The Wires

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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

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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.

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The Commentariat -- Sept. 26, 2014

It's time for a new compact among the civilized peoples of this world to eradicate war at its most fundamental source, and that is the corruption of young minds by violent ideology. -- Barack Obama, address to the U.N. General Assembly, Wednesday ...

... Tim Egan: "... look ahead, with optimism, and you can see a design for long-term peace behind the president's plan to simultaneously kill fanatics and force a religion to confront the sources of that fanaticism. With his blunt speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, Obama put on notice the Sunni Muslim nations that have allowed Sunni barbarians to spread.... Until this week, most Western leaders have been afraid to say what Obama said at the United Nations."

Diaa Haddid of the AP: "U.S.-led airstrikes targeted Syrian oil installations held by the extremist Islamic State group overnight and early Thursday, killing at least 19 people as more families of militants left their key stronghold, fearing further raids, activists said. The strikes aimed to knock out one of the militants' main revenue streams -- black market oil sales that the U.S. says earn up to $2 million a day for the group. That funding, along with a further estimated $1 million a day from other smuggling, theft and extortion, has been crucial in enabling the extremists to overrun much of Syria and neighboring Iraq."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "FBI Director James B. Comey said the United States has determined the identity of the Islamist militant who beheaded two American journalists in Syria, but declined to provide any additional information on the masked operative who spoke in a British accent."

Arshad Mohammed of Reuters: "Iraq has 'credible' intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, the prime minister said on Thursday, but U.S. and French officials said they had no evidence to back up his claims."

When Congress Loves a "Lawless" President. Steve Benen: House Speaker John Boehner tells Carl Hulse of the New York Times that the House won't take up authorization of the military campaign against ISIS before the new Congress convenes in January. "Americans can take every Republican anti-Obama argument of late -- about separation of powers, about co-equal branches of government, about the importance of institutional checks and balances -- and throw them right out the window, confident in the knowledge that the GOP didn't mean a word of it. For all the chatter about the president being an out-of-control, lawless tyrant, here's an instance in which Obama really is acting without any congressional authority, only to find congressional leaders saying, 'No big deal. We'll think about doing something in a few months, maybe.'" ...

... Mike McAuliff of the Huffington Post, via Paul Waldman:

Mark Landler & Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Seeking to speed the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Obama delivered a blunt warning on Thursday at a high-level United Nations meeting devoted to the health crisis: the world was doing too little and moving too slowly":

President Obama makes a statement about Attorney General Eric Holder:

Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder's successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas) ...

... Paul Kane & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama has yet to reveal his choice to succeed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but already the Senate confirmation process has begun its march toward contentiousness. With Nov. 4 midterm elections potentially tipping the balance in the Senate, some Republicans immediately called for a delay in the hearings and votes on the new attorney general until January, when the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate might give Republicans almost total control of the outcome." ...

... Steve M. "Why does Ted Cruz hate the Constitution? ... A senator who's lost a reelection bid is still a senator. The Constitution -- which you claim to hold sacred -- says so." ..

... CW: Gee, Steve, haven't you noticed by now that anything Democrats do constitutes "an abuse of power"? ...

... If Glenn Thrush's reporting is correct, Tailgunner Ted will have to figure out how to "countenance ... an abuse of power." Thrush: "It was now or never, several current and former administration officials say, and Holder -- under pressure to retire from a physician wife worried about a recent health scare, checked the 'now' box. 'It was a quit-now or never-quit moment,' one former administration official said. 'You didn't want confirmation hearings in 2015 if the Republicans control the Senate. So if he didn't do it now, there was no way he could ever do it.'" ...

... German Lopez of Vox retraces some of Holder's laudable efforts & successes, mostly in areas that relate, at least tangentially, to civil rights. ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic recalls Holder's multiple failures to hold banks & bank executives accountable for the frauds & other illegal schemes they conducted, many of which led to the 2008 world financial meltdown. "Holder simply never tried to use [his office] to hold Wall Street executives accountable. That is a major blemish on Holder's record. Bankers sleep easier at night thanks to his decisions. And when the next financial crisis hits -- and when we discover that financial fraud was a major cause of it -- Holder will deserve blame as well." ...

... New York Times Editors: "... Mr. Holder has continued to stake out strong and laudable legal positions on many of the most contested issues of our time. But his record is marred by the role the Justice Department played in matters of secrecy and national security under his leadership." Read the whole editorial. ...

... Oh yeah? If the Times editors find fault, then wingers must LOVE Eric Holder:

Holder is a huge racist and let's not forget that golden oldie where he called us a nation of cowards. Civil liberties hero, my ass.... He has shamed the office of Attorney General and besmirched the office he rules with an iron, hate-filled fist. Trust me when I say this evil Marxist will never go away if he has his way. --- Terresa Monroe-Hamilton of Right Wing News

He ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would. That is a fact. -- Andrea Tantaros of Fox "News"

Well, okay. But at least they see a bright future for him:

The damage he has already done to the country leaves a turbulent wake that is ill-matched to the financial reward awaiting him at a shameless and large Washington, D.C., law firm. -- Christian Adams, the PJ Tattler

Wait, wait, Holder may get another gummit job:

There may be a Supreme Court vacancy -- and I can see Barack Obama nominating Eric Holder to fill it. -- Rush Limbaugh

AND, they're looking forward to President Obama's nominating a new AG:

Help wanted: Obama admin seeks Chief Corruption Smidgenizer; Must be able to start before November. -- Doug Powers of Michelle Malkin's blog

He's just gonna be replaced with Al Sharpton or somebody like him. -- Rushbo

... No, No, Rush. Sharpton is not going to be the attorney general; he's just going to pick the attorney general. Colin Campbell of Business Insider: "Al Sharpton Says He's Helping The White House Pick The Next Attorney General." ...

... Well, that's the headline. It's bullshit. Here's an update Sharpton forced upon Campbell's scooplet: "Sharpton sent a statement to Business Insider clarifying that he is not involved in the 'decision making.'" ...

... Joshua DuBois of the Daily Beast interviews Eric Holder. ...

... AND you will enjoy reading Akhilleus' rundown in today's Comments on attorneys general past.

The "Decadent Elites." Paul Krugman: "... the lives of an earlier generation's elite were, indeed, far more restrained, more seemly if you like, than those of today's Masters of the Universe," thanks to a much more progressive tax system. "Running through much recent conservative writing is the theme that America's elite has also fallen down on the job, that it has lost the seriousness and restraint of an earlier era.... High inequality brings a perceived need to spend money in ways that signal status.... While chiding the rich for their vulgarity may not be as offensive as lecturing the poor on their moral failings, it's just as futile. Human nature being what it is, it's silly to expect humility from a highly privileged elite. So if you think our society needs more humility, you should support policies that would reduce the elite's privileges." ...

     ... CW: What inspired Krugman's column? Why, it was this brilliant piece of philosophical analysis pap by church lady & evangelical pontificator David Brooks.

** Tom Dickinson of Rolling Stone: "The volume of Koch Industries' toxic output is staggering... Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation's waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch's climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy.... The toxic history of Koch Industries ... also extends to the company's business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties."

Rob Maaddi of the AP: "The video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee inside a casino elevator was sent to NFL headquarters to the attention of league security chief Jeffrey Miller in April, a law enforcement official says. The NFL has repeatedly said no one with the league saw the violent images until TMZ Sports released the video earlier this month. Miller said Thursday through an NFL spokesman that he never received the video. The official ... said he doesn't know if Miller ever saw the DVD or opened the package. His only communication with the NFL was a 12-second voicemail on April 9 from league offices confirming receipt of the package, in which a woman says, 'You're right. It's terrible.'"

Amanda Marcotte, in Slate: "Kimberly Guilfoyle of The Five on Fox News rolled out a story on Wednesday about Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot for the United Arab Emirates. Mansouri led the UAE strikes against ISIS on Monday and will reportedly be leading future strikes.... Naturally, Guilfoyle's story about a woman doing a thing required her male co-hosts to take one of their patented principled stands against modern feminism. 'The problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn't park it,' quipped Greg Gutfeld, showing off that edgy humor style from 1955 he has finally mastered. Added Eric Bolling: 'Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?'"

Adam Gabbatt of the Guardian: "One year after the racism scandal that saw [Paula] Deen's television show dropped by the Food Network and her corporate sponsors flee..., [she is] attempt[ing] at a comeback: a subscriber-only channel posting new video recipes each week."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Alec MacGillis of the New Republic learns that the Washington Post can't handle "colorful language": a humorous Barney Frank quote, which fleetingly made it past a first edit, gave way to a meaningless reference to "colorful language." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link. ...

... CW: General-interest papers like the WashPo probably should not use "colorful language" in their original reporting & analysis. But any publication that targets adult readers should freely cite what a public figure or other newsworthy person says. If the editors are worried about offensive language appearing in "the same section as the comics and the 'Kids Post' page," as MacGillis puts it, I have some news for the news experts: any kid who is old enough to read the funny papers is also old enough to use the Internets. It's stupid, unprofessional, and to me "offensive," for a news outlet to cater to hypothetical 8-year-olds & church ladies at the expense of accurate reporting.

Beyond the Beltway

David Zahniser & Emily Reyes of the Los Angeles Times: "Big hotels in Los Angeles will soon be required to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers -- one of the highest minimum-wage requirements in the country.The City Council voted 12 to 3 on Wednesday to impose the higher wage on large hotels, delivering a huge victory to a coalition that included organized labor, more than a dozen neighborhood councils and the ACLU of Southern California."

Andy Cush of Gawker: "'I Am Darren Wilson' bracelets are Missouri cops' new fashion statement." And, yeah, they're wearing them in Ferguson. ...

... Ed Kilgore suggests, "To the extent that the duty of the police officers patrolling Ferguson is maintenance of peace and calm, visibly wearing a token of identification with an alleged murderer when dealing with people protesting the alleged murder is not a real smart tactic."...

... Andy Cush: "In a video released [Thursday], Ferguson, Mo., Police Chief Thomas Jackson says that he is 'truly sorry' to the Brown family for the death of Michael Brown and the way that his body was handled. He also apologizes to peaceful protesters 'who did not feel that I did enough to protect their constitutional right to protest,' and accepts full responsibility 'for any mistakes I have made.'" ...

... AND, No, He Won't Resign. Eliott McLaughlin & Ana Cabrera of CNN: "Even after apologizing for his department's actions following Michael Brown's shooting, the police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, insisted Thursday that he's not going anywhere -- telling CNN, this is mine, and I'm taking ownership of it.'" ...

... Charles Pierce on a spate of police shootings of innocent people doin' nothin'. CW: Weirdly, Pierce treats these incidents as if police shooting innocent people was something new. It isn't. They've been doing it since before any of us was born. These shootings are in the news now not because they are remarkable but because the public reaction to particular shootings in Sanford, Florida (yes, thank you, Al Sharpton )& Ferguson, Missouri, has been loud & uncompromising. That young man who automatically raised his hands in surrender after a cop shot him for no reason didn't just learn to do that after Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. That pose of surrender is what black mothers have been teaching their children for a long time. It's a necessary form of self-protection against a police force that is perceived as the enemy because it is the enemy.

Congressional Races

Brian Beutler on Gabby Giffords' "mean" ads calling out Congressional candidates who oppose even modest gun control legislation.

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "Conservative activists are launching 'an unprecedented campaign' against three Republican candidates -- two of whom are out gay men -- because of their support for marriage equality and abortion. The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action, and CitizenLink 'will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots' for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon, according to a letter sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders on Thursday."

This is pretty interesting. Notice how the local TV report (WSB TV-Atlanta) supports Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Michelle Nunn's contention that her GOP opponent David Perdue is a liar:

Gubernatorial Race

** How Sam Brownback Blew up His Laboratory of Democracy. Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones details Gov. Brownback's (RTP-Kansas) disastrous policies, dirty politics, & their effects. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Brownback has very publicly made his state a conservative 'experiment station' and sought to stamp out any dissent in his party, all in the pursuit of a sort of intellectual rogue's gallery of bad ideas, from supply-side economics to the harshest attacks in the country on reproductive rights. He not only deserve to lose, but his regime needs to be remembered with fear and trembling by Republicans everywhere." ...

... CW: It would be great if Republicans did learn from Brownback that their economic policy prescriptions were calamitous. It would be swell if voters never forgot what a mess these policies created. It would be super if Kansas became a case study in bad policy that high-school students learned in their history books. But there's no chance any of that will happen. Republicans are bought & paid for; voters are disengaged & clueless; & textbook writers are subservient to school boards populated by dimwits & evangelical ideologues. Sam Brownback, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert -- they are all evidence of the best our particular democracy can do.

Presidential Election

Run, Mitt, Run! Kevin Drum: "We still live in a 50-50 nation, after all, and for the foreseeable future I suspect that pretty much every presidential election is going to be fairly close. And Romney certainly has a decent chance of winning the Republican nomination, since he'd be competing against pretty much the same clown show as last time.So sure: Run, Mitt! I hear that Eric Cantor is available to be your vice president."

Charles Pierce on the possible presidential candidacy of former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, a nominal Democrat.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A man who had just been fired by an Oklahoma City-area food processing plant allegedly severed the head of one of his former co-workers and attacked another before being shot by the company's chief operating officer, according to police.... [Alton] Nolen was attacking a second woman at the plant ... when, Lewis said, he was shot by Mark Vaughan, a top executive at Vaughan Foods who is also a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department.... Nolen was hospitalized and police are waiting until he is conscious to arrest him.... Two federal law enforcement officials told The Post that Nolen is a recent convert to Islam." ...

... CW: I scarcely need to relay that Right Wing World is going batshit over "Bloody jihad comes to Oklahoma" (an actual headline).

AP: "A contract employee who recently was told he was being transferred to Hawaii set a fire at a suburban Chicago air traffic control center where he worked, bringing two of the nation's busiest airports to a halt Friday, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday."

Washington Post: "Bill Gross, founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. and the manager of the largest bond mutual fund in the world, is stepping down. Starting next week, Gross, who managed the $222 billion Pimco Total Return Bond fund, will run a new unconstrained bond fund at Janus Capital Group.... Gross ... has seen his reputation bruised in the past several months...."

New York Times: "European officials said they had brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine aimed at ensuring gas flows to keep factories running and homes warm over the coming six months, despite a dispute between Moscow and Kiev over the size of Ukraine's outstanding bills."

AP: "The U.S. economy's bounce-back last quarter from a dismal winter was even faster than previously thought, a sign that growth will likely remain solid for rest of the year. The economy as measured by gross domestic product grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the fastest pace in more than two years and higher than the government's previous estimate of 4.2 percent. The upward revision reflected stronger-than-expected business investment and exports last quarter."

New York Times: "With one out in the bottom of the ninth, [Derek] Jeter stroked the winning hit and ended his Yankee Stadium career the way he had ended so many games -- with both arms raised in celebration. The 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles was his 1,627th regular-season victory as a Yankee."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 25, 2014

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will resign his post, the Justice Department said Thursday. Mr. Holder will remain in office until a successor is nominated and confirmed." CW: Good luck with that. See Justice Ginsburg's remarks below. Maybe Republicans senators would be okay with returning Ed Meese to the job. ...

... Charles Pierce: "There is a decent chance ... that his successor will have to be confirmed by a Senate with a Republican majority, at least some of whom, I suspect, would be perfectly happy if the president didn't have an Attorney General for the rest of his term. Which, it appears, would leave Holder in place. In any event, they're already erecting the big top and lining up the elephants for a three-ring confirmation process that will embarrass every enlightened political leader back to Pericles. I can't wait."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday charted a muscular new course for the United States in a turbulent world, telling the United Nations General Assembly in a bluntly worded speech that the American military would work with allies to dismantle the Islamic State’s 'network of death' and warning Russia that it would pay for its bullying of Ukraine":

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "The United Nations security council agreed on Wednesday to launch a concerted effort to staunch the flow of radicalised jihadists from around the world to the cause of Islamic State and other terrorist groups. In a rare session of the security council attended by heads of state – only the sixth of its kind in the organ’s 68-year history – all 15 member states voted for a US-backed resolution that seeks to step up the battle against 'foreign terrorist fighters', as US president Barack Obama described them":

... President Obama opens the special session of the U.N. Security Council:

... AND closes it:

... Karen DeYoung, et al., of the Washington Post: "U.S. missile strikes against an obscure al-Qaeda cell [Khorasan] in Syria killed at least one of the group’s leaders, [Mushin al-Fadhli,] delivering what U.S. officials described as a significant but not decisive blow to a terrorist group accused of plotting attacks against Europe and the United States." U.S. intelligence agencies have not yet confirmed the report. ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "... in moral terms, [Obama's] war is nothing like [Bush's] war, and if this war doesn’t end up like Bush’s and somehow actually solves more problems than it creates, that will happen precisely because of the moral differences.... The first and most important difference, plainly and simply: Obama didn’t lie us into this war.... Difference number two: This war doesn’t involve 140,000 ground troops.... Difference number three: This coalition, while still in its infancy, could in the end be a far more meaningful coalition than Bush’s." ...

... CW: With Friends Like These. Here's something I learned in reading Tomasky's column. Amel Ahmed of Al Jazeera (September 11): "The beheading of Pakistani national Izzat Gul for drug trafficking was Saudi Arabia's 46th such execution for 2014, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). In August alone, Saudi Arabia decapitated 19 people, eight of them for nonviolent offenses, including sorcery, the rights group added." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: Bombing terrorists is good politics!

CW: Thanks to the commenters to yesterday's Commentariat who provided links to good stuff. I'm relinking some here in case you missed them:

Frank Rich: "In truth, we already have boots on the ground [in Iraq] in the form of 'special forces' and 'advisers.' The moment they start returning to America in body bags, or are seen being slaughtered in ISIS videos, is the moment when the recent polling uptick in support for this war will evaporate. That support is an inch deep, and Congress knows it, which is why members of both parties fled Washington for the campaign trail last week rather than debate Obama’s war plan." Thanks to MAG.

Charles Pierce on why we should vote -- "every time and in every election, no matter how apparently minor the office or how apparently insignificant the issue." Thanks to James S. ...

... "The Arrogance of Ignorance." Pierce also links to Kurt Eichenwald's excellent Newsweek piece on Texas's "Textbook Case of Bad Textbooking": "Yes, professional historians know more than you about American history. Yes, professional biologists know more than you about evolution. Yes, professional climatologists know more than you about climate science. To argue otherwise is merely a reflection of the relentless self-worship of the untrained, a rapidly spreading malady that might best be called 'the arrogance of ignorance.'” ...

... CW: One fairly humorous outgrowth of the "arrogance of ignorance" is Republican politicians' pained efforts to cater to their ignorant base: When asked if they "believe" in evolution or man-made climate change, the politicians' stock answer is, "I'm not a scientist." (Or the even more hilarious Bobby Jindal version: "I was not an evolutionary biologist.") So they are telling the same ignoramuses who think "experts" are suspicious librul propagandists that you have to be a highly-trained suspicious librul propagandist to know enough about evolution or climate change to form an opinion. Privileging the arrogance of ignorance requires a mastery of circular logical.

Here's the creepy ad that is going to make us "Democrat ladies" vote for Republicans this year. Thanks to Akhilleus:

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Obviously [the ad's sponsors] think we’re idiots who put romance before reason, even in politics.... Maybe the worst thing about the ad is that its sponsors are utterly clueless about how demeaning it is. ...

The goal here is to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t. -- John Jordan, a wealthy California vintner who bankrolled the ad

CW: As several observers have pointed out, even that isn't true: "... the spot is very similar to a Web ad the Republican National Committee did in 2012 called 'The Breakup':

CW: It totally pisses me off when people like Joan Walsh suggest that John Jordan would produce a sexist ad that "demeans women." Jordan is the big blond guy in the sunglasses:

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Tom Edsall: "In developed countries like the United States, however, there are legitimate and growing doubts about the beneficence of the market and the ability of the system to distribute the rewards of growth to those who make growth possible." Thanks to Ken W. CW: Edsall would not be a good fit for the Jefferson County, Colorado, school board (see Charles Pierce's post, linked above) which "call[s] for teaching materials promoting patriotism, respect for authority and the free-market system."

Gail Collins: "Only 3 percent of current Republican members of Congress have been willing to go on record as accepting the fact that people are causing global warming.... That includes Representative Michael Grimm of New York, who while laudably open-minded on this subject, is also under indictment for perjury and tax fraud. So we may be pushing 2 percent in January." Collins prominently mentions Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who makes weekly speeches on the Senate floor about climate change. Here's one of Whitehouse's floor speeches, whacking today's Republicans, "who let pollutors cast their dark shadows over Republicans in Congress." President Reagan's views on conserving the environment, Whitehouse notes, "would make him a fringe liberal candidate in today's Republican party":

... CW: Whitehouse is my nominee for president. Has been for several years. Not a chance.

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that if she steps down now, President Obama would not be able to appoint an acceptable replacement.... 'Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court,' she said. '[Senate Republicans] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided.'" Excerpts of the Elle interview, by Jessica Weisberg, are here. ...

     ... CW: Sorry, Ruth. Thanks an excuse, not a reason to hold onto your seat. Assuming the next president is a Democrat, why would she have been luck with Senate Republicans. Because she might be white??? You blew a chance to preserve your legacy with a Democratic Supreme Court appointee. Souter & Stevens did the right thing. ...

... Liberal women disagree with me. This may be because they don't understand a basic human characteristic: even more than young people, who often think of themselves as immune from mortal danger, old people want to go on living & doing. The will to live can give them exaggerated views of their capacities. This is probably especially true of people who are extremely successful, like, say Supreme Court justices. I'm not saying Ginsburg is on death's door; I deeply hope she is not. But individuals, no matter how wise they may otherwise be, are not necessarily the best judges of their own mortality. ...

... AND Jon Walker of Firedoglake puts the Ginsburg debate in its larger context: the problem is lifetime appointments. "Ginsburg has been on the Supreme Court since 1993. That means she has already played a huge role in shaping American policy for over 20 years, but even that is not enough. Her lifetime appointment gives her the freedom to decide when to retire enabling her to play a massive role in determining who her replacement will be. This should easily extend her influence by another 30 years...."

Oops! Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) discovered secret documents revealing the names & level of contributions of corporate donors to the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, a 501(c)(4) group "which is allowed to shield its supporters from the public." The documents also reveal the remarkable level of access to GOP governors the corporations have purchased with their "membership" in the committee. “'This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it,' said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan group that advocates more transparency and controls over political money." The documents CREW obtained are here (pdf).

Jay Michaelson of the Daily Beast: "The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine 'religious liberty' (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too." Among the speakers at this year's gathering of the Gathering: David Brooks of the NYT. Brooks makes a bundle on these speaking engagements, but lending the imprimatur of the New York Times to this gang is pretty unseemly. Thanks to Bonita for the link.

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "In the largest settlement with a single American Indian tribe, the Obama administration will pay the Navajo Nation $554 million to settle claims that the U.S. government has mismanaged funds and natural resources on the Navajo reservation for decades. The settlement, to be signed in Window Rock, Ariz., on Friday, resolves a long-standing dispute between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. government, with some of the claims dating back more than 50 years."

Beyond the Beltway

Chris Caesar of the Boston Globe: "The trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will stay in [Boston], a federal judge ruled Wednesday night. Lawyers for the 21-year-old man told the court last week their client wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Boston, and requested the case be moved to a Washington, D.C. courtroom. 'The defendant has not proven that this is one of the rare and extreme cases for which a presumption of prejudice is warranted,' the decision reads."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Surveillance footage from an Ohio Walmart store, where police killed a young black man[, John Crawford III,] who was holding an unloaded air rifle and talking on his cellphone, shows he was was [sic.] shot from the side as he moved to run away from advancing officers.... A grand jury in Greene County declined on Wednesday to indict Sean Williams, the police officer who shot Crawford, on charges of murder, reckless homicide or negligent homicide.... An attorney for Crawford’s family described their decision as 'absolutely incomprehensible'. The US department of justice quickly announced that it would review the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the possibility of federal criminal charges." CW: The video is embedded in the Guardian story. In addition to disproving the claim that Crawford was brandishing the airgun & walking around pointing it at other customers, the video appears to me to show that officers continued shooting him after he dropped the gun. It's sickening.

CBS News: "A former state trooper faces a felony charge in the shooting of an unarmed man during a traffic stop in Columbia earlier this month." Includes video of the shooting. CW: One striking thing: the victim Lavar Jones, who is black, knew almost reflexively to raise his hands in surrender -- after trooper Sean Groubert shot him without provocation. ...

... CW: When a cop stops me for an (alleged!) traffic violation & asks me for my license & registration, I always tell him (so far, it's always been "him") I don't have a weapon in the car & that I'm going to get the docs from my purse/glove box, but if he would feel safer in getting them himself or first checking out the place I keep them, he is free to do so. This means of course that I am ceding certain rights, but I'd rather be alive than constitutionally correct. P.S. If you do like to travel with a controlled substance, or if you keep a weapon in the glove box, plan ahead & keep your documents someplace else. ...

... Yes We Cam. Josh Marshall of TPM: "Would Groubert have lost his badge and be facing charges had there not been a dashcam video revealing the reality of what happened? Let's put that down as a rhetorical question."

John Schwartz of the New York Times: "The oil giant BP cannot recoup hundreds of millions of dollars it claims to have overpaid victims of a 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. At a hearing in Federal District Court in New Orleans, Judge Carl J. Barbier rejected BP’s request that it be allowed to claw back the extra money paid out under an old accounting method."

Gubernatorial Race

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "A federal appeals court on Wednesday removed an injunction halting an investigation into whether the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker illegally coordinated with conservative groups on fund-raising and spending as he sought to overcome a recall effort two years ago. The decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit raised the prospect that prosecutors could eventually resume the investigation even as Mr. Walker, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is engaged in a tight battle for re-election."

Presidential Election

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: Jeb [Not His Real Name] Bush goes to North Carolina in support of Tea party Senatorial candidate Thom Tillis, & finds out Tillis & N.C. Republicans are not all that fond of Bush's supposed librul views on immigration & education. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "I betcha Tillis’ people were close to throttling Jebbie’s people backstage; the last thing they need right now is to have someone come into North Carolina and offend Tillis’ 'base.' One thing Bush should have learned from Mitt Romney’s travails in 2012 is that when you are stuck with an issue position at odds with the dominant sentiment in your party (as with RomneyCare), you really just have three choices: flip-flop, lie or simply don’t talk about it." ...

... Speaking of Mutt & Jeff Mitt & Jeb... Bryon York of the Washington Examiner: Mitt "Romney is talking with advisers, consulting with his family, keeping a close eye on the emerging '16 Republican field, and carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run. That doesn't mean he will decide to do it, but it does mean that Mitt 2016 is a real possibility.... Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. If Bush jumps in the race, this line of thinking goes, Romney would not run."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 24, 2014

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "U.S. military leaders said Tuesday their aerial bombardment of Syria was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign ... and will become more difficult as targeted militants seek refuge in populated areas. The United States is now attacking two sets of enemies in the region: the Islamic State..., and the Khorasan Group, a smaller network affiliated with al-Qaeda that officials say is plotting against Europe and the United States.... Whether the coalition's intervention in Syria will eventually help or hurt [Syrian President Bashar al]Assad represents one of the greatest unknowns in a military campaign filled with uncertainty." ...

... Rosie Gray & others at BuzzFeed try to explain who Khorasan is. ...

Somini Sengupta & Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The United States said on Tuesday that the American-led airstrikes against the Islamic State -- carried out in Syria without seeking the permission of the Syrian government or the United Nations Security Council -- were legal because they were done in defense of Iraq. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, officially informed the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, of the legal justification in a letter...."

... Hey, Kids! Let's get some perspective from Glenn Greenwald: "... Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama -- after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors)." ...

... CW: Please don't bother to remind me I'm a jerk. I know that. Greenwald raises valid points here, but his overdramatization of everything makes it impossible for me to take him seriously. The imperial presidency, my ass.

President Obama made public remarks Tuesday at a meeting of Arab Coalition leaders in New York City:

Josh Lederman of the AP: "Ordinary citizens will often have a more lasting impact on their community than their presidents and prime ministers, President Barack Obama said Tuesday as he promoted civil society at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York." The video below includes President Clinton's introductory remarks:

Mark Landler & Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "President Obama, emboldened by the use of his executive powers to fight climate change at home, sought on Tuesday to marshal more than 100 world leaders behind a vast international effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and curb global warming. But Mr. Obama, in pledging that the United States would set ambitious new targets to cut emissions in advance of critical global climate talks next year, will leave much of the hard work to his successor, or even the president after that":

What Outrageous, Unpresidential Act Did Obama Commit Tuesday? Bomb Another Country? (See Greenwald.) Sign an Unconstitutional Executive Order? Nah. Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Some are calling it the 'latte salute.' When President Obama stepped off Marine One at the Wall Street landing zone in New York City, en route the United Nations, he saluted two Marines at the bottom of the stairs as he held a coffee cup in the same hand." ..

... Steve M. "Coffee-cup-ghazi!"

Dana Milbank: "Friday's [White House] fence-jumping episode ... has the Secret Service considering extraordinary remedies.... The Secret Service is preparing to punish the public for the agency's mistakes.... A deeper problem may explain those mistakes. As The Post reported: 'Former agents said they fear the breach may be related to a severe staffing shortage the agency has struggled with in the last year in its Uniform Division.' To plug the holes, the Secret Service has been flying in agents from other locations who don't know the White House as well." ...

... CW: Yeah, this is why I especially enjoy it when Tea party Republicans like Jason Chaffetz (Utah), who proudly self-identifies as a budget-cutting phenom, turn around & blame President Obama for "perhaps failing to take security as seriously as it should." Chaffetz, BTW, is not one to learn from his egregious mistakes: Here's the little prick in 2012, post-Benghazi, self-righteously explaining why he voted to cut $300 million in funding for embassy security: "Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country." Nonetheless, Chaffetz has made so many Benghaaazi! charges against the administration that I can't possibly link them.

Available for day-time dates (if not still engaged to the young married woman he got engaged to while he was married).Nate Raymond of Reuters: "Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison on Tuesday when a U.S. judge sentenced him to serve eight months in a community confinement center after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law. D'Souza, 53, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan to live in a center, which would allow him to leave during non-residential hours for employment, for the first eight months of a five-year probationary period.... 'I'm not sure, Mr. D'Souza, that you get it,' Berman said before announcing the sentence. 'And it is still hard for me to discern any personal acceptance of responsibility in this case.'" ...

... AND, if one is to believe the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. D'Souza, D'Souza is a serial liar & a wife-beater. ...

... The Smoking Gun: "During the sentencing hearing, [Judge] Berman read from a blistering letter submitted to the court by D'Souza's estranged wife. In the missive, Dixie D'Souza alleged that her ex-spouse forged her signature on one campaign contribution form, and that he had an 'abusive nature.'"

CW: Jonathan Chait writes what looks like a good takedown of Paul Ryan's New Fuzzy Math, but I didn't have time to read it.

CW: I keep missing Charles Pierce's posts because Wendy's, the wholesome place where I do most of my Internetting, has blocked that dirty publication Esquire. However, via Driftglass, I learn that Pierce did quite a number of Chuck Todd. Driftglass wraps Pierce's prose in a nice ribbon -- and also links to the original.

Senate Race

Does Pat Roberts Think Democrats Are Nazis? Ed Kilgore: "... Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, no ideological firebrand but rather the most hackish of time-servers, casually said that under Democratic governance 'this country is heading for national socialism'.... You have to wonder what Bob Dole, who was sitting nearby Roberts when he made this incredibly offensive remark -- and who fought against actual National Socialists in World War II -- thought of it." ...

... CW: It would appear, based on Philip Rucker's tweets added as updates to Dylan Scott's TPM post, that Roberts just has no idea who the National Socialists were. Rucker's tweets suggest Roberts is clueless & doesn't understand why Rucker asked him about the National Socialism question. ...

     ... Update: Robert's campaign tried to "clarify" his remarks without indicating the candidate is a dope.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Rowena Mason of the Guardian: British PM "David Cameron has been caught on camera talking about how the Queen 'purred down the line' after he phoned her to say Scotland had voted no to independence. The prime minister's remarks suggesting the Queen was pleased with the result are a rare, albeit accidental, breach of the convention that the prime minister never speaks about his conversations with the monarch. It also jeopardises her traditional neutrality.... Cameron's exchange with Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, was accidentally picked up by Sky News as they walked through an office in the businessman's media empire."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 23, 2014

Valerie Volcovici of Reuters: "... the United Nations on Tuesday will zero in on climate change, giving leaders from 125 countries a platform to explain how they plan to address the issue.... The White House announced on Tuesday that Obama would issue an executive order to require federal agencies to ensure their international development programs and investments are designed to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change." ...

... Jon Stewart explains climate change to Republican deniers. Thanks to P. D. Pepe:

     ... As Victoria D. comments, Stewart should have said "Republican" more because it's House Science Committee Republicans who need third-grade visuals to understand the obvious.

President Obama made remarks late this morning about strikes on ISIS. Politico has a brief report here:

     ... Update. The New York Times report, by Mark Landler & others, is here. ...

David Kirkpatrick & Omar Al-Jawoshy of the New York Times: "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government’s forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines. Although the airstrikes appear to have stopped the extremists' march toward Baghdad, the Islamic State is still dealing humiliating blows to the Iraqi Army. On Monday, the government acknowledged that it had lost control of the small town of Sichar and lost contact with several hundred of its soldiers who had been besieged for nearly a week at a camp north of the Islamic State stronghold of Falluja, in Anbar Province." ...

... Loveday Morris of the Washington Post: An ISIS suicide attack on an Iraqi army base in Anbar Province -- the attackers arrived in bomb-rigged Humvees & hundreds of Iraqi soldiers may have died -- "has highlighted shortcomings in an army that the United States has spent billions of dollars training and equipping, and it has further undermined the force's reliability as a partner as President Obama expands airstrikes into provinces including Anbar.... 'There were no reinforcements, no food supplies, no medicine, no water, and then our ammunition began to run out,' said 1st Lt. Haider Majid, 28. 'We called our leaders so many times. We called our commanders, we called members of parliament, but they just left us there to die.'"

... Michael Hirsh in Politico Magazine on "America's new war president." Hirsh looks at the realities, including the political realities, that have led President Obama to begin what Hirsh calls a "new war" against ISIS. CW Note: Hirsh works for Politico now, but he has been a level-headed, nonpartisan reporter & opinionator for a long time. My one disagreement with Hirsh here is that he ignores conditions that invited an ISIS-type jihad, most notably Bush's Stupid War. Worth a read. ...

... Juan Cole: "Some 80% of Raqqah[, Syria]’s 240,000 inhabitants, i.e. about 190,000 people, are said to have remained after ISIL took over the city.... It is inevitable that US and allied bombing on important Raqqah military targets will kill a certain number of civilians.... The some 22 sorties flown on Monday will have killed some ISIL terrorists, blown up some weapons warehouses, and destroyed some checkpoints. But ISIL are guerrillas, and they will just fade away into Raqqah's back alleys. The US belief in air power is touching, but in fact no conflict has ever been quickly brought to an end where US planes have been involved." See also today's News Ledes.

Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Federal prosecutors alleged Monday in federal court that a man who jumped a fence and ran into the White House's unlocked front door Friday night posed a threat to President Obama and was keeping 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked blocks away.... After a 15-minute hearing, [U.S Magistrate Judge John] Facciola ordered [Omar Jose] Gonzalez held until Oct. 1, pending revocation of bond by authorities in an unrelated July 19 incident in Wythe County, Va. In that case, he was arrested while allegedly carrying a sawed-off shotgun, two sniper rifles and several other firearms, as well as a map of the Washington area with the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Va., circled and a line pointed toward the White House, a local prosecutor said. Earlier, on Aug. 25, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said, U.S. Secret Service officers saw Gonzalez carrying a hatchet in the back waistband of his pants along the south fence of the White House and questioned him." ...

... The New York Times report, by Michael Shear & Michael Schmidt, is here. "Among the items found in Mr. Gonzalez's vehicle in July was a mini-arsenal of 11 guns including two shotguns and four rifles, some equipped with scopes and bipods that a sniper would use and 'a map of Washington, D.C., with writing and a line drawn to the White House,' law enforcement officials said. He also had four pistols, three of them loaded, and a revolver." ...

... CW: Only in America could a guy get away with carrying a "mini-arsenal" & a map to the home of the head of state. The only illegal item he was carrying, according to Virginia police, was a sawed-off shotgun. Everything else was cool. Instead of investigating Secret Service policies, we should be looking at our culture of violence, one in which the police "did not regard ... as dangerous or mentally unstable" a veteran carrying a mini-arsenal who led them on a high-speech chase. Apparently they took his word that he was a veteran & that made everything fine. ...

... AND, yes, this post is related. Charles Pierce: "I would wager that, in every state where there is a close election, and where open-carry laws of one kind or another are in force, you will see armed men at precincts 'protecting' the vote. It's the logical confluence of voter-suppression and unlimited gun rights.... And then, in 2016, there will be more guns at the polls. They really don't miss a trick." ...

... CW: I was thinking of observing that most of the country is becoming Dodge City. Then I remembered that Dodge City & other Western towns actually had strict gun control laws. Luckily, the Supreme Court of the day -- not exactly a bastion of liberal ideology -- did not pretend the Second Amendment expressed an individual's right to pack heat. ...

Front Street, Dodge City, Kansas, 1878.

Gregory Korte of USA Today: "The Treasury Department will crack down on so-called tax 'inversions,' targeting companies that try to avoid taxes by moving their headquarters overseas. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new rules would help close what he called a 'glaring loophole in the U.S. tax code' in which U.S. companies acquire foreign businesses and then switch their citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead.

John Boehner Thinks the Jobless Are Lazy. But the House passed a "jobs" bill! Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "Last Thursday, House Republicans passed a 'jobs' bill that includes a smorgasbord of traditional conservative ideas. But it would also increase the deficit by $590 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And these aren't temporary costs, like the stimulus (which wasn't that much larger, money-wise than this new GOP 'jobs' plan anyways). After the first decade, the costs will only increase.... It would make permanent a collection of tax breaks.... It would require Congressional approval for any regulation with estimated costs over $100 million. The bill would also change Obamacare's definition of a full-time employee from 30 to 40 hours and, oh yeah, repeal the medical device tax." Read the whole post.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times: "Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Monday that his biggest mistake in the handling of the Ray Rice situation is that he didn't get an earlier look at the surveillance video from inside the elevator -- and had no interest in seeing it. '"I lacked a whole lot of interest. Zero desire to see that tape,' Bisciotti said in a news conference called to address and dispute a lengthy story by ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' that said the Ravens knew the details of Rice striking his future wife inside the casino elevator within hours of the incident." A transcript of the full rebuttal, published in the Baltimore Sun, is here.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Sen. Rand Paul's lawsuit over National Security Agency surveillance was put on hold Monday, pending an appeals court ruling on a parallel case brought before the senator's. Judge Richard Leon did not explain the rationale for his ruling but granted a Justice Department motion to halt the case while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considers the NSA surveillance issue in separate lawsuits brought by conservative activist Larry Klayman." CW Working Theory: Leon just wanted to cut the billable hours of Ken Cuccinelli, who brought the suit on behalf of Paul & Freeeedom Works.

Senate Race

Charles Pierce comments on Rep. Tom Cotton's (RTP) challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) CW: It's a great commentary, but I do wish to warn readers of the foolishness of the idea that we all would be living in the Kingdom of Heaven if only So-&-So had won/lost a particular election. I suppose this view is an offshoot of the "great man" theory of history, infused with wishful thinking/I-told-you-to-vote. Obviously, elections matter, but the dynamics that tip the balance one way or the other don't vacillate all that much. Voters are still conservative or liberal, dumb or dumber, etc. To assume that defeating Newt Gingrich -- as Pierce does -- would have radically changed history is a mistake. We'll never know but -- more than likely House Republicans, whose makeup would have remained essentially the same, would have chosen another jerk for Speaker. The show goes on no matter the players.

Presidential Election

Steve M.: "... the Washington Free Beacon wants you to realize that ... Hillary Clinton's youthful correspondence with Saul Alinsky proves that she's an unreconstructed radical leftist.... Let's see: Hillary Clinton was a top adviser to her husband, the governor of Arkansas, for twelve years; she was America's First Lady (and a top adviser to the president) for eight years; she was a U.S. senator for eight years; and she was secretary of state for four years -- and in all that time she's been a Third Way left-centrist and a relatively hawkish Democrat. But she was just fooling us! She knew that, one day, the full flower of her evil leftist scheme to communize America would bloom, because ... she knew her time would come." ...

... CW: I'll admit I ignored this shocking story; I'm grateful to Steve M. for explaining it. It isn't just that the right lives in an "intellectual closed loop," as Krugman wrote in his column yesterday, but also that within that loop, the loopy do not adhere to basic logic thinking or simple common sense. ...

... Like Every Lefty, Clinton Is a Party Animal. Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... the Clinton Global Initiative now outshines the U.N. gathering, at least when it comes to star wattage. It also serves as an annual company picnic and convocation of the faithful for the Clintons' far-flung political and business networks." CW: I find the Clinton conglomerate extremely creepy. I suppose to some extent most of us are phony self-promoters, but the Clintons have carried vainglory to a mawkish, tawdry extreme. ...

... Molly Ball of the Atlantic, last week: "Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens."

News Ledes

Der Spiegel: "German-American journalist Michael Scott Moore has been freed two-and-a-half years after he was kidnapped in Somalia. German officials received Moore, who worked for Spiegel International years before his abduction, on Tuesday afternoon local time." Via Gawker.

New York Times: "The United States and five Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign against the Islamic State and at least one other extremist group in Syria for the first time early Tuesday, targeting the groups' bases, training camps and checkpoints in at least four provinces, according to the United States military and Syrian activists. The intensity of the attacks struck a fierce opening blow against the jihadists of the Islamic State, scattering its forces and damaging the network of facilities it has built in Syria that helped fuel its seizure of a large part of Iraq this year." ...

... AP: "Syria said Tuesday that Washington informed President Bashar Assad's government of imminent U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group, hours before an American-led military coalition pounded the extremists' strongholds across northern and eastern Syria."

New York Times: "The Israeli military said Tuesday morning that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had 'infiltrated into Israeli airspace,' the first such incident in at least a quarter of a century."

New York Times: "Israeli forces early Tuesday killed the two men they suspected of abducting and murdering three Israeli teenagers from the occupied West Bank in June, according to a military spokesman, closing a crucial chapter in what became the bloodiest period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Aisha, 33, 'came out shooting' around 6 a.m. as troops breached a two-story structure in Hebron where the suspects had been holed up for a week."