The Wires

Hollywood Reporter: "Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project."

New York Times: "CBS said on Tuesday that it had chosen [John] Dickerson, 49, to replace Charlie Rose as the third co-host of “CBS This Morning,” a spot left empty since Mr. Rose was fired in November after allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Dickerson is to join the lineup of Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who have carved a niche as a relatively serious, news-driven morning team. Mr. Dickerson — whose mother, Nancy Dickerson, became in 1960 the first female correspondent at CBS News — plans to move to New York and leave 'Face the Nation,' which he joined in 2015. CBS has not yet chosen his successor, effectively setting off a horse race at the network for one of television’s most influential political roles."

Oprah Gives Moving Speech, Celebrities Nominate Her for President. For full coverage of the Golden Globe awards, the Los Angeles Times has a pageful of blurbs & links.

Medlar's Amazing Sports Report (Is about Sports!):

New York Times: "Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota [executed] ... what would prove to be the critical play of the Titans’ shocking 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an N.F.L. wild-card playoff game on Saturday.... [The Titans were] trailing by 18 points in the third quarter..., i and as Mariota scrambled toward the line of scrimmage, he appeared to throw the ball away.... But when Darrelle Revis of the Chiefs batted the pass back toward Mariota, the quarterback snagged it out of the air. And ... Mariota sprinted forward for a touchdown that went into the books as a 6-yard pass from Mariota to Mariota."

New York Times: "Hoda Kotb, a longtime NBC News correspondent, will permanently replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC’s flagship morning program, 'Today,' the network said on Tuesday. Ms. Kotb (pronounced COT-bee) had replaced Mr. Lauer on an interim basis since he was fired in November over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. The appointment is the first time that two women will be the program’s official main hosts; 'Today' has an overwhelmingly female audience and is the network’s most profitable franchise. The decision signals a turning point of sorts for NBC: In addition to the Lauer scandal, the network also reviewed 2005 footage from an NBC-owned show in which President Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia but was beaten to publication by The Washington Post, and passed on an exposé of [Harvey] Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I forgot this part of the tape saga: that NBC suits sat on it until someone at the "Today" show leaked it to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post.


Here's one of the film's trailers:

So finally they called me up because it got so late, and the argument got so tense, and said you're going to have to decide this. And I said, well, why do we have to do it right away? The Times took three months. And they - the editors all got on the phone. And the businesspeople were on the other phone saying wait a day. The editors were saying we mustn't wait a day. Everybody knows we have these papers. And we have to maintain the momentum that was stopped when the Times was enjoined. And it's very important. People have their eyes on us. And we have to publish.... And finally after talking to both sides, I asked my colleague Fritz Beebe what he would do. And he was a lawyer. And he said, I guess I would not. And that made it hard but not impossible. He said it in such a way that I thought he's leaving it up to me. And I can do this. And so I said let's go. Let's publish. And I hung up because I was so freaked out by having had to make that decision so fast. -- Katherine Graham, on her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in an interview, 1997 ...

... Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Katherine Graham in 1997 about her 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon papers -- and other things. Graham died in 2001. Audio & transcript. Via David Von Drehle of the Washington Post.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."


The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

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


The Commentariat -- Sept. 9, 2015

Afternoon Update:

House of Cards. Deb Reichmann of the AP: "House GOP leaders were forced to delay plans to open debate on a resolution of disapproval [of the Iran nuclear deal] as some Republicans threatened to withhold their support. Frustrated that the disapproval resolution looked short of support in the Senate, these Republicans were demanding an alternate approach.... The outcome was uncertain as the surprise disagreement spilled into the open just moments before the House was to come into session to begin debating a procedural measure on the resolution." ...

... Here's Politico's story, by Jake Sherman.

David Sanger & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday embraced the Iran nuclear deal that she paved the way for as secretary of state, but said it would work only 'as part of a larger strategy toward Iran' that contained the power Tehran may gain as sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars flow back into the country. Mrs. Clinton's speech, at the Brookings Institution, amounted to a strong endorsement of the deal struck by President Obama and her successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, though one laced with skepticism about Iran's intentions":

Jason Zengerle of New York: This year, multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson is waiting to see which GOP candidate to buy. Most are groveling at his feet. Ain't democracy grand?

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, [David] Gregory sat down [with me and] ...) talked about leaving the longest-running show on television, why he doesn't think he was fired, and how George W. Bush inspired him to find God and write a book titled How's Your Faith?" CW: Should be inspiring! Sadly, I didn't bother to read Gregory's profound thoughts about things.

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who was released from jail on Tuesday but would not say whether she would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was not at work on Wednesday. A lawyer for Ms. Davis, Mathew D. Staver, said Ms. Davis would 'return soon,' either on Friday or Monday. After spending five nights in jail, he said, Ms. Davis 'needs some rest and time with the family.'"

Sibylla Brodzinsky of the Guardian: "Latin American countries are opening their doors to Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country, as Europe struggles with a growing refugee crisis."


David Herszenhorn of the New York Times: "Three Democratic senators announced on Tuesday that they would back President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, bringing to 41 the total number of Senate supporters as critics in Congress prepared to open a historic debate on the accord. With the support of the three senators -- Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Gary Peters of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon -- the White House gained additional assurance that a presidential veto of legislation opposing the deal would be sustained. While having 41 votes is typically sufficient to block a vote on complex legislation in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, it was still not clear that the White House would be able to prevent passage of a resolution opposing the accord, which would spare Mr. Obama from having to exercise his veto authority. At least two Democrats have indicated that they will vote to break any filibuster, even though they support the agreement.... On Tuesday, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia became the fourth Senate Democrat to publicly oppose the agreement, joining Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York." ...

... Still a Dick. Tierney Sneed of TPM: "In a speech slamming President Obama's Iran deal -- which Congress is debating this week -- former Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that only the threat of military action could prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program. 'As soon as President Obama went on Israeli TV and effectively ruled out the option of force, the Iranians knew that they had won,' Cheney said, speaking Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and six world powers earlier this year is 'madness' and an 'intricately crafted capitulation' on the part of President Barack Obama's administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney said Tuesday during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The deal 'will give Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland. I know of no nation in history that has agreed to guarantee that the means of its own destruction will be in the hands of another nation, particularly one that is hostile,' Cheney told attendees at the center-right think tank's event." ...

... CW: Well, Dick, there are five other nations "in history" that have agreed to invite nuclear attacks on their "homelands": China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom & Germany. BTW, the leaders of those countries think you're a madman. And so do I. ...

... Dana Milbank: "Cheney said it’s a 'false choice' to claim the alternative to the deal is war. But he went on to say that unless Iran makes much deeper concessions, 'they must understand that the United States stands ready to take military action ... Iran will not be convinced to abandon its program peacefully unless it knows it will face military action if it refuses to do so.' And this isn't war? In the immortal words of George W. Bush: 'You can't get fooled again.'... Applauding Cheney from the front row were Paul D. Wolfowitz, a principal architect of the Iraq war, and Sen. Tom Cotton, (Ark.), author of the Senate Republicans' letter to the ayatollahs attempting to kill the deal during negotiations. In the second row were former congresswoman Michele Bachmann and I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, the Cheney aide whose tenure led to a prison sentence."

The Ted Show. Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg: "The sequel to Government Shutdown -- the 2013 battle that caused the closing of national parks and museums, cost the U.S. economy $20 billion, and tanked the Republican Party's popularity -- is slated for this fall and will feature the same star: Ted Cruz. The Texas senator ... is rallying the faithful behind the same strategy as led to a two-week hiatus of government services in October 2013, when he led the party in holding up a government funding bill in a quixotic attempt to strip money for Obamacare. This time, Cruz is using the same Sept. 30 funding deadline to push for stripping Planned Parenthood's $500 million in annual federal dollars.... Cruz's co-stars in this year's drama will be the other three Republican senators running for president -- Florida's Marco Rubio, Kentucky's Rand Paul, and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham...." ...

... MEANWHILE. Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "House Speaker John Bohener (R-Ohio) ... is battling an insurgent conservative group within his own party threatening to block any spending bills that include funding for Planned Parenthood, including the stop-gap funding bill. Courting Democrats [to help pass a spending bill] risks losing more support within his own party by alienating deficit hawks in addition to the rebellious conservatives."

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns sees the American Civil War as "unfinished." "All of the way the Ferguson municipality behaved to its own citizens, its majority citizens, is not dissimilar to the way Jim Crow sharecroppers experienced the pernicious substitute for slavery," Burns told Rosenberg.

Michael Birnbaum & Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Seeking to allay Europe’s fast-worsening refugee crisis, a top European Union leader proposed on Wednesday a plan to redistribute 160,000 asylum-seekers across the continent. The plan would be one of the largest efforts to address any migration crisis. But with thousands of men, women and children fleeing conflict and poverty reaching the continent's shores each day, it fell far short of the need. Nor was it clear whether all E.U. nations would support it." ...

... Griff Witte: Hungary's top Roman Catholic bishop says Pope Francis doesn't know what he's talking about re: welcoming refugees from the Middle East. "'They're not refugees. This is an invasion,' said Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigo." CW: Looks as if Laszlo there is also rejecting the doctrine of papal infallibility. Also, I guess he doesn't care so much that Jesus & God will be sending him to hell:

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. -- Matthew 25: 41-43

     ... But before Laszlo gets to hell, it might be a good idea for Francis to defrock him.

Beyond the Beltway

I think that's Huckleberry, Davis & her attorney Mat Staver. However, it may be Jebus & the Two Thieves. As evidence, the Jebus one delivered a Sermon at the Court. One thing Jebus said, "God knows where you're at." Don't get huffy. Jebus's first language was Aramaic. You have to expect some English grammar errors. Anyhow, seems as if God is nosier than the NSA. And that's the Word.Alan Binder & Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, walked free Tuesday after five days, but she and her lawyer would not say whether she would abide by a court order not to interfere with the issuance of licenses by her office." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead....

... CW: Here's the most hilarious part of the story:

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas ... made an appearance, but it was Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, who grabbed the political spotlight. When Senator Cruz exited the jail a throng of journalists beckoned him toward their microphones, but an aide to Mr. Huckabee blocked the path of Mr. Cruz, who appeared incredulous. Moments later, Mr. Huckabee appeared, joined by Ms. Davis. He stuck close to her side as she approached the reporters, and again when she took the stage, and cast her fight as a choice of tyranny or religious freedom. (Emphasis added.)

     ... Thanks to safari for finding video of the moment. Rachel Maddow begins discussing the incident at the top of her show; the actual video begins at about 1:45 min. in:

... Gabe Gutierrez & Jon Schuppe of NBC News: "... Davis has already told Bunning that she would not allow any same sex marriage licenses to be issued from her office, even if she wasn't the one signing them. That's because all licenses issued by her office are, legally, authorized by her. 'Nothing has been resolved,' [her lawyer Mat] Staver told NBC News. 'She told the court Thursday that she can't allow licenses to go out under her name and her authority that authorize a marriage that collides with her conscience and religious conviction, and Kim is not changed on that position,' Staver said." ...

... Steve M. sees Judge David Bunning's move as part of a GOP establishment-led effort "to end the martyrdom of Kim Davis." Steve notes that Bunning is not only a Dubya appointee, he is also -- and this I did not know -- the son of former Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, "One of America's Worst Senators." "... freeing her is the best hope Establishment Republicans have of putting the story to rest before the public begins to see the GOP as the party of Kim Davis in the way that it seems to be becoming the party of unabashed immigrant hate as a result of the Donald Trump campaign." ...

... Sahil Kapur & Greg Stohr of Bloomberg follow up on Steve's point: "Republican strategists are worried that the return of same-sex marriage as a presidential campaign piñata could hurt the party in the 2016 general election, putting it on the wrong side of a growing majority of Americans that believes gay couples should have the right to marry. National Republicans operatives hoped the issue was settled in June when the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. But Davis upended that.... 'I think the longer this lingers, the worse it is for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement,' said John Feehery, a longtime Republican strategist and lobbyist. 'Civil disobedience never works well for conservatives. And in this case, it smacks of bigotry.'" ...

God showed up. He showed up in the form of an elected Democrat named Kim Davis. -- Mike Huckabee, at Kim Davis rally

See there? I was right about Jebus. Just ask Mikey. -- Constant Weader

Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch: "Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who is representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis..., appeared on the 'WallBuilders Live' radio program [Tuesday], where he said that requiring Davis to issue such marriage licenses is like requiring her to provide licenses to 'sodomize children.'" CW: Don't mean to quibble, but somebody should tell Staver that marriage is legal & sodomizing children is not. And, again not meaning to quibble, but somebody should ream Staver a new one for suggesting that adult marriage is like child sodomy. Yeah, we get what you mean, you perverted ass.

... Chris Christie, who is a lawyer, a former federal prosecutor. a governor & a temporary presidential candidate. has a Great Idea: ""What I would do with this woman is to move her to another job where this is not an objection for her, because you have to follow the law, and the law is these licenses have to be issued.... If she has a religious objection we should move her to another job inside the government." ...

... CW: Really, Chris? Davis is an elected official. To remove her from office, the state legislature would have to impeach her. (According to Goldie Taylor of Blue Nation Review, "There is no legal mechanism for recalls under the Kentucky state constitution. Besides, even though Davis is a Democrat, she enjoys widespread support in Rowan County.") You can't just move an elected official to some other job. If that were possible, maybe the New Jersey legislature or the state supreme court could just move you to a job commensurate with your interests & talents. How about GWB traffic cop?

Jad Mouawad & Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "United Airlines said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Jeff Smisek, and two other senior officials had stepped down after a federal corruption investigation. The airline is under investigation by the United States attorney in New Jersey over whether it had improperly sought to influence senior officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.... In February, federal prosecutors issued subpoenas focused on whether the former chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson, had pushed United to reinstate flights that he used to travel to and from his weekend home in South Carolina.... Mr. Samson was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey in 2010. He stepped down in March 2014 when records showed that several senior aides to Mr. Christie worked with Port Authority officials to close down lanes of the George Washington Bridge under false pretenses to punish a mayor." ...

... Rachel Maddow has fun with this one:

Keith Alexander of the Washington Post: "Baltimore officials have reached a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, an agreement they say is the right step for a city still recovering from riots and demonstrations sparked by the 25-year-old's death from an injury suffered in police custody. The wrongful death settlement, which requires final approval by a city board, comes as criminal charges are pending against six police officers in Gray's arrest and death."

Presidential Race

Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Hillary Clinton on Wednesday will lay out her proposal for reckoning with Iran beyond basic enforcement of the nuclear agreement -- making clear that she does not trust the country -- in a speech that her presidential campaign sees as a prime opportunity to remind voters of her foreign policy experience and willingness to go beyond the White House.... Clinton and her aides both see the Iran agreement as an accomplishment to which she can proudly point. The candidate has backed the deal on the campaign trail, and she often notes that as secretary of state she helped get Iran to the negotiating table via sanctions." ...

Shoulda Coulda Woulda, Redux. I wanted you to hear this directly from me: Yes, I should have used two email addresses, one for personal matters and one for my work at the State Department. Not doing so was a mistake. I'm sorry about it, and I take full responsibility. -- Hillary Clinton, Facebook, Tuesday ...

... Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "A day after again declining to apologize for her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton told an interviewer Tuesday that the arrangement was a mistake and that she is 'sorry' for it. 'That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility,' Clinton said in an interview with ABC News":

     ... CW: Yeah, it took Hillary waaay too long to acknowledge a mistake that was evident to everyone else. But she's face(book)ed the music. So let's move on. ...

... Getting that apology off her chest made Hillary feel like dancing:

... Elise Labott & Laura Koran of CNN: "Secretary of State John Kerry has tapped a former career diplomat as an 'email czar' to coordinate the State Department response to the myriad of document requests mostly related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which have strained the department's resources, officials familiar with the appointment tell CNN. Janice Jacobs will serve as Kerry's State Department's Transparency Coordinator, charged with responding to Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests faster and more efficiently and improving the State Department systems for keeping records."

David Brooks Thinks You're Crazy. Dean Baker in FAIR: "New York Times columnist David Brooks discussed the rise of ... Bernie Sanders on the left in the United States, along with Donald Trump and Ben Carson on the right. He argues that none of these people could conceivably win a national election. He therefore concludes that their support must stem from a psychological problem, [link fixed] which he identifies as 'expressive individualism.'... Brooks' analysis [ignores] ... how people are supposed to respond when the party they have supported consistently pursues policies at odds with fundamental principles of their core constituencies. In the case of ... the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama..., the wealthy have received the overwhelming majority of the benefits of economic growth.... It is impressive to see Brooks argue that trying to turn the Democratic Party toward an agenda that supports workers rather than the rich is a psychological problem." Thanks to Bonita for the link.

Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "Donald Trump made his big return to Fox News after a rare two-week absence Tuesday night with an interview at the top of The O'Reilly Factor." CW: The interview, embedded in Wilstein's post, is pretty interesting. If anybody could make Trump seem reasonable (and presidential!), it's Wild Bill.

... You can watch Colbert's full opening show here. Jeb! was a guest. Must-see teevee, for sure. ...

... Jordan Frasier of NBC News: "Jeb Bush said he would be a more fiscally conservative president than his brother as the Republican presidential candidate appeared as a guest on Stephen Colbert's inaugural episode of 'The Late Show' on Tuesday night." Here's a Jeb! bonus clip:

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Donald Trump isn't naïve about what Ted Cruz is up to. Behind the Texas senator's flattery, phone calls and his invitation to share a stage at the Capitol Wednesday, there's a middle-of-the-pack rival with designs on Trump's supporters. And the real estate mogul is well aware of it. 'I'm a very confident person,' Trump told Politico in an interview. 'I'm not worried about giving someone else exposure, especially if that someone else is a person who deserves respect.'"

Jamie Self of the (South Carolina) State: "Most S.C. Republican primary voters want a president with no prior elected political experience, according to a new poll released Tuesday to The State. A Public Policy Polling survey found Donald Trump would win 37 percent of the vote from S.C. Republicans and Ben Carson would pick up 21 percent. The rest of the crowded GOP field of 17 candidates was struggling in the single digits. When asked about the state's own 'favorite son,' U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, nearly four out of five S.C. GOP primary voters said the Seneca Republican should drop out of the presidential race."

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "During his two-day tour [of New Hampshire] pegged to Labor Day, [Scott] Walker ... spent a good chunk of the weekend addressing his viability as a candidate.... He told a supporter...: 'We just have to stay constant, stay who you are.' Staying constant, however, has been one of his biggest challenges. On key issues of the day ... Walker has struggled more than other candidates to clearly explain where he stands."

David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "In the last election, [Rick] Santorum visited all 99 counties in Iowa and later won the state's Republican caucuses. He was transformed from a long-shot ex-senator into a conservative hero who beat eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 11 states. In this election, he's a long shot again. Santorum has lost his theme song, his campaign guru, his big money and his niche in the GOP field. Even in Iowa, he was hovering around 1 percent in polls."

Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Campaign finance reform advocate Larry Lessig will officially announce a bid for the White House on Wednesday as he pushes for sweeping changes to the way presidential campaigns are funded in America."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 8, 2015

** The GOP Against the World. Jonathan Chait: "Those who have consigned the world to its doom should reconsider. The technological and political underpinnings are at last in place to actually consummate the first global pact to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. The world is suddenly responding to the climate emergency with — by the standards of its previous behavior — astonishing speed. The game is not over. And the good guys are starting to win.... If this sounds surprisingly optimistic, that may be because you reside in a highly peculiar place: the United States of America.... Of course, it is unfortunate for the future of mankind that climate-change denialism has surfaced as a regional quirk in the most powerful country on Earth.... The world is racing to decarbonize before the Republican Party — as constituted in its current, delirious form — can regain power over the U.S.... Eventually the world will wean itself almost completely off carbon-based energy. There is, suddenly, hope." ...

... Andrew Restuccia of Politico: "Top Republican lawmakers are planning a wide-ranging offensive — including outreach to foreign officials by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office — to undermine President Barack Obama's hopes of reaching an international climate change agreement that would cement his environmental legacy. The GOP strategy, emerging after months of quiet discussions, includes sowing doubts about Obama's climate policies at home and abroad, trying to block key environmental regulations in Congress, and challenging the legitimacy of the president's attempts to craft a global agreement without submitting a treaty to the Senate.... By design, the State Department is pushing for a broad political agreement that has buy-in from each country but won't carry the legal authority of a treaty — getting around the Constitution's requirement that treaties be ratified through a two-thirds vote in the Senate." CW: Love the way Politico treats the GOP as normal.

Charles Pierce: "The Keystone pipeline would probably leak, just like TransCanada's other projects.... Pretty plainly, TransCanada puts its pipelines in the ground and then you're on your own, rube." ...

... CW: Leak? How about go ka-boom? Let's run an XL-Xtension under Mitch McConnell's house.

Welcome Back, Congress. Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Congress returns from its long summer vacation Tuesday to an all-out, three-week sprint to avert a government shutdown – and no apparent plan yet to quell the conservative rebellion over Planned Parenthood that has dramatically increased the odds of a closure. The mad dash – just 10 legislative work days to solve the shutdown crisis, in between major votes on the Iran nuclear deal and the first-ever papal address to a joint session of Congress – presents a major test for Republican leaders in both chambers who vowed to end crisis-driven legislating."

Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan of Politico: "Figures in his close-knit circle of allies are starting to privately wonder whether [John Boehner] can survive an all-but-certain floor vote this fall to remain speaker of the House. And, for the first time, many top aides and lawmakers in the House do not believe he will run for another term as House leader in 2017."

Matt Apuzzo, et al., of the New York Times: Justice Department "conflicts with Apple and Microsoft reflect heightened corporate resistance, in the post-Edward J. Snowden era, by American technology companies intent on demonstrating that they are trying to protect customer information."

Gene Robinson: President Obama is on a roll. "Obama gives the impression of having rediscovered the joy of being president." CW: Actually, I think President Obama has been on a roll since late 2014, when it finally dawned on him he didn't have to be nice to Republicans who treat him like dirt & accuse him of everything from fascism to terrorism to communism to tyranny. So thanks to whoever convinced him (Michelle) to lay off the polite."

Juan Williams of the Hill: "#BlackLivesMatter is fast becoming its own worst enemy. It lacks an agenda, it is antagonizing the black community’s top white political allies, including Democrats running for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination, and it is not finding common ground with any of the Republican majority in Congress.... The movement’s failure to get its collective act together carries real danger for the political clout of the African-American community in the 2016 elections and beyond. With the movement potentially discouraging black American trust in Democrats, #BlackLivesMatter is increasing the odds of a sharp drop in black voter turnout in 2016."

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "The Obama administration is 'actively considering' ways to help ease the growing refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, an official confirmed Monday as pressure increased on the United States to take in more of the desperate migrants. The White House gave no details as to what it may do, but the administration official suggested that the contours of the United States' refugee resettlement program, which as of now accepts up to 70,000 people a year, were being examined. If the administration decides to let in more refugees, it could prompt a backlash among Republicans who fear terrorists lurk among those seeking aid." ...

... Juan Cole: The "grim [U.S.] landscape of racism, religious prejudice, blaming the victim and racial exclusion from immigration is deja vu all over again. In the 30s, it was the Jews that the troglodytes didn’t want. Steve Jobs’s father was an immigrant from Syria. We need more like him, and we need fewer children washing up dead on beaches. If we’re going to bomb Syria, we need to take care of the displaced." CW: Well, in fairness, Steve Jobs was a dick. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead. ...

... Anthony Faiola, et al., of the Washington Post: German "Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel ... said his country could take half a million refugees a year 'for several years,' even as some critics questioned Tuesday whether generous asylum policies serve to entice more migrants to make the dangerous trek for Western Europe." ...

... Elliot Hannon of Slate: "As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to land on Europe’s shores, the continent’s leading governments at last began to step up their effort to cope with the influx of Syrians and provide aid. Germany, the U.K., and France all offered to accept tens of thousands of people fleeing the war-torn country (and beyond) as pressure continued to build at access points to Europe."

Greg Sargent: "With Dick Cheney set to deliver a speech today attacking the Iran deal, the Dem-allied Americans United for Change is releasing a new video that recaps all of his claims that he was actually right about Iraq, and contrasts them with headlines illustrating the contrary rather vividly.... If  there is anything that can get the last remaining undecided Senate Dems to back the deal, averting a veto-override fight, a high profile speech from Cheney is it." ...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Chuck Todd V. Norma Rae. Jack Mirkinson in Slate: "Our media is [sic!] filled to the brim with stories of, by and for the wealthy.... A 2014 study by the stalwart media watchdog FAIR found that, over an eight-month period, exactly zero representatives of labor unions appeared on any of the five main Sunday talk shows. Billionaire CEOs, meanwhile, got lots of chances to put forward their vision of the American economy.... Every major news network in this country — not to mention a good fraction of our top newspapers — is owned by a multi-bajillion-dollar global conglomerate."

Presidential Race

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton is proposing a federal program to match small political campaign donations as a way to dilute the influence of megadonors and unregulated outside money. Clinton plans to release details of the plan Tuesday. Her campaign provided a preview Monday, as she campaigned in Iowa." ...

... Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account — including one about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said.... The special review — by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — concluded that the emails were 'Top Secret,' the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011." ...

... Catherine Lucey of the AP: "Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she does not need to apologize for using a private email account and server while at the State Department because 'what I did was allowed.' In an interview with The Associated Press during a Labor Day campaign swing through Iowa, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination also said the lingering questions about her email practices while serving as President Barack Obama's first secretary of state have not damaged her campaign."

That's Napolean Trump in the center there. Via the New York Daily News.

Obnoxious from Day One. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told [Michael D’Antonio,] the author of a forthcoming biography, that he nevertheless 'always felt that I was in the military' because of his education at a military-themed boarding school.... Mr. Trump memorably told Mr. D’Antonio that 'when I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.' Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with winning — at anything and everything, big or small — dominated his youth. His mentor at the New York Military Academy, Theodore Dobias, called Mr. Trump 'a conniver, even then.'”

Beyond the Beltway

Not So Much Liking the Martyr Part of Martyrdom. Ralph Ellis & Ed Payne of CNN: "Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who's refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, on Monday asked the Kentucky governor to immediately free her from jail, according to court documents obtained by CNN....  Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's office said Monday he won't respond, noting that the conflict was a 'matter between her and the courts.'" ...

     ... Via the Raw Story.

Charles Pierce on the Washington State Supreme Court's decision disallowing public funding of charter schools. "There is now great scrambling among the masters of the universe because public accountability and democratic institutions can be so damned…inconvenient. (Not that they're done. There are higher courts.) Public education should be conducted in public schools. Period. Good on the Washington Supremes for reinforcing this simple truth."


The Commentariat -- Sept. 7, 2015

"City Building." Thomas Hart Benton. One of a ten-panel series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.... Randy Kennedy takes a tour of art works in New York City that depict laborers & the fruits of their labor. Includes slide show.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday requiring federal contractors to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, his latest use of executive power to change the rules of the American workplace, the White House said. The president will announce the order during a Labor Day trip to Boston, where, aides said, he will also renew his call on Congress to pass legislation expanding paid sick and family leave in the private sector. He chose Boston as the venue because Massachusetts voters approved a new paid sick-leave law last year. It took effect in July. The executive order will have no real effect until after Mr. Obama's presidency; because it must first go through a public comment period, it will apply only to new federal contracts starting in 2017." ...

... CW: You have to wonder why President Obama didn't do this years ago. If Republicans wanted to call out his "imperial presidency," or his "jobs killer" agenda. they'd have a hard time doing so by complaining "he made contractors pay workers for seven sick days a year." The appropriate response: "Yeah. I did." ...

... President Obama's speech in Boston:

Raymond Hogler, in a Hill op-ed: "Despite the falsity of its claims and the damage it does to workers, right-to-work marches on with the aid of well-financed campaigns. Politicians like Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) bow and scrape at the altar of corporate wealth, and any legislation attempting to curb the power of capital faces long odds. The best chance of repeal combines a joint federal-state strategy with meaningful consequences for politicians who refuse to support a repeal bill. ...

Fifty years ago, the right-to-work movement in this country underwent a near-death experience. Organized labor and a powerful Democratic coalition during the Johnson administration joined in support of a bill to repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, a statutory provision which allows states to prohibit compulsory financial support to labor unions. President George Meany of the AFL-CIO viewed Section 14(b) as the major threat to the labor movement, and he made repeal his top legislative priority in 1964. President Johnson pledged in his 1965 State of the Union address to eliminate Section 14(b). Labor achieved a significant victory when the House passed H.R. 77, its version of repeal, by a 221 -- 203 vote on July 28, 1965. The legislative effort came to an unsuccessful end in October when Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) led a filibuster against the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) had to withdraw the proposal.

... E. J. Dionne: "Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.... As long as there are markets, government will have to establish rules determining how they operate. These necessarily affect the interests of market participants. Many of the choices are not between more or less government. They are about whether what government does provides greater benefit to workers or employers, management or unions, individual investors or investment firms."

Charles Pierce (Sept. 4): "... the more I read Judge Richard Berman's haymaker of a decision vacating Tom Brady's Goodell-imposed and Goodell-reiterated punishment, the more I see it as ... a damned appropriate greeting card with which to begin Labor Day weekend. This is a win for all workers no matter the color of their collars. (I do admit to some amusement when I hear the more conservative members of the media, especially the ones on the radio, and the more conservative members of a football fan base, which is practically everybody, suddenly discover their inner liberal on this issue.... I consider this a minor day of jubilee.)"

Jared Bernstein in the Atlantic: Surprise! The welfare-to-work program doesn't work if there is no work available: "I cannot overemphasize the importance of this fundamental flaw in poverty policy, i.e., the assumption that there is an ample supply of perfectly good jobs out there that poor people could tap if they just wanted to do so. To this day, this misguided notion underlies the conservative policy agenda that views anti-poverty policy as a narcotic that weans people away from the jobs awaiting them. Kill the programs, and they'll get out of their hammocks (Rep. Paul Ryan's term for the safety net) and get to work."

Micahel Eisenscher in Foreign Policy in Focus on why labor should support the Iran nuclear agreement: "For most of its first 50 years of existence, the country's largest labor federation -- the AFL-CIO -- never once challenged the deployment of U.S. troops into foreign conflicts. But it turns out that workers have as much of a stake in those decisions as anyone.... With increasing clarity, unions have come to recognize that a country that commits over half its discretionary budget to war spending can't afford to address the increasingly pressing needs of its people.... If [war hawks] succeed [in scuttling the Iran deal], they'll put our country and the world on a fast track to yet another disastrous military conflict, the costs of which are too horrific to contemplate." Via Daily Kos. ...

... CW: While it's true that war destroys lives & things & wastes billions & billions of dollars, it also is a jobs creator. Ask any Republican. Somebody has to build those bombs; somebody has to fight those wars. You might think Hitler, Mussolini & Tojo would be GOP heroes -- they created a U.S. jobs program that ended the Great American Depression; Roosevelt couldn't do it without their help.

Peter Baker: "Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, announced on Sunday that she will support the nuclear agreement with Iran that has roiled many in her Florida district. 'I'll be casting my vote to support the deal and if necessary sustain the president's veto,' she told Jake Tapper on 'State of the Union' on CNN. While she called it a 'gut-wrenching' decision-making process that caused her 'angst and pause,' she concluded that the agreement would 'put Iran years away from being a threshold nuclear state.'" CW: Also, I guess she really wanted to keep her DNC chair, not likely to happen if she had ditched the president on this. ...

... Here's Wasserman Schultz's op-ed in the Miami Herald. ...

... Alexandra Jaffe of NBC News: "Former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed support for the nuclear agreement with Iran on Sunday, calling the various planks Iranian leaders accepted 'remarkable' and dismissing critics' concerns over its implementation. 'It's a pretty good deal,' he said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" ...

... Scott Wong of the Hill: "Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he used two computers [link fixed] while leading the department, one for transmitting sensitive material and another for emailing 'housekeeping stuff.' 'I had a secure State Department machine for secure material and I had a laptop that I could use for email. I would email relatives, friends, but I would also email in the department," Powell explained on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Fox News host Chris Wallace forced former Vice President Dick Cheney to admit that Iran's centrifuges went from zero to 5,000 under his watch, not President Barack Obama's. During an interview on Fox News, Cheney refused to back down from his assertion that Obama's nuclear deal with Iran was like Neville Chamberlain appeasing Hitler":

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday suggested Democrats wouldn't to try to block a final vote on the Iran nuclear deal -- but only if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agrees to a higher threshold for passage.... While Reid's offer would let Republicans bypass procedural votes on the Iran resolution, it would still require that they get 60 supporters -- the same number they would need to overcome a potential Democratic filibuster." Some Democratic senators may not support a filibuster if if they favor the Iran deal.

Shalia Dewan of the New York Times on the "collateral consequences" of our criminal justice system. The Justice Department gives light penalties when big banks commit crimes, but the justice system seldom gives "consideration to collateral consequences when prosecuting individuals," even when an individual is arrested on a minor charge &/or never convicted.

Steven Myers & Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "The dream of an Arctic Klondike, made possible by the rapid warming of once-icebound waters, has been at the core of Russia's national ambitions and those of the world's biggest energy companies for more than a decade. But even as Royal Dutch Shell began drilling an exploratory well this summer off the north coast of Alaska, Russia's experiences here have become a cautionary tale, one that illustrates the challenges facing those imagining that a changing Arctic will produce oil and gas riches.... After years of planning and delays, Shell's drilling project in the stormy waters of the Chukchi Sea is now being watched by the industry, officials, residents and critics as a make-or-break test of the viability of production in the Arctic." ...

... War on the World. CW: AND the hopes & dreams of oil company executives provide just one example of why Republicans pretend climate change does not exist. The GOP is actually in favor of climate change. They would destroy the Earth for a few campaign donations from Big Oil.

Joshua Albert of the Daily Beast: "Fans of the Confederate flag marched on Washington, D.C., to defend their standard and claim victimhood.... According to the event page that was set up for the demonstration, 1,400 people were planning to attend. As it turned out, roughly 75 people made it.... 200 counter-protesters ... showed up with speakers, tubas, colorful signs, and infinitely more energy. D.C. law enforcement officials set up a barrier of about 100 yards using themselves as a fence between the 'we're not racist' Confederate flag demonstration and the counter-protesters."

"The Pope vs. the Donald." Nahal Toosi of Politico: "The anti-Donald Trump is coming to town. And he speaks Spanish, too. When Pope Francis addresses Congress later this month, U.S. Catholic leaders expect the popular, groundbreaking pontiff to call on Americans to set aside their political divisions and unite to tackle challenges such as climate change, economic inequality and immigration reform."

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "In a remarkable conversation, [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] talks about why she doesn't feel like she belongs on the Supreme Court."

Presidential Race

Mark Murray of NBC News: "Bernie Sanders has jumped out to a nine-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, and he's gained ground on her among Iowa voters in the Democratic presidential race, according to a pair of brand-new NBC News/Marist polls.... Without [Vice President] Biden in the race, Sanders' lead over Clinton in the current survey increases to 11 points, 49 percent to 38 percent. In Iowa, Clinton maintains her previous advantage over Sanders -- but her lead has declined from 24 points in July (49 percent to 25 percent) to 11 points (38 percent to 27 percent); Biden sits at 20 percent." CW: Do bear in mind that in 2008 Barack Obama was leading Clinton in New Hampshire days before the primary, but Clinton won.

In Iowa, Unions Still Matter. Grant Rodgers of the Des Moines Register: "Clinton, Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley all courted union members at events surrounding the Labor Day holiday. Sanders on Friday stood alongside union members on a picket line outside Penford Products, a Cedar Rapids corn processing plant whose union workers are renegotiating a contract with management. O'Malley and Clinton are both scheduled Monday to be at union picnics in eastern Iowa. The three Democratic rivals also spoke at town hall events in Altoona and Newton organized by AFSCME, Iowa's largest public employees union." ...

... BTW, the number of GOP candidates in Iowa over the Labor Day weekend: zero.

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculed Donald Trump's plan to deport all undocumented immigrants and then allow provisional returns as unrealistic 'political rhetoric' as she sought votes Sunday amid falling poll numbers [in Iowa]." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: As Secretary of State, "Hillary Clinton was instrumental in reducing [Hungarian PM Viktor] Orban's influence in Europe and his efforts to thwart liberal democracy at home." (See also Guardian editorial on Orban, linked below.)

** Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "The decision by huge masses of Republican voters to defy D.C.-thinkfluencer types like George Will and throw in with a carnival act like Trump is no small thing. For the first time in a generation, Republican voters are taking their destiny into their own hands. In the elaborate con that is American electoral politics, the Republican voter has long been the easiest mark in the game, the biggest dope in the room."

Scammer-in-Chief. Greg Smith of the New York Daily News: "... hundreds of ... 'students' ... [attended] now-defunct Trump University; an entity the New York attorney general says was a grand scam that put $5 million in Trump's pocket.... According to lawsuits filed in New York and California, 'students' got repeat come-ons to run up credit card debt to buy increasingly expensive mentorships topping out at nearly $35,000 per person.... In a lawsuit pending in Manhattan Supreme Court, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says 600 ex-Trump U. students in the state were defrauded. Trump Organization counsel Alan Garten defended the school as 'a substantive, real program' that 'offered people valuable training, valuable courses and valuable mentorships.'... So far, Judge Cynthia Kerr has found Trump violated state education laws by calling his entity a 'university' when it wasn't licensed as one. She will decide on possible restitution after a yet-to-be scheduled hearing. Meantime, two more class-action lawsuits are pending in California."

Friend of Fraudsters. Steve Eder of the New York Times highlights one of Jeb!'s shady acquaintances, who while Jeb! was governor, defrauded the state of Florida of $1.2 million for a never-started "tribute" museum to Dorothy Walker Bush, Jeb!'s grandmother. Jeb! swore to investigators that he barely knew the fraudster Tony Campos. "But emails and letters between Mr. Bush and Mr. Campos suggest something more than a limited acquaintance, especially after Mr. Campos began corresponding with the family about his plans to honor Mrs. Bush." ...

... CW: This story strikes me as yet another of a series of tales of Jeb!'s SOP, where he pals around with crooks but manages to keep enough distance to establish plausible deniability of wrongdoing. The story won't stick, especially when you compare Jeb!'s culpability to Trump's. But when you see what kind of ethics the two top GOP presidential candidates have, all the sturm und drang over Hillary's private e-mail server seems damned silly. Hillary's e-mail saga repeatedly makes the front page of major news media like the New York Times. (As far as I can tell the only instance in which the Times carried the Trump "University" story this year was a Reuters-written item that appeared in the online business section of the paper.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the issues the Bush campaign is using to attack its unexpected nemesis are precisely the issues on which Mr. Trump happens to be right, and the Republican establishment has been proved utterly wrong.... Mr. Trump ... is exactly the ignorant blowhard he seems to be.... Some of [his rivals] may come across as reasonable and thoughtful, but in reality they are anything but. Mr. Bush, in particular, may pose as a reasonable, thoughtful type ... but his actual economic platform, which relies on the magic of tax cuts to deliver a doubling of America's growth rate, is pure supply-side voodoo.... All indications are that Mr. Bush's attacks on Mr. Trump are falling flat, because the Republican base doesn't actually share the Republican establishment's economic delusions.... Mr. Trump, who is self-financing, didn't need to genuflect to the big money, and it turns out that the base doesn't mind his heresies. This is a real revelation, which may have a lasting impact on our politics."

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "It doesn't seem to matter that [Ben Carson] is a man of science who does not believe in evolution and has called climate change 'irrelevant': he is an ideologue with the trappings of a technocrat. Insofar as Carson has a political platform, it involves a low flat tax, modelled on the Biblical tithe; an end to Obamacare and to welfare for able-bodied adults; and the removal of restraints on our military in the Middle East.... His success in the polls may be best understood as desperation on the part of voters who have rejected political experience as a test of competence."

Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) said on Sunday that state marriage clerks should issue same-sex marriage licenses even if they morally oppose the practice. Kasich added that government employees are responsible for obeying the law upon assuming their positions."

Hayley Walker of ABC News: "After exceeding his $1 million crowd-funding goal, Harvard Law School professor Larry Lessig announced today on 'This Week' that he is running for president. 'I think I'm running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room,' he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. 'We have to recognize -- we have a government that does not work. The stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Michael Muskal of the Los Angeles Times: "Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who spent her fourth day behind bars Sunday, has filed an appeal notice of the judge's decision that put her in a Kentucky jail for failing to follow his order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post: The state of "Washington's charter school law, which narrowly passed in a 2012 referendum with financial support from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other wealthy philanthropists, has been struck down as unconstitutional by the state's Supreme Court.... The Washington state high court ruled Friday that the law violates the state constitution, which says that public school funds can be used only to support 'common schools.'" Thanks also to Ken W. for mentioning this on Saturday.

Brian Bakst of the AP: Walter Palmer, mild-mannered dentist & large-animal slayer, is going back to work after spending the last several weeks at "undisclosed locations." He granted his one-and-only interview to the Minneapolis Star Tribune & the AP, but refused to answer "several lines of inquiry" regarding the hunt in which he killed Cecil the Lion after his team lured Cecil from the Hwange National Park preserve in Zimbabwe.

Way Beyond

Guardian Editors: "Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán..., has been denting his country's standing for some time now. He has trampled on democratic principles, concentrated power in the hands of his rightwing Fidesz party, threatened the independence of the judiciary and bullied the media. He has been consistently provocative towards EU institutions, and made shows of solidarity with Vladimir Putin that have undermined EU efforts to make a strong stand on the war in Ukraine.... Now, with the refugee crisis, the 'Orbán problem' is clear for all to see. And it's getting worse. On Friday, the Hungarian parliament fast-tracked new laws to strengthen police powers and set strict new punishments, including jail terms, for unauthorised border crossing."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The Iraqi military has used the F-16 fighter jet in combat operations for the first time, more than a year after Iraqi officials began pressing Washington to deliver them to assist in the fight against Islamic State militants."

New York Times: "In an acknowledgment of severe shortcomings in its effort to create a force of moderate rebels to battle the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon is drawing up plans to significantly revamp the program by dropping larger numbers of fighters into safer zones as well as providing better intelligence and improving their combat skills. The proposed changes come after a Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda attacked, in late July, many of the first 54 Syrian graduates of the military's training program and the rebel unit they came from. A day before the attack, two leaders of the American-backed group and several of its fighters were captured."