The Ledes

Sunday, February 7, 2016.

New York Times: "Robin Chandler Duke, a rags-to-riches grande dame who married an ambassador and became one of America’s best known advocates for women by championing reproductive rights and international family planning, died in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. She was 92."

New York Times: "Defying warnings of tougher sanctions from Washington, North Korea launched a rocket on Sunday that Western experts believe is part of a program to develop intercontinental ballistic missile technologies."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discussed climate change and how the most ambitious climate agreement in history is creating private sector partnerships that are advancing the latest technologies in clean power.":

Hill: "President Obama will send a budget to Congress that increases the amount of funding toward clean energy research and development by about 20 percent, he said Saturday."

White House Live Video
February 5

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

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Timess: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

New York Times: "Twitter is experimenting with introducing a longer form of tweet, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans, in what would be another gradual move away from the simplistic design sensibility that the service was originally founded upon. The project, which internally has been referred to as 'beyond 140,' is still in its testing phase and is not set to be introduced until at least March...."

Washington Post: "Four newly discovered elements managed to squeak their way in[to the periodic table] just before the end of 2015, filling up the table's seventh row and marking the first additions since 2011." CW: Since I know squat about chemistry, let me say here -- in the fullness of my ignorance -- that the periodic table should stick with elements that occur in nature. If chemists want a "sub-periodic table" to show off their lab-created, unstable elements, let 'em have it. I don't see how an "element" can be artificial. Anyone who knows what s/he's talking about is free to set me straight.

TPM: "Twitter announced Thursday it's bringing back Politwoops, the popular gaffe-tracking transparency tool that tracked politicians' deleted tweets, after unceremoniously killing off the service earlier this year.... Twitter revoked developer API access for the project, a venture of The Sunlight Foundation and The Open State Foundation, in August 2015."

If you are interested in what George Lucas thinks about the "Star Wars" series & other stuff, you can find out here, presuming Charlie Rose doesn't monopolize the conversation (okay, silly presumption). ...

... Later Lucas said he was sorry he said some of those nasty things.

... Hank Stuever of the Washington Post: The "final episodes of 'Downton Abbey' are among the show’s best since the first season — and they’ll reassure those hoping for the happiest possible endings for nearly every character."

BBC News: "A monument from a temple in the ancient city of Palmyra destroyed by so-called Islamic State (IS) is to be recreated in London's Trafalgar Square. The 2,000-year-old arch is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, part of the Syrian Unesco World Heritage site, captured by militants in May. It will be recreated from photographs, using a 3D printer. The institute behind the project hopes the arch will draw attention to the importance of cultural heritage." ...

... John Brennan & Sarah Knapton of the (Irish) Independent: "Ireland's saints and scholars were descended from farmers and bronze metalworkers from the Middle East and modern-day Ukraine, scientists have found. Researchers have sequenced ancient Irish human genomes for the first time. They discovered mass migrations to Ireland thousands of years ago resulted in huge changes to the ancient Irish genetic make-up. A team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast made the findings, which show a massive shift in our genetic mix over the course of just 1,000 years. They believe the genetic influxes brought cultural change such as moving to settled farmsteads, bronze metalworking - and may have even been the origin of western Celtic language." ...

... CW: One trouble with denigrating certain ethnic groups: we're all cousins. Sorry, "white" people.

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Constant Comments

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

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-- Constant Weader

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

Wednesday
Feb032016

The Commentariat -- February 4, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Laura Koran of CNN: "President Barack Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, speaking about the need to overcome fear through faith, just one day after making a historic visit to a Baltimore mosque where he delivered a message of religious inclusivity.... Ben Carson ... attended the event but did not address the crowd." CW: I listened to the end of President Obama's speech. It was very moving:

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: "In a testy exchange with lawmakers, Martin Shkreli declined to testify before a House committee on Thursday about his actions in increasing the price of a decades-old drug fiftyfold overnight. Mr. Shkreli, who left Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug company he started, after being indicted on federal securities fraud charges in December, repeatedly exercised his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, angering various members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 'I don't think I've ever seen the committee treated with such contempt,' Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican, said after Mr. Shkreli was excused and left the room.... The theatrics surrounding Mr. Shkreli's appearance, which included his smirking at some remarks by committee members and calling them 'imbeciles' on Twitter after he left the hearing, overshadowed some of the more substantial discussion about huge overnight price increases in the prices of old drugs by Turing and another company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International."

CW: By my count, that's two lowlifes who got something right today. (1) Cruz: "Trumpertantrum"; (2) Shkreli: "imbeciles."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said late Wednesday that partisan extremism is damaging the public's perception of the role of the Supreme Court, recasting the justices as players in the political process rather than its referees.... Roberts said he thought the public skepticism concerning the court starts with the Senate confirmation process."

James Hohmann of the Washington Post on Hillary Clinton's "flip" answer to Anderson Cooper's question about her well-paid Wall Street speeches. "The most problematic part of her answer came when she insisted something that is demonstrably untrue: 'They're not giving me very much money now, I can tell you that much. Fine with me.'... The latest FEC reports reveal that Hillary reached a major milestone during the fourth quarter of 2015: Donors in the financial sector have now given more to support her campaigns than Bill's."

*****

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "President Obama is being pressed by some of his top national security aides to approve the use of American military power in Libya to open up another front against the Islamic State. But Mr. Obama, wary of embarking on an intervention in another strife-torn country, has told his aides to redouble their efforts to help form a unity government in Libya at the same time the Pentagon refines its options.... The use of large numbers of American ground troops is not being considered." CW: Hmm, these aides aren't helping Hillary's campaign.

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama reached out to Muslims in the United States on Wednesday in an impassioned speech, embracing them as part of 'one American family,' implicitly criticizing the Republican presidential candidates and warning citizens not to be 'bystanders to bigotry'":

Joe Davidson of the Washington Post: "President Obama will include an average 1.6 percent pay raise for federal employees in his fiscal 2017 budget proposal. This year, the average raise is 1.3 percent. The 2017 pay increase was announced in a conference call with administration and union officials."

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing this morning on soaring drug prices. "While the focus of the hearing is the price of drugs, it is expected to zero in on the actions of two companies -- Valeant [Pharmaceuticals] and Turing Pharmaceuticals -- in acquiring the rights to decades-old drugs and increasing their prices by huge amounts overnight."

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "A key congressional committee on Wednesday launched its investigation into the Flint, Mich., water crisis with its Republican chairman issuing subpoenas to force depositions from two officials, while Democrats complained the state's governor has not been called to testify for political reasons. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) accused the two officials of not being cooperative and was particularly critical of Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, whose lawyer declined to accept an earlier subpoena seeking his testimony before the panel. 'We're calling on the U.S. marshals to hunt him down and give him that subpoena,' [Chaffetz] said at a hearing, sparking a round of applause." ...

     ... CW: Earley is a Democrat -- and he's black. Just thought you'd want to know. Hunt him down, Jason. Maybe you'll want to call out a pack of bloodhounds. But of course you're not a racist. ...

     ... Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press: "A lawyer for former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley says if his client is again subpoenaed by a congressional committee looking that the Flint water crisis, he'll accept it.... [Attorney Scott] Bolden had told the Free Press on Tuesday night that he refused the subpoena because neither he nor Earley had time to prepare but said he would accept another subpoena as long as it isn't issued on such short notice." ...

... Oliver Milman & Ryan Felton of the Guardian: "The Environmental Protection Agency warned of an unfolding toxic water crisis in Flint but was 'met with resistance' by Michigan authorities, a fiery congressional hearing into the city's public health disaster has heard.... Congress was also told that flawed water testing practices, now eliminated in Flint, are happening unchecked across the US, risking a much wider public health crisis in other cities." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Todd Spangler & Maureen Groppe of the Detroit Free Press & USA Today: "Calling the situation in Flint 'a failing at every level' of government, U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, directed most of his criticism at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying there have been 'festering' problems there for years and disputing Deputy Assistant Administrator Joel Beauvais' contention that responding to the Flint water crisis was the agency's highest priority."

Newt Gingrich & Tom Daschle write a Washington Post op-ed in which they propose "a step toward bipartisan health-care reform." It involves pretty much allowing the states to set up their own programs via a provision of the ACA. CW: I'll bet the Southern states, in particular, would do a great job.

Take Care. Linda Greenhouse: "... the court's action two weeks ago in accepting the Obama administration's appeal in a major immigration case was startling. The surprise was not that the court agreed to hear the case, United States v. Texas, an appeal from a ruling that the president lacked authority under the immigration laws to defer deporting undocumented immigrants whose children are American citizens or lawful permanent residents. It was rather the blockbuster constitutional question that the justices added to the case, a question the court had not been asked, and one that neither of the lower federal courts had even addressed when they ruled on purely statutory grounds against the administration. This is what the court said in its Jan. 19 order: 'In addition to the questions presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: "Whether the Guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Art. II, §3.' Wow." Read on.

Presidential Race

This is the headline: "Clinton blasts Wall Street, but still draws millions in contributions." Matea Gold, et al., of the Washington Post: "Even as Hillary Clinton has stepped up her rhetorical assault on Wall Street, her campaign and allied super PACs have continued to rake in millions from the financial sector, a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans. Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton's 2016 presidential run -- more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by The Washington Post."

They're not giving me that much money now. -- Hillary Clinton, at the town hall last night, in response to Anderson Cooper's question about Wall Street contributions to her campaign

I guess it depends on the meaning of "that much." -- Constant Weader

This is the headline: "Something smells in the Democratic party." Des Moines Register Editors: "What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy. The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt. First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.... Second, too many questions have been raised.... Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night's chaos.... Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no [to the Sanders campaign's request for a comparison with its own tabulations]. We need answers to what happened Monday night. The future of the first-in-the-nation caucuses demands it." ...

... CW: The Register, if you recall, endorsed Clinton.

M.J. Lee of CNN: "Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders traded barbs Wednesday night over who best embodies progressive values. At a CNN town hall in Derry, New Hampshire, ahead of next Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary, Sanders slammed Clinton, arguing that she's out of step with the party's base on issues ranging from campaign finance to climate change, trade and the Iraq War.... The race, however, isn't nearly as negative as the Republican primary contest, which was dominated on Wednesday by personal attacks between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson." ...

... Video of the full town-hall event is here.

Greg Sargent: "The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed on a rough schedule for four new debates over the next few months, according to various sources, a move that shows the Democratic primary is now set to shift into a higher gear and signals we may be headed for a long, drawn-out battle. The four debates will be sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, a spokesman for the DNC, Luis Miranda, confirms to me." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The National Archives is fighting a lawsuit trying to force disclosure of several draft indictments of Hillary Clinton prepared by a Whitewater prosecutor in the 1990s. In a brief filed late Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers and the Archives argue that disclosure of the draft indictments would lead to an unwarranted invasion of Clinton's privacy and violate a court rule protecting grand jury secrecy."

You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty. -- Hillary Clinton, ca. September 10, 2015, at an Ohio event ...

... Amber Jamieson of the Guardian: "At a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire on Wednesday, [Hillary] Clinton accused [Bernie] Sanders of a 'low blow' for saying that the former secretary of state was only a progressive on 'some days'. 'I hope we keep it on the issues,' Clinton said, 'because if it's about our records, hey, I'm going to win by a landslide.' A reporter had questioned the Vermont senator on Tuesday about whether his Democratic opponent was a truly progressive liberal. 'Some days, yes. Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she is not a progressive,' replied Sanders." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** Brent Budowsky of the Hill: "The message that Clinton needs to hear -- and needs to understand -- is that despite her overpowering and overwhelming advantages of money and power and the virtually unanimous support from the Democratic establishment, it was Sanders who won the most important battle of the Iowa caucuses by fighting her to a draw. Instead of attacking Sanders for having dreams too great, the former first lady should share with the nation the dreams she has, without fear or favor about which interest group might be offended. She should speak of her dreams with passion, principle, courage and authenticity with her voice, as Sanders does with his." Read the whole column. ...

... CW: Sorry, Brent, but as David Axelrod suggested as late caucus result were dribbling in (see Tuesday's Commentariat), Hillary's "dreams" are all about Hillary. Hillary & Bill were the stars of the "Me generation," & their personalities & goals haven't changed much. It's difficult to speak with "passion & authenticity" about matters that are only ancillary to your objective.

Hanna Trudo of Politico: "Elizabeth Warren defended Bernie Sanders on Wednesday after Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said the Vermont senator's anti-Wall Street rhetoric could be 'dangerous.'... 'When Blankfein says that criticizing those who break the rules is dangerous to the economy, then he's just repeating another variation of "too big to fail," "too big to jail," "too big even to prosecute,"' she said."


Stephanie Condon
of CBS News: "Former President Jimmy Carter told the British Parliament on Wednesday that if he had to choose between Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, he'd prefer to see Trump win the White House.... '... the reason is Trump has proven already that he's completely malleable. I don't think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for.' By contrast, Mr. Carter said, 'Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far right-wing policies, in my opinion, that would be pursued aggressively if and when he would become president'":

Charles Pierce: "For all the Scripture he spouts, and for all of his devotion to our God-kissed Constitution, Cruz has the soul of a true ratfcker.... At least Nixon's ratfcking stemmed from his human weaknesses and his inbred paranoia. Cruz believes he is commanded to his by the Lord. This scares me much more.... Anyway, this is a guy with an awful lot of money, almost no conscience, and a demonstrated proclivity for using both in a way destructive to a national election. I don't particularly want him to get his hands on the FBI." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: Ted "Cruz reacted to [Donald] Trump's accusations [that Cruz had stolen the Iowa caucuses] with amusement, and ridiculed the real estate mogul as an unstable person throwing a 'Tempertrantrum.' [sic.; s/b 'Trumpertantrum'] 'I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted because he's losing it,' Cruz told reporters in Goffstown, New Hampshire. 'We need a commander-in-chief, not a Twitterer-in-chief. We need someone with judgment and the temperament to keep this country safe. I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button,' Cruz continued. 'I mean, we're liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark.'" ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "... Donald Trump on Wednesday chided President Obama for visiting a mosque, a move the president made in part as a counter to Trump's controversial comments on Muslims. '... I don't know, maybe he feels comfortable there,' Trump said Wednesday on Fox News' 'On the Record with Greta Van Susteren' 'There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.'" ...

... Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "In the lead-up to Donald Trump's loss in Iowa, staffers sought additional funding for campaign infrastructure and were denied. Now, six days from the New Hampshire primary and looking for his first win, Trump is still refusing to shake up his ground game. He has added just one paid organizer in the state, a move that came a month ago. Instead, he is pushing ahead with plans to campaign outside of the state in the final week of voting and will count on the glamour of famous surrogates, including his sons, who plan to tour New Hampshire beginning this weekend." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... it's time to lay to rest the idea that Trump is a brilliant campaign strategist. Save for the fact that this guy has managed to co-opt more free media than the Pope, Trump's run a campaign that would embarrass a candidate for seventh grade class treasurer." ...

... CW: It's not about politics, Charles. Politics is boring. It's about fawning fans.

Jonathan Chait: President Obama's visit to a Baltimore mosque Wednesday "offended Marco Rubio, who called it yet another example of Obama's 'constant pitting people against each other. I can't stand that.'... Obama and Rubio follow very different theories of the proper treatment of social minorities. One of those men is president of the United States, and the other has no business holding that position." CW: Chait does a great job of explaining why Marco is offended, but I just want to box Marco's Dr. Spock ears. Why isn't it offensive when Obama attends a Christian religious service (as opposed to addressing people of faith)? Why isn't that pitting Christians against everybody else? ...

... "'The Boy in the Bubble,' Running Scared." Dana Milbank: Marco Rubio "is stumping through New Hampshire as if he's campaigning to win the Cautious Caucus. He gives the same speech everywhere. The most tightly managed candidate in the race, he shuns risk and appears to live in mortal terror of mentioning the man who dominates the race.... Rubio's strong Iowa finish has brought new attention -- and over-capacity crowds -- in New Hampshire. But the would-be supporters are greeted by a robot." ...

... That's funny, because Gail Collins notes that even if Marco has been giving the same speech since 2010, he's still "growing" on some issues, especially where "growth" = "flipflop."

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Sen. Marco Rubio locked up a handful of congressional endorsements on Wednesday.... The endorsements are the latest in a rapidly increasing list of congressional backers who have thrown their support behind Rubio, who has now vaulted ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the so-called 'endorsement primary.'" ...

... Michael Barbaro & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "... Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is embarking on a scalding effort over the next week to discredit Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the man he blames for undermining his campaign and whose ascendancy he deeply resents. And Mr. Christie has a secret ally: Jeb Bush.... The shared concern has even prompted the opening of a back channel: Members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt Mr. Rubio's rise in the polls...." ...

... Jonathan Martin & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: Jeb! "is facing growing pressure to either demonstrate his appeal to voters or leave the race. Specifically, many Republicans -- including some of his supporters and donors -- said Tuesday that Mr. Bush must finish ahead of Mr. Rubio in the primary [in New Hampshire] on Tuesday to justify continuing his campaign into South Carolina.... Yet there are signs Mr. Bush may still have some work to do to finish in the top tier here. Speaking to a crowd at the Hanover Inn near the Vermont border during his final stop of the day, Mr. Bush finished a fiery riff about protecting the country as commander in chief -- 'I won't be out here blowharding, talking a big game without backing it up,' he said -- and was met with total silence. 'Please clap,' he said, sounding defeated. The crowd laughed -- and then, finally, clapped." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. Akhilleus comments, near the end of yesterday's thread, on poor ole Jeb! ...

... Scott Lemieux: "I'm almost tempted to feel bad for the guy, but then I remember the 2000 African-American voter purge and Terri Schiavo." ...

... Kerry Eleveld of Daily Kos: "... the last thing establishment Republicans want is for Jeb! Bush and Marco Rubio to continue tearing each other to shreds with a little Kasich and Christie on the side. They need to coalesce against the enemy -- Crump!... There's one problem, the establishment built a hideous financial beast that they might not be able to control: FrankenBush."

Ashley Parker & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania plans two major announcements on Wednesday night about his candidacy amid speculation that he is pulling out of the race." CW: Darn! I was sure Santorum was going to win. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. Daniel Strauss: "Rick Santorum on Wednesday dropped out of the Republican primary race, and immediately threw his support behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio." CW: Yes, because they both would ban abortion and limit contraception for every woman excepting their wives & any occasional lovers they might have. ...

... Update: With repeated prodding, Rick Santorum can't name a single accomplishment Marco Rubio achieved in the Senate:

Post Mortem for the Most Interesting Man in Politics. Jamelle Bouie: Rand Paul's attempts to embrace minorities was no match for Donald Trump's racism. "As a vehicle for [his] message [of inclusion], the Kentucky senator wasn't perfect.... Still, unique among the GOP's presidential aspirants, Paul tried.... Whereas Paul wanted to appeal to minority voters, Trump aimed to antagonize them, sharing racist and anti-black memes on Twitter and warning voters of a dangerous, brown-skinned menace.... Republican voters have flocked to this, and in response, mainstream Republican candidates have aped the approach.... After almost eight years of Obama, what Republican voters want is strength and aggression. And in Trump and his imitators, that's what they have."

Beyond the Beltway

Graham Bowley, et al., of the New York Times: "The sexual assault case against Bill Cosby can proceed, a judge ruled Wednesday, saying that prosecutors are not bound by a predecessor's decision 11 years ago to not prosecute Mr. Cosby in the case of a young Temple University staff member who said the entertainer had drugged and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia home."

Way Beyond

Nick Cumming-Bruce & Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "The United Nations on Wednesday temporarily suspended the fledgling talks aimed at ending the war in Syria and called on the countries fueling the conflict to do more to yield results, as Syrian government forces sharply escalated an offensive on a strategic rebel-held city."

Simon Romero of the New York Times: "The surging medical reports of babies being born with unusually small heads during the Zika epidemic in Brazil are igniting a fierce debate over the country's abortion laws, which make the procedure illegal under most circumstances. Prominent legal scholars in Brasília, the capital, are preparing a case to go before Brazil's highest court, arguing that pregnant women should be permitted to have abortions when their fetuses are found to have abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly that Brazilian researchers say is linked to the virus. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Liam Stack of the New York Times: "Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said on Thursday that he would turn himself in to the British police if a United Nations panel ruled that the years he has spent in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, did not constitute a de facto form of illegal imprisonment." ...

     ... Update. Matt Siegel and Guy Faulconbridge of Reuters: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's three-and-a-half-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to 'unlawful detention', a United Nations panel examining his appeal will rule on Friday, the BBC reported.... The British police said Assange would face arrest if he leaves the embassy."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

New York Times: "Maurice White, the founder and leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, whose genre-defying music made it one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 74."

Tuesday
Feb022016

The Commentariat -- February 3, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama reached out to Muslims in the United States on Wednesday in an impassioned speech, embracing them as part of 'one American family,' implicitly criticizing the Republican presidential candidates and warning citizens not to be 'bystanders to bigotry":

Oliver Milman & Ryan Felton of the Guardian: "The Environmental Protection Agency warned of an unfolding toxic water crisis in Flint but was 'met with resistance' by Michigan authorities, a fiery congressional hearing into the city's public health disaster has heard.... Congress was also told that flawed water testing practices, now eliminated in Flint, are happening unchecked across the US, risking a much wider public health crisis in other cities."

Greg Sargent: "The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed on a rough schedule for four new debates over the next few months, according to various sources, a move that shows the Democratic primary is now set to shift into a higher gear and signals we may be headed for a long, drawn-out battle. The four debates will be sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, a spokesman for the DNC, Luis Miranda, confirms to me."

You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty. -- Hillary Clinton, ca. September 10, 2015 ...

... Amber Jamieson of the Guardian: "At a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire on Wednesday, [Hillary] Clinton accused [Bernie] Sanders of a 'low blow' for saying that the former secretary of state was only a progressive on 'some days'. 'I hope we keep it on the issues,' Clinton said, 'because if it's about our records, hey, I'm going to win by a landslide.' A reporter had questioned the Vermont senator on Tuesday about whether his Democratic opponent was a truly progressive liberal. 'Some days, yes. Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she is not a progressive,' replied Sanders."

Ashley Parker & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania plans two major announcements on Wednesday night about his candidacy amid speculation that he is pulling out of the race." CW: Darn! I was sure Santorum was going to win.

Simon Romero of the New York Times: "The surging medical reports of babies being born with unusually small heads during the Zika epidemic in Brazil are igniting a fierce debate over the country's abortion laws, which make the procedure illegal under most circumstances. Prominent legal scholars in Brasília, the capital, are preparing a case to go before Brazil's highest court, arguing that pregnant women should be permitted to have abortions when their fetuses are found to have abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly that Brazilian researchers say is linked to the virus.

*****

Presidential Race

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Presidential candidates flew through the night to hit the New Hampshire campaign trail running on Tuesday morning, eager to capitalize on a race that has been reordered by surprising finishes in the Iowa caucuses." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Frank Rich reflects on the Iowa results & what may happen going forward. As we noted here a few days ago, Rich's predictions haven't been too great. (Have you heard anybody outside of the Paul household saying "President Paul.") Nonetheless, Rich always offers an interesting perspective. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... AND Charles Pierce reflects on the Iowa results. Something, something, inequality, Epistle of James. (Also linked yesterday.) ...


Annals of Journalsim," Ctd. Break.

... ** Part 1. Paul Waldman in the Week: "Since it is obviously impossible for you to understand what happened in Iowa on Monday night by simply looking at the numbers, you must find an analysis to make sense of it all. So I'm here to offer you not one but two hot takes for each party's race, to help you make sense of it all...." ...

... Part 2. Steve M. finds a lovely example of Jeb!-spin, masquerading as ABC News reporting or analysis or something. ...

... Part 3. Paul Krugman has a theory on why Iowa "matters." ...

... Part 4. AND then there's MSNBC's Chris Matthews, whose ostensible interview of Hillary Clinton included a running diatribe that required Charles Pierce to write, "Bernie Sanders is running a campaign completely within what can reasonably be called the mainstream of his party and of our politics. Discreet red-baiting and disingenuous scaremongering helps nobody." CW: What makes Matthews' rant particularly weird is that Matthews is (or was) supposedly working on a book about fawning biography of Bobby Kennedy, whose politics then were not so much different in content & tone from what Sanders says today. Not much news on the bio-in-progress, so maybe Bobby (or "Bob," as Matthews is won't to call him) & his radical views put off the author. Anyway, there's a reason "journalist" & "joke" begin with the same letters, & I think that has less to do with etymology than with Matthews School of Bull.


Jason Horowitz & Yamiche Alcindor
of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders, who came within half a percentage point of defeating Hillary Clinton in Iowa, will spend the next week trying to maintain a significant advantage in New Hampshire, where he has been leading in polls for months. His campaign will stage rallies in the more populous southern parts of the state, where he also will air more than $1 million worth of television ads."

Amy Chozick, et al., of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton is digging in for a tough fight against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in next week's primary in New Hampshire, her advisers said Tuesday, trying to spark political momentum and fund-raising energy after only a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday after final vote counts showed her narrowly beating Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, according to The Associated Press and other news organizations." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here are the official vote tally percentages, according to the Iowa Democratic party's Website: Clinton 49.8, Sanders 49.6, O'Malley 0.5. ...

... Kevin Hardy of the Des Moines Register: "Sen. Bernie Sanders Iowa campaign is questioning the results of Monday's caucuses. After all precincts were reported Tuesday morning, the Iowa Democratic Party reported Hillary Clinton won 49.8 percent of state delegate equivalents in the Democratic Iowa caucuses. Bernie Sanders took 49.6 percent of delegate equivalents. Sanders' campaign staff believes there may be discrepancies between the paper vote tallies at the precinct level and numbers that were reported to the state party." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post has a longish piece on how Clinton nearly got Berned in Iowa. Here's my favorite bit: Sanders "was headed to a May 31 rally at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis, his first big campaign event outside his New England home turf. But Sanders was still blocks away -- and the car he was in was not moving. 'Is there a wreck ahead?' Sanders anxiously asked his field director, Phil Fiermonte. 'No,' Fiermonte replied, 'they're here to see you.' More than 3,000 of them, many standing outside because the hall was full. 'It never occurred to me in a million years that line was for us,' Sanders recalled in a telephone interview Sunday.... 'I said, "Whoa." That was the first inkling that I had that this campaign was catching on.'" (Also linked yesterday.)

... CW: This post, in which Michael Stern briefly discusses recent legal news coverage of Ted Cruz's citizenship & Hillary Clinton's e-mails, made me wonder when we're going to hear the following theory emerge from the bowels of Right Wing World: Hillary Clinton is running for president to postpone her otherwise inevitable conviction for treason on accounta carelessly (or purposely!) sharing top-secret U.S. documents with Vladimir Putin & Kim Jong-Un via her Facebook page personal e-mail account.


Ashley Parker
of the New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky ended his presidential campaign Wednesday, after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses this week." ...

... Ed Kilgore assesses what went wrong for Li'l Randy.

Killer Sharks! "Smelling Blood, Rivals Circle Trump." Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Emboldened by Donald J. Trump’s defeat in the Iowa caucuses, his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are preparing to challenge him aggressively in the New Hampshire primary — and perhaps even to aim a fatal blow at his campaign by seeking to deny him victory in a second consecutive state.... The sense of urgency about taking on Mr. Trump transcends the different political camps on the Republican side in New Hampshire." ...

Maybe he'll do more than 40 minutes on a little stage telling everybody his canned speech that he's memorized. This isn't a student council election, everybody. This is an election for president of the United States. Let's get the boy in the bubble out of the bubble. -- Chris Christie, on Marco Rubio, to reporters Tuesday

... Killer Sharks 2.0. Philip Rucker & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Marco Rubio's surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa caucuses reshuffled the already intense competition here in New Hampshire among the Republican establishment candidates, leading some to sharpen their attacks on the freshman senator from Florida ahead of next week's primary."

If we are attacked, somebody attacks us, wouldn't you rather have Trump as president if we're attacked? We'll beat the shit out of them. -- Donald Trump, at a New Hampshire rally Tuesday

CW Translation: If some Muslim guy attacks an American, I'll order the Pentagon to start World War III at the same time I'm yelling at the decorators for not painting vermeil on every baroque detail in the Trump White House ballroom

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump acknowledged on Tuesday night that his voter turnout operation in Iowa was weak, despite boasts from his team for weeks of a secret plan to get his supporters to the polls." ...

... Robert Costa & Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump returned to New Hampshire on Tuesday night with the stakes as high as ever for his presidential campaign, determined to showcase his political resilience after his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and rouse his supporters with a rally that was a raucous return to form. There was swagger, curses and confidence, and thousands of people packed into an athletic center, all bundled up in winter coats and many toting signs." ...

... Also, former handsome short-term Sen. Scott Brown endorsed Trump at the rally. Relatedly, Scott Brown is still handsome. ...

... MEANWHILE, Trump wishes to remind us ungrateful voters that we aren't worthy of the generosity he has bestowed upon us by (partially) self-funding his vanity vaudeville act.

Betsy Klein, et al., of CNN: "One day after winning the Iowa caucuses, [Ted] Cruz issued an apology to [Ben] Carson after his staff falsely told Iowa caucusgoers that Carson planned to quit the race, calling it a 'mistake.' Cruz said in a statement Tuesday that his campaign staff saw a CNN report that Carson was dropping out, although CNN had not characterized Carson's actions that way.... Carson said Tuesday he accepted the apology, but questioned whether there was a deeper 'cultural issue' with Cruz's campaign. 'As a Christian I will accept the apology but it doesn't correct the problem,' Carson told CNN. 'This is a cultural issue when people in your campaign feel that it's ok to distort the issues to their political advantage and to tell absolute lies. And the question really is will there be any consequences for that.'" ...

... CW: Carson is right. Cruz's staff didn't idly spread a false story. They did so during the caucus process, to lure Carson's evangelical base voters over to Ted's camp. Cruz won the Iowa caucus vote by several points, so the lie, shot out to "grassroots leaders" as voters were participating in the caucuses, probably didn't materially change the final rankings, but hearing that their preferred candidate was leaving the race certainly could have made some voters switch from Carson to Cruz. Cruz is a snake. ...

Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified. -- Donald Trump tweet, Wednesday ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: Donald Trump used Cruz's phony e-mail claim that Carson was quitting the race, along with the phony voter mailers to accuse Cruz of stealing the caucus vote. ...

... Marvin S. highlights this New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial titled "President Cruz: Still America's Worst Nightmare." If you want to daydream about this nightmare, the editors reprise some of what Ted Cruz has already done & said to help you along. Also, too, Cruz has already condemned our winger Chief Justice as a liberal; I doubt even Alito, Scalia & Thomas are extreme enough for him.

Marco Has a New Black Friend. Andrew Shane of the (South Carolina) State: "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who came close to winning second in the Iowa caucus, won a coveted endorsement Tuesday in South Carolina from U.S Sen. Tim Scott.... After the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9, Scott could help Rubio in South Carolina. The only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate is one of the Palmetto State's most popular politicians in polls." ...

... CW: Six other sitting U.S. Senators have endorsed Rubio. Expect more to follow.

Other News

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "President Obama will make his first visit to a mosque in the United States on Wednesday, traveling to a suburb of Baltimore to meet with Muslim leaders and to speak out against hostility and discrimination against Islam."

Alan Fram of the AP: "Republicans failed in their latest futile attempt Tuesday to kill President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, a Groundhog Day vote by the House that was solely an exercise in election-year political messaging. Tuesday's near party-line vote to override Obama's January veto of legislation gutting much of the law was 241-186, but that fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to reverse a veto. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the effort to force enactment of the bill, which would have also ended federal payments to Planned Parenthood, would send an important signal." CW: Important signal received.

Donald McNeil & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "A case of Zika virus infection transmitted by sex, rather than mosquito bite, was discovered in Texas on Tuesday, a development sure to complicate plans to contain a global epidemic.... The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department reported that a patient with the Zika virus was infected after having sex with someone who had returned from Venezuela, where Zika is circulating. After the report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its advice to Americans visiting regions in which the Zika virus is spreading. Men having sex after traveling to these areas should consider wearing condoms, officials said.... Pregnant women should avoid contact with semen from men recently exposed to the virus, federal officials also said."

Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press: "While acknowledging mistakes made by the state in the handling of Flint's water crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder's hand-picked appointee to run the state Department of Environmental Quality faults the federal EPA for contributing to the public health catastrophe, saying it 'did not display the sense of urgency that the situation demanded.' In testimony to be delivered Wednesday before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, new DEQ Director Keith Creagh takes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to task, insisting that the federal agency dragged its feet for months before providing a legal opinion making it clear that DEQ should have required Flint to have corrosion-control treatments before it switched to using water from the Flint River in 2014."

Voter Suppression Laws Are Working! Scott Keyes of Think Progress: "... the first study has been released showing that the proliferation of voter ID laws in recent years has indeed driven down minority voter turnout, and by a significant amount.... The researchers found that in primary elections, 'a strict ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 9.3 points, Black turnout by 8.6 points, and Asian American turnout by 12.5 points.' The impact of strict voter ID was also evident in general elections, where minority turnout plummeted in relation to the white vote. 'For Latinos in the general election, the predicted gap more than doubles from 4.9 points in states without strict ID laws to 13.5 points in states with strict photo ID laws,' the study found. That gap increased by 2.2 points for African Americans and by 5 points for Asian Americans. The effect was even more pronounced in primary elections." CW: Now, please, can't we bring back the poll tax? Oh, wait, in most states these laws do constitute at least a partial poll tax, as they often require voters to pay for forms of identification they don't have on hand. In some cases, they require voters to come up with documents that don't exist, like birth certificates for older voters born at home and/or in other countries.

David Streitfeld of the New York Times: "Whether it is sold or survives, Yahoo is getting smaller. It said on Tuesday it would lay off about 15 percent of its 11,000 employees. By the end of the cuts, the company said its work force would be about 42 percent smaller than it was in 2012. In addition to being smaller, [Yahoo CEO Marissa] Mayer said, the company would be simpler. Yahoo will shed assets, cut expenses and focus on the areas of the company that are growing."

Brian Feldman of New York: "Amazon is apparently opening hundreds of bookstores in malls around the country. According to Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of mall operator General Growth Properties, Amazon is planning on opening '300 to 400' bookstores this year." CW: Support your local bookstore.

Beyond the Beltway

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Georgia executed its oldest death row inmate early Wednesday morning, moving ahead with the scheduled lethal injection after courts and a state pardon board rejected his requests for stays. Brandon Astor Jones, 72, was first sentenced to death in 1979 for the death of Roger Tackett, who managed a convenience store."

Jeremy Roebuck & Laura McCrystal of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Bill "Cosby's lawyers contend that the aggravated indecent assault charge filed in December against the 78-year-old entertainer violates a 'non-prosecution' agreement [tnen Montgomery County D.A. Bruce] Castor made with their client a decade ago. Prosecutors, led by current District Attorney Kevin Steele, say no such deal existed."

Anh Do & Christopher Goffard of the Los Angeles Times: An Orange County cab driver says three fugitives who escaped from the Orange County jail, held him captive for a week, forcing him to drive them around in his cab, using his driver's license to get a hotel room & arguing about whether or not to kill him. ...

... Keystone Kops, Ctd. Joseph Serna, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: And in other Southern California manhunt news, L.A. County Sheriffs accidentally released a murder suspect awaiting sentencing on an attempted murder conviction. CW: Shit happens, you know. Lock your doors, people.

Monday
Feb012016

The Commentariat -- February 2, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Presidential candidates flew through the night to hit the New Hampshire campaign trail running on Tuesday morning, eager to capitalize on a race that has been reordered by surprising finishes in the Iowa caucuses."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday after final vote counts showed her narrowly beating Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, according to The Associated Press and other news organizations." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post has a longish piece on how Clinton nearly got Berned in Iowa. Here's my favorite bit: Sanders "was headed to a May 31 rally at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis, his first big campaign event outside his New England home turf. But Sanders was still blocks away -- and the car he was in was not moving. 'Is there a wreck ahead?' Sanders anxiously asked his field director, Phil Fiermonte. 'No,' Fiermonte replied, 'they're here to see you.' More than 3,000 of them, many standing outside because the hall was full. 'It never occurred to me in a million years that line was for us,' Sanders recalled in a telephone interview Sunday.... 'I said, "Whoa." That was the first inkling that I had that this campaign was catching on.'" ...

... Frank Rich reflects on the Iowa results & what may happen going forward. As we noted here a few days ago, Rich's predictions haven't been too great. (Have you heard anybody outside of the Paul household saying "President Paul.") Nonetheless, Rich always offers an interesting perspective. ...

... AND Charles Pierce reflects on the Iowa results. Something, something, inequality, Epistle of James.

*****

Presidential Race

Josh Cassidy of the New Yorker sums up the state of the race: "After a remarkable night in Iowa, one that served as a rebuke to Donald Trump and to the opinion pollsters, the Democratic Party was faced with the prospect of confronting a youthful and articulate Republican candidate come November: Senator Marco Rubio, who finished a strong third in the G.O.P. caucus, behind Ted Cruz and Trump. Before then, though, Democrats have some messy internal business to deal with: Bernie Sanders, promoting an American version of 'people power,' has confirmed his capture of the Party's under-forty wing, which means trouble for Hillary Clinton." ...

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Monday night's results confirmed that despite the widening cultural and political fissures that have divided right and left, voters are united in an impatience, even a revulsion, at what they see as a rigged system that no longer works for them. For Republicans, the enemy is an overreaching government, strangling their freedoms and pocketbooks. For Democrats, it is an unfair economy, shrinking their paychecks and aspirations.... And it sent a forceful message to Democratic leaders that it was unwilling to put aside its resentment of Wall Street and corporate America to crown a lifelong party insider who has amassed millions in speaking fees from the big banks."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont were locked in an intensely tight race in the Iowa caucuses on Monday as Mrs. Clinton's strong support among women and older voters was matched by the passionate liberal foot soldiers whom Mr. Sanders has been calling to political revolution. The close results were deeply unnerving to Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as her advisers, some of whom had expressed growing confidence in recent days that they had recaptured political momentum after weeks when Mr. Sanders was drawing huge crowds and rising in the polls. The Clintons had appeared optimistic at rallies over the weekend, thanking Iowans for their support as much as urging them to turn out to vote. The close vote means that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders are likely to split Iowa's share of delegates to the Democratic convention, and Mr. Sanders will be able to argue that the Iowa result was a virtual tie."

Dan Roberts, et al., of the Guardian: "Both [Democratic] candidates will now move on to New Hampshire buoyed up, Clinton with a 'sigh of relief' that her bid to be the first female president of the United States is alive, and Sanders believing that his revolution against the 'billionaire classes' truly began in the snowy cornfields of Iowa. With half of the results in across the rural midwest state, Clinton appeared to be easing to victory, three points up on the Vermont senator, whose relatively ramshackle campaign seemed to be no match for her mighty political machine. But as the night wore on, Clinton's lead shrank to two and then one point, until she was locked in a virtual tie with the 74-year-old whose passion has ignited a fervour among young Americans. Appearing onstage in Des Moines before the final tally arrived, Clinton hailed 'a contest of ideas' and appeared battle-ready for the fight of her political life."

Jamil Smith of the New Republic: "The Clinton campaign released a statement that read, in part, 'After thorough reporting -- and analysis -- of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates. Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and and no way that Senator Sanders could overcome Secretary Clinton's advantage.'"

Tony Leyes of the Des Moines Register: "Hillary Clinton's campaign claimed a slim victory early Tuesday over populist firebrand Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, though his spokeswoman said the results were not settled. Iowa Democratic Party officials worked into the early morning hours, trying to chase down results from a handful of precincts. About 2:30 a.m., the party's website showed that Clinton had 49.9 percent of the delegates to Sanders' 49.6 percent, with 1,682 of 1,683 precincts reporting":

Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register: "In a handful of Democratic caucus precincts Monday, a delegate was awarded with a coin toss. It happened in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where supporters of candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disputed the results after 60 caucus participants apparently disappeared from the proceedings. As a result of the coin toss, Clinton was awarded an additional delegate, meaning she took five of the precinct's eight, while Sanders received three....Similar situations were reported elsewhere, including at a precinct in Des Moines, at another precinct in Des Moines, in Newton, in West Branch and in Davenport. In all five situations, Clinton won the toss." CW: What are the odds? Seems like a conspiracy to me! (Yeah, I know how probability works. Each toss is independent. Also, apparently not socialist.)

Scott Bixby, et al., of the Guardian: "Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley announced that he was suspending his campaign for the White House on Monday night after a devastating loss in the Iowa caucuses that gave the candidate a fraction of a percentage point."

Eric Levitz of New York: "Bernie Sanders owns the future of the Democratic Party. In 2008, voters under 30 propelled Barack Obama to victory, choosing the Illinois senator over Hillary Clinton by a 43-point margin. In 2016, those younger voters single-handedly lifted America's favorite democratic socialist to a virtual tie: Sanders outperformed Clinton among voters 18 to 29 by 70 points, according to CNN's entrance poll.... Considering the structural disadvantages Sanders faced -- the concentration of his support among college students in a few select counties -- it's entirely possible the Vermont senator actually turned out more supporters than Clinton did."

Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "... if the night was muddy and unclear in term of its electoral meaning, it did show the ideological direction of the party in very forthright terms: Sanders is winning the battle of ideas and tugging Clinton to the left."

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "if you are a Democrat who wants to win the White House for a third term -- or a progressive who just wants to minimize the damage to your priorities -- you should relish the upcoming combat. Why? Because a competitive primary will energize the Democratic Party and prime it for a tough and grueling general election. In Iowa, for example, returns suggest turnout that either meets or exceeds the record from 2008." ...

... John Cassidy (linked above): "Speaking on CNN as it got late, David Axelrod, President Obama's former campaign manager, made an acute point. One of Hillary's problems is that her campaign is largely about herself — her experience, her electability, and her toughness. 'I will keep doing what I have done my entire life,' she said in her non-victory speech. 'I will keep standing up for you. I will keep fighting for you.' Sanders, on the other hand, rarely mentions himself in his speeches. His campaign is all about his message of taking American back from the billionaires. And as Axelrod pointed out, it is often easier to inspire people, particularly young people, with an uplifting theme than with a résumé."

Greg Sargent on the Clinton who can't feel your pain.


Jonathan Martin
of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, powered by a surge of support from evangelical Christians, dealt a humbling loss to Donald J. Trump in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, throwing into question the depth of support for Mr. Trump's unconventional candidacy.... Senator Marco Rubio of Florida finished a strong third, bolstering his case to consolidate the support of Republicans uneasy about the two top finishers. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Cruz had nearly 28 percent of the vote, Mr. Trump 24 percent and Mr. Rubio 23 percent."

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "After decisively winning the Iowa GOP caucuses late Monday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Democrats to join him in the race to the White House in an emotional, teleprompter-free speech that ran more than 30 minutes.... Joined on stage by his wife Heidi Cruz, his father Rafael Cruz, and his senior Iowa campaign staffers, the Texas senator gave a lengthy speech that leaned heavily on his spiritual beliefs and his political battles against the 'Washington cartel.' The lengthy run-time prompted all four major cable networks -- CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN and MSNBC -- to cut away to the Democratic candidates before the Iowa victor was finished speaking."

Andy Borowitz: "Senator Ted Cruz's stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses is serving as a beacon of hope to despised people across the nation, a number of disliked Americans confirmed on Monday."

Sasha Issenberg of Bloomberg reports on how Ted won -- and, yes, those fraudulent shame-the-voters mailers were part of the plan.

Fox Gets the Last Laugh. Brian Stelter of CNN: "When Donald Trump lost to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses Monday night, Fox News commentators were quick to suggest that Trump's decision to skip Fox's debate had something to do with it. Entrance poll surveys of Iowa voters supported the theory. Marco Rubio won 30% and Ted Cruz won 25% of the GOP voters who made up their minds in the days between the debate and the caucuses. Trump won only 14% of those late-deciding voters.... Kelly was the anchor who announced Cruz's defeat of Trump during the 10 p.m. hour on Monday." ...

... Nate Silver: "... there's good reason to think that the ground game wasn't the only reason for Trump's defeat. Republican turnout in Iowa was extremely high by historical standards and beat most projections. Furthermore, Trump won the plurality of first-time caucus-goers. There may have been a more basic reason for Trump's loss: The dude just ain't all that popular. Even among Republicans." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "At around 2:30 on Monday afternoon, at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Donald Trump was loudly, confidently and repeatedly proclaiming his impending victory in Iowa. Just before 10 p.m., he was acting like he had never expected to win, and like coming in second was a YUGE accomplishment.... It's impossible to know whether Mr. Trump understands that his slack campaign organization in Iowa may have cost him dearly here. Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico said Mr. Trump spent almost as much on hats as he did on payroll." ...

Steve M.: "Am I sorry the ignorant bigot lost? Yes, I am. Even though Trump has created a particularly toxic strain of Republicanism, he poses a threat to the Republican Establishment -- he tarnishes the GOP brand by saying out loud what other Republicans say in code, and while his agenda may overlap with that of the GOP's power brokers on many issues, he wouldn't just take an ALEC or Grover Norquist agenda off the shelf and run on it, much less govern by it. I think a Trump presidency would be a nightmare, but it would be a singularly Trumpian nightmare -- it wouldn't be a tactical advance in the long war being fought by the Koch brothers and their allies. And we might never get to that point, because Trump would be a weak general election candidate, at a time when the Democrats are going to have a weak candidate of their own. (If Marco Rubio is the nominee, he will win. Take that to the bank.)... I hope someone -- Trump, Kasich ... hell, even Jeb -- humiliates Rubio in New Hampshire next week. If not, I hope Trump and Cruz cleans his clock in South Carolina. He's dangerous."

Adam Gabbatt of the Guardian: "Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has suspended his campaign for president after winning less than 2% of the vote in the Iowa caucus. The former Arkansas governor announced that he was dropping out of the race on Twitter." CW: Now he can devote full-time to scamming the gullible.

Andrea Gonzales & Katherine Faulders of CNN: "Ben Carson's presidential campaign on Monday night insisted the Republican presidential candidate would not be suspending his campaign in the wake of the Iowa caucuses. Instead, the candidate, himself, told reporters that he would be 'going home' to Florida 'to get some fresh clothes.' Carson, who appeared to be running in a distant fourth in Iowa behind leading contenders Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, said he would be home for just 'ten or twelve hours.'"

Sam Shepard of Politico explains why the polls did not predict the caucus outcomes.

Gail Collins & Arthur Brooks have a conversation about the Iowa results. Collins: "Cruz's victory notwithstanding, my current nightmare scenario is that Sanders does somehow win the nomination, with Trump on the other side. Causing Michael Bloomberg to enter as an independent. Which draws away the votes of moderate Democrats and puts Trump in the White House...." Collins on also-rans: "It reminds me of a state legislator I knew years ago who ran against a totally entrenched, incumbent senior U.S. senator. I asked him why and he said: 'Well, he could die. Or get drunk and run into a school bus full of nuns.'"

The New York Times is liveblogging the Iowa caucuses. Their results page is here. (At 9:00 pm ET, the Times had caucus results on its front page.) The Washington Post will have the Iowa caucus results here.

Jose DelReal, et al., of the Washington Post: "Voters gathered at caucus sites around the state and the events officially began at 7 p.m. Central time. Political operatives predicted a high turnout -- and there were reports that some sites were so packed that officials had trouble closing the doors -- despite a significant snowstorm that was bearing down on the state. Forecasters said the storm would likely hit after the caucuses were closed."

Six- to eight-year-olds from the Washington, D.C., area assess the candidates:

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: The Iowa caucus system is so undemocratic that even Iowa's senator, Joni Ernst (RTP) can't vote -- she has to be at work in Washington. "... Thousands of Iowans will ... be unable to vote because they work for a living."

Jamelle Bouie: "Win or lose, [Bernie] Sanders will stand as a historic presence in the Democratic Party.... Democrats have always kept their left flank at arms length.... Whatever the Democratic Party is in the next 20 or 30 years, it will owe a great deal to Sanders and all the people -- young or otherwise -- who felt the Bern." Also, he has "real clean teeth."

Sara Jerde of TPM: "Donald Trump told the crowd gathered at his campaign rally on Monday to 'knock the crap' out of anybody who threw a tomato at him. Trump said the event's security staff told him there was a risk people would throw the juicy fruit.... 'I will pay for the legal fees. I promise,' he added. 'They won't be so much because the courts agree with us too.'" ...

... digby: "I'm not in favor of tomato throwing by the way. But Trump telling citizens to 'knock the crap' out of them and he'll pay the legal fees is ... unpresidential to say the least. If anyone takes him up on it, it might even be called accessory to an assault. What the hell is happening here? is this becoming normalized? Gangster in Chief?" ...

... Trump drops cash in the place his little wine & little cracker go. This makes me laugh even as someone who has surely goofed during ceremony or rite with which I was unfamiliar. Anyway, it's the thought that counts. ...

... Kareem Abdul-Jabar, in a Washington Post op-ed, tells Trump voters their guy isn't who he says he is & won't be able to give them what they want. It's a pretty devastating analysis. ...

... Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "Donald Trump is so fiercely opposed by the Koch brothers network that some donors believe the powerful group will intervene to stop the billionaire if it looks like he could win the Republican presidential nomination.... On the eve of the Iowa causes, Koch network officials revealed in a private meeting with donors that they had commissioned focus group research to identify Trump's vulnerabilities." CW: Which is something of an argument contra Abdul-Jabar. Trump voters don't want these fat cats picking the president. They'll pick their own, thank you, even if in their foolishness they opt for a megalomanical fat cat. ...

... OR, as Paul Waldman remarks, "Nothing says 'democracy' like a couple of billionaires spending millions of dollars to keep another billionaire from winning the presidency." ...

All In. Brian Beutler: "How did the party that has recently been led by country-club candidates like Mitt Romney and Bob Dole come to be overtaken by a performance artist whom these former nominees detest?... The maximalism of the GOP's obstruction [of President Obama's initiatives] reflected not just the party's ideological median, but its political determination that Obama's presidency should be a failure.... Trump..., more than any Republican candidate..., has shaped his entire campaign around defining himself as an anti-Obama.... As the first votes of 2016 are cast, Republicans are preparing themselves to nominate the antithesis of an outgoing president that about half the country still likes.... It's an incredibly risky political gamble. And to the regret of the faltering establishment candidates who will be exiting the race in the coming days, the party went all-in seven years ago."

Ed Kilgore of New York: "The vibe at Jeb Bush's downtown Des Moines caucus 'briefing' Monday afternoon is upbeat and upscale -- but it's taking place under the shadow of reports circulating in the right-wing media that the campaign is paying an army of 'seat fillers' $25 an hour to make this rally look full.... A Congressional Medal of Honor winner who begins the proceedings refers to him as 'George — er, Jeb -- Bush.'... [At the end of Iowa Gov. Terry Bradstad's introduction,] two young men stand up and yell out, 'We've been here for two hours and haven't gotten paid.'... The interruption is yet another recapitulation of the general sense of failure that has haunted Jeb's campaign from around the time Trump entered the race."

Other News

If it's Groundhog Day, it must be time for the House to vote to repeal ObamaCare. Sure enough.

Richard Alba in the American Prospect: "The disappearance of a white majority in the United States by the middle of this century is now widely accepted as if it were an established fact." But it ain't necessarily so. Alba explains why "longstanding processes of assimilation could produce a white-dominated mainstream at the national level and in many regions for the foreseeable future."

Ariana Cha, et al., of the Washington Post: "The World Health Organization designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications in newborns as a public health emergency of international concern Monday. The action, which the international body has taken only three times before, paves the way for the mobilization of more funding and manpower to fight the mosquito-born pathogen spreading 'explosively' through the Americas." CW: Somehow, this real crisis is going to become "all Obama's fault" & Chris Christie will quarantine a pregnant Guatemalan woman.

Stephanie Clifford & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: "Though much of the focus on bank fraud has been on sophisticated hackers, it is the more prosaic figure of the teller behind the window who should worry depositors, according to prosecutors, government officials and security experts.... Rich and elderly bank customers are particularly at risk, prosecutors say, when tellers and other retail-branch employees tap into accounts to wire funds without authorization, make fake debit cards to withdraw money from A.T.M.s and sell off personal information to other criminals. Accounts with high balances and those with direct deposits of government funds, like Social Security payments, are especially coveted." ...

... CW: Yikes! Except for the rich part, that would be me. I am the mark.

Julian Aguilar of the Texas Tribune: Texas "Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, pressed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday to explain why the agency plans to reduce its aerial surveillance on the Texas-Mexico border. In a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, the lawmakers said the cut to a requested 3,850 hours of aerial detection and monitoring in 2016 amounts to 50 percent less coverage than recent years."

Capitalism Is AWESOME! Michael Liedtke of the AP: "Alphabet now comes before Apple atop the list of the world's most valuable companies. The shift occurred in Monday's extended trading after Alphabet, Google's new parent company, released a fourth-quarter earnings report that highlighted the robust growth of the digital ad market. Apple Inc.'s iPhone, meanwhile, is suffering its first downturn since it debuted eight years ago." ...

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Clint Rainey of New York: "Last fall, Nestlé took the unusual step of admitting slave labor exists in its seafood supply chains. These accusations had been around for a while, but Nestlé's report owning up to them was seen as groundbreaking for the industry. The thing is..., Nestlé doesn't really buy that much fish, and human-rights advocates have shifted to a much bigger raw material for the conglomerate -- cocoa from the Ivory Coast -- that they also say is tainted by ties to slavery, only Nestlé won't acknowledge it. Their anger is mostly centered on Nestlé's tactics to kill a big lawsuit filed by former victims of child slavery who worked on these farms. And this fury's officially kicked into high gear now that the Supreme Court looked at the case and refused to throw it out, taking Nestlé from good guy back to bad guy in slave-labor news."

Beyond the Beltway

Judd Legum of Think Progress: "On Saturday, 300 plumbers from unions across the country descended on Flint to install new faucets and water filters for free.... The effort was coordinated by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, known as the United Association. The fixtures were donated by the Plumbing Manufacturers International." CW: Take a look at the photos of the plumbers. They are mostly white guys. The residents of Flint mostly are not. Think progress.

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post: "Republican lawmakers in Illinois last month pitched a bold plan for the state to seize control of the Chicago Public Schools, one of a growing number of states that are moving to sideline local officials -- even dissolve locally elected school boards -- and take over struggling urban schools. Governors in Michigan, Arkansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Ohio and elsewhere -- mostly Republican leaders who otherwise champion local control in their fights with the federal government -- say they are intervening in cases of chronic academic or financial failure." ...

... CW: The evidence that Republicans fundamentally oppose democracy is now overwhelming.

Molly Young of the Oregonian: "The dividing line over a monthlong armed standoff in [Burns, Oregon] ... deepened Monday. Hundreds of people converged on the county courthouse lawn to send a singular message to the remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and their supporters: Go home. But backers of the anti-government standoff also turned out by the hundreds and made clear they would not back down.... A self-styled patriot group from Idaho organized the protest backing the occupation." The protests lasted for about four hours. ...

... Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian: "Lawyers for Ammon Bundy this week will challenge U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman's order to keep Bundy in custody pending trial." ...

... Maxine Bernstein: "Peter T. Santilli, one of the 11 defendants charged with federal conspiracy stemming from the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, will challenge a magistrate judge's detention order before another federal judge on Tuesday. On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman had characterized Santilli's case as a 'close call,' but on Monday, she ordered him to remain in custody, pending trial. She found he remains a serious risk of flight and danger to the community." ...

... The Hypocrites' Defense. Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post (Jan. 29, updated yesterday): "As of Friday, six of the militants have been assigned a federal public defender or court-appointed lawyer, meaning the federal government they were protesting will be footing their legal bills. Ammon Bundy -- the son of rancher Cliven Bundy, who engaged in a prior battle with the federal government over unpaid grazing fees -- is crowdsourcing online to pay for his private legal defense. All of the people arrested -- Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy, Jon Ritzheimer, Joseph O'Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Peter Santilli -- have a court appearance scheduled for Feb. 3 and an arraignment set for Feb. 24."

Sunday
Jan312016

The Commentariat -- February 1, 2016

Cristina Marcos & Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The House is slated to take up repealing ObamaCare on Groundhog Day.... The House has voted more than 60 times since Republicans took over the majority in 2011 to undo the healthcare law. Tuesday's vote, however, will be the first attempt to override President Obama's veto of a measure to overturn his signature legislative accomplishment.... Republicans are not expected to secure the necessary two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. And once the veto override attempt fails in the House, the Senate won’t be able to consider it."

Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "The Koch brothers' donor network spent close to $400 million last year, and is on its way to spending an unprecedented $889 million supporting right-wing politics and causes during the 2016 cycle. On Saturday afternoon, the Koch network assembled 500 wealthy conservatives -- its largest gathering ever -- at a luxury resort near the foothills of Palm Springs' Coachella Valley.... The network is now the most powerful force in right-wing politics, with a budget and technological infrastructure that rivals that of the Republican Party." ...

... Paul Krugman: "So what's really at stake in this year's election? Well, among other things, the fate of the planet." ...

... CW: For almost all of their lives, the Koch boys knew the family business was extracting limited resources from the earth. And for the last several decades, they certainly knew that their little business model also was bad for the planet. Yes, I know they've somewhat divested into renewable sources -- they bought Georgia Pacific, for instance -- but the font of their business, as well as their philosophy, centers on raping the earth in one way or another. We may be past the age of rapid technological change, but we're still into rapid cultural change, & the fact that the Koch boys are not innovative enough to keep up by acknowledging & adapting to a culture that demands clean, renewable energy shows that Chuck & Dave are not just greedy bastards; they're also kinda stoopid. ...

... Paul Krugman reviews Robert Gordon's The Rise & Fall of American Growth. "Perhaps the future isn't what it used to be." CW: One thing Krugman doesn't discuss, & perhaps Gordon does, is how technological inventions are now universally available. If you recall, several years ago, Fox "News" pundits were very upset that poor people had refrigerators & coffeemakers. Refrigerators still aren't cheap (though used ones are), but many of the gizmos we think we want get cheaper every year, & that makes them, eventually, available to the vast majority of Americans. Those homes in the South to which Krugman refers have power & plumbing now. ...

... James Koren of the Los Angeles Times: "To the long list of things you can do with your phone -- including watch a movie, buy a latte and hail a ride -- prepare to add one more: get cash. Over the next few months, the nation's three biggest banks [-- Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase & Bank of America --] will start rolling out ATMs that will let customers withdraw currency using their smartphones instead of debit cards -- the latest step toward a future in which phones could replace bank branches and wallets. 'My boys are 5 and 6 -- I don't think they'll carry around plastic when they grow up,' said Michelle Moore, head of digital banking for Bank of America, which plans to make cardless ATMs widely available as early as May."

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post takes another look at "Bundystan," the land in Nevada that Cliven Bundy & his clan have stolen from the people. The standoff between Bundy & the feds isn't over. He now owes the government about $2 million in grazing fees. CW: There are several good reasons not to eat much beef. The Bundys are one of them.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in a New York Times op-ed: "IN Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended -- with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse. That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation. Some sought to shoot the messenger -- twisting my words into a misguided justification for violence. The stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are reprehensible. So, too, are the incitement of violence and the glorification of killers.... Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians." ...

... CW: The "some" who "sought to shoot the messanger" include Benjamin Netanyahu. Looks like the only friends Bibi has left in the whole wide world are U.S. Republicans.

W. J. Hennigan & Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama has repeatedly touted the U.S.-led coalition assembled to battle Islamic State militants, but Pentagon officials are expressing growing frustration that some of the 64 partner nations and regional groups are backing the effort in name only. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has been the most vocal, complaining last month that some allies are 'not doing enough or doing nothing at all.'"

The End of a Bromance. Paul Farhi & Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post on why Jim VandeHei left Politico, the online news source he co-founded. CW: Like everything else in Washington, it was about power & prestige.

Presidential Race

** George Packer of the New Yorker: "Direct primaries -- the selection of candidates by voters instead of by party leaders -- came into existence a hundred years ago. They were the inspiration of reformers who wanted to take power away from political machines and corporate interests, and return it to the people, who were believed to be wiser and more capable than the bosses, because they were less self-interested.... But ... the voters turn out to be more partisan than the bosses." Packer adds an important piece to the puzzle "How'd we get into this mess?"

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "... with the caucuses on Monday hours away, the presidential candidates have switched gears, furiously crisscrossing Iowa and making direct appeals to voters to stand for them in the election's first nominating contest." ...

... Abby Phillip has the Washington Post story of the final Iowa sprint.

If you want to know what's going on in the presidential campaign cash game, Politico currently has a lot of front-page stories. Fer instance, here's one on Donald Trump's lending his campaign $10.8 million; here's another on George Soros' dropping $6MM on a Clinton superPAC. ...

... Fredreka Schouten of USA Today: "Bernie Sanders' campaign announced Sunday that it had raised $20 million this month -- an enormous haul as the Vermont senator seeks to demonstrate he's prepared for a protracted battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination." CW: I think Politico ran this story yesterday.

Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Sunday said it has agreed to sanction more presidential debates after facing criticism over a limited schedule.... ... A person familiar with the discussions said on Sunday that the DNC will sanction the MSNBC debate for this Thursday in New Hampshire once the Democratic candidates all agree on the details."

... Eli Stokols of Politico: Clinton & Trump headlined rallies two miles apart in Council Bluff, Iowa. It was Clinton who delivered the populist speech. ...

... Charles Pierce Blow talked to black Iowans, who make up only 3.7 percent of the state's population, about today's caucuses. Funny, but the only choice Blow mentioned was between Hillary & Bernie. What? No Donald? ...

... Bryce Covert of Think Progress in a New York Times op-ed: "The largest difference [between Clinton & Sanders], and therefore what the Democratic Party is truly grappling with, is not about two different visions of the party. The choice is between two theories of change. It's the difference between working the system and smashing it." ...

... Bill Clinton: Hillary is a change-maker:

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Hillary Clinton said that all the stories suggesting the FBI inquiry into her email practices is gaining momentum are just 'selective leaking.' 'It means the people are selectively leaking and making comments with no basis,' Clinton said in an interview with CNN's 'New Day' Monday. 'We need to let this inquiry run its course, get it resolved.'" ...

... Lisa Lerer & Ken Thomas of the AP: "Seeking victory in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has begun channeling the economic indignation of her rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose unapologetically liberal campaign has tightened the race ahead of Monday's caucuses and given him a lead in the New Hampshire contest that follows. Making her closing argument to Iowa caucus-goers, Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders' outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing 'burns' her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her 'pretty riled up.' And she promises to 'rail away' at any industry that flouts the law." ...

Her Cheatin' Heart. Ben Smith, et al., of BuzzFeed: "Hillary Clinton's campaign for president is instructing its Iowa caucus leaders to — in certain cases -- throw support to former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, with the goal blocking her main opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, from securing additional delegates. The tactical move is rooted in the complex math of the Iowa caucuses Monday night, where the campaign is looking to defeat Sanders in a state whose caucus-goers have historically backed progressive challengers.... The goal, in the caucuses' complex terms, is to cost Clinton no delegates in the state's 1,681 caucuses while ensuring stray O'Malley supporters don't defect to Sanders." Read on. Clinton isn't the first candidate to use this ploy, & her aides were "outraged" when candidates Obama & Bill Richardson pulled a similar stunt in 2008. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Corey Robin, in Salon: "... the Clintons' national ascendancy was premised on the repudiation of black voters and black interests. This was a move that was both inspired and applauded by a small but influential group of Beltway journalists and party strategists, who believed making the Democrats a white middle-class party was the only path back to the White House after wandering for 12 years in the Republican wilderness." ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "With an Iowa win on Monday within reach, Sanders is suddenly running a gantlet of criticism from Clinton and her allies, many in the media and even President Obama, all of whom seem to have awakened to the looming reality that a 74-year-old self-described democratic socialist could, at the very least, damage the Democratic front-runner and turn her march to the party's nomination into a long, costly slog." ...

... Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: Bernie Sanders refrains, for the most part, from directly attacking Clinton, even if his surrogates do not. ...

... CW: I saw on the Internets over the weekend that wingers were very upset that Jill Sobule sang this "racist" song at Bernie Sanders' rally at Ames, Iowa. So I figured I'd better give it a listen. The song is racist in the same way that many wingers thought Stephen Colbert's "Colbert Show" character was actually one of them:

... There seems to be a decided lack of self-awareness over there in Right Wing World.

Unpossible. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "A former paid organizer for Donald J. Trump who was fired this month has accused his presidential campaign of sex discrimination. Elizabeth Mae Davidson, 26, who was the Trump campaign's field organizer ... in Davenport, Iowa's third-largest city, said in a discrimination complaint that men doing the same jobs were paid more and were allowed to plan and speak at rallies, while her requests to do so were ignored. She also said that when she and a young female volunteer met Mr. Trump at a rally last summer, he told them, 'You guys could do a lot of damage,' referring to their looks. The complaint was filed on Thursday with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission." ...

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: Donald Trump "on Sunday pledged to extend healthcare coverage to the lower class, but remained vague on the details of his plan.... When host George Stephenopoulos asked the billionaire businessman how he accomplish that, Trump said he would 'work something out'" with doctors & hospitals. CW: See, everything is easy for a dealmaker who apparently is unaware that the "lower class" is already able to get health care thru Medicaid. ...

... Donald Trump, Nouveau Tenther. Elise Viebeck of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump criticized the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and said he would 'strongly consider' appointing judges inclined to overrule it if he is elected president. 'I don't like the way they ruled,' Trump said on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint that it should be a states' rights issue and that's the way it should have been ruled on ... I would have much preferred that they ruled at a state level and let the states make those rulings themselves.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Greg Sargent: "I'm hoping that Dems take more seriously the notion that Trump might be tapping into something very real with the larger argument he is making about our political system.... He is not claiming that 'government is the problem.' Rather, he's arguing that the stupid fools running the government are the problem, and that the bought-and-paid-for politicians and corrupt bureaucrats are the problem...." ...

... CW: Sargent is right. Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton would have very different problems in a faceoff with Trump, but both would have problems. Clinton's would be ideological, Sanders' would be personal. It is not unreasonable to think Trump could beat either one of them.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "Ted Cruz's Iowa mailers are more fraudulent than everyone thinks." His campaign appears to have made up the "grades" the recipients & their neighbors received. Iowans like Donna Holstein found Cruz's letters troubling. Holstein was "upset to learn that she had been given a failing grade and that her neighbors might be told whether she participates in the caucus. She told me that she has voted consistently but that she can't this time because of a disability.... 'That's what you call a bully,' she said about Cruz's tactics. 'I wish he would quit.'... On Saturday night, Cruz responded. 'I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote,' he told reporters during a campaign stop in Sioux City." CW: As we know, sociopaths never apologize. So what if he embarrassed a disabled woman? She's not even going to vote. To hell with her. ...

... CW: I really get this woman's outrage. If I want to tell my neighbors my voting record, I will. But I sure don't want some "government official" -- that would be Senator Cruz -- ratting on me. And I most certainly don't want that government official lying about my record. On paper. In my neighbors' mailboxes. It seems that Ted, like most Republicans, think "government is the problem" except where he's the government. ...

... Chris Wallace Whacks Ted Cruz:

... Sorry, Ted, "the facts have a well-known liberal bias." ...

... digby finds the exchange between Wallace & Cruz amusing: "Oh dear, they really are confused these days aren't they? They hate Trump but nobody can stand Cruz who is lying about Obamacare which they also hate but which is actually working so they're using it against Cruz. It's awesome." ...

... Even Ted's daughter can't stand him:

... Sometimes the littlest campaign props don't cooperate. And for those of you who object to my using the candidate's young child to mock her father, you're right. I should not have done this.

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey are locked in an increasingly bitter fight in New Hampshire. Both men have anchored their presidential campaigns in the state, holding dozens of town hall meetings and spending most of their money in an effort to seize momentum here.... Without a standout performance in the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9, it may rapidly become difficult for either governor to pay for the fundamentals of campaigning in the next round of elections in South Carolina and Nevada, and beyond."

Congressional Races

The Party of Pond Scum. Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The House Republicans' campaign arm is fundraising off of Bernie Sanders's presidential bid by using the images of the communist hammer and sickle." CW: Apparently those lowlifes have forgot its their own top-polling candidate, Donald Trump, who is the only avowed fan of Vladimir Putin in the race.

Beyond the Beltway

Molly Young of the Oregonian: "The four holdouts [at the Maheur Refuge] awoke to discover that many lost phone and Internet service overnight, according to Greg Whalen, a Nevada supporter who said he had been in contact with the armed protesters. They have refused to leave the refuge until they are guaranteed they won't be arrested."

Way Beyond

Anthony Faoila of the Washington Post on the social unrest in Finland that has developed between Muslim asylum-seekers & Finns, much of it apparently stemming from some Muslims' antipathy to Finnish women.

New York Times: In northeastern Nigeria: Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group, went on a brutal rampage that the government said killed "65 people, with twice that number injured. Residents of Dalori, the site of the latest attack, said the death toll was even higher, with as many as 100 dead."

News Lede

New York Times: In northeastern Nigeria: Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group, went on a brutal rampae that the government said killed "65 people, with twice that number injured. Residents of Dalori, the site of the latest attack, said the death toll was even higher, with as many as 100 dead."