Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Jonathan J. Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing classified documents to the Israeli government, will be released on parole in November after 30 years in prison, a government panel decided on Tuesday. Mr. Pollard's lawyers announced the decision of the United States Parole Commission on Tuesday afternoon, and officials at the Department of Justice confirmed that Mr. Pollard had been granted parole."
Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday defended the Iran nuclear agreement as a 'strong deal' before skeptical members of Congress who expressed concern that it will eventually give Iran the freedom to build nuclear weapons and finance mayhem in the region. Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry told lawmakers that it is a 'fantasy' to think that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons should it choose to do is."
Erik Wemple updates Donald Trump's media strategy in the wake of his consigliere's threats against a Daily Beast reporter.
A Marine Corps lieutenant colonel is relieved of her commend, & the Marine Corps Gazette subsequently decides not to publish her essay criticizing the Corps' treatment of female Marines. C. J. Chivers of the New York Times has the backstory, & publishes the essay.
Mika Brzezinski is often pretty silly & shallow. Not this time:
... ** Unsurprisingly, Israelis are offended, too.
BBC News: "US President Barack Obama has warned that Africa could not advance if its leaders refused to step down when their terms ended. He also called for an end to the 'cancer of corruption', saying it took money away from development. Mr Obama made the comments in the first ever address by a US leader to the 54-member AU at its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa." Here's a clip:
Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "Now, with a push from President Obama, and perhaps even more significantly a nod from Speaker John A. Boehner, Congress seems poised to revise four decades of federal policy that greatly expanded the number of Americans -- to roughly 750 per 100,000 -- now incarcerated, by far the highest of any Western nation. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has long resisted changes to federal sentencing laws, said he expected to have a bipartisan bill ready before the August recess."
Scott Wong & Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday said his chamber will not vote on the Senate's six-year highway bill. McCarthy's declaration that the House will not be 'taking up the Senate bill' means a short-term extension is the only way to prevent a lapse in federal infrastructure funding at the end of the week. It also means the Export-Import Bank, linked to the highway bill in the Senate, will not be renewed until September at the earliest." CW: One more reminder -- as if you needed one -- that Republicans in Congress are incapable of running their arm of the government. ...
... ** In Which Mitch McConnell Play the Hero. NEW. David Dayen explains why House Republicans want a five-month extension of the highway bill: "Of particular interest should be the timing. This patch would last until December 18, the last day of Congress before the Christmas break, also known as the time when Congress slips things into law while everyone is off holiday shopping and trimming the tree. And there's a plan for what to do with a long-term highway bill too: fund it through a corporate tax amnesty, allowing multinationals to bring home their foreign earnings with a minimal tax hit, well below the normal 35 percent range. Future Democratic leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer and Republican Rob Portman have already teamed up on this, using the enticement of infrastructure funds to alter the way the corporate tax system works." ...
... Another GOP Zombie Plan. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Tucked into a dusty corner of the Senate's Highway Trust Fund bill ... is a zombie proposal to hire private debt-collection agencies to hound delinquent taxpayers on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has actually tried outsourcing tax collection activities to private debt collectors before, at Congress's behest. Twice, in fact, over the last two decades. Both times, the experiment was a disaster.... Both times the program was scrapped because it actually cost taxpayers money on net.... Yet for some reason -- perhaps amnesia, a blind devotion to privatization at all costs, a desire to line the pockets of friends in the debt-collection industry, or a conspiracy to make Americans hate the IRS even more than they already do -- this policy proposal just will not die.... The solution is to just adequately fund the IRS...."
Pete Williams of NBC News: "The governing body of the Boy Scouts of America voted Monday to end its decades-long ban on gay scout leaders. The organization's national executive board, meeting in Texas, concluded that the policy of excluding gay adults 'was no longer legally defensible.' The decision was approved by 79 percent of the board." ...
... Ben Lockhart of the Salt Lake City Deseret News: "The future relationship between the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now uncertain after the Scouting body voted Monday to rescind a nationwide ban on gay Scout leaders, prompting strong words of concern from the church and a promise to re-evaluate its century-long affiliation with the organization.... Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a prepared statement. '... the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.'" ...
... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "The Christian Science Monitor notes that as a result of its ban on gay individuals, over the years BSA's membership has grown more conservative, with about 70 percent of troops now run by religious organizations. Following the 2013 decision, some conservatives left the Boy Scouts and created the group Trail Life USA. BSA enrollment had been declining for some time.... Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham said that, like the Mormons, Baptists may be ready to abandon the Boy Scouts altogether instead of being forced to eventually accept gay leaders."
Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: "Planned Parenthood representatives say that hackers appear to be working to gain access to the abortion providers' employee information systems. The organization notified the FBI and Department of Justice of a possible data breach, a spokesperson said on Monday, one that representatives from the organization said 'if true' could threaten the 'privacy and safety of our staff members'."
Dana Milbank: Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kansas) returns to a Washington unlike the one he left. The art of the deal used to involve friendship & compromise.
Sally Kohn in a Washington Post op-ed: When will we start holding racism and misogyny accountable for the violence they rationalize and inspire?... John Russel Houser, who killed two women & injured many more people in a Louisiana movie theater "was steeped and stewing in right-wing xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist and racist hate.... Houser was crazy and held some beliefs that were variations of more mainstream conservative beliefs. The roots of some of Houser's political views are hard to distinguish from ideas espoused by many, if not most, of the candidates running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.... When there's evidence that a mass shooting suspect who's Muslim espoused anti-American, pro-radical Islamicist views, we tie that suspect to the broader ideology.... Black Americans are presumed to bear blame as a group even when they're the victims of violence.... White privilege extends even to white mass murderers...."
Samuel Gibbs of the Guardian: "Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of a 'military artificial intelligence arms race' and calling for a ban on 'offensive autonomous weapons'. The letter, presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was signed by Tesla's Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor Stephen Hawking along with 1,000 AI and robotics researchers."
Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.
All Our Pulitzers Are Tarnished. But We Led the News Cycle! CW: The New York Times publishes an unsigned CYA "Editor's Note" explaining why Hillary Clinton is not behind bars yet despite their excellent "criminal investigation" bombshell story. For one thing, you can't trust the government: "That article was based on multiple high-level government sources." (Those sources likely being Trey Gowdy, Trey Gowdy's top staffer & the boyfriend of a DOJ clerk who once worked at Justice but now represents the RNC. And Trey Gowdy.) For another, Hillary's henchmen harassed a cub reporter the moment the story hit the Internets: "Shortly after the article was published online, however, aides to Mrs. Clinton contacted one reporter to dispute the account." BTW, we decided that before we tried to bury Clinton, we would not offer her the same courtesy we do other subjects: contacting her before publication. Yeah, I wouldn't sign this piece of crap either. But at least this excuse for a mea culpa is helpful to the folks Erik Wemple cites:
...CW: In Confederate America, there's a new meme. The New York Times changed its blockbuster story outing Hillary Clinton as a serial criminal BECAUSE HILLARY ASKED THEM TO. So that's another scandal on top of all her criminal misdeeds. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has the details: "... the critique was leaving out something that once mattered in political dialogue: the truth." BTW, here's an unnamed Democratic spokesman to back up what I've been saying for days: "A Democratic spokesman for the House oversight committee, which is closely involved in Clinton e-mail stuff, told the Erik Wemple Blog: 'Unfortunately, the New York Times did not check with us before running its story, even though we have offered to help in the past and could have corrected these errors before they showed up on the front page. We do not know who the New York Times talked to, but we talked to the Inspectors General themselves.'" What a concept! ...
... MEANWHILE, "independent journalist" Ron Fournier of the National Journal wants to know what Hillary is hiding. Fournier never mentions his own fucked-up complaint of last week that Hillary was "blaming The New York Times, which is as pathetic as it is laughable" & that the DOJ should investigate her criminal activities. ...
... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Twice in the last few months, a hot, breaking New York Times story on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email address while secretary of state has gone from 'wow, that looks terrible for Hillary Clinton' to 'wow, that looks terrible for the New York Times' in the day or so after its initial much-hyped publication.... The Times is making it clear that it isn't prepared to change the practices that led to serious mistakes in two bombshell-turned-bomb stories about Hillary Clinton's emails...."
Political scientist Henry Farrell explains why Tom Friedman never has to say he's sorry. CW: Here's another funny bit: I came to Farrell's piece via Paul Krugman, who is forbidden to say anything bad about the bozos & bobos who people the same op-ed page he does. True to his code, after a fashion, Krugman never mentions Friedman.
Command Performance -- The Koch Presidency. Ken Vogel of Politico: "Four leading GOP presidential candidates -- Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker -- are traveling to a Southern California luxury hotel in coming days to make their cases directly to the Koch brothers and hundreds of other wealthy conservatives planning to spend close to $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election. The gathering -- which also will include former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but notably not Sen. Rand Paul -- is hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group in the Kochs' increasingly influential network of political and public policy outfits. It represents a major opportunity for the candidates at a pivotal moment in the presidential primary." ...
... Dave Weigel & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is turning down a coveted invite to a gathering of wealthy conservative donors this weekend, citing his plans to be on the campaign trail.... Paul told The Washington Post..., 'We've been invited -- it's just hard to make [these] decisions, because you can't be everywhere.'" CW: If Li'l Randy's purpose in giving up a chance to grovel at the feet of the Koch Brothers' Band of Billionaires by caucusing with the cornpones of Iowa was intended to make him seem like a man of the people, he might have announced his populist sacrifice without employing the royal "we."
Tim Mak & Brandy Zadrozny of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump introduced his presidential campaign to the world with a slur against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being 'rapists' and bringing crime into the country.... It was an unfortunate turn of phrase for Trump.... Not only does the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination have a history of controversial remarks about sexual assault, but as it turns out, his ex-wife Ivana Trump once used 'rape' to describe an incident between them in 1989. She later said she felt 'violated' by the experience.... Ivana Trump's assertion of 'rape' came in a deposition -- part of the early '90s divorce case between the Trumps, and revealed in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump." Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told the Daily Beast, "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law." ...
I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me? You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name in it, with the word 'rape,' and I'm going to mess your life up ... for as long as you're on this frickin' planet ... you're going to have judgments against you, so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it. -- Michael Cohen, special counsel to the Trump Organization to Tim Mak of the Daily Beast
... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Marital rape was made illegal in all US states in 1993. It was made illegal in New York state in 1984, five years before the alleged incident. Donald and Ivana Trump settled their divorce in 1992." ...
... Arturo Garcia of the Raw Story: "ABC News reported that the Trump campaign responded to the report by calling the rape allegation 'old news and [that] it never happened.'... The campaign also downplayed Cohen's role, saying, 'Nobody speaks for Mr. Trump, but Mr. Trump.'... The response came hours after Cohen appeared on CNN billed as a spokesperson for the candidate."
... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Most of the polls [which came out this week & showed Donald Trump in the lead for the GOP nomination] were partly or entirely conducted before Mr. Trump's controversial comments [about John McCain].... For good measure, it is not at all clear that we should expect Mr. Trump to suffer discernible losses in the near future. Take Herman Cain, who faced reports that he was accused of sexual harassment in late October 2011. These reports were surely more problematic for his candidacy than Mr. Trump's comments about Mr. McCain, and yet the early polls conducted after the allegations did not show much evidence that they had any effect on his standing. One month later, Mr. Cain was out of the race." ...
... Steve M. argues there's no comparison between Cain & the Ablest. ...
... CW: Yeah, and there's this. Greg Sargent: "A big majority of Republicans believes that the government's main focus on immigration should be not just on stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, but also on deporting those already here." Do you suppose there was "a big majority of Republicans" who believed it was quite all right for (black) men to fondle (white) ladies without their consent? Possibly not. ...
... Dara Lind of Vox: "If a new CNN poll is correct, a majority of Republican voters are significantly to the right of pretty much every Republican elected official and every single Republican presidential candidate -- including Donald Trump -- on immigration."
... Stefanos Chen of the Wall Street Journal: "... Donald Trump has sold his penthouse in New York's Trump Park Avenue building for $21 million, according to real estate listing agent Michelle Griffith. With slide show. CW: All the rooms are white. He plans to purchase & extensively remodel another White House.
Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: "On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has repeatedly emphasized his record overseeing Florida's boom economy as the state's governor.... But according to interviews with economists and a review of data, Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble -- one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families.... In the four years after Bush left office..., the typical Florida family's net worth fell 60 percent in that time, according to the Census Bureau.... Many of those families now pay rent to Wall Street firms."
CW: If you think the next administration & future federal courts should be made up on graduates of Livingston High School, New Jersey, & Seton Hall Law, you should definitely vote for Chris Christie. It will happen. Matt Arco of NJ.com reports. Nonetheless, I suppose David Wildstein won't become Transportation Secretary. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Beyond the Beltway
Jeff Mulvihill of the AP: "Three public workers' pension funds are suing New Jersey for billions in damages, claiming the state government breached contracts when it contributed less than planned. The filing Friday is the latest volley in a more than yearlong dispute over pension contributions. They stem from Gov. Chris Christie's decision last year amid a budget shortfall to veer from a pension funding plan he signed into law in 2011.... Spokesmen for Christie did not respond immediately to a request for comment." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A conference protesting police violence against African Americans ended in police violence against African Americans on Sunday, when at least one officer deployed pepper spray against men and women protesting the arrest of a 14 year-old teenager."
Nicholas Watt of the Guardian: "Lord Sewel has announced he is to resign from the House of Lords with immediate effect as he apologised for the 'pain and embarrassment' he has caused after the release of a film showing him allegedly taking cocaine with sex workers.... Sewel's decision will raise questions about whether Paul Kernaghan, the House of Lords commissioner for standards, will continue with his investigation into whether the peer broke the code of conduct for the upper house.... The peer's resignation will have no impact on the police investigation that was launched on Monday...."
Guardian: "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, has been sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli. Saif, once seen as his father's heir apparent, was condemned to death along with eight other figures from the former dictatorship, including the former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Gaddafi's last prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi."
Reuters: "FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer's governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday."