NEW. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "President Obama has invited top lawmakers to the White House on Friday for a luncheon that will serve as his first attempt to break a years-long logjam with congressional Republican leaders. During a Friday morning Cabinet meeting, Obama called the results of Tuesday's midterm elections 'significant' and said he would be listening during lunch for areas where the two parties can work together, especially on manufacturing, boosting exports and early childhood education":
Andy Borowitz: "President Obama is under increasing pressure to work closely and cooperatively with a group of people who are suing him in federal court, the people suing him confirmed today. 'Over the past six years, President Obama has been stubborn, arrogant, and oppositional,' John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, said. 'His refusal to work with people who are suing him is just the latest example.'" ...
... Speaking of Whom.... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "After years of clashes and a grudging truce, fiscal and economic policy was brought back to center stage by the wave of Republican electoral victories on Tuesday, with both President Obama and the new congressional leadership expressing hope that deals can be reached to simplify the tax code, promote trade and eliminate the budget deficit." CW: I can hardly wait. ...
... Jonathan Chait: "House Speaker John Boehner today warned that if President Obama takes unilateral action to ease life for undocumented immigrants, as he has promised, it will kill any chance of a bill passing Congress.... So, if Obama does not act on his own, then the House will act? Well, no. Boehner won't promise that, either." ...
... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post with a reminder: "In June 2013, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration overhaul bill with 68 votes.... The legislation went to the House, where it promptly died. Boehner (R-Hostage) backed down after the more vocal minority in his majority revolted.... All he has to do is allow the Senate immigration bill to go to the floor for a vote in the lame-duck session. Boehner has the power to do what he says he wants done. Why won't he use it?"
Ed O'Keefe & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Republicans openly gloated Thursday about their sweeping midterm victories and said they can finally pass legislation long opposed by President Obama and Democrats.... NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring lampooned the Democrats' turnout, calling it 'The New Coke' of the 2014 cycle.... [House Speaker John] Boehner's litany of legislative proposals and his warning to Obama signaled that he saw little need to extend an olive branch to Democrats.
Jonathan Chait: In their brilliant Wall Street Journal op-ed (linked here yesterday) Mitch McConnell & John Boehner "mentioned three proposals that have any significant fiscal effects....: According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, their three proposals would increase the deficit over the next ten years by $109BB, $73BB, & $29BB respectively. "Of course, all the fiscal proposals they list are related to Obamacare." CW: Congratulations, fiscal conservatives! I wonder how much play this is getting on Fox "News."
Tim Egan: "Maybe it's best to close your eyes and fall into a Rip Van Winkle slumber for the next two years. The party that has refused to govern for half a decade and ran a substance-free campaign will now play at governing and not take up anything of substance."
CW: Are you missing the Party of No yet?
Lori Montgomery & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Democrats are planning to rush a host of critical measures to President Obama's desk, including bills to revive dozens of expired tax breaks and avoid a government shutdown for another year. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is also aiming to chip away at a backlog of presidential nominations to the federal bench and the State Department over the next month, although Democratic aides say they will be unable to process all of the hundreds of pending appointments before turning the chamber over to Republicans. Republican leaders, too, are inclined to clear the legislative decks of must-pass bills so they can start fresh in January...."
Steve Benen: Republicans are now predicting a "100-year majority." They do that quite often.
... Here's One Fellow Speaking for a "Large Group." Catherine Thompson of TPM: "A man who called into C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal' Thursday morning referred to President Barack Obama as 'that n***er' before getting booted off the air.... 'This is about race,' he [said]. 'The Republicans hate that nigger Obama.'" ...
... Some South Carolinians don't like exit polls that ask them if they're racists. CW: Because that's unpossible, I guess.
The Party of Nothing, Ctd. Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "This fall, Democrats ran like they were afraid of losing.... For the most part, Democratic candidates shied away from [hot-button] issues because they were too controversial. Instead they stuck to topics that were safe, familiar, and broadly popular: the minimum wage, outsourcing, and the 'war on women.' The result, for the most part, was homogenized, inauthentic, forgettable campaigns.... Hillary Clinton ... lost to Obama in 2008 in part because she could not overcome her penchant for ultra-cautious, hyper-sanitized, consultant-speak. Yet on the stump this year, she was as deadening as the candidates she campaigned for." ...
... Peter Hamby of CNN: "The strategist in charge of electing a Republican Senate majority thanked Democrats on Thursday for keeping President Barack Obama on the sidelines and building their campaigns around women's issues instead of making an economic argument. Rob Collins, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters in a postmortem session that Democrats 'sidelined their best messenger' by running from Obama. 'They were so focused on independents that they forgot they had a base,' Collins said of Democratic campaigns." ...
... Correspondent Jordan Klepper of "The Daily Show" elaborates:
... Klepper must be right. Turns out It's Morning in America All Over Again. David Brooks: "Republicans ... establish[ed their] dominant position because ... they have deep roots in four of the dominant institutions of American society: the business community, the military, the church and civic organizations." Bask, people, in the warm glow of conservative rectitude. ...
... Before Paul Krugman snaps you back into reality: "... it's not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.... The story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle -- made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances. Then there's health reform, where Republicans were very clear about what was supposed to happen: minimal enrollments, more people losing insurance than gaining it, soaring costs. Reality, so far, has begged to differ.... And we shouldn't forget the most important wrongness of all, on climate change.... The biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy." ...
... BUT Krugman Can't Be Right. Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post: Hedge-fund billionaire "Paul Singer thinks Weimar-style inflation might be coming because he has to pay more for his posh vacation homes and art pieces.... If this is the best the inflation truthers can do, they should probably follow Mark Twain's advice and keep their mouths shut for now. Somehow I don't think Janet Yellen is losing sleep over what people are paying for Picassos."
** Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "Tuesday's resounding Republican sweep closely followed the script of the GOP's landslide in 2010, and it exposed perhaps even more deeply the limits of the modern Democratic coalition -- while underscoring the party's persistent inability to convince enough whites that they will benefit from activist government.... In the national House exit poll, Republicans carried exactly three-fifths of whites, virtually unchanged from 2012 and 2010.... The only Democrat in a top-tier Senate race who carried a majority of whites was New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen, who won."
Jenna Portnoy & Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: Sen. Mark Warner (SortaD-Va.) nearly lost (or did lose -- the election is still undecided; he's ahead by less than 17,000 votes) re-election because he relied on strategies that worked in the past but ignored the state's new demographic realities. ...
... Ed Kilgore: "Sometimes very smart people have a hard time abandoning the monuments of their brilliance. And it nearly cost Warner -- and the Democratic Party -- a slam-dunk Senate race."
Democrats Dump Landrieu. James Hohmann & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has canceled its advertising reservations for Sen. Mary Landrieu ahead of the December runoff in Louisiana."
Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "The economy keeps on improving but workers still aren't feeling it.... Job growth is only part of the story. Wage growth also matters and on that front, workers continue to come up short. Wages grew just 0.1 percent last month and have risen just 2 percent over the past year. That's barely keeping up with inflation. If you're wondering why so many Americans listed the economy as the most important issue facing the country in Tuesday's elections, you don't have to look much further than that. Median household income is still below its 2008 levels."
Ben Adler of Grist: "Regardless of their views on the science, [newly-elected GOP Senators] are unanimous in their opposition to actually doing anything about it, and in their enthusiasm for exploiting America's land and water for the benefit of the fossil fuel industries."
Annals of "Justice," Ctd. Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "By a 2-to-1 vote, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the right of states to ban same-sex marriage, overturning lower-court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that had found such restrictions to be unconstitutional. The long-awaited decision, written by Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, was the first appeals court to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, contradicting rulings by four other federal circuit courts. The ruling appeared almost certain to force the Supreme Court to decide the same-sex marriage issue for the nation." ...
... Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "The decision was based largely on the two-judge majority's view that the question whether to move the nation toward same-sex marriage in every state is for the people or the states, and not for judges applying the national Constitution." ...
... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "... Sutton's opinion is likely to be reversed by the Supreme Court. It is very unlikely that the justices would have allowed other court decisions siding with marriage equality to take effect unless they believed that there are five votes on the Court to extend marriage equality throughout the land."
The Law School Con. Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "In law, as in the nation, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. With lawyers, though, it's the system of professional education that's directly contributing to inequality.... Law schools have continued to cycle students through their doors and load them up with debt, in spite of the reduced demand for legal education (and for lawyers). Eighty-five percent of graduates now carry at least a hundred thousand dollars in debt."
Erik Eckholm: "With a $50 million foundation grant, the largest in its history, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to mount an eight-year political campaign across the country to make a change of criminal justice policies a key issue in local, state and national elections. The goal of the campaign, financed by George Soros's Open Society Foundations, is to slash an incarceration rate that has tripled since 1980. There are currently some 2.2 million prisoners in the United States." ...
... CW: This is another reminder that left-leaning big spenders like Soros, whether or not you agree with their objectives, give money to causes from which they receive no direct benefit, whereas greed/personal gain is almost always the inspiration for right-wing "giving."
Obama is still pen-pals with Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The Wall Street Journal thinks this is a big deal. CW: I think it's diplomacy.
Anne Gearan & Adam Goldman of the Washington Post: "A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials. The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington's diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week."
Oh, Look. Matt Taibbi is back at Rolling Stone with the story of Alayne Fleischmann, the whistleblower JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon & AG Eric Holder have spent years trying squelch. You can file this under the fruits of the Party of Nothing. ...
... Shane Ferro of Business Insider: "The real crux of this story is that the Justice Department really does have enough to go after specific people for specific crimes committed leading up to the financial crisis and chooses to take giant cash settlements instead. No one has to admit they are guilty. The banks continue to exist as they are. No banker suffers the unpleasantness of going to jail. The ones to get punished, ironically, might be the whistleblowers." CW: That's right. Not every banker is too big to jail. Thanks, Eric Holder.
AP-FBI News Service. AP: "FBI director James Comey says an agent impersonated an Associated Press reporter during a 2007 criminal investigation, a ruse the news organization says could undermine its credibility. In a letter Thursday to the New York Times, Comey said the agent 'portrayed himself as an employee of the Associated Press' to help catch a 15-year-old suspect accused of making bomb threats at a high school near Olympia, Washington. It was publicized last week that the FBI forged an AP story during its investigation, but Comey's letter revealed the agency went further and had an agent actually pretend to be a reporter for the wire service." ...
... Here's Comey's letter to the Times. He argues, "That technique was proper and appropriate under Justice Department and F.B.I. guidelines at the time. Today, the use of such an unusual technique would probably require higher level approvals than in 2007, but it would still be lawful and, in a rare case, appropriate."
Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "A Kentucky elementary school teacher resigned from her job after St. Margaret Mary Catholic School kept her out over fears from students and parents about Ebola. Susan Sherman recently returned from doing mission work in Kenya, where there are no current cases of Ebola. The school ... placed her on leave for a 21-day period. Sherman blasted the school's decision as ignorance, because again, Kenya doesn't have Ebola." CW: But Kenya is where President Obama was born, so Ebola.
Gillian Flaccus of the Washington Post: "More than 40 years after [Nixon chief-of-staff H. R.] Haldeman made his last audio diary recording, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda on Thursday released 285 segments from entries spanning from 1970 to 1973.... Mixed in among the accounts of top-level diplomacy ... are revealing nuggets of daily life...."
Manu Raju of Politico: "Sen. Rand Paul and Kentucky Republicans are exploring the possibility of turning the state's presidential primary into a caucus instead -- a move that could allow him to run for both his Senate seat and president in 2016. The preliminary discussions have begun in the wake of Kentucky Democrats retaining control of the statehouse in Tuesday's elections. Democratic leaders of that chamber have already vowed not to change the law, hoping to force Paul to abandon his Senate seat in order to pursue the White House."
Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Yes, the 2016 race for the White House has already gotten started -- and it looks like Dr. Ben Carson is first in the ring. Carson, a famous pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative political star, will air a nearly 40 minute-long ad introducing himself to the American people this weekend, an aide to Carson confirms to ABC News.... [Besides being rude at a White House prayer breakfast,] he also called for a private health care savings plan and a flat tax in a speech that went viral and led to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal titled Ben Carson for President. He is known as a fierce opponent of the president's health care law known as Obamacare." ...
... CW: So answer this -- why is a brilliant doctor stupider than we are? Is he just a selfish prick or is he genuinely naive?
Beyond the Beltway
AP: "Former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, who resigned abruptly this week, has been charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Rankin County businessman. The 49-count federal indictment, unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, also charges Cecil McCrory of Brandon with paying Epps to obtain contracts for himself and other companies.... Epps is accused of receiving more than $700,000 from 2008 to 2014. Epps was charged on 35 felony counts including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and honest services wire fraud. McCrory was charged on 15 felony counts including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering conspiracy and honest services wire fraud. The indictment said McCrory was paid by companies that received contracts from the Corrections Department to run private prisons, including Cornell Group, GEO Group and current contractor Management and Training Corp. The companies were named in the indictment but not charged."
Washington Post: "President Obama authorized Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday to send up to 1,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, roughly doubling the force the United States has built up since June to fight the Islamic State militants who control much of Iraq and Syria."
Friday Afternoon News Dump. New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act, potentially imperiling President Obama's signature legislative achievement two years after it survived a different challenge in the court by a single vote. The case, King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, concerns tax subsidies that are central to the operation of the health care law.... It takes only four votes to add a case to the Supreme Court's docket. They may have come from the four members of the court who were ready in 2012 to strike down the Affordable Care Act: Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Once again, it seems, the fate of the law may rest with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr." Thanks to Victoria D. for the lead.
Washington Post: "Republican Ed Gillespie conceded to Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) on Friday, concluding a closely watched race that turned into a surprise nail-biter as a wave of support for GOP candidates swept the county."
New York Times: "Loretta E. Lynch, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, has emerged as a leading contender to be the next attorney general, officials close to the process said, as President Obama looks outside his inner circle to fill a crucial post."
New York Times: "Three days after voters expressed their discontent with the state of the economy, the government on Friday reported further signs of improvement, estimating that employers added 214,000 jobs in October, while the official jobless rate dropped to 5.8 percent. The increase was behind the average monthly employment gain of 227,000 so far this year."
New York Times: "More than 600 American service members since 2003 have reported to military medical staff members that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, but the Pentagon failed to recognize the scope of the reported cases or offer adequate tracking and treatment to those who may have been injured, defense officials say. The Pentagon's disclosure abruptly changed the scale and potential costs of the United States' encounters with abandoned chemical weapons during the occupation of Iraq, episodes the military had for more than a decade kept from view."
Washington Post: Robert "O'Neill confirmed to The Washington Post that he was the unnamed SEAL who was first to tumble through the doorway of [Osama] bin Laden's bedroom..., taking aim at the terrorist leader as he stood in darkness behind his youngest wife. In an account later confirmed by two other SEALs, the Montana native described firing the round that hit bin Laden squarely in the forehead, killing him instantly."