The Wires

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New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

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."

White House Live Video
August 28

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

Go to


The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.


Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

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.

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The Commentariat -- August 24, 2015

Nathaniel Popper & Neil Gough of the New York Times: "Stocks in the United States tumbled on Monday morning as another sell-off that started in China roiled markets around the world. Immediately after the opening bell in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 1,000 points, or more than 5 percent -- one of the most precipitous such plunges in recent years. Within an hour, though, American stocks had made up much of their earlier losses and the Dow was down about 2 percent." ...

     ... UPDATE. "The Dow Jones industrial average plunged over 1,000 points immediately after the opening bell on Monday morning before recovering much of those losses and then dropping again nearly 600 points at the close." CW: Because Planned Parenthood. See Comments.

... Paul Krugman: "Politicians and technocrats alike want to view themselves as serious people making hard choices -- choices like cutting popular programs and raising interest rates. They don't like being told that we're in a world where seemingly tough-minded policies will actually make things worse. But we are, and they will." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: "Once again, with interest rates at rock bottom, Republicans refuse to invest in government spending so they can privatize and profitize as much infrastructure as possible (which is the real problem), and they're shocked that years of Austerity Bombing hasn't created utopia yet (ask Kansas how that's going.)" ...

... "If I Were the Chair of the Fed. (As I Should Be.)" Larry Summers in the Washington Post: "A reasonable assessment of current conditions suggests that raising [interest] rates in the near future would be a serious error that would threaten all three of the Fed's major objectives: price stability, full employment and financial stability." ...

... What's the Matter with the Fed? Paul Krugman: "Pressure from the usual suspects -- the constant sniping against easy money -- may play a role. But I also suspect that a lot has to do with the urge to resume a conventional central-banker role. The whole culture of central banks involves saying no to stuff people want, taking away the punch bowl as the party gets going, having the courage to do unpopular things; everyone wants to be Paul Volcker. The Fed is really, really eager to return to that position -- and is, I fear, engaging in wishful thinking, believing much too readily that a return to normalcy is appropriate. It's not. I'm with Larry here: this attitude has the makings of a big mistake. Think Japan 2000; think ECB 2011; think Sweden. Don't do it."

Aurelien Breeden of the New York Times: "President François Hollande of France on Monday awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, to three Americans and a Briton for their role in stopping a gunman on a high-speed train traveling to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday. The three Americans -- Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23; Alek Skarlatos, 22, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23 -- received the honor in the gilded halls of the Élysée Palace, where they were joined by Chris Norman, 62, a British consultant":

Jamelle Bouie: "When we look at the first 15 years of the 21st century, the most defining moment in black America's relationship to its country isn't Election Day 2008, it's Hurricane Katrina. The events of the storm and its aftermath sparked a profound shift among black Americans toward racial pessimism that persists to today, even with Barack Obama in the White House. Black collective memory of Hurricane Katrina, as much as anything else, informs the present movement against police violence, 'Black Lives Matter.'"

Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran. Michael Crowley of Politico: "Want to bomb Iran? Then support the nuclear deal. That's the provocative argument coming from Obama administration officials and other backers of the deal as they promote it before a crucial vote in Congress next month. In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran."

Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid gave a forceful endorsement Sunday to the nuclear deal with Iran, a key boost that provides continued momentum for preventing Congress from blocking President Obama's pact. The Nevada Democrat ... pledged to round up more support to thwart its opponents." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Race

Ed Kilgore: "OK, the Biden speculation is really getting insane. All that anyone is able to report as actual news is that some people close to Biden really want him to run for president in 2016, and he hasn't ruled it out just yet. But the same stories go on to suggest he's 90% or 95% or 99% sure to run, and then it's off to the races about his strategy and HOW HE WILL DESTROY HILLARY, which seems to be the real point of the coverage, particularly from conservative outlets." ...

... CW: This should pump the Biden-Warren fantasy. Nick Gass of Politico: "It's 'too early' to commit to another term in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren told a Boston television station in an interview aired Sunday." ...

... AND this. Nick Gass: "Vice President Joe Biden has picked his new communications director: Kate Bedingfield, a former spokeswoman for John Edwards' 2008 campaign who recently served as the top film industry flack in Washington. 'She will be a key adviser to me, a terrific asset to our office, and an important member of the entire White House organization,' Biden said in a statement." ...

... BUT Charles Pierce thinks he knows what Warren is up to: "Even with Bernie Sanders in the race and tearing up the countryside, the Senator Professor doesn't think the putative frontrunner is doing enough on the issues to which the Senator Professor has devoted her entire career and that, therefore, those issues are not playing a big enough role in the campaign so far. This goes along with something we've been saying around here for a while now. You dismiss the Senator Professor's political chops at your peril. This move is how you broker power from where you are at the moment, and not where people want you to be."

Bernie Becker of the Hill: "Martin O'Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Sunday that Republicans and the media are raising 'legitimate' questions about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. O'Malley, a former two-term Maryland governor, said the questions surrounding Clinton's email habits as secretary of State aren't allowing Democrats to talk about the economic issues worrying voters."

White Men in White Man's Party Worry White Man Will Damage White Man's Party. Molly Ball of the Atlantic: "... many Republican strategists, donors, and officeholders fret that the harm [Donald Trump is doing to the party] goes deeper than a single voting bloc. Trump's candidacy has blasted open the GOP's longstanding fault lines at a time when the party hoped for unity. His gleeful, attention-hogging boorishness -- and the large crowds that have cheered it -- cements a popular image of the party as standing for reactionary anger rather than constructive policies."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker takes a long gander at Donald Trump & his white nationalist coalition. "Ever since the Tea Party's peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right -- Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists -- have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they'd found him." ...

... Greg Sargent: "The question of what to do about the 11 million is the fundamental underlying policy dilemma that is at the core of the whole immigration debate. And it's one many Republicans have refused to reckon with seriously for years now. They've called for more 'enforcement of the law' while taking care to avoid saying whether this means they want maximum deportations. And they've claimed to be open to legalization at some point later without meaningfully defining what conditions must be established first. This is roughly where [Scott] Walker is now. Trump has unmasked those evasions for what they are." ...

... The Party of Destruction. CW: Maybe Donald Trump knows how to build a wall (which at best would create an inconvenience to those wishing to sneak into the U.S., not an impenetrable impediment), but for the most part the GOP knows only how to tear down things, not how to build positive programs for Americans. They want to repeal the ACA, wreck Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid & other social welfare programs, defund Planned Parenthood & the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, eradicate regulations on business & industry. etc. They have no plans to do anything; all they know how to "do" is undo. So let's not be all surprised that they have no idea how to cope with millions of residents they want to disappear. ...

... Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "Donald Trump has boldly touted his independence from big donors, in June proclaiming 'I'm using my own money' during his presidential announcement speech, and holding forth his multi-billion-dollar net worth as proof that he can't be bought by the 'special interests' that bankroll -- and 'control' -- the campaigns of his rivals. But ... he tacitly gave approval to the Make America Great Again PAC by attending a fundraiser the group held in New York last month."

We have wonderful Border Patrol people. They can do their job, but they're not allowed to do the job. People are walking into the country [and] nobody even knows where they come from. They walk right past guards that are told not to do anything. -- Donald Trump, on ABC's "This Week"

Really? Fact-checker, please. -- Constant Weader

At Mobile, Alabama rally, Trump fans yelled "White power!" multiple times ... throughout the event."

If I'm going down, then Bush is going down with me. He's not going to be president of the United States. -- Donald Trump, to a friend

Flippity Flop Flop Flip. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... Scott Walker appears to have yet again shifted his stance on allowing the children of illegal immigrants to automatically gain U.S. citizenship. In an interview on ABC News' 'This Week' on Sunday morning, Walker said he does not want to alter the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.' Nearly a week ago, Walker said he wants to end birthright citizenship, and he would not say then whether he agrees with the 14th Amendment." Johnson provides more-or-less an hour-by-hour account of Walker's changing, conflicting, stonewalling & garbled stated "positions" last week. CW: This guy makes even the Decider & the Doofus brothers look smart. (Also linked yesterday.)

Cap'n. Cruz Leads Another Battle in the War on Women. Katie Zezima & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood -- a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

In a Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed, Columba Bush sucks up to Miriam & Sheldon Adelson, manages to mention Jeb! Via Politico.


The Commentariat -- August 23, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid gave a forceful endorsement Sunday to the nuclear deal with Iran, a key boost that provides continued momentum for preventing Congress from blocking President Obama's pact. The Nevada Democrat ... pledged to round up more support to thwart its opponents."

Flippity Flop Flop Flip. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... Scott Walker appears to have yet again shifted his stance on allowing the children of illegal immigrants to automatically gain U.S. citizenship. In an interview on ABC News' 'This Week' on Sunday morning, Walker said he does not want to alter the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.' Nearly a week ago, Walker said he wants to end birthright citizenship, and he would not say then whether he agrees with the 14th Amendment." Johnson provides more-or-less an hour-by-hour account of Walker's changing, conflicting, stonewalling & garbled stated "positions" last week. CW: This guy makes even the Decider & the Doofus brothers look smart.

Cap'n. Cruz Leads Another Battle in the War on Women. Katie Zezima & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood -- a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters."


... Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The three Americans who subdued a gunman aboard a train to Paris are friends from their middle-school days, and two of them serve in the armed forces." ...

... Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "... sharp questions are being asked about Europe's security measures after a man who had been flagged by counterterrorism authorities as a potential risk was allowed onto the continent's vital rail system without any security checks. Spanish, French and Belgian security officials had the man, identified as 26-year-old Moroccan citizen Ayoub el-Khazzani, on their radar for more than a year."

Mark Hensch of the Hill (August 21): "The Black Lives Matter movement announced on Friday that it has an official platform for curbing police violence and reforming criminal justice in the U.S. The social activism group released its most comprehensive policy outline to date on a website titled Campaign Zero."

Amanda Marcotte in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: The anti-abortion movement relies on the principle that women are too immature, too ignorant or too "emotional" to make their own life decisions, so the state has a duty to "protect" women with anti-abortion laws. ...

... Heather Richardson, in Salon, takes a brief look at conservatives' long history of promoting white male supremacy.

Presidential Race

Deez Nuts endorses Sanders for the Democratic nomination, Kasich for the GOP nomination, & himself in the general election, showing that a 15-year-old has more sense than the majority of people eligible to vote &/or who are running for president.

Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday summoned Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, to his Washington residence for a meeting, the latest indication that he is seriously considering a presidential bid. Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren met for over an hour at the Naval Observatory with no aides present, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversation."

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "As he campaigns through South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking more than a few shots at Gov. Nikki Haley and the state's conservative legislators on health care. In multiple speeches here, the liberal Democratic presidential candidate and Independent senator from Vermont has a one-two punch ready: South Carolina should have expanded Medicaid and the decision not to was fueled, at least in part, because President Barack Obama wants that to happen." ...

... Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post: In South Carolina, Bernie Sanders tries to increase his appeal to black voters.

Zeke Miller of Time: "Hillary Clinton's campaign offices around the country have been put on alert after at least two women approached Iowa staff under the guise of being supporters in an apparent effort to catch the campaign engaging in improper or illegal activity, a Clinton campaign official said.... A Clinton campaign official alleges that the women engaged in several efforts to entrap supporters."

Michael Barbaro, et al., of the New York Times: "A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that [Donald] Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.... Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology." ...

     ... Steve M. cites the report as a good example of how the media sanitize Trump & his appeal to racist voters. ...

... CW: This stupid, offensive woman, randomly chosen, not only exemplifies Steve's point, she gives you an idea of who-all the Trump coalition includes:

... Maureen Dowd describes all the great things about Donald Trump's campaign: "... he has exploded the hoary conventions, money-grubbing advisers and fund-raising excesses of the presidential campaign, turning everything upside down, inside out, into sauerkraut." She really likes the way Trump has put Hillary & Jeb! in their places. She never once accuses Trump of being anything worse than brash. CW: So here we have a prominent NYT columnist demonstrating beyond question that she is as superficial, as nasty -- & as I've long suspected -- as racist as Trump. Maybe I should relegate MoDo to the Infotainment section in the manner of the HuffPost's Trump treatment. ...

... Lorenzo Ferrigno of CNN: Donald Trump finally walked back one of his disgusting remarks. Upon hearing that two Boston brothers severely beat a homeless man because he looked like an "Hispanic" "illegal immigrant" & justified their actions by saying, "Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported," Trump said Wednesday it would be a shame if true, but added, "the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country, they want this country to be great again." Friday, Trump tweeted, "Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect. I would never condone violence." ...

... Washington Post Editors: Donald Trump's "loathsome comment on Wednesday, in which he excused violence against a Hispanic man in Boston as 'passionate' acts of 'people who are following me,' taps into a dark vein in American history and merits special attention.... Mr. Trump, under a barrage of criticism, took more than a day to retreat from his original statement.... By spewing hatred on the stump, Mr. Trump encourages it in the bleachers and on the streets, then sanctions it when it occurs." ...

... Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.... when Trump surged in the polls on the back of this stuff, it caused virtually all of the candidates to escalate their anti-immigrant rhetoric.... Now the stupid wants out of its cage, and Trump is urging it on. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong, no matter who wins in 2016." ...

... Turns out those Boston thugs who want to make American great again have been illegally living in public housing. Yeah, Donald, you've got a terrific fan base: racist thugs AND moochers. ...

... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Alabama, which hosted the largest rally of Trump's presidential campaign Friday night, had been a test kitchen for Trump-style crackdowns on undocumented workers -- and it had not gone well. In 2011, a new Republican legislature and governor enacted HB 56, the Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.... The backlash was massive.... After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, strategists in his own party blamed his support for the Alabama attrition policy. Those critics included Donald Trump.... To Republicans, the lesson of HB 56 was no longer that it failed. The lesson was that it had not been permitted to work, stymied by the Obama administration."

Jonathan Martin: "Senator Rand Paul, averting what would have been a blow to his waning presidential hopes, engineered a vote by the Kentucky Republican Party on Saturday to change the state's presidential nomination contest from a primary to a caucus. By making the switch, the state party effectively allowed Mr. Paul, the state's junior senator, to run both for re-election and for the presidency next year.... Kentucky state law bars candidates from seeking two different offices on the same ballot. By changing the presidential contest to a party-controlled caucus, the party has offered Mr. Paul an avenue to get around the rule." ...

You look at some of these caves [smugglers use] and things out there one drone strike, boom, and they're gone. -- Ben Carson, last week, on how to control the U.S.-Mexican border

In no way, did I suggest that drones be used to kill people. And I said that to the media at the time. Those caves can be eliminated. I'm not talking about killing people. No people with drones. -- Carson, after finding crumpled copy of Hippocratic Oath in an old jacket pocket

** IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Black Hand Mystery SOLVED! Paul Lindsay of Jeb!'s Right to Rise PAC posts the original photo of Jeb! -- before Photoshop. His left hand appears dark because he's standing right up next to a nice Republican lady, & the hand falls in the shadow of her boob. The hands, the body, the empty head -- they're all authentic Doofus. The Cedar Rapids backdrop, not so much. Via Ali Breland of Politico. ...

... CW: Whenever you get discouraged, carry on. There is always something new to discover, some secret truth revealed. The Sweet Mystery of Life has more than one answer:

... Sometimes a monster, sometimes the shadow of a boob. Life is grand, if in small ways.

Here's something grand from 20 years ago:

... CW: I don't think I fully appreciated what Donald Trump & his supporters mean by "politically correct" until I heard Barack Obama's explanation (near the end of the tape).

Beyond the Beltway

Stephen Ceasar of the Los Angeles Times (August 21): "Los Angeles County judge on Friday ruled that an antiabortion group that secretly recorded videos of abortion providers and others had a 1st Amendment right to make at least one of the recordings public. Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell dissolved a temporary restraining order that had previously been imposed in state court in L.A. that prevented the release of one video taken by the Center for Medical Progress."

News Lede

New York Times: "Militants from the Islamic State destroyed a temple in the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria, activists and government officials said on Sunday, continuing a pattern of destruction that they have visited upon historical sites across the territory they control there and in Iraq."


Aliens Among Us!

In a field of candidates who collectively hold such radical, xenophobic ideas against immigrant Americans, it is remarkable that so many are themselves the children of aliens.

The parents of these Republican presidential hopefuls come from exotic lands where the majority of people are communists or non-Christians, even from one country where men wear short skirts. Under the Constitution, the President of the United States must be a "natural born citizen." Do these shady birthright citizens qualify? Equally as unsettling: three candidates are married to foreign-born women. Do we really want an alien First Lady rifling through the White House silver & speaking in foreign tongues to world leaders plotting to undermine the American way?

Marco Rubio. Both of his parents were non-citizen immigrants when Marco was born. Despite Marco's claims that his parents were political refugees from Communist Cuba, the Washington Post revealed that the parents were economic opportunists who immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 during the Fulgencio Batista regime. In hopes of moving back to their native land, Marco's parents returned to Cuba several times after Fidel Castro gained power. Rubio's wife Jeanette is the daughter of Colombian immigrants. Prudent "real" Americans should question Marco's obviously shaky allegiance to the U.S. Rubio said this week that he was "open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship."

Ted Cruz was born in a socialist foreign country where his parents were working. Ted's mother Eleanor Wilson was born in Delaware to American parents. His father Rafael was Cuban-born & did not become a U.S. citizen until 2005. Meanwhile Teddy retained his foreign citizenship until last year, and then only after the Dallas Morning News outted his foreign allegiance to a nation which long threatened U.S. sovereignty and has harbored tens of thousands of enemies of the U.S. Like many a foreign spy, Ted dissembled when confronted with the facts: he claimed to have no idea he was a Canadian citizen. Ted said this week, "We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally. That has been my position from the very first day of my running for the Senate." Notably, he told a different story when he was actually running for the Senate. We one-hundred-percent U.S. citizens should not trust this guy. The U.S. has already fought one Revolution to win independence from the British Empire into which Ted was born & maintained citizenship. The very purpose of the Constitutional requirement that the president be a natural-born citizen was to protect the new nation from a return to British (or other foreign) rule. Would President Ted invite another Canadian invasion? Would we soon find ourselves singing "God Save the Queen"? 

Bobby Jindal is a true "anchor baby." Both his parents came legally from India to the U.S. six months before Bobby's birth in Baton Rouge. Obviously, they sneaked into the U.S. with a fiendish plan to endow their child with birthright citizenship. Curious, isn't it, that they chose a part of the country where a lot of people speak a foreign language? Although prestigious American universities invited Jindal to do his post-graduate work here in the U.S., Jindal chose to attend a foreign university which is a font of radical thought. Jindal's wife Supriya is an immigrant from India. Yet Jindal tweeted this week, “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

Rick Santorum. His father Aldo immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was a child. According to Rick, his paternal grandfather -- also a U.S. immigrant -- was an acquaintance of Adolf Hitler's. Rick has close relatives in Italy who are communists. Real reds! The question is -- is Santorum a communist plant or a fascist? Santorum wants to end birthright citizenship.

Jeb Bush. Jeb! himself is a blueblood American, but his wife Columba was a Mexican who immigrated to the U.S. when she married Jeb! A known smuggler who lied repeatedly to U.S. Customs officials, Columba represents the criminal element of such concern to Republicans. While Bush calls birthright citizenship a constitutionally protected right,' he said this week that we should find a "targeted way" to "solve abuses, of people coming into the country so their children can become citizens."

Donald Trump. His mother immigrated from Scotland. Although Donald claims to be of Swedish descent on his father's side, his paternal grandfather was Friedrich Drumpf, who immigrated from Germany, not Sweden, first to New York City, then to Seattle & then to the Canadian Klondike & finally, via Germany, back to Queens. Two of Donald Trump's wives are natives of communist countries with ties to Russia & the old Soviet Union. Donald Trump says he would "end birthright citizenship" without bothering to amend the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States."

OR, maybe we could reject these exclusionary candidates & elect a Democrat who welcomes people from around the world & celebrates their contributions to our culture and our economy.


The Commentariat -- August 22, 2015

White House: "In this week's address, the President spoke to the economic progress that our country has made over the past few years, from over 13 million new jobs over the past five and a half years, to 17 states raising the minimum wage":

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Thad Moore & Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "The Dow Jones industrial average capped a four-day losing streak by dropping more than 500 points to close at 16,459.75, sinking 10 percent from its May peak and following even steeper market declines in Asia and Europe. The rout will further rattle workers whose 401(k) retirement accounts have taken a troubling hit. Investors have lost billions in recent weeks and are flocking to safety-net Treasury bonds as they wait for the bleeding to stop."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "A previous generation of Americans could count on a social compact; if you stuck loyally by a company, it would stick by you, providing you with a good job and a decent retirement. Long ago, loyalty fell by the wayside, and longtime employees learned that their loyalty meant nothing when companies 'downsized.' Amazon -- and, to be sure, any number of other companies as well -- has taken this idea to its logical extreme: Bring people in, shape them in the Amazon style of confrontation and workaholism, and cast them aside when they have outlived their usefulness.... [Founder & CEO Jeff] Bezos didn't have to build Amazon the way he did. He could have created a culture that valued employees and treated them well. But that would have required him to care about what somebody else thought. Fat chance."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Michael Birnbarm & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The ink was barely dry on a landmark agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program before a German government plane packed with the nation's economic elite touched down in Tehran. The trip was just the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market that is poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... MEANWHILE. Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "During the past decade, well-connected Iranian investors amassed undervalued assets in poorly executed and frequently corrupt rounds of privatization, buying insurance companies, hospitals, refineries and public utilities, among other things previously run -- usually poorly -- by the state.... [A] potential sell-off began to take shape in July, as the nuclear agreement began to move toward a conclusion...." (Also linked yesterday.)

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said she believes the videos are illegal and that her organization is 'considering everything' in going after the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the videos. 'I absolutely do believe that they have violated laws in terms of how they secured these videos,' she said in an interview at the group's Washington, D.C., headquarters. "But the fraud is also in how they have presented them and in the editing." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Jindal trolls protesters with undercover Planned Parenthood videos.... The Louisiana governor on Thursday showed a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos on a loop outside the governor's mansion to protesters who were demonstrating against the defunding of Planned Parenthood."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Max Fisher of Vox has an update on the AP stories claiming that a U.N. "side deal" to the negotiated Iran nuclear agreement allows Iran to do its own testing of a military site known as Parchin. "On Thursday, as the AP came under increasing pressure, it published what it said was the full text of the draft IAEA agreement. The arms control experts were not convinced: Jeffrey Lewis, of Middlebury College, called the draft 'way too vague to support that story.' Cheryl Rofer, who has previously worked alongside the IAEA, tweeted that there were 'several things wrong' with the draft, for example that 'the whole thing is far too vague. It has no resemblance to a sampling plan.'... Tariq Rauf, the former head of verification and security policy coordination at the [IAEA] ... concluded that he suspected the draft may be fake..., in part on several odd errors in the draft..., but I suspect this may be because the AP reporter was required to copy down the draft agreement text by hand..., although it does raise questions about whether there could be more substantial errors as well." Thanks to Keith H. for the lead....

... CW: Here's something I find particularly troubling, tho Fisher doesn't mention it. The AP reporter George Jahn did a follow-up story reporting on reactions to his original, oft-altered story. In a section titled, "What Does the IAEA Say?", he quotes IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano: "'The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our ... standards in any way.' He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations 'are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public - the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states.'" That's it. BUT Jahn omitted this part of Amano's statement, which appeared in a fuller Reuters report (linked in the Commentariat yesterday): "I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work." Reuters called Amano's remark "an unusually strongly worded statement." In other words, Amano directly & strongly criticized Jahn's report, calling it a "misrepresentation," and the AP chose not to print that part of the statement. That's just crap "journalism." News media regularly report denials or refutations by the subjects of their stories. The AP's decision to truncate Amano's remarks to eliminate his criticism of the gist of its story is cowardly &, well, misleading.

Presidential Race

Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "As Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign struggles with sliding poll numbers, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s exploration of a presidential candidacy is taking on a new seriousness.... Some Democrats supporting Mrs. Clinton have quietly signaled that they would re-evaluate their support if Mr. Biden joined the race."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton pleased progressives this week when she came out in opposition against drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Now they want to hear from her on Social Security. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland announced a proposal on Friday to expand Social Security, enhancing its benefits while holding the retirement age steady. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has expressed a similar view, leaving the ball in Mrs. Clinton's court.... The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and all pressed Mrs. Clinton on Friday to join her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in promising to protect Social Security...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Allen of Reuters: Reuters disputes Clinton's claim that she did not send classified material over her private e-mail account. Reuters has found at least 30 threads which it identifies as "so-called 'foreign government information,' information that is automatically classified. "The State Department disputed Reuters' analysis but declined requests to explain how it was incorrect." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

This is supposed to be a straight report. So Wow! Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "It was immigration, not segregation, that brought some 20,000 southerners -- far fewer than predicted -- out for Donald Trump on Friday night, but the ghost of George Wallace loomed large. Wallace, an avowed segregationist, was the last presidential candidate to win electoral votes as a third-party candidate. The threat of Trump doing so, propelled by a hardline immigration stance that many have condemned as racist, looms over the Republican Party now as it did over the Democratic Party then, even as the enthusiasm of his following, for once, fell far short of expectations.... Trump invited Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of Congress's most ardent immigration hardliners who helped the businessman craft his immigration plan, to the podium, where the two embraced." ...

... Robert Costa & Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Trump's flashy performance was about more than showmanship. His visit to Alabama was coolly strategic, touching down in the heart of red America and an increasingly important early battleground in the Republican nominating contest.... On the street, Olaf Childress, a neo-Confederate activist, gave out copies of 'The First Freedom' newspaper, which had headlines about 'Black-on-white crime,' 'occupied media' and 'censored details of the Holocaust.'" ...

     ... Steve M. assesses Costa & Weigel's "love letter" to Trump: "Clearly the earth moved for Costa and Weigel."

... The New York Times report, by Alan Blinder, is here.

John McCormick of Bloomberg: "A day after Jimmy Carter appeared on national television to talk about the cancer that's ravaging his body, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized the former president's administration in a speech in Iowa. 'I think where we are today is very, very much like the late 1970s,' the senator from Texas said on the Des Moines Register's political soapbox stage at the Iowa State Fair. 'I think the parallels between this administration and the Carter administration are uncanny: same failed domestic policies, same misery, stagnation and malaise, same feckless and naïve foreign policy,' Cruz said. 'In fact, the exact same countries -- Russia and Iran -- openly laughing and mocking at the president of the United States.'" ...

     ... CW: Cruz's remarks about Carter struck me, too. This is what happens when a politician is a complete narcissist; he lacks normal awareness of common civility. Cruz, unsurprisingly, defending his remarks about Carter. As McCormick points out, Cruz did apologize for making a "joke" about Vice President Biden days after the death of Biden's son Beau. But Cruz can't help himself; he doesn't care about or even recognize other people's feelings. No doubt a staffer urged Cruz to apologize about his Biden "joke."

Josh Haskell & Jennifer Hopper of ABC News: "While Sen. Ted Cruz was grilling pork chops at the Iowa State Fair today, actress Ellen Page, wearing a hat and sunglasses, snuck her way up to the grill and asked the GOP presidential candidate about 'the persecution of gays in the workplace and LGBT rights.' ABC News caught the exchange." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Joseph Voorhees of Slate: Cruz repeatedly tells Page that "a Mennonite couple who agreed to pay a $5,000 fine late last year after they refused to provide service to a gay couple ... owns a church.... In reality they own a former church that they converted into an art gallery, flower shop, and bistro that they then ran as a wedding venue. So the Texan's taking some rather large liberties when he suggests that requiring the [couple] to allow a gay couple to wed in their for-profit business would be the same as 'forcing a Muslim imam to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony.'" ...

... Cruz says his kind of birthright citizenship is cool -- he was born in Canada to an American mother & Cuban father -- but birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented residents is terrible. He says Jeb! is confused. Katie Glueck of Politico: "A day earlier, Bush suggested in New Hampshire that Cruz was the beneficiary of the broader birthright citizenship protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Bush opposes altering that language." (Also linked yesterday.)

... Flip-Flop. Esther Lee of Think Progress: "Scott Walker was tired from 'hours' of interviews when he said that fellow contender Donald Trump's plan to end birthright citizenship was 'very similar' to the immigration position that Walker supported as Wisconsin governor, according to an interview on Friday with CNBC correspondent John Harwood. Now, Walker says he doesn't have a stance on the topic. 'I'm not taking a position on it one way or the other,' Walker told Harwood, when questioned about ending birthright citizenship, a centerpiece demand that Trump laid out in his immigration policy plan....":

... CW: Really? Kasie Hunt of MSNBC: "Asked directly by msnbc if birthright citizenship should be ended, the Wisconsin governor replied: 'Yeah, to me it's about enforcing the laws in this country. And I've been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it's important to send a message that we're going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we're going to enforce the laws." Watch the video. Hunt asks the question twice, & twice Walker says, "Yeah," or "Yeah, absolutely," even invoking Harry Reid, who two decades ago introduced legislation to eliminating birthright citizenship for children of undocumented mothers, a position which years later he called a "travesty" & the "low point" of his legislative career. So Walker only favors this "travesty" when he's "tired"? Has he no principles? (Rhetorical question.) ...

... digby: "Walker, being the rank amateur he is, jumped on the Jeff Sessions/Donald Trump train automatically without thinking through whether or not that's what a serious frontrunning grown-up would do. He made a mistake." ...

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "There are flip-flops, and there are flip-flops. After leaping to support Donald Trump's far-right birthright-citizenship-ending proposal immediately after it was released and apparently agreeing that birthright citizenship needs to be repealed when asked by a reporter he now says ... he has no opinion on it?... Not only does Scott Walker walkback his own previous position, but he's apparently vowing to not have a position on one of the hot-button topics roiling the Republican presidential campaign.... Walker's unwillingness to state actual policy positions seems at this point less campaign strategy and more personal pathology."

** David Roberts of Vox: "Katie Couric recently interviewed Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, and the subject of climate change came up. They discussed it for over four minutes, likely marking the longest any national GOP political figure has spent talking about climate change in the past five years.... After acknowledging the science at the outset, literally everything Fiorina says subsequently is false or misleading. And yes, I know what 'literally' means.From the dazzling array, I have chosen a representative (but not exhaustive) sample of 10 misleading or false statements." CW: This is almost fun reading, Fiorina's claims & excuses are such nonsense. Unless you're already well-read on energy sources (and cats), you'll probably learn something. I did.

The Black Hand. Zeke Miller of Time: Jeb!'s superPAC "Right to Rise USA tweeted a picture of the inaugural mailing, which appears to show Bush posing in front of a bridge in what appears to be Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa. But a closer look at the photo seems to show that Bush was actually superimposed on a a stock image of the city, while his left hand appears to belong to someone else." CW: That "someone else" is a black person, so this must be Right to Rise's left-handed compliment to Iowa's huge black Republican base. The Photoshop fail has caused a lot of haw-hawwing on the Internets, but I'd say the biggest fake on the flyer is the candidate himself. ...

... ** IMPORTANT UPDATE: Chas Danner of New York: "... if you look at his other (right) hand, you can see that it was digitally colored white as well, as the awkward supposed shadows are the same color as the black hand." CW: Great catch, Chas!

Beyond the Beltway

Jonathan Katz of the New York Times: "A jury [in Charlotte, N.C.] said ... Friday that it was unable to decide whether a white police officer was guilty of manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of an unarmed African-American man, but the judge ordered jurors to continue deliberating. The jury of eight women and four men -- seven are white, three African-American and two Hispanic -- said that it had taken three votes and was deadlocked on the fate of Officer Randall Kerrick. He is accused of using excessive force in the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former college football player who died early on Sept. 14, 2013. Jurors told the judge that the three votes split 7 to 5, 8 to 4 and 8 to 4, but gave no indication of which way they are leaning." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Ledes

AP: "... three Americans are being hailed as heroes for tackling and disarming a gunman they happened to encounter on a high-speed Amsterdam-Paris train. Air Force serviceman Spencer Stone remained hospitalized Saturday after being stabbed, though the Pentagon said the injury was not life-threatening. Another passenger was wounded by a handgun in the attack Friday night, according to a police union official. It's unclear whether there was a political motive to the gunman's actions. French authorities are questioning the attacker, identified by police as a 26-year-old of Moroccan origin, and are expected to speak to at least one of the Americans on Saturday about what happened. Counterterrorism police are leading the investigation, according to the Paris prosecutor's office." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The two American service members who tackled a gunman on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris rushed him even though he was fully armed, then grabbed him by the neck and beat him over the head with his own automatic rifle until he was unconscious, one of them said in television interviews [in Paris] on Saturday."