The Wires

Public Service Announcement

September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

On Request:

David Remnick of the New Yorker remembers its publisher S.I. NewHouse, Jr.

Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker profiles Rachel Maddow. Mrs. McC: Maddow was right the first time about the canisters.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Constant Comments

Wednesday
Nov262014

A Shocking Executive Order 

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

Wednesday
Nov262014

The First Franksgiving

The Party of No, a/k/a the Party of Big Business, is seldom interested in helping business if it means going along with a Democratic President's plan.

From Wikipedia:

Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving.

But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition. November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the more-common four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression.

At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of the Federated Department Stores (later Macy's), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving to a week earlier to expand the shopping season, and within two years the change passed through Congress into law.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to November 30 as the 'Republican Thanksgiving' and November 23 as the 'Democratic Thanksgiving' or 'Franksgiving'. Regardless of the politics, many localities had made a tradition of celebrating on the last Thursday, and many football teams had a tradition of playing their final games of the season on Thanksgiving; with their schedules set well in advance, they could not change. Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas, could not decide and took both days as government holidays.

Footnotes omitted.

Wednesday
Nov262014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

CW: I'm experiencing weather-related brief power outages. So if there's no more Commentariat, blame it on Mother Nature.

"The most talked-about executive action this month.... Some will call this amnesty":

Steve Benen: Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, told the New York Times, “If I were John Boehner, I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.” "Lowry ... isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea. Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to 'address' their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and 'GOP aides and lawmakers' are considering the idea of 'refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.' Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: 'Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his "executive amnesty" remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.'”

Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "Thanksgiving is becoming impossible for low-wage working women."

Gail Collins: "This year, in a break from tradition, I am giving thanks for the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on Benghazi."

That Bird Outside Your Window Is Not a Turkey. Nick Wingfield of the New York Times: "As the price of drones has fallen and sales have risen, the machines have emerged as central characters in stunts from the puckish to the criminal. In recent months, drone pilots have tried to smuggle contraband into prisons and disrupt sporting events at stadiums. Animal rights groups have turned to drones to stalk hunters as the hunters stalk wildlife. And in France, more than a dozen illegal flights over nuclear power plants have unnerved the authorities." ...

... Nick Wingfield: "After requests by news organizations..., the Federal Aviation Administration released a report on Wednesday that compiles data on drone incidents reported to it this year through air traffic control facilities around the country. The list isn’t comprehensive since some drone incidents are reported to local law enforcement agencies, or not at all." ...

... Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Pilots around the United States have reported a surge in near-collisions and other dangerous encounters with small drones in the past six months at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is gradually opening the nation’s skies to remotely controlled aircraft, according to FAA records."

Not Photoshopped.

** Judd Legum of Think Progress: Justice Antonin "Scalia explains what was wrong with the Ferguson grand jury.... Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented. [Emphasis added.] ...

... Leada Gore of AL.com: "The nation's largest group of African-American attorneys and judges is calling for federal charges to the filed against the police officer cleared in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager. The National Bar Association released a statement questioning the lack of an indictment against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. A 12-member grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and some groups are pressing the White House to move forward with a Civil Rights investigation." ...

... Scott Kaufman of the Raw Story: "The National Bar Association released a statement 'questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown.' 'The National Bar Association also questions the makeup of the grand jury that consisted of nine Whites and only three African-Americans in a town comprised of sixty-seven percent African-Americans,' the group wrote in a related statement." ...

... The original National Bar Association statement is here. ...

... Caroline Bankoff of New York: "In the latest installment of his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Darren Wilson revealed that his wife, fellow cop Barbara Spradling, is pregnant. (That probably explains why the couple decided to marry last month, despite the fact that Wilson was still in hiding and facing the possibility of indictment.)" That portion of the interview is here. ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Conservative media outlets were outraged that the New York Times published the name of the street where Ferguson, Mo. police Officer Darren Wilson and his new wife live outside of St. Louis. The Times revealed Monday that Wilson quietly married fellow officer Barbara Spradling last month. The story identified the town and the street where Wilson and Spradling own a home, but did not specify an exact address. A photograph of the couple's marriage certificate also appeared in the article.... The Times has not removed the street name from its article (TPM also originally republished the photo of Wilson's marriage license. It has been removed). It did remove the photograph of Wilson's marriage certificate, however, and appended the following editor's note on Tuesday: 'An earlier version of this post included a photograph that contained information that should not have been made public. The image has been removed.'"

Emma Fitzsimmons of the New York Times: "A police officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy outside a Cleveland recreation center fired within two seconds after the patrol car he was riding in pulled up next to the boy, a video released on Wednesday by the Cleveland police showed." Includes video.

Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times: New York City "police said that [in 2005] Leonel Disla, 19, had waved a long kitchen knife at two police officers before he was shot [by police]. A six-person jury in Bronx Supreme Court on Tuesday found the city and Sgt. Robert Barnett liable in Mr. Disla’s death, casting doubt on whether the teenager had wielded a knife at all."

Todd Richmond of the AP: "A man who got arrested after he posted Facebook comments calling a southwestern Wisconsin police department racist has filed a federal lawsuit alleging one of the agency's officers violated his constitutional rights." CW: Read the whole report; the reporter appears to have gleaned the facts in his story from the plaintiff's lawsuit, so you should read them in that light. However, it seems unlikely his attorney would have invented the basic events, since there must be a chain of evidence demonstrating that the guy was arrested, jailed, convicted, sentenced & later exonerated (on appeal) on First Amendment grounds. I don't know what the plaintiff actually wrote in his Facebook comment, but unless the language can be construed as threatening, surely he has a First-Amendment right to call public officials racists, whether "true or not. 

Emily Atkin of Think Progress: The usual suspects -- business groups & the GOP -- "are freaking out" over the new EPA draft proposal for ground-level ozone pollution rules. "... both industry groups and Republicans have been overestimating the cost of regulations like this since the EPA first began issuing regulation of this kind. In addition, the EPA has historically underestimated the benefits."

Tuesday
Nov252014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2014

If This Is True, It Is Horrible. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress. Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017.... The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses...." ...

... Steven Dennis of Roll Call: "President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate.... 'The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,' said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary. The emerging package of tax cuts negotiated by top Democrats and Republicans would extend an array of mostly business tax breaks -- some permanently -- while some of the president's priorities would be left on the cutting room floor.... With the backing of senior Senate Democrats, it's conceivable the Senate could have the votes to override a veto on a tax cut package. In that case, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could end up being the presidential veto backstop, if it comes to that. One of her lieutenants, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ripped the deal Tuesday." ...

     ... Update. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The deal, negotiated by House Republicans and aides to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the outgoing majority leader, showed how much power has shifted since the Republican election victories this month. The negotiations fractured Democrats, and separated the Obama administration from Mr. Reid.... [President Obama's veto] threat sent negotiators back to the table to see if Republicans could add measures that would win liberal support, especially a permanently expanded child tax credit for the working poor." ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "... Democrats in the Senate may already be adopting a minority mindset, even before they're officially in the minority." ...

... Rand Paul, in Time, writes a fairly moving & largely sensible response to the situation in Ferguson. He focuses on problems associated with poverty. CW: So I want to know this, Senator: will you vote for the McConnell-Reid tax deal? As Volsky points out, just one provision of it "would push '16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into -- or deeper into -- poverty.'" If you're going to talk the talk, Li'l Randy, you've got to walk the walk. ...

     ... Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics: "Not mentioned [in the piece linked above] ... was the subject of Paul's first Ferguson op-ed, also published in Time. 'We must demilitarize the police,' wrote Paul in August, as he listed the ways that local police departments obtained and misused surplus military equipment.... Even by Washington's amnesiac standards, the efforts to reform the 1033 program that makes military gear available to police departments faded absurdly fast." Why? The Fraternal Order of Police opposed it. "FOP members reached out to 'maybe 80 percent of senators and half the House.'" ...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Police said 44 people were arrested in the second and much calmer night of unrest Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson and they largely credited a beefed-up National Guard contingent." ...

... James Queally of the Los Angeles Times: "The worst damage of the night was at City Hall, where 'rioters' broke windows and badly damaged a police car, [St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar] said. Officers confiscated a Molotov cocktail and unleashed tear gas. 'That was the only place we deployed tear gas this evening,' Belmar said." ...

... Sadie Gurman of the AP catalogs protests that took place in other U.S. cities. ...

... Here's the New York Times' liveblog, which also covers unrest elsewhere. ...

... Joe Millitzer of Fox 2 St. Louis: "A body was found in a Ferguson neighborhood just east of the Canfield apartments in the 9400 block of Glen Owen drive. The body was found in a white Pontiac car parked in a driveway at around 9am [Tuesday]. The driver's side window is shot out. The victim is a black male in his 20's." ...

... Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called on peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., to 'isolate' and denounce people who have vandalized buildings, looted stores and started fires following the announcement that a white police officer would not face charges in the shooting death of a black teenager. 'The way in which we make progress in this country is when we have seen peaceful, nonviolent protests,' Mr. Holder said in a hastily called news conference in his office. Those protesters who prevented violence, he said, were heroes." ...

... Marc Fisher & Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "A news media obsessed with predicting the next step, a security apparatus equipped to put down almost any uprising, and a political power structure apparently seeking to head off violence by predicting it have combined to produce an unprecedented sense of inevitability, reducing what has historically been an explosion of frustration to a kind of staged performance." ...

... Chico Harlan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed to crack down Tuesday on 'criminals' he said had unleashed a night of violence [in Ferguson] on Monday, pouring in more than 2,200 National Guard troops amid criticism that he had not done enough to quell the rioting. At an afternoon news conference, a stern Nixon (D) ... lashed out at protesters over the wave of outrage Monday night that left at least two police cars and a dozen buildings torched and the entire region on edge. 'Last night, criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community,' he said. 'I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins.'" ...

... The Smoking Gun: "Michael Brown's stepfather last night repeatedly urged protesters to 'Burn this bitch down' after a prosecutor announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed the unarmed teenager. Louis Head, an ex-con who is married to Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was with McSpadden outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters Monday evening as prosecutor Robert McCulloch disclosed that a grand jury declined to vote an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting." CW: So -- assuming this report is accurate -- this is the kind of "parental influence" Brown had. Nice. ...

... Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker excuses the violence. ...

... ** Dana Milbank: "What causes the outrage, and the despair, is the joke of a grand-jury proceeding run under the auspices of [Bob] McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor. McCulloch essentially acknowledged that his team was serving as Wilson's defense lawyers, noting that prosecutors 'challenged' and 'confronted' witnesses by pointing out previous statements and evidence that discredited their accounts.... He was less troubled by inconsistencies that worked against Wilson.... McCulloch short-circuited the process -- reinforcing a sense among African Americans, and many others, that the justice system is rigged. He almost certainly could have secured an indictment on a lesser charge simply by requesting it, yet he acted as if he were a spectator...." ...

... Jeff Toobin: "How not to use a grand jury," a lesson from Bob McCullough. Of course McCullough knew exactly how to manipulate the outcome exonerating Wilson: "In making the case for Wilson's innocence [at his press conference], McCulloch cherry-picked the most exculpatory information from what was assembled before the grand jury.... Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach...." ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New Republic: "Here is the irony of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's announcement Monday night that a grand jury had declined to indict officer Darren Wilson...: The entire presentation implicitly conceded the need for a trial." ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin ripped St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for asking Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson 'softball' questions during the cross examination of his testimony, which she called 'fanciful and not credible.'" ...

... Ezra Klein: "Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally." ...

... Andale Gross & Tammy Webber of the AP: An attorney for Michael Brown's family, Anthony "Gray, questioned, for example, why prosecutors presented testimony of witnesses who clearly did not see the shootings, rather than make a case for some type of charges. He also said it was unclear how the evidence was presented." CW: Hmmm. Why examine bogus "witnesses"? Oh, I know: to imply that all witnesses against Wilson were bogus.

... Tom Hamburger & John Sullivan of the Washington Post: "When Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson left the scene of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the officer returned to the police station unescorted, washed blood off his hands and placed his recently fired service revolver into an evidence bag himself. Such seemingly unorthodox forensic practices emerged from the voluminous testimony released in the aftermath of a grand jury decision Monday night not to indict Wilson." ...

... Sandhya Somashekhar, et al., of the Washington Post: "... no clear picture of what truly transpired emerges from thousands of pages of grand jury testimony released this week by St. Louis County prosecutors. The witness accounts provide new and often conflicting details about what happened leading up to the moment when police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo." ...

... Meghan Keneally of ABC News: "In an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, police officer Darren Wilson breaks his silence about the shooting of Michael Brown." Link includes preview of interview held in "a secret location." CW: Oh, for Pete's sake -- an "exclusive" interview in a "secret location." ...

     Update. Here's a 7:23 min. segment of the Stephanopoulos interview. ...

... Kendall Breitman of Politico: "Rep. Peter King has a suggestion for the White House in dealing with the latest developments in Ferguson -- invite Officer Darren Wilson over. 'I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, "You've gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it's unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job,'" the New York Republican told Fox Business on Tuesday." CW: Another Beer Summit would be just the thing, wouldn't it? But uh, one of the attendees is dead for some reason. King, formerly an IRA bagman, reportedly lives in New York City, but one has to wonder if he actually lives on this planet. ...

     ... CW: I see Digby had the same idea I did: Peter King, Interplanetary Man.


Chuck Schumer Is Still a Jerk. Kathleen Hunter
of Bloomberg Politics: "Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama's health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more'directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today. 'Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them' in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. 'We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.'" ...

... CW: Yo, Chuck. ObamaCare does help the middle class -- and every class, by making affordable, non-revocable healthcare available to most Americans. Apparently Chuck is totally unaware that no matter what Democrats did over the past six years, Republicans would have pummeled them for something -- like, say, not passing healthcare reform. I'll be Chuck is friends with Peter King. They probably go on excellent interplanetary adventures together. ...

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "If you want to know why the Democratic brand isn't better, take a look at their message man, Chuck Schumer." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "First, [Schumer's] views in this case aren't new; and second, they are wrong -- both politically and substantively." ...

... Paul Waldman: "If only Chuck Schumer had been in the Senate back then, so he could have written [a second stimulus] bill and pushed for its passage. Oh wait -- he was, and he didn't." ...

... Steve M. more or less agrees with Schumer. ...

... Holiday Advice. Tara Culp-Ressler & Sam Collins of Think Progress: "... if your Tea Party uncle starts making wild assertions about the Affordable Care Act, here are some key points that will help keep your conversation on track." CW: If your uncle is Chuck Schumer, good luck.

** Joseph Tanfani of the Los Angeles Times: "In a decision that could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors. The Federal Election Commission overstepped when it wrote a 2007 rule that said such groups didn't have to report the source of the money for certain types of political ads that mentioned the name of federal candidates, the decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said.... Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sued the FEC over the rule, called the decision 'a victory for democracy' and said it will help give voters the information they 'deserve in determining who is trying to influence their votes.'" Thanks to James S. for the link.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Under President Obama's new program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, many of those affected will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and a wide array of other federal benefits, a White House official said Tuesday.... For those who work, that includes payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, because they are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.... Current federal law says that people who pay the taxes and are deemed 'lawfully present in the United States' can collect benefits under those programs when they become eligible. They may also receive survivors and disability benefits." ...

... CW: I don't see why this is controversial. They pay the taxes, so they should get the benefits, just as I do. One of the dirty little secrets of the anti-immigration crowd is that they are happy to have the government collect payroll taxes from undocumented workers without providing these same workers any of the benefits which their taxes are supposed to cover, thus allowing undocumented workers to underwrite our benefits. But not theirs.

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times on the phony "poisoning the well" copout. "Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio may be on one side of some big immigration questions and conservative House Republicans may be on the other, but they can come together on metaphorical well water. Which is to say that politicians generally act in their interests, even when doing so involves pretending otherwise."

Sabrina Tavernise & Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus. Health experts said the new requirements would help combat the country's obesity epidemic by showing Americans just how many calories lurk in their favorite foods. The rules will have broad implications for public health. As much as a third of the calories that Americans consume come from outside the home, and many health experts believe that increasingly large portion sizes and unhealthy ingredients have been significant contributors to obesity in the United States." ...

... Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama's administration." ...

... Infozine: "Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [R] filed a formal objection to proposed new EPA regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.... Schmidt and 16 other state attorneys general submitted a joint comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifying numerous legal defects in the proposed rule.... Separate from these comments filed with the agency today, Schmidt has joined with 11 other states in filing a lawsuit to block the new rules before they go into force." ...

... Steve Wilheim of the Puget Sound Business News: "Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is making a big investment in fighting climate change, by bankrolling a lawsuit that aims to limit coal mining on federal lands. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils against the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is being completely financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In an opinion piece entitled 'This land is our land' published by the Huffington Post Monday, Allen said he believes the BLM is not responding sufficiently to the threat of climate change."

John Hudson & Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy: "Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama's second term."

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday became the latest states to have same-sex marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals." (Via the LA Times.)

Presidential Election

Thomas Edsall of the New York Times on the presidential candidacy of Jim Webb (D), former U.S. Senator from Virginia. Edsall cites Joel Kotlin on "gentry liberals": "The great raison d'être for left-wing politics -- advocating for the middle- and working classes -- has been refocused to attend more closely to the policy imperatives and interests of small, highly affluent classes, as well as the powerful public sector." Webb, Kotlin & Edsall speculate, is an antidote to that who might "save the Democratic party from itself."

Philip Rucker & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out -- as the only woman and the only CEO. Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run." CW: for one thing, she'll make the boys look good.

News Ledes

NBC News: "A holiday storm system played havoc Wednesday with the Thanksgiving travel plans of tens of millions of people -- wiping out hundreds of flights in the Northeast, dumping rain on busy roads and threatening more than a foot of snow in some places.

Washington Post: "Police cleared the remaining barricades from one of Hong Kong's largest protest sites Wednesday and arrested two pro-democracy leaders as authorities stepped up their efforts to end the two-month-long civil disobedience campaign. Hundreds of protesters chanted for 'full democracy' as workers in red caps and 'I love Hong Kong' T-shirts began clearing the metal and wooden barricades in the shopping streets of Mong Kok, a crowded working-class neighborhood that has become a flash point between protesters and opponents during the occupation."