The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

CW: No idea why the picture is teeny-tiny.

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

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Monday
Mar022015

The Commentariat -- March 3, 2015

Here are the New York Times' live updates on Netanyahu's speech before the U.S. Congress. CW: Happily for me, I unexpectedly had to be away during the whole thing. ...

... The Washington Post story, by Katie Zezima, is here. "Any agreement 'doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,' Netanyahu said. 'So why would anyone make this deal?'” (CW: Sadly, no reports that Netanyahu employed high-tech cardboard cartoon visuals aids to emphasize his point. I guess he just couldn't be bothered to bring his magic marker. Maybe he doesn't respect the U.S. Congress.) "Netanyahu praised President Obama, who was participating in a teleconference at 11:30. A White House spokesman said he likely would not watch the speech." ...

... as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation. -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

NEW. Echoes of Dubya. Paul Waldman: "You don’t have to be some kind of foreign policy whiz to grasp that there’s something weird about arguing that 1) Iran is a nation run by genocidal maniacs; 2) they want nuclear weapons so they can annihilate Israel; and 3) the best way to stop this is to abandon negotiations to limit their nuclear program and just wait to see what they do. But that’s the position Netanyahu’s supporters in the Republican Party are now committed to." ...

... Jeff Mason of Reuters: "Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday. Interviewed at the White House, Obama moved to dial back tensions over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress on Tuesday opposing the Iran deal, saying it was a distraction that would not be 'permanently destructive' to U.S. Israeli ties":

... Here's the full transcript of the interview. ...

... Dana Milbank: "In the brawl between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran nuclear negotiations, AIPAC has joined congressional Republicans in siding wholeheartedly with the Israeli hard-liner.... They gave a boisterous standing ovation to his invocation of a 'moral obligation' to give his views on the Iran negotiations, declaring an end to 'the days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us.' Added Netanyahu: 'Today we have a voice. And tomorrow . . . I plan to use that voice.'” ...

... Ted Nesi of WPRI Providence, R.I.: "U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse won’t be among those in attendance when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his controversial address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday." ...

... Here's the Hill's latest list of which Members of Congress will & won't be attending Netanyahu's speech.

NEW. Jaime Fuller of New York: "Boehner is so ready to be done with all this DHS drama. Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that the House will vote on a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security this week — perhaps by the end of the day. News organizations have reported that Boehner told his colleagues that a partial shutdown was not an option...." ...

... NEW. Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "The House will vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure will not target President Obama's executive actions on immigration, giving Democrats what they have long demanded and potentially enraging conservatives bent on fighting the president on immigration." ...

... Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "In the Senate, Democrats blocked an attempt by Republicans to force negotiations between both sides of the legislature over a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. The failed vote immediately put pressure on the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner...." ...

... Mike Lillis & Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "House Democrats expect Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a 'clean' Homeland Security funding bill to the floor this week, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday."

NEW. Barely a Tap on the Wrist. Adam Goldman & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Lawyers for David H. Petraeus have reached an agreement with federal prosecutors for the retired general and former CIA director to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with his handling of classified materials. As part of the agreement, Petraeus admitted to improperly retaining classified material, according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte. Petraeus has also acknowledged he misled FBI investigators, officials said." ...

... NEW. CW: As a recall, Martha Stewart, a private citizen who did not hold a position of public trust, much less the power of a CIA director with vast capabilities to betray individuals & the nation, went to jail for misconduct no worse than Petraeus's. Oh, well, she's a girl. Besides, she was a role model who had to be held up as an example.

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Monday called for prompt action to change police practices across the country after the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island at the hands of white officers exposed frustrations about law enforcement in minority communities. Mr. Obama, unveiling the recommendations of a White House task force created in the wake of the killings, said local law enforcement agencies should consider requiring independent criminal investigations and independent prosecutors in cases where the use of force by police officers results in injury or death."

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "President Obama said his administration is not preparing a backup plan in case the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare because he believes there is no 'plausible legal basis' for such a ruling. In his first public remarks on the high-stakes case, Obama stuck with his health secretary’s previous remarks that the administration is not concerned about how to protect the subsidies at the heart of his healthcare law. 'If they rule against us, we'll have to take a look at what our options are. But I’m not going to anticipate that. I'm not going to anticipate bad law,' Obama said in an interview with Reuters."

Attorney General Eric Holder in a USA Today op-ed: "Over the next several months, the Supreme Court will decide whether state restrictions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.... This week, the Justice Department will file a brief setting forth our position that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the fundamental constitutional guarantee of 'equal protection of the laws.' It is clear that the time has come to recognize that gay and lesbian people deserve robust protection from discrimination."

AP: "The Supreme Court has turned away an appeal from same-sex marriage opponents in California who want to keep the identities of their campaign donors secret.... The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them in part because the names have been publicly available for five years."

Jim Inhofe, National Embarrassment. Washington Post Editors: "SEN. JIM Inhofe (R-Okla.) chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee — and he seems determined to make that fact a national embarrassment. Mr. Inhofe delivered a Senate floor speech about the 'hysteria on global warming' last week with two conspicuous props. One was a blown-up photo of his family standing in front of an igloo labeled 'AL GORE’S NEW HOME.'" Then he threw a snowball at the presiding officer.... Neither science nor evidence trouble Mr. Inhofe’s benighted complacency.... The Republican Party should be mortified by the face of their environmental leadership."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Brendan James of TPM: "Fox News issued a clarification on Friday on behalf of its star host Bill O'Reilly, saying that he said he'd "seen" bombings in Northern Ireland because police showed him photos of them. The Washington Post spotted a passage in O'Reilly's 2013 book, 'Keep It Pithy,' in which he described seeing lethal bombings in Northern Ireland.... A Fox spokesperson told the Washington Post that O’Reilly did not witness any bombings or injuries in Northern Ireland but was simply shown photos by police officers. The Northern Ireland clarification marks the second time this has happened: On Wednesday, O'Reilly told Mediaite that when he repeatedly said he had seen nuns 'get shot' in El Salvador, he was referring to 'images' he had seen." ...

... CW: Apparently "pithy" means leaving out long words like "photographs." ...

... David Corn & Daniel Schulman of Mother Jones: "Mother Jones has obtained the CBS News report [Bill] O'Reilly filed at the end of the Falklands war. It makes no reference to the dramatic and warlike action — soldiers "gunning down" Argentine civilians with 'real bullets'— O'Reilly has claimed he witnessed." With video.

Portrait by Nelson Shanks.The Shadow of Her Dress. Stephanie Farr of the Philadelphia Daily News: Portrait artist Nelson Shanks on an official portrait he made of President Clinton:

If you look at the left-hand side of it there's a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him. And so the Clintons hate the portrait. They want it removed from the National Portrait Gallery. They're putting a lot of pressure on them. [... A spokeswoman from the National Portrait Gallery denied that.]

David Graham of the Atlantic elaborates.

Presidential Race

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.... Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Examining the registry information for 'clintonemail.com' reveals that the domain was first created on January 13, 2009 -- one week before President Obama was sworn into office, and the same day that Clinton's confirmation hearings began before the Senate." ...

... NEW. The Shadow of Her Shades. Margaret Hartmann: "Take a moment to enjoy the 'Texts from Hillary' meme one last time, because henceforth the image of Hillary Clinton scrolling through her BlackBerry with her eyes concealed by dark sunglasses will have an entirely different meaning." In her post, Hartmann gets to the gist of Hillary's little e-mail problems. (Yeah, there's more than one.)

NEW. Charles Pierce: "Hillary Clinton finds a rake to step on." CW: Actually, it was Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Benghaaazi!) who put the upturned rake in the middle of her primrose path to the presidency. Nonetheless, Hillary sent Trey the map to the path.

How to Look Tough AND Smart. OR Sneering & Pointing Fingers While Bespeckled. Jane Timm of NBC News: "Following a weekend full of conservative attacks on Hillary Clinton at the Conservative Political Action Conference, former Texas Governor Rick Perry added to the list, questioning the former secretary of state’s 'loyalty' in an interview that aired Sunday. Responding to news that the Clinton foundation had not notified the State Department when it previously accepted a donation from a foreign nation, Perry argued that Clinton was disloyal." ...

... Steve Benen: “'Where’s your loyalty?' is an exceedingly difficult question for Rick Perry, of all people, to ask. ... Perry flirted openly with the idea of state secession a few years ago, which makes it a little awkward, to put it mildly, when the governor decides to question others’ patriotism or loyalty to the United States." Thanks to Akhilleus for the links on Perry.

Election 2016

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post: "Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who is the longest-serving woman in congressional history, announced Monday that she will leave the Senate next year at the end of her fifth term. Mikulski, 78 and in good health, departs the way she came in — with a sharp tongue, an unabashed liberalism, and a reputation for straight talk. She won all ten of her elections to the House and then the Senate with support from more than 60 percent of voters."

Beyond the Beltway

Richael Oppel of the New York Times: "Moving to stem fresh anger over how Cleveland has handled the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Mayor Frank G. Jackson apologized on Monday for language that the city’s lawyers used in court filings to assert that the boy’s death was his own fault.... The newest controversy was spurred by a filing made in federal court late last week by lawyers for the city in response to a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Tamir’s family. The city’s lawyers argued in the filing that the boy died because of his own actions and not because of police department errors."

Emma Margolin of NBC News: "Yet another same-sex marriage ban has fallen – this time, in Nebraska. On Monday, U.S District Judge Joseph Bataillon – a President Bill Clinton appointee – struck down the Cornhusker State’s voter-approved amendment prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying.... The decision also comes just days after Nebraska’s child welfare officials agreed to stop enforcing the state’s policy blocking same-sex couples from becoming foster parents." ...

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell on Monday fired the opening salvo in a bid to get his public corruption conviction thrown out, arguing in a filing that the case against him was 'built on a boundless definition of bribery' and that the judge made legal errors throughout the process that warrant a new trial."

Kate Brumback of the AP: "Georgia postponed its first execution of a woman in 70 years late Monday because of concerns about the drug to be used in the lethal injection. The pentobarbital was sent to an independent lab to check its potency and the test came back at an acceptable level, but during subsequent checks it appeared cloudy, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said. Corrections officials called the pharmacist and decided to postpone the execution 'out of an abundance of caution,' she said. No new date was given."

Marissa Payne of the Washington Post: "In response to two male athletes on its volleyball team coming out in an article published on OutSports.com last year, [Erskine College of South Carolina], which is aligned with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian tradition, released a strongly worded denouncement of homosexuality on campus that many read to be a behavioral ban."

NEW. Katie Baker of BuzzFeed: Another woman accuses Bill Cosby of drugging & raping her. Baker puts the number of Cosby accusers at more than 30 now.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Besides providing updates on the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the BBC provides a list of the violent deaths of opponents of Vladimir Putin since 2003. You'd have to pretty credulous to believe these were "accidental" or "coincidental" or some such. Via Steve Benen.

Sunday
Mar012015

The Commentariat -- March 2, 2015

Mike DeBonis & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "House Republican leaders will face a familiar dilemma this week when they try again to approve funding to keep the Department of Homeland Security functioning through the end of September: They know their party is too divided to resolve the crisis on its own but fear the political fallout if they rely on Democrats to get them out of the jam." ...

... Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "House speaker John Boehner on Sunday dismissed reports that conservative rivals are planning to oust him following a deal to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), amidst rumours that he promised a vote on a 'clean bill' on the issue next week." ...

... Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Sunday rejected rumors that GOP leaders struck a deal with Democratic leaders to bring a 'clean' Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill to the floor for a vote this week. 'There is no such deal and there's no such bill,' Scalise said on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'On Friday, there was a bill on the House floor to pass a clean funding bill. We rejected that because we said we're fighting the president on what he's doing illegally on immigration.'"

NEW. Peter Baker & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday opened his high-profile visit to the American capital by playing down any personal dispute with President Obama, but he said that he had a 'moral obligation' to warn against the dangers of an American-brokered nuclear deal with Iran." ...

... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Sunday addressed perceived tensions between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insisting that the two parties are committed to working together on international security." ...

... Ruth Eglash & William Booth of the Washington Post: "Hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off Sunday for Washington, a group of 180 retired Israeli generals and former top security officials warned that his upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress on Iran's nuclear program will cause more harm than good." ...

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "So far, 30 Democrats -- four senators and 26 representatives -- have said they will not attend the speech. Nearly half are African-Americans, who say they feel deeply that Mr. Netanyahu is disrespecting the president.... But a half-dozen of those Democrats planning to stay away are Jewish, and represent 21 percent of Congress's Jewish members." ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly has a roundup of U.S. commentary on Bibi's Big Ploy. ...

... Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Switzerland to meet again with Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who earned a Ph.D in international law and policy from the University of Denver, to try to negotiate the very accord that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel arrived in Washington that same day to denounce." CW: As I said last week, if Iran has any intention of ever signing an agreement, now would be the moment to do it. Bibi might do a Rumpelstiltskin & rend himself in two in front of the U.S. Congress. ...

... Julia Edwards of Reuters: "President Barack Obama would veto a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate allowing Congress to weigh in on any deal the United States and other negotiating countries reach with Iran on its nuclear capabilities, the White House said on Saturday." ...

... Mark Langfan of Israel National News: "The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma'an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. Following Obama's threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack. According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran's nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back."

** Workers Are People, My Friend. Paul Krugman: "... extreme inequality and the falling fortunes of America's workers are a choice, not a destiny imposed by the gods of the market. And we can change that choice if we want to."

Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "This week, the Court will hear arguments in a momentous case, King v. Burwell.... But, in contrast to other landmarks in Supreme Court history, the King case is notable mostly for the cynicism at its heart. Instead of grandeur, there is a smallness about this lawsuit in every way except in the stakes riding on its outcome." ...

... Digby: "Also too: these same lawyers [who brought the King suit] heavily lobbied the Republican states not to build exchanges." ...

... Nicholas Bagley, in a New York Times op-ed, makes the case that the four confederate justices who dissented in the 2012 ACA case made the same argument in that case that the government is making in King; that is, that removing a major element of the ACA (in 2010, it was the individual mandate, not the tax credits) would impose "such unexpected burdens -- for example, leaving millions of people without health insurance -- 'would be in absolute conflict with the design' of the law and 'would pose a threat to the nation that Congress did not intend.'" ...

... CW: AND, here's an interesting tidbit -- which Bagley doesn't mention -- for Roberts watchers: It was Chief Justice Roberts himself who wrote the dissent that contains that language. Only at the last minute did Roberts change his mind & side with the more liberal justices to save the ACA. If he knew that then, he knows it today. And so do the four dancing justices who signed that 2012 dissent as co-authors. ...

... "Provable Fiction." Steven Brill for Reuters: "Congressional intent will be hotly debated in the U.S. Supreme Court this Wednesday in King v. Burwell.... 'Congress could not have chosen clearer language to express its intent to limit subsidies to state exchanges,' the plaintiffs, represented by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argue in their brief. That is fiction. Provable fiction.... I interviewed 21 congressional staffers and members last year in my effort to reconstruct the day-by-day narrative of how Obamacare happened. None ever mentioned the possibility that the subsidies did not apply to the states in the federal exchange. On the contrary, everything they told me -- and all of the contemporaneous emails and other internal documents I reviewed -- assumed that the federal exchange would simply be a substitute for a state exchange if a state decided not to launch its own, and that the same rules would apply." ...

... Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander & John Barasso (R, R & R) in a Washington Post op-ed: "We have a plan for fixing health care." CW: And we wrote it on the back of a napkin! And there's not a chance in hell this plan to put millions of Americans in a fix would ever get past the wingnuts in the House. But, hey, it's a "plan." ...

... As Greg Sargent points out, the main purpose of this advertised "plan" is "transparently designed to make it easier for conservative Justices to side with the challengers." ...

... David Morgan of Reuters surveyed state governors & legislatures to see how they might deal with the loss of subsidies for residents of their states. Though spokespeople, the governors of five states -- Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and Wisconsin -- said, "Let 'em die!" (Paraphrase.) "State government officials in Georgia, Missouri, Montana and Tennessee -- a mix of Republicans and Democrats - said that opposition by majority Republican state legislators could make it all but impossible to set up a new exchange."

E. J. Dionne: "The absurdity of going to the wire on funding the Department of Homeland Security tells us that many in the party, particularly right-wingers in the House, do not care how their inability to govern in an orderly fashion looks to citizens outside the conservative bubble."

Charles Blow: "There remains in the Republican Party, as evidenced by the speakers at [CPAC], a breathtaking narrowness of vision and deficit of creative thought.... [At CPAC, there] was too much rhetoric about defending, defeating, defunding, deauthorizing. There was so much anti-Obama and anti-Hillary obsessing that the 'pro' alternatives -- to the extent that a case could be made -- were obscured." ...

... Brian Schatz of Mother Jones: "Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican who recently became the chair of a key congressional subcommittee on science and technology, didn't vaccinate most of his children, he told a crowd at his first town hall meeting last week.... 'I believe it's the parents' decision whether to immunize or not.... Most of our children, we didn't immunize. They're healthy.' Loudermilk's comment sparked sharp criticism, including from Rick Wilson, a prominent Republican strategist who called for the congressman's resignation. Having 'healthy,' unvaccinated kids does not mean that they aren't at risk, or that they won't put others at risk later...." CW: Sorry I forgot to link this last week. Don't worry; I'm sure Loudermilk is still stupid.

Perversion of the Principle of Eminent Domain. Josh Israel & Katie Valentine of Think Progress: "... the groups that usually are vocal proponents of property rights, including the Institute for Justice, have been silent when it comes to [Keystone XL's seizure of private property]. 'I have not seen a single group that would normally rail against eminent domain speak up on behalf of farmers or ranchers on the Keystone XL route,' said Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-Keystone group Bold Nebraska.... Oil pipelines like Keystone XL are often classified as common carriers -- both in Texas and in other states.... The pipeline, [environmentalists] say, is an example of ... 'private to private' transfer -- it's a privately-owned pipeline that will use private land to transport oil, and that oil will end up benefiting private interests." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

"Elected by the People." Garrett Epps of the Atlantic on the language of the Seventeenth Amendment. Where it isn't clear, expect legislators & governors to abuse it.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Tape Debunks O'Reilly's JFK Tale. Tom Kludt of CNN: "... phone recordings indicate that [Bill] O'Reilly learned of the suicide second-hand and was in a different location at the time. Years later, however, O'Reilly would repeatedly claim to have been at the scene. In his 2012 book 'Killing Kennedy,' O'Reilly wrote that he knocked on the door of a South Florida home when suddenly he 'heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide' of George de Mohrenschildt, a Russian immigrant who knew Lee Harvey Oswald. While promoting the book, O'Reilly said on Fox News that he 'was about to knock on the door' when de Mohrenschildt 'blew his brains out with a shotgun.'" CW: Kludt has produced a good-quality audio tape in which an investigator informs O'Reilly of the suicide. It is clear that O'Reilly had no first-hand information & that he was not in Florida at the time de Mohrenschildt killed himself; O'Reilly doesn't even know the town where de Mohrenschildt died. ...

... Digby: "... at what point does Fox have to deal with this? Ever? Isn't it time for people to start asking the allegedly straight reporters Brett Baier, Ed Henry and Chris Wallace what they think about this?"

Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch's media holdings in Britain, acquitted last year on charges related to the phone hacking scandal, is likely to return to News Corporation to focus on new avenues for digital and social media, people familiar with the company's plans said."

Presidential Race

Now He's Severely Confederate. Leigh Munsil of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his views have changed on immigration -- and he doesn't support amnesty for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S." CW: Because Obama.

Beyond the Beltway

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "The Justice Department has nearly completed a highly critical report accusing the police in Ferguson, Mo., of making discriminatory traffic stops of African-Americans that created years of racial animosity leading up to an officer's shooting of a black teenager last summer, law enforcement officials said. According to several officials who have been briefed on the report's conclusions, the report criticizes the city for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Africans and relying on the fines to balance the city's budget. The report, which is expected to be released as early as this week, will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by it on civil rights charges."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Iraqi military, alongside thousands of Shiite militia fighters, began a large-scale offensive on Monday to retake the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State, a battle that could either become a pivotal fight in the campaign to reclaim north and west Iraq or deepen the country's bloody sectarian divide."

Daily Beast: "In less than 12 hours, there were two separate attempts to penetrate the White House grounds."

Los Angeles Times: "The video-recorded fatal shooting by Los Angeles police of a homeless man on skid row Sunday night has investigators looking for additional footage that could shed light on the deadly confrontation."

Saturday
Feb282015

The Commentariat -- March 1, 2015

David Newhauser of the National Journal: "Reports of Speaker John Boehner's demise have been greatly exaggerated." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republicans are fuming over the House GOP's decision to extend the standoff over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a move that they say uses up political oxygen and burns precious time on the legislative calendar."

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: U.S. "Immigration officials are moving to deport at least 150 Bosnians living in the United States who they believe took part in war crimes and 'ethnic cleansing' during the bitter conflict that raged in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In all, officials have identified about 300 immigrants who they believe concealed their involvement in wartime atrocities when they came to the United States as part of a wave of Bosnian war refugees fleeing the violence there. With more records from Bosnia becoming available, the officials said the number of suspects could eventually top 600."

Shahien Nasiripour of the Huffington Post: "The U.S. Department of Education, under fire for its lackluster oversight of student loan contractors, said Friday it will terminate its relationship with five debt collectors after accusing them of misleading distressed borrowers at 'unacceptably high rates.' The surprise announcement follows years of complaints about allegedly illegal debt-collection practices by Education Department contractors, the department's seeming lack of interest in ensuring that borrowers are treated fairly, and the relative opacity of the entire operation." CW PS: Arne Duncan is the most corrupt tool in Obama's box. If you're looking for a cabinet-level department to eliminate, go for Education.

Love in the Age of Feminism. Jeb Lund of the Guardian on CPAC's side in the "War on Women," where the strategy is, "To win the War on Women, you better put a ring on it." Also, "vague problems demand vague solutions." Thanks to James S. for the link. ...

... Love in the Age of Gilded. Lund's column led me to this year-plus-old column by Jill Filipovic of the Guardian: "... stable marriages -- the kind that are most likely to produce successful, socially mobile, healthy children -- are disproportionately available to people who are already financially stable and well-educated.... Accessible family planning tools, coupled with a reason to delay childbearing, means that when middle and upper-class women give birth, their child has a series of advantages." ...

... AND, Filipovic's column led me to Dana Goldstein's 2013 column in the Daily Beast on why the poor have children outside of marriage. ...

... So here's the thing, Mitt Romney, et al., in your notion that poor people should marry to pull themselves & their children out of poverty: you're putting the cart before the horse. Marriage doesn't fix poverty; poverty fixes marriage.

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Gun-rights advocates are up in arms over a new proposal by Barack Obama's administration that aims to ban a popular 'armor-piercing' bullet used in AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) this month quietly unveiled a proposal that would ban the popular 5.56mm green tip rifle bullets, in a move that the bureau said would help protect police officers. But pro-gun supporters, from Congress to NRA leader Wayne LaPierre pushing on Friday to 'take back the country', cast the administration's plans as an attempt to undermine the manufacture and sale of AR-15 rifles themselves." Thanks to safari for the link.

The FCC just voted for government to sensor all content distributed onto the web. Prepare to be brainwashed with Liberal propaganda, and the word Freedom stripped from our vocabulary. -- Fox "News" Commenter

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. If you'd like to know the starting point of this outlandish claim, look only to Fox "News" itself: Here's their Twitter "report." via Scout Finch of the Daily Kos: "Breaking News: The Federal Communications Commission, in a party-line vote, approves sweeping 'net neutrality' plan allowing broad regulation of how Americans use the Internet. So, yes, the commenter, & others Finch highlights are somewhere between misinformed & outright insane, but Fox "News" helped make them that way. It's no wonder Fox doesn't care that Bill O'Reilly is a serial liar. Serial lying is their business model. Thanks to contributor Barbarossa for the link.

Sergei Loiko & Carol Williams of the Los Angeles Times: "World leaders on Saturday joined allies of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov in mourning the loss of a tireless advocate for democracy in a country increasingly dominated by an autocratic ruler." ...

... The Guardian story, by Shaun Walker & Chris Johnston, is here. ...

... Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "Russia's imperiled opposition movement on Saturday accused the Kremlin of being linked to the gangland-style murder of a towering figure of post-Soviet politics, amid the first signs that the true culprits may never be known. The killing of Boris Nemtsov -- at the Kremlin's doorstep and beneath the colorful domes of St. Basil's Cathedral -- stunned the opposition." ...

... Julia Ioffe, in the New York Times Magazine, reports on more reactions of Russian liberals about Nemtsov's assassination.

Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "After ISIS's seemingly unstoppable rampage from June to August of 2014, the Iraqi government and its allies have turned the tide. Slowly, unevenly, but surely, ISIS is being pushed back."

Presidential Race

Nicholas Confessore & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Long before the season of baby-kissing and caucus-going begins in early primary states, a no less decisive series of contests is playing out among the potential 2016 contenders along a trail that traces the cold-weather destinations of the wealthy and private-jet-equipped. In one resort town after another -- Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Sea Island, Ga.; Las Vegas -- the candidates are making their cases to exclusive gatherings of donors whose wealth, fully unleashed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, has granted them the kind of influence and convening power once held by urban political bosses and party chairmen." ...

     ... CW: Corruption is so much more chic these days. Thanks, Supremes!

Ariana Cha of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)  took the top spot for the third year in a row at Saturday's Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, edging out Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) as the favorite in the last CPAC presidential preference contest before primary voting begins. Paul had been the prohibitive favorite heading into this year's balloting, which featured 17 candidates. More than 3,000 attendees voted, a 20 percent increase over 2014's turnout."

CW: Yesterday I linked to two stories, one in Jezebel & one in the Daily Beast, about how the Scott Walker administration had used the state budget to remove sexual assault reporting requirements from state universities. Both publications have retracted their stories. The Jezebel correction reads, in part,

Walker delete[d] the requirements because efforts were redundant with their compliance of the Clery Act. Scott Walker's camp assures that he's committed to protecting victims. We reported this piece without full context, and while this piece conveys factual information, omission of that context for that information presents an unfair and misleading picture.

... I've updated the stories in yesterday's Commentariat. Here's the AP story that prompted the corrections.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Minnie Minoso, the hugely popular All-Star outfielder from Cuba who was the major leagues' first black player out of Latin America and a treasured figure in the history of the Chicago White Sox, died on Sunday in Chicago. His true age was never entirely clear, but by an account in his autobiography, he would have been 89 when he died." ...

For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be 'Mr. White Sox.' -- President Obama, in a statement

New York Times: "Tens of thousands of people from a wide range of political parties and movements turned out in central Moscow on Sunday to honor the opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov, who was shot dead on Friday near Red Square. Many of the mourners walked right past the Kremlin walls, holding signs saying 'I am not afraid.'"

Friday
Feb272015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 28, 2015

David Espo & Erica Werner of the AP: President Obama signed the one-week extension into law just before midnight. ...

... Night of the Jackasses. Sean Sullivan & Michael DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Congress passed a one-week stopgap funding measure late Friday to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at midnight, sending the bill on to President Obama for his expected signature. The last-minute deal came together after a whirlwind day of negotiations in which House Republicans suffered a humiliating defeat when their 20-day funding bill was rejected. After the House bill went down, the Senate sought to pull DHS back from the brink by swiftly passing the one-week bill. The House followed suit shortly thereafter." ...

     ... "Democrats to the Rescue." Daniel Newhauser, et al., of the National Journal report some of the Democrats' behind-the-scenes manuevering & grumbling. Democrats should use their headline in campaign ads. ...

... Gail Collins: "There was absolutely no agreement on what will happen next. We look back with nostalgia on the era when congressional leaders would get together in secret and make deals to pass big, mushy pieces of legislation that were littered with secret appropriations for unnecessary highways and a stuffed-owl museum in some swing vote's district. We complained a lot at the time, but that was because we didn't realize it was the golden age." ...

... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday evening, when House leaders could not pass a temporary measure to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving lawmakers scrambling for a solution before money was to run out at midnight. In a stunning and humiliating setback for Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team, the House voted 224 to 203 against their plan to extend funding for the department for three weeks. The bill was defeated during a tense evening vote on the House floor, despite leadership optimism that, after a day of arm-twisting behind the scenes, they had the muscle to win a narrow victory." Story has been updated several times. ...

... Banner headline at Politico right now (9 pm ET 2/27/15): "Boehner Fails Again." ...

... John Bresnahan, et al., of Politico: "After 52 GOP lawmakers brought down a three-week spending bill for the agency, House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team were scrambling Friday to find a way to keep the Department of Homeland Security from shutting down at midnight.... The speaker's aides said he had no plans to give up his position, but there was widespread speculation in private among Republican lawmakers and aides about his future." ...

... Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: A "Democratic measure, sponsored by Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.), Gwen Graham (Fla.), Scott Peters (Calif.) and Ami Bera (Calif.), would halt pay for members of Congress if they don't agree to a new round of funding for the agency by Friday.... The legislation is similar to several bills that would have halted lawmakers' salaries during the government-wide shutdown of 2013. Those measures never made it out of committee.... Federal statute only allows lawmakers to change the salaries of future members of Congress, so the new House bill would put their wages in an escrow account until the potential Homeland Security shutdown ends." ...

     ... CW: Hicks is understating/misstating the case. It isn't "federal statutes" that prohibit Congress from diddling with Congressional salaries; it's the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, "No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." Were the restriction a statute, Congress could change it with a new statute.

Natasha Singer of the New York Times: "The Obama administration on Friday proposed a wide-ranging bill intended to provide Americans with more control over the personal information that companies collect about them and how that data can be used, fulfilling a promise the president had talked about for years. But some privacy advocates immediately jumped on the proposed legislation, saying it failed to go far enough, particularly given the broad statements President Obama had made on the issue. They said the bill would give too much leeway to companies and not enough power to consumers."

Be Careful What You Wish For. Sandhya Somashekhar, et al., of the Washington Post: "Officials in several Republican states that balked at participating in President Obama's health-care initiative are now revisiting the issue, amid mounting panic over a possible Supreme Court decision that would revoke federal insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.... At least six states where Republican leaders had previously refused to set up state marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act are now considering what steps they might take to preserve the subsidies being paid to their residents. Efforts to try to hold on to the subsidies are even under consideration in South Carolina, which supported the challenge now before the Supreme Court. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said in an interview that her state may consider setting up a marketplace...." ...

... Be Careful, Addendum. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the 'constitutional sheriff' movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care." Thanks to Haley S. for the link. Also, see yesterday's comments thread for a discussion of this story. ...

     ... CW: For more discussion, scroll down to the comments on Mack's GoFundMe page. (Better do it fast; I'd expect the comments to be disabled/disappeared at any moment). ...

... Margot Sanger-Katz of the New York Times: "Even if you don't receive Obamacare subsidies, you could still be harmed by the Supreme Court case that could take them away. A court ruling for the plaintiffs in the case, King v. Burwell ... could [cause] surging prices and reduced choice for health insurance shoppers across the income spectrum.... The loss of all those low-income, relatively healthy people could destabilize the individual health insurance markets for everyone else."

White House: "In this week's address, the President reiterated his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve":

Portrait by Simmie Knox. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.Timothy Phelps of the Los Angeles Times: "As he prepares to leave office in the next week or two, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. called for new civil rights legislation, warned of the mounting threat of terrorism and described his worst day in office [-- the day of the Sandy Hook murders --] in a round of farewell media interviews Friday. Noting that the Justice Department said this week it would not prosecute George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black youth in Sanford, Fla., Holder said the law needed to be changed to make such prosecutions easier. Before he steps down, Holder is expected to announce that the Justice Department will not seek to prosecute Darren Wilson, the police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who shot and killed Michael Brown last year in a confrontation over a jaywalking offense. The case sparked widespread public protests and clashes with police." ...

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama shed tears and soul legend Aretha Franklin gave a surprise performance as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. bid farewell to the Justice Department on Friday after a 39-year career, including the past six as the nation's top lawyer. During a ceremony to unveil his official portrait, Holder, 64, said he was proud of his accomplishments and praised hundreds of colleagues who turned out to honor him. He was the country's third-longest serving attorney general":

     ... CW: My favorite moment: when President Obama adjusted the stand for Franklin. A President and a Gentleman.

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Attorney General Eric Holder is conducting exit interviews with many major news outlets -- CNN, ABC, NBC, CNN, and Politico -- but not Fox News. And Fox is not happy about this." Why Holder would pass up an opportunity to be on the O'Reilly Channel is beyond me, although Fox "News" veep Michael Clemente had a supposition: "Ultimately, however, we're not surprised that Holder would try to evade a thorough accounting of his record in office, including his decision to investigate our Chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen through an illegal seizure of emails and phone records of Rosen and his parents." ...

... In fact, Holder has said that he "regrets" his wording of the Rosen subpoena.

Prebuttal. David Sanger & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "Just four days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the Obama administration sought on Friday to refute the Israeli leader's expected critique, arguing that he has failed to present a feasible alternative to American proposals for constraining Iran's nuclear program. In a briefing for reporters, senior administration officials contended that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran's nuclear efforts frozen for an extended period was preferable to a breakdown in talks that could allow the leadership in Tehran unfettered ability to produce enriched uranium and plutonium." ...

... AFP: "The United States set out what it called its 'bottom lines' to reach a deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear program ahead of new talks next week. Washington had stuck to its guns that it wanted a 'good deal' and had agreed to several extensions of the negotiations 'because we have held firm to certain bottom lines,' a senior US administration official said." ...

... CW: If Iran's negotiators were smart, they would agree to the deal 15 minutes before Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to give his big speech to the U.S. Congress. ...

... Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe on why Congressional Democrats should boycott Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress: Natanyahu has cast his lot with Republicans. "... his vision for Israel is hardly one that Democrats in the United States should be embracing. Netanyahu is ... an opponent of the two-state solution. He has unabashedly -- and in opposition to long-standing US policy -- expanded Israeli settlements in the West Bank." Democrats should not sit & allow themselves to be used as props in a campaign ad for a politician whose views they don't share.

Paul Singer of USA Today: "Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., has repaid the government $35,000 from his personal funds to cover the cost of redecorating his House office in the style of the PBS drama Downton Abbey.... Schock did not tell the Post or other news organization that his office had already paid $35,000 [from federal government funds to his decorator Annie Brahler] through the end of December.... After the Post story, [published Feb. 2,] Brahler reimbursed the U.S. Treasury $35,000, the documents show, and Schock then paid her the same amount from his personal account.... USA Today has reported that Schock had spent more $100,000 than of his taxpayer-funded account on office renovations in prior years. The expenses included thousands for leather furniture, hardwood floors and marble countertops for his offices in his central Illinois congressional district." ...

... Anna Palmer, et al., of Politico: "Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock is canceling fundraising events as he continues to face scrutiny about his spending and whether he accepted improper gifts." ...

... See also yesterday's Commentariat.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. USA Today Editors: Bill "O'Reilly stands exposed of the same kind of puffed-up truth-bending he so regularly derides on his show.... By journalism ethics, Fox should distance itself from its truth-challenged employee. But that's not likely to happen because for Fox and its fans..., having common enemies matters more than factual detail. That's why Fox has left a canyon-wide gap between its standards and those of NBC.... It's unfortunate that neither the network nor its star sees a need for allegiance to the truth. But for O'Reilly and Fox, the perceived vast liberal conspiracy that helped create the network two decades ago means not having to say you're sorry today." ...

... CW: There are two excellent things about the USA Today op-ed: (1) Rather than tiptoeing in with they-said/he-said qualifiers, the editors presents O'Reilly's lying as a given; (2) the paper's readership includes a lot of FoxBots.

Presidential Race

CPAC ♥ Randy. Ben Schreckenger of Politico: "A day after other Republicans tossed out hawkish lines that clashed with his own brand of more cautious foreign policy, the raucous response to [Rand] Paul's Friday afternoon speech from a standing-room-only crowd proved that CPAC remains friendly territory for the Kentucky senator. As he warned against an 'inept' government venturing overseas, he received standing ovations and supporters chanted 'President Paul.'"

Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Jeb Bush survived his Conservative Political Action Conference appearance here on Friday, holding his own on immigration and education in front of activists who see him as the GOP's most moderate potential 2016 candidate. On immigration, Bush ... said the country 'first and foremost' must secure its borders. Still, he also defended his record of supporting in-state tuition and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Florida." ...

... It's So Easy to Say "President Bush." Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post's Permanent Cub Reporter, swoons, "Jeb Bush was very, very good at CPAC today.... Bush was energetic -- maybe due at least in part to nervousness in facing a testy crowd -- and informed. He refused to back down -- particularly on immigration -- from positions that he knew would be unpopular with the crowd. He insisted that Republicans were good at opposing things but bad at 'being for things.' He was composed. He was up to the moment. He looked, in a word, presidential." CW: Remember, people, the Post fired Dan Froomkin & promoted this guy. ...

... CW: For a more comprehensive report on Jeb's performance, go to Andrew Desiderio of Mediaite. That's right, the personality-driven site Mediaite does a better job of reporting the story than does the Washington Post's Cuddly Cub Reporter. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "So Jebbie’s long-awaited Q&A session at CPAC has come and gone, and a lot of people who aren't conservative movement types (e.g., the entire WaPo contingent at the event seemed to be very impressed.) You can expect Jeb's many Beltway fans to make this a Game Changing moment in the 2016 cycle.... But he's still got a 'base problem' that cannot be conjured away, much as his fans wish he could." Also hilarious, Jeb dodges a question on the Congressional hoohah re: funding the DHS by saying, "I'm not an expert on the ways of Washington." ...

... Dana Milbank: "Bush, preceded onstage by 'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson, who gave a speech that rambled from genital herpes to Nazis, deserves big points for bravery -- both for choosing to speak at CPAC and for standing up for his controversial views in his 20-minute tête-à-tête with Hannity.... The two men chose to stand on the stage, awkwardly.... Bush's attempt to affect a casual manner, by inserting a hand into a pants pocket, didn't help. He shifted and fidgeted his way through the performance, at one point losing control of his syntax by suggesting that we 'put ISIS around a noose.' Asked about securing the border, Bush replied with a jovial 'Let's do it, man!' And when Hannity said he had a final question, Bush blurted out, 'Boxers!'" ...

... Mollie Reilly of the Huffington Post reports on Robertson's rant. Robertson was at CPAC "to accept the Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award from Citizens United." ...

... Brendan Bordelon of the National Review: "... Robertson told a CPAC crowd on Thursday that the U.S.A. should be run by Christians, and not any others -- adding ominously that 'we got too many 'any others' in the White House.'" ...

... CW: If Bush wanted to demonstrate some actual "bravery," Dana, he could have remarked that Robertson was a hateful, ignorant crackpot bigot. ...

     ... Update: Looks like Bush let close ally & advisor Ana Navarro do the brave part. Luke Brinker of Salon has the details. Also, turns out Wayne La Pierre of the NRA spoke between Robertson's & Bush's appearances. What a warmup! (Bush, BTW, is a typical GOP Second Amendment-hugger. He signed Florida's notorious stand-your-ground bill into law, though after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, he said the law did not apply to that case since Zimmerman chased Martin. He opined that "it's always good to review laws," suggesting some applications of the stand-your-ground law were, um, overkill.)

Marco's "Epic Error." Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) inexplicably told a conservative audience on Friday that President Barack Obama lacked a military strategy to confront ISIS because he feared upsetting Iran.... There's just one problem: Iran has been fighting ISIS just like the United States and has publicly urged America to take a larger role in the operation. Obama has even sent a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggesting anti-ISIS cooperation." ...

... CW: Marco likes to differentiate himself from many of the other GOP presidential candidates by claiming that unlike many of them, he has foreign policy "experience": he sits on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee & Senate Intelligence Committee. I guess "sits" is the operative word, because he sure hasn't been paying attention. This wasn't a "gaffe" on Marco's part; it was an extended display of ignorance. ...

... Steve Benen: "... for Rubio to criticize Obama for adopting a policy Rubio endorses, all while getting Iran's position backwards, is a bad sign for a guy whose 'clear view of what's happening in the world' is supposed to set him apart from his GOP rivals."

James Downie of the Washington Post: "... even [Scott] Walker knew that compari[ng Wisconsin union members to terrorists] was in poor taste: Afterward, he told reporters, 'There's no comparison between the two, let me be perfectly clear.' But what Walker said right after that clarification -- 'I'm just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling a difficult situation was the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with' -- shows just how deep the GOP's foreign policy problem goes. Across the board, the Republican field has no serious candidates with real foreign policy experience." ...

... Paul Waldman: "... what's alarming isn't that [Scott Walker] 'compared' a bunch of Wisconsinites to ISIS, which of course he wasn't trying to do. What's alarming is that he thinks that you need the same skills and approach to dealing with unhappy constituents as you do with terrorists.... All the Republican candidates ... will all be eager to tell you that on this problem, Barack Obama is weak and indecisive, whereas if you're sufficiently tough, the problem can be solved. But you know who was tough, uncompromising, and brimming with the 'confidence' Walker cites? George W. Bush." ...

... YEAH BUT. Laura Ingraham notices Scott Walker is just like Reaganus Maximus (even if maybe she had to make up the Reagan story). Also, too, never forget: the media hate conservatives. Steve M. comments. ...

... Scott Walker, the Pro-Rapist Candidate. Natasha Vargas-Cooper of Jezebel: "Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget -- which would cut $300 million dollars out of the state's beloved public university system -- has a non-fiscal bombshell tucked in between its insane pages. Under Walker's budget, universities would no longer have to report the number of sexual assaults that take place on a campus to the Department of Justice. Under Walker's plan, university employees who witness a sexual assault would no longer have to report it. There are no policy recommendations in Walker's budget how or what would replace these reporting mechanisms." ...

     ... **UPDATE: The story is not true. The Walker budget removes the wording at the request of the University, because it was redundant.

... Brian Weidy of the Daily Beast: The language "may be the governor's ploy to pick a fight with the federal government. Under the Clery Act, any school that receives public funding must report sexual assault incidences to the federal Department of Justice, so Walker's proposal goes just short of explicitly violating Title IX regulations -- and it still may be crossing a legal line.... Even Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has expressed reservations about Walker's proposal." ...

     ... **UPDATE: This story is not true. See Jezebel correction above.

... CW: Now ask yourself -- Is seeking to nullify a portion of major federal civil rights law a good political move? Will the general public see standing up for rapists as a heroic effort by a little guy fighting evil federal regulations?

Simon Maloy of Salon on Rick Perry's "border security" scam. Yeah, he's still telling people -- including the CPAC crowd -- that he secured the border when Obama wouldn't. Facts, be damned.

Beyond the Beltway

** David Sirota, in a story republished in Raw Story, has figured out why former presidential contender Chris Christie settled with Exxon for a teeny fraction of the amount the state had sued for in a $9BB environmental disaster case. If you pay taxes in New Jersey, you should be outraged at the sheer audacity of this legalized theft. P.S. Christie has done this before. ...

... Here's more from Scott Fallon & James O'Neill of the Bergen Record. ...

... CW: Bridgegate was a prank. The deals with Exxon, Occidental & other comprise a multi-billion-dollar scandal.

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Tom Schweich, Missouri's Republican state auditor and a leading contender for the governor's office in next year's election, died Thursday after apparently shooting himself in his Clayton home.... A 911 call was made from Schweich's home at 9:48 a.m., seven minutes after Schweich had left a voicemail requesting an interview with a Post-Dispatch reporter.... The Post-Dispatch interview, which was also to include an Associated Press reporter, was set at his Clayton home for later in the day.... On Tuesday morning, Schweich confided in Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor Tony Messenger that he believed that John Hancock, the newly elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, had spread disinformation about Schweich's religion. That topic was what Schweich wanted to discuss with reporters for the Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press Thursday. In several conversations via text and phone in the days leading up to Thursday morning, Schweich told Messenger that Hancock mentioned to people in passing that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich wasn't Jewish. He was a member of ... an Episcopal congregation in Clayton.... He said his grandfather was Jewish, and that he was 'very proud of his connection to the Jewish faith.'"

News Lede

AP: "The trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can stay in Massachusetts, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said any high-profile case would receive significant media attention but that knowledge of such case 'does not equate to disqualifying prejudice.'... In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals court found that the defense did not meet the standards necessary to have the trial moved."