The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet, using an international meeting of Russia experts to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises, including those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'”

Washington Post: "The body found on an abandoned property outside of [Charlottesville, Virginia] has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing."

Seattle Times: "Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources. Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded  in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.... Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot.  He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten." Marysville is near Seattle.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."

Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada’s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal – a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...

... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 24

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Monday
Oct202014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 21, 2014

Frank Rich on "Why the Future We Imagined in 1964 Was Wrong in Pretty Much Every Way" -- Thanks to MAG for the link.

** Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker interviews President Obama on the subject of his judicial legacy. A consequential essay & a pleasure to read.

Jamie Dettmer of the Daily Beast: "While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists.... The aid -- mainly food and medical equipment -- is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European [sic.]. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship."

Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "Indiana will cut tens of thousands of its poorest people off of the food stamps roles beginning next spring, the state announced. Gov. Mike Pence (R) has decided to join seven other states in reinstating work requirements for food stamps despite being eligible for a federal waiver from those rules for the coming fiscal year.... Gov. John Kasich ...(R-Ohio) retained the SNAP work waivers for 16 of the state's 88 counties but reinstated work rules in the counties that house the majority of the state's minority population. Food stamps recipients in the counties that continue to enjoy waivers are 94 percent white...." Read the whole post. ...

... CW Note: Kasich has reinvented himself as a "compassionate conservati[ve], with strong religious overtones." Apparently strongly-religious conservatives have compassion only for white people. BTW, when Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote about Kasich's compassionate conservatism, in a highly favorable article published last week, he neglected to mention anything about Kasich's racially-biased food-stamp move even though news of Kasich's controversial food-stamp maneuver -- which he pulled more than a year ago -- has been well-publicized & is the subject of a civil rights lawsuit. Kasich is a shoo-in for re-election in November. His Democratic challenger Ed Fitzgerald is the Worst Democratic Candidate Ever. ...

... Gaffe. Greg Sargent highlights Kasich's accidental endorsement of ObamaCare:

The opposition to it [ObamaCare] was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives. -- Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio)...

     ... Sargent: "Now, perhaps recognizing how lethal this is to his hopes in upcoming GOP presidential primaries, Kasich has rushed to clean up the mess.... The truly revealing thing about Kasich's comments was ... that he admitted the law has made 'real improvements in people's lives.' And even in his effort to clean up his comments, he again implicitly admitted this to be the case, claiming he supports Obamacare's general goals but not the ACA itself."

Digby notes that Jim Crow will be returning to the Supreme Court this term, in the form of a challenge to the Fair Housing Act. There's a good chance Jim will win an important round in his never-ending quest to subjugate black Americans. ...

... ** Read Jamelle Bouie's full column on "the next assault on civil rights," which digby cites. Bouie really nails the conservative Supremes. ...

... CW: George W. Bush usually gets a pass on race -- including from me -- because he isn't a Jeff Sessions kind of racist. I believe Bush has actual black friends, not the Tom Corbett-Photoshopped kind. But Bush put two nasty boys on the Supreme Court -- and the same type of fellows on many lower-courts, too -- which, even as the ideological balance of the courts tip left, will put the stamp of racial discrimination on our judicial system for decades to come. Conservatism itself has turned out to be a petulant, subversive form of racism & promoter of economic inequality, whose "free-market values" are a pretense for prejudice & oppression. Conservatives may dress their shibboleth respectably, but it is wearing filthy underwear.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Republican leaders, conceding the futility of a flight ban from Ebola-afflicted West Africa, are refining their response to the outbreak, pressing to suspend visas for travelers and create 'no boarding' lists." ...

... But What about Marco? Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) plans to introduce legislation banning travel between the U.S. and three West African countries hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus, his office announced Monday." CW: If there's a bad idea out there, if there's a knee-jerk crazy reaction to a crisis, if there's a chance to knock the president, if there's an opportunity to capitalize on Americans' fears -- count on Marco to milk it for all it's worth. ...

     ... The Times' Weisman sort of implies Marco's folly is a feint: "In reality, Republicans are not planning a legislative response, at least for now, Republican leadership aides said Monday. They merely want their voices heard." ...

... Our elected Republican representatives explain why you should expect to contract Ebola. The already-disembodied guy warning of "liquified internal organs" is Rep. Mike Kelly (RTP-Pa.), & the zombie fella there is Rep. Blake "Pajama Boy" Farenthold (RTP-Texas):

Anna Palmer & Rachel Bade of Politico: "Federal law enforcement officials are taking an ISIL threat against Michele Bachmann so seriously that Capitol Police have given the Minnesota Republican her own security detail. An online threat against Bachmann emerged recently, according to multiple law enforcement officials...."

Reuters: "Monica Lewinsky, the one-time White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton in the 1990s nearly brought down his presidency, has described herself as one of the first victims of cyberbullying and vowed to help others survive the 'shame game' of public humiliation. In a rare public appearance Lewinsky spoke at Forbes' inaugural 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia, saying her depiction in the media -- as a constant punchline for late-night comedians and fuel for internet gossip -- destroyed her sense of self." CW: Affair? I don't think the honor of giving the prez a few blow jobs constitutes an "affair."

Dana Milbank: On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases at the NIH, offered a big wet kiss to deficit hawks & contradicted his boss Francis Collins when he did. Fauci said, contra Collins, that if the NIH had all the funding it wanted they still might not have an Ebola vaccine today....

     ... CW: One would think these big shots, who may not be polished polticians, would at least know how to be a bit more diplomatic when they go on national teevee. It's not that Chuck Todd is a tough questioner who backed Fauci into a corner. ...

     ... Much of the right has claimed that the "real reason" the NIH hasn't worked harder on developing an Ebola vaccine is that it wastes your taxpayer dollars studying bike paths & other more frivolous concerns. But that's bull. A significant reason the NIH did not prioritize work on an Ebola vaccine is that until last month, Ebola was an illness mostly confined to West Africa. The representatives of the people would rather the NIH & other government-funded health agencies prioritize issues here at home. This is not necessarily foolish. However, this inward-looking orientation can sometimes have unintended consequences -- like a localized epidemic elsewhere spreading worldwide. As Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's thread, the spread of Ebola -- and the failure of the U.S. government to fully address it -- is a riff on the spread of AIDS, which also started on the African continent, probably in the 1960s.

CW: Should you be inclined to fault me for almost never watching the Sunday talk shows, I shall allow Charles Pierce to defend me. His report on this week's goings-on is all I need. Had I watched any of them, I would have smashed a perfectly good teevee.

November Elections

CW: The next couple of weeks will be gruesome for progressives. So I'll be ignoring some of the bad-news polls -- there will be plenty -- and concentrating on less depressing stuff.

Alex Roarty of the National Journal: "... in several key races, a national political climate driven by the president's unpopularity has been eclipsed locally by a less-Republican friendly attitude. It's turning once-predicable contests into some of the country's most competitive battles, and it's a key difference between this midterm election and many of its recent predecessors."

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post knocks his fellow Republicans' hubris: "Republicans are susceptible to the myth of the midterm mandate. Midterm elections generally express unhappiness, not aspiration. But some conservatives took the 2010 result as an ideological turning point. They concluded that Obama's 2008 victory was an anomaly -- that the country, deep down, was really on the Republican side. It was a false dawn.... At the presidential level, the GOP brand is offensive to many rising demographic groups. Republicans are often perceived as indifferent to working-class struggles (because they sometimes are). The GOP appeal seems designed for a vanishing electorate."

Florida. Mark Caputo of the Miami Herald: "Rick Scott ad: Obama backs Crist. Next Scott ad: water is wet."

Georgia. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: Former President George H. W. Bush, who supports David Perdue (R) in Georgia's Senate race, doesn't like this rebuttal ad by the former CEO of Bush's Points of Light Foundation, Michelle Nunn:

     ... CW: Ya know, Mr. President, if you're going to support a scummy candidate who runs scummy ads, you have to expect his opponent to push back with this perfectly respectable, respectful -- and truthful -- rebuttal.

** Iowa. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Iowa ... is undergoing an economic transformation that is challenging its rural character -- and, inevitably, its political order. As Iowans prepare to elect a new United States senator for the first time in three decades, the scale at which people and power have shifted from its rural towns to its urban areas is emerging as a potent but unpredictable undercurrent in the excruciatingly close race, offering opportunity and risk for both sides."

Maryland. Dana Milbank offers an explanation for why some people left an Obama rally while the President was still speaking: "This exodus wasn’t intended as a protest. Long lines for shuttles taking attendees to remote parking sites induced participants to leave early so they could beat the rush.... [But] Even among the faithful, Obama's magic can't match the urge to get a jump on traffic." This jibes with a remark made by one commenter to the OFA site who attended the rally. See yesterday's Commentariat for context.

** Massachusetts. Walter Robinson of the Boston Globe: "... Seth W. Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District, a former Marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq..., chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe." ...

... "The Best Candidate Anywhere." Charles Pierce, who has known Walter Robinson for a long time: "... Moulton got on Robinson's radar because Moulton treated his service in Iraq very obliquely in his campaign. Because he [Robinson] had run down so many people who'd phonied up their war records, Robinson got intrigued, so he went to work combing through Moulton's service record.... What Robinson found was enough to warm even the most cynical heart. Including his own. Including mine." ...

... Here's Rachel Maddow on Robinson & Moulton:

South Carolina. Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "Rep. James Clyburn's (D-S.C.) Republican challenger [Anthony Culler] referred to same-sex couples as 'gremlins' and 'bullies' in a Facebook post urging supporters to oppose gay marriage at the polls this fall.... Culler ... wrote a Facebook post on Oct. 14 decrying same-sex marriage as 'a pestilence that has descended on our society, against our will, by those in the courts and government that do not value the traditional family. Same sex couples that seek to destroy our way of life and the institution of marriage are NOT cute and cuddly but rather (for those of you that are old enough to remember the movie), Gremlins that will only destroy our way of life...." ...

... CW: South Carolina's 6th Congressional district has a majority-black population. Luckily, Republicans were able to find a white guy who is a confirmed bigot to challenge Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership.

Wisconsin. "Get a Real Job." Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Brad Schimel, the Republican candidate for Attorney General [of Wisconsin], told supporters at a Milwaukee County Republicans party that he's tired of the contentious statewide debate over the minimum wage. 'I want every one of our neighbors to have a job again, a well-paid job, so we don't have to argue about minimum wage for someone working at Burger King,' he said. 'Let's get them a real job.'"

Presidential Election

Sam Levine of the Huffington Post: "In the November issue of Harper's magazine, Doug Henwood argues that Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would do little to assuage liberals' disappointment in President Barack Obama. This is how Henwood sums up the case for Hillary's candidacy in 2016: 'She has experience, she's a woman, and it's her turn.' But, he says, 'it's hard to find any political substance in her favor.'" Harper's has firewalled Henwood's piece, so Levine summarizes his arguments.

David Corn: "Rand Paul [is] the most interesting conspiracy theorist in Washington. Bilderbergers, the Iraq invasion, Alex Jones -- the GOP senator has routinely flirted with America's paranoid fringe." ...

... CW: Corn concentrates on Paul's conspiracy theories past. But we would be remiss in failing to include his Ebola truther movement connections. ...

... Brian Beutler: "Dr. Rand Paul Should Be Held Accountable for Whipping Up a Frenzy About 'Incredibly Contagious' Ebola."

Beyond the Beltway

Mike Cason of AL.com: "Mike Hubbard, speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and a powerful leader in the state Republican Party, has been indicted by a grand jury and charged with 23 counts, including using his office for personal gain and soliciting things of value. Late Monday afternoon, Hubbard reported to the Lee County Jail where he was booked.... According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited favors from some of Alabama's rich and powerful. They include former Alabama Governor Bob Riley.... Earlier this year, the [grand jury] investigation resulted in charges against two other [Republican] state lawmakers."

Home-Grown "Terrorists": Chris Hayes has a nice follow-up of the Pumpkin Festival riots in Keene, New Hampshire.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims."

Guardian: "The US State Department says Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans being held in North Korea, has been released. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Fowle was home Tuesday after negotiators left Pyongyang. She said the US is still trying to free two other Americans, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae."

New York Times: "Oscar de la Renta, the doyen of American fashion, whose career began in the 1950s in Franco's Spain, sprawled across the better living rooms of Paris and New York, and who was the last survivor of that generation of bold, all-seeing tastemakers, died on Monday at his home in Kent, Conn. He was 82."

New York Times: "Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star once seen as an emblem of triumph over adversity, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp." ...

     ... The Guardian is liveblogging the sentencing.

Sunday
Oct192014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 20, 2014

Laura Barron-Lopez of the Hill: "The U.S. military is readying a 30-person team for Ebola response inside the U.S., the Defense Department said on Sunday. The team, which will be ready to 'respond quickly, effectively, and safely' in the event of more Ebola cases, is in response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services." ...

... Richard Preston writes a fascinating -- and heartbreaking -- story for the New Yorker on scientists who are racing to map the Ebola genome. "Since there is no vaccine against or cure for the disease caused by Ebola virus, the only way to stop it is to break the chains of infection." The Ebola virus is mutating, but Preston cites an expert who says it is very unlikely to mutate to a form that could survive in dry air & dust motes. "There are many ways by which Ebola could become more contagious even without becoming airborne." ...

... Laura Barron-Lopez: "A top official at the National Institutes of Health on Sunday said a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa would only make things worse in the fight against Ebola, pushing back against calls from lawmakers to institute one. 'The fact is it would be very, very difficult if we lost control of easily tracking people,' Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN's 'State of the Union.'" ...

... Wait, Let's Hear from Famed Epidemiologist Dr. Ted Cruz. Laura Barron-Lopez: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday slammed President Obama for not instituting a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa. During an interview on CNN's 'State of Union' show, Cruz said the 'biggest mistake that continues to be made is that we continue to allow open commercial air flights.'... Cruz also accused the administration of treating Ebola as 'another political' situation rather 'than a public health crisis.'" ...

     ... CW: Worth noting: Ted Cruz is the same "expert" who thinks he has the knowledge to contradict actual experts, yet in the same breath complains that Ron Klain is not a medical genius & Ebola expert so he shouldn't be coordinating efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Cruz thinks his own epidemiological knowledge is greater than that of trained epidemiologists, but he doesn't think anyone else is capable of listening to these experts & acting on their advice -- which is what Klain's new job is.* If you were looking for a picture of a sociopathic megalomaniac, look no further. People like Cruz & Rand Paul, who think their own prejudices & self-serving poses are superior to the best expert knowledge (which, admittedly, is not 100 percent accurate), are the most dangerous people in the world to entrust with any power & responsibility. ...

     * As Jonathan Cohn explained in the New Republic last week, "... the primary tasks of a czar are to coordinate action and advice among the different agencies -- and to serve as a reassuring public spokesman. Klain has done that.... He has a reputation for knowing the ins and outs of government and how to make things happen...." ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "It has been nearly a year since Vivek Murthy was nominated by President Obama to serve as the next Surgeon General.... Earlier this year, the NRA launched a campaign to derail Murthy's nomination because he voiced support for expanding background checks for gun purchases. His comments that gun violence was a public health concern raised the ire of the gun lobby and conservative lawmakers despite the fact that every major medical association -- and several former Surgeons General under Republican presidents -- shared the same view.... After the NRA began publicly opposing Murthy's nomination, several of Blunt's Republican colleagues including Rand Paul, John Cornyn and John Barrasso said they too would move to block Murthy's nomination, and Paul placed a hold on the nomination." However, according to Sen. Roy Blunt, we have no surgeon general because Democrats:

... Frances Robles & Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "The head of the group that runs the Texas hospital under scrutiny for mishandling Ebola cases apologized Sunday in full-page ads in local Dallas newspapers, saying the hospital 'made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.'" ...

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the N.I.H.'s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the hospital had been following guidelines on protection gear from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which were prepared by the World Health Organization for treating people in rustic conditions in Africa. The protocols have been refined to be used in a setting where complicated procedures such as dialysis and incubation take place, Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Sunday on the NBC morning news show 'Meet the Press.'

... Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal has a bit more on the new guidelines for protective wear. ...

... CW: To prove how seldom I watch the Sunday shows, I just learned that a year ago George Will moved from ABC News to Fox "News." ...

... Driftglass, however, is on it & is not surprised to hear George Will, the Anti-Science Shill, is over there on Fox "News" quoting "some [unspecified] scientists" that Ebola may be an air-borne virus. ...

... Even Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial page editor, can be right occasionally: "... in a climate that is so unforgiving, so quick to pounce, so unwilling to accept that mistakes will be made and should be learned from, it's understandable that leaders trap themselves into promising more than they can deliver. A desire for accountability does not have to preclude a certain generosity of spirit, or some empathy for those who are performing public service. We seem to have forgotten that."

Paul Krugman: "Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.... Can we trust Amazon not to abuse that power? The Hachette dispute has settled that question: no, we can't."

Simone Sebastian & Ines Bebea of the Washington Post: The NFL promotes a culture that encourages players' partners to keep quiet when the players physically abuse them.

November Elections

Florida. Jake Sherman of Politico: "It should've been an easy year for Rep. Steve Southerland, but instead of waltzing to reelection, the two-term congressman has served up a case study in how to blow a relatively safe Republican seat. He started campaigning late, got crosswise with women by holding a men-only fundraiser, warred behind the scenes with his party over strategy and fretted over anonymous quotes criticizing his reelection effort. In the meantime, a threat emerged in the hard-charging Gwen Graham, who put 36,000 miles on her Chevy Equinox traversing this district and drumming up support among rural Republicans and Democrats alike, appearing with her popular father [Bob Graham], a former governor and senator." CW: Southerland can pull this out. he's cooperating with the NRCC now, & President Obama has about a 30 percent approval rating in the district, according to Sherman.

Maryland. There's Something Wrong Here. Jeff Mason of Reuters: "President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support [Anthony Brown,] the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.... A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke..., and a heckler interrupted his remarks." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Before Mr. Obama's speech ended, a steady trickle of people had departed, leaving some empty seats. And an immigration activist interrupted the speech, holding a sign demanding that '#Not1more' immigrant be deported. As the crowd bellowed the protester away, Mr. Obama suggested that he 'should have been protesting the folks that are blocking' an immigration overhaul." ...

... Here's the Washington Post report, by Jenna Johnson & Arelis Hernandez: "The president told the largely African American, and wildly enthusiastic, crowd that Republicans want voters to become so cynical that they don't vote.... At times, the crowd punctuated each of his sentences with cheers. It also defended him with boos when a heckler challenged Obama on immigration. It was a level of enthusiasm that Brown has yet to see as he campaigns to become the state's first African American governor and the nation's third to be popularly elected. Some in the crowd said they waited in line for hours to see Obama, not Brown." ...

... According to this Obama for America site, Obama & Brown also spoke to a crowd in an overflow room. (Not sure if this was before or after the speech to 8,000.) Someone who attended the rally wrote in the comments, "The older people were dropping like flies. One person after the next was fainting and most of the people who were leaving early were Seniors. This happens at all his rallies."

... CW: I couldn't find video of the full speech, but here's an AP clip:

     ... Of course wingers are eating up the Reuters story. I do not find it credible that a "largely African American, and wildly enthusiastic, crowd" of people who "waited in line for hours to see Obama, not Brown" got up & walked out en masse when the President spoke. Were the people who left Republicans? Latinos? Going to a ball game? Or, as the commenter says, overcome by the close crowd? This is just odd.

Pennsylvania. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed. All of Gov. Tom Corbett's black friends are Photoshopped. In fact, everyone on Tom Corbett's Website who isn't Tom Corbett is a stock image, Photoshopped in. A stock image of black lady is Photoshopped into one photo facing one way, in another photo, the same image is facing the other way. But wait! Somebody bothered to change the color of her shirt! CW: I guess the governor was too busy messing up the Keystone State to make friends. ...

     ... Driftglass: "I guess Ben Carson was unavailable."

Texas. A "5 am Wake-up Call on Voting Rights." Rick Hasen in Slate: "... why did Justice Ginsburg keep the court and court-watchers up all night for a relatively lengthy dissent from an order issued with no majority opinion?... My guess is that she wanted to make an important statement about how the Supreme Court should handle these voting cases going forward and to publicly flag where she believes the court is going wrong....This middle-of-the-night dissent calls attention to what Justice Ginsburg likely sees as a grave injustice.

Wisconsin. Alice Olstein of Think Progress: It turns out, at least according to Dan Sebring, the GOP nominee for Congress in Wisconsin's 4th district, that the real reason the Supremes blocked implementation of Wisconsin's voter ID law for this election is that they don't want Scott Walker to be president. In Right Wing World, everything is a conspiracy. And it doesn't have to make a lick of sense. ...

... CW: Here's another dirty trick, this one coming from the librul media cabal. At the top of today's online Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is this headline: "Obamacare plan rates in Wisconsin to keep pace or decline next year." This would never have happened, BTW, if Chief Justice John Roberts had not decided that most of the ACA was constitutional. It's a plot, all right.

News Ledes

New York Times: "At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease."

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

New York Daily News: "Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested twice this weekend -- just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication, police said. The outgoing Republican senator from Dickson, Tenn., has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor, Lt. Todd Christian said.

Saturday
Oct182014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 19, 2014

Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post: "... inequality starts in the crib.... Rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom -- 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy."

Rachel Huggins of the Hill: "President Obama on Saturday evening met with members of his national security and public health teams for an update on the administration's response to the Ebola outbreak. The White House's new Ebola czar, Ron Klain, did not take part in the meeting, according to a White House [person?]. ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "America is a narcissistic and inward-looking society at the best of the times. At the worst of times, it's something even worse; a country with utterly no understanding of the pain and struggle and banal, recurrent death that the rest of the world lives with on a daily basis.... I think we are unique in our continued capacity to be shocked that anything terrible could happen to us.... This has everything to do with the narrative we are fed and, in a continuous loop through the media ... feed and re-feed to ourselves. We are exceptional." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... CW: Whaddaya bet that are more innocent people sitting on death row than have died of Ebola while in the U.S. (that would be one). ...

... Tara Haelle in Politico Magazine catalogues some of "the craziest things people are saying about Ebola." CW: Although Haelle does mention Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) among the nut jobs, she completely missed Rand Paul in the section she devoted to transmission of the disease. We never want to miss Dr. Randy when it comes to stoking fear. (CW: In fact, I think Dr. Randy is technically correct when he says you can contract the virus from someone standing three feet away from you; for instance, the person could let go with a hearty, moist sneeze or that ever-popular Monty Python ejectile vomit. P.S. I am not a doctor.) ...

... Alan Feuer of the New York Times has more on Ebola conspiracy theories: "The outbreak began in September, when The Daily Observer, a Liberian newspaper, published an article alleging that the virus was not what it seemed -- a medical disaster -- but rather a bioweapon designed by the United States military to depopulate the planet.... In the last few weeks, conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have floated the idea that President Obama had sent aid to Africa, risking American lives, because of his guilt over slavery and colonialism." ...

... Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg News: "President Barack Obama is preparing to ask Congress for additional funds to combat Ebola, a move that could shift some political pressure from the White House to lawmakers in the last two weeks before midterm elections." ...

... Lauren French of Politico: "More than two dozen House Democrats are calling on the Senate to swiftly approve Vivek Murthy's nomination to serve as surgeon general to help combat the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the U.S." ...

... In lieu of a real, live surgeon general, Brian McFadden of the New York Times envisions "President Obama's Robo-Surgeon'General."

... Maria Cheng of the AP: "In a draft document, the World Health Organization has acknowledged that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information. In the document obtained by The Associated Press, the agency wrote that experts should have realized that traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems." CW: Strangely, the WHO did not realize it could just blame Obama.

CW: Justice John Paul Stevens, in an NYRB review, gets a bit into the weeds, but I was interested in his explanation of how he perceives & employs legislative intent in decision-making -- and how Justices Antonin Scalia & Clarence Thomas don't give a rat's ass about it: "... the text of bills is often not self-explanatory, and it is necessary to read committee reports to understand the issues.... In the real world, legislative history has an important part in statutory construction. Indeed, on the Supreme Court seven of the nine active justices rely on legislative history in appropriate cases.... Justice Scalia refuses to join any part of a colleague's opinion that relies on legislative history." Stevens' brief discussion of "scrivener's error" certainly applies to Halbig's challenge to the ACA.

God News

Nicole Winfield of the AP: "Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.... Paul was elected in 1963 to succeed the popular Pope John XXIII, and during his 15-year reign was responsible for implementing the reforms of Vatican II and charting the church through the tumultuous years of the 1960s sexual revolution." ...

... Laurie Goodstein & Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times: "A closely watched Vatican assembly on the family ended on Saturday without consensus among the bishops in attendance on what to say about gays, and whether to give communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. The bishops' final report watered down the warm and welcoming language about gays and divorced couples that appeared in a preliminary report released on Monday.... The [watered-down] passages on gays and divorce did not receive two-thirds of the vote by the 183 bishops in attendance on Saturday.... Conservative bishops had expressed alarm that the Roman Catholic Church was sending a mixed message on marriage and homosexuality. Pope Francis addressed the bishops in the final session, issuing a double-barreled warning against 'hostile rigidity' by 'so-called traditionalists,' but also cautioning 'progressives' who would 'bandage a wound before treating it.' The bishops responded with a four-minute standing ovation...." ...

... Lester Feder & Ellie Hall of BuzzFeed: "In the interview with BuzzFeed News, [conservative U.S. Cardinal Raymond] Burke confirmed publicly for the first time the rumors that he had been told [Pope] Francis intended to demote him from the church's chief guardian of canon law to a minor post as patron to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta."

Davide Casati of the New York Times: "Before his arrest in June 2013, [Msgr. Nunzio Scarano] was a top accountant at the Vatican office that, at that time, managed the Holy See's real estate and investments. He is currently on trial, accused of money laundering -- most notably, of trying to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to Italy in a private plane, with the help of an Italian secret service agent. An Italian judge calculated Monsignor Scarano's wealth at more than $8.2 million, though the Vatican paid the priest just $41,000 a year. Italian authorities seized the 17-room, $1.7 million house in Salerno, where he is now under house arrest, along with many bank accounts; two of them, at the Vatican Bank, were seized by Vatican authorities."

Sarah Bailey of RNS: "Pope Francis stepped slightly outside of ecumenical protocol when he sent his support and congratulations to the new leader of a breakaway group of conservative Anglicans. The pope's message came during the Oct. 9 installation service for the Most Rev. Foley Beach, the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, which broke away from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over theological differences on salvation and sexuality.... The Vatican has no formal relations with ACNA; the recognized Anglican leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the churches he recognizes as part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the United States. Neither Welby nor the Episcopal Church formally recognizes ACNA. In an interview earlier this month, Welby said breakaway groups are not part of the communion." ...

... The ACNA is a conservative breakaway sect. Wikipedia: "The church allows dioceses to decide if they will or will not ordain women as priests, although it does not permit women to become bishops. Concerning marriage, it holds that it is between one man and one woman; therefore, it does not bless same sex unions. Concerning abortion and euthanasia, the ACNA holds a pro-life stance, proclaiming 'all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.'"

Eyder Peralta of NPR: "Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced on Friday that the city would narrow the scope of a controversial subpoena that asked five local pastors for copies of some of their sermons and communications." Peralta provides some background on the story. CW: I linked to an earlier story mid-week last week & questioned the constitutionality of the city's subpoenas. ...

... "Houston Has a Problem." Charles Pierce: "Frankly, this whole thing makes me nervous, too. (And the eagerness of liberal shebeens like Media Matters and ThinkProgress to jump in on the city's side here is very disappointing.) If there's anything the First Amendment makes perfectly clear, it is that the power of the state ends at the door of the church." Pierce also provides background. ...

... David Brody of CBN: "... Senator Ted Cruz says pastors being hauled off to jail by the government for preaching against homosexuality is a 'real risk' in the future.... 'The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.'" Via Steve Benen. ...

... Steve Benen: "In reality, that's not even close to what's 'happening now' and there is no such 'risk.' In fact, under the First Amendment, the scenario Cruz is warning against simply cannot happen.... But for the religious right, the controversy itself has become a rallying cry -- proof, they say, that supporters of gay rights will try to exploit the law to silence, and perhaps even imprison, conservative ministers." ...

It's basically, they're deciding what your views are supposed to be on certain things and they're now trying to legislate it. And they're trying to legislate speech. -- Fox "News" contributor Kirsten Powers

... Carlos Marcos of Media Matters: "Churches are exempt from HERO, and the ordinance does not regulate anti-gay speech. HERO merely prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations."

... CW: I still think the subpoenas are unconstitutional, no matter how much the city "narrows" its focus. The IRS regulates & limits political activity of non-profits, including churches, so I imagine the IRS could lawfully issue subpoenas of sermons to determine whether ministers engaged in "substantial" political activities. I seriously doubt that the IRS would bother in this instance, as clearly political activism is not the primary focus of these churches over the long haul. Moreover, Houston has not claimed any concern for the churches' tax-exempt status in this suit. So thanks, Houston, for aligning me with Ted Cruz. P.S. I am not a lawyer.

Denny Walsh of the Sacramento Bee: "A Shasta County atheist whose parole agent required him to participate in a religious-oriented drug treatment program has settled his lawsuit against the state and a rehabilitation contractor for nearly $2 million. Barry A. Hazle Jr. did a year in prison on a narcotics conviction. His release on parole was revoked -- and he was sent back to prison for more than three months -- after he complained about mandated attendance at a drug treatment program where acknowledgment of a higher power is required." Via Benen, indirectly. ...

... ON THE OTHER HAND, this is just as bad. Hemant Mehta in Patheos: "Texas Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack ... opened a recent court session with a five-minute Bible reading followed by a formal prayer." When the Freedom from Religion organization sent a letter objecting to the practice, Mack responded by sponsoring a prayer breakfast. In an e-mail, he told potential breakfasters, "... We are on strong legal ground here.... Not only is it acceptable to our community, but show them that God has a place in all aspects of our lives and public service...." Mehta states the obvious: "Mack would never be able to get away with this if he was anything other than Christian."

November Elections

Via Kate Madison. Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "White voters are more likely to support restrictive voter ID laws when they are shown photos of African American voters, according to a new study. The findings were released as courts are considering the constitutionality of voter ID laws across the country with just three weeks until the midterm elections."

Maine. Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on Maine's three-way race for governor. CW: If independent Eliot Cutler cares about Maine, he should drop out of this race to work on changing the way Maine picks its candidates, which is now rigged so the majority's third choice can win.

Massachusetts. The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Ben Schreckinger in Politico Magazine: Martha Coakley has blown another huge lead, this time over moderate Republican Charlie Baker in the race for governor. CW: The Real Clear Politics poll of polls have Baker up by 0.2; i.e., a dead heat. According to Schreckinger, "In one poll conducted in April, she led Baker by 29 points." This, however, was before she faced a tough primary opponent. "Fred Armisen, playing President Obama [in an SNL skit after her defeat by the Handsomest Man in Massachusetts New England politics]..., received standing ovations for repeatedly bashing her with lines like 'You couldn't beat Dick Cheney for mayor of Berkeley.'"

Texas. Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog on the Supreme Court's decision to reverse a lower court decision which declared unconstitutional Texas's strict voter ID/poll tax law. "This apparently was the first time since 1982 that the Court has allowed a law restricting voters' rights to be enforced after a federal court had ruled it to be unconstitutional because it intentionally discriminated against minorities.... The Justice Department has indicated that the case is likely to return to the Supreme Court after the appeals court rules." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "Republicans in Texas have managed to finagle a world in which a gun permit counts as proof of voter eligibility, but a student ID does not.... It's election rigging, plain and simple, designed to give Republican and conservative voters the opportunity to vote while denying the franchise to traditionally more Democratic and progressive demographics."

Presidential Election

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Ebola came to Texas. And Rick Perry went to Europe.... At first, Perry seemed to have everything under control.... But then he left Sunday for a long-planned 7-day trip designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials. During his absence, two more cases of Ebola were confirmed, both of them involving Texas nurses who had dealt with the first patient.The governor cut his trip short and rushed home on Thursday, only to encounter criticism for leaving in the first place." ...

     ... Steve M. "It may be silly to take Rick Perry's presidential ambitions seriously at all, but even if you do, he's not going to be judged on 'crisis management' in this situation, as the article suggests -- he's going to be judged on how much he hates Obama. That's how every Republican presidential aspirant is judged on pretty much everything." ...

... Remembrances of Romney at the London Olympics. In a speech advocating for stopping ISIS, delivered in London, England, earlier this week, Perry repeatedly reminded the Brits of American exceptionalism. Patrick Svitek of the Houston Chronicle: "Perry laced his speech with allusions to American exceptionalism...."

Beyond the Beltway

A snapshot of the live-free-or-die state, college edition. Photo by Rick DeMarco via the Boston Globe.... Chris Caesar of the Boston Globe: "Witnesses said police deployed tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a large crowd on the Keene State University campus in New Hampshire Saturday afternoon. Several people were injured by thrown bottles near the school's 1 Butler Court during a party celebrating the town's annual Pumpkin Festival.... Keene's police department was lampooned on both the Colbert Report (starts at 2:10) and Late Night with Jon Oliver (starts at 7:18) after citing the town's annual Pumpkin Fest as one reason it needed a surplus $286,000 armored vehicle from the Pentagon."

News Lede

Guardian: "A cruise ship carrying a Dallas healthcare worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port on Sunday.... A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas on 8 October, showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers the unidentified woman was tested for Ebola but the results were negative."

Friday
Oct172014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 18, 2014

** Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court's order was unsigned and contained no reasoning. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent. 'The prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,' she wrote, undermines 'public confidence in elections.' Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent." CW: Hmmm. Once again, it's the girls against the boys, & this time not on a gender-specific issue.

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "'The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,' [Federal Reserve Chair Janet] Yellen said at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 'I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation;s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.'... But ... she stays away from the aspects of the inequality puzzle that have a close tie-in to the policies of the Federal Reserve.... It seems like Ms. Yellen offered this speech as a way to use her bully pulpit to cast public attention on an issue she cares about deeply, deliberately avoiding areas where inequality intersects with the policy areas under which she has direct control." ...

     ... See also, Connecticut gubernatorial candidate, in November Elections below. ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "Good luck distinguishing between good oligarchs & bad oligarchs." He's right. The opinions & preferences of the wealthy may sometimes line up with the public good, but they should not be given any more weight than yours or mine. See also, Bill Gates/Common Core.

White House: "In this week's address, the President discussed what the United States is doing to respond to Ebola, both here at home and abroad, and the key facts Americans need to know":

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Beneath the calming reassurance that President Obama has repeatedly offered during the Ebola crisis, there is a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response. Those frustrations spilled over when Mr. Obama convened his top aides in the Cabinet room after canceling his schedule on Wednesday.... Officials said Mr. Obama placed much of the blame on the C.D.C...." ...

... Julie Davis & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain, a seasoned Democratic crisis-response operative and White House veteran, to manage the government's response to the deadly virus as public anxiety grows over its possible spread. Mr. Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political challenges. He was the lead Democratic lawyer for Mr. Gore during the 2000 election recount, and was later played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO drama 'Recount' about the disputed contest." ...

... CW: So Frank Underwood. Great. Maybe he can ruin the lives of some GOP loudmouths. ...

... CW: You'll be shocked, shocked, to read this. David McCabe of the Hill: "GOP blasts Obama Ebola czar pick. No sooner had the White House announced that it had selected Ron Klain to coordinate the administration's response to concerns about the Ebola virus than several congressional Republicans were expressing anger about the pick. Most highlighted Klain's past as a political operative." The lede to this story has been changed, but I prefer the original one, copied above. ...

... Joe Nocera on the CDC's "failure of competence.... When you think about it, many of the Obama administration's 'scandals' have been failures of competence. The Secret Service ... the Veterans Health Administration ... the Obamacare website.... [CW: I'd add Benghaaazi! & the IRS to that list.] The Republican right takes it as an article of faith that the national government can't do anything right.... And now comes the C.D.C. -- the most trusted agency in government -- thrust in a role for which it was designed: advising us and protecting us from a potential contagion. With every new mistake, it becomes, in the public eye, just another federal agency that can't get it right." ...

... Nate Silver looks at flight patterns coming out of West African countries to show why a travel ban wouldn't work. "... the next Ebola patient may be on a flight from London, not Liberia." ...

... Jonathan Cohn takes a more comprehensive look at why a travel ban, including one based on the nationality of the potential passenger, wouldn't work. One of his main sources: Bush administration Secretary of Health & Human Services Michael Leavitt, who studied the feasibility of a travel ban during an avian flu epidemic. Leavitt's conclusion: fageddaboudit. ...

... Your Ebola Chart of the Day is here. BUT never mind ...

... Kathleen Ronayne of the AP (Oct. 16): "U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told a group of college students Wednesday the deadly virus Ebola can spread from a person who has the disease to someone standing three feet away and said the White House should be honest about that. His comments directly conflict with statements from world health authorities who have dealt with Ebola outbreaks since 1976." ...

... Here's more from Benjy Sarlin of MSNBC. ...

... Steve Benen: "At the risk of putting too fine a point on this, it's no longer clear just how much respect Rand Paul is due.... To assume Paul knows what he's talking about, and that he has more credibility that legitimate medical experts, is a mistake." ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM digs for the roots of Li'l Randy's Ebola truther moment. He finds some in a crackpot conspiracy theorists' organization called Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, of which both Rand & Ron Paul are a card-carrying members. Sounds like an upstanding professional group, doesn't it? It isn't. "... they suggested that President Obama was not simply a gifted orator but actually 'deliberately using the techniques of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a covert form of hypnosis developed by Milton Erickson, M.D.?' The group's journal has also claimed that humans have not contributed to climate change, that HIV does not cause AIDS, that abortion causes breast cancer, that undocumented immigrants are flooding the US with leprosy, [etc.]... The year before running for senate at their annual conference. 'I use a lot of AAPS literature when I talk,' he told the group in his speech." ...

     ... CW: If you're looking for something to panic about, I suggest you freak out about the possibility that this nutjob could become president. ...

     ... Hey, maybe President Randy would make his old man the surgeon general! Ben Adler of Grist elaborates on Marshall's story: "Ron Paul, as it happens, has come out with what might be the most disturbing thing said by any conservative about Ebola." Paul thinks "liberty, not government, [is] the key to containing Ebola.... Rand Paul is shrewd enough not to say what Ron did about Ebola. But his belief system is the same. And his father's latest missive is a taste of the dangers a Rand Paul presidency would carry for the environment, public health, and public safety." ...

... MEANWHILE, more Texas crazy from Louis Gohmert, a bona fide elected representative of the people & until now, secret feminist, who tells us "... the CDC head, Frieden, is apparently the commander of the Democrats' new war on women nurses. Because, goodnight, they set them up, and then they throw them under the bus." (CW: Oddly, I think he's partly right on his main point, before he & Glenn Beck pivot deep into Right Wing World.

... Dana Milbank: "In an interview published Sunday night, [NIH Director Francis] Collins shared with the Huffington Post's Sam Stein his belief that, if not for recent federal spending cuts, 'we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this' Ebola outbreak. This should not be controversial. His conjecture was based on cold budgeting facts.... Yet conservatives pounced.... Who would say, given the economic catastrophe that an Ebola outbreak could cause, that spending tens of millions more for an Ebola vaccine is wasteful?" ...

... CW Answer: Dr. Ron Paul, for one.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for the LGBT-WMD Community":

     ... CW: If you can't figure out why your Fox "News"-watching acquaintances are so ignorant, watch the clips Colbert highlights.

From the Department of Inconsequential Matters. Did the plaintiff in this case really suffer from "intentional infliction of emotional stress" or is he just a guy who can't take a joke?

November Elections

Connecticut. Tatiana Schlossberg of the New York Times: "Thomas C. Foley, the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut, paid $673 in federal taxes in 2013, despite personal wealth that allowed him to spend $11 million of his own money in a race for the same office in 2010.... The campaign released his 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax summaries last month; 2013 was the third year in a row that Mr. Foley effectively paid no federal income tax." ...

... CW: That should make you angry.

Florida. Gov. Rick Scott pumped out flood zones caused by rising sea levels so he won't have to admit sea levels are rising.

Nebraska. It's Willie Horton All Over Again:

     ... AND the charges the Republican Congressional Committee makes against Demcorat Brad Ashford are based on mighty thin "evidence." Nebraska's Republican governor supported the same sentencing bill Ashford did. ...

     ... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted the ad on Friday afternoon, accusing the ad of 'race-baiting' and demanding that it be taken down." ...

     ... CW: One reason we may never get sensible sentencing laws: politicians are afraid if they vote for any bill that allows for any sort of early release, they will be Willie-Hortoned in their next election bid.

Nevada, I guess. Cliven Bundy's New Black Friend. CW: I do believe the real reason AG Eric Holder is resigning is he's a'skeert to face Cliven Bundy & his ranch hand candidate for Congress Kamau Bakari:

Texas. See the Supreme Court ruling linked at the top of the page.

Virginia. Washington Post Editors: GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie proposes a national healthcare plan "worse than Obamacare." CW: Hey, it will raise the deficit, has poor protection for people with pre-existing conditions, & will hurt poor people, leaving them with nothing but bare-bones catastrophic coverage. But otherwise it's great.

Presidential Election

Paul Waldman lists a few reasons why "there's no way [Rand Paul] (or any other Republican) could get a third of their votes in a presidential campaign.... No matter how much he reaches out, other people in his party are going to keep doing things like air this latter-day Willie Horton ad. Then there's the comprehensive Republican project to restrict voting rights, which African-Americans rightly interpret as an effort to keep them from voting. Then there's the fact that for the last six years, Barack Obama has been subject to an endless torrent of racist invective, not only from your uncle at Thanksgiving but from people with nationally syndicated radio shows. On his listening tour, Paul might ask a few black people how they feel about the fact that America's first black president had to show his birth certificate to prove he's a real American." ...

... CW: Yeah, & how about Li'l Randy himself "standing by" his aide & co-author, the "Southern Avenger"? Plus, as Howard Fineman pointed out in the linked post, "Paul will have to deal with myriad nettlesome issues that come from his family's political roots in the libertarian, states' rights and nativist soil deep in some reaches of American politics." When you get right down to it, Rand Paul is a Southern white boy. He has pretty much let on in recent remarks that his inerest in bridging the GOP racial divide is about garnering votes, not about giving a whup about black Americans.

Beyond the Beltway

** Michael Schmidt, et al., of the New York Times: "The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter. The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.... [Federal] officials said that while the federal investigation was continuing, the evidence so far did not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson.... The officials ... said the forensic evidence gathered in the car lent credence to Officer Wilson's version of events."

News Ledes

AP: "Searchers found human remains on Saturday that could be those of a University of Virginia sophomore who has been missing since Sept. 13, police said. Further forensic tests are needed to confirm whether the remains are those of Hannah Graham, but Graham's parents were notified of the preliminary findings, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told a news conference."

AP: "Police in the Seattle suburb of Auburn said Thursday that they believe they have found the body of missing actress Misty Upham, known for her roles in 'August: Osage County,' 'Frozen River' and 'Django Unchained.'"

Reuters: "The survivalist charged with murdering a Pennsylvania trooper and wounding another was spotted near his old high school carrying a rifle and with mud smeared on his face, police said on Saturday, five weeks after a manhunt for the suspect began. Eric Frein, 31, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list, was spotted by a woman in a 'surprise encounter' while she was taking a walk, said Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police."

New York Times: On a trip to Milan to meet with European leaders, Vladimir Putin behaves badly.