The Ledes

Thursday, July 24, 2014.

Bloomberg News: "Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast...."

Guardian: "A flight operated by Air Algérie carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early on Thursday, the plane's owner said."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Gaza crisis. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, many of them children.

Reuters: "A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and it could have originated in Russia. In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

Los Angeles Times: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday night lifted its ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

New York Times: "The United Nations Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at a special session on Wednesday in which the top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said Israel and Hamas had likely committed war crimes with indiscriminate attacks on civilians." ...

... New York Times: "As the death toll mounts and passions spike, the Foreign Press Association in Israel condemned on Wednesday what it called 'deliberate official and unofficial incitement against journalists' who are reporting on the fighting in Gaza. That includes 'forcible attempts to prevent journalists and TV crews from carrying out their news assignments,' the association said."

... New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel." ...

... Guardian: "International airlines halted flights to and from Israel indefinitely on Tuesday citing security concerns in an unexpected twist to the two-week-old conflict in Gaza." ...

     ... CW: Guess that puts something of a damper on the Summer Vacation Insurance Theory of War. ...

... Washington Post: "As Israel pummels Hamas’s infrastructure inside Gaza, it is also trying to prevent attacks originating from the West Bank and Israel — by obliterating the houses of the relatives of Palestinians who allegedly have harmed Israelis. In doing so, Israel’s military has returned to a controversial policy of punitive demolitions that has displaced thousands of Palestinians over the years."

Washington Post: "Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said." ...

... Time: "U.S. intelligence resources tracked the 'specific missile' that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a senior Administration official said Tuesday, saying intelligence adds up to a picture that 'implicates Russia' in helping to bring down the plane." ...

... Washington Post: "The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, May 29:"The ongoing measles outbreak in the United States has reached a record for any year since the disease was  eliminated in this country 14 years ago, with 288 cases of the potentially deadly infection reported in 18 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday."

White House Live Video
July 23

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the NAACP national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada (audio only)

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Washington Post: "On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere.  These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. 'If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,' physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA."

New York: "Governor Cuomo and CBS announced Wednesday that The Late Show will continue to be shot at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, its home of 21 years, when David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over in 2015. While it had been assumed that the show would be staying put, CBS only made it official today, announcing that it had received $11-million in state tax credits and $5-million in renovation money for the theater in exchange for staying in NYC and guaranteeing the continuation of 200 jobs surrounding the show's production." ...

... Nice announcement, but not as long as Cuomo's 13-page response to a New York Times article that showed Cuomo is a pompous, corrupt, two-faced hypocrite.

Lunar Landing, Cable News Version. Slate: "In 2009, Andrew Bouvé imagined what it would be like if the moon landing happened today, unleashing cable news on the event.... This Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing."


New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.


CW: Jordan Weismann of Slate presents this audio as an unusual customer service horror story. It is a nightmare, to be sure. But as someone who has had to deal with stopping & starting various utility & communications services recently, I can attest that it is par for the course for an American U.S. customer service rep. Dealing with non-Americans, who increasing represent U.S. companies, is worse. These reps all work from scripts, but the non-Americans don't understand my English, so their "responses" are even more non-responsive than are those of the Comcast guy there:


Airborne Dinosaur. USA Today: Paleontologists have discovered in China a new species of dinosaur that "had long feathers not just on its wings but also on its hind legs, making it one of only a handful of 'four-winged' dinosaurs. It also had big, sharp teeth and sharp claws, indicating it was carnivorous.... Scientists were surprised to find something so large that could take to the skies so early in the history of flying creatures." ...

     ... CW: Charles Pierce's take: "The Christianists have been wrong all these years. It's not Intelligent Design. It's Abstract Design. God The Dada."

Houston Chronicle: "The Palm Beach mansion known as President JFK's Winter White House has hit the market for a staggering $38.5 million. That price is even more gasp-worthy considering the same property sold for $4.9 million in 1995 and a mere $120,000 in 1933." More photos, including interior shots, at the linked page.

Heller McAlpin reviews Marja Mills' book The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of the writer's friendship with Harper Lee & her sister Alice Finch Lee, for the Washington Post.

According to this Daily Beast headline, the "World Awaits LeBron James' Decision." CW: Even though I so often do the sports report, it turns out I am not of this world.

Smart Girls Don't Swear. Vanity Fair "cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed" some of the Nixon tapes, "many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable." The post excerpts a few: Nixon on gays, Jews, swearing.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton's "memoir, 'Hard Choices,' has just been toppled from its spot on the best-seller list by a sensational Clinton account by her longtime antagonist Edward Klein. It is a powerful statement about today’s publishing realities that Mr. Klein’s book, a 320-page unauthorized and barely sourced account full of implausible passages, including one about a physical altercation between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, has landed atop the New York Times best-seller list, knocking 'Hard Choices' to No. 2." ...

... If by chance you believe the major media are the exclusive haunts of "elite leftists," here's evidence it ain't so. Klein, the Times story notes, is "a former editor at Newsweek  and The New York Times Magazine."

Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast interviews Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times. Abramson still doesn't know what "management skills" means. Kinda makes you think maybe she doesn't have any.

Tim Egan: American children are too sheltered. The world isn't as scary as we think it is.

... Thanks to Bonita for the link. CW: I except you actually could purchase the materials at Hobby Lobby you'd need to make an IUD. However, Dr. Weader strongly advises against this do-it-yourself project.

New York Times: "The New Yorker is overhauling its website, making all articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers."

The New York Times Magazine publishes excerpts from a few of Warren Harding's love letters to Carrie Phillips. Also, he was a worse poet than he was a president. And Phillips was unfaithful to Harding; then she blackmailed him. Maybe it was because she was so turned off by all those letters where he personified his penis as "Jerry."

Guardian: A Princeton archaeologist has found what may be the world's oldest extant erotic graffiti on the Greek island of Astypalaia in the Aegean sea. Also, it is so gay.

Wherever in the U.S. you may live, if you missed your local news last night, we have it here. In fact, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here's what will be on your local news tonight. Thanks to Bonita for the link:

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

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-- Constant Weader

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


The Commentariat -- July 2, 2012

In response to P. D. Pepe's request in yesterday's Commentariat, my column in today's New York Times eXaminer does indeed take on Ross Douthat's duplicitous Sunday sermonette. The NYTX front page is here. ...

... Dean Baker explains -- again -- why Tom Friedman is still meaner than a junkyard dog. ...

... AND Prof. Hamid Dabashi takes on Nicholas Kristof's praise of sanctions against Iran.

NEW. CW: in the Comments today, contributor P. D. Pepe recommends historian Sean Wilentz's review of the latest volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson. So do I. And I learned a new word: "adumbration"; hadda look it up.

** Jan Crawford of CBS News: Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations. Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy -- believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law -- led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.... The fact that the [conservatives'] joint dissent doesn't mention Roberts' majority was not a sign of sloppiness, the sources said, but instead was a signal the conservatives no longer wished to engage in debate with him." CW: after all we've heard about how the Supreme Court is a fortress of secrecy, this report is stunning. ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress speculates that the leakers included at least one conservative justice. "Crawford ... is a very well connected conservative reporter.... Moreover, as Linda Greenhouse points out, it is possible that the Court started springing leaks more than a month before Roberts handed down his opinion." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice thinks the leakers were "Kennedy's people ... because most of that Crawford piece reads like a mash note to him." CW: and yes, that's a reasonable premise.

** "Casino Capitalism." Robert Reich: "The real issue here isn't Bain's betting record. It's that Romney's Bain is part of the same system as Jamie Dimon's JPMorgan Chase, Jon Corzine's MF Global and Lloyd Blankfein's Goldman Sachs -- a system that has turned much of the economy into a betting parlor that nearly imploded in 2008, destroying millions of jobs and devastating household incomes. The winners in this system are top Wall Street executives and traders, private-equity managers and hedge-fund moguls, 
and the losers are most of the rest of us. The system is largely responsible for the greatest concentration of the nation’s income and wealth at the very top since the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, with the richest 400 Americans owning as much as the bottom 150 million put together. And these multimillionaires and billionaires are now actively buying the 2012 election -- and with it, American democracy."

Paul Krugman writes the truism of the day: "... the prospect of disaster, no matter how obvious, is no guarantee that nations will do what it takes to avoid that disaster. And this is especially true when pride and prejudice make leaders unwilling to see what should be obvious."

Matt Taibbi has a post on Barclay Bank's agreement to pay $450 million to resolve investigations of its interest-rate fixing. CW: Taibbi sees Barclays as just the first domino to fall. See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...

... In a follow-up post, Taibbi writes, "Another one bites the dust. The Royal Bank of Scotland is about to be fined $233 million (£150 million pounds) for its role in the Libor-rigging scandal. It joins Barclays as the first banks to walk the plank in what should be, but so far is not, the most sensational financial corruption story since the crash of 2008."

CW: Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post tries to put lipstick on the outsourcing pig. Bear in mind as you read Pearlstein's analysis that he never once discusses the U.S. government's pro-business, anti-union policies that makes outsourcing so attractive to businesses & the private equity firms that "help" businesses move jobs offshore, and he only obliquely alludes to interstate raiding & state anti-union laws. I'm hoping Dean Baker or Paul Krugman will give Pearlstein's essay a "real economist's once-over." ...

     ... Update: here's Baker's response. Essentially he seems to say, offshoring is great as long as there's full employment in the U.S.

Presidential Race

Mitt Romney -- Worse Than George W. Bush

I don't think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor. I'm concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class. -- George W. Bush, October 1999, preparing to run for president & denouncing a House Republican proposal to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit

I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. -- Mitt Romney, January 2012

Tom Edsall in the New York Times on Mitt Romney's unwillingness to specify even the vaguest outlines of an immigration policy.

Rupert tweets re: Willard: "Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."

CW: I couldn't find the Consortium article contributor Kate M. discusses in her commentary below, but this one by Robert Parry, titled "The Price of Political Purity," covers the same material.

Local News

America's Worst Governor Goes Rogue. Lexi Stemple of Fox "News": "Florida, the state the led the fight against President Obama's health care law, will not comply with the Supreme Court opinion. Gov. Rick Scott [RTP] tells Fox News that he and his Attorney General, Pam Bondi, will work tirelessly to make sure the law is repealed. He feels that can be done by electing officials, like Mitt Romney, who have vowed to fight the law before 2014, when most of its provisions kick in. If that doesn't happen, Scott insists he still won't 'implement these exchanges that will increase the cost of health and make Medicaid worse.'"

News Ledes

AP: "The fired former chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Macau casinos alleges in court documents revealed Thursday that billionaire Sheldon Adelson personally approved of prostitution and knew of other improper activity at his company's properties in the Chinese enclave."

Washington Post: "Mexico chose as its new president Sunday Enrique Peña Nieto, a dashing, disciplined campaigner who promised to bring peace and prosperity back to a country weary of drug violence and slow growth, according to official projections by election officials. As the new face of a political party once known for corruption, Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), completed a remarkable act of political rehabilitation, returning to power after 12 years on the sidelines."

AP: "Unemployment in the 17-country euro currency bloc hit another record in May as the continent teetered on the edge of recession because of its crippling financial crisis, official figures showed Monday. Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said unemployment rose to 11.1 percent in May from 11 percent the previous month. May's rate was the highest since the euro was launched in 1999...."

Guardian: "Mississippi's only reproductive health clinic was handed an eleventh-hour reprieve from closure late on Sunday, thwarting attempts by social conservatives to create America's first abortion-free state. In a ruling handed down just hours before the Jackson Women's Health Organisation was due to start turning away women seeking terminations, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking a law that would have shuttered the centre."


The Commentariat -- July 1, 2012

Bill Scher argues in a New York Times op-ed that Presidents Franklin Roosevelt & Lyndon Johnson also made deals with corporations as part of efforts to get corporate backing for liberal bills. Because President Obama "heeded this lesson of liberal history," he was able to get the ACA passed.

Prof. Pamela Kaplan, in a New York Times op-ed: "... the conservative majority ... laid down a cache of weapons that future courts can use to attack many of the legislative achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society -- including labor, environmental, civil rights and consumer protection laws -- and to prevent new progressive legislation. Far from being a source of jubilation, the term may come back to haunt liberals.... A Congress that can advance national priorities only through its taxing power is a Congress with little power at all." ...

... ** Anthony Kennedy Is No Moderate. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Four justices, including so-called moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy, joined a dissent that did not simply toss out two-hundred years of established law, it also called for the entire [Affordable Care] law to be repealed.... A court may not invalidate any constitutional part of a law unless it is 'evident' that Congress would have preferred that part to fall along with the parts the court just invalidated, yet Kennedy and his three co-ideologues would simply cast that rule aside...."

Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: "Voter support for >President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul rose after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it but most people still oppose the law, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Sunday. The online survey showed increased backing from Republicans and, crucially, the political independents whose support will be essential to winning the November 6 presidential election."

CW: this AP story by David Gram answers some questions Reality Chex contributors have raised about Vermont's single-payer health insurance project, which has been enacted but will not be fully implemented -- or funded -- till 2017.

Maureen O'Dowd applauds Queen Elizabeth II's conciliatory efforts toward the Irish. CW: wonder if, in one of her secret meetings with Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Queen Liz advised him to placate the Irish -- a very good idea for any Massachusetts political candidate. (See yesterday's Commentariat, plus Kings & Queens & Prime Ministers.)

Kate Wiltrout of the Virginian-Pilot: "The Navy will not use a target depicting a Muslim woman holding a gun at a new training range for SEALs in Virginia Beach. The announcement came hours after the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Pentagon to remove the target. A picture of the cardboard target, which shows a woman in a headscarf holding a pistol, was published in The Virginian-Pilot on Tuesday. The image shows verses of the Quran hanging on the wall behind the woman, which also generated criticism from the group."

Hippy Dippy Weatherman. Joe Romm of Think Progress: "How hot is it? It is so hot that NBC Washington’s Chief Meteorologist, Doug Kammerer, explained on air 'If we did not have global warming, we wouldn't see this.'" ...

... R.I.P., Al Sleet:

David Olinger & Eric Gorski of the Denver Post: "Eleven years ago, federal agencies announced a bold strategy to battle the growing threat of catastrophic wildfires.... The government's planned response: a sophisticated new computer system -- called Fire Program Analysis, or FPA -- that would enable firefighting agencies to coordinate their efforts and maximize their resources.... Federal agencies, led by the U.S. Forest Service, are still working on it." ...

... Michael Kodas & Burt Hubbard in the Denver Post: "The number of wildfires in Colorado has exploded during the past decade. So has the number of people living in high-risk fire zones. And public policies for dealing with both risk making the state's fire danger even worse. In the past two decades, a quarter-million people have moved into Colorado's red zones -- the parts of the state at risk for the most dangerous wildfires. Today, one of every four Colorado homes is in a red zone.... It costs millions to protect homes in the red zone from wildfires, but homeowners don't foot that bill exclusively. All taxpayers do. That creates a perverse incentive to build there despite risks."

Presidential Race

Preserving the Aristocracy. Karoli of Crooks & Liars: Mitt Romney said in a campaign speech he wants "citizens" who "work hard" to "get all the education they can afford." Know your place, poor people. With video.

Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "Propelled by a torrent of blistering television advertisements, President Obama is successfully invoking Mitt Romney's career at Bain Capital to raise questions about Mr. Romney's commitment to the middle class, strategists in both parties say...."

Right Wing World

His Meds Made Him Crazy. Forget all that preserving the integrity of the Court stuff. The real reason John Roberts decided to uphold the Affordable Care Act -- epilepsy medication made him do it. CW: I have no doubt we will soon learn that Elena Kagan spiked Roberts' Tea Party tea with a double dose of meds.

David Dayen of Firedoglake: "I keep seeing these confident predictions from health care experts that no state would be so foolish as to reject the Medicaid expansion for their state. I want to set up a poker game with these people, to provide for my family in retirement. How many times can you say 'well that's so radical and extreme, it could never happen!' and be wrong before you review your assumptions?"

News Ledes

New York Times: "The number of votes separating Representative and his top challenger, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, shrank to 802 over the weekend, as the New York City Board of Elections released a new, unofficial vote count that for the first time included numbers from all precincts in the 13th Congressional District. More than 2,000 absentee ballots and affidavit ballots -- those cast by people whose names, for some reason, did not appear on the voter rolls -- remain to be counted, a process that will not begin until Thursday morning."

Doris Sams, sometime between 1946-1950. Photo via Knoxville News Sentinel.New York Times: "Doris Sams, who pitched a perfect game and set a single-season home run record in the women's professional baseball world of the 1940s and 50s that inspired the movie 'A League of Their Own,' died Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn. She was 85."

New York Times: "Marcus Agius, the chairman of Barclays, is expected to resign on Monday, less than a week after the big British bank agreed to pay $450 million to settle accusations that it had tried to manipulate key interest rates to benefit its own bottom line." Guardian story here.

ABC News: "House Speaker John Boehner said today that Republicans are preparing to file a civil suit in an attempt to gain access to more information pertaining to the Justice Department's botched Fast & Furious cartel gun tracking program."

AP: "The much-hyped plan to end Syria's misery and guide its transition to democracy appears to have fallen flat despite the endorsement of Western powers.... The U.S. and its allies insist the plan will force Syrian President Bashar Assad from power. Russia disagrees and Assad is unlikely to acquiesce."

New York Times: Facebook is considering abandoning Nasdaq, the exchange Facebook blames for botching its IPO rollout.

Washington Post: "Daybreak Sunday found 789,358 in the Washington region still without power, facing another sweltering day and the prospect of returning to work Monday before electricity is restored to their homes.Many roads made impassable by fallen trees and the power lines they took down were reopened by Sunday as crews worked through the night to clean up the tangled aftermath of the storm that struck before midnight Friday." ...

... AP: "Millions across the mid-Atlantic region sweltered Saturday in the aftermath of violent storms that pummeled the eastern U.S. with high winds and downed trees, killing at least 13 people and leaving 3 million without power during a heat wave. Power officials said the outages wouldn't be repaired for several days to a week, likening the damage to a serious hurricane. Emergencies were declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "The Washington region suffered through another day of stifling heat Sunday, and thousands of people went without air conditioning as utilities called in reinforcements and the National Guard pitched in to help with storm cleanup. The heat index topped 100 again, and sultry weather was forecast for the entire Fourth of July week as legions sought refuge from sweltering homes and waited for work crews to make repairs."

The Denver Post has a page of stories on the Colorado fires here.

Houston Chronicle: "Some 50 million Mexicans go to the polls today in an election expected to return the presidency to the political party that undemocratically ruled the country for most of the last century." New York Times story here. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The party that ruled Mexico for decades with an autocratic grip appears to have vaulted back into power after 12 years in opposition, as voters troubled by a bloody drug war and economic malaise gave its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, a comfortable victory on Sunday, according to exit polls and early returns."

AP: "Syrian opposition groups on Sunday rejected a U.N.-brokered peace plan for a political transition in Syria, calling it ambiguous and a waste of time and vowing not to negotiate with President Bashar Assad or members of his 'murderous' regime."

AP: "A Soyuz space capsule carrying a three-man multinational crew touched down safely Sunday on the southern steppes of Kazakhstan, bringing an end to their 193-day mission to the International Space Station."

Guardian: "Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who earned a reputation as an uncompromising opponent of Palestinian statehood, has died aged 96."

Guardian: "WalMart has suspended a seafood supplier following complaints from workers at the plant that they were forced to work 24 hours at a time and had threats of violence directed at their families. In a statement, Walmart said a preliminary investigation uncovered "violations" at CJ's Seafood in Louisiana, where eight Mexican employees had complained of being mistreated by their bosses."


The Commentariat -- June 30, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

CW: I'm reposting this, since it didn't go up till late yesterday. My column in the New York Times eXaminer today is titled "David Brooks -- Constitutional Scholar." The NYTX front page is here.

New York Times Quote of the Day. Right now, it's scary to get sick, because if you don't die from the sickness, you die when you see the bill. -- Gladys Vasquez, 50, a Houston home health aide who lacks health insurance.

Robert Pear & Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "Millions of poor people could still be left without medical insurance under the national health care law if states take an option granted by the Supreme Court and decide not to expand their Medicaid programs, state officials and health policy experts said Friday. Republican officials in more than a half-dozen states said they opposed expanding Medicaid or had serious doubts about it, even though the federal government would pick up all the costs in the first few years and at least 90 percent of the expenses after that." CW: And Krugman called these people cruel. Oh, how could he?

Jeff Toobin, Rick Hertzberg & Amelia Lester of the New Yorker on the Affordable Care case:

Michael Scherer of Time reports on how President Obama got the news of the Supreme Court's decision.

Peter Baker of the New York Times reviews the White House's failure to sell the Affordable Care Act; looks like they have big plans to drop the ball again. CW: big mistake. Obama, Biden & Democratic candidates should brag every day in every way on the popular aspects of the ACA, & they should append their boasts with, "And Republicans want to take that away from you. They want to deprive you of health insurance, put your family at risk, blah-blah." How hard is that? P.S. It's not an "individual mandate"; it's a "freeloaders fee," courtesy of Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) who appears on "Up with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC today.

The Broccoli Head Speaks. Prof. Randy Barnett, the righty-right libertarian who invented the legal thesis that Congress cannot regulate "inactivity" & who argued one of the anti-ACA cases before the Supremes, writes a Washington Post op-ed boasting that he won & telling you why you should vote for Willard (basically, because the Mittster will repeal the New Deal). Barnett, in my opinion, is a selfish piece of dung, & I disagree with most of what he writes, but I find it helpful to know the rationales of rational-sounding righties. And Barnett reinforced what I wrote about Brooks' column -- that the right is trying to expand the meaning of Roberts' ruling by interpreting his interpretation of the Constitution to bend their way. Also, if you tend to think lefties are exaggerating when they claim the right wants to repeal the New Deal & bring us all the way back to the gilded age, Barnett's op-ed will convince you we flamethrowers got it right. His op-ed is an admission of guilt that would hold up in court.

This Washington Post article by Robert Barnes & Del Quentin Wilbur explores whether or not Chief Justice Roberts changed his opinion late in the game.

There's more to a Supreme Court ruling than just the first page:

The real Frank Rich sees the Court's ruling as a second chance for President Obama and CNN's colossal blooper as the network's Waterloo. ...

... Andy Borowitz reports some other reactions to the ObamaCare decision. ...

... And Donald Trump says Chief Justice John Hussein Roberts' birth certificate is a fake; Sean Hannity finds Trumps revelation "very concerning."

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as a 'tax' has Republicans [CW: and Rush Limbaugh, whatever his party preference may be] charging that President Barack Obama has hiked taxes on millions of middle-class Americans. But they may run into a problem: Mitt Romney's individual mandate in Massachusetts works exactly the same way. And people are starting to notice.

Hoodwinked! Steve Benen: NPR, NBC, MSNBC & Fox "News" have all featured a guy named Joe Olivo, whom they represent in stories as an independent small business owner who doesn't like the Affordable Care Act. Well, guess what? Independent Joe is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business, the group that brought the suit against the ACA. "The NFIB -- which promotes Olivo's public appearances -- is also 'linked to the ALEC and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS.' ... The Affordable Care Act is generally a great help to small businesses.... [Olivo is] not just expressing his own perspective; he appears to be representing the interests of a group trying to kill the health care reform law."

Presidential Race

Trip Gabriel & Robert Pear of the New York Times try to figure out Mitt Romney's health care preferences since Romney won't spell them out. What they come up with is pretty pitiful: higher costs for the old & the sick; not much for the poor.

Steve Benen chronicles 21 of Mitt's whoppers this week. And they are that: whoppers. Scripted lies, not slips of the tongue. Widely-debunked claims.

Right Wing World

Justin Sink of The Hill: in a Fox "News" interview, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa, who led the charge against AG Eric Holder, likens Holder to "the Menendez brothers who killed their parents." With video.

News Ledes

New York Times: E-mails found by an investigative team headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh suggest that Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno may have actively sought to keep university officials from reporting to law enforcement the 2001 rape which Mike McQueary says he witnessed & reported to Paterno. Paterno did not write any of the e-mails which suggest his influence.

News outlets reported late Tuesday that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) had beat back a primary challenge. Maybe not. Politico reports "... a strange case of missing precincts, questionable ballots and utter confusion over who's to blame for the mess and when the race might be settled.... As of Friday evening, 32 precincts -- six percent of all votes cast -- had yet to be accounted for. And another 2,447 affidavit ballots and 667 absentee votes hadn't been counted yet either. According to the city Board of Elections, Rangel's lead over second-place finisher state Sen. Adriano Espaillat stood at 1,032 votes, with enough outstanding ballots to alter the outcome."

New York Times: "Gov. Chris Christie on Friday curbed an effort by the New Jersey Legislature to improve oversight of the state's system of large, privately run halfway houses. Mr. Christie, a Republican who has close ties to a company that is the dominant operator of halfway houses in the state, used a line-item veto to reduce new disclosure requirements about halfway houses that the Democratic-controlled Legislature inserted in the state budget approved this week." CW: it seems the last governor New Jersey had who wasn't a criminal was Christie Todd Whitman, and that was a long time ago.

Washington Post: "More than 1.5 million homes and businesses across Maryland and Virginia lost power Friday night as one of the most powerful and punishing storms in months swept across the Washington region. Two fatalities were reported in the Springfield area of Fairfax County."

Denver Post: "Standing among the charred remains of the neighborhood hardest hit by the Waldo Canyon fire, a stunned President Barack Obama on Friday told the same firefighters who days earlier had fought to contain the flames and their devastation that the families whose homes they saved -- and the rest of the country -- are in their debt."

Washington Post: "The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, J. Scott Gration, a close adviser and friend of President Obama, announced his resignation Friday, weeks before the scheduled release of a U.S. government audit highly critical of his leadership at the embassy."

Washington Post: "Gov. Robert F. McDonnell on Friday reappointed Helen E. Dragas to a second four-year term on the University of Virginia's governing board, saying that the embattled board leader could help the school move past its recent leadership crisis. Dragas drew fierce criticism this month for orchestrating the ouster of the school's popular president, Teresa Sullivan. On Tuesday, Dragas reversed course and voted as part of a unanimous Board of Visitors to reinstate Sullivan."

New York Times: "President-elect Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood pre-empted the military's choreographed swearing-in ceremony by taking an oath of office a day early on Friday, in a televised speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square. But a promise Mr. Morsi made as part of his speech may provoke Washington: to work for the release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian-born militant Islamist convicted after the 1993 World Trade Center attack of plotting to bomb several New York City landmarks."

AP: "Russia's determination to preserve its last remaining ally in the Middle East collided head-on with U.S. and other Western powers' desire to replace Syrian President Bashar Assad with a democracy at a pivotal U.N.-brokered conference on Saturday. Efforts at bridging the Russia-U.S. divide hold the key to international envoy Kofi Annan's plan for easing power from Assad's grip through a political solution that ends 16 months of violence in a country verging on a full-blown civil war, in one of the world's most unstable regions."

Reuters: "U.N. Security Council called on Friday for global help to equip an African Union force hunting fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which lacks basic resources such as boots, food, transport and training."


Kings & Queens & Prime Ministers

Every day that I've been a United States Senator, I've been either discussing issues [or] ... in Secret Meetings with Kings and Queens and Prime Ministers.-- Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

What I Learned in Secret Meetings
With Kings and Queens and Prime Ministers.

By Scott Brown, U.S. Senator

King Juan Carlos of Spain taught me how to kiss the ladies' hands:

CW: I once personally witnessed Juan Carlos kiss Hillary's hand. It was long ago and Juan Carlos was the Sexiest Man Alive.Speaking of hands, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia taught me how to hold hands with men:

Speaking of kisses, King Abdullah taught me how to do that, too:

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain taught me that little royal wave that looks so appropriate when I wave at voters from my little red truck:

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Prime Minister David Cameron taught me how to suck up to Rupert Murdoch:

Prime Minister Tony Blair taught me how to suck up to Rupert Murdoch:

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher taught me how to suck up to Rupert Murdoch:

I really know how to suck up to Rupert Murdoch.