The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 26, 2016.

New York Times: "Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, thrilling tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, died on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his business enterprises. Palmer was 87." -- CW 

Miami Herald: "Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who fled Cuba on a speedboat eight years ago to become one of baseball’s dominant players and a hometown hero to fans well beyond the stadium walls, died early Sunday in a violent boat crash off South Beach. He was 24. Two friends were also killed in the accident, which remains under investigation and led Major League Baseball to promptly cancel Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Braves." -- CW 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/mlb/miami-marlins/article104073926.html#storylink=cpy

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:

 

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

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Friday
Aug292014

The Commentariat -- August 30, 2014

Erik Eckholm & Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "A federal judge in Austin, Tex., blocked a stringent new rule on Friday that would have forced more than half of the state's remaining abortion clinics to close, the latest in a string of court decisions that have at least temporarily kept abortion clinics across the South from being shuttered. The Texas rule, requiring all abortion clinics to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers, had been set to take effect on Monday. But in his opinion, Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin said that the mandate placed unjustified obstacles on women's access to abortion without providing significant medical benefits.... Texas officials immediately vowed to appeal the decision, while abortion-rights advocates were elated." The AG is Greg Abbott, the GOP gubernatorial nominee. Yeakel is a George W. Bush appointee.

Carol Anderson, in a Washington Post op-ed, argues that unrest is Ferguson was really the result of "white rage," not "black rage." ...

... CW: I'd quibble with Anderson's terminology, except as it applies to police overreaction, but her overall point is well-taken. As she demonstrates, most of what she calls white rage is contained, redirected at blacks in socially-acceptable formats. Once in awhile, of course, politicians slip up, as with Rick Santorum's blah-people half-gaffe, but usually they manage to contain their repressive agendas within race-neutral frames. And I do think for many conservatives, these policies are race-neutral. But not class-neutral. Their goal is to maintain the status-quo, to perpetuate an aristocracy in which they & their progeny, of course, remain on top. That certain ethnic groups will be forever overrepresented in the underclass is a by-product of their class-perpetuating objective, not a principal purpose.

Dana Milbank proves his Very-Serious-People creds by going full-on deficit hawk. Apparently, it is unpossible for Milbank to imagine that a future Congress would raise taxes & Social Security contributions & close corporate tax loopholes. He is right, of course, to suppose that any Congress controlled by Republicans would not act to responsibly pass legislation to improve the economy & thus reduce the deficit (& need for government borrowing) during good times. The long-term projections do look grim under current law, which is of course the basis for the CBO projections.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Just a few hours after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) went public with accounts of sexual harassment from her fellow lawmakers, a cadre of mostly male reporters took to the airwaves and Internet to question her credibility. Politico's senior congressional reporter, John Bresnahan, posted 'I challenge this story. I don't believe it' on Twitter in response to Gillibrand's interview. Bresnehan later deleted the tweet and called it 'moronic.'" ...

... CW: Really, Bresnahan? I'd like to see your reporting on that. See, when an actual journalist calls a public official a liar, he does so when he has produced some, um, evidence for his charge. Who's your source? Harry Reid? David Vitter? Oh well, Bresnahan, you're as good a reporter as that person who trolled Reality Chex the other day. Congratulations. You moron. ...

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: GOP operatives Frank Luntz & Rick Wilson tweet that Gillibrand has not named her accusers because ... obviously they're Democrats. ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "... to anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on Capitol Hill, none of [Gillibrand's encounters] should seem surprising." CW: I guess that means Bresnahan, Politico's senior congressional reporter, just phones in his work. Probably does all of his reporting off of C-SPAN. I'd suggest the Politico editors pop for a Metro card for Bresnahan, so he can get over to the Capitol from time to time & actually see the ole boys in action.

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Less than three years after she embarked on a new and lucrative career as an NBC News special correspondent, Chelsea Clinton said on Friday that she would leave that position. In a letter posted on her Facebook page, Ms. Clinton said she had decided to depart NBC News to focus on philanthropic work at the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. She and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are also expecting their first child this fall."

Beyond the Beltway

Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "Lawyers on both sides [in the Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial] Friday made their closing arguments in a case that has generated soap-opera buzz since the former first couple of Virginia pinned their defense largely on a brutal self-dissection of their own failed relationship."

Tom Wilemon of the Tennessean: "In a move that could mean health coverage for thousands of Tennesseans, Gov. Bill Haslam [R] said Thursday that the state may soon submit a proposal to Washington to expand Tennessee's Medicaid program but did not release any new details on how it might work. This would be the first time for the governor to actually submit a plan. If approved by federal officials and the state legislature, the plan would help Tennesseans caught in the coverage gap of the Affordable Care Act, which has left 162,000 Tennesseans without health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation."

Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters: "The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record." CW: Another fine example of why the right considers the U.N. an enemy.

Joel Currier of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Two police officers are no longer working at their departments due to their actions during the protests in Ferguson. A Glendale police officer suspended last Friday after commenting on Facebook that he thought Ferguson protesters should be 'put down like rabid dogs,' has been fired, officials say. Meanwhile, a St. Ann police lieutenant resigned Thursday after he pointed an assault rifle at protesters and cursed at them, officials said. Lt. Ray Albers had worked for the department for 20 years. Glendale Officer Matthew Pappert, suspended with pay last week, was fired Thursday after an internal investigation wrapped up Wednesday...."

Joaquin Palomino of the AP: "The California State Senate gave final legislative approval on Thursday to a bill that would require certain replica guns to be painted bright colors or made transparent to prevent police from confusing toy guns for real weapons. The bill, which passed the Democratic-led chamber by 22-12, was introduced by Democratic state Senator Kevin De Leon after Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies fatally shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz in October after mistaking an imitation pellet rifle for the real thing.... The bill narrowly passed the Democratic-controlled State Assembly earlier this week. A bloc of Republicans and Democrats opposed it, saying toy guns were already painted bright colors, and that the law would make it easier for criminals to conceal weapons by painting them." ...

... CW: The bill covers "toy, imitation or 'copycat' guns & "all BB, pellet and airsoft guns." That would include the MK-177 BB/pellet rifle, which looks like this.

... You can buy it at WalMart for $43.43. It comes in black & tan. Outfit not included. ...

... This is the gun that John Crawford was carrying (or leaning on) in an Ohio WalMart when police shot him dead. Crawford reportedly picked it up in WalMart's toy section.

Senate Races

Hmmm. Elizabeth Titus of Politico: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, announced his resignation late Friday, citing potential distractions over renewed attention to a scandal from the Iowa 2012 caucuses. A longtime associate of Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Benton was the surprise choice to run the McConnell campaign in Sept. 2012 -- even before the current election cycle began. Benton's departure comes days after a former Iowa GOP state lawmaker pleaded guilty to charges of accepting money to change his endorsement in 2012 from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. Benton was the chairman of Paul's 2012 campaign and has been mentioned in documents surrounding the case. He has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case.... A source familiar with the situation said the Paul case has been all over the local press and McConnell officials were concerned it could become a serious distraction during the final months of the campaign." ...

... Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader: "Benton's name has surfaced in connection to a bribery scandal dating to his time as former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's political director during the 2012 presidential election. On Wednesday, former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to accepting $73,000 from Paul's campaign in exchange for his endorsement and to obstruction of justice for lying about his involvement. Sorenson's guilty plea included two sealed documents, which could threaten to involve Benton." ...

... Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "A top [Ron] Paul campaign official, Dimitri Kesari, was involved in efforts to pay Sorenson for his support, according a state independent counsel investigation. Benton, who is married to Paul's granddaughter, served as chairman of the campaign. It is unclear if he knew about payments made to Sorenson, but emails published last year indicate he was involved in efforts to get him to defect from the Bachmann campaign."

Katie Glueck of Politico: "A Mississippi judge on Friday dismissed state Sen. Chris McDaniel's challenge of longtime Sen. Thad Cochran's June Republican primary runoff victory." ...

... Goeff Pender of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger: "Judge Hollis McGehee ... agreed with Cochran's lawyers that a 1959 state Supreme Court ruling imposed a 20-day deadline for McDaniel to file a challenge, first with the state Republican Party. McDaniel didn't file his challenge of the June 24 GOP runoff until 41 days after the election."

Presidential Race

"This Is Mighty White of You." Charles Pierce: "Hillary Clinton finally about recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. What she said appears to have been written by nine consultants, eight people from marketing, seven lawyers, six ESL valedictorians, and Mark Penn. She feels very bad about the stuff that happened, as stuff sometimes will happen, because it is stuff, and it happens. Or something." After this fair summary, Pierce reproduces the full text (or what I hope is the full text), with commentary. CW: To those who complain President Obama is "too deliberative," wait for President Hillary. And wait. And wait.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Since Monday, more than 200 Ukrainian volunteer soldiers have been trapped in the southeastern town of Ilyovaisk, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll is mounting.... Russian President Vladimir Putin focused international attention on the trapped soldiers Friday by calling in a statement for a protected route to allow them to retreat, even as evidence mounted of a broad incursion into Ukraine by Russian troops and military vehicles." ...

... Guardian: "... Vladimir Putin, has hit back at accusations that he has effectively invaded Ukraine, accusing Kiev's forces of behaving like Nazis in the conflict in the east and ominously threatening to take his standoff with the west into the disputed Arctic."

Guardian: "America's newest war in Iraq has cost over half a billion dollars so far, according to Pentagon estimates, all before President Barack Obama decides upon a strategy against Islamic State (Isis) militants. Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Friday that daily military operations in Iraq since 16 June, when the White House informed Congress it had ordered up to 275 US troops to bolster embassy security in Baghdad, have cost on average $7.5m."

New York Times: "An experimental drug has shown a striking efficacy in prolonging the lives of people with heart failure and could replace what has been the bedrock treatment for more than 20 years, researchers said Saturday. The drug, which is being developed by the Swiss company Novartis, reduced both the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and the risk of being hospitalized for worsening heart failure by about 20 percent in a large clinical trial."

Thursday
Aug282014

The Commentariat -- August 29, 2014

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama confronted a pair of volatile international crises with restraint on Thursday as he said he was not close to authorizing airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria and played down the latest escalation of Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. With tensions rising in Europe and the Middle East, Mr. Obama emphasized that a military response would not resolve either situation and pledged to build international coalitions to grapple with them. Despite pressure from within his own government for more assertive action, he tried to avoid inflaming passions as he sought new approaches." ...

... David Nakamura & Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama said Thursday he has not decided on stepped-up military action against the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria, cautioning that he remains committed to a strategy that protects U.S. interests and builds broader partnerships to combat the threat posed by the militant group":

... "The Audacity of Taupe." Elahe Izadi: "President Obama wore a tan suit on Thursday while talking about Ukraine and the Islamic State, and political Twitter promptly went nuts. Over the suit." Some pretty funny tweets, including this one from conservative Philip Klein: "This is what happens when Obama bypasses Congress to purchase a suit." ...

... Jenn Harris of the Los Angeles Times: "Despite the criticisms, The Times' menswear expert and fashion writer Adam Tschorn insists Obama made an appropriate fashion selection for this time of year." ...

... CW Note: Illustration above to tamp down the wingnuts. ...

     ... Update: You should probably read Akhilleus's "recommendation on appropriate clothing" for the Obama fashion police.

Michael Schmidt & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have identified nearly a dozen Americans who have traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.... As ISIS has seized large expanses of territory in recent months, it has drawn more foreign men to Syria, requiring more American and European law enforcement resources in the attempt to stop the flow of fighters, senior American officials said. And as a result of the increasing numbers of men, ISIS is now recruiting foreign women as jihadist wives."

Thursday, Chuck Todd Went to Work. Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: On his daytime show, he asked RNC Chair Prince Rebus if the reason the Republican party couldn't attract women voters was because "there's just too many crazy white guys who have crazy theories about my reproductive system?" He noted the GOP had the same problem with Latinos. Okay, Chuck, I guess that's "edgy." The Little Prince's response was along the lines of

Brendan James of TPM: "MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell is less than surprised by the revelations of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) about being subjected to sexual harassment by her congressional colleagues, sharing her own experiences reporting on 'the oldest white male club in the world.' 'We all had our stories of whom you'd not get in an elevator with and whom you'd protect your young female interns from,' Mitchell told her guests...." ...

... Kay Steiger of TPM: "A debate broke out on Twitter among three male journalists -- New York Times' Nick Confessore, Politico's Alex Burns, and MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin -- on Thursday afternoon: Does Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose anonymous colleagues she said told her she was 'porky,' 'chubby,' and 'fat' during the months just after she had a baby, have a responsibility to name her harassers?" ...

... Now Here's Someone Who Should Tell. Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's stories about being called 'porky' by her male colleagues didn't surprise CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, who said lawmakers also made inappropriate comments about her post-baby body." The only thing Bash will say is that the "inappropriate comments" "will just blow you away" & came from men over the age of 50.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today: "NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admits he was wrong on the Ray Rice decision, and Goodell took an important step Thursday towards showing the league is serious about cracking down on domestic violence as well as sexual assault. In a lengthy letter sent to every NFL owner on Thursday, Goodell announced enhanced policies and discipline under the personal conduct policy that will result in a six-game suspension for a first offense related to domestic violence or sexual assault and an indefinite ban for a second offense committed by any NFL personnel. Goodell has drawn harsh criticism since the announcement last month that Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back, would be suspended just two games for striking his then-fiancee at a New Jersey casino and being caught on camera dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator." ...

... William Rhoden of the New York Times: "Better late than never, I suppose. But why so late? Perhaps because the N.F.L.'s moral high ground is so low.... [After "spinning rationale after rationale" for his decision in the Rice case,] on Thursday, facing an undercurrent of outrage that showed no signs of subsiding, with the possibility of demonstrations and even boycotts, Goodell did an about-face.... What's galling about his sudden turnabout is that we see the same intransigence in other areas. In the face of mounting criticism from American Indians and others, Goodell insists that there is nothing racist about the Washington team's nickname.... Just once it would be great to see this multibillion-dollar empire admit the truth without being backed into a corner." ...

... The New Policy Looks a Lot Like the Old Policy. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "... the new standards are vague about when exactly a player will be subject to suspension (a source told ESPN that discipline will only occur after the 'adjudication of a player's case, such as conviction or plea agreement,' which is pretty much how the policy works now, most of the time), and its allowances for the consideration of 'mitigating factors' and 'longer suspensions when circumstances warrant' make it clear that six games is a suggested starting point from which the commissioner is free to deviate in either direction rather than an absolute standard."

Peter Baker: "More than 150 years after standing his ground against Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lieutenant [Alonzo] Cushing will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama -- a result both of his heroism in those dark days and of the persistence of a 94-year-old Wisconsin woman who lobbied on his behalf for more than a quarter-century.... His cause ... lingered for years in the bureaucratic and legislative trenches of the capital... [Rep. Ron] Kind [D-Wisc.] said some Southern colleagues were also less than enthusiastic. 'There was some resistance to awarding a Union soldier the congressional medal at Gettysburg even 150 years after the fact,' Mr. Kind said." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "If you're wondering how long it's going to take the South to stop letting its poor people suffer and die for lack of medical care rather than accept free Medicaid money, the answer is: probably a long time."

David Sheff of Time: "If You Want to See Inequality in the U.S. at Its Worst, Visit an Impound Lot.... When events like the Michael Brown shooting occur that inflame people and motivate them to take to the streets to protest, we are reminded that there is not justice for all in America. We must also acknowledge and condemn the daily injustices born of a system that slowly grinds down the people who can least afford it, and, in too many cases to count, leads to their early death."

October Surprise. Marc Ambinder of the Week imagines a scenario in which President Obama signs a sweeping executive order granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants, a move which goads Republicans into shutting down the government. Again. Just days before the November election. ...

... So right off, Chris Stirewalt of Fox "News" writes a post titled "Dems' last ditch hope: Force a shutdown to save the Senate." Stirewalt leaps from the imaginings of a columnist to ... "The plan calls for broad executive action by President Obama to legalize illegal immigrants to goad Republicans into a similar fight as last year's failed effort to strip funding from ObamaCare." No longer the subject of a speculative piece by a journalist (admittedly, a well-connected one), the amnesty bonanza is now a "plan." Good for Stirewalt for practicing restraint. I'll bet he wanted to call out "a Kenyan socialist plot to flood the country with "those people" & steal control of the Senate." ...

... BUT. President Obama hints he may not go along with his own diabolical plot. Kathleen Hennessey, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama is suggesting that he will defer his self-imposed deadline for announcing an expected change in immigration policy, as the White House wrestles with the political and legal dilemmas involved in making significant alterations without congressional approval." CW: Yeah, well, probably part of his shrewd strategy to catch unsuspecting MOCs off-guard.

Beyond the Beltway

Sarah Kliff of Vox: "Pennsylvania has struck a deal with the Obama administration to expand its Medicaid program to more than 300,000 poor residents, the state announced Thursday. Pennsylvania would be the 27th state (not including the District of Columbia) to participate in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, and Gov. Tom Corbett would be the ninth Republican governor to sign on." ...

     ... Corbett is trailing his Democratic opponent in the November election, Tom Wolf, by about 20 points. ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Washington Post: "A battle over whether to expand Medicaid that has divided Arizona Republicans for nearly two years will soon advance to the state's highest court. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge from Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who is seeking to protect the state's use of federal dollars to expand Medicaid last year."

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "The video texting service Glide has verified the recording played by CNN this week of the purported shots in the Ferguson, Mo., killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown." Glide is turning over their verification data to the FBI. CW: Kind of a bummer for those CNN "experts" who claimed the tape was hoax. (See yesterday's Commentariat.) ...

... Carey Gillam of Reuters: "A group of people caught up in unrest in Ferguson, Missouri..., sued local officials on Thursday, alleging civil rights violations through arrests and police assaults with rubber bullets and tear gas.... The lawsuit seeks a total of $40 million on behalf of six plaintiffs, including a 17-year-old boy who was with his mother in a fast-food restaurant when they were arrested. Each of the plaintiffs was caught up in interactions with police over a period from Aug. 11 to 13, the suit allege."

Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "... closing arguments were scheduled for Friday in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. The final pitches to the jury are expected to be lengthy, with closings by the defense teams for each of the McDonnells bookended by presentations by prosecutors." ...

     ... Here are the Post's live updates for today. Closing arguments have begun. ...

... CW: It just dawned on me that Bob & Maureen McDonnell -- & their daughter Jeanine -- might be telling the truth about a marriage they claim has been on the rocks for 20 years. Maybe Bob is gay. Well, good. I hope he works that out, finds happiness with a nice fella (maybe someone he meets in jail!) & apologizes for his decades of discriminating against women & gays.

The Fracking News. AP: "In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen. The Associated Press requested data on drilling-related complaints in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas...."

Paul Krugman: "... Europe desperately needs the leader of a major economy -- one that is not in terrible shape -- to stand up and say that austerity is killing the Continent's economic prospects. [François] Hollande[, president of France & head of the Socialist party,] could and should have been that leader, but he isn't."

Senate Races

Sam Wang of Princeton, in contrast to "snapshots" produced by other major horse-race forecasters, is showing the likelihood that Democrats will retain control of the Senate at 70 percent.

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "In Washington, Sen. Mary Landrieu lives in a stately, $2.5 million brick manse she and her husband built on Capitol Hill.... In Louisiana, however, the Democrat ... is registered to vote at a large bungalow in New Orleans that her parents have lived in for many decades.... The New Orleans house, which Landrieu claims as her primary residence, is a new flash point in one of the most closely contested Senate races in the country. Republicans are considering taking legal action to question Landrieu's residency in the state, arguing that since winning her seat in 1996 she has become a creature of Washington."

** The Trouble with Kansas. Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post lays out the Democrats' dilemma in Kansas where the incumbent, Pat Roberts (R) "finds himself in an unexpectedly competitive race against a Democratic challenger and an independent who has emerged as a wild card."

Presidential Race

Jon Stewart explains the politics behind the Rick Perry indictment:

Benghaaazi! Jonathan Weisman & Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "A House Republican-led investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, will extend well into next year, and possibly beyond, raising concerns among Democrats that Republicans are trying to damage Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential prospects." CW: Of course the House's 8th "investigation" is political & of course it's designed to attack Clinton. But the committee will not come up with a smoking gun (except any that might be planted by unreliable witnesses procured by somebody like, say, Lara Logan). Voters will pay little, if any, attention to the proceedings. Besides, who are you gonna believe, Clinton or a conehead?:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chair of the House select committee on Benghazi.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Backed by Russian troops and weaponry, hundreds of Ukrainian rebel militiamen mobilized on Friday in [Novoazovsk, a] southeastern town, vacated by the Ukrainian military two days ago, and began to push toward the strategic seaport of Mariupol 27 miles away. The leader of the rebels called the advance a broad new effort to wrest control of a wide swath of coastal territory from the central government. ...

... Washington Post: "Russian President Vladimir Putin called on pro-Russian separatists to release trapped Ukrainian soldiers Friday, one day after Russian soldiers, tanks and heavy artillery began rolling into the southeastern part of the country in earnest, according to the Ukrainian government.... The Russian leader did not answer accusations from both the Ukrainian government and the West about Russia's military presence in southeastern Ukraine. He praised the separatists instead...."

Wednesday
Aug272014

The Commentariat -- August 28, 2014

This Is a Big Fucking Deal. Margot Sanger-Katz & Kevin Quealy of the New York Times: "Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning. The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion." The CBO report is here (pdf). ...

... Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: "... all the 'deficit hawks' out there who are deeply concerned about too much borrowing and the terrible choices our grandchildren will confront might want to write a letter of thanks to one Barack Hussein Obama.... The reasons for the slowdown [in the deficit] in Medicare spending are complicated. But a big part of it is -- you guessed it -- the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has found direct savings in Medicare with things like cuts to some provider payments.... Medicare is still the biggest driver of future deficits, but the next time you hear a conservative say we have to 'rein in entitlements,' you can remind them that nothing any president has done to achieve that goal has been nearly as effective as the reforms contained within the hated Obamacare." ...

... Sorry, Paul. Here's a winger -- Romina Boccia, a "fellow in federal budgetary affairs" for the Heritage Foundation -- who wants you to know, in her screaming headline, that the CBO report shows that the budget deficit for "Just This Year Is Huge," & in her post asserts that it's proof of the need for "entitlement reform." ...

... CW: I believe I'll have a small slice of humble pie on this myself. While wonks & pundits (at least on the left) are giving Obama the credit for this, our current Ambassador to China & former Sen. Max Baucus (ConservaD-Mont.), along with annoying former Sen. Kent Conrad (ConservaD-N.D.) were the U.S. senators insisting that the ACA be "revenue-neutral." So thanks, Max & Kent. Sorry I repeatedly suggested (as best I can recall) you were anal-retentive jerks. ...

... MEANWHILE, I see that Annoying Kent -- who, surprise, surprise, is now a lobbyist -- is in the news complaining that President Obama is "more detached" than he should be. Thanks again, Kent.

Josh Rogin & Eli Lake of the Daily Beast. "President Obama wants to decide by the end of the week whether or not his war in Iraq against the Islamic State will expand to the group's haven in eastern Syria. But nearly everything about the potential military campaign is still in flux ... from the goals of the effort to the intelligence needed to carry it out." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Let's hope that President Obama does not bomb ISIS inside Syria -- unless, maybe, the airstrikes are coordinated with some other country's troops on the ground.... It's not likely to happen for two reasons.... First, there are no ground forces inside Syria that can both repel ISIS and serve as palatable American allies. Second, the Obama administration and the neighboring Middle Eastern countries appear to have no strategy of what an intervention in Syria might look like or of what Syrian politics should look like in its aftermath."

Karen Tumulty & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety about the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November's midterm elections. In the past few days, Democratic candidates in nearly every closely fought Senate race have criticized the idea of aggressive action by Obama." ...

... Dana Milbank: "Hosted by a hard-line immigration group, the [Republican] mayor [of Lynn, Massachusetts], Judith Flanagan Kennedy, [came to Washington, D.C., &] told an alarming tale about how unaccompanied minors emigrating illegally from Guatemala have caused havoc in her fair burg.... But upon closer inspection, Kennedy's tale of woe doesn't quite add up." CW: Just another Republican politician, following in the party's tradition of telling tall tales to make an unsupportable political point.

Lauren Windsor of the Nation: "Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama's legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills.... What McConnell didn't tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers.... McConnell's pledge to 'go after' Democrats on financial services -- a reference to declawing Dodd-Frank regulation -- is a key omission from his Politico interview." Windsor has the tape. A full transcript is here. ...

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "To a large extent, Mr. McConnell's promises are more bluster for the Republican donor base than a foolproof plan. Through a budget procedure called reconciliation, Republicans could clear a path to tax legislation or changes to entitlement programs that could pass later in the year with simple majorities in the House and the Senate. But unless a Republican majority plans to end the filibuster on legislation as Democrats ended it on some presidential nominees, spending bills with 'riders' would need 60 votes in the Senate. If the Republicans win control of the Senate, their majority is almost certain to be short of 60." ...

... Josh Israel of Think Progress: "At a Koch Brothers-hosted secret strategy conference of right-wing millionaire and billionaire political activists in June, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised that if his party wins control of the United States Senate this November, the Senate will not waste time on things like increasing the minimum wage for people making only about $15,000 annually. Instead, audio of his remarks obtained by The Nation reveals, his Senate will focus on repealing Wall Street reforms, environmental protections, and affordable healthcare." ...

... Brian Beutler: Mitch McConnell is "threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That's a government shutdown fight. And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining. They can't control the plot.... Nobody's saying a government shutdown will definitely happen. But a confrontation is very likely, and Republicans in Congress are the reason. Even if they never say the words 'government shutdown.'" ...

... Kathy Obradovich of the Des Moines Register: "Congressman Steve King said today the threat of another government shutdown could be Republicans' leverage [link fixed] to pass border security and immigration legislation this fall." ...

... Molly Ball of the Atlantic: "A well-placed House Republican source tells me GOP leadership is increasingly nervous about the potential for a rebellion on the funding bill.... Officially, Republicans insist there will be no drama, although they aren't yet saying what the plan is for getting the funding bill passed." ...

... Funny Thing. Burgess Everett of Politico: "Democrats hear only one thing when Republicans talk about fighting President Barack Obama's immigration agenda or GOP plans for controlling Congress: government shutdown. In fundraising requests, media appearances and conference calls, Democrats are painting Republicans as the 'shutdown party' just in time for the midterm elections.... The shutdown talk is being stoked after recent comments by prominent Senate Republicans like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida that predicted a confrontational stance toward Obama on spending bills if either the GOP takes the Senate or the president announces new changes to immigration policy."

The Old Boys Club I. Jake Sherman & Anna Palmer of Politico: "A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups -- including one backed by Karl Rove -- paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as 'intolerant,' 'lacking in compassion' and 'stuck in the past.' Women are 'barely receptive' to Republicans' policies, and the party does 'especially poorly' with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report.... One bright spot is among married women. Married women without a college degree view Republicans favorably, the polling shows. Married women prefer a Republican over a Democrat, 48 percent to 38 percent." ...

... The Old Boys Club II. "Members of Congress Called Me 'Porky.'" Lucy McCalmont of Politico: "New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reveals in her new book that a number of her male colleagues on Capitol Hill made remarks about her weight, the New York Post and People magazine reported Wednesday.... 'It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,' she said, in an excerpt published Wednesday of her People interview. 'They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.'" ...

... Annie Lowrey of New York: "... to help these civic-minded geniuses understand when it is appropriate to comment on a woman's physical appearance here and now in the 21st century, I have created a flowchart."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

... As the person who has the most appearances on 'Meet the Press,' I'll be glad to give you a lot of advice and counsel. -- John McCain to Chuck Todd

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "In a surprise appearance on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Sen. John McCain told Chuck Todd that 'Meet the Press' should not try to expand too far and should stick to focusing on the political dynamics facing the country. McCain's comments come just a few days after NBC News President Deborah Turness said the show needed more 'edge' and should do away with the one-on-one conversation in favor of a 'coffeehouse conversation.' ... Todd, who takes over hosting duties on 'Meet the Press' on Sept. 7 after the unceremonious departure of David Gregory, said he's been getting a lot of 'unsolicited advice.'"

Charles Pierce states what should be obvious, but is a necessary lesson for the likes of Maureen Dowd: "White people never get to pick black people's leaders for them." ...

     ... CW: Also, Pierce slips in something I hadn't realized: "detached," as in "President Obama is too detached" (see news on Kent Conrad linked above, ferinstance) is a white person's code word for "shiftless" as in "shiftless Negro." Pierce is right. I recall reading, many decades ago. that one small reason Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan was that people didn't like to see the President (Carter) carrying his own luggage (there were several photos of him, published at the time, carrying his bags onto AF1); they wanted a more "dignified" president. Now, by contrast, the white peoples want the black president & leader of the free world to be more deferential to the white peoples who run the Congress. President Obama's refusal to play obsequious Nee-gro is pissing off the white peoples. Among them, Mizz Dowd. Nicholas Kristof's column today -- "Is everyone a little bit racist?" (Answer: Yup) well might be directed at his colleague.


Garrett Epps
of the Atlantic on John Roberts' extremely partisan Supreme Court: "Like Barack Obama, the chief justice came into office promising an age of apolitical comity. And like the president, he has seen his dream die." ...

... CW: Epps makes some good points about the Supremes, but his thesis is highly flawed. The difference between Roberts & Obama, of course, is who's at fault. Roberts promised comity & then proceeded to lead the four other justices in moves to the far right, gutting the venerable Voting Rights Act, campaign finance law (twice) & the ACA (the ACA two or three times, depending upon how you count), etc. As Epps points out, even in his vote upholding the constitutionality of the ACA, Roberts struck down the Medicaid expansion provision; right-wing litigants are now hoping to use that ruling to deprives millions of red-state Americans of the ACA tax break. By contrast, after the 2010 election, Obama knocked himself out to come to agreements with Congressional Republicans.

Charles Blow busts Bill O'Reilly for O'Reilly incredible claim that there's no such thing as "white privilege."

** Thomas Edsall of the New York Times on "the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor." ... CW: I've linked a few articles on this in the past, but Edsall does a superior job of describing the extent of this egregious phenomenon.

CW: Now here's something about which I know zip. Jared Bernstein in the New York Times: "To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar's reserve-currency status.... The privilege of having the world's reserve currency is one America can no longer afford." I can hear the howls from Republicans if Obama/the Fed? did so.

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "William Kennedy Smith, who counts among his uncles two senators and a president, is going into the family business -- in the political equivalent of the mailroom. William K. Smith is one of two names that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat 2A04, representing a sliver of Washington's Foggy Bottom area that includes the Watergate complex and, yes, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.... Smith came to national attention more than two decades ago after being accused of raping a woman in Palm Beach, Fla., when he was 30. He was acquitted...."

Beyond the Beltway

Casey Ross of the Boston Globe: "The epic battle over Market Basket that sparked an extraordinary worker revolt and captivated the public through the summer ended Wednesday when Arthur T. Demoulas reached a deal to buy the company from rival relatives for more than $1.5 billion. Market Basket's shareholders announced the deal at 11:15 p.m. after several days of suspenseful negotiations. Arthur T. Demoulas and his sisters will buy the shares of their cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and other relatives on his side of the family, who collectively own 50.5 percent of the company. In a statement stripped bare of the emotion of recent days, the company and its shareholders asked managers, employees, and customers to return to stores to help get Market Basket running again. It also announced the reinstatement of Arthur T., who had been fired as president in June." Many thanks to Julie L. for the link.

Steve Hendrix & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: The separate arrivals each day of Bob & Maureen McDonald to their corruption trial are "sidewalk set pieces [which] have provided a riveted public with daily glimpses of the made-for-Netflix drama unfolding inside. And, according to criminal lawyers, they are as likely to be scripted as everything else in a high-stakes legal battle. The McDonnells move as if cued by a stage manager." ...

... Today's Washington Post liveblog is here. ...

... The Defense Rests. Rosalind Helderman & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "Poignant, once-private moments in a deeply troubled marriage were again offered up Wednesday as a core defense in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, as the couple's eldest daughter said her parents were almost completely estranged from one another and only faked affection in public."

** Mark Follman of Mother Jones: On the evening of Michael Brown's death, people gathered at the site. Some created a makeshift memorial, which included flowers. The cops showed up with dogs. "An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site." Others, including Brown's mother, made another memorial, which included tea lights & rose petals pressed into his blood, still on the street. "Soon the candles and flowers had been smashed, after police drove over them.... One state official told me that people in the community saw the way Brown's body was handled as a deliberate act of intimidation, echoing the slavery era, 'when somebody was beaten or lynched and they made everybody come out and watch.' Brown's killing and the heavy-handed response to the protests were seen by many in the community as 'a declaration of war.'" ...

... CNN had some law enforcement experts on the teevee to claim that the audio that was supposed to have been taped at the time of Michael Brown's shooting might be a hoax....

... Steve M. writes that he has no idea if the tape is a hoax, but he doesn't buy the "experts"' arguments. ...

... CW: I'd add that the supposed hoaxster lawyered up & turned over a copy of the tape to local law enforcement officials, so if it was a hoax it was an incredibly stupid one & would likely subject the hoaxster to some kind of obstruction-of-justice or impeding-an-investigation charges. ...

... AND now it's time to hear from Ben Stein, who presents the racist's POV on the Michael Brown shooting death. CW: By Stein's argument, every hefty black man is "scary" & implicitly "armed," like "Cassius Clay" (not Mohammed Ali, mind you). So, if you are black, young man, you are in & of yourself armed & dangerous.

Jacques Billeaud & Gene Johnson of the AP: "The accidental shooting death of a firing-range instructor by a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi has set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns.... Jace Zack, chief deputy for the Mohave County Attorney's Office, said the instructor was probably the most criminally negligent person involved in the accident for having allowed the child to hold the gun without enough training." ...

... Kimberly McGee & Fernanda Santos write the New York Times story. ...

... Mark Follman: "In the wake of the Arizona Uzi killing..., a tweet posted on Wednesday afternoon by NRA Women, which is part of the National Rifle Association's Women's Programs and is sponsored by gun manufacturing giant Smith & Wesson. "7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range" the tweet announced, linking to a recent story that details how kids can get bored with target practice if not properly entertained. NRA Women posted the tweet at 1:51 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday; by about 3 p.m. it had been removed...."

Senate Race

Brown Fudge ... Looks a Lot Like Bullshit. Greg Sargent: "There is no GOP candidate who has raised [ObamaCare] fudgery to a higher art than Scott Brown in New Hampshire."

Presidential Race(s)

I've been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I'm not a lawyer, so I don't really understand the details here. -- Rick Perry, on whatever those criminal charges are ...

... CW: If mangling the King's English were a criminal offense, Perry would be behind bars. ...

... NEW. This belongs down the page, where I'll stick it later. Arit John of the Atlantic: "Maybe Rick Perry should have read up on his indictment charges before he started using them as a campaign talking point. During a speech last week, the Texas governor said he was being indicted for bribery, which isn't actually true.... This is another oops moment for Perry, but it also signaled his transition into the 5th and, likely for him, final stage of indictment related grief: confusion. After grinning mugshot denial, angry ads "setting the record straight," bargaining over who should pay the lawyers and depression over a loss of Second Amendment privileges, all that's left for Perry is to be slightly unsure of what, exactly, people are accusing him of doing."

Jonathan Topaz & Kendall Breitman of Politico: "The day after Mitt Romney opened the door to another possible presidential run, a new poll shows he has a huge lead among likely 2016 Iowa Republican caucus voters. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday, 35 percent of likely GOP caucus voters would vote for the 2012 GOP nominee in 2016. When Romney's name was added to the pool, no other candidate received double-digit votes." ...

... CW: Actually, if Romney "opened the door," the crack is so narrow you might not notice door is even slightly ajar. The results of that Iowa survey are the same as the results of all the surveys that show Hillary Clinton way out in front on the Democratic side. Voters can see these people as presidential candidates because both already have been credible presidential candidates. These polls reflect name recognition & voters' lack of imagination.

Jason Noble & William Petroski of the Des Moines Register: "A former Iowa state senator concealed payments he received in exchange for defecting from one presidential campaign to another ahead of Iowa's 2012 caucuses and then obstructed an investigation into the incident. Kent Sorenson of Milo now faces up to 25 years in prison, after pleading guilty on Wednesday to two counts in federal court in Des Moines. The case revolves around Sorenson's dramatic jump from the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's rival campaign in late December 2011, just days before the Iowa caucuses.... According to a statement of facts accompanying Sorenson's plea agreement, he secretly negotiated with the Paul campaign over a period of months to join the campaign and received $73,000. The payments ... [were] routed through a film production company and a second company before being received by Sorenson. Those circuitous routes circumvented reporting requirements of the Federal Election Commission, ensuring the payments were kept hidden from the public....

Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa political scientist, said Sorenson's conviction will hopefully have only a minor effect on the Iowa caucuses, but he suspects that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., may be asked questions about it because payments came from the presidential campaign of his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

      ... Read the whole story. It's a hoot. The investigation began as a result of suspicions that Sorenson first accepted money from Bachmann's campaign & a Bachmann PAC, payments which Bachmann & Sorenson also routed through go-betweens. Seems Sorenson had this money-laundering scheme down pat. Almost. As Rachel Maddow likes to say, "Wash, rinse & repeat."

Over There

Paul Krugman: "OK, this has to be the funniest headline I've seen for a while, on Business Insider: The French Government Has Collapsed, And It's Partly Paul Krugman's Fault. The French prime minister has tendered his resignation amid a dispute set off by the economy minister's decision to go public with opposition to austerity orthodoxy, and since he cited me on the subject, Business Insider has made a funny. The real story, of course, is the combination of the abject failure of austerity at a Europe-wide level, and the intransigence of the policy's instigators."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "At least four hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, including an American journalist who was recently executed by the group, were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity, according to people familiar with the treatment of the kidnapped Westerners."

New York Times: "Declaring that Russian troops had crossed into Ukraine, President Petro O. Poroshenko on Thursday canceled a planned visit to Turkey and convened a meeting of the national security council to focus on the 'marked aggravation of the situation' in the southeast of his country. The meeting of the national security council will focus on shaping a response, and Ukraine will also request a meeting of the United Nations Security Council." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Supported by NATO satellite imagery showing Russian forces on the move in eastern Ukraine, its president accused Russia on Thursday of an invasion to aid the separatists, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription to help counter what he called an 'extremely difficult' threat."

Time: "In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a 'much bigger problem than anyone anticipated.' ... But Frieden says ... Ebola can be stopped." ...

... New York Times: "As the tally of deaths from the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus continued its seemingly inexorable rise, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people -- almost seven times the current number of reported cases -- before it could be brought under control."

Tuesday
Aug262014

The Commentariat -- August 27, 2014

Side-Stepping Congress to Save the World. Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world's largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. To sidestep that requirement, President Obama's climate negotiators are devising what they call a 'politically binding' deal that would 'name and shame' countries into cutting their emissions."

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "United States Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican from Florida who once advocated for a broad immigration overhaul that would have included a path to legal status for people now in the country illegally, urged President Obama [in a letter] on Tuesday not to take unilateral action on the issue even to slow the pace of deportations.... In an interview..., Mr. Rubio said he found that the 'fundamental impediment' to an overhaul was that Republican lawmakers and many voters did not trust Mr. Obama to carry out enforcement provisions. By taking unilateral action to suspend deportations, Mr. Rubio said, the White House would be 'proving them right' and would 'further exacerbate the divisions.' Rubio's new immigration plan: border security!" ...

... Peter Hamby of CNN: Marco Rubio "... the Florida senator and likely presidential candidate, was the headline speaker at a 'Faith and Freedom' barbecue fundraiser for Rep. Jeff Duncan, the tea party-backed congressman who represents what many Republicans consider the most conservative House district in the state.... Rubio ... was quickly interrupted by a group of protestors -- self-identified DREAMers..., who loudly heckled the senator for abandoning last year's sweeping immigration package.... The audience of nearly 1,200 conservatives jeered the protestors as Rubio waited for them to be escorted out of the Anderson Civic Center, scolding them in the process. 'We are a sovereign country that deserves to have immigration laws,' Rubio said. 'You're doing harm to your own cause because you don't have a right to illegally immigrate to the United States.' The crowd cheered him on." ...

... Greg Sargent has a good post reminding us how far Rubio & other Republicans have descended on immigration reform. ...

... NEW. Obama Is Not Listening to Marco. David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The White House is considering proposals from business and immigrant rights groups that are pressing President Obama to provide hundreds of thousands of new green cards for high-tech workers and the relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents."

Maureen Dowd: President Obama "dispatched Eric Holder to Ferguson, and deputized Al Sharpton, detaching himself at the very moment when he could have helped move the country forward on an issue close to his heart. It's another perverse reflection of his ambivalent relationship to power." ...

... CW: I would like to know exactly how Dowd thinks Obama "could have helped move the country forward" on race relations. Maybe Marco Rubio has some ideas. Or Cornel West! ...

Jonathan Chait: "The political subculture of anti-Obama leftists has entered a phase by this point in the Obama presidency where the truth of its worldview is so well-established to its own adherents that it requires no exposition. Tom Frank, an anti-Obama leftist, interviews Cornel West, another anti-Obama leftist, in a conversation so deeply marinated in shared assumptions that, at one point, both interviewer and interviewee agree that nobody disagrees with them.... Because they cannot conceive of any limits to Obama's power, betrayal and haplessness are the only causes they can imagine for their distress." CW Note: Some readers thought I should link the Frank-West interview, tho I had already decided against it. Well, it's linked now.

BTW, Simon Maloy of Salon has a good response to Dowd's previous column excoriating President Obama (from way back on Sunday), which you could just apply to today's Dowd column excoriating Obama.

Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "The Obama administration on Tuesday named Kevin J. Counihan, who ran Connecticut's successful health insurance marketplace, as the chief executive of the federal marketplace serving consumers in 36 states." ...

... MEANWHILE.... Andrea Peterson of the Washington Post: "A former acting director of cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was convicted on child pornography charges, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. Timothy DeFoggi, 56, was convicted of 'engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography.'" ...

     ... CW: Wouldn't you think a cybersecurity expert would know how to hide his Web identity? DeFoggi worked for HHS during the Obama administration (not clear if he's a civil servant or a Sebelius hire). His disgusting little sexual proclivities aside, his carelessness is another indicator of the ineptitude of HHS. Maybe the new team can fix it.

Down the Donut Hole. Kelsey Snell of Politico on Burger King's move from the U.S. to Canada (via it's purchase of Tim Hortons, a Canadian donut shop chain): "Even the loss of the Whopper and fries won't budge Congress.... The impotent Washington response to losing an iconic American fast food company over a tax issue is a reflection of just how dysfunctional Congress has become -- and a stark illustration of how far apart the two parties are on tax reform. Simply put, many Democrats want to ban these so-called tax inversions, where companies flee U.S. taxes by taking headquarters overseas. Republicans say the solution is cutting corporate taxes to make the U.S. more competitive. And not surprisingly, broad tax reform has gone nowhere."

Helene Cooper & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The United States has begun to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American military action in Syria and is moving toward expanded airstrikes in northern Iraq, administration officials said on Tuesday. President Obama, the officials said, was broadening his campaign against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and nearing a decision to authorize airstrikes and airdrops of food and water around the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, home to members of Iraq's& Turkmen minority. The town of 12,000 has been under siege for more than two months by the militants." ...

... Aaron Miller of Foreign Policy explains why air strikes against ISIS in Syria won't work & why President Obama will initiate them anyway. ...

... Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: "Bill Kristol wants to bomb first and figure it out later. News at ten. During a Monday interview with Laura Ingraham on the ongoing situation in Iraq, the Weekly Standard founder discussed his desire to forgo national debates and simply bomb ISIS forces immediately." ...

... ** George Packer of the New Yorker: "Among the many reasons to mourn [James] Foley's death is the loss of his reporting, and of reporting in general, from Syria. News of the civil war from Western media organizations has been dwindling as security has deteriorated, and it is now likely to dry up. Local Syrian reporters face an even greater threat. The Committee to Protect Journalists says that at least eighty journalists have been kidnapped since the start of the war and at least seventy have been killed, almost all of them Syrians, and almost all in 2012 and 2013." Read the whole post. Packer points out the huge disservice Darryl Issa, John McCain, et al., do to developing & maintaining sensible U.S. foreign policy.

Zach Carter of the Huffington Post: "House Republicans are agitating to dramatically curb federal bank regulators' ability to combat money laundering, calling for changes in decades-old financial fraud standards in an effort to aid payday lenders."

Melinda Deslatte of the AP: "Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing. The Republican governor says that 'effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum" in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.'"

Kathleen Hennessey of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama said Tuesday that he is working to 'regain the trust' of the nation's veterans by improving their access to quality healthcare and education as he struggles to recover from a scandal that thrust the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs into the spotlight earlier this year. 'We are going to get to the bottom of these problems. We're going to fix what is wrong,' Obama told thousands of veterans gathered in Charlotte, N.C., for the annual American Legion conference.... Shortly before Obama's remarks, the White House announced a series of policy changes and public-private partnerships aimed at easing service members' transition to civilian life":

Jonathan Chait: Paul Ryan picks his favorite books, accidentally forgets Atlas Shrugged. Never fear. According to Chait, one of Ryan's picks "is a weird, rambly, mostly unoriginal recitation of free-market homilies" & another "is a work of genuine derangement on the same intellectual level as the sorts of unpublishable hand-scrawled diatribes that I used to scan through when I sorted the mail as a magazine intern.... So it seems the lesson Ryan has drawn from the harmful publicity surrounding his Rand fixation is not that he shouldn't associate himself publicly with crackpot authors but merely that he should find different crackpot authors."

... CW Note: Ryan's reading list provides more evidence of his perpetually child-like mind. Some commenters to yesterday's thread discussed the book & film Being There, about a simple-minded man whom the Very Serious People all take very seriously. I believe we have found the real Chauncey Gardiner, & he is about to become chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. Worth remembering: Mitt Romney thought this inchoate goofball would make a great president.

Shock! New College Board History Exam Does Not Insist the U.S. Is the Greatest Country Ever. Nor does it name Newt Gingrich & Phyllis Schlafly among great Americans. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "The National Review on Monday published a piece claiming that the College Board's new framework for the AP U.S. History exam was the result of a leftist movement to change the way American history is taught.... According to [NRO blogger Stanley] Kurtz, the College Board's redesign of the exam is linked to an 'attack on American exceptionalism' and 'a highly politicized and left-leaning approach to American history.'" ...

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. -- Barack Obama

For the rest of Obama's comment, see this piece by Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post.

... CW Note to Kurtz: American "exceptionalism" is an opinion (or a belief), not a fact. Ergo, it has no place in teaching curricula, other than in, say, attempts to decipher what drove Dubya's foreign policy views. As an underpinning of U.S. policy, American exceptionalism it is just as valid as whatever they're teaching North Korean kiddies about North Korean exceptionalism. It's a crock. In my opinion.

Beyond the Beltway

Maureen McDonnell's lawyers are presenting her defense today in the Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial. The Washington Post is liveblogging testimony here. ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell concluded his nearly 24 hours on the witness stand Tuesday by telling jurors he regretted taking lavish gifts from a businessman, but firmly insisting he never promised favors in return. 'I, as governor, allowed my life to get out of balance,' McDonnell testified, agreeing that he and his family should not have accepted as many luxury goods from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. 'That was my error.'" ...

... Here's the Post's liveblog for Tuesday. ...

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Five days of grueling, often contentious testimony by Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia governor accused of corruption, ended Tuesday with an apology from Mr. McDonnell for accepting so many gifts and so much money, but an emphatic denial that he had conspired with his wife to sell his office. The federal trial, already 22 days long, could go to the jury as early as Wednesday. Lawyers for the former Virginia first lady, Maureen McDonnell, must present her defense, but her lead attorney promised that it might take only three hours."

Walking While Black in Beverly Hills. Anthony Kurzweil of KTLA: "A film producer who was in Beverly Hills to attend a pre-Emmy party Friday night was handcuffed and detained for about six hours before authorities investigating a nearby bank robbery realized they had the wrong man." The "suspect," Charles Belk, is black. The Beverly Hills police released a statement saying "A witness then positively identified Belk as the second suspect, according to the news release." Because all black people look alike to people in Beverly Hills. ...

... Worse. Shopping While Black in WalMart. Travis Gettys of the Raw Story: "Surveillance video shows an Ohio man talking on a cell phone, leaning on a toy gun, and facing away from officers moments before police shot and killed him in a Walmart store, according to an attorney for the man's family. John Crawford III died Aug. 5 after police were called to Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, by another shopper who reported a man carrying what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle. The 22-year-old Crawford was instead carrying an unpackaged MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/pellet rifle he picked up in the store's toy department.... Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine [R] announced Tuesday handed the case over to a special prosecutor...." ...

He was doing nothing more, nothing less than just shopping. -- Michael Wright, attorney for John Crawford's family

... Kim Palmer of Reuters: "... lawyers for the family of John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by Beavercreek police earlier this month, said his death was unjustified, demanded that all surveillance video of the shooting be released and called for the case to be turned over to federal authorities."

Lauren Raab of the Los Angeles Times: "An instructor at a shooting range in Arizona died Monday after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot him in the head with an Uzi he was showing her how to use, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office said. Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City was shot Monday morning, airlifted to a medical center in Las Vegas and pronounced dead shortly before 9 p.m., the sheriff's office said." CW: I'm not sure the girl is the killer here. No one in his right mind would give a child an Uzi. ...

... Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars: "Just another one of those tragic accidents that so often happen with responsible gun owners!"

It turns out Krugman has been wrong all along. The U.S. is in danger of becoming the next Greece. Greece, New York, that is. Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Earlier this year, the Supreme Court gave its blessing to local governments that want to open their public meetings with religious prayer. It was a victory for the town board of Greece, N.Y., which stressed that it was fighting not just for Christian prayer but for the right of all people express their views regardless of their faith. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the Court ruled against the Jewish and atheist plaintiffs, who argued that the practice violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Less than four months later, the town of Greece has adopted an invocation policy that excludes non-religious citizens and potentially shuts out faiths that aren't well-established in the town, according to a top secular group."

Mireya Navarro of the New York Times: "A 33-story glassy tower rising on Manhattan's waterfront will offer all the extras that a condo buyer paying up to $25 million would expect, like concierge service, entertainment rooms, and unobstructed views of the Hudson River and miles beyond. The project will also cater to renters who make no more than about $50,000. They will not share the same perks, and they will also not share the same entrance. The so-called poor door has brought an outcry, with numerous officials now demanding an end to the strategy. But the question of how to best incorporate affordable units into projects built for the rich has become more relevant than ever as Mayor Bill de Blasio seeks the construction of 80,000 new affordable units over the next 10 years. The answer is not a simple one."

Gubernatorial Races

Mark Caputo of the Miami Herald: Former Florida Republican governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist easily won his primary race, but the general election battle between current Gov. Rick Scott (RCrook) is a toss-up. "While each solidifies his base and tries to snatch as many independent voters as possible -- anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the electorate -- Crist and Scott also have to warily eye the Libertarian Party's nominee, Adrian Wyllie, who could draw as much as 9 percent of the vote, according to one recent poll." ...

... Politico's report, by James Hohmann, is here.

The New York Times Editors pointedly make no endorsement in the Democratic primary for governor of New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who most certainly will win the primary & likely the general election, has one primary opponent, "Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham Law School who is a national expert on political corruption and an advocate of precisely the kind of transparency and political reform that Albany needs. Her description of Mr. Cuomo as part of a broken system 'where public servants just end up serving the wealthy' is exactly on point, but we decline to endorse her because she has not shown the breadth of interests and experience needed to govern a big and diverse state."

Noam Scheiber of the New Republic argues that the Wisconsin gubernatorial race is "a very big deal," & its result "could shape U.S. politics for years to come."

Congressional Races

Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "The GOP primary in Arizona's 1st district remained too close to call hours after polls closed Tuesday night. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Republicans' best- and worst-case candidates to take on Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) this fall were just a few hundred votes apart.... As of 4:30 a.m. EST, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, the establishment pick..., led rancher Gary Kiehne by just 291 votes, 15,168 to 14,877, about half a percentage point difference.... A win by Kiehne would deliver Democrats their best shot at holding onto a seat that routinely ranks at the top of the party's most-vulnerable list. Republicans won it at the presidential level twice, and Kirkpatrick lost it once before, before going on to narrowly win her seat back in 2012 against a flawed challenger in a favorable Democratic year." ...

... Alexandra Jaffe: "Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wendy Rogers defeated former Arizona State University quarterback Andrew Walter for the chance to take on Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) this fall.... Rogers' nomination gives Democrats an early and easy opportunity for attacks, due to comments during her unsuccessful 2012 congressional run when she suggested she wants to see Social Security 'phased out.'"...

... Alexandra Jaffe: "Former state Rep. Ruben Gallego defeated retiring Rep. Ed Pastor's (D-Ariz.) choice to succeed him, former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, in a fiery primary fight on Tuesday night.... Gallego ran a ground- and youth-focused campaign that utilized data and technology to facilitate voter outreach in the young district, and he drew the support of a number of national progressive groups." ...

PLUS. Mary Beth Faller of the Arizona Republic: "Diane Douglas defeated incumbent John Huppenthal in the Republican primary for Arizona superintendent of public instruction on Tuesday.... During the campaign, Huppenthal faced relentless questioning about controversial comments he posted on local political blogs using pseudonyms -- including remarks that people who receive public assistance are 'lazy pigs' and that Spanish-language media should be shut down." CW: Huppenthal led the effort to ban Mexican-American studies in Tucson public schools. Via Roque Planes of the Huffington Post.

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: All Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to be is Senate Majority Leader.

** Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "... what is going on right now in Wisconsin's Sixth Congressional District is truly historic, and demands more attention. The district, northwest of Milwaukee, has been represented for nearly half a century by only two men, both of whom were standard bearers for a brand of moderate Republicanism that has all but vanished from the landscape. The latter of the two, Tom Petri, is retiring after 35 years in office, and the Republican primary earlier this month to replace him was won, very narrowly, by Glenn Grothman, a proudly polarizing state senator (pictured above) considered by many to be the most radically conservative member of the Wisconsin legislature." ...

... Here's the August 13 story by Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast, which MacGillis links.

Hice, et al. BuzzFeed Photoshop.... Meet a strong runner-up for Worst-Congressman-in-Waiting, Jody Hice. Hice won the primary in Georgia's ultra-conservative 10th District, currently represented by serious loon Paul Broun, who gave up his seat to run for Senate. (He lost the primary.) Hice is expected to easily win the general election. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: Hice "really loves freedom. He calls himself a 'constitutional conservative' and LOVES the Founding Fathers.... Hice also loves to naturally share Founding Fathers quotes. Unfortunately, many of them are fake." Kaczynski provides ample examples.

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer, according to audio of the event. Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of 'third party' money -- an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd." ...

... Greg Sargent: "... this ... undercuts GOP complaints about the Dem strategy of targeting the Koch brothers and linking GOP candidates to them. Republicans have fretted that this is all about a concerted strategy to 'demonize' big GOP donors."

Peter Suderman of Reason: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS "is knocking ... [Democratic Senators Mark Pryor (Ak.) & Kay Hagan (N.C.)] ... from the left -- criticizing both candidates for wanting to cut and reform entitlements.... These shallow, shell-game attack ads are meant to play on voter fear and confusion about important policy details, but what they end up revealing is the party's own fear and confusion about how to answer some of the biggest policy questions of the day." Via Paul Waldman.

Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Republican Senate candidates are staying silent on President Obama's latest changes to the birth control coverage mandate even as the policy catches flak from the religious right.... The lack of response reveals would-be GOP senators' extreme caution as they approach the birth control debate at this point in the election cycle."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "One of the longest-running shows in television history suffered its worst tragedy this week when an audio technician for the reality program 'Cops' was accidentally shot and killed by police while trying to film a robbery in Omaha. Officers thought the suspect was shooting at them. They opened fire, killing the suspect as well as Bryce Dion, 38, a seven-year veteran of the show. When police examined the suspect's weapon, they discovered it was a pistol that fired only pellets." ...

... New York Times: "The Omaha police chief said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of a crew member filming the television show 'Cops' by one of his officers was an 'unfortunate incident' and that it appeared that the three officers involved had acted professionally.

New York Times: "Tanks, artillery and infantry have crossed from Russia into an unbreached part of eastern Ukraine in recent days, attacking Ukrainian forces and causing panic and wholesale retreat not only in [the] small border town [of Novoazovsk, Ukraine,] but also a wide section of territory, in what Ukrainian and Western military officials described on Wednesday as a stealth invasion. The attacks outside this city and in an area to the north essentially have opened a new, third front in the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, along with the fighting outside the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk."

Washington Post: "The mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American journalist who was captured last year by the Islamic State, has made a video plea to the head of the terrorist organization asking for her son's release. In a video released Wednesday, Shirley Sotloff asks Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to 'please release my child. And as a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.'" Story includes video.

Guardian: "The US has said little about Mount Sinjar since 14 August, when Obama declared the siege broken, but recent satellite imagery and interviews with Yazidis still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold."

New York Times: "A number of United States banks, including JPMorgan Chase and at least four other firms, were hit by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month.... The hackers infiltrated the networks of the banks, siphoning off gigabytes of data, including account information, in what security experts described as a sophisticated cyberattack."

AP: "Syrian rebels, including fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group, seized control of a frontier crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights on Wednesday after heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, activists and rebels said. The capture of the post along Syria's de facto border in the Golan held more symbolic value than strategic, but rebels said it would provide relief to nearby villages that were under siege by government troops."

Washington Post: "An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people."

Washington Post: "Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of stepping up military activity in the annexed territory of Crimea and sending in troops to help separatists near a key seaport in southeastern Ukraine."

New York Times: "Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said on Wednesday that French prosecutors had placed her under formal investigation over a murky business affair that dates to her time as finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy."