The Ledes

Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

Washington Post: "The Taliban announced Tuesday that it is withdrawing from the key northern Afghan city of Kunduz, the site of its first significant military gain since the militants were driven from power in late 2001."

New York Times: "Four attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem and a city 40 miles away killed three Israeli Jews and wounded at least a dozen others in two hours on Tuesday morning, the police said, the most intense eruption so far in two weeks of escalating violence that has alarmed Israel and flummoxed its security forces.... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called an emergency meeting of top security officials and ministers for Tuesday afternoon. A police spokeswoman said the steps to be considered included a complete closing of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods...." ...

... CW News Flash: Flummoxed? Really? When you repress people, they're usually not happy about it. The solution you-all have come up with -- repress them some more -- seems to have flaw.

New York Times: "A 15-month inquiry into the disintegration of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the skies over eastern Ukraine has concluded that the aircraft was most likely attacked from the ground by a Russian-made missile, Dutch air accident investigators said on Tuesday."

Washington Post: "The battle over the relocation of a United States Marine Corps base on the Japanese island of Okinawa escalated Tuesday when Okinawa’s governor revoked a permit for the new construction site. The central government in Tokyo vowed to fight the governor’s decision, but Tuesday’s action marked the latest in a series of complications that has bedeviled the U.S. military’s efforts to build a new base on Okinawa."

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, October 12, 2015.

New York Times: "Prof. Angus Deaton, a British economist, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday for improving the accuracy of basic economic gauges, including measures of income, poverty and consumption."

Washington Post: "Breaking news: Iranian state television says jailed Washinton Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been convicted." ...

... Statement from Martin Baron, executive editor of the Post. ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Iran appeared to be moving on Monday to position Mr. Rezaian’s case as part of a broader effort to get the release of Iranians detained in the United States."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post [Sept. 11]: "Aggressive treatment of high blood pressure can sharply cut the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in people 50 and older, according to a landmark federal study released Friday that urges doctors to bring their patients’ blood pressure well below the commonly recommended target. The new research advises people with high blood pressure to keep their “systolic” pressure — the top number in the reading that health-care providers routinely tell patients — at 120 or below.

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

White House Live Video
October 13

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

1:30 pm ET: White House Champions of Change -- innovators in transportation

Go to


The Washington Post thought it would be great journalism to feature Donald's Digs in their weekend edition.  You'll be happy to know that Trump's taste runs to the gaudy & garish. You can take the boy out of the boroughs but you can take the boroughs out of the boy. I'd call Donald's style Early Modern Lottery Winner. Here's a sampling:

... There's much more where that came from. Ugh. Here, by contrast, is the study in Michael Bloomberg's New York City pad. Bloomberg is quite a few $$BB richer than Trump.

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Here's a break from the parade of horribles in the left column:

A friend sent me this version. You'll want to supersize it:

MoviePilot: Quite a few people think the film "The Martian" -- which depicts an Earthly astronaut stuck on Mars -- is "based on a true story." ...

... CW: Reminds of Orson Welles' 1938 radio production of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. History Channel: "Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, 'New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!'”

New York Times: "Europe’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people’s digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how seamlessly global technology giants — the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — can continue to collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday’s ruling."

One More Reason Not to Let Jeff Bezos into Your House. Bloomberg: " Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t 'interact well' with Prime Video." ...

... Karl Bode of Tech Dirt: "Amusingly, Amazon unloads what has to be one of the larger piles of ambiguous bullshit in defense of an anti-competitive position seen in some time: "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,' Amazon said in [an] e-mail [to sellers]. 'It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.'" Hilarious. Except it's up to developers to embed Chromecast support into their services and apps, and both Google and Apple publish open software development kits that allows any application to be utilized on both devices. In other words, it's Amazon's choice that Chromecast and Apple TV won't play nicely with Amazon Prime Instant Streaming. It has nothing to do with the devices not 'interacting well' with Amazon's services." ...

... Alison Griswold of Slate: "It will be interesting to see whether Amazon’s move with regard to streaming content raises any antitrust flags. Generally speaking, a company has breached antitrust laws when it has a monopoly and uses that monopoly to stifle competition."

Congratulations, Aliens! You are no longer in violation of U.S. copyright law:

... Our Long National Nightmare Is Over. Los Angeles Times: "In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, [a federal] judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the 'Happy Birthday To You' song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.... Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song."

When the posh British PM David Cameron was a lad, he fucked a dead pig. The antics of our own Aqua Buddha Boy pale by comparison.

New York Times: "It was a night of firsts, and a night for establishment cable at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best lead actress on a drama series, for her role as a defense lawyer on ABC’s 'How to Get Away With Murder'; Jon Hamm won his first Emmy after seven previous nominations for his role as the tortured Don Draper on 'Mad Men'; and HBO, led by victories for the comedy 'Veep,' the drama 'Game of Thrones' and a four-part limited series, 'Olive Kitteridge,' had a triumphant showing, with 14 victories, including best drama and outstanding comedy series."


Washington Post: "When Pope Francis arrives in Washington this week for the start of a six-day visit to the United States, he might find at least one local spot that reminds him of home. That’s Brookland, a neighborhood in Northeast Washington so chockablock with Catholic institutions that it has been called 'Little Rome.'”

New York Times: "When the comedian Steve Rannazzisi has explained his success, which includes seven seasons starring on a popular TV show, 'The League,' and a one-hour special this Saturday on Comedy Central, he has frequently attributed it to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.... Confronted this week, though, with evidence that undermined his account, Mr. Rannazzisi, after a day of deliberation, acknowledged on Tuesday that his account was fiction."

Washington Post (Sept. 15): "King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain ... arrive in Washington this week for their first official visit.... The couple will meet with President Obama and Senate leaders on Tuesday (which happens to be the queen’s 43rd birthday), open an American-Spanish scientific conference at Georgetown University [where Felipe attended grad school], meet with American chief executives who do business in Spain, and head to Florida to celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine."

AP: "Marlon James became the first Jamaican winner of the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction Tuesday with a vivid, violent, exuberant and expletive-laden novel based on the attempted assassination of Bob Marley."


Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

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

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

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


The Commentariat -- July 29, 2013

Hope Yen of the AP: "Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend. The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration's emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to 'rebuild ladders of opportunity' and reverse income inequality." James S. mentioned this in yesterday's Commentariat.

"Detroit Looks to Health Law to Ease Costs." Monica Davey & Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "As Detroit enters the federal bankruptcy process, the city is proposing a controversial plan for paring some of the $5.7 billion it owes in retiree health costs: pushing many of those too young to qualify for Medicare out of city-run coverage and into the new insurance markets that will soon be operating under the Obama health care law.... But if large numbers of localities follow that course, it could amount to a significant cost shift to the federal government."

Kate Pickert of Time: "Earlier this month, the Washington Post published a blockbuster front-page story about a secretive committee that determines what Medicare pays physicians for their work. Part of the American Medical Association (AMA), the committee estimates the time and intensity of various doctor tasks, and the recommendations are plugged into a formula that sets Medicare reimbursements. The committee overestimates the time it takes to perform myriad medical procedures, which thereby increases the amount doctors can earn from Medicare.... What's surprising about this AMA committee's influence is ... that the federal government relies on the committee so heavily -- almost blindly at times." The Affordable Care Act's Independent Payment Advisory Board may reduce the power of this group.

Kari Rea of ABC News: "Today on 'This Week,' Glenn Greenwald ... claimed that those NSA programs allowed even low-level analysts to search the private emails and phone calls of Americans":

... Digby: Meanwhile, we had David Gregory fluffing the NSA's pool boy, Congressman Mike Rogers, on Meet the Press. Rogers explained at length, without any follow-up, that the vote this week that came just 6 votes short of dismantling the NSA programs was a result of the public being upset about the administration's abusive Big Brother IRS and Obamacare which they confused with the benign NSA that's doing God's work. That is no joke, it's what he said. And then he lied repeatedly about other details we already know while the petty little Villager David Gregory (who, like so many others, obviously can't see past his personal animosity toward Greenwald to the underlying issues) asked him to go on at length about how Edward Snowden is killing people." ...

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Pressure is building within the US Senate for an overhaul of the secret court that is supposed to act as a check on the National Security Agency's executive power, with one prominent senator, [Ron Wyden {D-Oregon}] describing the judicial panel as 'anachronistic' and outdated.... Sunday, the prominent Democratic senator for Illinois, Dick Durbin, added his voice to the mounting criticism of the Fisa court, telling ABC's This Week: 'There should be a real court proceeding. In this case, it's fixed in a way, it's loaded. There's only one case coming before the Fisa, the government's case. Let's have an advocate for someone standing up for civil liberties to speak up about the privacy of Americans.'" ...

... Ditto from Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times, with a few different examples of the shift. ...

... David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: Sen. Ron "Wyden [D-Oregon] finally has the audience he sought. All it took was Snowden. This is an awkward fact of Wyden's success: To get anyone's attention, the senator needed somebody else to break the laws that he would not. 'This debate should have started long, long, long ago. And it should have been started by elected officials and not by a government contractor,' Wyden said Friday." ...

... Missed this report by Peter Wallsten of the Post, published July 26: "The Obama administration's top intelligence official acknowledged Friday that there have been 'a number of compliance problems' in the government program that has collected phone data on millions of Americans. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, also said the government had not collected any other bulk data on Americans using its authority under the USA Patriot Act beyond the phone information and Internet data gathered under a separate program that was canceled in 2011." You can get to Clapper's letter from Wyden's site. If the task box doesn't load automatically, click "please click here." When the task box opens, click on "Open with Adobe reader."

Paul Krugman: urban sprawl inhibits social mobility.

John Broder of the New York Times: "Mr. Obama's decision to nominate [Gina] McCarthy, 59, [to head the EPA] was an act of defiance to Congressional and industry opponents of meaningful action on climate change. It was also a sign of his determination to at least begin to put in place rules to reduce carbon pollution."

Sam Roudman in the New Republic: the Bank of America building, touted when it opened in 2010 as an "environmentally-responsible high-rise building," in fact "produces more greenhouse gases and uses more energy per square foot than any comparably sized office building in Manhattan." Roudman explains how that came about, mostly because of the way BoA uses the building & because faulty standards gave BoA the green rating in the first place.

** E. J. Dionne: "Yes, let's mess with Texas." Eric "Holder's move shows is an utter contempt for efforts to deprive our fellow Americans of their right to cast a meaningful ballot. It is a contempt that all of us should feel."

Bill Keller: "People may no longer give [President] Obama suspicious glares in department stores or clutch their purses when he enters an elevator, but they have typecast him according to their own fears and expectations of a black man in the White House. They are still profiling Barack Obama."

Garrett Epps, in a Salon republication, takes to the Second Amendment with textual analysis and concludes that it "is in equipoise." Interesting anyway.

Nicole Winfield of the AP: "Pope Francis is reaching out to gays, saying he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation, in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returns from his first foreign trip. Francis says: 'If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?' His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, authored a document that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis is being much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed wonders, "Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?":

... CW: for what it's worth, there is plenty of evidence that some of the models for Jesus were Zealots, & some "sayings of Jesus" written in the Gospels are consistent with Zealotry. No serious scholar would disagree with this, though some weigh other attributes more heavily than radical aspects that the Gospel writers included to define Jesus; e.g., his Pharisaic sayings are perhaps more prevalent than the political sayings attributed to him. But there is not much evidence that Jesus was an actual person. I'd have to read Aslan's book to see if he acknowledges the scholarship that pretty much debunks the Jesus biography.

Local News

** Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the federal government would not be bailing out Detroit (see yesterday's Commentariat for link), but John Cassidy of the New Yorker writes, "President Obama should stress the necessity of shared sacrifice, and push the state of Michigan to take on more of the city's fiscal responsibilities, perhaps by offering it more federal aid. Once all the parties come to an agreement, the federal government could also help with the tasks of downsizing and of rebuilding roads and schools, and taking other measures to attract businesses and families." As for the country's collapsing infrastructure, "Where better to start than in Detroit?" Leaving Detroit's fate in the hands of a Republican governor & his backers is handing conservatives the opportunity "for showdowns with public-sector unions across the country."

Make that magnifying glass a mirror. Daily News artwork.Greg Smith of the New York Daily News: "Serial sexter Anthony Weiner paid a private eye nearly $45,000 in campaign cash to investigate his lie that a hacker posted a crotch shot on his Twitter feed, campaign spending records show. Weiner's brazen attempt to cover his tracks occurred shortly after Memorial Day weekend in 2011, when his first sexting scandal erupted and he went into furious spin control trying to save his career in Congress. He maintained that he had been victimized -- and promised an investigation to get to the bottom of how it happened."

Adam Martin of New York: Maureen Dowd & Rush Limbaugh agree about Huma Abedin's reason for sticking with der Weinerschnitzel.

News Lede

Washington Post: "A wave of vandalism continued to mar some of Washington's more popular landmarks Monday with at least three more attractions spattered with green paint, and authorities announced the arrest of a woman near one of the incidents at Washington National Cathedral. The latest crimes occurred three days after the Lincoln Memorial was hit in similar fashion. On Monday, the light-green paint was discovered on an organ in the cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel, in the cathedral's Children's Chapel and on the granite base of a statue next to the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. D.C. police said Monday evening that they had charged Tian Jiamel, 58, whom they believe to be homeless, with one count of defacing property."


The Commentariat -- July 28, 2013

Scott Wilson of the Washington Post: "President Obama praised veterans of the Korean War at a ceremony Saturday marking the anniversary of the armistice, using their return to an apathetic America decades ago as a promise to better care for the generation returning from distant battlefields today":

Here is "a transcript of an interview with President Obama conducted by Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times. The interview was conducted at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24, 2013." ...

... Stories from the interview:

     "In a week when he tried to focus attention on the struggles of the middle class, President Obama said in an interview that he was worried that years of widening income inequality and the lingering effects of the financial crisis had frayed the country's social fabric and undermined Americans' belief in opportunity." ...

     "President Obama said in an interview that he would evaluate construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on the basis of whether it would significantly contribute carbon to the atmosphere. But he mocked Republicans' arguments that the approval of the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, would create many jobs in the United States." ...

     "President Obama waved aside persistent Republican criticism of his signature health care law last week, saying in a New York Times interview that the overhaul would become vastly more popular once 'all the nightmare scenarios' from his adversaries proved wrong." ...

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Health premiums in Marylands exchanges will be 'among the lowest of the 12 states that have available proposed or approved rates for comparison,' the state's exchange — Maryland Health Connection -- announced Friday. The news comes just as New York,Oregon, Montana, California, and Louisiana are also reporting lower than expected premiums." ...

... Of course, even when the news is good, Republicans will lie about it, fudging figures to make it appear insurance premiums will go up. Take Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, ferinstance. CW: Also, it would help if the local papers, who according to Forbes' Rick Unger dutifully reported Pence's distorted figures, actually checked the facts instead of just typing up Mike Pence's press releases.

Nobody Loves Larry (Except Maybe Barry.) Steve Leisman of CNBC: "Wall Street overwhelmingly believes President Obama will and should pick Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, according to a survey." Fifty percent of "the Wall Street pros" CNBC surveyed said Obama should choose Yellen; 2.5 percent said he should nominate Larry Summers. ...

... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "... Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher complained on CNBC that picking Yellen would be 'driven by gender.' Oh, he admits she's qualified for the job, but hastened to add, 'There are other capable people.' Which seems to suggest that Obama should exhaust every male candidate before settling on a female one, a course of action that would not be 'driven by gender' because men don't have a gender." ...

... Digby: "President Obama has long been suspected of being wobbly on women's issues.His record is, at best, mixed.... He should be seeking every opportunity to appoint qualified women to powerful positions. And when they are more qualified by dint of superior temperaments, there's really no excuse for him not to."

We simply conclude that the law has long recognized the distinction between the owners of a corporation and the corporation itself. A holding to the contrary -- that a for-profit corporation can engage in religious exercise -- would eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners. -- Judge Robert Cowen of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, explaining to Mitt Romney, et al., that corporations are not people, my friend ...

... Sam Baker of the Hill: "A federal appeals court said Friday that the owners of a private company could not challenge the contraception mandate in President Obama's healthcare law. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said the owners of Conestoga, a cabinet-making company, could not challenge the mandate because of their personal religious beliefs." CW: This is good news, EXCEPT, "The decision conflicts with another federal appeals court's ruling, which increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will eventually hear the issue." Via Steve Benen.

Your Sunday Sermon courtesy of Tailgunner Ted:

     ... The Moral of Today's Sunday Sermon, courtesy of CW: not all bigots are knuckle-dragging numbskulls. Ted is a damned good speaker, quite capable of rallying the knuckle-dragging numbskulls.

Local News

NEW. Bryce Covert of Think Progress: "On CNN's State of the Union show on Sunday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was firm in saying that there will be no federal bailout for the city of Detroit, which is going through the largest city bankruptcy in America's history." ...

... Susan Kelly of Reuters: "Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, said on Saturday he would defend retirees who risk losing public pensions because of Detroit's bankruptcy, putting him at odds with the city's emergency manager appointed by fellow Republican Governor Rick Snyder. Schuette, an elected official, said the Michigan state constitution is 'crystal clear' in stating that pension plans are a contractual obligation that may not be diminished or impaired.... The attorney general said he would file in federal bankruptcy court on Monday on behalf of the pensioners affected by the biggest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history."

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "In a new sign of tumult within Anthony D. Weiner's embattled political operation, his campaign manager [Danny Kedem] has quit, leaving his already skeletal team without a day-to-day leader." ...

... Maureen Dowd: Huma Abedin's friends "fear Huma learned the wrong lesson from Hillary, given that Bill was a roguish genius while Weiner's a creepy loser."

Isn't She Lovely. Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell bought nearly $9,800 in clothing with money from her husband’s political action committee and tapped into his campaign and inaugural funds to buy $7,600 in mostly unspecified items, according to records and a representative for the PAC. The spending is legal under Virginia's lax campaign finance laws, which prohibit the conversion of political funds for private use only when a PAC or campaign committee disbands -- not while it is operating. But the purchases are unusual in Virginia.... Investigators ... are looking into whether the former Washington Redskins cheerleader and mother of five received free cosmetic dental work from a Richmond-area dentist, jewelry from a state delegate and a $15,000 Bergdorf Goodman shopping spree from [businessman Jonnie] Williams."

Ian Lovett & Rob Davis of the New York Times: "Rather than mollifying his critics, [San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's] announcement on Friday that he would take two weeks away from City Hall to seek what he described as intensive behavior therapy has only further angered many residents, who complained that he was dragging the city through the mud in hopes of salvaging his own career." ...

... San Diego Union-Tribune Editors: "Filner has created a mountain of wreckage. There is a City Hall in chaos, not just because of the last two weeks of turmoil but also because of the last eight months of management by bullying, confrontation and perhaps even corruption. There is a city again stained with a national laughingstock image just as it was emerging from the dark days of 'Enron-by-the-Sea.' There are the numerous personal lives that have been torn apart, from his ex-fiancee to his accusers. There is a local Democratic Party leadership that was riding high with his victory last November but is now seen as hypocritical enablers of Filner's inappropriate behavior for supporting him even after being warned two years ago by one of their own that he had a history of verbally and physically harassing women."

Presidential Election 2008

Muffling Miss Sarah. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Sarah Palin said Friday she was banned by the McCain campaign from talking about Bill Ayers and President Obama's controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential election. 'Though I was during the campaign running for V.P., I was banned from talking about Jeremiah Wright and Obama's friend Bill Ayers,' Palin said in a Fox News interview. '... Couldn't talk about Obama's lack of knowledge, and job inexperience, and the things that he said like America had 57 states, things like that.... I wasn't allowed to talk about things like that because those elitist, those who are the brainiacs in the GOP machine running John McCain's campaign at the time said that the media would eat us alive if we brought up these things.'"

News Lede

Washington Post: "The first substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in years will begin Monday evening in Washington, the Obama administration announced, after Israeli leaders agreed Sunday to release 104 Palestinian prisoners.... The release of Palestinian prisoners was one of the major roadblocks to the peace talks."


The Commentariat -- July 27, 2013

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "As President Obama considers potential successors to the current Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, a debate about the merits of the chief contenders has exploded into public view.... The White House sought to lower the temperature on Friday by putting out word that the president was unlikely to announce a choice before the autumn.... [Lawrence] Summers, 58, is a provocative figure among key Democratic constituencies. He was a chief architect of financial deregulation during the Clinton administration and later resigned the presidency of Harvard University after making remarks about women that set off a storm of controversy. [Janet] Yellen, 66, would become the first woman to lead the Fed, or indeed any major central bank. Beneath those political currents, there are also indications that Mr. Summers, now a professor at Harvard, and Ms. Yellen disagree about the central issue confronting the central bank: how much longer and how much harder to push for economic growth."

Kelly Kennedy of the AP: "For the first time in history, federal health officials said Friday they will ban certain types of Medicare and Medicaid providers in three high-fraud cities from enrolling in the taxpayer-funded programs for the poor as part of an effort to prevent scams. The strict moratoriums, which start Tuesday, give federal health officials unprecedented power to choose any region and industry with high fraud activity and ban new Medicare and Medicaid providers from joining the programs for six months. They wouldn't ban existing providers. The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the agency is targeting providers of home health care in eight counties in the Miami and Chicago areas. All ambulance providers would be banned in eight counties in the Houston area."

Michael Schmidt & Steven Myers of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter sent to the Russian minister of justice this week that the United States would not seek the death penalty against Edward J. Snowden, and would issue him a passport immediately so he could travel back to the United States. The letter also offered reassurances that the United States would not torture Mr. Snowden.... 'We believe these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden's claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise,' Mr. Holder said in the letter, which was sent to Justice Minister Aleksandr V. Konovalov." ...

... Brian Fung of the Washington Post: "The outcome of [Bradley] Manning's case will affect how leakers are treated in the future and could even affect the legal status of future journalists, though the Obama administration doesn't appear ready to cross that line just yet." His is the first case invoking the Espionage Act that has come to trial.

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "The GOP push to hold government funding hostage to gutting Obamacare appears to be losing steam in Congress as a growing chorus of Republicans and conservative writers are coming out of the woodwork to urge hardliners within their party to be realistic." ...

... Byron York of the Washington Examiner: "Tensions inside the Republican Party about a proposal to defund Obamacare reached a new level Friday when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a lawmaker with unsurpassed credibility in the field of cutting federal spending and limiting the size of government, called the defunding plan 'dishonest' and 'hype.'" Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review in Bloomberg News: "Conservatives on Capitol Hill think they have a chance to strike a mortal blow against President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul this fall. If their plan goes forward, however, it will backfire.... If Republicans stay firm in this demand, the result will be either a government shutdown or a partial shutdown combined with a debt default. Either would be highly unpopular, and each party would blame the other. The public, however, would almost certainly blame Republicans.... First, Republicans are less popular than the Democrats and thus all else equal will lose partisan finger-pointing contests. Second, the executive has natural advantages over a group of legislators in a crisis atmosphere. Third, people will be naturally inclined to assume that the more anti-government party must be responsible. Fourth, some Republicans will say that government shutdowns or defaults are just what the country needs, and those quotes will affect the image of all Republicans. And fifth, the news media will surely side with the Democrats." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... a sizable group of Republican lawmakers are largely impervious to the kind of prudential arguments Ponnuru is making. Trouble is, the more noise they make, and the more it is echoed by conservative activists and opinion-leaders, the more attractive the defund-Obamacare-or-else position will become to other Republicans who want media attention, small-dollar campaign contributions, or perpetual shelter from a primary challenge."

** Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "The alacrity with which Texas, North Carolina and other states have rushed to take advantage of the ruling seriously weakened the sober conservative argument, from Chief Justice John Roberts and others, that Southern states no longer needed to be singled out for special scrutiny because they had long since left their discriminatory ways behind. And it all but invited Attorney General Eric Holder to take this new step, to announce that his department would still do everything in its power to ensure fairness at the polls." ...

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: "If you believe a handful of Texas Republicans, Attorney General Eric Holder's new effort to enforce the Voting Rights Act in their state and elsewhere brazenly defies the Supreme Court, which struck down part of the law in June.... In reality, the attorney general's move to use the Voting Rights Act provisions the Supreme Court left in place is perfectly consonant with the ruling, and not just in a technical sense. It also comports with the court's logic." ...

... Look who agrees with Stromberg. Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said the Voting Rights Act authorizes the Justice Department to seek a court order requiring states to get federal approval before implementing new election procedures, as Attorney General Eric Holder said he will do Thursday in the case of Texas.... Sensenbrenner, who as head of the House Judiciary Committee in 2006 championed the last VRA reauthorization, suggested those critics [from Texas] have misread his law. 'The department's actions are consistent with the Voting Rights Act,' Sensenbrenner said Thursday in an email."

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal links general Republican intransigence to the George Zimmerman case: "In their unwavering opposition to Obama on issues from health to immigration, House Republicans are systematically blockading the priorities of the diverse (and growing) majority coalition that reelected him. Without more persuasive alternatives, Republicans risk convincing these emerging communities that their implacable opposition represents a 'stand-your-ground' white resistance to minorities' own rise."

Diane Cardwell of the New York Times: "Alarmed by what they say has become an existential threat to their business, utility companies are moving to roll back government incentives aimed at promoting solar energy and other renewable sources of power. At stake, the companies say, is nothing less than the future of the American electricity industry. According to the Energy Information Administration, rooftop solar electricity -- the economics of which often depend on government incentives and mandates -- accounts for less than a quarter of 1 percent of the nation's power generation. And yet, to hear executives tell it, such power sources could ultimately threaten traditional utilities' ability to maintain the nation's grid." CW: evidently, a major job requirement for energy company exec is "greedy bastard."

Charles Blow: "Our 50 states seem to be united in name only. In fact, we seem to be increasingly becoming two countries under one flag: Liberal Land -- coastal, urban and multicultural -- separated by Conservative Country -- Southern and Western, rural and racially homogeneous. (Other parts of the country are a bit of a mixed bag.) This has led to incredible and disturbing concentrations of power."

Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog: "As 2016 approaches, it appears that Chris Christie's foreign policy approach will be a noun, a verb, and 9/11. This leads him to praise government surveillance programs and President Obama, and to attack Rand Paul. In the current GOP climate, I really don't think this is going to work for him.... Right now, the folks in the GOP base are in a bizarre place: they hate Muslims, but they also hate Obama, so there's Paul-esque anger on the right about drones and surveillance, but it's mostly about surveillance of people like themselves and the potential use of drones on Regular Americans in America." CW: an amusing post, until you realize Steve is probably right. ...

... Digby: "So Chris Christie went full-Rudy at a GOP Governor's meeting in Colorado [Friday] and took a swipe at Rand Paul.... Surprised? You shouldn't be. Christie's whole schtick is about being the biggest bully on the block.... Of course he's a national security hawk. That's how Republicans always demonstrate they have a big swinging stick and are willing to use it."

David Corn of Mother Jones: "Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington -- including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner -- has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for 'a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,' according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.... With her involvement in Groundswell -- which zeroes in on contentious issues that come before the high court, including voting rights, abortion, and gay marriage -- Ginni Thomas continues to be intricately associated with matters on which her husband may have to render a decision." Read the whole story. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the heads-up.

Meredith Shiner of Roll Call: "Sens. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, will travel to the district of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to hold a forum for the DREAM Act. The event is in response to incendiary remarks made by King last week.... In floor remarks delivered Thursday, Durbin had strong words for King, whose comments he called 'mean' and 'hateful.' ... Durbin said at the time he believed King should meet a few DREAM Act students to see if interacting with them might change his mind. Now it appears that instead of waiting for King to take the proactive steps of doing so, the Illinois Democrat will bring the students to him." ...

... Solange Uwimana of Media Matters: "Fox News has repeatedly given Rep. Steve King (R-IA) a platform to discuss a number of political issues, including immigration, this year but has completely ignored his comments likening undocumented immigrants to drug smugglers -- even as the network has continued to discuss immigration issues. By contrast, both CNN and MSNBC have covered King's comments, which have drawn widespread condemnation from congressional Republicans":

... As Erik Wemple of the Washington Post points out, "The newsworthiness of those comments is not a partisan thing. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both Republicans, slammed the remarks, with Boehner calling them 'hateful' and 'wrong.' 'There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that,' Boehner said."

Local News

David Firestone of the New York Times on North Carolina's voter suppression bill, which Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has said he would sign: "The law requires a government-issued photo ID card to vote, but doesn't allow student IDs, public-employee IDs, or photo IDs issued by public assistance agencies. It shortens the early voting window, bans same-day registration during early voting and prohibits paid voter registration drives. Counties will not be able to extend voting hours in cases of long lines, or allow provisional voting if someone arrives at the wrong precinct. Poll 'observers' are encouraged to challenge people who show up to vote, and are given new powers to do so. None of this has anything to do with fraud." ...

... Election law expert Rick Hasen: "The intent here is to make it harder for people -- especially non-white people and those likely to vote Democratic -- to register or cast a vote that will be counted. It also makes money matter more in North Carolina politics and kills public financing of the North Carolina courts."

Craig Gustafson, et al., of the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Mayor Bob Filner, who has been dogged by calls for his resignation over sexual harassment allegations, called his treatment of women 'inexcusable' Friday and said he would undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy but not relinquish power." CW: well, great, that takes care of everything then. ...

... TBogg of Firedoglake disagrees: "Somehow I don't think that two weeks of summer camp at Lake Titty-No-Touch is going to make this go away." TBogg's post includes details of a few of Filner's sexcapades. ...

... Contributor Nancy asks, "How is this creep allowed to say whether he keeps his job?" He's an elected official, that's how, & only the people can remove him. Generally speaking, sexual harassment is not a crime, but a civil tort. Inasmuch as Filner has admitted to some form of harassment, & inasmuch as some of the claims against him allege physical abuse, it seems to me a prosecutor at some level could bring criminal charges for sexual battery. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress has more on this. He says in California, Filner's offenses appear to amount to misdemeanor sexual battery. According to Kevin Roderick of LA Observed, "Under the San Diego city charter, the only way Filner can be removed from office is by recall election or conviction of a felony." So far, despite calls for his resignation, it looks as if Filner can tough it out. ...

... P.S. Looks as if Filner doesn't limit his harassment to women. This Union-Tribune report, dated June 20, 2013, strongly suggests that Filner improperly removed from a closed-door meeting of the city council a male attorney from the city attorney's office. The assistant city attorney Filner forcibly removed, coincidentally or not, is black.

The Enforcer? Jeane MacIntosh of the New York Post: "Jason Weiner, who owns Manhattan bistro Almond, reached out to Anthony's sexting partner, Sydney Leathers, on April 12 -- just two days after [Anthony] Weiner's strategic comeback interview ran in The New York Times Magazine -- and grilled her on intentions, Lou Colagiovanni, a Vegas-based political activist, told The Post.... Jason Weiner blasted Colagiovanni's claim as 'a complete and utter falsehood.'" It's absolutely true because you read it in the New York Post. ...

... Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "I don't mean to sound like a prude, but what the hell do you have to do to be disqualified from high-level politics in this country? When someone told me a while back that Weiner was running for Mayor, I thought it was a joke. This married politician sent unsolicited pictures of his penis to female strangers on the Internet! It's not a crime, I guess because indecent exposure laws haven't been updated for the cyber age, but basically, he's a 21st-century flasher who used the U.S. Congress as a raincoat."

AP: "With the help of a few Democrats, Missouri's Republican-led Legislature appears to be positioned to override Gov. Jay Nixon's [D] veto of a high-profile bill that seeks to nullify federal gun-control laws in the state and make criminals out of federal agents who attempt to enforce them." ...

... Unrelated to the above, Charles Pierce points to this Saint Louis Post-Dispatch account of a stupid murder in Missouri. The reason for the killing, which began with a supposed trespassing offense (though it isn't clear the people were trespassing), according to the shooter: "I just shot the one closest to me,' Crocker said, according to police." Yet state legislators, in their wisdom, think nullifying already-weak federal gun laws is a capital idea. So what if it leads to capital offenses, as it inevitably will. Because what Missouri needs is more guns in the hands of people who just shoot whoever happens to be close-by.

Senate Race

Kentucky Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Alision Lundergan Grimes, the state attorney general, kicks off her senate campaign. Via the National Memo. Thanks to Nisky Guy for the link to this effective tearjerker.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in the House of Representatives after his plane crashed in Alaska and who went on to serve nine terms on Capitol Hill, notably as a champion of women's rights, died on Saturday at her home in Chevy Chase, Md. She was 97." The Washington Post's obituary is here. The Post has a slideshow here.

New York Times: "The police and armed civilians opened fire Saturday with live ammunition on protesters against Egypt's new military government, witnesses said, killing scores of people as hopes faded that the Egyptian military would reach any political accommodation with the Muslim Brotherhood and its ousted president, Mohamed Morsi." ...

     ... The story has been updated. New lede: "The Egyptian authorities unleashed a ferocious attack on Islamist protesters early Saturday, killing at least 72 people in the second mass killing of demonstrators in three weeks and the deadliest attack by the security services since Egypt's uprising in early 2011."

AP: "Army Col. Denise Lind began deliberating Friday after nearly two months of conflicting evidence and arguments about ... [Bradley Manning]. A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning's request. Lind said she will give a day's public notice before reconvening the court-martial to announce her findings. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence in prison."

NBC 6 Miami: "SWAT officers shot and killed a suspect after he killed six people in an Hialeah apartment building, ending an hours-long standoff early Saturday, Hialeah Police said."

AP: "The former police officer who pepper-sprayed students during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Davis is appealing for worker's compensation, claiming he suffered psychiatric injury from the 2011 confrontation. John Pike has a settlement conference set for Aug. 13 in Sacramento, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations' website. Pike was fired in July 2012, eight months after a task force investigation found that his action was unwarranted." ...

Former UC officer John Pike.You meanies have hurt Sgt. Pepperspray's feelings. Perhaps you would have been nicer if you'd realized what a sensitive, vulnerable guy he is.


The Commentariat -- July 26, 2013

** Charlie Savage of the New York Times: Chief Justice John Roberts has been reshaping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "In making assignments to the court, Chief Justice Roberts, more than his predecessors, has chosen judges with conservative and executive branch backgrounds that critics say make the court more likely to defer to government arguments that domestic spying programs are necessary. Ten of the court's 11 judges -- all assigned by Chief Justice Roberts -- were appointed to the bench by Republican presidents; six once worked for the federal government. Since the chief justice began making assignments in 2005, 86 percent of his choices have been Republican appointees, and 50 percent have been former executive branch officials. Though the two previous chief justices, Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, were conservatives like Chief Justice Roberts, their assignments to the surveillance court were more ideologically diverse, according to an analysis by The New York Times.... The court's complexion has changed at a time when its role has been expanding beyond what Congress envisioned when it established the court.... The idea then was that judges would review applications for wiretaps to make sure there was sufficient evidence that the F.B.I.'s target was a foreign terrorist or a spy. But, increasingly in recent years, the court has produced lengthy rulings interpreting the meaning of surveillance laws and constitutional rights based on procedures devised not for complex legal analysis but for up-or-down approvals of secret wiretap applications." CW: Charlie Savage is one reason the New York Times remains indispensable. ...

... Scott Shane of the New York Times: "American intelligence agencies, which experienced a boom in financing and public support in the decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have entered a period of broad public scrutiny and skepticism with few precedents since the exposure of spying secrets and abuses led to the historic investigation by the Senate's Church Committee nearly four decades ago."

... CW: worth noting: we would not be reading either of the above reports if not for publication of the first of Ed Snowden's leaks. ...

... President Christie Will Be Tough on Terrorists. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday offered a clear broadside against Republicans drifting toward a more libertarian view of foreign policy, lumping Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in with them and suggesting they explain their position to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.... He dismissed some of the current privacy/national security debates as 'esoteric.'" ...

... Update. President Paul Will Protect Your Constitutional Rights. If Governor Christie believes the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans is 'esoteric,' he either needs a new dictionary, or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years. Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Senator Paul. But it can and must be done in keeping with our Constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional. In the words of the governor's favorite lyricist [Bruce Springsteen], 'You know that flag flying over the courthouse, Means certain things are set in stone. Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't.' -- Doug Stafford, aide to Sen. Rand Paul (RTP-Ky.)

Charlie Savage & Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state. The move opens a new chapter in the political struggle over election rules after the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act last month.... His statements come as states across the South, from Texas to North Carolina, have been rushing to enforce or enact new restrictions on voting eligibility after the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.... The move relies on a part of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court left untouched in the Shelby County case":

... Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog explains how the DOJ could invoke the preclearance requirement in spite of the Supreme Court's Shelby County decision. ...

... Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns & Money: "I'm not terribly optimistic about the federal courts as currently staffed will effectively enforce the Voting Rights Act, but it's worth trying to do everything possible. And, as Holder says, there's 'no substitute for legislation that will fill the void left by the Supreme Court's decision.' If only he were right that the issue 'transcends partisanship.'" ...

... Toljaso. Mark Sherman of the AP: Justice Ruth Bader "Ginsburg said in an interview with The Associated Press that Texas' decision to implement its voter ID law hours after the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month was powerful evidence of an ongoing need to keep states with a history of voting discrimination from making changes in the way they hold elections without getting advance approval from Washington.... [Ginsberg] dissented from the 5-4 decision on the voting law. Ginsburg said in her dissent that discarding the law was 'like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.' Just a month removed from the decision, she said, 'I didn't want to be right, but sadly I am.'"

President Obama spoke about infrastructure & the economy yesterday at the Port of Jacksonville, Florida:

President Obama's economic speech, short version. Pretty good:

... Michael Lind of Salon favorably reviews Obama's economic agenda (with the exception of his Wall Street-friendly retirement plans), & sees his speech Wednesday as a marker for "the day the right lost the economic argument.... When even USA Today goes all Keynesian instead of going Galt, the Right is clearly losing the argument about the economy. Conservative Republicans have enough power in Congress to block most of the progressive agenda. But they do not have a plausible alternative to the progressive vision of the past, present and future of the U.S. economy that President Obama has set forth." ...

... Erik Wasson of the Hill: "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that keeping the spending cuts from sequestration in place through fiscal 2014 would cost up to 1.6 million jobs. Canceling the cuts, on the other hand, would yield between 300,000 to 1.6 million new jobs, with the most likely outcome being the addition of 900,000, the CBO said." ...

... Zachary Goldfarb & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senior White House officials are discussing a budget strategy that could lead to a government shutdown if Republicans continue to demand deeper spending cuts, lawmakers and Democrats familiar with the administration's thinking said Thursday. The posture represents a more confrontational approach than that of this spring, when President Obama decided not to escalate a fight over across-the-board reductions known as sequestration in an earlier budget battle with Republicans....White House officials also are discussing a potential strategy to try to stop the sequestration cuts from continuing, the lawmakers and Democrats said. Under this scenario, the president might refuse to sign a new funding measure that did not roll back the sequester. No decision has been made." ...

That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of. As long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be the law.... I was around in 1995. Some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you'd better have a specific reason to do it that's achievable. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government. -- Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), on the threat of 12 of his fellow Republican senators to shut down the U.S. government if ObamaCare is not defunded ...

The only two things that really risk the Republican majority in 2014 would be if we shut down the government or if we defaulted on the debt. -- Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)

... Paul Krugman: "... the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what's driving the Republican Party's intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn't just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass."

Rep. Steve King (R-Disgusting) thinks it's okay for him to falsely accuse hundreds of thousands of kids he doesn't know of being drug mules, but it's an abridgement of his First Amendment rights to speak & assemble when the House leadership criticizes his racist remarks. Note to Merriam-Webster: just put a picture of King next to your definition of "sociopath." ...

... Matt Fuller of Roll Call has more on the King-Boehner standoff. Plus, a video of King's full House floor speech, including a "fascinating" history lesson. CW: I guess it's a chicken-&-egg question, but a fractured view of history sure goes hand-in-hand with wacky political views. ...

... Alex Altman of Time: "King is not exactly a mainstream Republican. Among his crusades, he has opposed anti-dogfighting laws, likened House janitors swapping out incandescent light bulbs to Stasi troops, and suggested Barack Obama's birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers could have been placed by telegram from Kenya. But if the measure is votes and not words, King is more representative of the House Republican immigration position than the party would like to admit. Just last month, 97% of Republicans backed a King amendment that prohibits funding from an Obama administration directive to stop deporting so-called DREAMers." ...

... Brett Logiurato of Business Insider: "And when these leaders outcast King as a 'fringe' member of the House Republican caucus, Democrats can gleefully point out that he has largely guided the party's legislative actions on immigration in 2013." ...

.. Ha Ha. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on Steve King's fetish for young Mexican bodies.

Charles Pierce with a reality check: "Even if the formal [Republican] party structure collapsed tomorrow, the gains it already has made, combined with the vast corporate money available to conservative politicians, the network of extra-party organizations and institutions, and the myriad grassroots operations centered around various separate issues, would keep the forward momentum going for years. (And that's not even to mention the virtual lock that like-minded individuals have on the federal judiciary.) The important thing is the goal, not how you get there. At that, the Republicans are doing just fine." ...

... Gene Robinson: "Here's the basic problem: The Democratic Party seems likely to grow ever stronger nationally while the GOP remains firmly entrenched locally. This means the stubborn, maddening, unproductive standoff between a Democratic president and a Republican majority in the House may be the new normal."

Binyamin Appelbaum & Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "President Obama's choice of a replacement for the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, is coming down to a battle between the California girls and the Rubin boys. Janet L. Yellen, the Fed's vice chairwoman, is one of three female friends, all former or current professors at the University of California, Berkeley, who have broken into the male-dominated business of advising presidents on economic policy. Her career has been intertwined with those of Christina D. Romer, who led Mr. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers at the beginning of his first term, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson, who held the same job under President Clinton and later served as the director of the White House economic policy committee. But no woman has climbed to the very top of the hierarchy to serve as Fed chairwoman or Treasury secretary. Ms. Yellen's chief rival for Mr. Bernanke's job, Lawrence H. Summers, is a member of a close-knit group of men, protégés of the former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, who have dominated economic policy-making in both the Clinton and the Obama administrations. Those men, including the former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Gene B. Sperling, the president's chief economic policy adviser, are said to be quietly pressing Mr. Obama to nominate Mr. Summers." ...

     ... CW: the reporters don't say so, but it's worth remembering that Larry Summers doesn't think women are genetically as capable as men to figure out all that sciency-y, math-y stuff. ...

... ** Mike Lux in the Huffington Post: "Larry Summers, the guy who helped push the bank deregulation bill that created these monstrous Too Big To Fail banks.... It is hard to imagine a worse pick politically for Obama than Larry Summers.... Progressives and women's groups will fight this tooth and nail, and any chance of the president looking like he is a fighter for the middle class on the economy will go up in smoke." Read the whole post.

Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to the destruction of critical evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. Halliburton, an oil services company, will pay the maximum allowable fine and be subject to three years of probation, the Justice Department said. It will also continue its cooperation in the government's ongoing criminal investigation. Separately, Halliburton made a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation."

Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors on Thursday brought what they called the largest hacking and data breach case in the country, charging five people with running an organization that hacked the computer networks of more than a dozen corporations, stealing and selling at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers. The scheme was run by four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian, said the prosecutors, who announced the indictments in Newark. Paul Fishman, the United States attorney for the District of New Jersey, said losses ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Ben Protess & Peter Lattmann of the New York Times: "Federal authorities announced a raft of criminal charges on Thursday against SAC Capital, the hedge fund run by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen, an unusually aggressive move that could cripple one of Wall Street's most successful stock trading firms. In the 41-page indictment that includes four counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud, prosecutors charged SAC and its units with permitting a 'systematic' insider trading scheme to unfold between 1999 and 2010, activity that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for the firm. The case seeks to attribute criminal acts of several employees to the company itself, claiming that the fund 'enabled and promoted' the illicit behavior."

Alyssa Newcomb of ABC News: "The only minority on the all-female jury that voted to acquit George Zimmerman said today that Zimmerman 'got away with murder' for killing Trayvon Martin and feels she owes an apology Martin's parents.... She said the jury was following Florida law and the evidence, she said, did not prove murder." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "... conspiracy theorists are convinced Trayvon Martin's killer staged a car crash to boost his beleaguered image." CW: I'm sticking with the police scanner theory. If Zimmerman wanted to clear this up, BTW, he could tell his attorney how he "happened" on the scene, fire extinguisher in hand.

Local News

Javier Hernandez & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Anthony D. Weiner's mayoral campaign entered a dark and chaotic phase on Thursday as he admitted to having explicit online relationships with at least three women since he left Congress, and the woman at the center of the latest scandal appeared on television, remembering him as a 'perpetually horny middle-aged man.' ... Mr. Weiner's once-resurgent political standing in New York City seemed to erode by the moment, as more graphic pictures of his penis appeared online and his conduct and lack of candor were denounced from the campaign trail to the halls of Congress." ...

... Ah, It Was All the Wife's Fault. Carl Campanile of the New York Post: "Anthony Weiner came up with an extraordinary excuse yesterday to explain why he went back to sexting after supposedly kicking the habit -- he was suffering from marital woes. In a startling e-mail letter sent to rally campaign supporters, Weiner said he sought hot-blooded female consolation on the Internet when he and his wife, Huma Abedin, hit a rocky patch in their relationship last summer. At the time, Weiner had been out of Congress for a year, having resigned in disgrace, and was giving interviews with his wife at his side claiming he was cured." ...

... CW: As I recall, a number of contributors gave me a hard time a few weeks back when I said that because of his exploitation of young women (or at least people he thought were young women -- they could have been teenagers or 55-year-old men or whoever), Anthony Weiner was not qualified for high public office. I hope these latest revelations cause at least some of you to see it my way. ...

... Rachel Weiner (no relation, I guess) of the Washington Post: "a Marist/NBC/WSJ poll finds Weiner tied for second place among both registered and likely Democratic voters. City Council President Christine Quinn is once again in the lead. 'Weiner has lost his lead and his negatives are at an all-time high,' pollster Lee Miringoff said."

Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times: "Seven women have now accused [San Diego] Mayor Bob Filner of sexual misconduct, including four in a group interview Thursday night on public television. Meanwhile, Filner appeared at two public events Thursday, dodging reporters' questions about the allegations of sexual harassment contained in a lawsuit filed Monday by a former top aide."

Deirdre Walsh & Ashley Killough of CNN: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tore into Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, saying Thursday the two former House Democrats should 'get a clue' as they face backlash for their questionable behavior with women. 'Let me be very clear, the conduct of some of these people that we're talking about here is reprehensible,' Pelosi said at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. Her comments came after Rep. Jerry Nadler, a fellow Democrat who represents part of Manhattan, made biting comments about Weiner, saying Wednesday night that the New York City mayoral hopeful 'needs serious psychiatric help.'" Nadler called on Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race.

Craig Jarvis of the Raleigh News & Observer: " Waiting until the last full day of the session, the [North Carolina] state Senate on Thursday approved the abortion bill that it had been holding for nearly two weeks. The Senate voted 32-13 to approve a House-written version of the sweeping bill. It would impose stricter regulations on abortion clinics, require more contact between abortion clinic doctors and patients, and limit insurance coverage for the procedure. Senate Bill 353 was a House rewrite that took into account concerns raised by the state Department of Health and Human Services. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory, who has said he would sign the House version but not the Senate's, over concerns that the Senate's bill imposed undue obstacles to abortions rather than acceptable health safeguards."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Obama administration announced Friday that it was reviving the repatriation of low-level detainees from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which had dried up after Congress imposed strict limits on transfers.... The White House said it had informed Congress that it intended to return two detainees to Algeria under the terms of a statute that requires Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to certify that various security conditions have been met."

New York Times: "As vast dueling demonstrations took place across Egypt on Friday, the state news media reported that former President Mohamed Morsi -- who has been detained incommunicado for three weeks -- was being investigated on accusations of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in a prison break in 2011." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Egyptian police fired tear gas at anti-military protesters after the government vowed to clear them from the streets of Cairo 'in a legal manner'. Dozens of people were shown on television on Saturday injured in a field hospital, shortly after the police action near the October 6 bridge in Nasr City according to Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal. State television said that 35 people were injured."

Guardian: "The US government has completed its case against Bradley Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of state secrets, accusing the 25-year-old soldier of being a traitor who used his training and skills to deliberately and systematically harm the US and provide assistance to al-Qaida. Major Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, unleashed a wave of rhetoric against the army private at the conclusion of his closing arguments in Fort Meade, Maryland, where the trial is in its eighth week. At the culmination of almost four hours in front of the judge, Fein sought to press home the most serious and contentious charge against Manning -- that he knowingly 'aided the enemy' by transmitting state secrets to WikiLeaks." ...

     ... Update: "The lawyer representing ... Bradley Manning has asked the judge presiding over the soldier's court martial to decide between two stark portrayals of the accused -- the prosecution's depiction of him as a traitor and seeker of notoriety, and the defence's account that he was motivated by a desire to make a difference in the world and save lives."

Cleveland Plain Dealer: "A hearing in the Ariel Castro kidnapping case has been set for Friday morning at 10 a.m. before County Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo, presumably to discuss a possible plea deal."

AP: "Spanish police on Friday detained the driver of a train that crashed in northwestern Spain, lowered the death toll from 80 to 78 and took possession of the 'black box' of the train expected to shed light on why it was going faster than the speed limit on the curve where it derailed. And in an interview with The Associated Press, an American passenger injured on the train said he saw on a TV monitor screen inside his car that the train was traveling 194 kph (121 mph) seconds before the crash -- far above the 80 kph (50 mph) speed limit on the curve where it derailed."