My regular column in the New York Times eXaminer is a piece on how both Paul Krugman & Ross Douthat whupped Tom Friedman Tuesday. Plus, ...
... My second column in the New York Times eXaminer rebuts Yves Smith's takedown of Paul Krugman's post on the failure of Americans Elect to find a third-party presidential candidate.
Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post: "... at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit, there was a clear difference between Democrats and Republicans: Democrats talked constantly about how they should be talking about entitlements. Republicans reiterated their position that they won't talk taxes." CW: bear in mind that the Peterson Foundation is devoted to cutting Medicare & Social Security in the name of "fiscal responsibility" & "deficit reduction." This is as phony-baloney as a "conference" could be. ...
... Gail Collins does a mighty fine job of summing up all the budgetary posturing.
"JPMorphing." New York Times editors: "On Monday, a JPMorgan official told The Times that the trades -- which have since ballooned to at least $3 billion — started out as allowable [under the Volcker Rule], but had 'morphed into something' that crossed the line.... [JPMorgan CEO Jamie] Dimon and other bankers have been fighting to make the regulations as loose and vague -- and as prone to morphing -- as possible.... The banks will keep pushing the limits."
Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States."
Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times: "In the dead of night on Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates scuttled the appointment of a highly qualified judicial nominee, Tracy Thorne-Begland, because he is gay. Even Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a rock-ribbed conservative, found this display of intolerance a bit over the top.... According to Delegate Bob Marshall -- an aggressive activist for the pro-heterosexual agenda -- if you're gay, and publicly in favor of equal rights, then you can never serve as a judge because you can't be trusted to rule impartially on gay issues. (Never mind that gay rights cases are unlikely to come before Virginia's General District Court.)" ...
... "Another Virginia Disgrace." Dahlia Lithwick in Slate: "Apparently, the only advocates we can trust to morph into a neutral umpire upon rising to the bench are straight white men. Anyone else who pledges to become an umpire -- as Thorne-Begland did, by the way -- must be lying."
Richard Hasen argues in Slate that Justice Souter (or Justice Stevens) should publish the secret dissent Souter wrote in the Citzens United case. The dissent was unknown to the public until Jeff Toobin published his story in this week's New Yorker on how Chief Justice Roberts manipulated the case (linked in Monday's Commentariat).
Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "An examination of the Sanford, [Florida,] Police Department's handling of the [Trayvon Martin] case shows a series of missteps -- including sloppy work — and circumstances beyond its control that impeded the investigation and may make it harder to pursue a case that is already difficult enough."
Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire [-- Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs --] on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the 'super PAC' era and attack President Obamain ways that Republicans have so far shied away from." CW: "Provocative" is the wrong word; "racist smear" would work better. The registered name of the group: "Character Matters," acutely ironical in that they haven't any character. Read the story. ...
... Update: "Mitt Romney on Thursday condemned plans by Republican strategists and a billionaire investor to run a $10-million advertising campaign linking President Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, his incendiary former pastor.... At the same time, Mr. Romney stood by remarks made in February on Sean Hannity's radio show that Mr. Obama wanted to make America 'a less Christian nation.' 'I'm not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was,' Mr. Romney said."
... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "What this illustrates ... is the extent to which racialized, anti-Obama conspiracies are in wide circulation among the GOP donor class of wealthy businesspeople.... There's nothing about wealth and education that grant immunity to conspiratorial beliefs.... That this comes with a serving of racism is only a reflection of the race-baiting that is now common to conservative media outlets (see: Rush Limbaugh).... If you accept that wealthy conservatives are the most likely to believe insane things about the president, then you also have to give up hope -- at least in the short-term -- that the Republican Party will abandon its camp in the right-wing of American politics."
David Firestone of the New York Times tears apart Karl Rove's non-factual attack ad on President Obama & deplores GPS Crossroads' unwillingness to reveal the donors responsible for it.
Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal: Vice President Biden, speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, warns of the dangers of "Romney economics," highlighting Romney's Bain Capital shenanigans. "'Romney made sure the guys on top got to play by a separate set of rules, he ran massive debts, and the middle class lost,' Mr. Biden ... says. 'And folks, he thinks this experience will help our economy. Where I come from, past is prologue. So what do you think he'll do as president?'" ...
... Greg Sargent: the Obama campaign is well aware that Romney is benefiting from the public perception that his version of his "success at turning companies around" is accurate. They're working on it. Sargent notes that Romney is back to claiming he created 100,000 jobs, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.
Calvin Woodward of the AP did a mighty fine fact-check of Romney's budget speech. I hope a lot of local papers published it.
David of Crooks & Liars: "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is refusing to even utter George W. Bush's name after the former president endorsed him in an elevator on Tuesday. 'I'm for Mitt Romney,' Bush had blurted out to ABC News on Tuesday as the doors of the elevator closed on him in Washington, DC where he was giving a speech on human rights. Speaking to a crowd of supporters in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday, Romney would only refer to Bush as President Barack Obama's 'predecessor.'" With video. Thanks to Kate M. for the link. ...
... Steve Benen notes that the Romney campaign did not send out a press release on the Bush endorsement, but they did send one out when failed Delaware Republican Tea Party candidate Christine I-Am-Not-a-Witch O'Donnell endorsed Romney. CW: So a former two-term president is more toxic than a failed Tea Party candidate who said she had dabbled in witchcraft. Your Republican party today. ...
... AND King Willard is not taking questions from the riffraff press.
Right Wing World
Quote of the Day. Listen, you're a person of faith and so am I. In his administration and now on his re-election campaign, President Obama has surrounded himself with morally repugnant political whores with misshapen values and gutter-level ethics. -- Mike Huckabee, jovial former governor of Arkansas, jovial Fox "News" host, just being jovial in a fundraising letter ...
... Update. Dylan Byers of Politico: "Mike Huckabee is firmly denying that he approved a fundraising letter which refers to President Obama's advisers as 'morally repugnant political whores.'"
... Paul Waldman: there's a lesson in Huckabee's letter: personality is not policy; Huckabee's views are no different from Rick Santorum's; Huckabee just has a more pleasant manner.
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) -- Retro Man. Pitts sends a letter telling a constiuent he favors "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists." Sharon suffered a stroke in 2006 & has been a vegetative state ever since. Arafat died in 2004. Ian Rhodewalt in MondoWeiss: "Apparently, my congressman believes that the solution for peace in the Middle East will be reached by encouraging negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man."
"Walker Dislikes Jobs Numbers, So He'll Put out His Own." Tim Jones of Bloomberg News: "When Wisconsin job numbers compiled by the U.S. government were on the upswing last year, Governor Scott Walker traveled to Milwaukee to tout them as proof that he was turning around the state's economy. Now that the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures have shown for months that the state is losing more jobs than any other, Walker, a Republican who faces a June 5 recall election, will release his own." CW: That's right. When you don't like the facts, make up your own. ...
... "Scott Walker Magically Turns Dismal Wisconsin Job Numbers Into A Pre-Election Miracle." Rick Ungar of Forbes: "The Governor has simply decided to ignore the system used by the Department of Labor -- and every other state in the nation -- to measure job growth (or loss) and elected instead to go with a different set of numbers that makes things in Wisconsin look better.... According to Laura Dresser, a labor economist at ... The University Of Wisconsin, Walker's new numbers are little more than an incredibly transparent effort to create a false reality just in time to mislead Wisconsin voters who will cast their ballot in a few short weeks." In an update, Ungar reports that "Governor Walker has released the revised numbers, indicating that Wisconsin produced 23,300 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2011 rather than the reported loss of approximately 33,000."
... We Are Wisconsin: "It's obvious that Scott Walker, his campaign, and administration officials are engaging in a brazenly dishonest campaign to obscure his worst-in-the-nation jobs record. But now they've been caught in a lie showing use of taxpayer resources and insider knowledge of private information for campaign purposes, further eviscerating any shred of credibility regarding this disgraceful and dishonest PR stunt." ...
... Here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, which is kind of a he said/he said report & doesn't necessarily leave the impression that Walker is just inventing numbers. ...
... Madison's Wisconsin State Journal report isn't much much illuminating. But both major papers do at least concentrate on the controversy.
New York Times: "... a trove of new documents and photographs [were] released Thursday by the special prosecutor in the [Trayvon Martin] case, Angela B. Corey, that form part of the discovery process in the murder case of Mr. Martin."
The Hill: "JPMorgan Chairman Jamie Dimon will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on his bank's multibillion-dollar trading loss. The hearing is yet to be scheduled...."
New York Times: "The Senate on Thursday confirmed two nominees chosen by President Obama for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, overcoming Republican objections and bringing the seven-member board to full strength for the first time since 2006, before the economic crisis struck." CW: the story is worth reading.
Washington Post: "In February, Supreme Court Justice [Stephen Breyer] was robbed at his Caribbean vacation house by a man wielding a machete. And more recently ... he suffered a burglary at his Georgetown home."
New York Times: Facebook "raised $16 billion on Thursday, in an initial public offering that valued Facebook at $104 billion."
New York Times: "Donna Summer, one of the most influential singers of the disco era, died on Thursday. She was 63."
New York Times: "The trading losses suffered by JPMorgan Chase have surged in recent days, surpassing the bank's initial $2 billion estimate by at least $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the losses."
AP: "National foreclosure trends took a positive turn in April, as the number of homes seized by banks declined and fewer properties entered into the foreclosure process. But state-level data point to potentially more home repossessions ahead in Florida and many of the 25 other states where courts are required to sign off on foreclosures."
New York Times: "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said Wednesday that she was ready to discuss stimulus programs to get the Greek economy growing again and that she was committed to keeping Greece in the euro zone, signaling a softer approach toward the struggling country." ...
... Guardian: "One estimate put the cost to the eurozone of Greece making a disorderly exit from the currency at $1tn, 5% of output. Officials in the United States are also nervously watching the growing crisis: Barack Obama on Wednesday described it as a 'headwind' that could threaten the fragile American recovery." ...
... Guardian: "Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president's re-election chances."
New York Times: "A commando-style squad of [U.S.] Drug Enforcement Administration agents accompanied the Honduran counternarcotics police during two firefights with cocaine smugglers in the jungles of the Central American country this month, according to officials in both countries who were briefed on the matter. One of the fights, which occurred last week, left as many as four people dead and has set off a backlash against the American presence there."
Guardian: "Investigators are questioning Mexico's former deputy defence minister and a top army general for suspected links to organised crime, in the highest level scandal to hit the military in the five-year-old drug war. Mexican soldiers on Tuesday detained retired general Tomás Angeles Dauahare and general Roberto Dawe González and turned them over to the country's organised crime unit...."
AP: "The presiding judge in the U.N. trial of Gen. Ratko Mladic has delayed indefinitely the presentation of evidence that had been scheduled to start later this month due to 'errors' by prosecutors in disclosing evidence to defense lawyers."
The Hill has more on the meeting yesterday between President Obama & Congressional leaders on the budget & debt ceiling. (See also yesterday's News Ledes.)
ABC News: "At a news conference this morning, Sens. [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the 'Ex-PATRIOT' ... Act to respond directly to [Facebook co-founder Eduardo] Saverin's move [to renounce his U.S. citizenship & go to Singapore which has no capital gains tax], which they dub a 'scheme' that would 'help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.' The senators ... will outline their plan to re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin.... Their proposal would also impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on the capital gains of anybody who renounces their U.S. citizenship. The plan would bar individuals like Saverin from ever reentering the United States again."
New York Times: "Mitt Romney almost matched President Obama in fund-raising during April after securing his party's presidential nomination and joining forces with the Republican National Committee, the campaign will announce on Thursday."
AP: "With only two hours allotted to each side to make closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors and defense lawyers neared the end of a month-long trial into whether former presidential candidate John Edwards violated campaign finance laws."
Space: "An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station early Thursday (May 17), kicking off a four-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory."