The Ledes

Friday, September 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "Federal investigators are assessing whether equipment failure, an incapacitated operator or other factors could have caused a packed commuter-rail train to barrel into Hoboken Terminal and slam into the station in a Thursday morning rush-hour crash that killed one person and injured more than 100 others. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said the operator of the train, who was hospitalized and later released, was cooperating with the investigation. He will be interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board officials in coming days." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, September 29, 2016.

New York Times: "A commuter train crashed into one of the busiest train stations in the New York area during the morning rush on Thursday, killing at least one person, injuring more than 100 others and creating a scene of chaos and destruction, the authorities and witnesses said. The crash occurred around 8:45 a.m., when a commuter train traveling at a high rate of speed barreled through the barriers meant to stop it and finally stopped against a wall of the Hoboken Terminal building, officials said." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.

 

The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:

 

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

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Thursday
Jul172014

The Commentariat -- July 18, 2014

The Guardian is liveblogging developments re: downed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. ...

... Julie Pace of the AP: "The United States began building a case Friday that would pin the blame for the downing of the passenger jet over Ukraine on separatist forces supported by Russia. President Barack Obama said one American was among the nearly 300 killed in an disaster that could dramatically escalate the crisis in Ukraine." ...

... Michael Birnbaum & Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post: "In a news conference at the White House, [President Obama] noted that the separatists have 'received a steady flow of support' from Russia, including heavy weapons, training and antiaircraft systems. He called for 'a credible international investigation' into the tragedy and urged Russia to cooperate with it":

... Michael Birnbaum & Anthony Faiola: "Pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine offered a two- to four-day truce on Friday to allow international specialists to investigate the wreckage of a downed Malaysia Airlines jet, even as rescue workers at the crash site said they had recovered one of its black boxes. World leaders reiterated calls for an immediate international investigation into what U.S. officials said was a surface to air missile attack that brought down the Boeing 777 in a grassy field and killed all 298 people on board. The victims included leading experts in AIDS research en route from Amsterdam to a conference in Australia via Kuala Lumpur. The United Nations Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the strike."

... Neil MacFarquhar & Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "The double game that the Kremlin has been accused of playing in eastern Ukraine for weeks -- publicly endorsing peace talks while surreptitiously supporting the separatists with arms and men -- suddenly appeared less crafty than possibly disastrous on Thursday after the crash of a civilian jetliner in a Ukrainian field." ...

... Shaun Walker, et al., of the Guardian: "... US vice-president Joe Biden said the [Malaysian Air] plane had been shot down, while the Ukrainian authorities released an audio recording of rebel commanders apparently admitting downing it. The jet, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the village of Grabovo, part of the area controlled by pro-Russian separatists."

Kuiv Post: "Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was allegedly shot down by a group of Russian-backed Cossack militants near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 80 kilometers north-west of Donetsk, according to recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups, released by the country's security agency (SBU)."

President Obama made his first remarks re: the downed Malaysian Air plane prior to a planned speech in Delaware:

     ... The transcript of the President's full remarks is here.

Jeremy Bender of Business Insider: "At least 10 other Ukrainian aircraft -- all of them significantly lower-flying than a Boeing 777 -- have been shot down since the rebels started using MANPADS [Man-Portable Air Defense Systems] according to a count kept by military aviation expert David Cenciotti, including five Mi-24 Hinds, two Mi-8 helicopters, one An-2, one An-30, and the Ukrainian transport plane." ...

... BUT. Michael Gordon, et al., of the New York Times: On Monday, "a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile while flying at 21,000 feet, an attack that American and Western officials believe was carried out either by Ukrainian separatists allied with Moscow or possibly even a Russian military unit.... [This was] the first time, a surface-to-air missile with greater range had been used, raising questions about whether the rebels have acquired such a devastating capability, and Russia's role." ...

... AND. Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: The plane was probably shot down by a more advanced surface-to-air-missile system than a MANPADS missile. "However..., advanced surface-to-air systems ... are transponder aware, meaning they can detect if they are targeting an airliner." This suggests that the perpetrators purposely shot down a civilian plane. ...

... George Condon of the National Journal: "... it is not too early to conclude that the potential impact [of the downed jet] on the war over Ukraine is great."

Fred Kaplan of Slate: "Instead of capitalizing on Israel’s unusually strong strategic position, [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu risks squandering it -- destroying what little support he has in the West and making it hard for Arab governments that share his interests (Egypt, Jordan, and, even now, the Palestinian Authority) to sustain their tacit alliances."

Elise Foley of the Huffington Post: "As Republicans blame President Barack Obama's executive actions for the crisis along the border, the president assured [Hispanic Caucus] members of his own party Wednesday that he won't back down from his plans to ease deportations." ...

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) raised doubts Thursday that Congress will be able to fulfill President Obama's funding request to address the influx of illegal migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border before lawmakers leave Washington for their summer recess in two weeks."

... digby in Salon: Ted "Cruz may be a fringe dweller, but he isn't dumb. There are many ways to advance your cause in our government system that's full of choke points and over the years the Republicans have proved themselves very adept at the one thing they truly care about -- stopping what they don&'t like. (That is after all, the essence of reactionary politics.)" ...

... Steve M. digs into the sources of the "diseased immigrant children" scare. That is to say, he's rounded up the usual suspects.

Alan Rusbridger & Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian interviewed Ed Snowden for a long time. Among the things Snowden said were that "a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in 'sexually compromising' situations are routinely passed around." CW: Not surprising. But disgusting. Also, "he was holding out for a jury trial in the US rather a judge-only one, hopeful that it would be hard to find 12 jurors who would convict him if he was charged with an offence to which there was a public interest defence."

... CW: I didn't listen to the interview, but Rusbridger & MacAskill imply Snowden's "holding out" for a jury trial is a sticking point in his negotiations with the U.S. government. This makes zero sense. The Sixth Amendment guarantees a jury trial to adults accused of major crimes. Snowden can just demand a jury trial. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here.

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "The Army has issued a formal reprimand for misconduct to its former top sex-crimes prosecutor after investigating a complaint that he kissed and groped a female officer while attending a conference on sexual-assault prevention, according to Army officials. Lt. Col. Joseph 'Jay' Morse received the reprimand in late June, officials said, four months after the Army received the complaint and suspended him from his job as supervisor of the Army's special-victim prosecutors."

** Danny Vinik of the New Republic has a terrific on the proposed House lawsuit against President Obama that really gets to the heart of why the suit is stupid & should fail.

Paul Krugman: "... inflation addiction is telling us something about the intellectual state of one side of our great national divide. The right's obsessive focus on a problem we don't have, its refusal to reconsider its premises despite overwhelming practical failure, tells you that we aren't actually having any kind of rational debate."

Reid Wilson of the Washington Post on the Koch brothers/Americans for Prosperity big spending & nationwide reach.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

This is painful to hear:

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on why the producers who put the "eyewitness" on the air should have known he was a prankster. Nonetheless, one does have to wonder what kind of sick fuck would attempt to make a "joke" of the deaths of 295 innocent people.

MEANWHILE, here's how Fox "News" covered the breaking story: panelists got in an argument with each other, with one saying to the other -- on air -- "You're so goddamned dumb." Maybe it's better to have a prankster do the swearing.

Beyond the Beltway

Readers from Texas, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, Louisiana & perhaps a few others states may be able to successfully challenge me on "America's Worst Governor," but no one can beat me on "America's Creepiest Governor." I assume this is the incident P. D. Pepe referred to in her comment yesterday:

Congressional Races

Jonathan Chait summarizes Karl Rove's brilliant GOP campaign strategy re: running against ObummerCare. Funny.

"Visions of Migrants":

... Jack Fitzpatrick of the National Journal has a good piece about the race for this Congressional seat, currently held by Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in a GOP-leaning district.

Presidential Election

Former Secretary of State's Bizarre View of U.S. Foreign Policy. Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: Hillary Clinton's "vision for America's relations with the world ... isn't just unconvincing. It's downright disturbing.... Is America's biggest post-Cold War foreign policy problem really that we've failed to adequately remind others, and ourselves, how good we are? ... But the really weird part of Hillary Clinton's claim that America must 'get back to telling' the story of how great we are 'to ourselves' is how much it echoes the right's attack on Obama.... For more than five years, the right has claimed the major problem with American foreign policy is that it's not sufficiently grounded in the belief that America is an exceptional nation.... Now, bizarrely, Hillary Clinton is leveling the same critique."

Matt Arco in nj.com: In Iowa, Chris Christie criticizes President Obama for doing "an awful job" of securing the border but refuses to recommend any solutions. CW: This is a patterned, patented Christie response: he makes a sweeping criticism -- like blaming President Obama for Middle East conflicts -- then tells inquiring reporters he doesn't have time to offer solutions. Frankly, Andy Borowitz's suggestion, linked in yesterday's Commentariat, would be a more effective response than the non-response Christie gave. ...

... Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: As Chris Christie tries to move on to other topics -- like Me for President!! -- multiple investigations of his administration grind on. ...

... Shaun Boburg of the Bergen Record has more on the testimony of Regina Egea, Christie's liaison to the Port Authority & other "independent" authorities, before a New Jersey legislative committee. Democrats accused her of being "conveniently incurious" as she heard more about the bogus traffic study on the George Washington Bridge. ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: After "dodging the question ... for two and a half weeks..., Chris Christie just realized he supports the Hobby Lobby ruling...."

Frackin' Jeb. Adam Raymond of New York: "If Jeb Bush is planning to run for president in 2016, he's chosen an odd way to spend the last year before campaign season begins. According to Bloomberg, the former Florida governor is the chairman and part owner of an investment firm that's raising private equity funds for oil and gas companies.... If Bush does indeed decide to run for president, he can expect this to be used against him. Mitt Romney's career in private equity was brought up in both the Republican primary and the general election." ...

     ... CW: Not surprising at all. Jeb is finally joining the family business.

Charles Pierce: "Any doubts about whether or not there's a presidential campaign a-brewin' on behalf of Scott Walker..., were allayed yesterday. Walker decided that he would play to da crazees in The Base by asking his pet legislature to repeal Wisconsin's commitments to the Common Core standards in education. Wisconsin, it should be noted, has already invested $25 million to implement the standards that Walker now wants to blow up. Fiscal responsibility!"

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Israeli soldiers and tanks fanned out along Gaza's borders Friday seeking out Hamas tunnel networks while pounding residential buildings with artillery and clashing with militants, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a possible 'significant expansion' of Israel's ground offensive in the enclave." ...

... New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Friday that he had ordered the military to 'prepare for the possibility of widening, significantly,' the ground operation in the Gaza Strip begun Thursday night.... Mr. Netanyahu offered condolences to the family of an Israeli soldier killed in the first hours of the ground offensive, identified by the military as Staff Sgt. Eitan Barak, 20, from Herzliya. Palestinian health officials reported that a 4-month-old baby and an 18-year-old male were among more than 20 Gaza residents killed overnight as the total Palestinian death toll topped 260, with some 1,800 others injured." ...

... Hill: "Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit the scope of a ground invasion of Gaza in a phone call Thursday between the two leaders."

Hill: "Airlines are avoiding flying over Ukraine after a Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in the country, and may have been shot down."

AP: "National security leaker Chelsea Manning can get initial treatment for a gender-identity condition from the military after the Bureau of Prisons rejected the Army's request to accept her transfer from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to a civilian facility. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the Army's recommendation to keep the Army private in military custody and start a rudimentary level of gender treatment, a defense official said Thursday."

Wednesday
Jul162014

The Commentariat -- July 17, 2014

NEW. White House: "President Obama spoke with Russian President Putin today about the situation in Ukraine and the additional sanctions on Russian individuals and entities that the United States announced on July 16." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama escalated sanctions against Russia on Wednesday by targeting a series of large banks and energy and defense firms in what officials described as the most punishing measures to date for Moscow's intervention in Ukraine":

     ... AP Update: "Vladimir Putin lamented the latest round of US sanctions against Russia on Thursday after Barack Obama increased economic pressure over the Ukraine crisis.... Russia's benchmark MICEX plummeted 2.6% at opening on Thursday while Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, was nearly 5% down."

NEW. Andy Borowitz: "Testing the political waters in Iowa today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that if he is elected President, he would bring the flow of illegal immigrants over the U.S.-Mexico border to a virtual standstill. 'There are ways of keeping people from getting to where they want to go,' Christie said, claiming that he was the only Republican hopeful with the hands-on experience necessary to fix the border crisis." CW: Satire. Really, it's satire.

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, reversed course on Wednesday and said she would not back changes to a 2008 law that gave certain undocumented immigrant children broader legal rights to enter the United States.... The Democratic leadership's hard line raises the prospects of an impasse on Capitol Hill that leaves the Obama administration with no additional resources to deal with the border surge." ...

... All for Me & Nothing for You. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father Rafael received political asylum in the U.S. after claiming he was beaten by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's soldiers (because Rafael had joined the Castro revolution), will come down hard on child refuges requesting asylum from violence in their home countries. Cruz's plan: any bill that does anything to help (or deport) these children must ensure that undocumented children who have lived in the U.S. most of their lives are deported. ...

... Greg Sargent: "... Ted Cruz is essentially calling on Republicans to formalize in their legislative response to the crisis what is already their actual position on immigration in general. And not only that, National Review reports that more and more conservatives are giving voice to the Cruz stance, arguing that Republicans must not offer any legislative response to the crisis because Obama's 'amnesty' for the DREAMers proves he cannot be trusted to work with them...." ...

... Steve Benen: "Cruz's 'top priority' is to identify ... young people, for whom the United States is the only country they've ever known, and kick them out of the country. Indeed, the Texas Republican is saying any solution to the humanitarian crisis involving the migrant children must undo the DACA policy.... If Democrats are really lucky, Cruz will rally the right to his cause." ...

... Alexia Campbell of the National Journal: "Something is changing in the most conservative corner of conservative South Carolina. Some tea-party Republicans and evangelical Christians are softening toward immigration." ...

     ... CW: This isn't entirely surprising. Evangelicals, after all, were among those lobbying for the 2008 sex-trafficking bill that is a prime cause of the current border crisis. It's a big mistake to assume that Southern evangelicals are racists. Many -- probably a majority -- are not. As Campbell reports, a 2014 Pew Research survey "shows that a surprising 66 percent of white evangelicals across the country favor some type of legal status for immigrants without papers."

AP: "Senate Republicans have blocked a bill aimed at restoring free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies that object on religious grounds. The vote on Wednesday was 56-43 to move ahead on the measure, short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "The one tiny piece of good news here is that it's clear Republicans are feeling the heat, because earlier this week they unveiled legislation purporting to protect women's access to birth control coverage. In reality, the legislation won't accomplish its stated purpose, because it does nothing to impact health insurance coverage requirements, but it's a sign that even Republicans understand that they are on the wrong side of the politics here." ...

     ... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos explains the GOP bill: "In response to the Senate Democrats' legislation to overturn the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision..., Republicans are offering up their own bill. That does nothing.... We're very glad that Senate Republicans are so generous in allowing us to do what we like with our slut pill money." ...

     ... Here's how Mitch McConnell described the GOP's important contribution to women's equality:

We plan to introduce legislation this week that says no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives. There's no disagreement on that fundamental point.

     ... CW: It's a relief to know that some Republicans at the federal level do not want employers to actually be able to conduct bedchecks of their lady employees or rifle through the help's medicine chests. And you thought Republicans were corporate shills. I wonder if this far-reaching, ultra-liberal Senate bill would pass the House. ...

     ... CW Update: It turns out that the sponsors of the Republican Women's Freedom Act (or whatever it's called) are Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) & Deb Fischer (R-NE). On the assumption that Republicans have no empathy gene, it's fair to assume that Kelly & Deb there were worried their boss Mitch might stop by uninvited of an evening. So a wise move on their parts.

Bernie Becker of the Hill recounts testimony in the House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday on the proposed suit against President Obama. ...

... Dana Milbank mocks the whole hearing, which he called "amateur hour" -- except that it dragged on for hours.

Denise Grady of the New York Times: "Under sharp questioning from members of Congress on Wednesday, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted that recent laboratory accidents involving flu viruses and anthrax were not isolated mistakes, but rather part of a broader problem of unsafe practices at the agency." ...

... Brady Dennis & Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "Federal officials found more than just long-forgotten smallpox samples recently in a storage room on the National Institutes for Health campus in Bethesda, Md. The discovery included 12 boxes and 327 vials holding an array of pathogens, including the virus behind the tropical disease dengue and the bacteria that can cause spotted fever, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the lab in question."

Paul Waldman: According to a Washington Examiner report, potential Republican donors are refusing to pony up for fear they will be subject to IRS audits or "get Koched"; i.e., subjected to the Harry Reid treatment. Waldman is not feeling all that sorry for them. ...

... In case you forgot how horrible the IRS "scandal" is, Waldman neatly sums it up:

There's never been any credible allegation that anyone was audited because of their political beliefs. There's never been any allegation that the IRS 'targeted' donors to Republican super PACs. The worst thing that happened was that some Tea Party groups that had applied for 501(c)(4) status -- claiming, utterly falsely, that they were charitable, non-political organizations, I might add -- had to wait longer than they should have to get approval on their applications. (And, I have to repeat, when you're waiting for your approval, you're permitted under the law to act as though you've gotten your approval. You can raise and spend money, which they did.)

... CW: Assuming that potential donors really are afraid a contribution will lead to an audit -- & aren't just refusing to give bonuses to the slimeballs they figure they already bought & paid for -- then it looks like this is one place where Darrell Issa's fake scandal scheme is backfiring.

Justin Sink of the Hill: "The director of the White House's political office defied a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, setting up a new high-profile fight between the White House and House Republicans. Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were 'absurd' and 'deeply disturbing.' ... Issa has not produced evidence of a specific instance of the White House violating the law and has pointed to abuses in the office that occurred under the Bush Administration to justify the subpoena." (Emphasis added.)

Paul Krugman's post "The Age of Infallability" is a brief life lesson that explains conservative "beliefs" but has a wider applicability.

Wherein Maureen Dowd Goes Berserk. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "When Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to address the University at Buffalo, the largest campus of the State University of New York system, she negotiated a few requirements in addition to her pay of $275,000.... The University at Buffalo issued a statement Wednesday saying 'no state funding or student tuition revenue' was used to pay for Clinton's speech."

Congressional Races

The Washington Post predicts that Republicans will take the Senate 52-48 & retain control of the House. They provide maps of the predicted results. I like to think of these as Stupid Voter Maps.

Jonathan Chait explains why the business community isn't going to flip to the Democratic party just because the GOP-controlled House is blowing up all the things business wants.

Ask Him No Questions -- Without Notifying His Office First. Paul Lewis of the Guardian chases after former Sen. Scott Brown (R-N.H.), who's now running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire to try to get a straight response to the Hobby Lobby decision. Police were called. ...

     ... MAG Update. Scott Does Talk to the Press. Jeff McMenemy of Seacoast Online: "Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown blamed the Affordable Care Act for the U.S. Supreme Court's recent controversial Hobby Lobby decision.... 'Had we never had "Obamacare," we never would have had that decision because that was a mandate from "Obamacare" that got us into that position,' Brown said during an editorial board interview Wednesday with Seacoast Media Group." ...

     ... CW: Hope you catch the logic there. Brown is right. If ObamaCare had not guaranteed women equal access to healthcare, the Supreme Court could never have taken it away. By this logic, the Bill of Rights was a tremendous mistake, because the Supreme Court is always interpreting/limiting the rights it guarantees. Really, all laws that inure to the benefit of the citizenry are actually harmful because the courts can always limit or void those laws. The best laws, by this logic, are those that curb human rights or favor special interest groups. Because, hey, who knows, the Supreme Court could maybe void part or all of some of those "good" laws. Scott Brown for Senate! He's not just a pretty face; he's a philosopher.

Gubernatorial Race

Paul Waldman: "When he was elected governor, some Washington conservatives touted Sam Brownback as a future presidential contender. Once he implemented the conservative economic agenda and showed what a dynamic economy and pleasing government balance sheet it produced, he'd be able to take the message nationwide as a demonstration of the power of conservative ideas. Nobody's saying that anymore. Brownback is trailing his probable Democratic opponent. In a state as conservative as Kansas (where Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 22 points), you have to screw up pretty badly to be in that position." ...

... Charles Pierce on Brownback, Santorum & the Gipper. Thanks to MAG for the link. ...

... Here's the take of the Rude Pundit, upon whom the dainty Pierce relies for his post linked above: "Earlier this week, former Senator and losing GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the main speaker at two reelection rallies for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Considering the various ways you can read their last names, it sounds as if everyone was coated with feces-laden effluvia by the end. Brownback is in a tight race with Democrat Paul Davis, who was just endorsed by over 100 current and former GOP officials." And, yes, the Rude Pundit is really rude.

Beyond the Beltway

Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times: "A federal judge in Orange County ruled Wednesday that California's death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, ruled on a petition by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die nearly two decades ago. Carney said the state's death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed. He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Elaine Stritch, the brassy, tart-tongued Broadway actress and singer who became a living emblem of show business durability and perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim's wryly acrid musings on aging, died on Thursday at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89."

New York Times: "Israel began a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip shortly after 10 Thursday night, saying it would target tunnels that infiltrate its territory, after cease-fire talks failed to de-escalate the air war that has raged for 10 days."

New York Times: "A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, and Ukrainian officials said it may have been shot down, possibly by a Russian-made antiaircraft system."...

     ... New Lede: "Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard was shot down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile, American officials said." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging developments.

New York Times: "General Motors' top lawyer came under withering attack from lawmakers on Thursday at a Senate hearing investigating the automaker's failure to recall millions of defective small cars for more than a decade."

Washington Post: "Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella announced Thursday that up to 18,000 of his employees will get pink slips in the next year, as part of a massive round of layoffs. The cuts are the largest in the company's history, and they will hit an estimated 15 percent of its workforce."

USA Today: "A marijuana decriminalization law passed by the D.C. Council in the spring took effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m. after a Congressional review process passed. The new law, like others around the country, eases punishments for minor marijuana offenses."

Guardian: "At least three mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel on Thursday, less than three hours into a five-hour 'humanitarian pause' in the nine-day battle between Israel and Hamas. The suspension of hostilities, brokered by the UN and starting at 10am on Thursday, came after four Palestinian children died in an Israeli strike on a Gaza beach and follows an earlier Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that was observed only by Israel."

New York Times: "President Obama said on Wednesday that he believed the United States had 'a credible way forward' in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, and strongly suggested that after consultations with Congress, which has been threatening additional sanctions, he would seek an extension of the talks beyond Sunday's deadline."

Tuesday
Jul152014

The Commentariat -- July 16, 2014

Jonathan Stempel & Jon Herskovitz of Reuters: "A federal appeals court upheld the use of race by University of Texas at Austin in undergraduate admissions, a victory for affirmative action proponents, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered closer scrutiny of the school's practices. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday said the state's flagship university had justified its limited use of race to achieve diversity, given a lack of workable alternatives.... Opponents pledged to appeal, which could give the Supreme Court a chance to again review the case in its next term. In June 2013, the Supreme Court did not directly rule on the program's constitutionality but ordered the 5th Circuit ... to scrutinize it more closely."

Do-Nothing House Does as Little as Possible. Fawn Johnson & Billy House of the National Journal: "Nearly as many House Republicans as Democrats voted on Tuesday to pass a bill to keep federal highway projects temporarily running into the next Congress, despite pressure from two influential outside conservative groups to oppose the measure. Approved in an overwhelming 367 to 55 vote, the bill would provide $10.8 billion more for the federal Highway Trust Fund. The bill is likely to become law only because the Senate and the White House are out of other options. No one is particularly happy about it. It doesn't solve any long-term problems, and in less than a year it will put lawmakers right back where they have been."

Burgess Everett of Politico: Harry Reid "will oppose a proposal from [Sen. John] Cornyn (R-Texas) and [Rep. Henry] Cuellar (D-Texas) to treat unaccompanied minors from Central America the same as those from Mexico and expedite immigration hearings for children with asylum claims or children who may have been victims of human trafficking.... Reid clearly believes that President Barack Obama's supplemental request of $3.7 billion for border funding is superior to Cuellar and Cornyn's border plan -- and he said the White House has sufficient authority to make policy changes to adjust the flow of migrants through the border through the executive office."

Jason Buch of the Houston Chronicle: Jose Antonio Vargas, "the Pulitzer-winner turned activist detained at the McAllen airport this morning, has been released.... After about eight hours in custody, agents released Vargas, according to a spokesperson for his Define American advocacy group.... Vargas made public he did not have permission to be in the country in 2011 and has since advocated for immigration reform. Last week, he reported in Politico Magazine that he had traveled to McAllen to write about the plight of the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied children crossing the border into South Texas."

Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they've got some pie chart or graph behind them and they're talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.... We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life -- that's the way to go. -- Rep. Rene Ellmers (RTP-N.C.) at a meeting of women in the conservative House Republican Study Committee to discuss ways to "message" to "female" voters ...

... Dave Weigel: "Reading that, I thought of this week's Republican message, read by Senate candidate Joni Ernst..., and how she focused on the promise of the Balanced Budget Amendment (a dead idea that polls well) because government should run its affairs like 'you' run the household. No pesky charts there!" ...

... CW: C'mon, Dave, Ellmers is onto something. I now realize the reason I can't understand Louie Gohmert is that he speaks on a higher level that is way above what my weak, female mind can grasp. Hell, I'd probably have voted for Marco I-Am-Not-a-Scientist Rubio if I'd only been smart enough to comprehend his higher-level message. Republican men really need to learn to talk down to us nitwits when they explain why they must make decisions for us. ...

... Ha Ha Ha. Steve Benen has an update. Ellmers issued a statement claiming "... the quote in question was taken completely out of context.... Some writers are cherry-picking words and using predetermined agendas to attack Republicans...." In the statement, she calls the reporter who wrote the story "a liberal woman reporter." Benen writes, "I'm not sure how a multi-paragraph, multi-sentence quote can be taken 'completely' out of context. It's also unclear how this can be fairly labeled 'cherry-picking words.'" CW: I'd add that the "liberal woman reporter" with her "predetermined agenda to attack Republicans" is Ashe Schow, who writes for the right-wing Washington Examiner. Schow, according to Jackie Kucinich of the Washington Post, is "a former editor and writer for the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America (not exactly bastions of liberalism)." Just remember, being a Republican means never having to take responsibility for your own words. ...

... Update: Schow has published (& provided audio of) Ellmers' full remarks. The "context" was this: women are too dumb to understand big concepts like "trillions of dollars" or complicated pie charts because -- unlike men who talk "on a higher level" -- women can only understand things in simplistic terms that relate to their own family's day-to-day experiences.

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on a rare bill in support of abortion rights that would block states from passing laws that chip away at women's access to abortion services. Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) bill, the Women's Health Protection Act, prohibits restrictions on abortion 'that are more burdensome than those imposed on medically comparable procedures.'" The legislation would nullify mandatory waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds and counseling before abortion;... and other state laws that abortion-rights supporters believe are designed to make it impossible for women to access a safe and legal medical procedure." ...

... Carrie Beusman of Jezebel: "... there's basically no chance that the bill will pass the GOP-controlled House -- however..., it serves the valuable purpose of asking Republicans to explain the disingenuous, unsupported reasoning behind the scores of excessive regulations they've imposed in the past few years. As Blumenthal notes, this may effectively remove the 'patina of respectability' from the whole ridiculous charade." ...

... The folks a Fox "News" are please to note that this bill will doom Democrats as mass murderers. Charles Pierce has a go at one Fox "News" essay on the subject.

The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse. And here is the nutshell version of today's opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad. -- Justice Elena Kagan, dissent in American Express v. Italian Colors, 2013 ...

... Lina Khan, in the Washington Monthly, provides a history lesson on how the Supreme Court has taken away Americans' fundamental right to seek legal redress against corporations. The only way to reverse the Supremes' radical decisions is for Congress to act to restore the rights, which won't happen "given the level of opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests." Via Charles Pierce. ...

     ... CW: This series of cases shows that for the winger Supremes, ideology trumps even their own personal interests. AT&T is just as happy to cheat Sam Alito as it was to defraud the Concepcions (AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion). But Alito the other four ConservoSupremes still ruled that companies could ban class action suits in the fine print of their "contracts" with consumers. Maybe Mrs. Sam could explain to Justice Sam from down there at the woman's level that their monthly bills are so high because the phone company, et al., ignore her complaints.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd thinks President Obama should quit traveling the country & send a hologram of himself instead. Or something.

Dick Cheney Keeps Boosting Democratics. Hayes Brown of Think Progress: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CNN on Tuesday, once more claiming that the Iraq his administration left behind was a 'very stable' one. In actuality, on the waning days of the Bush administration, Iraq was still a highly violent place, with car bombs exploding and government officials targeted."

Todd Akin Tag-teams the Big Dick. Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "Failed Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) has recently re-emerged in the public sphere to defend his claim in 2012 that women who were victims of 'legitimate rape' could not get pregnant. In a phone interview with St. Louis Dispatch, the former congressman compared himself sympathetically to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who spearheaded an infamous Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. Akin argued that McCarthy was another victim 'assassinated by the media.'"

Jennifer Epstein & Lauren French of Politico: "David Simas, the director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, will not comply with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's subpoena for him to testify, counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter Tuesday to panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).... Issa rejected the White House's assertion of immunity, citing a 2008 federal court case that found that senior advisors to presidents are 'not absolutely immune from congressional process.'"

Rebecca Ruiz & Danielle Ivor of the New York Times find via FOIA requests, that GM hid internal evidence & opinions that ignition switch defects had caused fatal accidents.

You might find yourself more tolerant of the TSA after you read this piece by Nina Strochlic of the Daily Beast: "About a year ago, the [TSA]'s social media team ... launched an Instagram feed. Over its run so far, the filtered, captioned, and heavily hashtagged feed has morphed into an incredible trove of photos documenting the most absurd things people try to bring on planes.... TSA airport inspectors have found cannonballs and eels and rocket launchers." Strochlic includes a few photos.

Senate Races

Ed Kilgore on recent Senate polls: "Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call, who has been known to put the occasional thumb on the scales for the GOP, has a new assessment that concludes party control of the Senate remains 'up in the air.' The Cook Political Report still rates eight races as toss-ups. FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten, while calling Democrats' position 'perilous,' still notes that current polling would suggest Democrats holding onto 51 seats. There's new Marist polling out of Michigan and Colorado providing Democrats good news in those states, and the close and nasty GOP runoff in Georgia is doing nothing to lower Michelle Nunn's prospects.... It's entirely possible the current GOP triumphalism over the Senate is fundamentally no different from the effort by conservative media to spin Mitt Romney right into the White House in 2012."

Governor's Race

Manu Raju of Politico: "In a rare and surprising act of political defiance on Tuesday, more than 100 [Kansas] Republicans, including current and former officeholders, endorsed [Gov. Sam] Brownback's opponent, statehouse Democratic leader Paul Davis. Polls show the challenger with a surprisingly strong shot at taking out Brownback in November.

Presidential Election

Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "A group trying to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016 launched a website Tuesday, with plans to use a national gathering of influential liberal activists later this week to gain more publicity and recruit additional members.... Warren's spokeswoman, Lacey Rose, said that the Massachusetts Democrat is not working with the group, ready4warren.com, nor endorsing its plans."

Beyond the Beltway

Pat Reavy & Dennis Romboy of the Deseret News: "Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow [R] and Mark Shurtleff [R] were arrested and charged Tuesday on allegations ranging from accepting bribes to destroying evidence.... The state's former top law enforcement officials were charged in 3rd District Court with pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony; and three counts of receiving or soliciting bribes by a public official, a second-degree felony. In addition, Shurtleff was charged with two counts of illegally accepting gifts or loans, a second-degree felony; accepting employment that would impair judgment, a second-degree felony; witness tampering, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony."

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper will submit signatures Tuesday to put what could be one of the most dramatic startups ever on the ballot - a plan to divide California into six states.... A Field Poll in February showed 59 percent of Californians surveyed opposed the idea. Even if Draper can turn that around, there would be another major hurdle: The U.S. Constitution requires the approval of both Congress and the state Legislature, which is now firmly controlled by Democrats."

News Ledes

CNN: "The Texas actress who admitted sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday, the U.S. attorney's office said. Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, also was ordered to pay $367,000 in restitution."

Washington Post: "On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a 'very high possibility.'" ...

... New York: "Israel Says It Might Invade the Gaza Strip to Save Its Summer Vacation."

New York Times: "The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed."

Monday
Jul142014

The Commentariat -- July 15, 2014

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "President Barack Obama is facing a clash with Democrats in Congress over proposals to water down a law intended to combat human trafficking in order to speed up the repatriation of unaccompanied children crossing the US southern border from Central America." ...

... Just What You'd Expect. Cristina Marcos & Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "Fresh off a trip to Guatemala and Honduras, a House GOP working group on immigration will recommend Tuesday that the conference change a 2008 trafficking law to stop the thousands of immigrant children flooding across the border. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the working group's leader, will argue that child immigrants from Central America should be subject to the same rules as those from Mexico. A source close to Granger said the group will also advise that National Guard troops be sent to the border, a longstanding demand from Republicans." ...

     ... Danny Vinik: The "crisis is real and requires immediate action from Congress, but it has nothing to do with border security." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "The White House said Monday it was 'likely' that immigrant children facing mortal danger in their home countries would be allowed to stay in the United States."...

     ... CW: Huh. Apparently those "facing mortal danger" didn't include those deported to the "gang-ridden Honduran city" of San Pedro Susa. (See Monday's Ledes.) As Gonzalez & Ortega report in the Arizona Republic story linked below,

Over three days in May, gang members in another Honduran city, San Pedro Sula, murdered five children ages 5 to 13. 'They cut their bodies into quarters as a warning to others because the children didn't want to distribute drugs in their neighborhood. -- Father German Calix, director of a Catholic relief agency

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has more on the White House's position re: deportation of children in danger. ...

... Saul Elbein has a piece in the New Republic on what life is like in Guatemala, which he likens to the feudal system depicted in the HBO fictional series Game of Thrones. (CW: I found Elbein's piece sort of confusing, but then so is Guatemala.) ...

... Daniel Gonzalez & Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic have an excellent, in-depth piece on the children who are migrating from Central American countries ("Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala ...rank among the top five countries with the highest murder rates in the world") to the U.S. ...

... AND Then There's This. Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: Immigration "courts have been overwhelmed by the influx of kids coming to the United States without parents or other relatives. But they were overwhelmed even before the children started showing up, in large part because of Republicans' unwillingness to fund and staff them like other federal courts." Read the whole story; former/disgraced AG Alberto Gonzales rates more than a cameo appearance. ...

... Brian Beutler exposes Republicans' hypocrisy on President Obama's nearly $4BB request to alleviate the border crisis.

Ana Marie Cox of the Guardian: "Late last week, the Reason Foundation released the results of a poll about ... the millennials; its signature finding was the confirmation of a mass abandonment of social conservatism and the GOP. This comes at a time when the conservative movement is increasingly synonymous with mean-spirited, prank-like and combative activism and self-important grand gestures.... The conservative strategy of outrage upon outrage upon outrage bumps up against the policy preferences and the attitudes of millennials in perfect discord.... This next generation is not just inclusive, but conflict-adverse." ...

... ** BUT What the Kids Want May Not Matter. Digby has an excellent piece in Salon on the "real reason" for John Boehner's lawsuit against the President. Read it all. ...

     ... CW: I'd add this. George Will, whose demise I have prematurely reported, is at the center of the scheme. Will is well-connected to the conservative Supremes, & it was Will who suggested the challenge to the President's actions re: the ACA. Will may be just the mouthpiece for Scalia, et al., but Boehner surely picked up Will's signals. Retooling the balance of power in the way digby suggests may be these old boys' last hurrah, but it's a helluva hurrah.

Gene Robinson: "Apparently there's a contest among Republicans to see who can be more shameless and irresponsible in criticizing President Obama's foreign policy. So far, Chris Christie is winning.... If you disregard the rantings of unserious provocateurs such as Sarah Palin, Christie's attack represents a new low. He accuses the president of the United States of actually being responsible 'in some measure' for violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Sunnis and Shiites, dictators and rebels -- conflicts and antagonisms that began, I seem to recall, well before Obama took office in January 2009. One might assume that Christie offered specific ideas about what Obama should be doing differently. Nope.... Asked whether Obama should take some kind of military action in the region, Christie answered, 'I'm not going to give opinions on that. I'm not the president.'"

David Nather & Jeremy Herb of Politico: "If you had any doubts about how seriously some Republicans are taking the notion of a Rand Paul presidency, look at how far they’re going to shut down his views on foreign policy. In the past three days alone, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used a Washington Post op-ed to warn about the dangers of 'isolationism' .... Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused the Kentucky senator on CNN of wanting a 'withdrawal to fortress America.' And former Vice President Dick Cheney declared at a Politico Playbook luncheon on Monday that 'isolationism is crazy,' while his daughter, Liz Cheney, said Paul 'leaves something to be desired, in terms of national security policy.'"

Dick Cheney Still Helping Democrats. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, calling it 'absolutely the right thing to do. I believed in it then, I look back on it now, it was absolutely the right thing to do,' the Wyoming Republican said with regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cheney made his comments at a Politico Playbook lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne and daughter Liz at Washington's Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions -- protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a 'war criminal.'" ...

... Charles Pierce on the Cheney Family Reunion (minus "the Gay One") at the Mayflower Hotel: "... this was one of Mike Allen's little grift-o-rama special events -- a 'Playbook lunch,' sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America.... I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price." Thanks to MAG for the link. See more on great journalism below.

Steve Holland of Reuters: "The White House asked the Republican chairman of a congressional committee [Darrell Issa] on Monday to lift a subpoena against President Barack Obama's political adviser [David Simas], who has been called to testify on Wednesday about his office's operations.... Simas is director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have all had at least one top political adviser in a position similar to that of Simas."

Martin Crutsinger of the AP: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will have some good news to tell Congress this week about the health of the labor market.... Yellen is scheduled to deliver the Fed's twice-a-year report to Congress on interest-rate policy and the economy. She testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and will follow that with testimony Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee." ...

... BUT Good News Is Bad News for Rick Santelli. Myles Udland of Business Insider: Tea party inspiration "Rick Santelli had a meltdown on CNBC today.... This debate is sparked by the New Yorker profile of Janet Yellen, as well as recent inflation data that indicate things in the economy could be heating up." Udland has an extended clip. The shorter version is below. ...

It's impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it's impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick.... There is no piece of advice that you've given that's worked, Rick. Not a single one.... The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn't a single one that's worked for you. -- CNBC Steve Liesman to Rick Santelli

The video is something to see:

... Ed Kilgore: It not just that [Santelli's] infamous 2009 'rant' is often credited with creating (or at least spurring) the Tea Party Movement; it's that he so vividly captured the attitude of contempt that 'winners' had for 'losers' in the midst of an economic catastrophe almost no one had any reason to anticipate.... Rick Santelli. What a loser."


Andrew Sorkin
of the New York Times: Sen. Joe Manchin's daughter Heather Bresch, the CEO of a "giant" generic drugs manufacturer, is moving her operations to the Netherlands to evade higher U.S. taxes. But she's very, very sorry she has to go, etc., etc.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, in the Washington Post, explains journalism to the unbalanced. ...

... CW: Here's a good example of non-reporting: Zeke Miller of Time interviews Bobby Jindal. Every damned thing Jindal said is somewhere between untrue & stupid, though usually it's both. Out-&-out garbage. Miller writes it down & Time publishes it.

Lauren Collins of the New Yorker: The scandal-sheet Daily Mail may have met its match in George Clooney.

Senate Races

M. J. Lee of Politico: West Virginia Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R) -- Wall Street's BFF -- is poised to win the Senate seat Democrat Jay Rockefeller is vacating. Monday Elizabeth Warren went to West Virginia to campaign for underdog Democratic candidate Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's current secretary of state. ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got a rock-star reception during a standing-room-only campaign rally [in Shepherdstown, West Virginia] Monday, as hundreds of liberal activists cheered her broadsides against corporate interests and voiced hopes that her presence might shift the political winds in an increasingly Republican state." ...

... Emily Schultheis of the National Journal: Elizabeth Warren is "proving that she can be a good Democratic soldier by helping the party where and when it needs her most, and she's proving that her appeal and the appeal of her populist message extends far beyond deep-blue Massachusetts.... Monday's West Virginia event was Warren's fourth stop for a 2014 Senate candidate; she'll campaign with her fifth 2014 candidate, Rep. Gary Peters, in Michigan on Friday.... Warren's ability to move easily from blue states to red states is proof she has 'become a serious player' on the national stage, said longtime Democratic consultant Bob Shrum."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A sport utility vehicle packed with explosives detonated in a market in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, bringing down shops and leaving the bloodied remains of men, women and children in the rubble. By late afternoon, at least 89 people were known to have been killed, the Defense Ministry said."

New York Times: "Israel accepted Egypt's proposal for a cessation of hostilities with Hamas and other militant Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, but a fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel has left the fate of the cease-fire unclear. The Israeli announcement came via text message and without comment after Israel's top ministers, known as its security cabinet, met early Tuesday." ...

... AND THEN. AP: "Hamas rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel on Tuesday, moments after the Israeli Cabinet accepted the plan, throwing into disarray international efforts to end a week of fighting that has killed 192 Palestinians and exposed millions of Israelis to Hamas rocket fire." ...

... AND THEN. Washington Post: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to escalate Israel's operations in Gaza after Hamas balked at an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, saying it had not been consulted on its terms." ...

... AND THEN. New York Times: "The Israeli authorities said a Palestinian attack caused the first Israeli fatality in the eight-day-old military confrontation, in which Israeli bombings have killed nearly 200 Palestinians."

New York Times: "Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, faced with an imminent deadline for an agreement with the West on the future of the country's nuclear program, said in an interview on Monday that Iran could accept a deal that essentially freezes its capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels for several years, provided it is then treated like any other nation with a peaceful nuclear program."

BBC News: "A Ukrainian military transport aircraft has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say. They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 6,500m (21,325ft). The plane was targeted with 'a more powerful missile' than a shoulder-carried missile, 'probably fired' from Russia. The crew survived, reports say."