to be saluted at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Seventies rockers the Eagles, actress Cicely Tyson and conductor Seiji Ozawa will also be honored at the Dec. 6 event, Kennedy Center officials said Wednesday. A major fundraiser for the arts center, the gala celebration will be televised on CBS on Dec. 29."

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker reviews Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. ...

... Laura Marsh of the New Republic: "Scolars have been pointing out Atticus Finch's racism for years."

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Monday
Jul272015

The Commentariat -- July 28, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Jonathan J. Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November after 30 years in prison, a government panel decided on Tuesday. Mr. Pollard's lawyers announced the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon, and officials at the Department of Justice confirmed that Mr. Pollard had been granted parole."

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday defended the Iran nuclear agreement as a 'strong deal' before skeptical members of Congress who expressed concern that it will eventually give Iran the freedom to build nuclear weapons and finance mayhem in the region. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry told lawmakers that it is a 'fantasy' to think that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons should it choose to do is."

Erik Wemple updates Donald Trump's media strategy in the wake of his consigliere's threats against a Daily Beast reporter.

A Marine Corps lieutenant colonel is relieved of her commend, & the Marine Corps Gazette subsequently decides not to publish her essay criticizing the Corps' treatment of female Marines. C. J. Chivers of the New York Times has the backstory, & publishes the essay.

Mika Brzezinski is often pretty silly & shallow. Not this time:

... ** Unsurprisingly, Israelis are offended, too.

*****

BBC News: "US President Barack Obama has warned that Africa could not advance if its leaders refused to step down when their terms ended. He also called for an end to the 'cancer of corruption', saying it took money away from development. Mr Obama made the comments in the first ever address by a US leader to the 54-member AU at its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa." Here's a clip:

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "Now, with a push from President Obama, and perhaps even more significantly a nod from Speaker John A. Boehner, Congress seems poised to revise four decades of federal policy that greatly expanded the number of Americans -- to roughly 750 per 100,000 -- now incarcerated, by far the highest of any Western nation. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has long resisted changes to federal sentencing laws, said he expected to have a bipartisan bill ready before the August recess."

Scott Wong & Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday said his chamber will not vote on the Senate's six-year highway bill. McCarthy's declaration that the House will not be 'taking up the Senate bill' means a short-term extension is the only way to prevent a lapse in federal infrastructure funding at the end of the week. It also means the Export-Import Bank, linked to the highway bill in the Senate, will not be renewed until September at the earliest." CW: One more reminder -- as if you needed one -- that Republicans in Congress are incapable of running their arm of the government. ...

... ** In Which Mitch McConnell Play the Hero. NEW. David Dayen explains why House Republicans want a five-month extension of the highway bill: "Of particular interest should be the timing. This patch would last until December 18, the last day of Congress before the Christmas break, also known as the time when Congress slips things into law while everyone is off holiday shopping and trimming the tree. And there's a plan for what to do with a long-term highway bill too: fund it through a corporate tax amnesty, allowing multinationals to bring home their foreign earnings with a minimal tax hit, well below the normal 35 percent range. Future Democratic leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer and Republican Rob Portman have already teamed up on this, using the enticement of infrastructure funds to alter the way the corporate tax system works." ...

... Another GOP Zombie Plan. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Tucked into a dusty corner of the Senate's Highway Trust Fund bill ... is a zombie proposal to hire private debt-collection agencies to hound delinquent taxpayers on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has actually tried outsourcing tax collection activities to private debt collectors before, at Congress's behest. Twice, in fact, over the last two decades. Both times, the experiment was a disaster.... Both times the program was scrapped because it actually cost taxpayers money on net.... Yet for some reason -- perhaps amnesia, a blind devotion to privatization at all costs, a desire to line the pockets of friends in the debt-collection industry, or a conspiracy to make Americans hate the IRS even more than they already do -- this policy proposal just will not die.... The solution is to just adequately fund the IRS...."

Pete Williams of NBC News: "The governing body of the Boy Scouts of America voted Monday to end its decades-long ban on gay scout leaders. The organization's national executive board, meeting in Texas, concluded that the policy of excluding gay adults 'was no longer legally defensible.' The decision was approved by 79 percent of the board." ...

... Ben Lockhart of the Salt Lake City Deseret News: "The future relationship between the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now uncertain after the Scouting body voted Monday to rescind a nationwide ban on gay Scout leaders, prompting strong words of concern from the church and a promise to re-evaluate its century-long affiliation with the organization.... Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a prepared statement. '... the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.'" ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The Christian Science Monitor notes that as a result of its ban on gay individuals, over the years BSA's membership has grown more conservative, with about 70 percent of troops now run by religious organizations. Following the 2013 decision, some conservatives left the Boy Scouts and created the group Trail Life USA. BSA enrollment had been declining for some time.... Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham said that, like the Mormons, Baptists may be ready to abandon the Boy Scouts altogether instead of being forced to eventually accept gay leaders."

Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: "Planned Parenthood representatives say that hackers appear to be working to gain access to the abortion providers' employee information systems. The organization notified the FBI and Department of Justice of a possible data breach, a spokesperson said on Monday, one that representatives from the organization said 'if true' could threaten the 'privacy and safety of our staff members'."

Dana Milbank: Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kansas) returns to a Washington unlike the one he left. The art of the deal used to involve friendship & compromise.

Sally Kohn in a Washington Post op-ed: When will we start holding racism and misogyny accountable for the violence they rationalize and inspire?... John Russel Houser, who killed two women & injured many more people in a Louisiana movie theater "was steeped and stewing in right-wing xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist and racist hate.... Houser was crazy and held some beliefs that were variations of more mainstream conservative beliefs. The roots of some of Houser's political views are hard to distinguish from ideas espoused by many, if not most, of the candidates running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.... When there's evidence that a mass shooting suspect who's Muslim espoused anti-American, pro-radical Islamicist views, we tie that suspect to the broader ideology.... Black Americans are presumed to bear blame as a group even when they're the victims of violence.... White privilege extends even to white mass murderers...."

Samuel Gibbs of the Guardian: "Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of a 'military artificial intelligence arms race' and calling for a ban on 'offensive autonomous weapons'. The letter, presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was signed by Tesla's Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor Stephen Hawking along with 1,000 AI and robotics researchers."

Hang your head, Ben.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

All Our Pulitzers Are Tarnished. But We Led the News Cycle! CW: The New York Times publishes an unsigned CYA "Editor's Note" explaining why Hillary Clinton is not behind bars yet despite their excellent "criminal investigation" bombshell story. For one thing, you can't trust the government: "That article was based on multiple high-level government sources." (Those sources likely being Trey Gowdy, Trey Gowdy's top staffer & the boyfriend of a DOJ clerk who once worked at Justice but now represents the RNC. And Trey Gowdy.) For another, Hillary's henchmen harassed a cub reporter the moment the story hit the Internets: "Shortly after the article was published online, however, aides to Mrs. Clinton contacted one reporter to dispute the account." BTW, we decided that before we tried to bury Clinton, we would not offer her the same courtesy we do other subjects: contacting her before publication. Yeah, I wouldn't sign this piece of crap either. But at least this excuse for a mea culpa is helpful to the folks Erik Wemple cites:

...CW: In Confederate America, there's a new meme. The New York Times changed its blockbuster story outing Hillary Clinton as a serial criminal BECAUSE HILLARY ASKED THEM TO. So that's another scandal on top of all her criminal misdeeds. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has the details: "... the critique was leaving out something that once mattered in political dialogue: the truth." BTW, here's an unnamed Democratic spokesman to back up what I've been saying for days: "A Democratic spokesman for the House oversight committee, which is closely involved in Clinton e-mail stuff, told the Erik Wemple Blog: 'Unfortunately, the New York Times did not check with us before running its story, even though we have offered to help in the past and could have corrected these errors before they showed up on the front page. We do not know who the New York Times talked to, but we talked to the Inspectors General themselves.'" What a concept! ...

... MEANWHILE, "independent journalist" Ron Fournier of the National Journal wants to know what Hillary is hiding. Fournier never mentions his own fucked-up complaint of last week that Hillary was "blaming The New York Times, which is as pathetic as it is laughable" & that the DOJ should investigate her criminal activities. ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Twice in the last few months, a hot, breaking New York Times story on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email address while secretary of state has gone from 'wow, that looks terrible for Hillary Clinton' to 'wow, that looks terrible for the New York Times' in the day or so after its initial much-hyped publication.... The Times is making it clear that it isn't prepared to change the practices that led to serious mistakes in two bombshell-turned-bomb stories about Hillary Clinton's emails...."

Political scientist Henry Farrell explains why Tom Friedman never has to say he's sorry. CW: Here's another funny bit: I came to Farrell's piece via Paul Krugman, who is forbidden to say anything bad about the bozos & bobos who people the same op-ed page he does. True to his code, after a fashion, Krugman never mentions Friedman.

Presidential Race

Command Performance -- The Koch Presidency. Ken Vogel of Politico: "Four leading GOP presidential candidates -- Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker -- are traveling to a Southern California luxury hotel in coming days to make their cases directly to the Koch brothers and hundreds of other wealthy conservatives planning to spend close to $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election. The gathering -- which also will include former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but notably not Sen. Rand Paul -- is hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group in the Kochs' increasingly influential network of political and public policy outfits. It represents a major opportunity for the candidates at a pivotal moment in the presidential primary." ...

... Dave Weigel & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is turning down a coveted invite to a gathering of wealthy conservative donors this weekend, citing his plans to be on the campaign trail.... Paul told The Washington Post..., 'We've been invited -- it's just hard to make [these] decisions, because you can't be everywhere.'" CW: If Li'l Randy's purpose in giving up a chance to grovel at the feet of the Koch Brothers' Band of Billionaires by caucusing with the cornpones of Iowa was intended to make him seem like a man of the people, he might have announced his populist sacrifice without employing the royal "we."

Tim Mak & Brandy Zadrozny of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump introduced his presidential campaign to the world with a slur against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being 'rapists' and bringing crime into the country.... It was an unfortunate turn of phrase for Trump.... Not only does the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination have a history of controversial remarks about sexual assault, but as it turns out, his ex-wife Ivana Trump once used 'rape' to describe an incident between them in 1989. She later said she felt 'violated' by the experience.... Ivana Trump's assertion of 'rape' came in a deposition -- part of the early '90s divorce case between the Trumps, and revealed in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump." Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told the Daily Beast, "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law." ...

I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me? You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name in it, with the word 'rape,' and I'm going to mess your life up ... for as long as you're on this frickin' planet ... you're going to have judgments against you, so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it. -- Michael Cohen, special counsel to the Trump Organization to Tim Mak of the Daily Beast

... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Marital rape was made illegal in all US states in 1993. It was made illegal in New York state in 1984, five years before the alleged incident. Donald and Ivana Trump settled their divorce in 1992." ...

... Arturo Garcia of the Raw Story: "ABC News reported that the Trump campaign responded to the report by calling the rape allegation 'old news and [that] it never happened.'... The campaign also downplayed Cohen's role, saying, 'Nobody speaks for Mr. Trump, but Mr. Trump.'... The response came hours after Cohen appeared on CNN billed as a spokesperson for the candidate."

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Most of the polls [which came out this week & showed Donald Trump in the lead for the GOP nomination] were partly or entirely conducted before Mr. Trump's controversial comments [about John McCain].... For good measure, it is not at all clear that we should expect Mr. Trump to suffer discernible losses in the near future. Take Herman Cain, who faced reports that he was accused of sexual harassment in late October 2011. These reports were surely more problematic for his candidacy than Mr. Trump's comments about Mr. McCain, and yet the early polls conducted after the allegations did not show much evidence that they had any effect on his standing. One month later, Mr. Cain was out of the race." ...

... Steve M. argues there's no comparison between Cain & the Ablest. ...

... CW: Yeah, and there's this. Greg Sargent: "A big majority of Republicans believes that the government's main focus on immigration should be not just on stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, but also on deporting those already here." Do you suppose there was "a big majority of Republicans" who believed it was quite all right for (black) men to fondle (white) ladies without their consent? Possibly not. ...

... Dara Lind of Vox: "If a new CNN poll is correct, a majority of Republican voters are significantly to the right of pretty much every Republican elected official and every single Republican presidential candidate -- including Donald Trump -- on immigration."

... Stefanos Chen of the Wall Street Journal: "... Donald Trump has sold his penthouse in New York's Trump Park Avenue building for $21 million, according to real estate listing agent Michelle Griffith. With slide show. CW: All the rooms are white. He plans to purchase & extensively remodel another White House.

Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has repeatedly emphasized his record overseeing Florida's boom economy as the state's governor.... But according to interviews with economists and a review of data, Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble -- one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families.... In the four years after Bush left office..., the typical Florida family's net worth fell 60 percent in that time, according to the Census Bureau.... Many of those families now pay rent to Wall Street firms."

CW: If you think the next administration & future federal courts should be made up on graduates of Livingston High School, New Jersey, & Seton Hall Law, you should definitely vote for Chris Christie. It will happen. Matt Arco of NJ.com reports. Nonetheless, I suppose David Wildstein won't become Transportation Secretary. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

Jeff Mulvihill of the AP: "Three public workers' pension funds are suing New Jersey for billions in damages, claiming the state government breached contracts when it contributed less than planned. The filing Friday is the latest volley in a more than yearlong dispute over pension contributions. They stem from Gov. Chris Christie's decision last year amid a budget shortfall to veer from a pension funding plan he signed into law in 2011.... Spokesmen for Christie did not respond immediately to a request for comment." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A conference protesting police violence against African Americans ended in police violence against African Americans on Sunday, when at least one officer deployed pepper spray against men and women protesting the arrest of a 14 year-old teenager."

Way Beyond

Nicholas Watt of the Guardian: "Lord Sewel has announced he is to resign from the House of Lords with immediate effect as he apologised for the 'pain and embarrassment' he has caused after the release of a film showing him allegedly taking cocaine with sex workers.... Sewel's decision will raise questions about whether Paul Kernaghan, the House of Lords commissioner for standards, will continue with his investigation into whether the peer broke the code of conduct for the upper house.... The peer's resignation will have no impact on the police investigation that was launched on Monday...."

News Ledes

Guardian: "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has been sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli. Saif, once seen as his father's heir apparent, was condemned to death along with eight other figures from the former dictatorship, including the former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Gaddafi's last prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi."

Reuters: "FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday."

Sunday
Jul262015

The Commentariat -- July 27, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jeff Mulvihill of the AP: "Three public workers' pension funds are suing New Jersey for billions in damages, claiming the state government breached contracts when it contributed less than planned. The filing Friday is the latest volley in a more than yearlong dispute over pension contributions. They stem from Gov. Chris Christie's decision last year amid a budget shortfall to veer from a pension funding plan he signed into law in 2011.... Spokesmen for Christie did not respond immediately to a request for comment."

CW: If you think the next administration & future federal courts should be made up on graduates of Livingston High School, New Jersey, & Seton Hall Law, you should definitely vote for Chris Christie. It will happen. Matt Arco of NJ.com reports. Nonetheless, I suppose David Wildstein won't become Transportation Secretary.

*****

Peter Baker & Marc Santora of the New York Times: President "Obama, accompanied by [Susan] Rice, now his national security adviser, convened a meeting on Monday to try to forge a peace in South Sudan, in his most direct personal intervention since the violence broke out more than 18 months ago. During a visit [to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia]..., he sat down with regional leaders to try to build a consensus behind a peace proposal, and to come up with a backup plan, in case that fails, involving increased sanctions and possibly an arms embargo."

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama sharply criticized Republican 2016 presidential candidates Monday for engaging in 'inflammatory remarks' that were cheapening the nation's political discourse.... [Mike] Huckabee responded to the president's remarks in a statement Monday morning, doubling-down on his previous comments ... that the Iran deal was so flawed it will 'take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven'":

Anne Barnard, et al., of the New York Times: "Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say. The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a 'safe zone' for displaced Syrians."

Darlene Superville of the AP: "President Barack Obama huddled with Ethiopia's leaders Monday for talks on counterterrorism, human rights and regional security issues, including the crisis in neighboring South Sudan. Obama's visit marks the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Ethiopia. He arrived at the National Palace in the capital of Addis Ababa for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, followed by a joint news conference."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "In a rare and fiery weekend session, the Senate voted on Sunday to resurrect the federal Export-Import Bank, handing the Republican Party's most conservative wing a major defeat and setting up a showdown this week with House leaders divided over the moribund export credit agency. The bipartisan vote -- 67 to 26 -- broke a filibuster and allowed supporters to attach a measure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to a three-year highway and infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass the Senate early this week. The agency's authorization expired June 30, halting all new loan guarantees and other assistance to foreign customers seeking to purchase American companies' products. A clear majority in the House also supports resurrecting the agency, but it will be up to House leaders to decide whether the body will get a vote...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The Senate is fast-tracking a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of two controversial videos that sparked a political firestorm. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) finished the process, known as 'Rule 14,' on Sunday, allowing the legislation to skip over the committee process and be placed directly on the Senate calendar for a floor vote." ...

... Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "The Senate on Sunday voted down a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, the GOP's first attempt to get rid of the president's health law since the party took control of the chamber in January. The effort fell 49-43, exactly along party lines, with eight senators not voting in the rare weekend session. Third-fifths of the Senate would have had to vote to add Obamacare repeal to a highway funding bill. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is expected to ask the Senate -- likely Monday -- to reconsider the Obamacare amendment. He would propose a procedural motion to change Senate rules in order to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act with just 51 votes." ...

... Manu Raju & Burgess Everett of Politico: "Republican leaders, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), delivered what senators described as punishment for [Ted] Cruz's brazen floor tactics -- the Texas senator first accused McConnell of lying and later sought to change Senate procedures in order to push for an Iran-related amendment. So when Cruz came to the floor looking for 16 senators to agree to hold a roll-call vote, only three raised their hands. McConnell, sitting at his desk, turned around and peered at Cruz, who looked stunned at what had just happened. The Senate dispensed with his effort by a voice vote and quickly moved on, doing the same to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Cruz ally who sought to use arcane procedures to force a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.... Cruz later] accused McConnell of scheming with Democratic leader Harry Reid." ...

... Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) doubled-down Sunday in his attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).... 'I would note that it is entirely consistent with decorum and with the nature of this body traditionally as the world's greatest deliberative body, to speak the truth,' Cruz said. 'Speaking the truth about actions is entirely consistent with civility.' Asked if he want to far during his Friday speech, Cruz instead blasted the press for not writing about whether or not McConnell lied about a deal."

Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times' public editor, weighs in on the paper's hasty, erroneous reporting of the supposed two inspectors generals' request for a "criminal investigation" of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. CW: Sullivan faults the paper for the "mess," but it appears she gets some major items wrong. (And, BTW, if she had followed my advice & read Kurt Eichenwald's takedown, she would wound not have made those mistakes.) First, Sullivan asserts that "the fact remains that [Clinton's] secret email system hamstrung possible inquiries into her conduct while secretary of state both by the news media and the public under the Freedom of Information Act and by Congress." Not according to Eichenwald. Any documents -- including notes written on napkins -- that a public official creates in the course of her duties are subject to FOIA requests. Second, Sullivan implies that Schmidt's March 2015 scoop on Clinton's private server was a paragon of investigative journalism. Not according to Eichenwald:

The Times's public editor defended that piece, linking to a lengthy series of regulations that, in fact, proved the allegations contained in the article were false.... The reality remained that, when it came to this story, there was no there there.

     ... Finally, Sullivan lets NYT executive editor Dean Baquet get away with this whopper: "You had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral. I'm not sure what they could have done differently on that." Both Sullivan & Baquet are journalists. But let me explain to them, there was something else they could have done: they could have asked the IGs, as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) did, if in fact they had sent criminal referrals of Clinton to the DOJ. The reporters & their checkers did not ask, so the IGs said publicly Friday that they had not sent out criminal referrals. It isn't as if that was top-secret info that the Times could not possibly have wrenched out of the IGs. You don't have to be a reporter or an editor to know that if you're going to write, "A did B," you have an obligation to at least ask A if he did B. You don't necessarily have to believe A's answer, if you have other, more credible sources that refute A, but you do have to ask A. Sullivan should have pointed out this major flaw in the "reporting." Instead, she just faults the Times reporters & editors for a method of "fact-checking" that involved re-asking their original sources if they had the story right. Considering the sources (almost certainly GOP House Benghaazi! committee members or their staffs), the Times should have been super-skeptical, especially on a highly-partisan issue that could have an impact on the presidential election.

The Hard Realities of Soft Corruption. Bill Curry in Salon: "That [Barack] Obama translated this public anger [against political corruption] into a message in 2008 -- but didn't follow up with policy in 2009 -- may reveal an underlying worldview. When Justice [Anthony] Kennedy pronounced the public unconcerned with systemic corruption he spoke not for the Tea Party but for a Washington establishment of which Obama, many political reporters, most political consultants and all lobbyists are members for life.... The flaw in [Hillary] Clinton's candidacy is the flaw in our politics. It is Kennedy's 'soft corruption.'" CW: Curry highlights the New York Times' fake stories, but I think he's right about his central point -- that Democrats don't care about political corruption. Whether you like her or not, Hillary Clinton personifies the entrenched Village SOP.

Steve M. points to & elaborates on a post by David Futrelle titled "Angry misogynist murders women at showing of film by feminist comedian; police worry 'we may not find a motive.'" CW: Steve & Futrelle seem to be on the right -- or at least a plausible -- track. In addition, I think it's easy to connect the dots between Houser's motives & columns like the one Ross Douthat wrote for today's Times, linked below. I don't mean to suggest that Douthat is directly responsible for the multiple murders of women, but his point that Planned Parenthood medical personnel -- a large percentage of whom are women, & whose clientele are mostly women -- "have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts ... dead human beings," can lead some crazy men to "reason" that it's okay to kill young women who might have abortions & allow "dead human beings" to be carved up like meat. Houser may have figured that by killing young women, he was saving lives, i.e., the lives of Douthat's "dead human beings." Some readers will think I'm exaggerating. Probably I'm not. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "We don't know exactly why yet Houser shot up a theater that was showing a movie written by an unapologetic feminist, but this moment should still be a wake-up call about the problem of misogynist violence in our culture. If we're not going to talk about gun control, then let's talk about how to get fewer men to see guns as the solution to their inchoate rage at women." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Bobby's Aposty. Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana called for tougher gun laws in other states on Sunday.... On CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Mr. Jindal called for states to adopt laws similar to Louisiana's that feed information about mental illness into a federal background check system for potential gun buyers.... Officials have said Mr. Russell [sic., John Russell Houser], of Phenix City, Ala., legally bought the murder weapon there in 2014, although he had been denied a state-issued concealed weapons permit in 2006 because he was accused of domestic violence and soliciting arson." CW: Not a hoax, & in 2013 Jindal, believe it or not, did sign into law bills to cooperate with the federal database on purchases of weaponry, um, along with other bills that would expand gun rights. ...

... Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker (July 24): "During his Presidency, [Barack Obama has] gone from a kind of rote acknowledgment of the issue [of gun violence] to a deeply felt recognition of its centrality, if only because it represents not a problem that is insoluble in its nature but something stupidly simple and easy to fix. In any sane polity, gun killings would be a horror, not a habitual event. Seeing the President's metamorphosis suggests that, as another old song had it, a change is going to come."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Rick Perry's voice softens when he talks about the joy he gets from looking at his iPad and seeing 'that 20-week picture of my first grandbaby.' Marco Rubio says ultrasounds of his sons and daughters reinforced how 'they were children -- and they were our children.' Rand Paul recalls watching fetuses suck their thumbs. And Chris Christie says the ultrasound of his first daughter changed his views on abortion. If they seem to be reading from the same script, they are. With help from a well-funded, well-researched and invigorated anti-abortion movement, Republican politicians have refined how they are talking about pregnancy and abortion rights, choosing their words in a way they hope puts Democrats on the defensive." ...

... CW: Surely this is the same script that Scott Walker flubbed last month when he "justified" Wisconsin's law requiring women seeking abortions to view ultrasound images of their fetuses by exclaiming the procedure was "just a cool thing out there."

** Noreen Malone & Amanda Demme in a New York cover story & photo essay: "There are now 46 women who have come forward publicly to accuse Cosby of rape or sexual assault; the 35 women here are the accusers who were willing to be photographed and interviewed by New York. The group, at present, ranges in age from early 20s to 80 and includes supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business. Many of the women say they know of others still out there who've chosen to remain silent." Story includes photos, videos & links to the full stories these women tell. ...

... David Ferguson of the Raw Story: "The New York magazine cover featuring 35 women who have accused Bill Cosby of rape featured one empty chair for any women who have not come forward because they are still too afraid to speak out. Within minutes of the cover's publication on Sunday evening, Twitter users had created a hashtag for #TheEmptyChair, dedicated to victims of rape, sexual assault and abuse who are too frightened to come forward due to shame, stigma or the possibility further abuse." ...

... Andrew Chow of the New York Times: "Spelman College has discontinued a professorship endowed by Bill Cosby, a university spokeswoman said. After suspending the professorship last year in the wake of mounting accusations of sexual assault against Mr. Cosby, the college terminated the program and returned the related funds to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation, the spokeswoman, Audrey Arthur, said in a brief statement. The foundation was established by Mr. Cosby's wife, Camille. The Cosbys have had a long relationship with Spelman, a historically black women's college in Atlanta."

Louis Menand of the New Yorker: Most criminals are recidivists. "For [Richard] Matt and [David] Sweat, being on the outside essentially boiled down to coming up with ways to get back inside. Inside, they were masters of their environment.... Away from that environment, though, they were lost.... Once he was free from prison, the only place David Sweat could possibly have ended up, short of dead, was back in prison."

Presidential Race

Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post: "Hillary Rodham Clinton called for harnessing the power of the sun to generate enough renewable energy to run every home in the country within the next decade, as part of a climate change initiative announced Sunday." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Clinton's numbers are down in crucial states because when she's running for office, she has a high unfavorability rate among white voters.

The Rhetorical Question of the Day. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "... if [Donald] Trump weren't around would the other Republicans behave that much more responsibly?" ...

... The Great Unknown. Tim Noah in Politico: "Over the past two decades [Donald Trump] was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, then a Republican. Now, registered as an independent, he leads the Republican 2016 presidential field. But what does Donald Trump really believe on policy? It's hard to tell -- his campaign will identify no policy director, he has no 'issues' tab on his campaign website and he hasn't given any substantive policy speeches on the campaign trail." CW: Let's face it: Trump serves a special-interest constituency of one -- Donald Trump. Trump is a Republican now out of a profound belief that the GOP base is crazier than the Democratic base. ...

... Adam Sneed of Politico: "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump charged on Sunday that Hillary Clinton's private email practices as secretary of state were 'criminal.' 'What she did is far worse than what Gen. [David] Petraeus did, and he's gone down in disgrace,' Trump said on in a telephone interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'What she did is criminal.'... Trump refused to elaborate when pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper, who noted that federal inspectors general had cited security rather than criminal concerns." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

.. Tapper begs Trump not to punish reporters for media outlets' editorial positions. Trump refused to credential a Des Moines Register reporter for an event he held in Iowa this weekend:

... Jennifer Agiesta of CNN: "In the first national telephone poll since Donald Trump earned rebukes from Republican leaders over his comments about Senator John McCain's military service, the real estate mogul has increased his support among GOP voters and now stands atop the race for the party's nomination. The new CNN/ORC Poll finds Trump at 18% support among Republicans, with ... Jeb Bush just behind at 15%, within the poll's margin of error." ...

... Steven Shepard of Politico: "Donald Trump has surged to the lead in the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary and virtually erased Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's advantage in the Iowa caucuses, according to new NBC News/Marist polls released Sunday."

How stupid is the Doofus Plan to Phase Out Medicare? Paul Krugman counts the ways. "In this, as in other spheres, [Jeb!] Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor's office -- after all, he's still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.... Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies."

Marco Rubio, Senator No-Show. Manu Raju of Politico: "... Rubio has been absent more often than other senators seeking the White House." Lindsey Graham & Ted Cruz are other frequent absentees. Bernie "Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, missed just seven votes since mid-April, which is more in line with the average attendance rate of all senators, who cast 97 percent to 98 percent of roll calls on the floor."

Worst Argumentum ad Hilterum Ever. This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. Mike Huckabee, in a Breitbart interview. MAG contributed the link (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

I may run with links to some reactions to Huckabee's remark. Other than that, from now on, Huck gets the Sarah Palin treatment here: no coverage unless highly newsworthy. -- Constant Weader

Daniel Politi of Slate: "The National Jewish Democratic Council ... called on other Republican presidential candidates to denounce Huckabee's remarks. 'Far, far too often, this organization has found itself forced to denounce politicians for invoking the Holocaust in inappropriate and offensive ways,' the NJDC said in a statement. 'These comments by Gov. Mike Huckabee, however, may be the most inexcusable we've encountered in recent memory.'" ...

... Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "The reference to the Holocaust -- in which Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers and their bodies cremated in ovens -- created a backlash Sunday on Twitter, with numerous users condemning Huckabee's remarks. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called on the former Arkansas governor to 'apologize to the Jewish community and to the American people for this grossly irresponsible statement.'... Spokesmen for the leading GOP presidential candidates -- including [Donald] Trump, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker -- did not respond Sunday to questions about the remarks."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "Boston's Olympic bid is dead. In a joint statement, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and Steve Pagliuca, chairman of bidding group Boston 2024, characterized the decision to pull the plug as a mutual one."

New York Times: "Peg Lynch, who wrote and starred in 'Ethel and Albert,' one of television's earliest situation comedies, died on Friday at her home in Becket, Mass. She was 98.... Ms. Lynch, who wrote nearly 11,000 scripts for radio and television without the benefit of a writer's room committee (or even a co-writer), was a pioneering woman in broadcast entertainment. As a creator of original characters and a performer of her own written work -- every bit of it live! -- she might be said to have created the mold that decades later produced the likes of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer."

Saturday
Jul252015

The Commentariat -- July 26, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "In a rare and fiery weekend session, the Senate voted on Sunday to resurrect the federal Export-Import Bank, handing the Republican Party's most conservative wing a major defeat and setting up a showdown this week with House leaders divided over the moribund export credit agency. The bipartisan vote -- 67 to 26 -- broke a filibuster and allowed supporters to attach a measure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to a three-year highway and infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass the Senate early this week. The agency's authorization expired June 30, halting all new loan guarantees and other assistance to foreign customers seeking to purchase American companies' products. A clear majority in the House also supports resurrecting the agency, but it will be up to House leaders to decide whether the body will get a vote...."

Steve M. points to & elaborates on a post by David Futrelle titled "Angry misogynist murders women at showing of film by feminist comedian; police worry 'we may not find a motive.'" CW: Steve & Futrelle seem to be on the right -- or at least a plausible -- track. In addition, I think it's easy to connect the dots between Houser's motives & columns like the one Ross Douthat wrote for today's Times, linked below. I don't mean to suggest that Douthat is directly responsible for the multiple murders of women, but his point that Planned Parenthood medical personnel -- a large percentage of whom are women, & whose clientele are mostly women -- "have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts ... dead human beings," can lead some crazy men to "reason" that it's okay to kill young women who might have abortions & allow "dead human beings" to be carved up like meat. Houser may have figured that by killing young women, he was saving lives, i.e., the lives of Douthat's "dead human beings." Some readers will think I'm exaggerating. Probably I'm not. ...

... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "We don't know exactly why yet Houser shot up a theater that was showing a movie written by an unapologetic feminist, but this moment should still be a wake-up call about the problem of misogynist violence in our culture. If we're not going to talk about gun control, then let's talk about how to get fewer men to see guns as the solution to their inchoate rage at women."

Adam Sneed of Politico: "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump charged on Sunday that Hillary Clinton's private email practices as secretary of state were 'criminal.' 'What she did is far worse than what Gen. [David] Petraeus did, and he's gone down in disgrace,' Trump said on in a telephone interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'What she did is criminal.'... Trump refused to elaborate when pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper, who noted that federal inspectors general had cited security rather than criminal concerns."

Worst Argumentum ad Hilterum Ever. This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. Mike Huckabee, in a Breitbart interview. MAG contributed the link

I may run with links to some reactions to Huckabee's remark. Other than that, from now on, Huck gets the Sarah Palin treatment here: no coverage unless highly newsworthy. -- Constant Weader

*****

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama challenged the land of his father on Sunday to break the cycle of corruption, strengthen its shaky democracy, overcome ethnic divisions and end discrimination against women and girls as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Kenya full of potent symbolism. Delivering a tough-love message, Mr. Obama hailed the economic and political advances of recent years and forecast a bright future for the country, but he said that further progress would require it to confront 'the dark corners' of its past and tackle problems that have plagued it for generations."

Erica Werner of the AP: "It's a rare Sunday session for senators, and on the agenda are efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and reviving the federal Export-Import Bank. Both are amendments to a must-pass highway bill that the Senate is trying to complete ahead of a July 31 deadline. If Congress doesn't act by then, states will lose money for highway and transit projects in the middle of summer construction season."

Juliet Eilperin & Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post: "President Obama on Saturday committed the United States to an intensified fight against terrorists in East Africa, announcing here that his administration would expand support for counterterrorism operations in Kenya and Somalia, including increased training and funding for Kenya's security forces. 'We have to keep that pressure going even as we're strengthening the Somali government,' he said at a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta."

... David Smith of the Guardian: "The US president, Barack Obama, has launched an unprecedented defence of gay rights in Africa, telling Kenya's president that the state has no right to punish people because of 'who they love'.... Obama personalised the issue by comparing homophobia to racial discrimination that he had encountered in the United States. Never before has such a powerful foreign leader challenged Africans so directly on their own soil."

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "President Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sparred over support for gay rights here Saturday, with Obama urging fast changes and Kenyatta saying it was not something Kenyan culture or society would 'accept.'... Standing by Obama's side at a joint press conference here in front of the Kenyan state house, Kenyatta repeated what he has said before about gay rights: it's 'a 'non-issue.' Kenyatta's remarks were the ones that drew applause among the Kenyan audience":

Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "The banking industry is scrambling to kill a provision in the Senate highway-funding bill that would reap billions of dollars in revenue by cutting a century-old system that has reaped annual awards for banks. Industry lobbyists say they were blindsided by the inclusion of the provision, which would help policymakers cover the bill's cost by cutting the regular dividend the Federal Reserve pays to its member banks [from 6% to 1.5%].... In a Congress where lawmakers are always hunting for politically palatable ways to raise revenue or cut costs to cover the expenses of additional legislation, the Fed provision was a novel, and rich, one. The proposal is estimated to raise $17 billion over the next decade, and is by far the richest 'pay for' included in the bill." CW: Hard to imagine this was Mitch's idea.

George Joseph of the Intercept: "The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.... The documents ... indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful.... The tracking of domestic protest groups and peaceful gatherings raises questions over whether DHS is chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights, and over whether the department, created in large part to combat terrorism, has allowed its mission to creep beyond the bounds of useful security activities as its annual budget has grown beyond $60 billion." ...

... Maya Park & Daniel Strauss of Politico: Their disruption last weekend of Netroots Nation forums featuring Martin O'Malley & Bernie Sanders has energized the Black Lives Matter movement. "Seizing the moment, the Black Lives Matter group -- a movement organizing action on topics important to the black community and racial injustice -- decided to quickly put together a summit in Cleveland, Ohio. The summit describes itself as 'hundreds of Black freedom fighters from around the country' coming together to coordinate and build a new coalition for action in the black community. The conference offers panels on, for instance, self defense and organizing for black activists." CW: Don't be scared, white people. DHS is on this.

** Dear Smug Bastards.... Emily Badger & Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "By the time they're 60 years old, [a comprehensive study] has found, nearly four in five people experience some kind of economic hardship: They've gone through a spell of unemployment, or spent time relying on a government program for the poor like food stamps, or lived at least one year in poverty or very close to it.... If you don't like food stamps because you think you'll never need them, maybe these probabilities would change your mind.... the poverty figures may well be a conservative estimate for what someone who's 25 today could expect in the coming decades as incomes continue to stagnate and job security worsens."

The venerable New York Times continues to give one fucking, lying shmuck in the person of Ross Douthat a platform for his disgusting, self-righteous lies: "... these are dead human beings being discussed on video today: Human beings that the nice, idealistic medical personnel at Planned Parenthood have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts." CW: No, Ross, they are not human beings; they are clusters of underdeveloped tissues, sort of like the flabby muscles that occupy that place between your ears where many of us have brains.

Frontline obtained photos, thru an FOIA requiest, of Bush administration officials to the 9/11 attacks.

Presidential Race

Michael Schmidt & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: Hillary "Clinton's aides announced Saturday morning that she had accepted an invitation to testify on Oct. 22. But a spokesman for the Republican-led committee said hours later that no agreement had been reached." ...

     ... CW: Schmidt, BTW, leads by boasting, "Amid renewed controversy surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of private email for government work...." I'm still waiting for the Times' public editor to comment. I sent her a link to the analysis of the Times' "reporting" by Kurt Eichenwald, which I linked yesterday (it's here), so she wouldn't have any excuse to whitewash her opinion. If you haven't read Eichenwald's piece, I highly recommend it. ...

... AP: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton, said on Saturday she never knowingly sent or received classified information using her private email server and did not know what messages were being cited by intelligence investigators as examples of emails containing classified information." ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Two government inspectors general involved in the Hillary Clinton email referral flap released a joint statement [Friday] afternoon to try and explain exactly what happened.... the two ... IGs released a joint statement later explaining that the referral was not criminal in nature, 'it was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes.'" The post includes the IGs' statement. CW: Funny, but it would seem Schmidt & Apuzzo didn't bother to interview the IGs or ask for comment before they splashed their inaccurate story across the front page of the Times. ...

... Dylan Byers: "The New York Times report claiming that inspectors general had sought a criminal investigation relating to Hillary Clinton's personal email account was finally changed early Saturday morning, one day after all parties involved in the story -- the two inspectors general, the Justice Department, and the Clinton campaign -- issued public statements disputing the language in the Times report.... The Times also updated its headline, removing the word 'criminal' from 'Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton's Use of Email.'... Journalists, political operatives and even Times staffers expressed surprise at how long it took the Times to correct the report." ...

... CW: Gee, Dylan, maybe now you can get your colleague Annie Karni to remove the word "criminal" from her report on another matter, which -- amazingly -- Politico published after Karni had already worked with you to debunk the Times story. ...

... Here's more from Ben Dimiero of Media Matters. ...

... Not surprisingly, over there in Right Wing World, they're treating the story that blew up in the Gray Lady's face as a Clinton-NYT conspiracy to hide the troof. This is a meme that won't die.

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "To the list of Republican rivals he has insulted, Donald J. Trump on Saturday added a new name: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whom he accused of mismanaging his state's budget and creating a disaster for its roads, schools and hospitals. Mr. Walker, who has been restrained in criticizing Mr. Trump's provocative remarks compared with other Republican presidential candidates, is leading in the polls in Iowa...." ...

... Adam Gabbatt of the Guardian: "Several people listed as part of the 'Veterans for Trump coalition' formed by Donald Trump following his incendiary comments about John McCain's war record have denied they are part of the group.... When the Guardian contacted several claimed Veterans for Trump members on Friday, three said they had never heard of the organisation and had not signed up as members.... On Saturday, the Trump campaign disputed the accounts of those interviewed by the Guardian."

Beyond the Beltway

Julia O'Donoghue of the Times-Picayune: "Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order aimed at keeping the Westboro Baptist Church protestors away from the funerals of the Lafayette shooting victims. Jindal said the Louisiana State Police plan to strictly enforce existing state law that prevents protesters from interfering with funerals, burials, wakes and other memorials. The protestors must stay 300 to 500 feet away from funeral proceedings for two hours prior to the event until two hours after it concludes. They are also not allowed to block or interfere a funeral route.... Before killing himself Thursday night, the Lafayette theater shooter, John Russell Houser, had praised the Westboro Baptist Church in online posts." ...

... CW: Every once in awhile, I agree with Bobby Jindal. As far as I can tell, Jindal is not violating the Supreme Court decision which ruled 8-1 for the Westboro church's First Amendment rights.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown, the only child of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown died at a Georgia hospice facility on Sunday. She was 22.

Washington Post: "A [female sex worker] in Charleston, W.Va., may have saved her own life and the lives of many other women, as well, when she shot and killed an alleged attacker in her home last week." Police suspect that Neal Falls, whom the woman shot, may have been a serial killer.

Friday
Jul242015

The Commentariat -- July 25, 2015

Peter Baker & Marc Santora of the New York Times: President "Obama emphasized his ties to Kenya shortly after his arrival when he had dinner at his hotel with about three dozen members of his extended family, including his half sister, Auma, and his step-grandmother, known as Mama Sarah. The powerful symbolism masked the daunting challenges as Mr. Obama tries to use the visit to Kenya and then Ethiopia to deepen trade ties, encourage economic development and bolster efforts to combat the Shabab, a ruthless affiliate of Al Qaeda based in Somalia, while nudging both countries away from the repression of dissent that has characterized recent years." ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Declaring that 'Africa is on the move,' President Obama urged a gathering of entrepreneurs Saturday to pursue innovative projects to stimulate economic development on the continent. Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Obama argued that these business projects could lead to a broader political opening in Africa and improve the lives of women and girls here":

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: Kenya "may be the most dangerous place Barack Obama has visited as president. Kenya is arguably more treacherous for the president than Afghanistan, where there are U.S. troops on the ground and hardened military bases to shield him. By contrast, [Nairobi] is a bustling, crowded city with an active terrorist group -- in this case, Al-Shabaab, Somalia-based Islamists who've aligned themselves with Al Qaeda. Last year, they attacked a Nairobi shopping mall and killed 67 people. Just two weeks ago, they killed 14 people and wounded a dozen others in a nighttime attack in northeastern Kenya. The State Department last week issued a travel warning for Kenya that doesn't mention Obama's visit but cites the entrepreneur summit he will attend as a potential lightning rod for attacks."

White House: "In this week's address, the President speaks to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis":

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "A federal judge in California has ruled that the Obama administration's detention of children and their mothers who were caught crossing the border illegally is a serious violation of a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible. In a decision late Friday roundly rejecting the administration's arguments for holding the families, Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that two detention centers in Texas that the administration has opened since last summer fail to meet minimum legal requirements of the 1997 settlement for facilities housing children. Judge Gee also found that migrant children had been held in 'widespread deplorable conditions' in Border Patrol stations after they were first caught, and she said the authorities had 'wholly failed' to provide the 'safe and sanitary' conditions required for children even in temporary cells."

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify on Oct. 22 before the House select committee investigating her role in connection with the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said Saturday. The testimony will be public, Merrill said. It follows months of wrangling between the Republican-led committee and Clinton, whose allies accuse the panel of conducting a fishing expedition for damaging material that might be used against her as she runs for president in 2016."

Today's No-Brainer. Liam Stack of the New York Times: "The Defense Department on Friday asked armed civilians who have volunteered to guard military recruiting stations across the country in the wake of he mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn., to leave their posts. The Pentagon said in a statement that it took the safety of its enlisted and civilian personnel 'very seriously' and that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter was reviewing recommendations to improve security at all facilities, including recruiting stations. The presence of armed civilians, it said, might cause safety problems.... A Defense official said that Friday's statement asking volunteers to go home was prompted by an 'accidental weapons discharge' from a civilian weapon outside a recruiting station in Lancaster, Ohio, the day before." ...

... CW: Really? It took an "accidental discharge" of "an AR-15 rifle outside a recruiting center" in a shopping mall to get you people to figure out that "civilians -- often heavily armed, sometimes dressed in camouflage combat fatigues, and overwhelmingly male" -- "might cause safety problems"?

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

After being called out by several media watchers, the New York Times finally printed a correction some time Friday to its Thursday night story about two inspectors general requesting the DOJ to initiate a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of her e-mail account. Here's the correction:

An earlier version of this article and an earlier headline, using information from senior government officials, misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's personal email account while she was secretary of state. The referral addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that personal email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton.

... CW: Those "senior government officials" are almost certainly Republicans in the House, likely either Trey Gowdy or another GOP rep on his Select Committee to Investigate Hillary Clinton through November 8, 2016. A later Times story (see below) refers to a letter from one of the inspectors general "to Congress." So there's your reliable source.

But wait. There's more. Lots more.

The Times has a new story by the same reporters -- Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo: "Government investigators have discovered four emails containing what they say is classified information on the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, the investigators said in a letter to Congress released on Friday. Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, said Friday that ... she was concerned about 'a lot of inaccuracies' in the reporting of her personal email account.... A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton's campaign released a brief statement on Twitter, saying, 'Any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.'...

     "... On Thursday night and again Friday morning, the Justice Department referred to the matter as a 'criminal referral' but later on Friday dropped the word 'criminal.' Regardless of the terminology, the referral raises the possibility of a Justice Department criminal investigation into Mrs. Clinton's emails as she campaigns for president." ...

... CW: Right. Because the word "criminal" is just "terminology." And where do we find out the "terminology" the Times used was erroneous? Down in Paragraph 8. The original story (linked first above) still has "criminal" in the headline & in the lede. So I guess that's going to stand for the use of Republicans from here to eternity. But, WTF, it's just "terminology." Sorry, boys, you can't clean up the mess of your first story by burying a mealy-mouthed disclaimer in Graf 8 of a second story, a story that still attempts to paint Clinton as culpable of something. And then go on to Graf 9 to excuse yourselves for using said "terminology" by saying that, who knows, sometime in the future there is a "possibility" the DOJ could launch a criminal investigation. This is Breitbart-worthy "journalism." Note: According to Dylan Byers (see below), the DOJ did initially tell the Times reporters that one IG had asked for a criminal investigation. ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "The U.S. Justice Department said Friday that, contrary to media reports, it did not receive a request to open a criminal investigation into how sensitive information was handled in Hillary Clinton's private emails. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Martin Matishak of the Hill: "Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is rebutting reports that the State Department has formally requested a federal criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. 'I spoke personally to the State Department inspector general on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage,' Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Friday in a statement. Instead, State Inspector General Steve A. Linick, 'told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the [Freedom of Information Act] review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified.'" ...

... Dylan Byers: "The most significant error rests with the Justice Department: multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said that the DOJ told the Times on Thursday that the Intelligence Community Inspector General had sought a criminal investigation.... (On Friday, the DOJ also initially told other news organizations the referral was 'criminal.') But hours later, the DOJ reversed course: 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral,' the Department said in a statement.... The Director of National Intelligence's office also said Friday that the Intelligence Community Inspector General's referral was not criminal....

     "Meanwhile, the Times' claim that two inspectors general sought an inquiry also came into question on Friday afternoon after Jennifer Werner, a Democratic spokesperson for the Select Committee on Benghazi ... [said] that the State Inspector General 'did not ask for any kind of investigation, criminal or otherwise.' Werner said the referral 'went from the Intelligence Community IG to the FBI,' and that the Times was therefore wrong to report that two inspectors general had sought the investigation." ...

... ** Matt Gertz of Media Matters has an excellent rundown of all the normal, due-diligence reporting the Times apparently did not do before the paper ran with the story. ...

... Although it is not at all clear from the Times reporting in either story, the whole fracas is over e-mails that the State Department released, under Judge Rudolph Contreras' order, after Clinton left the State Department. Since the judge required State to release the e-mails much sooner than they had proposed -- they didn't want to release them till January 16, 2016, & Contreras ultimately ordered the department "to release emails from the former secretary of State's private account every 30 days beginning June 30[, 2015] -- it's hardly surprising that "mistakes were made." Contreras is an Obama appointee. ...

... ** UPDATE. Kurt Eichenwald, a former Times reporter, in Newsweek, completely dismantles the Times reports & demonstrates again & again how the reporters used deception, elisions & out-and-out falsehoods to craft their story in such a way as to fool readers into inferring there is some kind of scandal here. "In terms of journalism, this is terrible. That the Times article never discloses this is about an after-the-fact review of Clinton's emails conducted long after she left the State Department is simply inexcusable. That this all comes from a concern about the accidental release of classified information -- a fact that goes unmentioned -- is even worse. In other words, the Times has twisted and turned in a way that makes this story seem like something it most decidedly is not. This is no Clinton scandal. It is no scandal at all. It is about current bureaucratic processes, probably the biggest snooze-fest in all of journalism." Read it. ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "... the errors in this story seem so dramatic and so easily checkable that I feel like there's something up at the Times. Not something nefarious, I don't think. But some unexamined institutional bias, some over-haste to push out stories based on leaks from interested parties. Something. Because as it stands, it's not just that the story doesn't add up. We know that. They've admitted that. How this mistake got made doesn't add up either."

... CW: We will skip the crowing & howling on the right, but will note that "non-partisan" Ron Fournier of the National Journal asserts that however inaccurate the Times' reporting, "Clinton's Conspiracy of Secrecy [Is] Worthy of Criminal Probe.... She's blaming The New York Times, which is as pathetic as it is laughable."


Greg Miller
of the Washington Post: "Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. intelligence analyst who spied for Israel and was sentenced to life in prison, could be released as early as November when he becomes eligible for mandatory parole, according to the Justice Department. His release would eliminate a long-standing wedge in U.S.-Israel relations at a time of increased tensions between the countries over a nuclear deal with Iran.... The White House rejected the suggestion that it would use Pollard's release for political gain."

The Distinguished Gentleman from Kentucky Is a Serial Liar. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz on Friday rushed across a line rarely crossed on the Senate floor: He accused the leader of his party, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of lying to his colleagues. 'What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie,' Cruz said Friday morning. 'We know now that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false....'... Prompting Cruz's outburst: McConnell's move to set up amendment votes on a must-pass transportation bill. After senators voted to consider the bill, McConnell (R-Ky.) set up votes on two controversial measures -- a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States -- and did it in such a way that will make it difficult for other amendments to be considered. That move incensed Cruz -- who had announced his intention to offer other amendments...":

Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "The Senate will come back on Sunday for votes on these amendments. It's safe to say Cruz will take that opportunity to make some more headlines. He's got to do something to out-Trump Trump."

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started a fast-track process Friday on legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding in the wake of two controversial videos showing officials discussing delivery of fetal parts.... [Sen. Ted] Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), both of whom are running for president in 2016, as well as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), were hoping to use the the Senate's long-term highway bill as their vehicle to defund the agency.... The legislation McConnell is fast-tracking was introduced earlier Friday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is running for president." ...

... Dave Levitan & Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org: "Several Republican presidential candidates have claimed that Planned Parenthood is 'profiting' from abortions. But the full, unedited video they cite as evidence shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research. Four experts in the field of human tissue procurement told us the price range discussed in the video -- $30 to $100 per patient -- represents a reasonable fee. 'There's no way there's a profit at that price,' said Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital's 'biorepository.'... It remains legal to donate tissue from a legally aborted fetus, and for that tissue to be used for research purposes." ...

... Jen Gunter in the New Republic: "The anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress ... claims the videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donation (which would be illegal) and that they are 'haggling' over the price of 'baby parts.' As an OB/GYN, I can tell you that neither of these claims are [sic.] true. Tthese are not 'baby parts.'... Calling the tissue 'baby parts' is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize an embryo or fetus." And Planned Parenthood is not making money or "haggling over the sales price." "As the facts are inconvenient, the only option is to circumvent them by any means possible. These videos are the kind of propaganda that only reinforces those fixed, false beliefs." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "Hillary Clinton strongly defended Planned Parenthood Thursday as the women's health organization reels from the fallout over a sting video released by anti-abortion activists earlier this month.... Before Clinton spoke Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed the controversy as a GOP invention. And White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the videos were 'selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also Planned Parenthood.'" ...

... Annie Karni of Politico: "In her first big address detailing her approach to reforming Wall Street and corporate America, Hillary Clinton laid out a plan that would increase taxes on short-term investors. She also voiced support for more transparency when it comes to executive compensation and stock buyback transactions, and said she supports raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour -- at least in expensive cities like New York and Los Angeles.... [Clinton's speech] was overshadowed by news that the Justice Department had been asked by two inspectors general to open a criminal investigation into whether classified information had potentially been sent from Clinton's personal email account during her tenure at the State Department." ...

     ... CW: Politico posted Karni's report at 5:45 pm ET yesterday, & updated it at 11:02 pm, approximately half-a-day after numerous news outlets, including Politico, had reported that there was no criminal investigation underway. Yet, WTF, Karni & her editors went with the "criminal investigation" line. As I said yesterday, "Hillary Clinton/criminal investigation" is a meme that's going to stick. Now we know it's going to stick because supposedly objective straight reporters will keep inserting it into their copy & their fact-checkers will let it pass.

Campbell Robertson, et al., of the New York Times: "The picture that emerged Friday of the gunman who killed two women and wounded nine other people in a theater here was one filled with instability and rage, from a history of mental illness, to vandalizing and booby-trapping a house, to venting his fury at women's rights, minorities and liberals.... On Twitter, on antigovernment discussion boards, and on other forums online, a person using the names Rusty Houser and John Russell Houser praised the Westboro Baptist Church, which has drawn ire for demonstrating against gays at military funerals; Timothy J. McVeigh, who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, and even Adolf Hitler. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and antigovernment groups, said the posts were all from Mr. Houser." Also, too, he liked to fly the Confederate flag. ...

... So, naturally ... Lis Power of Media Matters: "Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded to breaking news of a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by baselessly asking about possible connections to ISIS or radical Islam." ...

... Then there's this from Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit. Here's the headline: "FIGURES. Lafayette Shooter Was Obama Supporter: 'I Was For His Re-Election, I Liked His Spending.'" Now read the context as to what-all Houser "liked" about President Obama. ...

... CW: See also Kate Madison's comment in today's thread about Houser's "mental illness." I'd like to hear her diagnosis of Jim Hoft's condition. ...

... Maybe you remember this. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "... the Department of Homeland Security's ability to monitor anti-government fanatics, who have carried out far more lethal attacks on Americans in recent years than Islamic extremists, was severely crippled during the 2009 dispute over a Department of Homeland Security report [PDF] on domestic right-wing terrorists. As we've reported, Republican politicians and conservative activists alleged that the report focused on a non-existent threat and would be used by the government to mark all conservatives, particularly Christians, gun owners and veterans, as terrorists.... Under pressure, Homeland Security retracted the report and ended up 'gutting' the very unit combating such threats.... The report ... specifically assessed 'lone wolves' that hold 'violent rightwing extremist ideology' as 'the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States' bent on 'commit[ing] violent acts.'..." ...

... Ian Millhiser: "Louisiana, the state where this occurred, has some of the weakest -- if not the weakest -- gun laws in the nation.... Louisiana does not require gun dealers to obtain a state license. It does not limit the number of guns that may be purchased at one time. It forbids local governments from regulating firearms. And it has no laws restricting assault weapons or .50 caliber rifles.... A 2013 report by the Center for American Progress examined all 50 states according to 10 factors related to gun violence. Louisiana received the worst rating of any state on several of these factors, including overall firearm deaths from 2001-2010, firearm homicides in 2010, and firearm homicides among women from 2001-2010. The report also rated Louisiana the worst state overall when all 10 factors were aggregated." ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday deflected questions about whether Thursday night's movie theater shooting should prompt a reevaluation of gun policies.... 'There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics, and I'm sure that folks will want to score political points of this tragedy, as they've tried to do on previous tragedies'", he said. ...

... Martin O'Malley, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "This week, we again watched in horror as more images of gun violence flashed across our TV and computer screens.... During the first 204 days of 2015, there have been 204 mass shootings: a mass shooting for every day of the year.... We cannot let this become the new normal.... We need comprehensive gun safety laws to save lives.... While the public strongly backs common-sense gun safety reforms, Congress has refused to act on them.... Stopping the preventable deaths of American citizens should not be a partisan issue, or the purview of special interests. These members of Congress need to find the courage to do the right thing, without fear of the NRA's clout, come next election."

Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register: "Donald Trump's presidential campaign has denied The Des Moines Register press credentials to gain access to a candidate event scheduled for Saturday in Oskaloosa. The reason: an editorial published by the newspaper last Tuesday calling on Trump to quit the Republican race.... The Register's editorial board operates independently from the editors and reporters who conduct political coverage.... It is highly unusual for a political campaign to deny credentials to a media organization." CW: I wonder if President Trump would trample First Amendment free-press rights. I hope we'll never know.

Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle: "An appeals court on Friday rejected one of the criminal counts against former Gov. Rick Perry but said he must face the other one in the abuse-of-power case against him. Perry was indicted by a grand jury in 2014 after being accused of abusing his veto power to try to force out the Democratic Travis County district attorney in the wake of her messy drunken-driving arrest. The former governor, who is running for the GOP nomination for president, repeatedly failed in efforts get the indictment dismissed by state Judge Bert Richardson. He took his case to the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin."

Rebecca Elliott & Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle: "The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Houston City Council must repeal the city's equal rights ordinance or place it on the November ballot. The ruling comes three months after a state district judge ruled that opponents of Houston's contentious non-discrimination ordinance passed last year failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum."

Here are a couple of things I missed this week:

"No Class." Raquel Reichard of Latina: Marco Rubio compares Donald Trump to President Obama. "'I don't think the way he's behaved over the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of the office that he seeks,' Rubio said about Trump. 'We already have a president now that has no class. We have a president now that does selfie stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people who eat cereal out of a bathtub.'" CW: Because having a sense of humor is just like calling Mexican immigrants rapists & murderers.

... Lindsey Graham decides how to deal with Donald Trump's revealing his personal cellphone number:

... Funny, but I don't know if it would pass Marco's classy test.

Marco in the Middle. Looks like back in '89 when he was a high-schooler, Marco thought this was classy:

Now that he's more mature, this is his classy presidential look:

I suppose Bernie & Hillary, et al., have their own health problems, but maybe the Leader of the Free World, who must make speech after speech, should consult someone about his dry mouth. In the two most important speeches of his national political career, Marco has had to take a big gulp. In the clip below, you can tell he is having trouble as he pilliories Hillary, then -- in the second before he announces his presidential candidacy -- he reaches for the H20.

Here's the famous big gulp that interrupted Marco's breakout moment as the official GOP designated hitman response to President Obama's 2013 SOTU address:

News Ledes

CNN: "Two former detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba were arrested by Belgian police in a counterterrorism operation targeting a recruiting network for al Qaeda in Syria. They were arrested Wednesday night along with three others as they were about to break into a house to raise funds in the town of Hoboken, near Antwerp, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN. 'We have dismantled a serious recruiting network for Syria,' the official told CNN.... One of the former ... detainees was Moussa Zemmouri, 37, a Moroccan national born in Antwerp, Belgian federal prosecutors announced Friday. The other was an Algerian identified as Soufiane A., who prosecutors believe spent time in Syria." Zemmouri was released in 2005.

AP: "Two animal-rights activists have been charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which they released about 5,740 mink from farms, and vandalized the homes and businesses of industry members, the FBI said Friday. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Joseph Brian Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Juanita Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, California, and federal prosecutors charged them with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act."

New York Times: "Turkish fighter jets, which on Friday attacked Islamic State targets in Syria, have launched a wave of airstrikes in northern Iraq, targeting camps of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party for the first time in four years, the prime minister's office said Saturday. The Iraq incursion, which began late Friday and continued into Saturday, effectively ended an unstable two-year cease-fire between the Turkish government and the Kurdish militants, known by the initials P.K.K. After 30 years of conflict that claimed at least 40,000 lives, the two sides reached a fragile peace in 2013, though there have been a few minor clashes since then."