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 only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Vanity Fair: "... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down.... Kakutani said that she could neither confirm nor comment. But sources familiar with her decision, which comes a year after the Times restructured its books coverage, told me that last year’s election had triggered a desire to branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America."

... Washington Post: "... investigators believe they have discovered the 'smoking gun' that would support a decades-old theory that [Amelia] Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese: a newly unearthed photograph from the National Archives that purportedly shows Earhart and Noonan — and their plane — on an atoll in the Marshall Islands.... Gary Tarpinian,  executive producer of the History documentary, told the Today show that they believe the Koshu, the Japanese merchant ship in the photo, took Earhart to Saipan, where she died in Japanese custody."

Summer Beach Reading. James Hohmann of the Washington Post suggests Al Franken's Giant of the Senate. Hohmann's column hits some of the highlights. CW: Let us be thankful that Donald Trump is incapable of learning the lessons Franken learned from his team. If Trump were half as bright as Franken, he would be a succesful president & very effective dictator.

Politico: "MSNBC has parted ways with anchor Greta Van Susteren after just six months on air, as her show failed to live up to the network's ratings expectations. An MSNBC executive said the decision to remove the former Fox News host was purely for business reasons, based on ratings."

Click on the picture to see larger image.... AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress."

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco."

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

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

Constant Comments

Sunday
Jan042015

The Commentariat -- January 5, 2015

David Goodman of the New York Times: "For the second time in just over a week, a sea of pressed blue uniforms filled some of New York's streets as Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a eulogy for a police officer killed because of the badge he wore. And for the second time, hundreds of police officers crowded together in the rain turned their backs to television screens showing the the mayor's remarks outside a funeral home in southern Brooklyn." ...

... CW: Since these officers can neither follow orders nor control themselves, they cannot be trusted to keep the peace. The NYPD should dismiss them. ...

It's ironic that they seem to think it's appropriate for them to demonstrate at a funeral but not okay for citizens to demonstrate on public streets. -- Contributor Victoria D., in today's thread

... Why Apologize? The Thin-Skinned Blue Line. Bob Mayo of WTAE Pittsburgh: "In an email to the entire city police bureau, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is responding to criticism of his appearance in a photo on Twitter in which he holds a sign challenging racism. The sign read, 'I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #EndWhiteSilence.' The chief's message to the rank and file came after a critical email from the president of the union representing city police. 'It appears my having been photographed with a sign supporting racial justice at work and (opposing) "white silence" has offended some. If any of my PBP (Pittsburgh Bureau of Police) family was offended, I apologize. You are very important to me and I would never hurt you purposefully,' McLay wrote." ...

... Jack Pickell of the Boston Globe: "A veteran Boston police officer was arrested Sunday on charges he assaulted an Uber driver in South Boston.... Officers later arrested Michael Doherty, 40 of South Boston, a 16-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, and charged him with assault and battery and using a motor vehicle without authority." Read the whole story for disgusting details of the alleged assault. ...

... Charles Blow wonders why a 45-year-old white woman who was shooting up Chattanooga, shot at police officers & led them on an auto chase was "taken into custody without incident or injury. Then he lists a number of incidents in which black men, whose actions were or seemed much less violent, were shot dead." ...

     ... CW: I'd like to caution that this is anecdotal evidence of discrimination. Blow, who used to be the Times' writer on sociological statistics, should have included statistical data which demonstrated or suggested that police do not treat black suspects the same way they treat deranged white women. Instead, he provides stats of public opinion, attempting to make the point that white people don't get it. But since his anecdotes don't provide an actual counter-argument, his use of the argument-from-anecdote fallacy amounts to sleight-of-hand & demagoguery. The right does this all the time; it's disappointing to see it coming from a New York Times columnist, especially when one is pretty sure there is evidence to back up the important point he is making. ...

... Wesley Lowery & Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "The frustration and defiance of the nation's police officers were on display again Sunday in New York City, where tens of thousands of them gathered for the funeral of the second of two officers who were slain at the height of the ongoing protests and scrutiny after several high-profile deaths of unarmed black males.... Law enforcement officials say morale is flagging among the rank-and-file, who they say feel 'betrayed' by President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in their calls for tough reforms of policing tactics." ...

... Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker presents the cases for & against special prosecutors in cases of fatalities caused by police.

Speaker Gohmert! Kyle Balluck of the Hill: "Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) said Sunday that he will challenge John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker in the new Congress.... Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced that he would not support Boehner for Speaker." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the lead. ...

... Speaker Yoho! Even Better. Eric Bradner of CNN: "Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, said this weekend that he won't support Boehner as speaker when lawmakers vote Tuesday, and offered himself up as an alternative." ...

... CW: The Orange Man is looking a little better, isn't he?

Megan Wilson of the Hill: "Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that the GOP agenda will be focused on 'voting on things I know [President Obama is] not going to like.' He said that jobs would be the number one focus, also lumping in the Keystone XL pipeline project and rolling back strict environmental and healthcare regulations. 'We need to do everything we can to try to rein in the regulatory onslaught, which is the principal reason that we haven't had the kind of bounce-back after the 2008 recession that you would expect,' McConnell told CNN's Dana Bash on 'State of the Union.'" ...

... Seung Min Kim of Politico: "... the stage is set for a dramatic few months in the GOP-controlled Congress over immigration." ...

... Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "In taking control of Congress on Tuesday, Republicans say they will quickly advance energy and health care legislation that stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate as they try to make good on claims, and address doubts, that they can govern effectively.... Yet a sour note is possible on Tuesday as Speaker John A. Boehner seeks his third term as the House leader. Some disgruntled conservatives have said they will not back Mr. Boehner ... and a coup, while unlikely, would represent a disastrous beginning." ...

... Greg Sargent has a good overview of what to expect of the new Congress. Good governance? Not likely. ...

... AND Charles Pierce, despite reading soothing words in the Washington Post "about how the new Republican-majority Congress, which will open the Reign of the Morons II this coming Tuesday, really understands that it has to govern the country responsibly this time around, and that the grown-ups are in charge again," is not all that convinced. Something about Louie Gohmert & asparagus.

"I'm Not a Scientist" Is ... Progress! Timothy Cama of the Hill: "High-profile Republicans converged this year around a new favorite refrain when it comes to climate change: 'I'm not a scientist.... 'It sounds like one of the most nonsensical GOP talking points in quite some time,' said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who advised Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) 2008 campaign for president. But O'Connell said 'I'm not a scientist' plays an important, albeit temporary, role in the broader GOP debate.... 'The party's not come to a consensus on how they want to deal with the issue of climate change,' he said.... 'It's a rhetorical shift, obviously. There's no policy behind it,' said Tony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University's project on climate change communication. 'But ... it's definitely a step back from "it's a hoax," it’s definitely a step back from "it's not happening.z''"' ...

... MEANWHILE in Scotland. Juan Cole: "With regard to the [Scotland's] households, i.e. domestic energy consumption, Scotland's wind turbines generated enough to cover 98% of it in 2014. In addition, in some months of the spring and summer, those homes that have solar panels generated all the electricity the household used. Scotland tripled its solar installations in 2014. Scotland is well on its way to getting 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2022." ...

... CW: Keystone Mitch McConnell could learn a lot from his fellow Scots. But he won't. ...

... Lawrence Summers in the Washington Post: "The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling. With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable." CW: I'm pretty sure you have Mitch McConnell's ear, Larry.

"Knaves & Fools." Paul Krugman explains the roles of the president and the Federal Reserve in boosting or busting the economy. "So is the president responsible for the accelerating recovery? No. Can we nonetheless say that we're doing better than we would be if the other party held the White House? Yes. Do those who were blaming Mr. Obama for all our economic ills now look like knaves and fools? Yes, they do. And that's because they are."

Bruce Alpert of the Times-Picayune: "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's 2002 speech to at least some members of a white supremacist group was a hot subject on the Sunday (Jan. 4) talk shows. And while all the Republicans appearing on the shows defended Scalise and asserted their support for his continuing in the No. 3 leadership position in the House, the continued focus on the 13-year-old speech, including a critical editorial Sunday by the conservative Boston Herald, has to be unsettling to the GOP.... [Sen. John] Barrasso was asked by host Chuck Todd whether the Scalise controversy might add 'to the stereotype of the Republican Party that Democrats want to paint.' 'Well, the Democrats do want to a paint this, but I've just gotten back from Wyoming. This has not come up as a discussion in Wyoming,' Barrasso said." ...

... CW: Gee, John, I wonder why. Maybe it's because the percentage of black people living in Wyoming in 2010, according to Census Bureau figures, was .08. As for Jews, who also would be deeply offended by Scalise's speaking to a David Duke group, Wyoming is the least Jewish state in the country, with .02 percent of population identifying as Jews. So, yeah, there could be a reason "this has not come up as a discussion in Wyoming." I don't think Wyoming is the civil rights center of America.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff of the Oregonian: "U.S. Navy veteran Dario Raschio was all smiles Saturday as he awaited a special honor from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who joined him at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus to present the 100-year-old with a handful of medals.... Shortly after Wyden began speaking, though, protesters erupted in the back of the room, shouting 'hands-up, don't shoot!'... Raschio ... grabbed the mic to speak, more shouts came from the back of the room, demanding the military exit from Iraq. The feisty centenarian quickly responded, 'Give me a chance' which brought chuckles from the audience. He further chastised the shouters, saying 'Let's show a little respect for this occasion,' to which the crowd applauded." ...

... Kristyna Wentz-Graff: "However, immediately following the award presentation, the chanting began again. Protesters stated it was 'their town meeting' to which Wyden responded, 'Yes, it's your town meeting, but it's theirs as well' as he gestured toward the audience.... The event, at Portland Community College's Southeast Campus, was canceled after 45 minutes.... We are certainly going to reschedule it,' [Wyden] said. 'It's important to be able to throw open the doors of government to everybody. That's why town hall meetings are so important.'" ...

... CW: Now somebody please explain to me how these protesters were advancing their cause by shutting down a public meeting held by a relatively liberal U.S. senator. See Oprah Winfrey's comments, linked January 3. ...

... Contra Oprah's argument -- sort of -- Jesse McCarthy, in the New Republic, has a very fine piece arguing that "Hollywood loves the great man narrative, but the civil rights movement was never about top-down leadership."

Driftglass takes a well-deserved swipe at Bob Schieffer for choosing Newt Gingrich! to discuss race relations. As a sort of afterthought, he notes that Chuck Todd said something sorta nice about Mario Cuomo, "Proving once again that almost the only Liberals who are permitted anywhere near the Sunday Gasbag Conclave are those who are safely dead."

E. J. Dionne: "There will never be another politician like Mario Cuomo, a man shaped by a different age. Yet he taught lessons about racial reconciliation, the role of religion in politics, the purposes of politics itself and -- oddly for a politician -- humility that will always be fresh." ...

... CW: I think there are other politicians more or less like Mario Cuomo right now. The difference is that today's establishment does not embrace them the way the Democratic party did back in the day. The Party of Nothing thinks it cannot afford to offend all the special interests & ideologues whose policies & preferences Cuomo so effectively rejected.

Presidential Election

Steve M. writes an excellent assessment of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio & the press, including a nice little dig at Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

Robert Costa & Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "If Mike Huckabee is going to make a serious run for the Republican presidential nomination, he will have to do something he was unable to do in 2008: raise millions of dollars and build a sprawling national campaign to complement the well of support he has among evangelicals and grass-roots activists in early primary states.... Another likely hurdle for Huckabee as he solicits donations: scattered antagonism among the GOP's fiscally conservative donors who find Huckabee's record on taxes and spending to be lacking."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Bess Myerson, a New York favorite daughter who basked in the public eye for decades -- as Miss America 1945, as a television personality, as a force in public affairs and finally, under a harsher light, as a player in a shattering municipal scandal -- died on Dec. 14 at her home in Santa Monica, Calif., her death occurring in the relative obscurity in which she had lived her last years. She was 90."

New York Times: "Oil prices tumbled below $50 a barrel on Monday, spooking global financial markets and signaling that the remarkable 50 percent price drop since June was continuing this year and even quickening. The new drop in American and global benchmarks of more than 5 percent was accompanied by a series of reports of increased Middle Eastern oil exports; continuing increases in American production despite planned exploration cutbacks by many oil companies; and renewed worries about the declining economic fortunes of Europe."

AP: "Seating jurors in the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was set to begin Monday under tight security at the federal courthouse in Boston and could take several weeks." ...

     ... Boston Globe UPDATE: "Jury selection has begun in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with about 1,200 people being called in over the next the next three days to be considered as jurors in the case. U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole Jr., the judge overseeing the trial, said it will begin on Jan. 26 and is expected to last three to four months."

Saturday
Jan032015

The Commentariat -- January 4, 2015

CW: Just had a three-plus-hour power outage because ... two whole inches of snow. More snow expected today -- more power outages anticipated. If I can borrow MAG's sled dogs to get out to my car to load it with stuff, I'll be traveling most of the week. This is my way of saying, "Expect snow delays on Reality Chex."

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama plans to make an aggressive push to tout his economic policies ahead of his State of the Union address on Jan. 20, starting with a swing through three states after he returns to Washington early Sunday from two weeks of vacation in Hawaii."

Senate Democrats Win Popular Majority! Really. Dylan Matthews of Vox: "On Tuesday, 33 US senators elected in November will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden -- including 12 who are new to the chamber. The class includes 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats, a big reason why the GOP has a 54-46 majority in the Senate overall. But here's a crazy fact: those 46 Democrats got more votes than the 54 Republicans across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections." Matthews doesn't pull any punches when contemplating what to do about it: "The Senate is a profoundly anti-democratic body and should be abolished." Okey-doke.

On wealth inequality, Dylan Matthews shreds Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. CW: Mankiw's stunningly stupid argument is a paradigm of how conservatives -- even presumably "smart" ones -- pervert the most basic, widely-known realities (historical & otherwise) in service of their own insupportable schemes & beliefs. ...

... Funny, short post by Scott Lemieux in LGM on "The Ongoing Influence of Michele Bachmann's Historical Theories." (You have to read Matthews' post on Mankiw to understand Lemieux.)

Edward Kleinbard, in a New York Times op-ed: "While seemingly arcane, the change [to dynamic scoring] could have significant, negative consequences for enacting sustainable, long-term fiscal policies.... Economists describe [a recent GOP effort at dynamic scoring] as 'making counterfactual assumptions'; the rest of us call it 'making stuff up.'"... The Republicans' interest in dynamic scoring ... comes from political factions convinced that tax cuts are the panacea for all economic ills. They will use dynamic scoring to justify a tax cut that, under conventional scorekeeping, loses revenue. When revenues do in fact decline and deficits rise, those same proponents will push for steep cuts in government insurance or investment programs, because they will claim that the models demand it." ...

... Vicki Needham of the Hill: "Senate Democrats are warning Republicans to tread carefully with their selection of a budget scorekeeper for the new Congress, saying they will 'strongly object to any effort to politicize this important office.'"

Rosalind Helderman & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "In the strange four months of enforced limbo that have separated [Bob] McDonnell's shocking guilty verdict from his much-anticipated sentencing Tuesday, the former Republican governor has in some ways presided over an extended wake for his own once-promising political and personal future.... The probation office has calculated that sentencing guidelines call for him to spend between 10 and 12 1/2 years in prison. Prosecutors have endorsed that recommendation, and judges in the Eastern District of Virginia accept probation office guidelines in 70 percent of cases."

A Discriminating Dress Code. Igor Bobic of the Huffington Post: "Oklahoma residents are concerned that a proposed bill would make it a crime to wear a hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie, in public on many occasions, according to local news station KFOR. The wearing of hoods or similar head coverings during the commission of a crime has been against state law since the 1920s, with the original intent of curbing violence perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan. But the new proposal would also ban an individual from intentionally concealing 'his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise' even if he or she were not involved in a crime. Violation of the proposed law would constitute a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500." CW: The good news: the law would exempt hoods worn for "minstrel shows," among other occasions. Really. Might be a good idea for black teens to carry banjos during inclement weather.

Andrew Higgins & Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "An investigation by The Times into the final hours of President Viktor F. Yanukovych's rule [of Ukraine] shows that he was not so much overthrown last year as cast adrift by his own allies, and Western officials were just as surprised by the meltdown as anyone else."

Digby on Mario Cuomo's "Tale of Two Cities" convention speech. CW: I think digby gets it exactly right. ...

... God News

While we always owe our bishops' words respectful attention and careful consideration, the question whether to engage the political system in a struggle to have it adopt certain articles of our belief as part of public morality, is not a matter of doctrine: it is a matter of prudential political judgment. -- Gov. Mario Cuomo (D-N.Y.), at the University of Notre Dame, September 1984

... Jim Fallows on Mario Cuomo's other important 1984 speech: "That was the second speech I want to mention, a year earlier,* at Notre Dame, in which the very publicly Jesuitical Governor Cuomo talked about the separation of church and state, in a speech titled 'A Catholic Governor's Perspective.' You can watch the whole thing via (non-embeddable) C-SPAN report here.... you can read the full text from Notre Dame's archives, here.... Among politicians of the past generation-plus seen as national-level contenders, he was the most accomplished and engrossing public thinker. (This is also Obama's strength, and presumably he will overtake Cuomo through the scale of the issues he has been involved in.)" ...

     ... * CW: As noted above, Cuomo gave the speech at Notre Dame in September 1984, a few months after the Democratic National Convention speech, not "a year earlier," as Fallows writes. ...

... David Gibson of Religion News Service: "Cuomo was also just as famous for elaborating a rationale by which Catholic politicians like himself could be personally opposed to abortion but could still support and defend a legal right to abortion.... Now, a new generation of Catholics conservatives -- mainly Republicans -- invoke the same kind of 'personally opposed' ethos to part ways with their church on issues like economic and foreign policy, the death penalty and immigration reform.... Cuomo even anticipated conservatives' adoption of his stance when he asked if he would have to follow the bishops' teaching on economic justice 'even if I am an unrepentant supply sider?'... Ironically, Cuomo's vision may have won out since nearly all Catholic politicians are cafeteria Catholics now -- picking and choosing which Catholic teachings they want to highlight." CW: Gibson points out how Cuomo's stance on abortion differed from, say, Marco Rubio's Pope-dissing.

Frances D'Emilio of the AP: "Pope Francis named 15 new cardinals Sunday, selecting them from 14 nations, including far-flung corners of the world such as Tonga, New Zealand, Cape Verde and Myanmar, to reflect the diversity of the church and its growth in places like Asia and Africa. Other cardinals hail from Ethiopia, Thailand and Vietnam. Another is form Sicily, where the Church in recent decades has been galvanizing public rejection of the Mafia."

Reuters: "One of Germany's most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, will be plunged into darkness on Monday evening in protest at a march by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement through the western German city, cathedral authorities said. The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has shaken Germany's political establishment, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say in her New Year address that its leaders were racists full of hatred and citizens should beware being used." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Swedes expressing solidarity with Muslims have staged manifestations after a series of recent attacks on mosques. In the city of Uppsala, where anti-Muslim rhetoric was scrawled onto a mosque wall on Thursday, hundreds of people pasted red paper hearts and messages of support onto the building's entrance ahead of Friday prayers. A day before the so-called love bombing, police said a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the mosque without causing a fire. Earlier this week, a mosque in Eslov in the south suffered partial damage after a blaze that police suspect was arson. And on Christmas Day, five people were injured when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window of a mosque in the town of Eskilstuna."

Sally Morrow of Religion News Service posts photos of "the winners of the 2014 International Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture, given out by Faith & Form, the interfaith journal on religion, art and architecture." ...

... Nice enough, but give me a good old-fashioned gothic (or neo-gothic) church any day. I attended a carol singing at St. Peter & Paul's Chapel in Concord, New Hampshire, a week or so before Christmas, and it was magical. At left is a shot of the interior.

 

 

David Segal of the New York Times: When United Airlines lost a monk's ticket, his fellow monk was outraged, & the order used their Website as a vehicle to get United to make things right with God. ...

... Maybe they should have posted a Gregorian chant. Here's one of my favorite Web videos:

... Singer/songwriter/performer Dave Carroll eventually also effected a happy ending, thanks to the video & subsequent publicity. United, not so much. ...

... Presidential Race

Robert Costa & Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Mike Huckabee is leaving Fox News to decide whether he wants to run for president. The Republican former governor of Arkansas said that Saturday night's episode of 'Huckabee' is the last.... An early test for Huckabee's 2016 ambitions will begin later this month when he goes on a national tour to tout his new book, 'God, Guns, Grits and Gravy'...."

News Ledes

Boo-Yah! ESPN: "Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49."

AP: "Thousands of uniformed police officers from across the U.S. are expected to attend the funeral Sunday of the second New York Police Department officer fatally shot with his partner in their patrol car two weeks ago. Buddhist monks will lead a Chinese ceremony for Officer Wenjian Liu, followed by a traditional police ceremony with eulogies led by a chaplain. The funeral follows a somber wake the day before as mourners lined up for blocks on a cold, rainy day to pay their respects."

AFP: "Weather was the 'triggering factor' in the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 with icing likely causing engine damage, Indonesian officials said, as rough seas Sunday hampered the search for bodies and the sunken wreckage."

Guardian: "North Korea has furiously denounced the United States for imposing sanctions in retaliation for the Pyongyang regime's alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. North Korea's foreign ministry reiterated that it did not have any role in the breach of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files and accused the US of 'groundlessly' stirring up hostility towards Pyongyang. He said the new sanctions would not weaken the country's 1.2 million-strong military."

AP: "Maine's former top drug prosecutor who fled to New Mexico after he was convicted of child pornography charges is appealing his nearly 16-year prison sentence." CW: Apparently the former prosecutor, James Cameron, like so many Americans, was unaware that New Mexico is one of the United States.

Friday
Jan022015

The Commentariat -- January 3, 2015

Brian Faler of Politico: "The question of who will be Congress' next chief number-cruncher has suddenly gotten a lot more important. Republicans, who are considering replacing the head of the Congressional Budget Office, are leaving it up to the agency to decide how to implement their long-sought plans to [apply so-called 'dynamic scoring' to] taxes and other legislation.... A draft of House rules for the upcoming Congress would require scorekeepers to begin using the methodology. But, to the surprise of some Democrats, Republicans are stopping well short of telling them how to do it.... The wide latitude given to the CBO could help insulate Republicans from charges they are threatening the credibility of Congress' independent budget analysts in their drive to reduce taxes. But it also raises the stakes in the question of who will run the office, because economists have widely varying opinions of how tax cuts affect the economy." ...

... CW: In other words, Republicans know dynamic scoring is phony, so they plan to shift responsibility for it to the CBO & begin every sentence with, "According to the CBO's own methodology..., blah-blah. Cute. Fortunately for the GOP, this is way too arcane for the public to follow, so Republicans will get away with it.

Michael Schmidt & David Sanger of the New York Times: "The Obama administration doubled down on Friday on its allegation that North Korea's leadership was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures as it announced new sanctions on 10 senior North Korean officials and several organizations. Administration officials said the action was part of what President Obama promised would be a 'proportional response' against the country. But White House officials said there was no evidence that the 10 officials took part in ordering or planning the Sony attack, although they described them as central to a number of provocative actions against the United States."

Rocco Parascandola & Larry McShane of the New York Daily News: "NYPD Commissioner William Bratton wants his officers to show respect, rather than their backs, at the Sunday funeral for assassinated colleague Officer Wenjian Liu. Bratton, in an internal message distributed Friday to citywide commands, urged the rank and file not to repeat last week's show of disdain for Mayor de Blasio during the service for slain cop Rafael Ramos."

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "City officials in Cleveland announced on Friday that they are handing over the investigation into the Nov. 22 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice to the county sheriff's office."

Sandhya Somashekhar of the Washington Post: "Key organizers of the wave of recent protests over police treatment of African Americans lashed out at Oprah Winfrey Friday over comments she made to People magazine criticizing their movement as 'leaderless.'" ...

... CW: I'm with Oprah on this. The failure of Occupy, for instance, was not a failure of motivation nor of goals. It was a failure of leadership & design. The idea that organization, strategy & planning denigrate the ideal of equality may be true, but it is also self-defeating. Thousands of people were extremely active in the civil, women's & gay rights movements, but leaders made things happen, & not just through protests. They fought the law, and they won. As long as every protest is an individual protest, the entrenched system will win. And, yes, there were differences within each of these movements, but those who took the long view & fought with steady, goal-oriented determination were the ones who effected changes.

The New York Times Editors write a lovely eulogy to Mario Cuomo.

Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: "... the relentless stream of migrants to Europe -- propelled by the war in Syria and turmoil across the Middle East and the Horn of Africa -- has combined with economic troubles and rising fear of Islamic radicalism to fuel a backlash against immigrants, directed most viciously at Muslims. The simmering resentments and suspicions have driven debates across Europe about tighter controls on immigration. Worries about immigration have helped buoy right-wing parties in Britain, Denmark, France and Hungary. German officials recorded more than 70 attacks against mosques from 2012 to 2014.... There are few places where the turn against immigrants is more surprising than Sweden, where a solid core of citizens still supports the 65-year-old open door policy toward immigrants facing hardship that has long earned international respect for the country."

Presidential Election

A History Lesson for Hillary. Gail Collins: "The only president elected to follow a member of his own party without creating some sort of cosmic disaster was George H.W. Bush." Read the whole column. It's interesting & funny.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Edward W. Brooke, who in 1966 became the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate and who influenced major anti-poverty laws before his bright political career unraveled over allegations of financial impropriety, died Jan. 3 at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95." The AP story is here. ...

     ... Update: The Boston Globe's obituary is here.

New York Times: "A British health worker who is being treated for Ebola in a London hospital is now in critical condition, her doctors said on Saturday. The patient, Pauline Cafferkey, a nurse from Scotland who had volunteered with the charity Save the Children to care for Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, returned to Glasgow, Scotland, last Sunday."

AP: "Indonesian officials said Saturday that they were confident wreckage of AirAsia Flight 8501 had been located after sonar equipment detected four massive objects on the ocean floor." ...

... Washington Post: "AirAsia was not authorized to fly from Surabaya to Singapore the day that one of its passenger jets attempted the route and crashed into the Java Sea amid poor weather conditions, according to Indonesian officials. Transportation Ministry Spokesman J.A. Barata told the Wall Street Journal that the air carrier was only allowed to make the flight four days of the week, but not on Sunday."

Guardian: "A woman who claims that an American investment banker loaned her to rich and powerful friends as an underage 'sex slave' has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with [Britain's] Prince Andrew.... Another close associate of [financier Jeffrey] Epstein who is also accused in the lawsuit, Alan Dershowitz, told the Guardian that the woman’s accusations against himself were 'totally false and made up'." ...

... Guardian: "Lawyers have asked the US government to hand over any letters or other documents it might have relating to the claims of two women that Prince Andrew was among those who lobbied its justice department on behalf of the billionaire financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein."

Yahoo! News: "A 7-year-old girl walked three-quarters of a mile through rugged terrain Friday night -- after surviving a plane crash that killed her father, mother, sister, and cousin. The child had been aboard her family's Piper PA-34 heading from Key West, Fla., to their home state of Illinois, but the plane crashed in western Kentucky."

Washington Post: "A suspected al-Qaeda terrorist died Friday night just days before he was slated to go on trial in New York on charges of helping plan the 1998 bombings outside U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people, his lawyer said. Among the dead were 12 Americans, including two CIA employees. Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer after U.S. commandos and FBI agents captured him in a 2013 raid outside his house in a suburb of Tripoli, Libya."

White House: "In this week's address, the Vice President wished Americans a Happy New Year, and asked that as we make resolutions to get healthier in 2015, we take the time to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act":

Thursday
Jan012015

The Commentariat -- January 2, 2015

New York Times photo.

** New York Times: "Mario M. Cuomo, the three-term governor of New York who commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence, a forceful defense of liberalism and his exhaustive ruminations about whether to run for president, died at home in Manhattan on Thursday, according to a family friend. He was 82."

... "A Tale of Two Cities." Here's a portion of Gov. Cuomo's 1984 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention:

     ... Video of the full speech is here. ...

... Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker, who covered Gov. Cuomo for the New York Times, reflects on his career. ...

... Ken Auletta of the New Yorker: "Mario Cuomo had a combination of skills rarely seen in public life. Unlike most pols, he had an active interior life.... He had the rare ability to listen, and he could see four sides of an issue.... In the four decades I knew him, I tried to keep him at arm's length. Journalists are not supposed to say this, but I loved the guy." ...

... Stephen Schlesinger, Gov. Cuomo's speechwriter, remembers him in a New York Observer essay. ...

... Todd Purdum in Politico: "He was, in his day, the poet laureate of American liberalism, the Democratic Party's most passionate defender of the underdog and its most articulate critic of the trickle-down gospel of Reaganomics." ...

... Josh Lederman of the AP: "President Barack Obama is praising former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo as an unflinching voice for tolerance, fairness and opportunity." ...

... Cassie Carothers of Yahoo! News: Other political figures pay tribute to Cuomo. ...

... Chris Smith of New York rounds up some of the magazine's old stories about Mario Cuomo & his family.

We're missing one family member. My father is not with us today. We had hoped that he was going to be able to come; he is at home and he is not well enough to come. We spent last night with him, changed the tradition a little bit. We weren't in Albany last night; we stayed at my father's house to ring in the New Year with him. I went through the speech with him. He said it was good, especially for a second-termer. See, my father is a third-termer. But he sends his regards to all of you. He couldn't be here physically today, my father. But my father is in this room. He is in the heart and mind of every person who is here. He is here and he is here, and his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this state to this point. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his 2nd inaugural speech, Jan. 1

... Jesse McKinley of the New York Times: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was inaugurated for a second term on Thursday and vowed to confront a raft of complex, often intractable problems afflicting New York and the nation alike in the areas of criminal justice, economic mobility and public education. Speaking in front of throngs of well-wishers and from the symbolic heights of 1 World Trade Center, Mr. Cuomo laid out an aspirational vision for New York in broad and occasionally soaring terms."

Dionne Searcey of the New York Times: "For the first time since 2011, local, state and federal governments are providing a small but significant increase to prosperity.... Across the nation, state and local governments, Democratic and Republican alike, are spending on projects that were stalled. Teachers, who were laid off in droves in recent years, are being hired again. Even federal spending in some sectors is on the rise." CW: Lovely to see the New York Times implicitly endorsing Krug-o-nomics. At last. ...

... Paul Krugman: "The problem with these conventional [left-of-center] leaders [including President Obama], I'd argue, is that they're afraid to challenge elite priorities, in particular the obsession with budget deficits, for fear of being considered irresponsible. And that leaves the field open for unconventional leaders -- some of them seriously scary -- who are willing to address the anger and despair of ordinary citizens.... Political and opinion leaders need to face up to the reality that our current global setup isn't working for everyone." ...... Graph via Jordan Weismann of Slate. ...

... Jordan Weismann: "We're all speaking [Thomas] Piketty's language now." ...

... Aurelia End & Julie Chabanas of AFP: "France's influential economist Thomas Piketty, author of the bestseller 'Capital in the 21st Century', on Thursday refused to accept the country's highest award, the Legion d'honneur, to criticise the Socialist government in power."

Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. NBC Channel 11 Atlanta: "The wife of Peachtree City Police Chief William E. McCollom [of Peachtree City, Georgia,] is in critical condition after being shot by her husband Thursday morning.... The GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] will handle the shooting investigation. GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang originally said Chief McCollom called 911 to say he accidentally shot his wife twice with his service weapon. After further investigation, Lang said it was determined that only one bullet had been discharged."

Gene Robinson: "The GOP has a bad habit of appealing to avowed racists.... The addiction goes back to 1968, when Richard Nixon's 'Southern strategy' leveraged white racial resentment over federally mandated integration into an electoral majority." ...

... Ha Ha. Matt Bai of Yahoo! News offers five tips to help Steve Scalise figure out when he's speaking to white supremacists: "1. The group was founded by David Duke.... 2. Banners that say things like 'White Power' hang from the ceiling.... 3. The name of the group is the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.... 4. The hotel hosting the event is ashamed.... 5. No one actually cares about your tax stand.... One last bit of guidance: If you do end up accidentally speaking to a roomful of white supremacists, try to make a note of it somewhere, because eventually someone who doesn't like you is going to figure it out, and the last thing you want is to be caught unaware and have to say you really have no idea." ...

... Rebecca Catalanello of the Times-Picayune: Steve Scalise defender "Kenny Knight told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Wednesday that he was not a member of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, but documents filed with the Louisiana secretary of state's office list him as treasurer of its predecessor, the National Organization for European American Rights, in 2000. Further, a May 16, 2002, news release on an an archived version of EURO's former website, www.whitecivilrights.com, lists Knight as 'EURO Louisiana State Representative Kenny Knight.' The release says Knight was expected to address the group's May 17-18, 2002, conference.... When asked by telephone Thursday about the records listing him as EURO's treasurer, Knight twice hung up on a reporter." CW: This certainly calls into question Knight's claims that Scalise addressed a neighborhood civic group & not the David Duke-sponsored conference. Shocking, isn't it, that your friendly neighborhood racist is also a liar. ...

... Jonathan Kaminsky of Reuters: "The campaign manager [and son] of a Democrat who challenged U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana tipped off a blogger that the Republican lawmaker had spoken to a white supremacist group in 2002.However, Democrat Gilda Reed did not expose the meeting during the 2008 special election for the House seat because she believed it would not sway the district's conservative electorate. 'I felt strongly that it would not have walked,' Reed told Reuters on Wednesday. 'I was running in a district with a lot of bigots.' She lost to Scalise by more than 50 points."

Dan Sweeney of the Orlando Sun Sentinel: "On Thursday, federal judge Robert Hinkle, who earlier had overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages, ordered all county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses beginning Tuesday. Prior to his order, there was confusion over which clerks were allowed to issue the licenses. But on Thursday, Hinkle clarified the broad scope of his ruling." ...

... Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union: "Couples who wanted to ... get married at the Duval, Clay or Baker county courthouses will no longer have that option in the new year. These counties' decision to end the long-standing tradition of courthouse wedding ceremonies is due, at least in part, to the continued debate over same-sex marriage in Florida against the backdrop of conservative Christianity." (Mitchell wrote this report before Hinkle ordered all county clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses.) CW: Ah, finally some hard evidence that same-sex marriage is a threat to heterosexual marriage. (Seriously, I won't be surprised if some anti-gay-marriage lawyers make this argument in court. With any luck, they'll make it before judges like Richard Posner who will laugh them out of court.)

Cartography for Bigots. Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "Since January [CW: of 2014, I presume], publishing giant HarperCollins has been selling an atlas it says was 'developed specifically for schools in the Middle East.'... Israel is missing.... On Wednesday, HarperCollins was backtracking fast."

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Nearly a year ago, tea party agitators in Arizona managed to get John McCain censured by his own state party. Now, he's getting his revenge. As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies." CW: Naturally, one Tea party McCain foe called the party purge "the equivalent of 'ethnic cleansing.'" Because losing your little party job is just like the Holocaust. Or, as a normal person might say, politics as usual.

Pete Donohue, et al., of the New York Daily News: "An NYPD cop has surrendered in an attack on an MTA worker, officials said Thursday. Police Officer Mirjan Lolja, 37, was suspended after the assault in which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker -- who was on-duty and in her uniform -- was allegedly put into a bear hug, thrown to the floor and choked, cops said." CW: The photos accompanying the report show Lolja in street clothes. The article doesn't indicate whether or not he was on duty at the time of the alleged attack. I guess roughing up New Yorkers is a 24/7 job.

Presidential Election

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Likely 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush has declined an invitation to speak at a conservative summit in Iowa hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa.).... The summit ... will feature a host of other potential GOP presidential contenders, including Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Dr. Ben Carson." ...

... Counting Chickens Before They Hatch. Steve M.: "Jeb is apparently counting on big donors and the folks running the GOP nominating process to undermine all of his competitors so he can win the nomination without kissing up to the wingnuts -- either that or he thinks that all the candidates trying to out-wingnut one another with divide up the purist vote, leaving him to scoop the rest, and thus the nomination.... To me he looks as if he's writing his convention acceptance speech way too early. And he looks as if he thinks he can erase the public record of his life if he wins the nomination. I think he's going to be disappointed."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Federal prosecutors said they will not charge John W. Hinckley Jr. with murder in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan's press secretary in a 1981 assassination attempt, even though a medical examiner concluded his August death was caused by the old wounds. The decision, announced Friday by the U.S. Attorney for the District, comes four months after the coroner decided that James S. Brady’s death at the age of 73 was caused by bullets fired 34 years ago outside the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue Northwest."

Los Angeles Times: "Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man charged in the 2013 attack that killed a TSA officer at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a document filed in federal court Friday. Paul Anthony Ciancia, 24, was charged with 11 federal counts in connection with the Nov. 1, 2013, attack, in which authorities allege he opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle in the airport's busy Terminal 3. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges."

New York Daily News: "Funeral services for former Gov. Mario Cuomo are being planned for Tuesday at the Saint Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue in Manhattan, a church official told the Daily News."

New York Times: "Senator Harry Reid had a painful New Year's Day, breaking ribs and bones in his face after falling while exercising at his home in Nevada. The injury was sustained when Mr. Reid, 75, was using a rubber exercise band that snapped, hitting him hard and causing him to fall, a spokesman said. Mr. Reid was taken to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, according to a statement from his office." ...

     ... Politico UPDATE: "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was released from a Nevada hospital on Friday afternoon after he broke a number of ribs as well as bones in his face during a Thursday workout accident, his office said. The Nevada Democrat is expected to be back at the office on Tuesday, when the 114th Congress begins."

AP: "After nearly a week of searching for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, rescue teams battling monsoon rains had their most successful day yet on Friday, more than tripling the number of bodies pulled from the Java Sea, some still strapped to their seats. Of the 30 corpses recovered so far, 21 were found on Friday, many of them by a U.S. Navy ship, according to officials."