The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

 


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

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

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

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Sunday
Jan112015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 12, 2015

Rip Van Dems Awake! Lori Montgomery & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party's tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an 'action plan' that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class. The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a 'paycheck bonus credit' that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year. The windfall -- about $1.2 trillion over a decade -- would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street 'high rollers' through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks. The plan also would use the tax code to prod employers to boost wages...."

Roberto Ferdman of the Washington Post: "There is little empathy at the top. Most of America's richest think poor people have it easy in this country, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center. The center surveyed a nationally representative group of people this past fall, and found that the majority of the country's most financially secure citizens (54 percent at the very top, and 57 percent just below) believe the 'poor have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.'"

Paul Krugman: "... what should be done about Keystone XL? If you believe that it would be environmentally damaging -- which I do -- then you should be against it, and you should ignore the claims about job creation. The numbers being thrown around are tiny compared with the country's overall work force. And in any case, the jobs argument for the pipeline is basically a sick joke coming from people who have done all they can to destroy American jobs -- and are now employing the very arguments they used to ridicule government job programs to justify a big giveaway to their friends in the fossil fuel industry."

Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times: "Uncle Sam could take a bigger bite at tax time for consumers who received too much government help last year with their Obamacare premiums. That may be just one of several surprises for millions of Americans in advance of the first tax deadline involving the Affordable Care Act. The majority of Americans who get their health insurance at work should see few changes when filing their taxes. Most will just need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had coverage in 2014. It stands to be more complicated for those individuals who purchased a private health plan in government-run exchanges or went without insurance at some point last year." ...

... CW: GOP Outrage Machine to run ads featuring single mom who got big promotion; formerly unemployed Midwest husband who got job, thus doubling family income. And maybe one with your typical starving Harvard professor. ...

... digby sees a real problem: "I think it's going to be a big story because people simply weren't adequately warned about it.... It could add up to some real money for middle class folks who made more than they expected. And it will feel as if they're being punished for doing better. It's unusual to have your bills increase just because you get a raise. ...

... CW: Yes, it is going to be a big story because Republicans are going to make it a big story. But it is not "unusual to have your bills increase just because you get a raise; the "bill" here is called a "tax," and your tax bill is supposed to go up just because you got a raise.

... Right now the Outrage Machine is otherwise occupied, gathering wrath because neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden attended the Paris march. CW: Gee, I wonder if their absence had anything to do with the high security threat posed by an open-air anti-terrorism march in streets surrounded by quirky six-storey buildings. Maybe the complainers would have been happy if Obama had deputized Bush & Cheney to represent the U.S. ...

... David McCabe of the Hill: "Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to France on Thursday and Friday, amid criticism that the Obama administration did not send a high-level representative to a Sunday solidarity march in Paris responding to two terrorist attacks." Kerry is in India ... Pakistan. ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the White House has scheduled an anti-extremism conference that was originally set for last October but was postponed without explanation. In a statement issued as many world leaders gathered in the French capital Sunday to express solidarity with France and to vow renewed efforts to fight violent Islamic radicalism, the White House announced that its summit on the issue of homegrown terrorism will take place next month." ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday that the possibility of a Paris-style terrorist attack in the United States is very real and keeps him 'up at night.'... Holder spoke with four of the five Sunday political talk shows from Paris, where world leaders marched to honor the memory of 17 people in violence by terrorists there this week."

Annals of "Journalism," Nonpareil. Raf Sanchez of the Telegraph: Steve Emerson, "an American 'terrorism expert' on the right-wing Fox News channel, has declared that Birmingham is 'a totally Muslim' city 'where non-Muslims just simply don't go'.... 'In Britain, it's not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in,' he said.... 'Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire,' he proclaimed, without giving examples. He described Birmingham as one of a number of European cities 'where sharia courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don't go in, and where it's basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.' Mr Emerson is a regular contributor to Fox News...." Thanks to safari for the lead. ...

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, preparing to enter the Caliphate of Birmingham in 2012. It was the first visit to the city by a British royal since the mid-20th century. Birmingham was then part of Great Britain. See also, Beatles.

AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder isn't saying whether he still will be on the job when the time comes to decide whether to bring charges in the investigation of former CIA Director David Petraeus. Holder, in several television news interviews on Sunday, steered clear of commenting directly on the investigation. But he told CBS' 'Face the Nation' that he expects that 'a matter of this magnitude' would be decided 'at the highest level' of the department." ...

... Poor, Pitiful Petraeus. Eric Bradner of CNN: "A top Senate Democrat defended David Petraeus on Sunday, saying the Justice Department erred in recommending charges against the former top Army general and Central Intelligence Agency director. 'This man has suffered enough in my view,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman, told Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst on CNN's 'State of the Union.'" ...

     ... Heather of Crooks & Liars: "Someone please let me know if this woman has ever shown this much deference for ordinary citizens, or for journalists, or for Edward Snowden or anyone else who was not in her good graces that has leaked classified information?" ...

     ... Good question, Heather. ...

I don't look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it's an act of treason.... He violated the oath, he violated the law. It's treason. -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, on Edward Snowden, June 2013

... CW: The argument Petraeus's apologists have been raising is that, unlike Ed Snowden & other leakers, Petraeus did not leak secret documents for the purpose of publication. Really? He sent them to a woman who was writing a book, for Pete's sake. Most leakers are motivated by what they consider to be some high-minded moral purpose. Petraeus's high-minded moral purpose was to ensure Paula Broadwell portrayed him as a super-hero in her book, and/or to further his personal relationship with Broadwell. As for Feinstein's "suffered enough" rationale, poor Petraeus is struggling along as a public speaker & visiting professor to supplement his meager federal pension (about $230,000/year for his military service). Meanwhile, Snowden is exiled in Siberia Moscow, & some whistleblowers are wearing orange jumpsuits: Chelsea Manning, who was just a dumb kid, is behind bars for 35 years & was subjected to procedures defined as torture.

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: Barry Eichengreen's "new book, 'Hall of Mirrors' (Oxford University Press), accuses the global leaders of the 21st century of failing to heed the warning signs that a crisis might occur and then becoming too self-satisfied with the initial success they had at containing the worst effects of the banking crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. The reason the global economy is still in rough shape seven years later, in this telling, is that leaders in the United States and Europe drew the conclusions they wanted to hear from the Depression."

Shawn Cohen of the New York Post: "At precincts across [New York City], top brass are cracking the whip on summons activity and even barring many cops from taking vacation and sick days, The Post has learned." CW: Remember, this report comes from the Post, so it ain't necessarily so.

News Ledes

Washington Post: One person is dead, two are in critical condition, with 81 others taken to hospitals after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Paris in Washington.

     ... CW: Yipes! Sorry about that. The "article" was very sketchy -- bullet sentences, really -- at the time I read it; the station had a French name; I thought it was "le Métro," not "the Metro."

New York Times: "The Manhattan clinic where Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest while being treated for a voice problem has failed to correct deficiencies implicated in her death and will be barred from having its services paid for by Medicare and Medicaid funds, according to a letter released Monday from the federal agency that oversees those two programs."

Guardian: "France is deploying 10,000 troops around the country to bolster security and sending almost 5,000 police to protect Jewish sites as it steps up the search for a likely accomplice to the attackers who killed 17 people last week."

Reuters: "Cuba has released all of the 53 prisoners it had promised to free as part of a deal with the US, senior American officials have said. The release of the remaining prisoners sets a positive tone for talks next week aimed at normalising relations after decades of hostility."

New York Times: "Indonesian Navy divers on Monday retrieved one of the so-called black boxes from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month and were trying to recover the other one amid strong underwater currents and limited visibility, officials said."

Saturday
Jan102015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 11, 2015

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Thomas Frank is here to annoy us one last time. ...

... CW: What's the Matter with Thomas Frank? For one thing, he relies on the "great man" theory -- that American politics is all about Obama, as if Max Baucus (now exiled to Siberia China) & Ted Cruz didn't exist. For another: Frank makes up stuff: "... enforcing party discipline is a job for the punditry...," as if columnists never criticized President Obama or his factotums Tim Geithner & Larry Summers. For a third, he dismisses certain inconvenient factors as immaterial or rationalizations even as he acknowledges them: "the reactionary white working class," "the incorrigible South": this is a good rhetorical trick, but it's a trick. Fourth, he generalizes what's wrong with the punditry by, ferinstance, citing as an example Lanny Davis. Lanny Davis? Puh-leze. All of this hoo-hah undermines any valid points that Frank may make: about Obama's & the Democrats' coziness with Wall Street, about their failure to propose solutions to inequality, etc.

Darlene Superville of the AP: "Continuing the break with State of the Union tradition, President Barack Obama will spend most of the coming week previewing more of the proposals he will outline in the address, including on identity theft, electronic privacy and cybersecurity, the White House announced Saturday."

Scott Lemieux has an excellent post on the history of "Republican health-care plans." Lemieux argues, case by case, that there is no such thing. CW: I think he's right, and I had not figured this out before.

Orange Squish. Charles Babington of the AP: "Die-hard House conservatives bungled a coup against House Speaker John Boehner but now look like winners, pushing Republicans farther right. Rather than punish and isolate those who opposed him as leader, Boehner surprised many on Friday by embracing an immigration plan that's tougher than lawmakers had expected." ...

Sherwin-Williams color swatch "Husky Orange."... New York Times: Speaker John Boehner returned to Washington last week "showcasing a very deep winter-recess tan burnished at his new condominium in Marco Island, Fla." The Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer "found us the closest matches: 'Spicy Hue' and 'Husky Orange,' the latter of which fits nicely with Mr. Boehner's recent description of himself: 'I am not a squish.'"

In other Florida news, Gal Lotan of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel: "George Zimmerman faces charges of aggravated assault with a weapon after allegedly throwing a bottle of wine at his girlfriend earlier this week, according to his lawyer. Zimmerman, 31, was arrested Friday night in Lake Mary where he is currently living, but his attorney Don West said the fight involving his girlfriend happened four or five days ago.... Zimmerman stood before Judge John Galluzzo Saturday morning when a $5,000 bond was set. Zimmerman, who is currently unemployed, bonded out of jail at 12:25 p.m.... Galluzzo told Zimmerman that he had until Tuesday to surrender any firearms in his possession to a family member or a third party. The judge also ordered Zimmerman to stay out of Volusia County and to have no contact with the victim." Thanks to James S. for the lead. ...

... Hudson Hongo of Gawker reminds us of Zimmerman's recent brushes with the law. ...

... CW: It's worth remembering that Zimmerman, who has had numerous brushes for the law for violent offenses, long wanted to be a policeman. In 2009, he applied to be a police officer in Prince Williams County, Virginia. The county rejected him because of his bad credit history. Later, he attended a Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff's course on citizen's law enforcement. Pedro Oliveira of the New York Post: "George Zimmerman has placed at least 46 calls to 911 in the last eight years. In the last year, his calls focused on blacks in his gated community." Zimmerman never attained his career goal, but I suspect he is a "type" of police academy applicant. Some police forces probably recognize this type & cull them because of their attitudes. But many people with views similar to Zimmerman's probably have become police officers in forces throughout the country.

Brooks Hays of UPI: "On New Year's Eve, officers with the New York City Police Department failed to issue a single citation in Times Square -- one million partygoers, zero tickets.... Zero isn't just the total of minor offenses ticketed on New Years Eve, it's the total for the entirety of the holiday week, from December 28 through January 3." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "WELCOME visitors to New York City! This has been the best time ever to urinate on a street, sneak onto the subway or run a red light, for the police force has been on a virtual strike."

General BetrayUs. David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "It wasn't quite so long ago that Congress saw the need to censure MoveOn.org's childish 'Betray Us' ad in order to 'strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus.' It turns out that the honor and integrity quotient wasn't that high after all, not just in his personal life but also as matter of national security.... [Its' a mistake] to put a human being on a pedestal and insist that anyone is above attacks on their honor and integrity. General Petraeus clearly wasn't, and it's more than a little ironic that he's now in danger of felony charges for actually betraying national security secrets." ...

... It's Obama's Fault. Michael Walsh of the right-wing PJ Tattler: "There has got to be a lot more to this story of David Petraeus.... How likely is it that the man who at one point posed a possibly potent challenge to President Obama's re-election changes had he chosen to return from the Middle East and run for the GOP nomination, and then was stashed in Langley by that same Obama administration in order to get him out of the way, and then was suddenly felled by a sex scandal, could be in such trouble? Somebody in the White House plays very. very rough."

David Sirota in Salon provides an excellent examples of how Republicans redistribute wealth from the middle class to the rich -- starring Govs. Sam Brownback & Chris Christie. "The tepid response to this kind of wealth transfer suggests that for all the angry rhetoric about redistribution you might hear on talk radio, cable TV and in the halls of Congress, the political and media class is perfectly fine with redistribution -- as long as the cash flows from the 99 percent to the 1 percent, and not the other way around."

God News

Fredrick Nzwili of Religion News Service: "International rights groups, churches and activists are escalating campaigns against female genital mutilation now that a new practice has emerged in which girls are checking into hospitals to have the procedure. In what being referred to as the medicalization of FGM, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are secretly performing the procedures at the request of families." ...

... David Gibson of Religion News Service: "Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis' push for reform, is ... arguing that the Catholic Church has become too 'feminized.' Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican's highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood. 'Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural,' Burke said in an interview published on Monday (Jan. 5). 'I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.'" CW: It's unnatural for young men to do things with girls. That's what I thought.

Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service: "Archbishop Oscar Romero, the hero of the Catholic left who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in El Salvador, is inching one step closer to sainthood after his case languished in bureaucratic limbo for decades.... Romero's cause was started nearly two decades ago when St. John Paul II gave him the title of Servant of God in 1997. But his case never advanced amid lingering Vatican suspicion of Liberation Theology, an economically progressive approach to Catholicism that flourished under Romero and was suppressed by both John Paul and Benedict XVI." ...

... ** Charles Pierce on Saint Oscar Romero.

Daniel Strauss of TPM: "The Grand Synagogue of Paris did not host Shabbat services and closed Friday for security reasons, the first time that's happened since World War II. The Synagogue, the largest place of worship for those of the Jewish faith in Paris, was closed Friday amid the ongoing efforts by French authorities to hunt down the suspects involved in terrorist attacks around the city. The attacks started with shootings of staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo." Via Steve Benen.

David Gibson: "As Florida became the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage this week, Miami [Roman Catholic] Archbishop Thomas Wenski sent a memo to all church employees reiterating that any expressions of support for gay marriage -- even if it's only a tweet or Facebook post -- could cost them their jobs." ...

... BUT. David Gibson: "A Belgian bishop [Johan Bonny of Antwerp] who has been touted as a future leader of that country's Catholic hierarchy is making waves by urging the church to find ways to recognize gay relationships in which 'exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other.'"

Michelle Boorstein & Annys Shin of the Washington Post: "A top Episcopal bishop turned herself in to Baltimore police Friday after being charged in the death of a bicyclist with manslaughter, leaving the scene, driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving. Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, was driving her 2001 Subaru on Roland Avenue in Baltimore on the afternoon of Dec. 27 when she veered into the bike lane where Thomas Palermo, a father of two, was riding, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement Friday." Read the whole article. This was not Cook's first DUI.

Special Congressional Election

Rachel Shapiro of Staten Island Live: "District Attorney Daniel Donovan has been selected as the Republican Party candidate on Staten Island for the empty congressional seat. Party Chairman John Antoniello selected Donovan after interviewing him, as well as Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, on Saturday morning with executive committee members. Party bylaws allow the chairman to be the sole determiner of the party candidate in this case." It's not quite a done deal, as the Congressional district covers part of Brooklyn, too, & the party chair there has a say. But Donovan will almost certainly be the nominee. ...

... CW: It appears that on Staten Island there's a big payoff for letting a killer-copy walk. ...

... Tom Wrobleski of SI Live comments on Donovan's "sotto voce announcement," which I mentioned in yesterday's Commentariat.

Congressional Race 2016

** Welfare Queens, Revived! Jud Lounsbury of Uppity Wisconsin: "U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, you know -- the guy who got rich by finding someone to support him, has a pearl of wisdom for all the working single moms out there: If she wants to 'increase her take-home pay' instead of having yet 'another child out of wedlock' to increase her welfare windfall, she should instead 'find someone to support her.' Johnson is quick to admit that he stole this incredibly sexist riff comes from his uber-misogynist pal, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman. But some things are so awesome, that you just have to use them yourself!.... Johnson and Grothman's modern redux of the 'welfare queen' has been rated 'Mostly False' by Politifact and was given 'Two Pinocchios' by the Washington Post's fact checker." With video. Read the whole post. Via capper of Crooks & Liars, who has more to say on Johnson. CW: I would take Johnson's phony welfare-queen schtick as both sexist and racist.

Presidential Election

"Awk-ward!" Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: The battle between Jeb & Mitt (not their real names) is on. "Bush has been trying to consolidate support among establishment donors, leaders and operatives since announcing in December that he would begin laying the groundwork for a likely campaign.... But on Friday, Romney sought to slam the brakes on Bush, telling about 30 powerful donors that he, too, was seriously considering a 2016 bid. 'I want to be president,' he said, adding that his wife, Ann, was supportive. Romney has begun methodically calling donors, staff members and endorsers from his two prior campaigns to measure how deep his reservoir of support would be if he runs for a third time, his advisers said. He also has scheduled a series of public speeches...."

Dan Balz attends a focus group (of voters from across the political spectrum) in Aurora, Colorado. Jeb? Nope. Hillary? Not so much. Rand Paul? Maybe. Elizabeth Warren? Yes!

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "The Iowa straw poll has survived. Despite calls for the Republican Party of Iowa to abandon this quirky tradition -- which, opponents say, unfairly hurts some candidates and detracts from the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses a few months later -- the group's central committee voted 16 to 0 on Saturday to begin planning a straw poll." CW: Sure hope Michele Bachmann wins again.

News Ledes

Reuters photo.... New York Times: "More than a million people joined over 40 presidents and prime ministers on the streets of Paris on Sunday in the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism since the Sept. 11 attacks. Responding to terrorist strikes that killed 17 people in France and riveted worldwide attention, Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists and people of all races, ages and political stripes swarmed central Paris beneath a bright blue sky, calling for peace and an end to violent extremism." ...

... AFP: "A German tabloid that paid tribute to those killed at Charlie Hebdo by reprinting cartoons from the French satirical paper mocking the Prophet Mohammed was firebombed Sunday, police said."

AP: "Two members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen have died in Los Angeles. Relatives say Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey, both 91, died last Monday in their Los Angeles homes. Huntley and Shambrey were friends who enlisted together in 1942. They served as mechanics in Italy during World War II and kept the planes of the all-black squadron in the air."

New York Times: "Anita Ekberg, who became an international symbol of lush beauty and unbridled sensuality in the 1960 Federico Fellini film 'La Dolce Vita,' died on Sunday in Rocca di Papa, southeast of Rome. She was 83."

New York Times: "Robert Stone, who wrote ambitious award-winning novels about errant Americans in dangerous circumstances or on existential quests -- or both -- as a commentary on an unruly, wayward nation in the Vietnam era and beyond, died on Saturday at his winter home in Key West, Fla."

Friday
Jan092015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 10, 2015

So much for the G.O.P. not being the scary party. -- Lawrence Downes of the New York Times ...

... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "House Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would drastically roll back President Obama's executive actions on immigration, including undoing a provision that will allow five million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and one that protects young people brought to the United States illegally by a parent. The Republican plan, an effort to appease their more conservative members, would still finance most of the Department of Homeland Security.... The plan Republicans ultimately supported, after a week of private meetings and behind-the-scenes discussions, is far more expansive than what the House leadership team had originally anticipated." ...

It is outrageous and it is noteworthy that the House leadership has embraced the most extreme proposals from the most extreme members of their caucus. It is nothing short of breathtaking that this is their first move coming out of the box in 2015 when they get the reins of power. -- Frank Sharry of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group ...

Aw, c'mon, Frank. I'll wait for the details, but news stories say nothing about alligator-filled moats. Why, this cruel, vindictive bill proposal is downright liberal by GOP standards. Besides, there's a CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE at stake here. -- Constant Weader ...

... I don’t believe that the funding of the Department [of Homeland Security] is, in fact, at risk. What is at risk is the rule of law, and the sanctity of America's Constitution. The President has taken actions that are beyond the scope of his ability, and Congress cannot just sit here and look the other way. We have to take action. This isn't about funding the Department of Homeland Security. Members of Congress support funding the Department, but we cannot continue to allow the President to go around the Congress and go around the law and take unilateral action like he has. -- Speaker of the House John Boehner, this week ...

Spoilsport 1. Just picking on the children that came here at no fault of their own, I think, is a wrong way to start. -- Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)

Spointsport 2. Only three words describe the Republican approach to immigrants: deportation, deportation, deportation. The 'deport them all' contingent in the Republican Party has the pen and the gavel in the House. I know the Republicans will stop at nothing, but I didn't think they would start with everything. -- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)

... David Rogers of Politico: "House Republicans filed a long-delayed $39.67 billion Homeland Security bill on Friday, promising new resources and flexibility for a sprawling department that has been hobbled for months by a rigid funding resolution set at last year's spending levels.... But the same bill still faces a knock-down fight over President Barack Obama's November executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from deportation.... The GOP is determined to use this measure and Congress' 'power of the purse' to block Obama from proceeding. That task is complicated by the fact that USCIS is largely self-financed from the fees it collects, not appropriations from Congress. So lawmakers can't simply cut dollars in the bill." ...

... Lawrence Downes of the New York Times: "What's striking about this early Republican move is that it is not just stray artillery fire from the party's wingnut brigade, led by Representative Steve King of Iowa, but a product of the House leadership."

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama discussed the economic gains we made in 2014, which was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s":

Lori Montgomery & Steve Mufson of the Washington Post: President "Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone bill, along with two others. Nonetheless, the House voted 266 to 153 to approve the measure, with 28 Democrats joining all but one Republican voting yes. The bill goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to stage a lengthy, high-profile debate that is likely to stretch through Obama's State of the Union address Jan. 20."

Perry Bacon of NBC News: "President Obama on Friday called for making at least two years of college education free and universal, a bold idea that reflects his desire to offer far-reaching proposals in his last two years in office, even if Congress is unlikely to adopt them":

... Andy Borowitz: "President Obama's plan to offer Americans two years of college for free has come under fire from congressional Republicans, who are calling it a blatant plot to make Americans smarter. The G.O.P., which has benefited from the support of so-called 'low-information voters' in recent years, accused Obama of cynically trying to make people smarter as a way of chipping away at the Republican base."

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Given how far we have come, and the scars that still linger, it is hard to understand the efforts of some to undermine our ability to protect consumers and taxpayers from excessive risks taken by financial institutions. Taxpayers should never again have to step in to prevent business failures; that is why the Wall Street Reform Act ended 'too big to fail' as a matter of law.... Opponents who are fighting to repeal these reforms, or impede implementation, make no secret that they are gearing up for a multifront assault to weaken effective oversight of Wall Street and protections for Main Street. Their focus ... amounts to an agenda that would take us back to the dangerous conditions that existed before the financial crisis."

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against retired Gen. David H. Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress while he was director of the C.I.A., officials said, leaving Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison. The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Mr. Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his C.I.A. email account and other highly classified information. F.B.I. agents discovered classified documents on her computer after Mr. Petraeus resigned from the C.I.A. in 2012 when the affair became public.... [Federal investigators] recommended that Mr. Petraeus face charges, saying lower-ranking officials had been prosecuted for far less.... [Petraeus] has indicated to the Justice Department that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial." ...

... Thanks to James S. for the link. James writes, "Maybe for the wrong reasons, like getting Chaney for tax evasion... but Yea!" ...

     ... CW: Maybe this, uncovered by Guardian reporters (March 2013): "General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse." But no. Wouldn't want to open that can of worms, would we?

Steve Erlanger & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "The bloody denouement on Friday of two hostage crises at different ends of a traumatized Paris means attention will now shift to the gaping question facing the French government: How did several jihadists -- and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators -- manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country's police and intelligence services? On its own, the Wednesday morning slaughter that left 12 people dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo represented a major breakdown for French security and intelligence forces, especially after the authorities confirmed that the two suspects, the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had known links to the militant group Al Qaeda in Yemen. Then on Friday, even as the police had cornered the Kouachi brothers inside a printing factory in the northeast suburbs, another militant, Amedy Coulibaly -- who has since been linked to the Kouachis -- stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris and threatened to kill hostages if the police captured the Kouachis." ...

... Greg Miller & Adam Goldman of the Washington Post: "French security services are likely to face intense pressure to explain how known militants -- including one trained by an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen -- faced no apparent scrutiny before they launched this week's terrorist attacks in Paris.... The search for answers is likely to focus on a three-year period preceding this week's shooting during which two of the alleged gunmen, Said and Chérif Kouachi, seemingly dropped out of the view of French intelligence services as well as their U.S. counterparts." ...

... Juan Cole provides some biographical information about Sharif & Said Kouashi, the two men (now dead) identified as the Charlie Hebdo assassins. Cole blames Bush & Cheney for the young men's radicalization. This may be fair, but I would caution susceptible readers not to charge Bush & Cheney with these mass murders, as Cole's rhetoric comes close to doing. ...

... Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times: "The French authorities on Saturday were searching for the girlfriend of the man who targeted a kosher supermarket on Friday in eastern Paris, where four hostages died before he was killed by counterterrorism forces.... Law enforcement officials appealed to the public to help find Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, who seized hostages at the supermarket, Hyper Cacher, near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris."

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. -- Evelyn Beatrice Hall, often attributed to Voltaire

Jonathan Chait explains freedom of expression to Glenn Greenwald, David Brooks, et al. CW: This really is not a difficult concept, people, and should not be so hard for Greenwald & Brooks to grasp. Both let (different) ideological precepts get in the way of their understanding of a fundamental, foundational principle of "free" society. ...

... Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch has been strongly criticised after tweeting that 'most Muslims' -- even if peaceful -- must be held responsible for the religion's 'growing jihadist cancer' in the wake of the terror attacks in France." ...

... Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast: Bill Maher "hosted the 13th season premiere of his HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night and doubled (and tripled, and quadrupled) down on the comments he made on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night where, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre that saw 9 fellow satirists, two policemen, and a maintenance worker be murdered by gun and RPG-wielding jihadists, the comedian ... didn't pull any punches, saying, 'hundreds of millions of [Muslims] support an attack like [Charlie Hebdo]'":

... Nabih Bulos of the Los Angeles Times: "Although the attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has been widely condemned online, some people have praised the violence."

FBI "person of interest."Jesse Paul of the Denver Post: "Officials released a composite sketch Friday of a person of interest in the bombing of a [Colorado Springs] building that houses a chapter of the NAACP, saying their investigation is still in its early stages and very much ongoing. The FBI would not speculate about a motive in Tuesday's bombing.... The sketch is of a balding white man about 40 seen dropping something off and leaving the scene just before the device went off, officials said. Federal law enforcement is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest (call: 303-425-7787).... Officials say the person of interest, seen leaving after the explosion by neighbors, may be driving a 2000 or older model, dirty, white pickup truck with paneling, a dark-colored bed liner, open tailgate and a missing or covered license plate...." ...

... CW: Luckily, our American terrorists are often pretty incompetent: "No one was injured in the 10 a.m. blast Tuesday on the 600 block of South El Paso Street in a quiet neighborhood south of downtown Colorado Springs.... A gas can placed next to the device did not ignite...." ...

... CW: Hey, Rupert. I'm sure you agree that most Christians "must be held responsible" here.

 

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that his eye injuries remain so severe that doctors can't yet determine whether his full vision will be restored. Reid suffered at least three broken ribs and broke several bones around his right eye last week while exercising at his suburban Las Vegas home. The injuries kept him from coming to Capitol Hill this week for the start of the 114th Session of Congress."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Federal prosecutors won't call New York Times reporter James Risen as a witness at a leak trial set to get underway next week for one of his alleged confidential sources, several people close to the situation said. The decision appears to bring to an end a six-year battle to get him to provide testimony against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is facing ten felony charges in connection with alleged disclosures to Risen about an operation aimed at undermining Iran's nuclear program."

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "Edward Snowden would like everyone -- especially his critics -- to know that he is happy with life in Russia. Happy, and also sober.... During [an] interview [for the PBS program 'NOVA'], Snowden focused on a speech that former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden had given in which he predicted that Snowden would be depressed and drunk." The transcript of the Snowden interview is here.

Congressional Election

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The New York City prosecutor who oversaw the grand jury investigation into the death of Eric Garner officially announced his bid for Congress Friday. Dan Donovan, the Republican district attorney for Richmond County, is seeking support from party leaders to replace former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who resigned after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion. The district covers all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn." ...

... CW: Normally, a candidate for public office will want to make as big a splash as possible in the announcement of his candidacy. As Donovan is surely aware, Friday afternoon, the time at which he made his announcement, is not a news-splash moment. Friday pm is best known as the timeframe in which public figures release bad or embarrassing news in hopes the public & the media won't pay attention over the weekend & by Monday, the bad news will be old news. One suspects that Donovan is trying to avoid media attention. For some reason.

A good example of why I Love Joe:

Presidential Election

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney ... told Republican donors in New York on Friday that he is seriously considering a third presidential campaign in 2016, according to a source present at the meeting. Spencer Zwick, Romney's former national finance co-chairman who was at the New York meeting, confirmed that Romney is weighing a 2016 run." ...

... Matt Viser of the Boston Globe: "Romney told people in the room that his decision did not have anything to do with current candidates being good or bad, although other sources close to Romney have said that he is not satisfied with the current Republican primary field, even with the addition of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Josh Margolin of ABC News: "Gov. Chris Christie, a potential presidential contender, was interrogated recently by federal investigators probing the 2013 lane-closure scandal.... Christie met with federal prosecutors and FBI agents last month during a secret session at the New Jersey governor's mansion in Princeton. He agreed to sit down with investigators voluntarily after they offered him a chance to provide his side of the story. Interviewing Christie was one of the final steps in the investigation, which appears to be wrapping up, according to those briefed on it." ...

... Claude Brodesser-Akner of NJ Advance Media (Jan. 6): "The owner of the Dallas Cowboys [Jerry Jones] is a part-owner of a hospitality company recently awarded a lucrative Port Authority hospitality services contract, raising additional concerns about Gov. Christie's Sunday trip by private jet to Texas to see his favorite NFL team play...." Thanks to Marvin S. for the lead. ...

... Brodesser-Akner: "Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said today [Friday] he 'didn't know' Gov. Chris Christie during the time that a company partly owned by his team was bidding for a lucrative Port Authority hospitality services contract, according to a published report.... A Christie spokesman recently said that the governor's friendship with Jones began in the summer of 2013, although in a public television interview last month, Christie told an interviewer that the two men became friends 'over the past five years.'" ...

... CW: I can't cite the best part of Gail Collins' column on Chris the Football Mascot & Faux Populist, because it's all very fine....

... Earlier, I thought all the hoo-hah over Christie's characteristic display of pathetic immaturity was a bit overblown. Now that we find out there's a quo for the quid, & that Chistie has already been reduced to sending his minions to "correct the record," making cutting personal remarks about detractors & paying his own way to Green Bay, I think the whole incident has legs. In & of itself, like Bridgegate, it seems sorta small potatoes -- at least at this point -- but the cumulative effect of these scandalettes -- which are of a nature people understand -- is to reveal Christie as a sleazy, two-bit crook & clownish thug. Not what most people want in a POTUS. ...

... AND, as Bill Kristol predicted, Christie presidential rival Scott Walker is using the controversy over Christie's relationship with Jones to his own advantage:

News Ledes

Reuters: "Two protesters were arrested at the McLean, Virginia, home of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday after 20 demonstrators, some in orange prison jumpsuits, walked onto his property to mark the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison."

Washington Post: "French authorities on Saturday were hunting for a woman said to be 'armed and dangerous,' who they believe is connected to three days of violence that reached a bloody denouement in twin sieges Friday. Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, may have fled France ahead of the attacks and may now be in Syria, French media reports said Saturday." ...

... AP: "A Turkish intelligence official says authorities believe the common law wife of one of the gunmen behind the attacks in France came through Turkey days before and may have crossed into Syria." ...

... Yahoo News: "Hundreds of thousands continued to rally in the streets of France on Saturday to support free speech and honor the victims of this week's terrorist attacks. The rallies across the country were marked by relative quiet, out of respect for the fallen, despite the massive size of the crowds."

AP: "A tail section from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month, killing all 162 people on board, became the first major wreckage lifted off the ocean floor Saturday, but the all-important black boxes were not found inside. The red metal chunk, with the words 'AirAsia' clearly visible across it, was brought to the surface using inflatable balloons."

KMBC News: "The owner of a Shawnee, Kan. gun shop was killed and several suspects were shot during a robbery at his business on Friday afternoon."

Thursday
Jan082015

The Commentariat -- January 9, 2015

Obama Pushes Socialist Plan to Grant Hoi Polloi Two Free Years of College. Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama rolled out a new plan Thursday to make two years of community college free, or nearly so, for millions of students across the country, a major investment that the White House cast as changing the face of higher education. The program, inspired by new initiatives in Tennessee and Chicago, could benefit up to 9 million students, advisors said. At its heart is dedicated federal funding to cover 75% of tuition, with the states picking up the rest of the tab":

... As contributor James S. wrote in yesterday's thread, " I think he wants to drive the repugs nuts." CW: More easily done than said. ...

... In addition, as Akhilleus suggested in the same thread (by extension), the Obama proposal, if implemented, would just lead to more college date rape since it gives more women the option to attend college. Phyllis Schlafly: "The imbalance of far more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years." One of her solutions: quit granting college loans altogether. Seems to me that by Schlafly's standard, President Obama favors campus rape.

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "The latest jobs numbers, released Friday,show that this basic story of a strengthening economy remains very much intact..... This is all excellent news for the people holding one of the 2.95 million jobs that did not exist at the beginning of 2014 (the strongest year of job growth since 1999)..... The big disappointment was on wages.... In Friday's revisions, November wages rose only 0.2 percent. And even worse, in December they fell 0.2 percent.... One mild curiosity in the report is that the size of the labor force actually fell.... When employers are so reluctant to raise pay, it shouldn't be shocking that more Americans choose to sit at home and remain out of the labor force."

The Party of Voodoo. Paul Krugman: "... we’re looking at a political subculture in which ideological tenets are simply not to be questioned, no matter what. Supply-side economics is valid no matter what actually happens to the economy, guaranteed health insurance must be a failure even if it's working, and anyone who points out the troubling facts is ipso facto an enemy. And we're not talking about marginal figures. You sometimes hear claims that the old-fashioned Republican establishment is making a comeback, that Tea Party extremists are on the run and we can get back to bipartisan cooperation. But that is a fantasy. We can't have meaningful cooperation when we can't agree on reality, when even establishment figures in the Republican Party essentially believe that facts have a liberal bias."

Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact: "In remarks from the Senate floor, newly elevated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that his party's takeover of Senate control 'appears to coincide' with recent good economic news.... McConnell stopped short of saying the Republican Senate takeover actually caused an economic improvement, though many observers assumed that was what he was trying to imply.... Even leaving aside the question of causation, key statistics show that the economic recovery was under way well before September, which is our best estimate for when the "expectation" of a GOP Senate solidified. We rate the statement False." ....

... Happily, James Carroll of the Louisville Courier-Journal (Mitch's homestate paper) picked up the PolitiFact analysis & even threw in the Democratic National Committee's response to Mitch's claim, which began, "Hahahahahahahahahahaha." ...

... Greg Sargent: "... the humor value of this aside, the serious point is that McConnell is actually talking about what's to come, and previewing how Republicans will justify their coming policy agenda.... The idea is that the increased confidence generated by the impending GOP takeover of Congress is responsible for the recovery -- which is exactly why we should now go forward with implementing a Republican economic agenda." ...

... ** Whenever you get confused about "dynamic scoring" or forget why the Congressional Budget Office has heretofore been important, read or re-read this piece by Jonathan Chait, published January 7.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The House on Thursday easily passed legislation that would redefine a full-time worker under the Affordable Care Act, brushing aside qualms from conservatives and liberals who fear the bill would prompt employers to cut worker hours to avoid being forced to offer them health insurance. The Save American Workers Act, which passed the House by 252 to 172..., would change the definition of a full-time worker under the health law from one who works 30 hours a week to one who works 40 hours. A dozen Democrats joined all Republicans in support of the bill.... The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it has some Democratic support, possibly even enough to muster 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.... An official at the White House said this week that President Obama would veto it if it reached him. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, vowed to sustain the president's veto.... This week, the Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would prompt 1 million people to be dropped from employer coverage, pushing from 500,000 to 1 million people onto government insurance and increasing the number with no insurance by hundreds of thousands. That would raise federal spending by $53.2 billion over the next decade."

Washington Post Editors: "The gas tax operates on a straightforward principle: Those who use the roads should pay for them. But over the past two decades, the value of the revenue the tax produces has dropped by about a third -- partly because of inflation and partly because cars have become more fuel-efficient.... Now, with lower oil prices, the politics of raising the gas tax should be easier...." ...

... Greg Sargent: "House Speaker John Boehner, speaking to reporters today, dumped a few gallons of cold water on the idea of a gas tax hike: 'I've never voted to raise the gas tax. Funding a highway bill is critically important, it's a priority for this year, how we'll fund it we're going to have to work our way through this. It's doubtful that the votes are here to raise the gas tax.' Asked for further clarification, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel emailed: 'The Speaker doesn't support a gas tax hike. Period.'... If we can't reach a deal to fund the HTF through higher gas taxes at this particular political moment, what possible deal can we reach that would involve new revenue for spending on infrastructure? It's hard to imagine that there is one." ...

... Steve Benen: "American investment in infrastructure has fallen to its lowest point since 1947. Making matters slightly worse, the Highway Trust Fund is on track to run out of money in May.... The United States used to be the world leader on infrastructure, and as Reagan's support for higher gas taxes makes clear, this used to be a bipartisan issue. Those days are over.... Boehner told reporters today, 'We've got to find a way to deal with America's crumbling infrastructure,' but the GOP leader simply hasn't the foggiest idea what that 'way' might be, and he's ruling out the one obvious solution that would fix the problem." ...

... CW: Likely GOP solution: cut programs for lazy poor people & use that money to repave roads & mend bridges, etc. It is only fitting for people who can't afford cars to pay for nicer roads for people who have cars. In the meantime, every time I hit a pothole, I will curse a poor person. Seems fair.

Orange Peal. Susan Cornwell of Reuters: John Boehner complains about his press & right-wing critics. Also, is comfortable in his own skin.

** Tim Egan: "The State Department has estimated that the total number of permanent new jobs created by the [Keystone XL] pipeline would be 35.... This, at a time when the world is awash in cheap oil.... The Keystone pipeline, though largely symbolic in the global scheme of things, does nothing for the American economy except set up the United States as a pass-through colony for foreign industrialists. Well, not all foreign: The Koch brothers are one of the largest outside leaseholders of acres in Canadian oil sands...."

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: Gov. Scott Walker accidentally tells the Supreme Court he plans to allow the ACA to fail if the boys rule in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell. Millhiser believes some conservative Supremes (John Roberts??) may be less likely to rule for the plaintiffs if they think their ruling would have a significant effect on Americans' access to health care. CW: I'm afraid Millhiser is romanticizing the Supremes & attributing to them levels of emphathy & pragmatism that the men in black do not possess. I hope I'm wrong.

Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post: "In a victory for proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the pipeline's proposed route through the state can go forward." ...

... Charles Pierce: "The only thing left is the State Department review, which can now resume after having been suspended pending a ruling by the Nebraska court. If the State Department recommends the project, which I think it will, the president then will have the final decision on the pipeline, one way or the other." Also "Joe Manchin (D-Bituminous)" is unaware that the POTUS has Constitutional rights & duties. AND Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's "fact"-checker, is totally dedicated to both-sides-do-it "journalism."

Bill Cosby continues to think drugging & raping women is a good topic for jokes. As I recall (and I may be wrong) some Reality Chex readers still think the original, extended joke -- Cosby's 1968 Spanish fly story -- is pretty funny anyway.

American "Justice," Ctd. Cory Shaffer of Northeast Ohio Media Group: "Cleveland police officers forced Tamir Rice's 14-year-old sister to the ground, handcuffed her and placed in the back of a Cleveland police car steps away from her wounded 12-year-old brother. The scene plays out within the first two minutes of the 30 minute video taken from the Cudell Recreation Center surveillance camera that captured the shooting. The additional video was obtained by Northeast Ohio Media Group after protracted talks with city officials, who initially refused to release it.... The video confirmed earlier claims made by Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, and her legal team at a Dec. 8 press conference that an officer cuffed her daughter as she ran to check on her brother and that officers waited several minutes before administering first aid....

Officers then stood around Tamir as he lay wounded. One officer had his hands on his hips when a man, identified by police as an FBI agent who was in the neighborhood, entered the frame and administered first aid. It was the first medical care the boy received in the four minutes that followed the shooting.

... (Emphasis added.) Report includes surveillance video. CW: The way police behave after these killings often speak more to their racial bias than do the actual killings. In some cases (but certainly not in all), the killings/murders might be attributed to "involuntary" bias -- the killers are more fearful of young black men than they are of other groups of people -- but their callous treatment of the victims of police shootings & others in the area demonstrate a deep-seated, institutional bias: leaving Michael Brown's body exposed for four hours, chatting as Eric Garner lay dying, milling about as child victim Tamir Rice was dying while brutalizing his young sister. These are not heat-of-the-moment lapses; they are in-your-face, purposeful, public shows of racist hatred. They are warnings to the black community: do anything to cross us, & we'll make you and yours very, very sorry.

L'Hotel du Grinch. Robin Brown of the Delaware New Journal: "Sparked in part by a social media frenzy, two local hotels are allowing some homeless people to stay for free during the intense cold weather. The episode began with the revelation, first reported by WDEL, that on Christmas night a group of six or seven homeless people had been refused a room at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington. The $639 room had been reserved and was to be paid for by a local couple hoping to help the less fortunate." CW: If you live sous le pont, you can't stay in the Du Pont. ...

... CW: Here's a thought. I've read numerous analyses -- like the one reported here -- that indicate it's cheaper to house the homeless (no, not in luxury hotels) than to care for them while they're in the streets. AND thanks to Victoria D. & Janice for their links to this "Daily Show" segment about housing the homeless in Salt Lake City. 

Alexandrea Boguhn, et al., of Media Matters: "Right-wing media rushed to exploit the deadly terrorist attack on a French satirical newspaper in Paris, placing blame on Democrats and citing the tragedy to push for renewed surveillance of U.S. Muslims, discriminatory profiling, looser gun regulations, and stricter immigration laws." The reporters run down some of the exploitative remarks voiced. ...

     ... For instance, Fox "News"'s "Outnumbered hosts agreed that Americans 'are being hunted' by terrorists, and network host Kennedy added that 'I think the best thing that Americans can do is arm themselves.'" ...

     ... CW: I agree. I'm sure there would be less carnage in the U.S. if most "responsible gun owners" were armed at all times with "Kalashnikov assault rifles [AK-47s] and a rocket launcher." ...

... Helene Fouquet of Bloomberg News: "Semi-automatic and automatic firearms are banned, but that hasn't stopped drug dealers and terrorists from acquiring them in increasing numbers.... Semi-automatic military-style rifles, including the AK-47, are widely and legally available in the U.S. Equipped with large-capacity magazines, such rifles can fire scores of rounds in a minute or two. AK-47s have been used in American mass killings in Omaha, Nebraska, and Wakefield, Massachusetts, in recent years." ...

     ... CW: Read a few of the comments. Obviously, gun-lobby puppets are trolling Bloomberg. The comments re: the Newtown, Connecticut, grade-school shootings are surreal in their stupidity. Of course the really scary part is that certain gunowners are adept at tricking themselves into believing absurdities. In this country, it isn't just avowed terrorists & other criminals who are armed and dangerous. ...

... Annals of Journalism, Ctd. A British headline writer shows American journalists how to get around false both-sides-do-it journalism. Here's the headline, published in the Telegraph & highlighted by contributor safari: "'Moron' Donald Trump sparks anger with Charlie Hebdo Twitter rant on gun laws." No, the Telegraph didn't call Trump a moron; the headline writer let Trump's critics do it. But the reader gets the idea. ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "The New York Times has premised its refusal to republish the most controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the sensibilities of its readers:. 'Under Times standards, we do not normally publish images or other material deliberately intended to offend religious sensibilities....' Echoes of the 'deliberately' offensive rationale ring out from top managers at the Associated Press and The Post.... How does the [NYT] know what's 'deliberately' offensive? Would it publish 'accidentally' offensive drawings? Yet the deliberately-offensive rationale is more defensible than the one offered this morning by CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker..., which amounts to an admission that fear of terrorism is driving CNN's editorial decisions.... Yet his capitulation to fear doesn't withstand scrutiny on any level." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve M.: David Brooks doesn't seem to understand the difference between (1) refusing to provide a platform for disagreeable speakers & (2) mowing down objectionable writers & artists with AK-47s. ...

... Re: our discussion of yesterday, here the evidence that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in French of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. (Kerry made more extended remarks about the attack in English during the same press appearance with the Polish secretary of state.) I don't have a very good ear, but if I can understand someone's speaking French, his accent probably sucks. I can pretty much understand Kerry here:

... Nonetheless, Rushbo is disgusted: "Anyway, there he is, Jean-Francois Kerry, and that is, by the way, one of his prime qualifications to be secretary of state. He can speak French and Europeans really love this bilingual stuff. That's how you really prove you're educated." CW: Rush's French-to-English translation, BTW, is excellent.

Dana Milbank on House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.): "... it's worth celebrating that the overt racism tolerated by public officials just a decade ago has been banished from civilized discourse." ...

... CW: Milbank is right about that, of course; the problem, as I see it, is that it isn't racism that has been banished but "overtly racist discourse." Meanwhile, & perhaps not particularly sub rosa in some parts, wink-wink racism continues apace & maintains a huge effect on conservative policy.

Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post on "Boko Haram's 'most horrific act of terrorism yet.'" CW: I understand that the military in the countries Boko Haram is targeting are not up to the task of defeating the killing group, but Boko Haram is an international offender. It calls for an international military response.

Congressional Races 2016

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced on Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2016, the first retirement announcement from a Democratic senator ahead of the 2016 political cycle that will spark a major political contest in California. Boxer made the announcement in a video co-starring her grandson, who played the role of reporter":

... Boxer's grandson there, Zach Rodman, is the son of Hillary Clinton's serially sleazy brother Tony Rodman. Tony is no longer married to Boxer's daughter Nicole. ...

... Presidential Election 2016 ...

... From a 2001 New York Daily News story: "Tony Rodham ... said he couldn't remember whether he shared a few illicit puffs with Daniel Coyne, who later caught Rodham having sex with his girlfriend. 'I might have, but I don't recall,' Rodham said." CW: For the good of the nation, I must actively encourage & abet another Relative of Hillary's to roam the White House halls schmoozing the interns.

Michael Bender & Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg Politics: "Jeb Bush's allies are setting a fundraising goal of $100 million in the first three months of this year-- including a whopping $25 million haul in Florida -- in an effort to winnow the potential Republican presidential primary field with an audacious display of financial strength."

News Ledes

AFP: "A top sharia official from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) threatened France with fresh attacks following those at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and at a Jewish supermarket, SITE monitoring group said Friday." ...

... New York Times: "French security services confronted two dangerous hostage situations on Friday, one outside Paris involving the two suspects in Wednesday's rampage at a satirical newspaper, and another that suddenly erupted Friday afternoon at a kosher supermarket on the eastern edge of the capital. Christophe Tirante, a senior police official, said that two people had been killed in the supermarket siege and that at least five hostages had been taken. The Interior Ministry denied the report of deaths." ...

     ... The Times' liveblog is here. The Guardian's liveblog is here. ...

     ... NYT UPDATED Lede: "French police on Friday killed the two brothers suspected of massacring 12 people at a Paris newspaper on Wednesday and freed a hostage they had been holding unharmed, the authorities said. The police launched a simultaneous raid on a kosher supermarket in Paris where an alleged associate of the brothers was holding an unnamed number of hostages. That hostage taker was also killed, according to a senior French police official, and at least five hostages were freed." ...

     ... The NYT has UPDATED the story again.

... The New York Daily News publishes "A dramatic video [which] captured the chaotic last stand of the cop-killing terror suspect gunned down Friday as police stormed a Paris kosher deli."

New York Times: "Capping the best year for the job market since the recession began eight years ago, employers added 252,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department reported Friday, and unemployment fell to 5.6 percent. The unemployment rate was last that low in June 2008. The number of new people put on payrolls last month was above what economists had forecast, consistent with the view that recovery is finally gaining traction after years of only modest growth. In addition, the number of jobs created in November was revised upward to 353,000, from 321,000. That month, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent."