The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, June 17, 2018. "Gunfire blasted through a celebrated community event in Trenton early Sunday morning leaving one person dead and 22 injured, police said. The 24-hour Art All Night event is meant to honor local artists and held at the historic Roebling Wire Works building on South Clinton Avenue. The shooting erupted shortly before 3 a.m. Authorities said the shooting did not appear to be a targeted incident but a dispute between individuals that eventually led to an exchange of gunfire with police.... One of the suspected shooters is dead, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri. The 33-year-old man is believed to be shot and killed by police, Onofri said. A second suspect is in police custody. Neither has been identified."

Read more here:

NAFTA No, NAFSA . North American Free Soccer Agreement. Washington Post: "The World Cup is returning to the United States, and this time, Mexico and Canada are along for the wild ride. A North American joint bid won the rights Wednesday to host the 2026 edition of the celebrated soccer tournament, defeating Morocco and bouncing back from an unfathomable U.S. defeat to Qatar in voting for the 2022 event eight years ago. The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65."

... Washington Post: "It was Justify’s moment, after all. In a dazzling display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn’t race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn’t be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport’s 13th Triple Crown champion. After a 37-year drought in which the feat seemed impossible, Justify became the second horse in four years to achieve it, tutored, like 2015 predecessor American Pharoah, by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on "The Americans." Mrs. McC Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the show's finale, & you plan to, see it before reading Gessen's post.

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.

New York Times: "A thousand-year-old English castle echoed with the exhortations of an African-American bishop and a gospel choir on Saturday, as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American actress, nudging the British royal family into a new era. Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, her future father-in-law and presumably the future king of Britain. Prince Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, has long called on Britain’s monarchy to draw closer to the daily life of its people. But the most extraordinary thing he has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her views. Their choices at Saturday’s wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made it clear that they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy.” ...

Serena Williams, at the When Harry Wed Meghan rites.... Anthony Lane of the New Yorker attended the nuptials & reports back: "Love, as warmly recommended by the preacher, held sway. The sole unpleasantness that crossed my path took the form of a burly fellow wearing a fascinator, with ripped jeans and mirrored shades: not an outfit that I will soon forget." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are wondering what a "fascinator" is, so was I. There were hundreds of them worn to Windsor Saturday. It's a ridiculous thing that otherwise sensible women attach to their heads. We are not fascinated.

Shorter Wedding:

This is the WashPo's live coverage of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. You can supersize it:

The Guardian is posting updates re: the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. "The Queen has announced the titles given to the married couple. Prince Harry, or to give him his formal title, Prince Henry of Wales, has been made Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.So he will be His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and, once married, Meghan Markle will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex."

Josephine Livingstone of the New Republic reviews The President is Missing: "... there’s an ickiness to this book, and it lies in gender politics. It’s just not possible to engage with Bill Clinton as a public figure without thinking about his relationship with the 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. America is undergoing a revision of its original interpretation of that incident, one in which people newly recognize her youth and her vulnerability. Wrong was done by her, and that is more widely understood. Clinton can’t expect readers not to think about that. And yet during the publicity tour for the book, he has responded to questions about Lewinsky with great churlishness. To boot, the book ends with the revelation that the villain all along was feminism." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This novel needed a woman's review. As for Livingstone's note about #MeToo revisionism, I was horrified by Bill's abuse of Lewinsky in real time. And I was equally horrified by Hillary's attempts to get her husband out of the jam of his own making. I didn't understand why I was nearly alone among liberals in what I found to be obvious abuses of power, but I now see it was blind partisanship, of a quality & quantity not different from stupid Trumpbot loyalty. I never thought Clinton should have been impeached; I thought he should have resigned.

Ha Ha. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reviews the newly-published novel The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson. "Writing, like dying, is one of those things that should be done alone or not at all.... Bill Clinton, who can write, has hooked up with James Patterson, who can’t, but whose works have sold more than three hundred and seventy-five million copies, most of them to happy and contented customers for whom good writing would only get in the way." Lane runs down the plotline of this thriller, & he says the story includes "no sex'" even tho there as sexy female assassin (of course there is) who is after the fictional president. Lane goes out of his way to diss Patterson's writing. "Somehow, 'The President Is Missing' rises above its blithely forgivable faults. It’s a go-to read." Mrs. McC: Tho not by me.

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling


The Commentariat -- Feb. 23, 2016

Thanks to everyone for carrying on in my absence. I'm still absent, but here's a page to keep you going. -- Constant Weader

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post: "A group of scientists says it has now reconstructed the history of the planet’s sea levels arcing back over some 3,000 years — leading it to conclude that the rate of increase experienced in the 20th century was 'extremely likely' to have been faster than during nearly the entire period.... Unsurprisingly, the study blames the anomalous 20th-century rise on global warming — and not just that. It also calculates that, had humans not been warming the planet, there’s very little chance that seas would have risen so much during the century...." CW: This is the sort of crackpot liberal reporting, BTW, that caused Justice Scalia to drop his subscription to the Washington Post. ...

Remembering Nino. CW: I had been awaiting Jeff Toobin's take on Antonin Scalia. Toobin may have taken a while to write it; maybe the New Yorker editors were saving it for this week's magazine; or perhaps, like me, Toobin prefers not to speak ill of the dead before there's a pile of dirt holding down the remains. Anyhow, Scalia's gone & Toobin isn't: "Antonin Scalia ... devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent with his colleagues, dismissive of his critics, nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there, Scalia represents a perfect model for everything that President Obama should avoid in a successor." ...

... Pretending Women Matter. Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "When the Supreme Court meets next week to hear its first abortion-related case in nearly a decade, the justices will consider the most significant challenge to an argument that has become central to the antiabortion cause: that abortion hurts not just a fetus but also its mother.

Presidential Race

Matt Flegenheimer & Nick Corasaniti: "Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign erupted in turmoil on Monday as Mr. Cruz fired his chief spokesman for spreading a misleading video of Senator Marco Rubio.... He has cast himself as the candidate of honesty and integrity, with a faith-based pitch and a backdrop that reads 'TrusTed' during speeches.... At issue was a video of a hotel lobby encounter between Mr. Rubio and a Cruz staff member who had a Bible with him. The video’s subtitles suggested Mr. Rubio had said there were “not many answers” in the Bible. Mr. Cruz’s communications director, Rick Tyler, posted the video on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday, needling Mr. Rubio for an 'awkward remark.' In fact, Mr. Rubio had said the Bible had 'all the answers.'”

Paul Krugman: "... when Mr. Rubio genuflects at the altars of supply-side economics and hard money, he isn’t telling ordinary Republicans what they want to hear — by and large the party’s base couldn’t care less. He is, instead, pandering to the party’s elite, consisting mainly of big donors and the network of apparatchiks at think tanks, media organizations, and so on. In the G.O.P., crank doctrines in economics and elsewhere aren’t bubbling up from below, they’re being imposed from the top down.... So don’t let anyone tell you that the Republican primary is a fight between a crazy guy and someone reasonable. It’s idiosyncratic, self-invented crankery versus establishment-approved crankery, and it’s not at all clear which is worse." This was yesterday's column ...

... AND today's top news? Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Mainstream Republican donors and elected officials flocked to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) on Monday amid a growing sense that he is the last best chance to prevent Donald Trump from running away with the ­Republican presidential nomination."

Beyond the Beltway

Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. If you have small children, don't own guns. That's a simple, easy-to-follow rule. "Keep guns out of reach of children" is a simple rule, too, but many people are too busy or distracted to follow it. Seriously, if you own a gun & are responsible for the care of a child, lose one of them.

News Lede

New York Times: "Health authorities in the United States said they were investigating 14 new reports of the Zika virus possibly being transmitted by sex, including to pregnant women. If confirmed, the unexpectedly high number would have major implications for controlling the virus, which is usually spread by mosquito bites. Scientists had believed sexual transmission of Zika to be extremely rare."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 21, 2016

I'll be travelling for a few days. I'll try to get up skeleton pages, so you all can comment. -- Not-So-Constant Weader

Presidential Race

Clinton's victory speech:

... Vindictive in Victory. Daniel Politi & Jeremy Stahl of Slate: "Hillary Clinton delivered a victory speech after her Nevada caucus win over Bernie Sanders that emphasized her campaign theme that she was fighting for ordinary voters, while also taking knocks on her rival and, it seemed, his supporters."

Sanders' concession speech:

Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Buoyed by the support of enthusiastic workers in the city's big casinos, Hillary Clinton defeated Senator Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, thwarting his momentum and proving to an anxious Democratic Party that she maintains strong support among minority voters that she can carry to a general election.... The Culinary Workers Union, which represents 57,000 members, many of whom are Latino, declined to endorse a candidate. But on Thursday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who also remained neutral, said in an interview he had spoken to D. Taylor, the head of the union's parent group, to make sure its members could have paid time off to participate in the caucuses, a move that operatives in the state believed helped tip the race in Mrs. Clinton's favor. She overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Sanders in the caucuses that were held at six major Las Vegas casinos...."

John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton held off a powerful late challenge from rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada's Democratic caucus vote Saturday, securing what is projected to be a narrow victory that could help her renew a claim to the mantle of presumptive Democratic nominee. With more two-thirds of precincts reporting, Clinton held a four-point lead over Sanders -- a margin more decisive than her razor-thin Iowa win but much closer than the Clinton campaign had anticipated as recently as a month ago, when they touted polling showing the former Secretary of State with a 25-point lead."

The AP called the Nevada race for Clinton at 5:18 pm ET, Saturday, according to the breaking news banner on the New York Times site. Fox "News" & MSNBC have also projected Clinton would win.

The Las Vegas Sun News is liveblogging the Nevada caucuses. At 5:20 pm ET, Saturday, the headline has Clinton & Sanders "in a virtual dead heat," with Clinton currently at 52 percent, Sanders at 48, with 62 percent of precincts reporting. ...

... "Surveys of caucusgoers taken as they entered caucus sites showed that older women turned out in force to support Clinton, pushing her to victory despite her continued struggles to attract young women."

Maureen Dowd is here to put a damper on Clinton's victory: "Hillary believed that there was an implicit understanding with the sisters of the world that now was the time to come back home and vote for a woman. (The Clintons seem to have conveniently forgotten how outraged they were by identity politics when black leaders deserted them in 2008 to support Obama.)" Much of the column recycles old material from the Lewinsky scandal. (Dowd won a Pultizer for her column on Clinton-Lewinsky, so, hey, who can blame her?)

Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "In recent days, Hillary Clinton's campaign has questioned Senator Bernie Sanders's commitment to civil rights, trying to cement her support among black voters who could be crucial in upcoming primaries such as South Carolina's." But film footage unearned by a film company, Kartemquin Films, shows Sanders being arrested in an August 1963 while protesting segregation in Englewood, Illinois. ...

... Chas Danner of New York: "It was Sanders himself who confirmed it was him in the video, according to his campaign. In addition, the Chicago Tribune subsequently found a photograph in their archives showing Sanders's arrest as well, which they then released early Saturday morning. (Senator Sanders also confirmed the authenticity of the photo.)"

The polls for the Republican primary in South Carolina close at 7:00 pm ET.

The New York Times is liveblogging both states' results. @6:02 pm ET, see Sanders' statement.

AP: @12:28 am ET: "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has finished second in South Carolina's Republican primary, according to complete but unofficial results. Rubio edged out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by less than two-tenths of 1 percentage point. The results are unofficial, pending the state's formal confirmation of the outcome. That will take place by next Saturday."

Eliza Collins of Politico: "Ted Cruz may not know if he's in second or third place yet, but he's chalking up South Carolina as a win. 'We don't know the exact results right now ... but each time [we're] defying expectations,' Cruz said. 'Indeed the screaming you hear now from across the Potomac is the Washington cartel in pure terror that the grassroots are rising up,' he said repeating a line that he's used before." ...

Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "Hey, looks like Ted Cruz also won South Carolina! Marco Rubio won Iowa by coming in third. John Kasich won New Hampshire by coming in second. Tonight, Marco Rubio won by coming in second and Ted Cruz won by coming in third. (Donald Trump actually won by winning.)"...

... CW: Surely somebody lost. Oh. Yeah. ...

According to a breaking news banner on the New York Times site, Jeb! is dropping out of the presidential race. ...

... Ashley Parker & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday, ending a quest for the White House that started with a war chest of $100 million, a famous name and a promise of political civility, but ended with a humbling recognition: in 2016, none of it mattered." CW: I still think the media should give him First Prize for Contributions to Advertising Revenues. ...

... Dara Lind of Vox: "The slow, torturous twilight of Jeb's campaign offers a couple of lessons. For one thing, it throws the political skills of his brother George W. Bush into sharp relief: W. might have gotten flak for being 'dumb,' but seeing what happens to someone with all the same advantages makes it clear how much of W.'s success was his own. For another thing, it's a reminder that (for all the problems associated with money in politics) it's extremely hard to buy a presidential campaign." Lind recalls some of the "tortured moments of Jeb!'s campaign. Funny, unless you're Jeb! ...

... Gwenyth Kelly of the New Republic on why Ben Carson & John Kasich are still in the race & Jeb! isn't: "Probably a potent combination of denial and lower stakes. Neither Carson or Kasich represent the dying light of a political dynasty, and Carson's campaign has more closely resembled a money-making scheme than a real campaign since the beginning. Both campaigns are clinging to the glimmers of hope given by their very brief surges earlier in the campaign. Kasich's team went so far as to spin his loss as a win in the completely invented 'Governors Bracket.'"

Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump won a clear victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, cementing his position as the Republican presidential front-runner as he enters a tougher test in a series of potentially decisive March contests. Mr. Trump ran ahead of Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, who were locked in a battle for second place."

Marco & Tailgunner Ted are neck-in-neck, trading places a few times for second place at around 21 percent. (Trump's at 34 percent with 26 percent reporting.) Jeb! & Kasich, next in line are both in the 8s.

     ... The AP is projecting Donald Trump as the winner of the South Carolina primary @ 7:33 pm ET, with less than one percent reporting. Cruz currently tops Rubio.

The Washington Post's liveblog is here. ...

Early results on the South Carolina primary show the race as going to Trump, Rubio & Cruz, in that order.

The Mexican Government Is Totally Awesome. Daniel Denvir of Salon: "Trump honestly seems to believe that Mexican migration to the United States is controlled by the Mexican government, rather than, say, complex economic changes and cross-border social ties. Now, it turns out, he thinks that the Mexican government controls the Pope as well, and tricked the head of the Catholic Church into disliking Trump.... Trump thinks that world events can be reduced to the raw genius or stupidity of a given country's leaders.... Just as Trump represents a poor man's idea of what a rich man must be like, his theory of governance is statecraft as a marketing executive might see it.... It's becoming increasingly clear that Trump isn't just inexperienced -- he's actually living in a fantasy world."

Caitlin Cruz of TPM: "Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) latest move in South Carolina is a mailer that merges President Barack Obama's face with that of Cruz's rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). South Carolina state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D) told The Wall Street Journal that she thought the mailer "moved beyond the dog whistle." South Carolina presidential politics are notoriously dirty. 'My first reaction was, "Oh my God, we've moved beyond the dog whistle, we’re just full blown with the race card,'" Cobb Hunter told the Journal."

Other News & Commentary

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that a 'provisional agreement in principle' has been reached with Russia for a temporary truce in the Syrian civil war, and it could start within days."

Alec MacGillis, in a New York Times op-ed: Mitch "McConnell's blunt declaration [that President Obama should not bother to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia] was taken as the starkest exhibition yet of the obstructionism that has characterized the Kentucky senator's stance toward President Obama and congressional Democrats. The resistance from Mr. McConnell has had an enormous influence on the shape of Obama's presidency. It has limited the president's accomplishments and denied him the mantle of the postpartisan unifier he sought back in 2008. But it has also brought the Senate, the institution to which Mr. McConnell has devoted his life, close to rupture." MacGillis postulates the reasons McConnell is going for broke here.

** Bill McKibben reviews Jane Mayer's Dark Money for the NYRB: The Koch brothers "distorted American politics in devastating ways, impairing the chances that we'll effectively respond to climate change, reducing voting rights in many states, paralyzing Congress, and radically ratcheting up inequality.... They merged three forms of political spending -- campaign dollars, lobbying expenditures, and philanthropy at think tanks, universities, and media properties -- into a juggernaut. Mayer highlights the strategic insight of the effort in several ways. She describes, for instance, how various think tanks had worked for years to lay the groundwork for the Citizens United and SpeechNow decisions, which made it far easier for big donors to influence elections.... Mayer devotes considerable space to demonstrating that the Tea Party emerged in large part from the Koch network...." ...

... CW: I recently linked to a post by some librul-thinking pundit (can't recall who) who placed the blame for the 2010 election debacle on President Obama. Yeah, I know everything is Obama's fault, but the fact is that the Kochs & their minions have spent decades & billions of dollars creating long odds for not just liberals but also for ordinary Americans. One president can hardly mitigate that damage.

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "A gunman drove in and around a western Michigan city randomly shooting people in the parking lots of a restaurant, car dealership and apartment complex, killing at least seven, including a 14-year-old girl, authorities said. A 45-year-old man was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after the shootings began about 6 p.m. Saturday, authorities said." ...

... William Cummings of USA Today: "Forty-five-year-old Jason Dalton was arrested early Sunday after a massive manhunt in response to the shootings that began about 6 p.m. Saturday, Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz said. Dalton surrendered without incident but had weapons in his vehicle." CW: Of course he did. Look at his mugshot. He's white.

Jennifer Dixon of the Detroit Free Press: "Flint’s water crisis has unleashed a tsunami of lawsuits that could cost Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. 'The only deep pocket in the vicinity of Flint is the State of Michigan,' said Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor. 'This could be a tax liability on the citizens of Michigan. This is the worst nightmare when a bureaucracy goes completely off the rails and makes decisions that cause widespread harm.'" CW: Because this is what happens when you have a "fiscally-responsible" governor who doesn't care about black people.

Leah Sottile of the Washington Post: "Peter T. Santilli, host of a right-wing YouTube show ... [who was] indicted earlier this month on felony charges due to the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge [is arguing] ... he was there as a new media journalist and a 'shock jock.'... Santilli’s case has attracted the support of groups as disparate as the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the Oath Keepers, a citizen militia."

Way Beyond

Stephen Castle of the New York Times: "Britons will vote on June 23 on whether to stay in the European Union or to quit, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday, announcing the date of a referendum that could have momentous consequences for a divided Britain, and for the rest of Europe."

News Ledes

AP: "Two Serbian embassy staffers who had been held hostage since November died in Friday's U.S. airstrikes on an Islamic State camp in western Libya that killed dozens, Serbian officials said on Saturday."

AP: "Speaking via Skype from Russia, Edward Snowden told an audience of supporters in New Hampshire on Saturday that he is willing to be extradited to the United States if the federal government would guarantee he would get a fair trial."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 20, 2016

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "The Justice Department, impatient over its inability to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers, demanded Friday that a judge immediately order Apple to give it the technical tools to get inside the phone. It said that Apple's refusal to help unlock the phone for the F.B.I. 'appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy,' rather than a legal rationale. In court documents, prosecutors asked a federal judge to enforce an earlier order requiring Apple to provide the government with a tool to extract the data from a locked iPhone 5c. They are trying to get into the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in the San Bernardino rampage, which left 14 dead." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "For years, President Obama has struggled to reconcile a civil libertarian's belief in personal privacy with a commander in chief's imperatives for the nation's security. This week, security won. The decision by Mr. Obama's Justice Department to force Apple to help it breach an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists has ended, at least for now, the president's attempts to straddle the feud over encryption between Silicon Valley and law enforcement. Asked about the president's backing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's inquiry into San Bernardino, one of the worst terror attacks in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Obama's press secretary declared on Wednesday that 'the F.B.I. can count on the full support of the White House.'"

What a Mess. Richard Fausset of the New York Times: "The United States Supreme Court declined late Friday to stay a lower court ruling that has forced North Carolina's Republican-dominated legislature to redraw its congressional electoral maps on the grounds that the original maps amounted to racial gerrymandering. As a result, the state must now follow a contingency plan, also devised by Republican lawmakers, that tries to comply with the lower court's ruling by making significant changes to the boundaries of the some of the state's 13 congressional districts.... The contingency plan was approved by the state legislature on Friday, hours before the Supreme Court announced that it had rejected North Carolina Republicans' application for a stay. But the approval of the contingency plan came over the strenuous objection of Democrats, who claimed that the new congressional maps were hyperpartisan -- giving Republicans 10 safe districts to the Democrats' three -- and still failed to protect black voters' interests." ...

... Richard Hasen: What I said. Plus: "Justice Scalia's absence might have been decisive here.... It is quite possible that there could be a Voting Rights Act violation now. The problem with the last plan was that North Carolina took racetoo much into account. But now perhaps NC did not take race enough into account to assure that the districts comply with Section 2 of the Act, which requires the creation of minority opportunity districts under certain circumstances.... None of this would have happened if the Supreme Court had not ruled in Shelby County to strike down the trigger for the preclearance provisions of the VRA.... There's a lot of confusion on the ground, and I expect that the three-judge court will quickly hold a hearing and figure out what the heck comes next. Wow!"

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "For President Obama, the process of scrutinizing candidates for the Supreme Court in earnest begins the weekend, when he will start reviewing dossiers on potential nominees. The materials include information about the candidates' records, professional experience and other matters, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest." ...

... Somebody Got to Murkowski. Tierney Sneed of TPM: "Moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), one of the few Republicans initially willing to break ranks on whether President Obama's nominee to succeed Antonin Scalia should be considered, reversed course Thursday evening. In a series of Tweets she said 'the American people will be weighing in on the direction of SCOTUS' in the upcoming election and that Obama should 'allow his successor to select the next Supreme Court justice.'" ...

... Martin Longman. What I said. With context: "... if there is anyone in the Republican Senate Caucus who might be inclined to buck the lunatics and insist that the president has the right to nominate someone and the nominee is owed the courtesy of a vote, it's Lisa Murkowski. She's already demonstrated that she can survive in Alaska even if beaten by a primary challenger. The Republican Party wasn't loyal to her. The GOP actively tried to defeat her." ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "RIP, GOP. You're all the party of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump now."

Lawrence Hurley of Reuters: "President Barack Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court's eight remaining members, former law clerks and thousands of ordinary Americans paid respects to the late Justice Antonin Scalia on Friday as his body lay in repose in the stately, white-marble courthouse. The president and first lady Michelle Obama were greeted by Chief Justice John Roberts, spoke with some Scalia family members and briefly stood in silence, heads bowed, in front of Scalia's casket during an afternoon visit." ...

... Charles Pierce comments (below his tribute to Harper Lee). The citation of Frederick Douglass -- part of the Lee tribute -- is helpful.

Lisa Miller of New York on a topic we discussed in yesterday's Comments: "... the pope was splitting hairs [on contraception], walking a fine line between the established doctrine of his Church and the wishful thinking of his fans -- a line he has walked masterfully since he ascended to the throne of Peter, sending rhetorical signals about a modernizing, liberalizing church while not moving much on actual policy. (Just how much you think this counts as progress, and how much political savvy you think it entails to allow a basically backwards church to have it both ways, probably depends a lot on how moved you've been by Francis's progressive PR campaign.)"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Great Expectations. Paul Waldman: "On Saturday, Republicans vote in South Carolina and Democrats vote in Nevada. While we don't know how those contests will turn out, we know that the results will be judged not so much on their own terms but on whether they conformed to 'expectations.'... When a candidate either exceeds or fails to meet expectations, all it means is that the ones doing the expecting -- i.e. the press -- were wrong.' In explaining the expectations game, Waldman illuminates the daily challenges of the political reporter: "Imagine that it was your job to follow Ted Cruz from one campaign event to another, where he said pretty much the same thing again and again, and yet you had to come up with a new story about it every day. It's not easy, and you have to find as many different angles as you can to discuss what is essentially a repetitive series of fake events."

Presidential Race

The New York Times Editors think the Democratic superdelegates will come around & support whichever candidate wins the most delegates in popular primaries & caucuses. CW: I'm less sanguine. The whole purpose of having superdelegates was to allow the party's leaders to choose a candidate to their liking should someone like Bernie Sanders win the popular delegate vote. However, this most likely is a moot point; Clinton will probably win the popular vote, too.

Dana Milbank: "Hillary Clinton has raised $26 million for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties so far this campaign. And Sanders? $1,000.... This is the source of the panic that Sanders causes the much-maligned Democratic elites. It's not about ideology; it comes from a fear that having Sanders as a nominee will decimate progressive candidates down the ballot.... The Obama presidency has been a disaster for the Democratic Party nationwide. Clinton has pledged to rebuild the party and has begun to make good on that promise. Sanders, by contrast, has shown little concern for the very real crisis the party faces.... The consequences of the Democrats' atrophy at the state level are potentially catastrophic for progressives.... If Sanders leaves the Democratic Party for dead, as he is now doing, the odds against his success are even greater." ...

... Well, not exactly, Dana. Here's how it works. ...

... Matea Gold & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "A record 32 state parties signed on to [a joint fundraising committee with Hillary Clinton], allowing the committee to solicit donations 130 times greater than what a supporter can give to Clinton's campaign for the primary.... The states have yet to see a financial windfall. Meanwhile, Clinton's own campaign has been a major beneficiary, getting an infusion of low-dollar contributions.... The joint committee that was formed, called the Hillary Victory Fund, ended up raising nearly $27 million by the end of 2015, thanks to six-figure donations from longtime Clinton allies and a New York fundraiser headlined by the singer Sting.... The victory fund now functions as an operation embedded within the Clinton campaign, run by campaign staffers. Last year, the fund reimbursed the campaign nearly $1.5 million for salary and overheard." CW: This whole thing sounds suspiciously like a clever Clinton scam, aided & abetted by our winger friends (including the dearly departed) on the Supreme Court. ...

... CW: If you wonder why DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has bent over backwards to give Clinton the debate schedule she wanted, wonder no more: "Campaign finance records show that nearly $2 million in donations to the fund initially routed last year to individual state party accounts was immediately transferred to the DNC, which is laboring to pay off millions in debt." ...

... Josh Gerstein & Rachel Bade of Politico: "The State Department released more than 1,100 additional pages of Hillary Clinton's emails Friday night, shedding light on her handling of diplomatic crises and detailing her team's efforts to make sure President Barack Obama didn't get all the credit for U.S. foreign policy.... The latest batch comes at a particularly crucial and inconvenient time for the former secretary of state, as she searches for her first decisive win in the Democratic presidential primary contest.... Each release serves as a reminder of Clinton's decision to use the private server and of the FBI's investigation into the potential intelligence breach -- a probe the law enforcement agency said was ongoing as of earlier this month." ...

... BUT. When Morgan Freeman, backed by violins, tells me to do something, it's hard to say no. ...

... CW: I missed this Feb. 9 report by J. K. Trotter of Gawker, but it's stunning in a Dick Cheney-Judith Miller way: Clinton's State Department spokesman Philippe Reines cut a deal, via e-mail, with Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic in which "you can see Reines 'blackmailing' Ambinder into describing a Clinton speech as 'muscular' in exchange for early access to the transcript" of an upcoming Clinton speech. I don't know that Scooter Libby dictated the actual language of the misleading NYT reports Miller wrote. ...

     (... In e-mails to the WashPo's Erik Wemple, Reines & Ambinder defend themselves. Ambinder claims the word "muscular" was his idea, one he shared with Reines in a phone call. Reines defends transactional "journalism.") If, like Will Rogers, all you know is what you read in the papers, you don't know much. ...)

Caitlin Cruz of TPM: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday accused rival Hillary Clinton of embracing President Obama to curry favor with black voters. 'You know Hillary Clinton now is trying to embrace the President as closely -- as she possibly can. Everything the President does is wonderful. She loves the President, he loves her and all that stuff,' Sanders said in an excerpt of a half-hour BET special featuring himself and Clinton published by Indie Wire. 'And we know what that's about,' he continued. 'That's trying to win support from the African American community where the President is enormously popular.'"

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "The Clark County Black Caucus, an organization based in Nevada's most populous jurisdiction, announced its support Thursday for Sanders in his contest against Hillary Clinton. Yvette Williams, chairwoman of the caucus, said that Sanders's agenda most closely aligned with that of her nonpartisan group, saying the endorsement of Sanders 'wasn't a very difficult decision.'" ...

... A Presidential Candidate Should Be an Only Child. Nico Hines of the Daily Beast: "The problem with the Clintons, according to Bernie Sanders's big brother, is that people don't realize what an awful president Bill was. For the most part, Larry Sanders says, that's because people are too busy debating 'Is Bill really such a terrible rapist -- or is he a nice rapist?' These are shockingly blunt words from a soft-spoken man, who has been calmly explaining his little brother's sudden political success from his sun-drenched kitchen table in Oxford.... Larry is at pains to point out that they have real respect for Hillary. (The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)"

Sean Sullivan & Katie Zezima
of the Washington Post: "The [South Carolina GOP presidential] race has resembled a three-man contest more than ever during the final push before [Republican] voters head to the polls here Saturday. [Donald] Trump is heavily favored to win, and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are furiously vying for second place.... Trump, Cruz and Rubio have directed most of their fire at each other this week, trading the kind of petty insults and underhanded tactics that have come to define South Carolina's primary. With each day, the sniping has escalated." ...

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "From Lee Atwater's whispers that a congressional candidate was psychotic to rumors that John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock to fake Mormon holiday cards supposedly sent by Mitt Romney, South Carolina is infamous for its dirty politics. While this year has not lived up to past levels of salaciousness -- so far -- presidential candidates are not shying away from employing underhanded tricks ahead of the Republican South Carolina primary on Saturday. And they have been more than happy to cry foul. Here are some of the more creative efforts." In all but one of these "creative efforts," other candidates have charged that Ted Cruz was the culprit. CW: I'm surprised. He seems nice. ...

... McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "A new robocall going out to South Carolina voters on the eve of the state's Republican primary blasts Donald Trump as a culture war appeaser in the battle between gay rights and religious freedom -- and urges listeners to support Ted Cruz.... The recording was paid for by the Courageous Conservative Political Action Committee, the same pro-Cruz group that launched another eleventh-hour robocall this week attacking Trump for praising the removal of the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina statehouse.... A spokeswoman for Cruz told the Post and Courier newspaper Friday that the campaign did not condone the Confederate flag call. But she did not respond to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News Friday night about the new robocall, except to say that the campaign wasn't associated with it." ...

... Katie Glueck of Politico: "South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford endorsed Ted Cruz at a Charleston rally Friday afternoon, boosting the Texas senator in the final hours before the first-in-the-South primary.... Sanford's decision appears to have come late in the game: He was spotted at a Rubio rally earlier this week." CW: Yeah, an endorsement from former Gov. Appalachian T. Rail should help Sen. Family V. Alues." ...

... At a South Carolina campaign event feature "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson, Cruz jokingly suggests Robertson for the U.S.'s ambassador to the U.N. Politico's headline writer bills this as "Southern charm." One might want to call it pandering. I'd say it's just more evidence that Cruz thinks us regular folks belong to a despicable inferior life form. ...

... "It Takes Two Wings to Fly." Ed Kilgore looks at the Sanford & Robertson endorsements as evidence of Cruz's "dual strategy."


Artwork by the Daily Beast.Yeah, they’re in that closet. -- One of Ben Carson's Secret Service detail, when asked the whereabouts of Dr. Carson & Ted Cruz

Gideon Resnick of the Daily Beast: Ted Cruz called a meeting with Ben Carson in a storage close Thursday night, "in an attempt to mend fences ... ahead of the South Carolina primary.... The two huddled in the unusual venue for nearly 20 to 25 minutes, as Carson's Secret Service detail stood outside.... It is unclear if there were lights inside of it." A Carson campaign operative said the meeting "did not go well": "Carson's campaign confirmed the meeting -- which was was supposed to be short and off-the-record -- and blamed the Cruz campaign for leaking the fact that it occurred in an attempt to rectify his public image." CW: I can't stop laughing. Yes, yes, I know the fate of the nation is at stake.

Pamela Engel of Business Insider: "... Donald Trump just called for a boycott of Apple in light of the company's reluctance to help authorities hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters." ...

... Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News: "Donald Trump, embroiled in a long-running legal battle with former students of his defunct Trump University, has been accused in recently filed court papers of threatening to financially ruin the woman who is a lead plaintiff in the suit. Trump's comments, according to the filings, came in a secret deposition he gave just two months ago, on Dec. 10 -- the same day he was making international headlines over his pledge to ban Muslim immigrants from the country.... Exactly what Trump said in his December deposition is unclear." ...

... CW: Upon reading Isikoff's piece, it occurs to me that Trump may be running for president in part as a means to delay & disrupt the lawsuits against him. That didn't work for Bill Clinton, but that was a one-off; it could work for a president facing multiple suits. ...

Which one of these critters has the longer attention span? Or the better memory? Or the more courage? ...... The Art of the Flipflop. Gail Collins: "Perhaps you didn't see Trump's town hall on CNN.... The great theme of the night was things that Donald Trump said that he now doesn't remember, or didn't necessarily mean. This happens all the time. Either our great business genius is incapable of mental fact-checking, or he has about as much political courage as a rabbit." ...

... As if determined to make Collins' point, There's This. Alan Rappeport: "In a town-hall meeting hosted by CNN on Thursday night..., Mr. Trump said, 'I like the [ObamaCare] mandate.' So here's where I'm a little bit different.... I don't want people dying on the streets.' Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Trump backed away from his remarks, proclaiming himself to be the fiercest opponent of the health law.... In the face of ... backlash [from winger opponents & supporters alike], Mr. Trump fired back on Twitter that he had been misunderstood. He said he only liked the provision in the law that requires insurers to provide coverage for people who are already ill. He then promised that he intended to repeal the entire piece of legislation, including the mandate.... It was the latest example of a candidate who has been impervious to inconsistencies again emerging unscathed from a misstep that would probably be damaging to anyone else." ...

... Oh, There's More. Cooper Allen of USA Today: "A day after the uproar over Pope Francis' comments that Donald Trump 'is not Christian' because of his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, a Vatican spokesman offered a clarification of sorts. Father Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office told reporters (translated from Italian) that 'the Pope emphasized that those who only think of building walls, not bridges, is not Christian.' He added that the pontiff has emphasized the need for bridges over walls in the past, including with the European migration crisis. 'This is one of his general attitudes, very consistent with what is a courageous following of the Gospel,' Lombardi said." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski, with Christopher Massie, has returned to the Trump Time Machine: "Donald Trump, faced with his own words from 2002 that directly contradict his claim he opposed an Iraq invasion early on, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night he opposed the war by the time it started. But in an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto one day into the Iraq invasion, Trump did not express his opposition to war, and said it appeared to be 'a tremendous success from a military standpoint.' Trump predicted the war would continue to be great for Wall Street. (See related link in yesterday's Commentariat.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Nicholas Watt, et al., of the Guardian: Prime Minister "David Cameron has succeeded in renegotiating the terms of Britain's European Union membership, paving the way for a cabinet meeting on Saturday that will allow him to announce a referendum on 23 June. A marathon round of talks over two days, during which the prime minister managed just three hours sleep in the early hours of Friday morning, led to an agreement for the UK shortly after 9pm UK time."

News Ledes

The Washington Post report on Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral mass is here.

Los Angeles Times: "Umberto Eco, an Italian novelist and intellectual of worldwide renown who imbued his work with humor and scholarship and whose novel 'The Name of the Rose' became a global phenomenon, has died, his American publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed late Friday afternoon. He was 84." ...

     ... Update: Eco's New York Times obituary is here.