The Ledes

Thursday, April 17, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia emphasized on Thursday that the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and also stressed Russia’s historical claim to the territory, repeatedly referring to it as 'new Russia' and saying that only 'God knows' why it became part of Ukraine....Mr. Putin’s remarks on eastern Ukraine came as officials from Russia, the United States, Europe and the new government in Kiev were meeting in Geneva for four-way negotiations aimed at resolving the political crisis." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Russia may invade southeast Ukraine to protect the local population, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday." ...

... Washington Post: "President Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly denied Russian troops had entered Crimea before the March referendum there, changed his version of those events Thursday, telling the nation that they had indeed been there all along. But the green-uniformed men observed in eastern Ukraine right now, storming buildings and raising the Russian flag, are not Russian, he said. 'Those are local residents,' he said." ...

... AP: "Ukraine is hoping to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepares a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest. The carrot-stick strategy emerged as diplomats from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia prepared to meet Thursday for the first time over the burgeoning crisis that threatens to roil the new government in Kiev." ...

... Guardian: "Asked if he was expecting any progress, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, simply shrugged." ...

... Reuters is liveblogging of the Ukraine crisis.

... New York Times: "Ukrainian security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in a firefight overnight in the eastern city of Mariupol, the interim Ukrainian interior minister said on Thursday. The clash was the most lethal so far in the east of the country." ...

... AP: "NATO is strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border immediately in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the alliance's chief said Wednesday."

Washington Post: "A Canadian cyber crime unit has arrested and charged a 19-year-old Ontario man for allegedly hacking into the country's tax agency using the Heartbleed Internet security bug."

Washington Post: "About 24 hours after [a South Korean] passenger ferry with more than 450 aboard began to slowly sink off South Korea’s southwestern coast, at least nine are dead and 287 others, many of them teenagers, are unaccounted for. South Korean news media put the number rescued at between 164 and 179, most of whom were brought ashore to the island of Jindo, where they were wrapped in warm towels or treated for minor injuries." ...

... Guardian: "The parents of hundreds of children missing after Wednesday's ferry accident off the coast of South Korea have accused the captain of the vessel of abandoning passengers after it emerged that he and six other crew members were among the first to leave the ship after it started to sink." ...

... Los Angeles Times: "Angry relatives of passengers aboard a sunken South Korean ferry criticized the government’s response Thursday as the ship’s captain made an emotional apology for fleeing the vessel before hundreds of others had a chance to get out."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

AP: "A column of armored vehicles flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russia demonstrators Wednesday, dampening the central government's hopes to re-establish control over restive eastern Ukraine."

AP: "A multi-story ferry carrying 459 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by ships and helicopters. At least three people were confirmed dead and 55 injured."

Boston Globe: "A shelter-in-place order on Boylston Street has been lifted and a 25-year-old Boston man is facing charges after police executed a controlled detonation of two suspicious bags left near the Boston Marathon finish line. Just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, on the one-year anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, police said two backpacks had been found in the area and immediately ordered people to evacuate. Authorities said the backpacks were tied to a man who goes by Kayvon Edson. Edson was captured in several videos marching down Boylston Street in a black veil, wearing a backpack, and chanting 'Boston strong.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: "A man who was arrested after suspicious bags were found near the Boston Marathon finish line was arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court. Kevin Edson, 25, of Boston is being charged with possession of a hoax explosive, threatening battery, threats to commit a crime, disturbing the peace, disturbing a public assembly, and disorderly conduct, according to the Boston Police Department. Edson is being held on $100,000 bail and is being sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for an evaluation, the Associated Press reports."


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/10/3772409/fbi-rescues-kidnapped-wake-forest.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcements

Washington Post: "Researchers are reporting that injections of long-lasting AIDS drugs protected monkeys for weeks against infection, a finding that could lead to a major breakthrough in preventing the disease in humans."

New York Times: "General Motors will more than double the size of a recall issued this month for an ignition switch defect in some of its small cars, the automaker said in a news release Tuesday. The expansion brings the number of vehicles covered by the recall to nearly 1.4 million in the United States. The recall is aimed at vehicles with ignition switches that could inadvertently turn off the engine and vehicle electrical system – disabling the air bags – if the ignition key is jarred or the vehicle’s operator has a heavy key ring attached to it."

New York Times: "The essence of [a] disagreement [among experts] comes down to a simple question: Will e-cigarettes cause more or fewer people to smoke? The answer matters. Cigarette smoking is still the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States, killing about 480,000 people a year."

White House Live Video
April 17

11:05 am ET: President Obama & Vice President Biden welcome the 7th annual Wounded Warrior Project's soldier ride

1:45 3:15 pm ET: Jay Carney 's press briefing

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

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

Whose Pulitzer Is It Anyway? Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded the Pulitzer Prize this week for his multipart series on denials of benefits to black lung victims. ABC News, which used Hamby's work for a "Nightline" segment, now wants a piece of the Pulitzer, even though the Pulitzer Prize is given for print journalism. ...

... J. K. Trotter of Gawker has more: "Journalist-on-journalist carnage is rarely so open, or so bilious, especially when obituary-worthy awards are on the line. Then again, television news has never attracted, or rewarded, humble folk. According to Poynter, an ABC spokesperson repeatedly 'threatened [{Bill} Buzenberg {executive director of CPI}] and the Center saying they would make this very "messy" ... unless they got what they wanted.'” ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico has more on the feud. ...

... Capital New York: "Fresh off a Pulitzer win for his investigative work at The Center for Public Integrity, Chris Hamby is jumping ship to join Mark Schoofs' investigations desk at Buzzfeed...."

Washington Post: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff is leaving NBC News, by mutual consent. Isikoff told Erik Wemple that "this was a situation that was no longer working out."

Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Thursday night was a deft marriage of the best of the two Colberts: He didn’t break character, but the deference and affable nature that marks his out-of-character interviews was stamped all over the writing." With video. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "Rush Limbaugh framed CBS's decision to replace retiring 'Late Show' host David Letterman with professional conservative skewer Stephen Colbert in some decidedly apocalyptic terms. 'CBS has just declared war on the Heartland of America," Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show. 'No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values. Now it's just wide out in the open.'" ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert is the successor to David Letterman as the star of 'Late Show,' the late-night franchise created by Mr. Letterman. CBS made the announcement Thursday, exactly one week after Mr. Letterman announced on his program that he would be leaving his post after one more year on the air."

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "A faded fragment of papyrus known as the 'Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,' which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery. Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife..."' Too convenient for some, it also contained the words 'she will be able to be my disciple,' a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests." ...

... CW: Sorry, purists. Followers (& non-followers) had all kinds of ideas about what Jesus was like. Married Jesus & sexy Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, "Lost" Gospel of Mark) were among them. The Roman Catholic Church decided, beginning late in the 2nd century what was canon & what was not. And every story, IMHO, is fictional. BTW, the Egyptologist in Goodstein's story who insists the fragment is a fake uses some extremely shaky -- i.e., bogus -- rationales for his opinion.

CW: I think it's my job to run this:

... The full "Today" show segment is here, & it's mildly interesting (CW: NBC's embed code is screwed up, so I can't run it here).

Josh Dickey of Mashable: "Stephen Colbert is CBS' top choice to replace the retiring David Letterman, and has indicated that he's willing to take over the Late Show when the time comes, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable." Via New York.

Lauren Moraski of CBS "News": "David Letterman announced Thursday that he's retiring from CBS' 'Late Show' sometime next year. He made that announcement during the taping of his program Thursday afternoon at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater."

No News, All the Time:

Igor Bobic of TPM: "In its wall-to-wall coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, CNN has raised the possibility of the supernatural, blackholes, and North Korea; it has interviewed a psychic, tried but failed to rent its own 777 jet, and finally settled on a flight simulator it is using to 'search' for the plane.On Tuesday the network finally turned its attention to garbage."

Washington Post: "Stephen Colbert and his writing staff were in fighting form Monday night, after a controversy stemming from an out-of-context tweet had hashtag activists calling for his head." ...

... This is kinda must-see TV:

AND Colbert dismantles his charity:

Michael Lewis in the New York Times Magazine on the whiz-kids of high-frequency Wall Street trading.

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Saturday
Apr122014

The Commentariat -- April 13, 2014

** David Sanger of the New York Times: "... President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should -- in most circumstances -- reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday. But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for 'a clear national security or law enforcement need,' the officials said.... The White House has never publicly detailed Mr. Obama's decision, which he made in January.... There is no evidence that the N.S.A. had any role in creating Heartbleed, or even that it made use of it.... But documents released by Edward J. Snowden ... make it clear that two years before Heartbleed became known, the N.S.A. was looking at ways to accomplish exactly what the flaw did by accident."

Oops. Missed This. Jennie Matthew of AFP: "US reporter Glenn Greenwald returned to his homeland Friday for the first time since he helped expose Washington's vast electronic spying network, warning that more revelations are yet to come. Greenwald, who maintains regular contact with fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, flew into New York with filmmaker Laura Poitras to receive a journalism award for their coverage. Greenwald and Poitras had feared they could be detained upon arrival but told reporters at a Manhattan hotel that, while US officials 'deliberately created' a sense of risk, they faced no problem."

Tom Hamburger & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "... Google -- once a lobbying weakling -- has come to master a new method of operating in modern-day Washington, where spending on traditional lobbying is rivaled by other, less visible forms of influence. That system includes financing sympathetic research at universities and think tanks, investing in nonprofit advocacy groups across the political spectrum and funding pro-business coalitions cast as public-interest projects.... Nine years ago, the company opened a one-man lobbying shop, disdainful of the capital's pay-to-play culture. Since then, Google has soared to near the top of the city's lobbying ranks, placing second only to General Electric in corporate lobbying expenditures in 2012 and fifth place in 2013."

Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "The countries of the world have dragged their feet so long on global warming that the situation is now critical, experts appointed by the United Nations reported Sunday, and only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off potentially disastrous climatic changes later in the century. It remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found, according to a report unveiled here. But even in parts of the world like Europe that have tried hardest, governments are still a long way from taking the steps that are sufficient to do the job, the experts found."

Breaking! Maureen Dowd has found someone to love: Stephen Colbert. It's uncanny -- not a dollop of snark for Colbert (but plenty for other late-nite comics). ...

... Here's Dowd on the "Colbert Report," ca. 2005:

... Okay, so Ben Collins of Esquire loves Colbert too.

Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "Multiemployer pensions are not only backed by federal insurance, but they also were thought to be even more secure than single-company pensions because when one company in a multiemployer pool failed, the others were required to pick up its 'orphaned' retirees. Today, however, the aging of the work force, the decline of unions, deregulation and two big stock crashes have taken a grievous toll on multiemployer pensions, which cover 10 million Americans. Dozens of multiemployer plans have already failed, and some giant ones are teetering -- including, notably, the Teamsters' Central States pension plan, with more than 400,000 members. In February, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal multiemployer insurer would run out of money in seven years, which would leave retirees in failed plans with nothing."

Harold Meyerson: "... if reciprocal credit is due for the landmark legislation of LBJ's presidency, so reciprocal blame should be placed for the tragedy of Vietnam. It's clear from the tape recordings that Johnson made of his private phone calls 50 years ago this spring that the new president viewed the prospect of going to war in Vietnam with trepidation.... And yet, many of the key players who had been with him on civil rights -- the Republicans, the AFL-CIO and his own advisers -- were urging him to plunge in.... In the end, of course, Johnson took just enough of their counsel to wreak havoc on Vietnam, the United States, his political party and his presidency. The blame is his but, as with the credit, there's plenty left over to go around."

Valerie Miller, et al., of the New York Daily News: The woman who threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton is extremely crazy. CW: But of course the Secret Service let her into a supposedly closed event.

As James Singer the Science Winger pointed out yesterday, the Earth is the center of the universe! Or so say some actual wingnuts who have produced a slick Bible-consistent "documentary" film -- with real scientists! (who are mortified they got suckered into the project). Steve Benen reports.

Sex & the GOP

Scott Keyes, in the Washington Post: "In cooperation with the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage, socially conservative politicians have been quietly trying to make it harder for couples to get divorced. In recent years, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills imposing longer waiting periods before a divorce is granted, mandating counseling courses or limiting the reasons a couple can formally split. States such as Arizona, Louisiana and Utah have already passed such laws, while others such as Oklahoma and Alabama are moving to do so.... Making divorce less accessible harms women most.... Women today are twice as likely as men to ask for a divorce...." ...

... CW: The SOBs cannot stay out of your bedroom, even if that bedroom is occupied by two people in a miserable marriage. I think the high-minded moral principles behind this latest intrusive movement are (1) to hell with what the wife wants, & (2) married women vote Republican. Also maybe: if a couple is unhappy, they are less likely to have sex with each other, and sex is a dirty, dirty thing.

Elsewhere Beyond the Beltway

Freeeeedom! Liz Fields of ABC News: "A Nevada cattle rancher appears to have won his week-long battle with the federal government over a controversial cattle roundup that had led to the arrest of several protesters. Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally." ...

... Here's some background from CBS Las Vegas/AP: "A group of Republican Arizona lawmakers are upset with a brewing showdown in Nevada between the federal government and a rancher who claims rights to graze his cattle in a remote area about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.... Federal officials say Bundy has racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals. [Rep. Bob] Thorpe says lawmakers aren't arguing over whether Bundy has broken laws or violated grazing agreements. They're more concerned with what they perceive as government heavy-handedness and how officials are restricting protesters to 'free speech zones' near the closed off federal land."

... AND from CNN:

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Bundy, for his part, claims that 'our Constitution didn't provide for anything like the federal government owning this land.' He's wrong. The Constitution provides that '[t]he Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.'" ...

... Digby weighs in. ...

... CW: As for me, I'm tired of subsidizing the methane-gas producers. Can't the government garnish Bundy's cattle sales?

Katie Fretland of the Guardian: "Oklahoma officials on Friday said the state had obtained manufactured pharmaceuticals from a secret supplier for use in the executions of two men later this month, avoiding concerns over the use of compounded drugs but leaving unanswered questions about how it obtained them."

Re: the discussion in today's & yesterday's Comments:

News Ledes

AP: "A man in his 70s opened fire Sunday outside of a Jewish community center [in Overland Park, Kansas,] and nearby retirement community, killing three people, authorities said."

Extremely Creepy News. ABC News: "A woman has been arrested on six counts of murder after authorities found the bodies of seven infants packed into separate cardboard boxes at a home in Utah, police said. Police arrested Megan Huntsman, 39, of Pleasant Grove, on Saturday following a gruesome discovery at a residence formerly occupied by the woman who they say moved out in 2011."

Washington Post: "Ukrainian authorities launched an 'anti-terrorist' campaign Sunday morning against pro-Russian gunmen who had occupied a police headquarters in a small city in the tense eastern part of the country. Simultaneous assaults on government buildings in several towns in the restive region on Saturday had led officials in Kiev to believe that a coordinated operation directed by Russia was underway." ...

It's professional, it's co-ordinated, there is nothing grass-roots-seeming about it. The forces are doing, in each of the six or seven cities they've been active in, exactly the same thing. Certainly it bears the tell-tale signs of Moscow's involvement. -- Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations

     ... AP Update: "Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, according to the interior minister, who said one Ukrainian security officer was killed and five others were wounded." ...

... Reuters: "U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Kiev on April 22, to demonstrate high-level U.S. support for Ukraine, the White House said on Saturday after expressing concern about escalating tensions in the eastern part of the country. The White House warned Russia against further military action in Ukraine...."

Guardian: "The war crimes trial of two sons of Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi begins amid tight security in Tripoli on Monday, in a case causing sensation at home and controversy among rights groups. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his younger brother Saadi are accused of orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture and bombardment of civilians during Libya's eight-month civil war in 2011."

AFP: "Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are to convene on Sunday in the latest attempt to save teetering peace talks, a Palestinian official told AFP."

Friday
Apr112014

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2014

** Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in an excerpt from his new book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, reprinted in the Washington Post, recommends a revision to the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed." Read the whole excerpt.

In his weekly address, President Obama stresses the importance of equal pay:

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "President Barack Obama struck hard at restrictive voting rights laws Friday, calling them a Republican political tactic conceived to address a made-up problem. Pretending that there's widespread impropriety, he said, is just about keeping Democrats from winning. 'The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud,' Obama said, in a speech to Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in New York...":

... An Especially Stupid Idea. Juliet Eilperin & Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "As Republicans push for new voting restrictions around the country, a handful of Democrats have coalesced around an impromptu idea: placing a photo on Social Security cards."

Michael Shear & David Joaquim of the New York Times: "President Obama said Friday that he was nominating his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, as the administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out Mr. Obama's health law":

... Michael Shear, et al., of the Times: "The White House frustration with Ms. Sebelius crystallized by Thanksgiving, as it became clear in Washington that she would eventually have to go.... But three things put off Ms. Sebelius's departure: Mr. Obama's fear that letting people go in the middle of a crisis would delay fixing the website; his belief that ceremonial firings are public concessions to his enemies; and the admiration and personal loyalty that Mr. Obama still felt for Ms. Sebelius.... Over the next four months, Ms. Sebelius engaged in a kind of slow-motion resignation, largely staying out of the national limelight.... As the website improved and enrollment numbers neared the administration's goal of seven million people, she began plotting her exit."

Jada Smith of the New York Times: "President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, released their 2013 tax returns on Friday, showing a sharp decrease in their personal income since filing their 2012 returns. Mr. Obama became a multimillionaire shortly after his first inauguration from royalties related to his books, 'Dreams From My Father' and 'The Audacity of Hope,' which earned $5.5 million. Last year, however, most of the income generated by the Obamas came from the president's $400,000 salary." You can review the Obamas' & Bidens' returns via links on this White House page.

** Ali Watkins, et al., of McClatchy News: " A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA's use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn't constitute torture. The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods." The committee's "Complete List of Findings" is here.

Michael Riley of Bloomberg News: "The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said." The NSA denies it." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... it appears that the NSA was willing to, you know, break the entire Internet in service of the messianic vision that infests the various cubicles." ...

... Digby: "If this story is true it should be the last straw." ...

... CW: Here's a question nobody seems to be asking: Since it is the NSA's charter to find & exploit communications vulnerabilities, why didn't they know about Heartbleed? Either they're incompetent or they're lying about this bug.

Sins of the Fathers.... Marc Fisher of the Washington Post: "Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) asked the Social Security Administration to halt its three-year-old practice of intercepting taxpayers' federal and state refunds to cover overpayments that the agency says it made to families more than 10 years ago. The practice, which affects about 400,000 families that once received Social Security benefits, was detailed in The Washington Post on Friday.... Dozens of new cases ... surfaced Friday, many involving survivors' benefits paid to families after a parent's death. The payments often went to a surviving parent, but the government argues that since the money was intended to help the children, they are responsible for decades-old overpayments." ...

... Hamilton Nolan of Gawker: "We are talking about the government itself mistakenly overpaying benefits to your parents decades ago, and now, all these years later, coming to you and taking that money out of your pocket, because, you know, your mom probably used it to buy you baby food."

Danny Vinik of the New Republic: The Ryan budget -- which the House passed Thursday with no Democratic support -- doesn't just abandon the poor; it ignores math, too.

Steve Benen: How to get an unemployment benefits extension through the House: "the Speaker ... told reporters yesterday that the unemployed might get relief when the White House correctly guesses what might make Boehner happy." The Senate already passed a bill that seemed to make some GOP Senators happy. CW: Boehner evidently thinks any legislation which actually benefits the public must begin in the executive branch. An interesting reading of the Constitution.

Darrell Issa Is No Joe McCarthy. Dana Milbank: Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) "... during his lamentable tenure running the [House Oversight C]ommittee, has been reckless, dishonest, vain and prone to making unsubstantiated accusations. But Issa's McCarthyism is a faint echo of the real thing, for one very important reason. McCarthy was feared; Issa isn't taken seriously. This is a rare bit of good news about modern politics: It's a bad time to be a demagogue."

Charles Pierce discovers there really was an ObamaPhone scandal. Like the original Drudge-induced ObamaPhone "scandal," it has absolutely nothing to do with Obama.

It's the weekend, so a nice time to enjoy college sports. You might think that a story on a comedy show about sports should be in the Infotainment section. You would be wrong:

Congressional Races

Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "Sen. Mitch McConnell is sticking to his repeal stance, crowing at the news of Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's resignation: 'Secretary Sebelius may be gone, but the problems with this law and the impact it's having on our constituents aren't. Obamacare has to go too.' As of today, 402,000 people in Kentucky have health insurance because of Obamacare. The state extended the deadline for enrollments until midnight tonight, and 30,000 people signed up in the last week alone.... That's 402,000 people in his home state McConnell wants thrown out of the health care market; 402,000 of his own constituents he would sacrifice in order to win his primary and try to hold onto his seat. And he says it's Obamacare that has to go." ...

     ... CW: Democratic candidate Alison Grimes' reaction to this should be hard-hitting ads that repeat & repeat "Mitch McConnell vows to take about your health care." Will she do it? I doubt it. ...

... As an excellent example of one tack Grimes could take, contributor Victoria D. points to this extremely subtle pro-ObamaCare ad by a PAC supporting ConservaDem Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska:

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "GOP Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin will not seek reelection this year, a Republican source confirmed to POLITICO. Petri has represented an east-central Wisconsin seat since 1979. Last week, state Sen. Glenn Grothman announced he would challenge Petri in the August Republican primary, charging that the congressman has failed to slow the growth of the federal deficit and entitlement programs."

Sex & the GOP

Katie McDonough of Salon: "A state Senate panel in South Carolina advanced legislation Thursday that states a pregnant person has a right to use deadly force to protect the 'unborn ... from conception until birth.' The measure is called the 'Pregnant Women's Protection Act,' and it is model legislation written and disseminated by Americans United for Life.... The bill does serve a serious purpose for anti-choice policymakers and activists working to endow fertilized eggs with personhood status and legal rights, a move that would suppress the rights of pregnant people and likely ban abortion and most forms of contraception. The measure tries to accomplish this -- or at least open the door to these possibilities -- by defining life as beginning at conception." Thanks to James S. for the link.

Katie McDonough: Delegate Bob Marshall, "a Virginia Republican currently running for the U.S. House of Representatives, believes that incest exceptions in abortion bans are unnecessary because sometimes incest is 'voluntary,' accord to a report from the Washington Times. Marshall also believes that children born with developmental disabilities are God's 'vengeance' on people who have had abortions." CW: Remember, people, lots of Virginians voted for this guy.

News Lede

AP: "Several dozen armed men seized a police station in a small town in eastern Ukraine on Saturday morning and hoisted the Russian flag above the building as tensions in the country's Russian-speaking regions intensify. The town of Slovyansk is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the regional center, Donetsk, where pro-Russian protesters have occupied a government building for nearly a week."

Thursday
Apr102014

The Commentariat -- April 11, 2014

Tom Hamburger & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down, according to an Obama administration official, ending about a five-year-long run in her job. President Obama intends to nominate Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell as her replacement, the official said Thursday." The New York Times story, by Michael Shear, is here. ...

... Shear profiles Burwell here. ...

... Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast: "Burwell's nomination signals a shift in the position of HHS Secretary in the Obama administration to more of a bureaucratic, managerial one. The current OMB head is a Robert Rubin protégée who is firmly ensconced in the economic policy establishment of the Democratic Party. After working in the Clinton administration, she worked in nonprofits, first for the Gates Foundation and then running the Walmart Foundation before being nominated to lead OMB in March 2013." ...

... Edward-Isaac Dovere & Carrie Brown of Politico: Senate Republicans are looking forward to attacking ObamaCare during Burrell's upcoming confirmation hearings. "The good news for the White House is that they'll be rid of a Cabinet secretary who was disappointing internally and externally, who managed to make the already extremely difficult job of revamping the nation's health care system much, much harder. The not-so-good news, White House aides know, is that the confirmation could open the administration to a new inquisition, records requests -- maybe even subpoenas. House Republicans, though they don't get a vote on confirmations, may try to get in on the action too." ...

... Jonathan Cohn: "Sebelius brought two main assets to her job. She had experience regulating insurers and, as a successful Democrat in Kansas, she knew how to work with Republicans. But what Obamacare needed more was a deft, aggressive manager. Case in point: By all accounts, Sebelius did not grasp the severity of tech problems at healthcare.gov until the day it went live and crashed.... The memories of Obamacare's difficult start will certainly linger. But to the millions of people around the country who now have access to affordable medical care, I'm not sure that really matters." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of health reform -- and normally a very mild-mannered guy — recently summed it up: The Medicaid-rejection states 'are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.' Indeed. And while supposed Obamacare horror stories keep on turning out to be false, it's already quite easy to find examples of people who died because their states refused to expand Medicaid. According to one recent study, the death toll from Medicaid rejection is likely to run between 7,000 and 17,000 Americans each year.... There's an extraordinary ugliness of spirit abroad in today's America, which health reform has brought out into the open. And that revelation, not reform itself -- which is going pretty well -- is the real Obamacare nightmare."

Darius Tahir in the New Republic: "Even if transparency about physician billing may not cure the disease of rising health care costs, it can be part of the treatment."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama on Thursday paid tribute to the Civil Rights Act a half century after its passage transformed American society and ultimately paved the way for the day when the United States might have an African-American man serve in the Oval Office":

... Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "On Friday, [President] Obama was to address Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference in New York where, the White House says, the president will take issue with Republican measures in some states that make it more difficult for Americans to vote."

** Elizabeth Dias of Time interviews Jimmy Carter.

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "The Treasury Department said on Thursday that the federal budget deficit for the first half of the 2014 fiscal year totaled $413 billion, down $187 billion from where it stood at this point last year, as tax revenue surged and spending sank." CW: Somewhere Pete Peterson is sobbing uncontrollably. Erskine Bowles & Alan Simpson have torn out their hair. See illustration.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Despite all the 'we already paid for it' rhetoric popular among seniors, seniors did not pre-pay for their entitlements. If anything, they paid for their parents' entitlements, which were more modest than the benefits today's retirees receive. So who's making up the difference between what seniors paid yesterday and what they receive today? Millennials..., as well as Gen-Xers and both groups' children. And absent a major influx of working-age immigrants, the burden per worker stands to grow enormously in the coming years." Rampell argues that these payments should be reduced because "Money for other worthy, traditionally liberal causes -- education, infrastructure, children, the deeply poor — is being gobbled up by increasingly expensive and unfunded promises to the old." ...

... CW: Rampell's analysis, while it may be accurate, misses the larger point: if the majority of Americans received adequate pay, their contributions to senior (and other) social safety net programs would be significantly larger. The problem isn't that seniors are, as that kindly old gentleman Alan Simpson put it, moochers sucking "a milk cow with 310 million tits." Rather, the problem is that average Americans don't earn enough to pay for their own retirement benefits. The aggreived Very Serious People are never very serious about what actually ails our economy.

Monica Potts of the American Prospect: "Added up over a year, the 23-cent pay-gap [between men & women's hourly wages] means women lose $11,000. They never make it up, and it just accumulates over their lives."

David Nir of Daily Kos: "Well, well, well. After a surprisingly quiet 15 months, Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine has decided to make a stink.... Now King is saying, much as he did throughout 2012 when he was running for the Senate, that he might caucus with the GOP come 2015.... Principled Angus King is not. But he also doesn't seem to understand how far to the left of the Republican Party he is.... King would be extremely out of place among the Republicans, and for that reason, he's probably full of bluster about this whole caucus switching nonsense."

Lucy McCalmont of Politico: Pretend Democrat "Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday strongly defended the Koch brothers from attacks by fellow Democrats, saying the wealthy and politically active businessmen are taxpaying Americans who are creating jobs." CW: I keep getting Manchin mixed up with Texas genius Rick Perry.

Tim Alberta of the National Journal: "Several dozen frustrated House conservatives are scheming to infiltrate the GOP leadership next year -- possibly by forcing Speaker John Boehner to step aside immediately after November's midterm elections.... Boehner isn't the only target. The conservatives find fault with the entire leadership team.... [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor, next in line for speaker and once considered a shoo-in to succeed Boehner, has found himself in conservatives' crosshairs in recent weeks."

Ken Ritter of the AP: "Hillary Clinton ducked a thrown shoe, expressed surprise, cracked a couple of jokes that drew applause and continued her keynote speech on stage in front of a Las Vegas convention audience. Moments later, still in the stage spotlight, the former secretary of state reflected calmly on what she called 'an atmosphere and attitude in politics' that she said rewards inflexibility and extremism.... Meanwhile, a woman was taken into federal custody after admitting she threw the shoe. She didn't say why she did it."

... CW: Here's the part of Ritter's story that gets me: "Brian Spellacy, U.S. Secret Service supervisory special agent in Las Vegas..., and Mark Carpenter, spokesman for the recycling institute, said the woman wasn't a credentialed convention member and wasn't supposed to have been in the ballroom."As a former first lady, Hillary Clinton is entitled to Secret Service protection. So how the hell does the Secret Service allow a non-credential convention member into the room? The number of fuckups we've seen from the Secret Service really concerns me. ...

... Frank Rich on Clinton sex scandals. Rich claims, credibly, that they'll help Hillary. The serious sleeze is the Clinton fundraising machine.

When it comes to American women over all, what we've seen over the past five and a half years is less income and more poverty. That's the story Senate Democrats don't want to talk about. -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

What does McConnell think the [Paycheck Fairness A]ct was for, if not to improve the economic lives of women? -- Monica Potts

Apparently Republicans no longer feel any need whatsoever to make sense. -- Constant Weader

... Politics Is Evah So Distasteful. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post is very upset that Democrats are "demagoguing" Republicans' blocking of the Paycheck Fairness Act. She's all for the act, she says & for equal pay & all, but she doesn't think Democrats should use it as a political tool. Right.

Tim Egan: The Heartland is dying. There are ways to fix it but little political will to do so.

Building on a Northwestern study (the overview linked here yesterday), Jamelle Bouie observes that the U.S. could become Mississippi. "The racial polarization of the 2012 election -- where the large majority of whites voted for Republicans, while the overwhelming majority of minorities voted for Democrats -- could continue for decades.... To accomplish anything -- to the meet the challenges of our present and future -- we'll need a measure of civic solidarity, a common belief that we're all Americans, with legitimate claims on the bounty of the country."

** Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) & Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) in a Washington Post op-ed: "The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted 11 to 3 last Thursday to declassify and make public the executive summary and the findings and conclusions of its report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Those documents have been sent to the president for declassification.... We have confidence that [the public] will conclude, as we have, that this program was a mistake that must never be repeated."

Adam Goldman & Julie Tate of the Washington Post: "The FBI's transformation from a crime-fighting agency to a counterterrorism organization in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been well documented. Less widely known has been the bureau's role in secret operations against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other locations around the world. With the war in Afghanistan ending, FBI officials have become more willing to discuss a little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan."

... Brett Grubb of the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald: "The German software developer who introduced a security flaw into an encryption protocol used by millions of websites globally says he did not insert it deliberately as some have suggested. In what appears to be his first comments to the media since the bug was uncovered, Robin Seggelmann said how the bug made its way into live code could 'be explained pretty easily'." ...

... Nicole Perlroth & Quentin Hardy of the New York Times: "When the Heartbleed bug was disclosed on Monday, the attention focused on the fallout for major Internet companies.... But security experts said the potential for harm could extend much further, to the guts of the Internet and the many devices that connect to it. By Thursday, some of the companies that make those devices began revealing whether they had been affected." ...

... Contributor MAG recommends KrebsonSecurity to keep up-to-date with the Heartbleed bug. Krebs' latest post, as of 7 am ET today, "Heartbleed Bug: What can you do?"

Senate Race

Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "... On Thursday night, after a yearlong buildup made even longer by a few minutes of amiable chitchat, in which he noted that both of his daughters are getting married this summer, [Scott] Brown, once a Republican senator from Massachusetts, formally declared his candidacy for his old job, just from a different state. 'Starting today, I am a candidate for the United States Senate for the state of New Hampshire,' he told a crowd of 200 people at a hotel ballroom [in Portsmouth, New Hampshire]."

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Brown will embark Friday on what his campaign has dubbed the 'Obamacare Isn't Working' tour a day after he officially launched his campaign with an address emphasizing his opposition to the law and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's support for it." ...

... CW: BUT What About This? Judge Jonathan Baird in the Concord Monitor (April 6): "The passage of legislation expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income citizens in New Hampshire is a historic accomplishment. Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the bill on March 27, and the program becomes available for most people on July 1. Medicaid expansion will cover 50,000 poor residents who previously had no health insurance coverage.... Since the New Hampshire Senate is controlled by Republicans, getting the majority in the Senate to support the Medicaid expansion was no easy task.... The Medicaid expansion will inject hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds into New Hampshire's economy. It will allow low wage workers to spend money on other critical needs like housing, food and utilities. This should be a direct benefit for local businesses."

News Ledes

Washington Post: " The Obama administration said Friday that it would block Iran's nominee as ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States, setting up a new confrontation with Tehran just as relations with the Islamic republic appeared to be improving."

Guardian: "Australia is confident that search teams have located the missing Malaysian plane's black box to 'within some kilometres', the prime minister, Tony Abbott, said on Friday. But the head of the Australian team co-ordinating efforts to find MH370 stressed that there had been 'no major breakthrough' in a statement released minutes later."

Wednesday
Apr092014

The Commentariat -- April 10, 2014

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s long-awaited revisions to the Justice Department's racial profiling rules would allow the F.B.I. to continue many, if not all, of the tactics opposed by civil rights groups, such as mapping ethnic populations and using that data to recruit informants and open investigations. The new rules, which are in draft form, expand the definition of prohibited profiling to include not just race, but religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation. And they increase the standards that agents must meet before considering those factors."

Tal Kopan of Politico: "Attorney General Eric Holder strayed from prepared remarks to slam the way he was 'treated' by a House committee the day before, calling it evidence of 'ugly and divisive' civil rights challenges facing him and President Barack Obama. Speaking to the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network at its annual convention in New York on Wednesday, Holder talked about the state of civil rights today and brought up a House committee hearing Tuesday that grew contentious...."

     ... Holder's prepared remarks are here.

Craig Timberg of the Washington Post: "A major flaw revealed this week in widely used encryption software has highlighted one of the enduring -- and terrifying — realities of the Internet: It is inherently chaotic, built by multitudes and continuously tweaked, with nobody in charge of it all. The Heartbleed bug, which security experts first publicly revealed on Monday, was a product of the online world's makeshift nature. While users see the logos of big, multibillion-dollar companies when they shop, bank and communicate over the Internet, nearly all of those companies rely on free software -- often built and maintained by volunteers -- to help make those services secure." ...

... Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times: "Like other similar bugs found recently..., the Heartbleed flaw had gone unnoticed for years. As far as researchers can tell, the problem was introduced by a programmer making a routine coding change on New Year's Eve in 2011. OpenSSL, the system in which the error was found, is an open-source program, which means that its code resides online and can be amended by anyone.... Many huge Internet companies depend on free technologies like OpenSSL to run their systems, but they don't always return resources to the small teams that create the code."

Ramsey Cox & Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill crafted by Democrats to appeal to women voters in the midterm election. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the legislation but fell short in a 53-44 vote. Not a single Republican voted to end the dilatory debate, and Independent Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, voted with Republicans.... In a statement, President Obama blasted Republicans for blocking a 'simple yes-or-no vote' on the legislation." ...

... Fair-Weather Friend. Alexander Bolton: "Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, will decide after the midterm elections whether to switch sides and join the Republicans. He is leaving open the possibility of aligning himself with the GOP if control of the upper chamber changes hands." ...

... New York Times Editors: "... wage injustice matters to all Americans, regardless of party, and those who stand in the way of fairness do so at their political peril." ...

... Fox "News": Low Pay = Job Stability. Olivia Marshall of Media Matters: "Fox Business host Melissa Francis attempted to justify the gender wage gap by claiming that women fared better than men during the recession because they make less money, allowing them to hold onto their jobs.... Contrary to Francis' claim..., experts noted that men tended to suffer more unemployment because the recession disproportionately affected professions with large numbers of male workers.... And industries employing mostly women grew more than those employing mostly men, according to the AP." ...

Men Hunt. Women Pee. Guys like to go fishing with other men. They like to go hunting with other men. Women like to go to the restroom with other women. -- Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor (R), Fox "News" host & sometime presidential candidate

John Bresnahan, et al., of Politico: "Republicans are beginning to nudge GOP Rep. Vance McAllister out of Congress. Just two days after video footage of him in a romantic encounter with a staffer became public, the state Republican chairman has tried unsuccessfully to reach McAllister by telephone to encourage him to resign, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. Meanwhile, in Washington, several top House Republican leadership officials do not believe the first-term Republican can survive this scandal." ...

... Eric Lach of TPM: "Backing off his office's earlier statements, Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) has decided against asking for an FBI investigation into the leak of a video showing him kissing a female member of his staff."

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan): "[Wednesday], House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced that the Committee, acting under its authority granted in Sec. 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, voted out a criminal referral letter to Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Eric Holder regarding actions taken by IRS employee Lois Lerner. Chairman Camp, in sending the letter on behalf of the Committee, urged Holder to take a serious review of the evidence uncovered through the Committee's investigation to determine whether Lerner violated criminal statutes." ...

... Rachel Bade of Politico: "House Republicans on Wednesday accused former IRS official Lois Lerner of breaking agency rules by aggressively urging denial of tax-exempt status to Crossroads GPS, the giant political nonprofit founded by Karl Rove. The House Ways and Means Committee released emails showing the former chief of the tax-exempt unit took a special interest in Crossroads GPS in early 2013 -- inquiring with IRS officials why they hadn't been audited. Around the same time an email suggested she might be applying for a job with a pro-President Barack Obama group, Organizing For Action, though it is unclear if she was joking."

Hilary Stout & Rachel Abrams of the New York Times: "The rising debate over whether the [recalled GM] cars pose a continuing danger reflects not only scattered episodes ... but also a growing uncertainty and impatience about the timetable for repairs and the simple fact that for all the publicity -- thousands of news reports, two federal investigations and a couple of high-profile congressional hearings -- most of the unrepaired cars are on the road." ...

... Jennifer Rankin of the Guardian: "Toyota is recalling more than 6.5m cars worldwide to fix a variety of problems, including faulty steering wheels and seats. The company said there had been no reported accidents or injuries relating to the problems identified. Some 27 Toyota models are affected, including the Corolla, RAV4, Hilux, Yaris, Tacoma, Urban Cruiser and Scion xD." ...

... CW: Great. Yesterday I traded in my Chevy van for a Toyota van. Really.

Amy Harder of the Wall Street Journal: "Nearly a dozen [that would be 11] Senate Democrats, including five up for re-election this year, are pressing President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and they say they want a decision by the end of next month."

Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "The House on Wednesday handily rejected a GOP budget alternative based on President Obama's 2015 spending blueprint. It was defeated 2-413, following a pattern seen in recent years in House votes to overwhelmingly reject Obama's budget proposals.... Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) offered a budget alternative based on Obama's budget plan as a substitute amendment to the House GOP budget. Mulvaney made this move as a way to force Democrats to go on the record about the president's spending plans."

Jonathan Easley & Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Doctors who have been charged with Medicare fraud over the last 16 months were paid $17 million of taxpayer money in 2012, according to an analysis by The Hill. A majority of the Medicare reimbursements went to Detroit-area Dr. Farid Fata, who took home more than $10 million from Medicare in 2012. Fata is accused of submitting false claims and giving chemotherapy and other cancer treatments to patients who did not need them. He is currently in jail and has pleaded not guilty to charges against him, according to reports." ...

... Frances Robles & Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "Two Florida doctors who received the nation's highest Medicare reimbursements in 2012 are both major contributors to Democratic Party causes, and they have turned to the political system in recent years to defend themselves against suspicions that they may have submitted fraudulent or excessive charges to the federal government.... Topping the list is Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, 59, an ophthalmologist from North Palm Beach, Fla., who received $21 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012 alone.... Dr. Melgen's firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen's. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation...."

Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian: "The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused dangerous after-effects to more than a dozen different animals from dolphins to oysters, a report from an environmental campaign group said on Tuesday. Four years after the oil disaster, some 14 species showed symptoms of oil exposure, the report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said.... BP released a statement dismissing NWF's findings."

Michael Schmidt & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "The Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects two years before the attack that would most likely have prompted more extensive scrutiny of the suspect, according to an inspector general's review of how American intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing."

The Worst Is Yet to Come. Science Daily: "Facing the prospect of racial minority groups becoming the overall majority in the United States leads White Americans to lean more toward the conservative end of the political spectrum, according to research. The findings suggest that increased diversity in the United States could actually lead to a wider partisan divide, with more White Americans expressing support for conservative policies." Thanks to James S. for the link.

Dan Merica of CNN: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the Supreme Court's view of campaign finance at a Tuesday event, telling an audience in Portland, Oregon, that the judicial body's ruling will limit the number of people involved in the political process."

Beyond the Beltway

Christopher Baxter of the Star-Ledger: "Two figures central to the state Legislature's investigation of the George Washington Bridge lane closings do not have to turn over records related to the scandal, a state judge ruled today, handing Democrats leading the inquiry a major defeat. In a thorough dissection of the arguments made by the committee leading the investigation, state Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson found no basis to force Bridget Anne Kelly, Gov. Chris Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepien, his two-time campaign manager, to comply with its subpoenas.... A co-chairman of the legislative panel, John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), said in a statement it would consult with its attorney, Reid Schar, on how to proceed." CW: Jacobson is a Republican appointee.

Right Wing World

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: Apparently unaware of that big government program known in some parts as the American Civil War or that the Declaration of Independence is not the same thing as the U.S. Constitution, "Heritage Foundation head Jim DeMint ... insisted that 'no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves.' DeMint, a former US senator from South Carolina, told Newcombe that 'the conscience of the American people' and not the federal government was responsible for the end of slavery."

Fox "News" Sports

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "This would just be a typical day in the ongoing horror that is Fox & Friends..., if it weren't for the unfortunate coincidence of Saturday Night Live lampooning Fox & Friends just last weekend with a sketch that included, yes, the fake hosts confusing those exact two groups. So now we have to ask, once again, whether or not Fox News is just putting us on with this whole Fox & Friends show. Is it, in fact, an elaborate, carefully constructed satire of what news delivered by morons might look like?" Thanks to Safari for the link."

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: Bill O'Reilly explains why students at UConn & Kentucky rioted after the big game: "The main driver of the destructive mind-set is grievance and entitlement. The USA is now being portrayed by powerful people as an unfair country that oppresses minorities, women, the poor and so on. That message is sinking in. Thus, disrespect is rising." O'Reilly says Democrats exploit this "grievance industry. Also at fault: Stephen Colbert: "The primary grievance right now is alleged inequality. Progressives selling the myth that folks cannot get a fair shake in America because the system is rigged against most citizens. The left-wing media legitimizes that nonsense, and one of the biggest mouthpieces for the progressive movement is Stephen Colbert." With video.

Senate Race

For some reason this Iowan independent candidate for U.S. Senate was unable to get enough signatures to run as a Democrat:

News Ledes

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The alleged kidnappers of a North Carolina man rescued late Wednesday from a southeast Atlanta apartment complex sent the victim's wife a photo of him tied up and threatened to torture and dismember him, then return him to her in six boxes, federal authorities said Thursday. An elite FBI team rescued 63-year-old Frank Arthur Janssen from the Forest Cove Apartments ... in southeast Atlanta just before midnight Wednesday, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement. He was kidnapped from his home in Wake Forest, N.C., on Saturday." ...

... Raleigh News & Observer: "Five people have been charged with kidnapping Frank Janssen, 63, in a plot involving a North Carolina prison inmate who was prosecuted by Janssen's daughter, the investigators said."