Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency will move ahead Friday with rules requiring cleaner gasoline and cars nationwide, despite fierce protests from the oil industry and some conservative Democrats, according to several individuals briefed on the matter. The proposed rules -- which had been stuck in regulatory limbo since December 2011 in the face of intense political opposition -- would cut the amount of sulfur in U.S. gasoline by two-thirds and impose fleetwide pollution limits on new vehicles by 2017."
Jon Chait of New York: Republicans are already forgetting they ever opposed gay marriage. ...
... E. J. Graff of the American Prospect writes movingly of her attendance at Wednesday's Supreme Court hearing of the DOMA case. ...
... David von Drehle in Time (cover story): gay marriage has already won. "The rise of same-sex marriage from joke to commonplace is a story of converging strands of history. Changes in law and politics, medicine and demographics, popular culture and ivory-tower scholarship all added momentum to produce widespread changes of heart." ...
... Matt Tunseth of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star: "U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski [R-Alaska] said Wednesday that her views on gay marriage are 'evolving' and that she's reviewing her stance on the issue 'very closely.'"
Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "There is no question that it's a concerted strategy on Republicans' part to make sure that Obama leaves office having put zero judges on the [D.C. District] court." ...
... New York Times Editors: "Republicans clearly have no interest in dropping their favorite pastime [-- the filibuster --] but Democrats could put a stop to this malicious behavior by changing the Senate rules and prohibiting, at long last, all filibusters on nominations."
Paul Krugman: with the numbers refusing to back up deficit scolds, "talk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven't given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it's 'generational warfare,' imposing a crippling burden on the next generation.... we're cheating our children.... by neglecting public investment and failing to provide jobs.... Our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much -- and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children's interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story." ...
... Brad DeLong of UC-Berkeley: "... my conclusion is that I should stop calling the current episode the Lesser Depression. Yes, its shape is different from that of the Great Depression; but, so far at least, there is no reason to rank it any lower in the hierarchy of macroeconomic disasters." Via Greg Sargent.
Jordan Weissmann of the Atlantic: "Our food stamp rolls are eye popping, but they're not the problem. Poverty is."
President Obama spoke yesterday about saving the nation's children from gun violence:
... Jeremy Peters & Peter Baker of the New York Times: "With resistance to tougher gun laws stiffening in Congress, a visibly frustrated President Obama on Thursday implored lawmakers and the nation not to lose sight of the horrors of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn." ...
... Gene Robinson: "... it's hard for me to accept that the right to 'keep and bear arms' extends to the kind of arsenal that Adam Lanza -- and his mother, Nancy, whom he also killed -- assembled and kept in their home." See also yesterday's Ledes.
... Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "Minutes before President Obama delivered an emotional speech asking lawmakers to pass sensible gun safety measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, word came from Capitol Hill that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had signed onto a letter pledging to block votes on any of Obama's proposals for gun legislation."
Kevin Drum: "... conservatives sure do seem to thrive on a continuing parade of weirdly invented, personality-driven scandalettes in a way that liberals don't."
Taylor Berman of Gawker: "In an interview with local radio station KRBD, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) recalled his father's ranch and the old fashioned way things were done on it.... 'My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,' Young said in the interview.... Young apologized later, blaming the usage on his upbringing.... Looks like the GOP's effort to reach more Latino voters is going exactly as planned." ...
... Actually, Think Progress & the Alaska Daily News note that "Young stopped short of apologizing." ...
... Charles Pierce: "You know what was a term that was commonly used during my days growing up in Central Massachusetts? 'Dickhead.' But I mean no disrespect."
Tim Egan: California is back!
Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "At an emotional announcement Thursday inside Faneuil Hall, [Thomas M.] Menino slowly navigated his way up the center aisle with his wife, Angela, to the thunderous applause from official Boston as well as city workers and admirers from the neighborhoods. Over the loudspeaker, Frank Sinatra crooned his defiant anthem, 'My Way.' 'I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love,' Mr. Menino, 70, the city's longest-serving mayor, told the standing-room-only crowd of well-wishers. He said essentially that he was not up to the job, at least not the way he wanted to do it. After illnesses last year that left him hospitalized for two months, he said he could not keep up his schedule...." Boston Globe story here.
Little Kenny Is Still a Brat. Washington Post Editors: Virginia "Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) tried to take some of the credit for himself [for passage of Virginia's sweeping transportation bill].... It would be easier to credit Mr. Cuccinelli if he hadn't opposed the bill tooth-and-nail when the General Assembly considered it, condemning the legislation as a 'massive tax increase' and pushing for a right-wing alternative. It would be easier still if the attorney general didn't have a long history of opposing serious transportation policy in service to a no-tax creed.... If Mr. Cuccinelli wants to associate himself with the success of this transportation bill, he should endorse it first."
CW: In case you thought there could not be a legislator worse than Louie Gohmert or Michele Bachmann, there is -- or was -- and he's a Democrat. Laura Zuckerman of Reuters: "The Nevada State Assembly expelled Democratic Assemblyman Steven Brooks on Thursday after he was arrested twice this year, in the first time the chamber ousted a member in the history of the state legislature.... Brooks was arrested in February outside his Las Vegas home on suspicion of domestic battery and obstructing officers. Police said he had attacked a member of his family. In January, he was arrested on suspicion of leveling a death threat against the incoming Assembly speaker, Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from North Las Vegas. Police say they found Brooks driving around with a handgun and 41 rounds of ammunition when they arrested him on January 19." ...
... Update: I guess Brooks is "disturbed." And trying to buy more guns.
New York Times: A Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury indicted former Atlanta district school superintendent Beverly Hall on charges of "racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements."
New York Times: "A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation's fruits and vegetables.... Beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor."
AP: "Prosecutors in the Colorado theater massacre case have rejected an offer from suspect James Holmes to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, saying the proposal can't be considered genuine because the defense has repeatedly refused to give them information needed to evaluate it. No plea agreement exists, prosecutors said in a scathing court document Thursday, and one 'is extremely unlikely based on the present information available to the prosecution.'"
Reuters: "The U.N. Security Council on Thursday approved the creation of a unique new combat force that is to carry out 'targeted offensive operations' to neutralize armed groups in conflict-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo."
Reuters: "Car bombs hit four Shi'ite mosques in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and another in Kirkuk just after prayers on Friday, tearing into crowds of worshippers and killing 17, police and witnesses said."
AP: "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Friday that his rocket forces were ready 'to settle accounts with the U.S.,' unleashing a new round of bellicose rhetoric after U.S. nuclear-capable B-2 bombers dropped dummy munitions in joint military drills with South Korea." CW: bee extinction is a much greater threat to the U.S. than is North Korea.
Reuters: "The president of Cyprus said on Friday the risk of bankruptcy had been contained and the country had no intention of leaving the euro, in a speech laden with criticism of Europe's currency union for 'experimenting' with the island's fate."
AP: "A U.S. Army veteran, who boasted on Facebook of his military adventures with Syrian rebels, was charged Thursday with firing rocket propelled grenades as part of an attack led by an al-Qaida group against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction -- specifically, a rocket propelled grenade launcher -- outside the U.S."
Reuters: Michael Steinberg, a portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his residence in New York City early Friday morning in connection with an insider trading investigation...."