The Ledes

Monday, March 2, 2015.

Daily Beast: "In less than 12 hours, there were two separate attempts to penetrate the White House grounds."

Los Angeles Times: "The video-recorded fatal shooting by Los Angeles police of a homeless man on skid row Sunday night has investigators looking for additional footage that could shed light on the deadly confrontation."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, March 1, 2015.

New York Times: "Minnie Minoso, the hugely popular All-Star outfielder from Cuba who was the major leagues’ first black player out of Latin America and a treasured figure in the history of the Chicago White Sox, died on Sunday in Chicago. His true age was never entirely clear, but by an account in his autobiography, he would have been 89 when he died." ...

For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be ‘Mr. White Sox.' -- President Obama, in a statement

New York Times: "Tens of thousands of people from a wide range of political parties and movements turned out in central Moscow on Sunday to honor the opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov, who was shot dead on Friday near Red Square. Many of the mourners walked right past the Kremlin walls, holding signs saying 'I am not afraid.'”

Public Service Announcement

The Hill: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden on Sunday [Feb. 1] warned that the U.S. could see a 'large outbreak' of measles.... There are at least 102 reported cases in 14 states, according to the CDC. Frieden said that the U.S. is 'likely to see more cases.'... The said the best way to prevent the spread of measles was vaccination.Frieden said despite the U.S.'s 92 percent vaccination rate, there is growing evidence more parents are not vaccinating their children."

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

White House Live Video
March 2

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Adam Goodheart of the Atlantic reviews a book by historian Eric Foner that sheds new light on the Underground Railway that helped Southern black Americans escapes slavery, even though the participants were violating federal law -- openly, too: "It is a little-known historical irony that right up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were invoked as often by Northern abolitionists as by Southern slaveholders."

CW: How I'll Spend My Weekend. Season 3 of "House of Cards" is up on Netflix now:

Deadline: ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann for engaging in an "inappropriate" "Twitter War" with some Penn State students. ...

... CW: Hard to believe something like this hasn't happened sooner.

Buzz Aldrin during a spacewalk, November 1966. Last year Aldrin described the photo as the "BEST SELFIE EVER." CW: I'd say he's right.

New York Times: "Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space — from an altitude of 65 miles by a camera on a V-2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 24, 1946. (The boundary to outer space is generally placed at 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles.) The prints are vintage — dating from that era, not modern reproductions — and come from the collection of a single European collector, said Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloomsbury Auctions in London."

** Charles Pierce comments on wingers' Twitter reactions to the Oscars.

Actor Patricia Arquette accepts her Academy Award & calls for women's wage equality:

... Which sparked outrage on the right. And dismay on the left.

#OscarsSoWhite. Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Sunday was a study in contradictions; there was overwhelming emphasis on the visibility of black people in Hollywood, yet their peers hadn’t deemed their work fit for nomination in any of the major individual categories."

Common & John Legend accept the award for the song "Glory" from the film "Selma":

The Los Angeles Times' Academy Awards page is here. The main story is here. The list of winners is here.

Los Angeles Times: "A Palm Springs home built using Joseph Eichler’s original blueprints is under contract to sell for $1.29 million. The newly built Modernist design, considered the first true Eichler home developed in 40 years, came to market on Tuesday. According to real estate brokers and developers Troy Kudlac and Ross Stout of KUD Properties Inc., which handled the listing side, it sold that day for the asking price." With slideshow.

If you just can't get enough of the Academy Awards, the L. A. Times has a guide to Oscar-related TV shows. If you want to watch the Oscars online, here's where & how.

D. R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly: "... give [Jon] Stewart his props for the positive things he has done over the years. He has inspired a new generation of commentators who will continue to call out political perversity and media mendacity. However, the man was not without his flaws — and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a gigantic one. As Olbermann, Maher and Maddow have long argued, sanity has to defeat fear, not figure out some way to get along with it."

Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "In addition to canceling Joy Reid‘s daytime show The Reid Report, which MSNBC sources confirmed to Mediaite earlier today, the network is also canceling Ronan Farrow’s show and moving Way Too Early’s Thomas Roberts back to a dayside role, anchoring a straight news show from 1-3 p.m. ET daily. Neither Reid nor Farrow have been fired by the network."

USA Today: "Random House Children's Books said Wednesday it will publish a recently discovered manuscript with Dr. Seuss sketches, called What Pet Should I Get?, on July 28. The publisher plans at least two more books based on materials found in 2013 by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and his secretary...."

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Wednesday
Feb252015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 26, 2015

Christi Parsons & Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times: "Senate leaders moved toward a deal Wednesday to avoid a shutdown of the Homeland Security Department, sidestepping a fight over immigration policy, as President Obama declared his administration would curtail deportations of immigrants in the country illegally despite losing a court fight on the issue this month." ...

... Washington Post Editors: "CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS are so busy this week flirting with a partial government shutdown -- their target is the Department of Homeland Security and its 240,000 employees -- that they may have missed fresh evidence of how badly out of step with the American public they are on the issue of illegal immigration.... In a large and important new survey, majorities in all 50 states favored a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants." ...

... Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald: "Likening immigration reform to the great civil-rights movements in U.S. history, President Barack Obama vowed in Miami on Wednesday to veto any legislation from Congress undoing his executive order protecting from deportation up to 5 million people who are in the country illegally." ...

... Mike Lillis of the Hill: "A top House Democrat said Wednesday that President Obama is eying a partial launch of his new deportation-relief programs, despite a federal court's recent decision to block them. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said the administration is weighing whether it has the authority to initiate the executive actions in the states not involved in a lawsuit against them." ...

... Dana Milbank: "John Boehner ... can defy conservatives by abandoning their fight to undo President Obama's immigration actions and perhaps lose his speakership in the process. Or he can stand with the conservatives and be blamed for shutting down the Department of Homeland Security." Milbank goes on to the recount Boehner's responses -- make that "response" -- at his press conference Wednesday. It's not nice to laugh at someone when he's down, but my lips keep'a curling upward. ...

... CW: Boehner may be about to lose his speakership, and what does he do? ...

... He Enforces the Dress Code. Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) halted floor proceedings Wednesday to remind members of chamber decorum. During the final vote series of the day, Boehner reiterated the rules for proper behavior on the House floor. Boehner, who is known for ribbing lawmakers and reporters for their attire, has made reminding members of House rules a regular practice."

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "Almost four months after Loretta E. Lynch was picked by President Obama to be the next attorney general, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve her nomination on Thursday, with a handful of Republicans joining the committee's Democrats in backing her. Ms. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will then face a challenge on the Senate floor from Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and other staunch conservatives. They have called on all Senate Republicans to reject her nomination, in part because she has defended Mr. Obama's executive actions on immigration." ...

     ... UPDATE. Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to confirm U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch as the next attorney general, sending her nomination to the full Senate, where it is expected to be voted on in the coming days.... Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted with the committee's nine Democrats to approve Lynch's nomination.... A vote on the Senate floor could come as early as next week."

Dominic Rushe of the Guardian: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) looks set to pass strict new rules to govern broadband internet in the US on Thursday, following one of the most intense -- and bizarre -- lobbying battles Washington has ever seen.... At [today's] meeting the commission's two Democrat members, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, are expected to approve the plan put forward by the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, with some objections. They will overrule the two Republican commissioners who have already lambasted the plan...." ...

... Mario Trujillo of the Hill: "The Senate Commerce Committee is slated to grill all five Federal Communications Commission members during an oversight hearing on March 18, according to Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the four other commissioners will answer questions about the agency's 'over-reaching' net neutrality order expected to be approved on Thursday."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a Washington Post op-ed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement: "Agreeing to [Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions] in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty. ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws -- and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers -- without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court."

Jonathan Chait explains why a government loss in King v. Burwell would not permanently cripple the ACA. Short explanation: middle-class citizens of all political stripes who are already benefiting from the tax subsidies will raise hell. Also Chait doesn't think Chief Justice Roberts will decide for the plaintiffs, thus wasting the Court's political capital on a farcical lawsuit that would hurt Republicans & ultimately fail anyway. ...

... BUT Joshua Green of Business Insider: "The immediate effect of a ruling against the ACA would be to hurl the political system, and no small part of the economy, into chaos. Yet there's little sign that Washington is preparing for that scenario." ...

... Greg Sargent: A few Republicans get this: "... a Republican Senator, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, is sounding similar warnings in the Wall Street Journal. Sasse tells fellow Republicans they'd better have an alternative to deal with those who might lose insurance, to avert a political nightmare for Republicans: 'Chemotherapy turned off for perhaps 12,000 people, dialysis going dark for 10,000. The horror stories will be real.'"

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Some Republicans say they simply do not believe that the Obama administration isn't developing a fallback plan in case the Supreme Court dismantles a piece of the healthcare law this summer. Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), has repeatedly said there is no plan B if the high court rules that subsidies for insurance cannot be distributed through the federal exchange HealthCare.gov." CW: I do believe "some Republicans" are right.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to agree with a Muslim woman who charged that retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated anti­discrimination laws when it denied her a job because her head scarf conflicted with the company's dress code."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A Florida fisherman narrowly defeated the federal government at the Supreme Court Wednesday, winning a 5-4 ruling that the three undersized red grouper he threw overboard to avoid an inspector were not covered by an obstruction of justice provision in a financial fraud statute." CW: The Justices can be amusing.

Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opposition to a potential nuclear deal with Iran, calling it as wrongheaded as the prime minister's backing of the Iraq War. 'Israel is safer today with the added time we have given and the stoppage of the advances in the nuclear program than they were before we got that agreement, which by the way the prime minister opposed,' Kerry said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. 'He was wrong.'"

Seumas Milne & Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "Al-Qaida has developed a seaborne unit to attack targets around the Mediterranean, according to a confidential report from Russian intelligence, one of a cache of secret documents from spy agencies around the world tracking jihadi terrorist groups. According to the Russians, North African al-Qaida (Aqim -- al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) has established a 60-strong team of suicide bombers to plant mines under the hull of ships and to use small, fast craft for kamikaze attacks."

Rosalind Helderman & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday." ...

... Josh Gerstein: "In hundreds of documents released to Politico under the Freedom of Information Act, not a single case appears where the State Department explicitly rejected a Bill Clinton speech. Instead, the records show State Department lawyers acted on sparse information about business proposals and speech requests and were under the gun to approve the proposals promptly. The ethics agreement did not require that Clinton provide the estimated income from his private arrangements, making it difficult for ethics officials to tell whether his services were properly valued.... The pact ... imposed no vetting on donations to the Clinton Foundation by individuals or private companies in the U.S. or abroad."

Jessica Roy of New York: "A senior State Department official was arrested on Tuesday on charges of soliciting sex from a minor.... Director of Counterterrorism Daniel Rosen was busted in a sting operation by a detective posing as a child online, because life imitates To Catch a Predator. Rosen was charged with use of a communications device to solicit a juvenile, and shuttled off to jail in D.C.... The State Department is already working hard to distance itself from him...." Here's the AP story. ...

... CW Orange Alert: So how come the State Department's tippy-top counterterrorism "expert" can't tell a little girl from a police detective? If Rosen represents the high-water mark of expertise employed to defend us from slippery bad guys, this is the Scariest Story of the Day.

"The Chairman's Flight." Jessica Roy notes that it's great to be the chairman of the New York & New Jersey Port Authority. It appears to include "bespoke air travel.... Kids, one day you too could have your own airline route, if only you are rich in money or bankrupt in morals." CW: I'll bet United didn't break his guitar, either.

Mike DeBonis & Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "Flanked by members of the D.C. Council and the city's top lawyer, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced on live television Wednesday that marijuana possession will become legal in the District at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. 'We believe that we're acting lawfully,' Bowser said, offering a direct retort to House Republicans who late Tuesday urged the mayor -- and even threatened prison time -- to reconsider moving forward with legalization.... House Republicans said Wednesday that they are not preparing to take legal action against the city should it proceed in defiance of a congressional funding rider. Instead, one congressman said, it would fall to the Justice Department to intervene -- a much less likely scenario under the Obama administration." ...

... Marc Fisher, et al., of the Washington Post provide some background & write that "legalization is ... a pivotal moment for the nation and the city." CW P.S.: Certain limited-government Congressional Republicans still think the limited government should boss around black people.

Annals of "Journalism, Ctd.

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Craig Spencer, the doctor who was found to have Ebola days after returning to New York City from Guinea, wrote in an essay published on Wednesday that he was mistakenly cast as a 'fraud, a hipster, and a hero' by the media as he fought for his life from a hospital bed." Spencer's essay is here.... 'The media and politicians could have educated the public about Ebola,' he wrote. 'Instead, they spent hours retracing my steps through New York and debating whether Ebola can be transmitted through a bowling ball.'"

The Return of Forrest Gump. Olivia Marshall of Media Matters: "Bill O'Reilly has claimed repeatedly that he witnessed the execution of nuns while reporting in 1981 on the civil war in El Salvador, an apparent fabrication that is at odds with both history and what O'Reilly himself has said about arriving in the country after the event took place, according to new information unearthed by Media Matters." ...

... Geez, he even lies to his sainted mother:

Both Sides Do It. Charles Pierce: "One of our Beltway fave-raves, Ron (Keep Up The Fight) Fournier of the National Journal, is back with another survey of the deplorable fashion in which politics keeps getting involved in our politics. Like the veteran journalist that he is, Ron gets right to it in what we call the lede. "Who's at fault for the looming Homeland Security Department shutdown? Everyone in power." ...

... CW: BTW, Pierce's claim that Obama "had a nominal veto-proof majority in the Senate, where all the easily reached chokepoints are, from his inauguration day until Ted Kennedy died in September of 2009" is just wrong. There wasn't a 60-vote Senate majority (which included the Despicable Lieberman, et al., & Sen. Robert Byrd, who was sick & not in attendance most of the time) till Al Franken won the Minnesota vote recount & was sworn in in early July. Also, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick replaced Kennedy with Paul Kirk, a Kennedy factotum who was a reliable Democratic vote. The Democratic supermajority (in name only because of Byrd's last illness) lasted between July 7, 2009, till Scott Brown (R) was sworn in February 10, 2010."

Presidential Race

Ariel Edwards-Levy of the Huffington Post: "'The fundamental challenge for my side is the seemingly inexorable change in the composition of presidential electorates,' Republican pollster Whit Ayres ...said.... 'And there's no reason to believe that that's going to stop magically.' The demographic change poses little problem for the GOP in midterm elections, when young and minority voters are far more likely than older, white voters to stay home.... That's the stunning part for me in running these numbers -- to realize that the last Republican to win a presidential election, who reached out very aggressively to minorities, and did better than any Republican nominee before or since among minorities, still didn't achieve enough of both of those groups in order to put together a winning percentage' for 2016, Ayres said."

A War of His Own. Margaret Hartmann: "During a radio interview on Wednesday, [winger] host Hugh Hewitt brought up a concern about a third Bush presidency that probably hadn't occurred to most people: Would Jeb 'be overly cautious about using force for fear of having a "third Bush war" occur?' Everyone can rest easy, because the answer is no."

Jack Schafer of Politico: "A candidate like [Scott] Walker who can't answer a question that isn't in his briefing book or campaign white paper fails one of the most elemental tests for becoming president: how to handle the unexpected/undesired. Pouting or playing the victim when asked a hazing question just makes a bad situation worse. Just ask Sarah Palin."

Gail Collins writes that Chris Christie's presidential hopes just bit the dust in a pretty boring way: his "signature achievement" -- reforming the state's public pension system -- is a disaster.

Beyond the Beltway

... Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "First in Detroit, then in Stockton, Calif., and now in New Jersey, judges and other top officials are challenging the widespread belief that public pensions are untouchable. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey delivered the latest blow on Tuesday, when he proposed to freeze that state's public pension plans and move workers into new ones intended not to overwhelm future budgets or impose open-ended demands on taxpayers." ...

... Matt Arco of NJ.com: "Hours before Gov. Chris Christie delivers his annual budget address today, the state's largest teacher union is seeking to make clear today that a deal has not been struck between the union and the governor on overhauling New Jersey's ailing pension system.... The statement comes after Christie's office said Monday the governor will announce today he's teaming up with the NJEA on 'groundbreaking changes' to tackle New Jersey's pension woes. The governor's office did not say it had reached a deal with the union." ...

... Matt Arco: "The governor declared Tuesday during a joint legislative session that the commission he appointed to propose solutions to fixing New Jersey's pension system 'reached an unprecedented accord with the NJEA.' But the governor's declaration appeared to take the union by surprise." Christie blamed the media's "careless reporting" for any misunderstanding between the teachers' union & him.

Julie Bosman of the New York Times: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel "won more than 45 percent of [Tuesday's] vote to [Jesús 'Chuy'] Garcia's 34 percent, but the gap was close enough to raise sharp questions about whether Mr. Emanuel, a former congressman and chief of staff to President Obama, could easily shake off the insurgent." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "Garcia is unabashed in making this contest an ideological struggle. He has cast Emanuel -- who received an endorsement from his old boss, President Obama, and vastly outspent his opponent -- as a local reincarnation of Mitt Romney, 'Mayor 1 Percent.'"

American "Justice," Ctd. Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: "Vic Suter, a protester arrested before the 2012 Nato summit in Chicago, has told the Guardian about her experience of being detained inside Homan Square, a warehouse where multiple detainees allege they have been unable to contact legal counsel. Suter described a situation in which she was neither booked nor permitted a phone call.... Suter's account echoes that of Brian Jacob Church, whose story of extended detention without public notification and delayed legal access was featured in a Guardian's exposé on Tuesday."

Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Jonathan Gruber, the consultant who said ObamaCare became law due to the 'stupidity of the American voter,' was fired from the board of the Massachusetts health exchange on Wednesday.Gov. Charlie Baker (R) asked Gruber, an MIT professor, to resign, along with three other members of the board, according to the governor's office."

Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "Three officers unloaded a volley of 17 bullets at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, of which 'five to six' struck the unarmed Mexican national during a fatal encounter with police in Pasco, Washington, the police unit investigating his death has revealed. Zambrano-Montes was killed on the evening of 10 February at a busy intersection in the majority Hispanic city. Video footage of the incident, uploaded to YouTube and viewed more than a million times, shows Zambrano-Montes running away from three officers, at one point raising his arms, before he turns to them and is gunned down."

News Ledes

New York Times: "An Argentine judge on Thursday dismissed the criminal allegations against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that had been brought by Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor who had accused her of conspiring to shield Iranian officials from responsibility for the deadly bombing of a Buenos Aires community center in 1994.The judge, Daniel Rafecas, decided that the criminal complaint Mr. Nisman put forward before his mysterious death last month was not sufficient to open an investigation into the president."

New York Times: "Continuing its assaults on a string of Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, the Islamic State militant group has seized scores more residents over the past two days, bringing the number of captives to as many as several hundred, Assyrian organizations inside and outside Syria said on Thursday."

Guardian: "A British man has been identified as the knife-wielding militant who appears in Islamic State (Isis) videos claiming responsibility for the beheadings of US, British and other hostages. The Guardian understands that Mohammad Emwazi, a 26-year-old west Londoner and university graduate, is the militant."

Weather Channel: "Winter Storm Remus dumped as much as a foot of snow on the South, and its trek will continue up the East Coast on Thursday. In addition to heavy snow, the storm system left hundreds of thousands without power. Businesses and schools were closed as the entire region slowed to a halt when the snow began to fall. Northern Alabama's roads were extremely treacherous. Overnight Wednesday along Interstate 65, multiple motorists were stranded on the highway and had to spend the night in their vehicles, according to My Fox Alabama."

Tuesday
Feb242015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 25, 2015

NEW. Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama, thwarted by a federal court from carrying out pieces of his immigration directive and barraged daily by congressional Republicans trying to gut or defund it, is in many ways frozen in place on his attempt to wield presidential authority to reshape the immigration system. So Mr. Obama is taking his message on the road, using a trip to Miami on Wednesday to exact a political price from Republicans for their opposition to his immigration policy and to consolidate gains he has made with Hispanics since announcing executive actions to shield millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. He plans to hold a town-hall-style meeting on immigration at Florida International University and to sit for an interview with Telemundo...."

A Lovely Day for Democrats

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious. The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners."

Michael Shear & Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, using his veto pen to sweep aside one of the first major challenges to his authority by the new Republican Congress. With no fanfare a 104-word letter to the Senate, Mr. Obama vetoed legislation to authorize construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of heavy petroleum a day from the oil sands of Alberta to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast." ...

... Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "All the veto means is that Congress isn't able to force the pipeline's construction through legislation -- the process is just going back to being centered on the State Department's administrative review procedure.... The State Department will ultimately make a recommendation to Secretary of State John Kerry on whether Keystone XL is in the national interest. Kerry will then make the official determination, which will likely sway the President's final decision.... There's been a fierce debate over how much of that oil would stay in the U.S. and how much would be exported.... A new study, released Monday by the analysis firm IHS Inc., said that the majority of it would stay in the country. Specifically, the study said that 70 percent of the Canadian heavy oil would stay in the country after being refined...." ...

... Wendy Koch of the National Geographic: "Obama's veto will do little to end the drama of the controversial pipeline. The reason? The multibillion-dollar project faces other challenges in Nebraska and South Dakota—two states that the 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) northern leg of the pipeline would cross as it moves oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska."

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, on Tuesday offered a path to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, saying he would allow a vote on a bill solely to fund the agency, followed by a second vote on legislation that would halt President Obama's 2014 executive actions on immigration. The move offered Republicans an avenue to break out of an embarrassing impasse as they try to prove their ability to govern as the majority party in Congress. But Mr. McConnell's proposal hardly settles the matter, and increases the likelihood that Congress will be forced to fashion a short-term spending bill to keep the department open." ...

... David Nakamura & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "House Republicans will huddle behind closed doors Wednesday morning. The unsettled DHS debate is expected to be the central focus of their discussion." ...

     ... Update. Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan of Politico: "Speaker John Boehner told a closed meeting of House Republicans Wednesday morning he has not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in two weeks, and added that it's up to the upper chamber to figure out how to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.... The speaker and his leadership team face a monumental test that could have major implications for the GOP and their own political future." ...

... Dana Milbank is feeling all sorry for Mitch McConnell, who's taking flak from Senate Democrats & House confederates. CW: Me, too. Boo-Fucking-Hoo.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post: "... after enduring (another) week in which the limits of his power within the Republican conference were on stark display, the operative question within GOP circles is how long [House Speaker John Boehner] can -- and wants to -- hold that coveted perch. Last week, Boehner (Ohio) allowed a 'clean' debt-ceiling increase to come to the floor, despite knowing that the vast majority of Republicans would oppose it. The measure passed the House with the support of just 28 of the 232 Republicans. (That's only 12 percent.) A formal effort to replace Boehner is underway, launched by the Senate Conservatives Fund."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The federal judge in Texas who blocked President Barack Obama's latest executive actions on immigration signaled Tuesday that he isn't inclined to rush a decision on the Obama Administration's request to lift the injunction he imposed last week. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen's order saying he'll give the states suing the federal government another week to respond means the issue of a possible stay in the case will likely be taken up by a federal appeals court before he rules one way or another."

Pete Williams of NBC News: "The Obama administration says there would be no way to fix the health care system administratively if the Supreme Court rules against the government in the Obamacare case to be argued next week." CW: I continue to believe they'll figure out something if they must, though they might not be able to do anything for residents of states with Republican legislatures & confederate governors. So the claim, it seems to me, is partially true.

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times: Corporations & outsourcing firms routinely abuse the H-1B visa program to outsource American jobs to foreign workers. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) is planning a "reform" to make the situation worse. Legislation introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and passed by the Senate in 2013 as part of a comprehensive immigration reform act would have" solved the problem. "The failure of Congress to take [appropriate] steps demonstrates that the H-1B visa program is not really about finding scarce talents to fill crucial jobs, but about creating a young, cheap, and indentured labor force.... The parties driving demand for this mess of a program are the Googles, Intels, Microsofts and SoCal Edisons, who reap all the benefits."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Susan E. Rice, President Obama's national security adviser, sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday over his plans to address a joint meeting of Congress next week, saying his actions had hurt his nation's relationship with the United States. Mr. Netanyahu's decision to travel to Washington to deliver the speech two weeks before the Israeli elections has 'injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it's destructive of the fabric of the relationship,' Ms. Rice said in an interview on the PBS television program 'Charlie Rose.'" ...

We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker [John] Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong. His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades. -- Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Senate Minority Whip ...

... AP: "... Binyamin Netanyahu, has turned down an invitation to meet US Senate Democrats next week during his visit to Washington, saying the session 'could compound the misperception of partisanship' surrounding his trip.... Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein on Monday invited Netanyahu to meet in a closed-door session with Democrats during his visit." Thanks to safari for the link.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

As the Falafel Crumbles. Ben Dimiero, et al., of Media Matters: "Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly claimed he personally 'heard' a shotgun blast that killed a figure in the investigation into President John F. Kennedy's assassination while reporting for a Dallas television station in 1977. O'Reilly's claim is implausible and contradicted by his former newsroom colleagues who denied the tale in interviews with Media Matters. A police report, contemporaneous reporting, and a congressional investigator who was probing Kennedy's death further undermine O'Reilly's story.... In new interviews, O'Reilly former colleagues say O'Reilly wasn't even in Florida where the Kennedy witness committed suicide. Records show he reported the story based on telephone calls he made from Dallas, Texas. Read the whole report. Media Matters makes an airtight case against O'Reilly.

Jim Poniewozik of Time: "It's no accident that O'Reilly was a chief inspiration for Stephen Colbert's character on The Colbert Report, for whom he invented the concept of 'truthiness': that what your gut tells you is more important than what the literal facts say, that how the news feels is more important than what the news is.... The fact that charges exist becomes the best defense against the charges. Not only that, they only reinforce that O'Reilly is right: he has the right enemies [-- the 'liberal media' --] he must be on the right side." For Fox "News," "attacks" by the "liberal media" are a boon.

Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post & O'Reilly staff stalker victim: "Threats are nothing new from O'Reilly. And as I know firsthand, he sometimes goes even further.... My best guess ... was that [O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters] staked out my apartment and followed me to Virginia.... He had behaved similarly toward dozens of other people before me, including judges, religious officials and journalists."

Jon Stewart thinks O'Reilly's phony war stories are unimportant:

** CW: I was preparing to write a post on all that is wrong with Stewart's POV, but Erik Wemple of the Washington Post beat me to it. Here's the key: "Funny, catchy and also nonsense. Stewart's riff is based on a false choice between either holding news figures accountable for their falsehoods or investigating war justifications. The media is large enough to do both.... If the Daily Show host really believes that everyone can see right through O'Reilly & Co...; why, then, has he spent the last oh-so-many years exposing the holes and contradictions and hypocrisies of Fox News?... Another reason why it may be a good time for Jon Stewart to hang it up." ...

... Steve M.: "... it would be nice if the mainstream media figured out that the mainstreaming of McCarthyites like O'Reilly ... over the past couple of decades is the real journalism scandal here."

Presidential Race

Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "Hillary Clinton came as close as she has yet to announcing an expected presidential run in 2016, saying Tuesday she's 'obviously' thinking about a bid and is very close to completing her pre-decision checklist. Coming off a lengthy hiatus from her three-decades spent in the public eye, the all-but-declared presidential candidate chose a Silicon Valley women's conference to mark her reemergence and hone a message of economic and gender empowerment." ...

... Rory Carroll of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton has softened her criticism of Edward Snowden and said that people felt betrayed by the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programmes. The former secretary of state dialled down her previous rhetoric about the whistleblower and hardened her tone towards the NSA while addressing a conference on women in Silicon Valley."

Sam Youngman of the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader: "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's push for a Republican presidential caucus in Kentucky, lending heavy weight Tuesday to a proposal that had raised concerns among some members of the state GOP's executive committee. Paul's push for a caucus in early 2016 would allow him to run for two offices during the 2016 Republican primary season without violating a Kentucky law that prohibits a candidate from appearing on the same ballot twice." ...

... Alex Kaczynski & Megan Apper of BuzzFeed: "Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the father of potential presidential candidate Rand Paul and a former presidential candidate himself, said the Congressional Black Caucus does not support war because they want that money for food stamps."

Alec MacGillis of Slate: "... no one should have been surprised by [Scott] Walker's stormy entry into the early primary season, because the conventional wisdom about him [-- that he was a quasi-moderate, crossover candidate --] was flawed all along.... Walker rose to power in Wisconsin less by reaching out to Democrats and swing voters than by appealing to the conservative base in a state that is as starkly polarized as any in the country.... There are those who believe the Republicans could take one more shot at winning the presidency with an overwhelmingly homogenous (i.e., white) base of support and unreformed platform, before doing so becomes simply inconceivable. That is the option that Walker is presenting to his party...." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin's public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, [Walker] is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who's turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.... In a more just world, Walker's indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race. But in the current political environment, his tactics, far from hurting him, may well bolster a candidacy that is already thriving." ...

... Yup, It's Worrrking! NBC News: "Scott Walker leads the GOP pack in the key early caucus state of Iowa, a new poll from Quinnipiac University shows. The once little-known Wisconsin governor gets the support of 25 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, while potential rivals Sen. Rand Paul (13 percent), Ben Carson (11 percent), Mike Huckabee (11 percent) and Jeb Bush (10 percent) lag behind." CW: Worth noting: Iowa Republicans are the same gang who ushered in President Santorum in 2012 (by only 34 votes) & President Huckabee in 2008. ...

... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest national Republican poll finds a clear leader in the race for the first time: Scott Walker is at 25% to18% for Ben Carson, 17% for Jeb Bush, and 10% for Mike Huckabee. Rounding out the field of contenders are Chris Christie and Ted Cruz at 5%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Rick Perry and Marco Rubio at 3%." CW: Surprise! Wingnuts prefer wingnuts. That's today's Republican party.

Paul Waldman: It's a good thing that the Republican National Committee has decided to use wingnuts to moderate their presidential nomination debates: the wingnuts can't be any worse than Blitzer & Co., & wingers might get some answers from candidates that matter to their base.

Senate Races

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times: "Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Tuesday that he would not enter the race for Barbara Boxer's seat in the U.S. Senate, leaving state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris as the only major candidate."

Jack Torry & Jessica Wehrman of the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch: "Former Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to announce on Wednesday morning that he will challenge Republican Sen. Rob Portman next year, setting up what could be one of the top-tier Senate races of 2016.... Strickland's announcement will come a little over a week after he left his position leading the political arm of the progressive Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C." CW: I wouldn't expect Strickland to win this one.

Beyond the Beltway

Bill Ruthhart & Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune: Chicago Mayor "Rahm Emanuel failed to win a second term Tuesday, suffering a national political embarrassment as little-known, lesser-funded challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia forced the mayor into the uncharted waters of an April runoff election. It's the first time Chicago has had a runoff campaign for mayor, which is what happens when none of the candidates eclipses the 50 percent benchmark in round one." ...

... "The Disappeared, Chicago Edition." Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: "The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site." ...

     ... Spencer Ackerman: "Two former senior Justice Department officials are calling on their colleagues to investigate a secretive warehouse used for interrogations by Chicago police and likened to a CIA 'black site' facility." ...

... Tanya Basu of the Atlantic: "The story is especially timely given the mayoral elections occurring [yesterday], and it casts a shadow over Rahm Emanuel's handling of crime in the city. But Homan Square sits within a larger story of corruption and violence -- one that stretches back through Chicago's long murky history of fighting crime." ...

... "This Is a Country that Tortures." Charles Pierce: "... it might behoove some ambitious assistant US Attorney in Cook County to get Mayor Rahm Emanuel under oath and find out what he knows about how Chicago became East Germany.... This is what can happen if you normalize torture in the public mind the way that the Avignon Presidency and its acolytes did and then, when a new administration comes in, it declines to prosecute the people involved and, indeed, it fights to keep secret what was done in the name of the American people."

Kevin Johnson & Yamiche Alcindor of USA Today: "The Justice Department said Tuesday its independent investigation found 'insufficient evidence' to charge George Zimmerman with federal civil rights violations in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin." The DOJ press release is here.

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "Eddie Ray Routh, the man who killed 'American Sniper' Chris Kyle and his friend in a rifle range rampage, will spend the rest of his life in prison."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Senate voted Wednesday to move ahead with a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security after Democratic leaders dropped an earlier pledge to block it unless they get assurances from House Republican leaders that it would pass their chamber. The bill advanced on a procedural vote by a 98-2 margin. The only dissenters were Republican Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.)"

A Message from Homeland Security. New York Times: "Three men living in Brooklyn were arrested and charged on Wednesday with providing material support to the Islamic State, a terrorist organization that controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and has been actively recruiting Westerners to its fight. One of the men was arrested early Wednesday morning at Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul and then planned to travel to Syria, according to the authorities." ...

     ... Politico Update: "A man arrested on charges of planning to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also mused about assassinating President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Abdurasul Juraboev, a 24-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, allegedly asked online, 'Is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I'm saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do?,' according to the Justice Department's complaint."

Monday
Feb232015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 24, 2015

Paul Kane & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Congressional Republicans remained sharply divided Monday over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security, prompting White House officials to begin preparations for a potential shutdown of the agency this weekend.... Late Monday, Senate Democrats again filibustered a Republican funding proposal for DHS because the money is tied to a repeal of President Obama's executive actions on immigration.... The Monday vote marked Republicans' fourth attempt to move the House bill.... Now, with four days before the security agency's budget lapses, senior Republicans are pushing for a new strategy that does not directly link Obama's actions on immigration to funding for DHS."

... President Obama, in a Hill opinion piece: "... much recent attention has focused on a single court decision in Texas in response to a partisan lawsuit that delays some of these lawful, common-sense steps.... But make no mistake, I disagree with this judge's ruling. Just yesterday, the Department of Justice asked the court for an emergency stay of this misguided decision, and it has already filed a notice of appeal. My administration will fight this ruling with every tool at our disposal, and I have full confidence that these actions will ultimately be upheld.... We've even heard irresponsible threats to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, the very agency tasked with securing our borders and keeping Americans safe in a time of new threats, for no reason other than partisan disagreement over my actions." ...

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration Monday appealed a ruling by a Texas judge that temporarily blocked the president's executive actions on immigration. The Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal and motion to stay the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Texas."

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "The Senate's chief referee has dealt a significant setback to conservatives who want to send an ObamaCare repeal bill to the president's desk this year. GOP sources say Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has raised red flags in response to queries about whether it's possible to use a special budgetary procedure to repeal the controversial law 'root and branch,' as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said."

Patrick Temple-West, et al., of Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared with President Obama yesterday at an AARP meeting in which Obama who called for regulation to police "financial advisors" who scam clients. "'If your business model rests on taking advantage -- bilking -- hard-working Americans out of their retirement money, then you shouldn't be in business,' Obama said.... 'I am happy to be here with the president of the United States to say it's about time to do something we should have done long ago,' Warren said before the president arrived. The issue has pitted the investment industry against consumer groups in a heated lobbying battle for years, while the White House maintained a low profile on the issue... Now, the president is jumping in aggressively...."

Philip Ewing of Politico: Secretary of Defense "Ash Carter has quietly thrown down the gauntlet in a lingering dispute with Russia: If President Vladimir Putin continues to violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the U.S. could respond in kind."

David Wood of the Huffington Post: "Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s.... 'I have no excuse,' McDonald told The Huffington Post, when contacted to explain his claim. 'I was not in special forces.'"

AP: "Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, the Associated Press has found. There also have been other expensive travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts." CW: It is unclear from the story whether or not you & I have the privilege of paying for Schock's massages. ...

... Funny, last August Schock was concerned about the "waste, fraud and abuse" of, by and for a few poor people who had obtained vouchers to live in upscale Chicago apartment buildings. Good government: providing Aaron Schock with massages, concert tickets & other luxuries. Bad government: allowing a few of the undeserving poor to live in luxury buildings.

Al Jazeera: "A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world's spy agencies has offered an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage. Over the coming days, Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit is publishing The Spy Cables, in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper." ...

Netanyahu: even fakier than a crude cartoon.... Seumas Milne, et al., of the Guardian: "Binyamin Netanyahu's dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, according to a top-secret Mossad document. It is part of a cache of hundreds of dossiers, files and cables from the world's major intelligence services -- one of the biggest spy leaks in recent times." ...

... Seumus Milne & Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "The CIA tried to gain access to Hamas through backchannels despite a US government ban on contact with the Palestinian Islamist movement, the spy cables show. They suggest US intelligence has been anxious to make inroads with Hamas, or recruit agents, inside the Gaza Strip."

CW: Here is the best defense I've read of Rudy Giuliani's complaint that he isn't feeling President Obama's love. The post is by Ed Rogers, a Republican party operative who writes for the Washington Post. It contains a laundry list of right-wing "evidence" that President Obama isn't "pro-America," all of it debunked &/or ignorant &/or twisted. ...

... AND, yes, Rogers is still aggrieved over President Obama's "latte salute," (or as Karl Rove explained, it was really a "chai tea" salute just to remind you Obama is a foreign Muslim guy.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Emily Steel & Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "The Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday stepped up his defense against reports that he embellished stories about his war reporting earlier in his career, while some former colleagues continued to say he had exaggerated his experiences. Mr. O'Reilly is contesting an article in the magazine Mother Jones and subsequent interviews with former journalists at CBS News that accuse him of misrepresenting his coverage of the Falklands war in 1982 as a young correspondent for CBS News. The central dispute is whether Mr. O'Reilly reported from active war zones, as he has repeatedly said on the air and in his 2001 book.... During a phone conversation, he told a reporter for The New York Times that there would be repercussions if he felt any of the reporter's coverage was inappropriate. 'I am coming after you with everything I have,' Mr. O'Reilly said. 'You can take it as a threat.'" Emphasis added. ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "Steel confirmed on Twitter that she was the reporter in question." CW: And this after Steel's previous report on the O'Reilly controversy (linked yesterday) was a love letter to O'Reilly. ...

... David Corn & Daniel Schulman of Mother Jones: "CBS News today posted its reports from Buenos Aires at the end of the Falklands war, in response to a request from Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who has been seeking to counter reports that he mischaracterized his wartime reporting experience. But rather than bolstering O'Reilly's description of the anti-government protest he says he covered as a 'combat situation,' the tape corroborates the accounts of other journalists who were there and who have described it as simply a chaotic, violent protest." Includes video. ...

... Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Bill O'Reilly has declared himself vindicated by newly unearthed footage of a 1982 riot in Argentina, despite the archive tapes failing to support his disputed claims that he reported from a war zone massacre as a young correspondent." ...

... Michael Walsh of Yahoo! News: "More journalists have come forward to dispute Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's description of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a 'combat situation' during the 1982 Falklands War." ...

... Joe Strupp of Media Matters: "Another one of Bill O'Reilly's former colleagues at CBS News is casting doubt on his claims that he reported from a 'combat situation' in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War. Charles Krause, a CBS News correspondent from 1980 to 1983 who reported from Buenos Aires during the same period as O'Reilly, is the latest to contradict the Fox News host. In an interview with Media Matters, Krause called O'Reilly's descriptions of his reporting 'absurd.' He also recalls O'Reilly being there for a short period of time and not having 'any significant role in our coverage of the war.... He wasn't a team player and people thought he was grandstanding, basically.'" ...

... Joe Strupp: "Revelations that Bill O'Reilly may have misled viewers about his reporting from the Falklands War back in 1982 are drawing fire from veteran war correspondents who contend apparent embellishments like O'Reilly's hurt the credibility of all combat journalists." ...

... David Folkenflik of NPR: O'Reilly's "behavior is of a piece with our political age, but it stands at great odds with the journalistic pursuit of fact and truth that is supposed to undergird even the opinions ventured through major media outlets.... We should care about what O'Reilly's response says about him -- and about Fox News. The channel's chairman, Roger Ailes, prizes tribal loyalty over journalistic precision." ...

... Jim Naureckas of FAIR: Dylan Byers of Politico is helping Bill O'Reilly get away with making up stuff. "Byers totally swallows O'Reilly's spin that when he said he was "in the Falklands," he didn't think anyone would think he meant he was IN the FALKLANDS." ...

... Tom Scocca of Gawker: "Dylan Byers, the dumbest media reporter alive, has typed up some thoughts at The Politico about, as his headline puts it, "Why the Bill O'Reilly charges aren't sticking.... As Byers explains, the reason Bill O'Reilly isn't being held accountable for bullshitting about his war-reporter heroics is that the Mother Jones reporters who broke the news were the wrong people to do the story, and they did the story wrong. They 'weren't war veterans' but 'liberal reporters at an admittedly liberal magazine.' And they failed to 'deliver conclusive evidence of Choppergate-level sins.'... So what if [O'Reilly's] experience in the Falklands war was bogus? So is his experience in the War on Christmas. The fact that people are calling him dishonest simply proves, from Fox's point of view, that he's doing his job.... Byers blames Mother Jones for coming after O'Reilly with a story that 'could be argued away on semantics.'" ...

... CW: In fairness to O'Reilly, he is on the frontlines of the War on Journalism. ...

... CW: Anyways, this all reminds me of my perilous experiences in the Viet Nam War. I was working for the ABC network at the time, & my boss sent me, unarmed, right into the then-most dangerous war zone in the world. Others would say that my boss sent me on an errand to downtown Los Angeles, where I had to walk thru a Viet Nam War protest, & that the actual war zone was thousands of miles away. But That's Semantics.

Another "Journalist" in a Life-Threatening Danger Zone. From the right-wing "media watchdog" Truth Revolt: "Conservative journalist filmmaker James O'Keefe on Saturday tweeted an ominous message to those who follow him and his influential work. 'We have a story we're going to release this coming week and I've never thought about this before but I am afraid for my life on this one,' O'Keefe announced Saturday afternoon. What the story is one can only speculate, but for this one to be particularly risky in O'Keefe's estimation is saying something."

Dear Fox "News": Here is why you don't hire someone to co-anchor the morning news who "is a beauty queen from Springfield, Missouri who has competed in the Miss USA pageant": Rich Juzwiak of Gawker: "Fox 8's Kristi Capel marveled over Lady Gaga's Oscar performance by saying that generally, 'It's hard to hear her voice with all the jigaboo music...that she...whatever you want to call it...jigaboo, haha!'... Later, when she was called out for using a derogatory term for black people to describe Lady Gaga's music, she apologized on Twitter, explaining, 'I had no idea it was a word or what it meant.'" ...

... CW: I'm guessing her co-anchor there knows "jigaboo" is a word and knows what it means:

     ... CW: This clip was taken down once, so this iteration may go, too.

... CW: Near the end of the clip, Capel says, "There's some problems upstairs." Either "upstairs" refers to the weather lady, who is flying around in a helicopter, or -- more likely -- to the control room, where everybody's hair is on fire. ...

     ... Update: Akhilleus thinks he's seen that Fox 8 control room scene in the movies:

Presidential Race

Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "In a major blow to Gov. Chris Christie, a New Jersey judge ruled on Monday that he violated state law when he declined to make the full payment into the state's pension system for public employees last year and ordered him to find a way to fund it now. The decision further complicates Mr. Christie's hopes of reviving his presidential ambitions, which have suffered in recent weeks as his approval ratings in New Jersey have sunk to the lowest point of his tenure, and Republican donors have moved to other contenders for the party's nomination." ...

... Matt Arco of NJ.com: "Gov. Chris Christie [Monday] lashed out against a state judge who ruled the governor violated the contractual rights of public workers by cutting $1.57 billion from pension payments in New Jersey's current budget. The governor's office decried the ruling of Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson as 'liberal judicial activism' in a statement after she ruled against the administration. Christie will appeal the ruling...."

Frank Rich on the "Ben Carson for President!" charade. Thanks to MAG for the link.

Dana Milbank: Scott Walker's refusal to acknowledge President Obama's Christianity "is insidious, and goes beyond last week's questioning of Obama's patriotism, because it allows Walker to wink and nod at the far-right fringe where people really believe that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya who hates America.... Beyond that, Walker's technique shuts down all debate, because there's no way to have a constructive argument once you've disqualified your opponent as unpatriotic, un-Christian and anti-American."

William Booth of the Washington Post: For "$5,250, including round-trip airfare from New York [to Israel], five-star hotel accommodations, all meals, deluxe motor-coach transport, licensed guides and all fees, tips and taxes," you can tour supposed Christian sites in Israel. And there's an extra-special bonus: your tour guide will be Mike Huckabee. "Though busy preparing for another run for the White House, Huckabee is currently shepherding his flock of 253 paying guests around Israel for 10 days." It gets worse: "The Huckabeeans also heard from Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, who explained to the group, according to Huckabee, that there's really no such thing as the 'Palestinians.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Kate Mather of the Los Angeles Times: "Prosecutors have declined to file criminal charges against three Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed an unarmed man at the end of a televised pursuit in 2013.... Late last year, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck determined the officers violated department rules in the shooting, rejecting their claims that they had opened fire because they felt their lives were in danger."

Chuck Lindell of the Austin Statesman: "The state's highest criminal court Monday evening halted the planned execution of Rodney Reed 10 days before the Bastrop man was to have been put to death for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites. In a 6-2 ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Reed's execution based on a recently filed petition claiming that a new look at old forensic evidence shows Reed was innocent of the crime."

Juan Lozano of the AP: "Evidence from more than 6,600 rape kits that went untested for years in Houston have turned up 850 hits in the FBI's nationwide database of DNA profiles, marking a major step in the city's $6 million effort to address the backlog, officials announced Monday. Charges have been filed against 29 people, six of whom have been convicted, since the city launched an effort in 2013 to test 6,663 rape kits -- some of which dated back nearly three decades."

Mommy Has a Baby in Her Tummy. Kimberly Kruesi of the AP: "An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam. The question Monday from Republican state Rep. Vito Barbieri [R] came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine." When the doctor who was testifying "replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina" Barbieri said, "'Fascinating. That makes sense,' ... amid the crowd's laughter." Barbieri later claimed he was "being rhetorical." ...

... Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Revised Standard Edition: "rhetorical. adjective: [1] of, relating to, or concerned with the art of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people; [2] of a question: asked in order to make a statement rather than to get an answer"; [3] of a question: asked in order to demonstrate one is ignorant beyond belief. ...

... CW: Never forget this, oh Women of Idaho: Vito Barbieri is a man who thinks he is qualified to decide what you can do with your body. And damned if he isn't acting on that belief: "Monday afternoon Barbieri told The Spokesman-Review that he adamantly supports the bill" which further limits a woman's right to choose. In addition (you won't want to read this if you have an upset vagina because you might puke), Barbieri "sits on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in northern Idaho."

News Ledes

USA Today: "Eddie Ray Routh, the former Marine and Iraq War vet struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, was found guilty of capital murder Tuesday night in the shooting deaths of American Sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield."

Washington Post: "Islamic State militants in eastern Syria have captured at least 70 Assyrian Christians -- including many women and children -- in one of the largest recent abductions against religious minorities by the extremists, watchdog groups said Tuesday."

New York Times: "As European diplomats labored to patch up a flagging peace agreement in Ukraine on Tuesday, Russia warned the Ukrainians that they could run out of natural gas within two days because of a dispute over payments."

Washington Post: Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, "the book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible and that was banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II will soon be returning to German bookstores from the Alps to the Baltic Sea. The prohibition on reissue for years was upheld by the state of Bavaria, which owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempts to duplicate it. But those rights expire in December, and the first new print run here since Hitler's death is due out early next year."

"ABC News has learned [that Trayvon] Martin's family will soon be notified that the Justice Department will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed." ...

... The New York Times story is here.

Politico: "The chairman of a key global climate change panel has resigned following an investigation into a researcher's claims of sexual harassment against him. India's Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stepped down this morning in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, adding that he had intended to leave after the release of a major report last August. Pachauri had chaired the committee since 2002, and shared in its 2007 Nobel Peace Prize."

Sunday
Feb222015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 23, 2015

** Paul Krugman: Education is the new Bowles-Simpson: "... whatever serious people may want to believe, soaring inequality isn't about education; it's about power." ...

... Lawrence Mishel, in a New York Times op-ed: "Contrary to conventional wisdom, wage stagnation is not a result of forces beyond our control. It is a result of a policy regime that has undercut the individual and collective bargaining power of most workers. Because wage stagnation was caused by policy, it can be reversed by policy, too." ...

... Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Robert Reich: "The rise of 'independent contractors' Is the most significant legal trend in the American workforce -- contributing directly to low pay, irregular hours, and job insecurity. What makes them 'independent contractors' is the mainly that the companies they work for say they are. So those companies don't have to pick up the costs of having full-time employees. But are they really 'independent'? Companies can manipulate their hours and expenses to make them seem so. It's become a race to the bottom." Thanks to Janicefor the link.

Juan Williams in the Hill: "After a terrible, bone-breaking accident and two eye surgeries, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the former Senate Majority Leader, is scheduled to be back on Capitol Hill this week. Somehow the bruised Reid looks good compared to the new Republican Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.). In just over a month, McConnell has come to look like the beaten man. He is on the brink of breaking his promise to avoid shutting down government agencies.... 'It's not a good start for the future,' Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) conceded. 'But hopefully we'll get it put together.'" ...

Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "Lawmakers will begin returning to Washington on Monday with only five days left to prevent a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)." ...

... Here's Jeh Johnson Scaring Me Again. John Bacon & David Jackson of USA Today: "The secretary of Homeland Security warned shoppers at Minnesota's iconic Mall of America and similar venues to be vigilant in the wake of new terrorist threats. 'I'm not telling people to not go to the mall,' Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press. 'I think that there needs to be an awareness.'... Hours later, department spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement, 'We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center.'" ...

... Really, Marsha? Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "The Mall of America has increased its security after a video online purported to show al Shabaab, a terrorist group associated with al Qaeda, threatening to attack the Minnesota mall, according to multiple news reports. The group called for an attack similar to the one it carried out in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. According to USA Today, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are both aware of the threat." ...

... Oh, for Pete's Sake. Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "The US homeland security secretary on Sunday seized on a new threat of attacks against western shopping centres by Islamist terrorists to pressure Congress to avert a partial shutdown of his department and agree to a funding deal. Jeh Johnson said a propaganda video released by al-Shabaab on Saturday calling for strikes on the Mall of America in Minnesota, Oxford Street and two Westfield malls in London, and Canada's West Edmonton Mall, showed 'all the more reason why I need a budget'."

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "President Obama is expected to speak to the AARP on Monday afternoon to discuss retirement-related issues, according to multiple sources familiar with the speech. Obama's remarks come as his administration has put new emphasis in recent weeks on considering regulations -- dubbed 'fiduciary standards' -- for the financial advice industry that are vehemently opposed by the business community. A senior House staffer and two financial services industry sources each said they expect Obama to discuss the new regulations, which administration officials are expected to move ahead with any day."

Reid Wilson of the Washington Post: "Governors of those 34 states, even the Republicans who oppose the Affordable Care Act, say they are concerned at the chaos that could ensue if the court rules the federal subsidies unconstitutional." Via Greg Sargent.

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: Police are using cell-tower simulators, called Stingrays, to collects "information not just about a criminal suspect's communications but also about the communications of potentially hundreds of law-abiding citizens.... A gag order imposed by the FBI -- on grounds that discussing the device's operation would compromise its effectiveness -- has left judges, the public and criminal defendants in the dark on how the tool works.... So far, there is virtually no case law on how the Fourth Amendment -- which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures -- should apply to this technology."

Truth-Deniers. Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "Over the weekend, Greenpeace released a batch of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that showed [aerospace engineer Willie] Soon received more than $1.2 million from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.... Conservatives denounced the weekend's revelations regarding Soon's funding. Blogs cited the reports as further evidence of a concerted campaign to silence scientists like Soon, who they say need to seek alternative avenues of funding thanks to the establishment.

Gail Collins interviewed Justice Ruth Ginsburg for the Times Sunday Review, & I missed it. Collin's column is delightful.

 

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "Giuliani must have muted the sound whenever Obama spoke. He certainly has every right to his opinion about the tenor of the president's remarks. But he has no business claiming something that is so factually incorrect -- or easily disproved."

Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "... since [Rudy] Giuliani's disastrous run for the Republican Presidential nomination, in 2008, he has become a national embarrassment of a distinctive type.... At one level, one could see Giuliani's statements as simply incorrect.... But Giuliani's attacks on the President are not principally meant as assertions of fact. They are meant to tap into a deep wellspring of American political thought, one defined by the Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter five decades ago. In an article in Harper's, Hofstadter described 'the paranoid style in American politics,' which he said was characterized by 'heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.'"

David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Sunday suggested that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) had increased the national security of the United States by saying that President Barack Obama did not love America.... [CNN's Gloria] Borger pointed out that Giuliani's comments went beyond national security policy. 'These remarks were hateful,' she observed.... Issa replied, '... Now, the reality is I believe the president believes strongly in America, I just think he views America differently."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Heather of Crooks & Liars: "Brian Stelter spoke to former CBS correspondent Eric Engberg about his recent post questioning Bill O'Reilly's version of events on his reporting in Argentina":

... Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: "On the friendly territory of Media Buzz — on which host [Howard] Kurtz framed the dispute over O'Reilly's claims as a matter of 'semantics,' not facts and exaggerations -- O'Reilly spent as much time attacking his critics as defending his assertions." CW: As a matter of semantics, I won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. And the Oscar for Best Song last night. (Some quibblers might say I only watched the acceptance speeches of the "real" winners.) ...

... Video of the Kurtz segment is here. Jessica Contrera of the Washington Post reports on it, if you don't care to watch. ...

... O'Reilly Never Played Well with Others. Terrence McCoy: CBS News could hardly wait to get rid of cub reporter Bill O'Reilly, whom the news organization kicked out of Buenos Aires for being a "'disruptive force' who threatened his bureau's morale and cohesion," according to Eric Engberg. "... retired CBS national editor Sam Roberts in a Facebook thread beneath Engberg's Facebook post.... 'Dan Rather walked into my office and shut the door," Roberts wrote. 'He said, "Under no circumstances is O'Reilly to be assigned any story for the Evening News."'" When O'Reilly's agent called Roberts a few weeks later, Roberts told the agent O'Reilly should take a local station job he had been offered. "He'll never make it here," Robert told the agent. ...

... MEANWHILE, the New York Times finally gets around to O'Reilly. CW: It looks as if reporter Emily Steel has produced a good piece to put in the portfolio she presents with her Fox "News" employment application.

Jim Romenesko: "Investigative reporter Ken Silverstein has resigned from First Look Media's The Intercept after 14 months, saying he and others were hired 'under what were essentially false pretenses [by being] told we would be given all the financial and other support we needed to do independent, important journalism, but instead found ourselves blocked at every step of the way by management's incompetence and bad faith.'" From Silverstein's Facebook page, Feb. 20: "You know what's cool about being a former employee of First Look/The Intercept? That Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Betsy Reed and Pierre Omidyar all believe in Free Speech and the First Amendment so they won't mind my writing about my time working for and with them. Tentative title: 'Welcome to the Slaughterhouse.'"

Presidential Race

James Hohmann of Politico: "... being seen as a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination is testing whether the 47-year-old [Scott] Walker is really ready for the klieg lights. Since saying 'I'm going to punt' when asked about evolution in London 10 days ago, operatives from rival campaigns have begun quietly raising doubts about his preparedness. He's also taken heat from establishment Republicans for meeting with Donald Trump...." ...

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: Scott Walker is "making an aggressive effort to win the hearts of the party’s Christian conservatives. In doing so, he is stressing a much harder line on social issues than he did just a few months ago, when he faced a robust challenge from a well-funded Democratic woman in his run for re-election as governor. The shift in emphasis and tone is noticeable not only on abortion, but also on same-sex marriage, another issue of intense interest to social conservatives." ...

... Steve Benen: Walker "won't say whether he accepts modern biology. He won't say whether Obama loves America. He won't say whether the Christian president is a Christian. He has a record of repeatedly dodging simple, straightforward questions, which most political leaders are able to answer effortlessly. It may be debatable whether these are good questions. It's not debatable that Walker has provided cringe-worthy answers.... In recent weeks, he's made a fine impression with radical elements of the Republican Party's base, but he's simultaneously making it clear to everyone else that when it comes to genuine leadership abilities, Scott Walker is obviously not ready for prime time." ...

... Robert Samuels of the Washington Post: "The anti-union law passed [in Wisconsin] four years ago, which made Gov. Scott Walker a national Republican star and a possible presidential candidate, has turned out to be even more transformative than many had predicted.... The once-thriving public-sector unions were not just shrunken -- they were crippled." (See also Paul Krugman's column & Lawrence Samuels' NYT op-ed, linked above.)

Fracking Man. Adam Smith & Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: Jeb Bush suddenly started speaking about the joys of fracking right after he & his family made big investments in -- fracking. "The technology is not just a key part of his policy on energy and the economy, but foreign policy as well..... Bush's fracking investments are not the only time his private business life has overlapped with his public policy advocacy. His work as an education reformer coincided with his financial stake in Academic Partnerships, an online higher education company." Via David Atkins. ...

... Karen Tumulty & Alice Crites of the Washington Post: Columba Bush, Jeb's wife, likes to buy expensive jewelry. Also, she's a famous tax cheat. But we knew that.

News Lede

Guardian: "Stuart Gulliver, the HSBC chief executive who has vowed to reform the crisis-hit bank, sheltered millions of pounds in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company and remains tax domiciled in Hong Kong."