Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President lays out why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values":

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
April 24

Sorry. This is yesterday's livefeed. Since the White House doesn't date their schedule (despite my repeated requests) I just can't tell. I probably won't have time to republish today's schedule, should the White House ever get around to publishing it.

10:00 am ET: President Obama makes a statement

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus (audio only)

2:15 pm ET: President Obama honors the Super Bowl champs

4:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Organizing for Action summit

7:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an Israel Independence Day ceremony (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.


Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75MM Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

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The Commentariat -- Feb. 5, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton, in Politico, on the Family & Medical Leave Act, which he signed into law 20 years ago today.

President Obama spoke Monday in Minneapolis about controlling gun violence:

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama traveled to the nation's heartland to press his case for tougher gun laws on Monday, even as evidence mounted in Washington that expanded background checks on gun sales may emerge as a legislative compromise in the bitterly divisive cultural debate." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post is not impressed with the NRA's repeated claim that there are thousands of gun laws that are not being enforced: "It may well be the case that there are 'thousands' of laws, but what does that mean? What does counting statutes, or local regulations, say about the quality or effectiveness of those laws? ... This 20,000 figure appears to be an ancient guesstimate that has hardened over the decades into a constantly repeated, never-questioned talking point."

Jim Abrams of the AP: "Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, on Monday launched a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans. The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8.... Advocates hope that Republicans [in the House], smarting from election losses among women voters in November, won't repeat their resistance last year to the Senate approach." ...

... Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The Senators who voted against moving to debate on the bill were: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID)."

Manu Raju & David Rogers of Politico: "Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. The Arizona Republican ... said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel's confirmation."

Julia Preston & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, said on Monday that a series of hearings he will schedule in the coming months would examine ... a possible overhaul of the immigration system, including proposals for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.... Mr. Goodlatte ... has established a solid record of opposition to any measures he regarded as amnesty for illegal immigrants. But he said the Judiciary hearings would include scrutiny of proposals to offer legal status to most of the immigrants living illegally in the country."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans.... White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in his State of the Union address next week." CW: Please do look at the accompanying charts of how long it took different groups to vote. I am so very proud of the bottom line -- the length of time it took to vote in Florida relative to other states. Go Rick Scott! ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A new study by Princeton molecular biologist and neuroscientist Sam Wang digs deeper into the effect of the Republican gerrymander, and finds that the gerrymanders in seven states were so powerful that they are the equivalent of 1.7 million Democrats simply deciding not to show up at the polls.... Such gerrymanders can exist because five conservative justices refused to block partisan redistricting in a case called Vieth v. Jubelirer."

"Republicans v. Consumers." Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to President Obama, cosigned by 42 other Senators, insisting on 'structural changes' to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... Unless those changes are made, Mr. McConnell said, the Senate by golly is not going to approve the appointment of a director." ...

... ** Nullification. Jamelle Bouie: "Republicans have decided to simply block any attempt at enforcing laws they don't like. For the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], this means blocking confirmation for its director -- former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray -- until the administration agrees to gut the agency and leave consumers more vulnerable to predatory financial practices.... Blanket objections to any nominee -- out of opposition to the agency itself -- is an unacceptable and unprecedented abuse of Senate powers. Far from offering 'advice and consent,' GOP senators are using the confirmation process to block implementation of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president." ...

... ** Charles Pierce: "the Republicans seem to be arguing over whether they will be the Party Of Plutocracy or the Party Of The Stupid Rapey Guys. Will they represent the interests that stole most of the economy and wrecked what was left, or will they be the party of the people obsessed with snowflake Jeebus zygotes? ... (It's not the Tea Party that's trying to castrate the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. It's 'establishment Republicans' like Mitch McConnell.... They're acting in the interest of the mountebanks in the new financial establishment, all of them independent political actors.)" CW: I've got news for Pierce. There are plenty of elected GOP officials -- like Paul Ryan -- who represent both wings. ...

... Pierce also wrote an excellent translation of Carly Fiorina's economic philosophy, as expressed in an exchange we saw in yesterday's Commentariat: "Krugman and Fiorina got into it about the best way to put people to work, and Fiorina carefully explained to the Nobel Prize-winning economist that, in her experience at cratering companies and walking away with a big score, public sector employees don't do real jobs and are not paid in real money. They are paid in Magic Federal Dollars which are stolen from the rest of us.... Yes. You see that guy out there with the shovel, filling in the potholes on your street? His salary, such as it is, is not the same thing, and not even remotely as 'efficient,' as paying someone $21 million to clean out their desk."

Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be 'senior operational leaders' of al-Qaida or 'an associated force' -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo ... provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's ... dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan."

New York Times: "The Justice Department, along with state prosecutors, plans to file civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, accusing the firm of fraudulently rating mortgage bonds that led to the financial crisis, people briefed on the plan said Monday. A suit against S.&P. -- expected to filed this week -- would be the first the government has brought against the credit ratings agencies related to the financial crisis, despite continued questions about the agencies' conflicts of interest and role in creating a housing bubble."

Stephen Colbert interviews Justice Sonia Sotomayor. An excellent value:

Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he will accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, becoming the fifth Republican governor to embrace the provision of the health care reform law that the Supreme Court made optional. The governor unveiled the decision as part of his budget proposal."

Rachel Maddow & Frank Rich talk about Republican infighting:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post has what I thought was a fairly good piece on the continuing criticisms of Michelle Obama's physique. Thompson ledes with the story of an Alabama high school football coach -- Bob Grisham -- who, according to Thompson said, "Fat butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight." Thompson even cites a couple of people who -- accurately -- attribute the remarks to racism. But inexplicably Thompson does not report the clearest racist remark Grisham made -- that Obama is "a fat gorilla." ...

     ... CW Update: I've since listened to the audio tape, & Grisham was not the one who made the "fat gorilla" comment, as reported in the Huff Post & elsewhere, though he certainly did not challenge the remark, which might have been made by a student.

... Grisham also made extremely derogatory remarks about gays. According to the AP, "... Grisham has been suspended without pay for 10 days and is ordered to attend sensitivity training for four days." CW: I'm pretty sure whatever "sensitivity training" Coach Bubba gets in Alabama will turn him into a notable civil rights advocate. ...

Bob Grisham. Times-Daily photo.... Update: in response to JJG's comment today, I've posted a picture of Grisham, which unfortunately does not include a shot of his posterior. Nonetheless, the headshot suggests the man is not svelte. The other two people Thompson mentions who have made public remarks criticizing Michelle Obama's body are Rush Limbaugh & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.). ...

In case you don't know what Jim Sensenbrenner looks like, here's his official portrait; that is, what he thinks he looks like:

Now let's see what Sensenbrenner really looks like:

Re: JJG's comment on the obesity rate in Alabama: at 32 percent, it's one of the highest in the nation.

Justin Sink of The Hill: "Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) broke his silence on an alleged prostitution scandal for the first time Monday, dismissing the allegations that he solicited women during trips to the Dominican Republic as 'totally unsubstantiated' and 'absolutely false.' ... One of the women cited ... was interviewed Monday by Univision, and denied having ever worked as a prostitute or having met Menendez."

CW: Rachel Maddow explores a subject I touched on the other day. You cannot confuse wingers with the facts. Also, it's worth noting that over there is Right Wing World, it isn't just Michelle Obama who is too fate; so is her husband (unless he photoshopped in that little tummy the way he did the gun & the smoke & the Mom jeans, etc.):

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: it seems people are outraged at this tweet by former Rep. Ron Paul, the presidential candidate & libertarian dahling: "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense." CW: It seems to me Paul was just stating the obvious, tho because I am always reticent to speak ill of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their deaths, I would have kept my mouth shut on this, too. At least for now. Well-meaning people make mistakes every day, even in their efforts to help others. But those mistakes usually aren't fatal -- unless lethal weapons are involved. ...

... One of those upset: the latest Paul presidential candidate -- Li'l Randy.

The Smoking Gun: "Paul Guaschino was driving Friday when a fellow motorist spotted an 'Impeach Obama' bumper sticker on the 62-year-old Connecticut resident's vehicle. According to cops, the other driver apparently did not appreciate the bumper sticker and 'displayed his dislike by showing his middle finger.' In response, Guaschino allegedly followed the other driver to a traffic light, where he exited his car -- baseball bat in hand -- and struck the trunk of the middle finger-waving driver. The second motorist 'fled in fear of his safety,' police reported." CW Safety Tip of the Day: Do not challenge wingers. They are crazy. Some of them are crazy-violent. They carry weapons. They are prone to using the weapons. ...

... CW: Speaking of guns & Kentucky (see Paul, Rand), this PCCC ad against Mitch McConnell is, IMHO, extremely effective:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lived for decades with a stunning secret -- that she was the interracial daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist who never acknowledged her publicly as his child — died Monday in a nursing home near Columbia, S.C. She was 87."

AP: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, marking a historic departure from years of frigid ties between the two regional heavyweights. Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on the tarmac at Cairo airport, shaking the Iranian's hand and exchanging a kiss on each cheek as a military honor guard stood at attention."

New York Times: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files last Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago to make the painful history public. But it now appears that the files the church released with much fanfare are incomplete and many are unaccounted for, according to the abuse victims' lawyers. In addition, on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, in apparent violation of a judge's order."

Space.com: "Astronomers should dramatically ramp up the sky surveys, not only to better prepare for threats to Earth [by asteroid hits] but also to exploit asteroids' contents, scientists say."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 4, 2013

The Inconsistent Client. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: President Obama's shifting stance on gay marriage creates challenges for his lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Virrelli, who must argue two cases on the issue before the Supreme Court this term.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: "... the release of her new memoir, 'My Beloved World,' suggests that [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] has broader ambitions than her colleagues, to play a larger and more personal role on the public stage."

Lindsey Bourma of CBS News: "President Obama said today there's 'no doubt' additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit, but believes lawmakers can do it 'without raising taxes again'":

Republicans = "Friends of Fraud." Paul Krugman on GOP efforts to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "... just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again."

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "... the Labor Department's latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath. These Americans in their 50s and early 60s -- those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security -- have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to ... a data analysis company." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: but, see, boomers' vulnerability is a big cost-savings for "entitlement" programs. "Failure to provide adequate social services to unemploy[ed] 61 year-olds not only saves money because you don't need to pay for the benefits, it saves even more money when it leads to that guy dying at 71 rather than 74." CW: it's the GOP Die Quickly Plan that Rep. Alan Grayson [D-Fla.] outlined about 4 years ago.

... Digby: "This is why I so love Pete Peterson and Alan Simpson for launching their generational war.... In fact, they should look at what happened to this baby boom generation as an object lesson in timing. You just never know when the bottom is going to fall out and all your best laid plans for saving and accumulating wealth are shot to hell because a bunch of greedy bankers and financiers decided to gamble with other people's money. Most of those who wind up depending on Social Security are hard-working people who did everything right. And that's why these millionaire plutocrats are such con artists. They are trying to preserve America for the young, alright. But it's for their own heirs. That's how moneyed elites turn themselves into Aristocrats."

** NEW. Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: "Take a seat, balloon boy. Paul Krugman has become the first human I've ever witnessed escaping from the gravitational pull of something with black hole-like density: Joe Scarborough and his gang of deficit hacks.... This is not an issue of right-versus-left ideological conflicts. This is a right-versus-wrong conflict, pure and simple. It's a Beltway bubble versus real-world conflict. It's a data-tested versus magical-thinking conflict."

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: "The $178 billion wireless industry is fiercely lobbying against the federal government's plan to create powerful WiFi networks across the nation, but Google, Microsoft say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark major innovation."

David Sanger & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: The Obama administration is moving, "in the next few weeks, to approve the nation's first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack."

NEW. Steve Benen: "In LaPierre's mind, it doesn't matter what officials say their position is, and it doesn't matter what policymakers include in legislation. What really matters is the paranoid imagination of Wayne LaPierre -- who apparently can read minds and ascertain what Democrats secretly have in mind." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The NRA is now revealed as an insane organization." Krugman lets some GOP backbencher have it, & Carly Fiorina lies about what Krugman said less than 2 minutes after he said it. How can anyone abide her?:

... ALSO, Fiorina goes off on one of her myth-repeating rants, & Krugman calls her out for it:

     ... CW: Fiorina's smug girly-girl/schoolmarm demeanor is insufferable, especially because she adopts the pose to make her smoke-blowing seem like heart-rending truthtelling. Wouldn't it be nice if Snuffolopogus were able to fact-check her instead of sitting there mute while she spews disinformation? ...

... CW: One thing to always bear in mind about arguments from the denizens of Right Wing World -- you cannot win because they always grossly distort what their opponents say, whether they're pulling a Fiorina & arguing against something you didn't say or pulling a LaPierre & "reading your mind" and/or calling you a duplicitous liar. Combine this with their uncanny ability to make up "facts" & "statistics" that suit them, & it is pointless to speak to these people.

Law Prof. Shirley Katzen has a very good op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the faulty reasoning behind the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to void President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB. For one thing, the Court has no business interfering at all.

Please, Moroni, Let This Be True. Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Tagg Romney, son of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is considering a Senate run in Massachusetts's upcoming special election, according to the Boston Herald." ...

    ... UPDATE: Crap, there is no Angel Moroni. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Two sources close to both Tagg and his father Mitt tell ABC News it's not going to happen. One consideration for Tagg Romney may be that his father lost the Bay State in last year’s presidential election by 23 points."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Right Wing World. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (and Fox "News"): "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate.The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: American "Crossroads president Steven Law told the New York Times that Crossroads allies are creating the new organization to oppose candidates such as former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who lost a once-competitive Senate race last year. Both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund -- two of the most prominent groups that have boosted candidates on the right -- mocked the new initiative as yet another hapless establishment-side attempt to muzzle the GOP base. Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, branded it the 'Conservative Defeat Project.'" ...

... AND Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... it's possible the Conservative Victory Fund could save the GOP a few seats in 2014, [but] there's also the potential that its existence will only strengthen the right's resolve to fight the party establishment -- and to help the very candidates it's designed to stop."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs finds "an absolutely blatant, in your face example of how the right wing blogs tell each other lies, circulate them, and turn them into unquestionable articles of faith. It's a microcosm of the reality-denying reactionary sickness at the heart of the conservative movement." No Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not say waterboarding led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Michael Harlin of the right-wing American Thinker (a blog name apparently not meant to be comedic) in a post titled "Seven Reasons Why It's a Photoshop." CW: Right Wing World is so predictable, their "journalists" could save a lot of trouble by hiring liberals to write parodies of what they are definitely going to write themselves, then publish the parodies as straight copy & call it a day. ...

... AND Daniel Halper of the Winger Weekly Standard had the Scoop of the Day: the White House released the photo with this caveat: "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House." ...

... CW: Yo, Danny Boy, that standard copyright language goes on every photo the White House makes available for publication. But great catch anyway. Asshole. Apparently Halper has never sought out a depiction of President Obama that doesn't look more-or-less like the WS's "official" portrait. ...

... P.S. Halper's revelation was such big news over there In Right Wing World that -- as is common practice -- it made the rounds. Assholes. ...

... P.P.S.: of course the law-abiding, Constitooshun-loving denizens of Right Wing World couldn't wait to violate the copyright, which -- on accounta they're violating a specific government regulation -- is a federal offense. Instead of throwing 'em all in Club Fed, let's send them to those re-education camps that concerned Michele Bachman. I'll be the teacher. ...

... Michael Shaw of Bag News points out a delicious irony re: the photo release: "... critics and conservatives short-sightedly forced Obama into releasing one of the most advantageous photos of his presidency. We know, of course, that such a photo, unilaterally released by the White House, would have been skewered as an epic example of pandering, in the caliber of 'Dukakis in the tank,' with skeet shooting sure to be derided by NRA-types as sissy stuff. Instead however, forced into releasing the photo as a STFU and evidence he's inhaled fired, the Administration, with absolutely no negative consequence, has inserted this amazing visual into the public record."

News Ledes

Lavonne Paire Davis, known as Pepper Paire. Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.New York Times: "Lavonne Paire Davis, a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 1950s and a consultant for the hit movie 'A League of Their Own,' died on Saturday in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. She was 88.... Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944..."

AP: "President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government's borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation's debt until later this year."

ABC News: "A week-long Alabama standoff in which a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement. 'FBI Agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference. The agent said negotiations with the suspect Richard Lee Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours."

New York Times: "Edward I. Koch, the three-term New York City mayor..., was celebrated on Monday as a transformational figure in the city's history and a quintessential New Yorker."

New York Times: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reported for duty Monday, acknowledging that as Hillary Rodham Clinton's successor he has 'big heels to fill' and promising to protect U.S. foreign service workers from terrorist attacks overseas."

AP: President "Obama will pitch his proposals to stem gun violence Monday in Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state where officials have been studying ways to reduce gun-related attacks and accidents for several years."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 3, 2013

Skeetergate Ends! -- President Exonerated!
Until Conspiracy Theorists Determine Photo Is Faked
Which They Surely Already Have

... Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time. -- President Obama, to The New Republic, January 2013 ...

... A funny segment:

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post puts the President to the Pinocchio test: "The evidence suggests that until Obama had access to a shooting range as president, he never went skeet shooting. He certainly did not speak like a politician who had once used a firearm." Kessler did not award any Pinocchios because he did "not have enough information." Kessler has since updated his post & awarded the President a "Geppetto." ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "Pro tip: if you want to be taken seriously as a fact checker, maybe you should avoid writing absolutely ridiculous articles like [Kessler's].... A 'Gepetto Checkmark' for the president. I'm sure he'll cherish it always." ...

... Peter Baker & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... on Saturday, the White House tried to silence the skeptics by releasing a photograph of Mr. Obama shooting on the range at Camp David in August." ...

... CW: Clearly (1) an Obama look-alike; (2) Photoshopped: (3) Taken yesterday. I do believe it will be necessary to put White House photographer Pete Souza under oath to settle this. ...

... Sure enough, an actual smoking gun is not good enough for skeetergaters. Max Rivlin-Nadler of Gawker provides a few examples. ...

... CW P.S. To those wingers who are saying "Yeah but Obama can't be a very good shot because blah-blah-blah," let me just note that, unlike Dick Cheney, Obama did not shoot any Republicans in the face. That we know of.

Comparatively Irrelevant News & Commentary

Chris Wallace tore into Wayne LaPierre on "Fox 'News' Sunday." Wallace demonstrated just how ridiculous is the NRA's attempts to make gun safety a "class warfare" issue & to label the President an elitist because his children have Secret Service protection & yours don't. Via Igor Volsky of Think Progress:

David Nakamura & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "President Obama is aiming to grant same-sex couples ... equal immigration rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The proposal could allow up to 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to apply for legal residency and, potentially, U.S. citizenship. But the measure has inspired fierce pushback from congressional Republicans and some religious groups, who say it could sink hopes for a comprehensive agreement aimed at providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants." ...

... NEW. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry [Reid] (D-NV) expressed support for including gay and lesbian families in comprehensive immigration reform, during an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday, insisting that they should have the same protections as everyone else." ...

     ... UPDATE: video of full interview:

Will Weissert of the AP: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry said emphatically Saturday that the Boy Scouts of America shouldn't soften its strict no-gays membership policy, and dismissed the idea of bending the organization to the whims of 'popular culture.' Perry is an Eagle Scout and in 2008 he authored the book 'On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.'"

Mark Landler & Michael Gordon of the New York Times interviewed Hillary Clinton on Thursday. ...

... Landler & Gordon: "As she leaves the State Department, the simplest yardstick for measuring Mrs. Clinton's legacy has been her tireless travels: 112 countries, nearly a million miles, 401 days on the road. Historians will point to how she expanded the State Department's agenda to embrace issues like gender violence and the use of social media in diplomacy."

What a Friend We Had in Timmy. Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times on some reasons the big banks were lucky to have Tim Geithner at Treasury -- and the rest of us were not. Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

Don Walton of the Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star: "Sen. Mike Johanns [R-Neb.] said Saturday he will vote to confirm Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense. In the wake of Hagel's contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, the green light from Nebraska's senior Republican senator could be timely and pivotal in helping pave the way for additional Republican support in the Senate." ...

... Steve Erickson of the American Prospect in Salon on "John McCain's sad, bitter twilight," much of which Erickson says is a function of his hatred of the upstart Obama. CW: when Obama pisses you off -- as he invariably will do -- just remember that he saved us from McCain & McRomney. ...

... Frank Rich comments on the foibles & fantasies of McCain & Co.

"Cockroach Ideas." Paul Krugman complains about people's continually repeating the same economic myths. ...

... Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has a summary of Krugman's remarks. The page also has a link to audio of the program. (I've listened to the audio, & it's quite good.)

Alex Pareene of Salon: "... deficit fear-mongering succeeded in getting 57 percent of survey respondents to believe that Social Security is a 'crisis or significant problem,' until they learned that minor tax increases would make it totally sustainable for 75 years, at which point 74 percent of Americans were like 'Oh, really? Then it seems fine, why don't they ever put it like that on the news.' ... This news will presumably enrage and baffle Joe Scarborough, because everyone he knows knows that we must Do Something About Entitlements."

Zeke Emanuel in the New York Times: "... bending the health care cost curve will actually spur the economy forward."

Jake Miller of CBS News: "Republican Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after the disclosure of thousands of 'late night telephone calls' Sheehy placed to four women, none of whom were his wife, during the last four years. His resignation was announced at a morning press conference by Gov. Dave Heinemann, also a Republican, who said that Sheehy had broken 'the public trust.' ... His wife, Connie Sheehy, filed for divorce last July...." CW: how is it possible that the lieutenant governor of a state with a population of less than 2 million has so much to do that having phone sex with multiple women would interfere with his public duties?

News Ledes

So apparently the Ravens beat the 49ers in a "Super Bowl thriller," CBS reports. I was nevermore thrilled.

AP: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in phone calls this weekend, assuring them the Obama administration will continue to pursue a Mideast peace agreement while recognizing the individual concerns on both sides."

Odd News. New York Times: "The story of an emaciated, ragged man found wandering barefoot in the middle of a quiet country road last week in County Leitrim, near the border with Northern Ireland, continues to confound the police, even after he was identified as a missing Irish property tycoon who said he was abducted eight months ago and tortured during his captivity." The Irish Times has related stories here.

New York Times: "The Israeli attack last week on a Syrian convoy of antiaircraft weapons appears to have also hit the country's main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons, according to American officials who are sorting through intelligence reports."

AP: "Former Navy SEAL and 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle was fatally shot along with another man Saturday on a Texas gun range, a sheriff told local newspapers." ...

     ... New York Times Update: police have identified a suspect in the shooting -- Eddie Ray Routh, a veteran whom Kyle & a friend had taken to a shooting range. Routh allegedly also shot & killed Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield.

New York Times: "Egypt's interior minister offered a rare apology on Saturday after officers under his command were seen on television beating a naked man two blocks from the presidential palace. But under what his family said was police coercion, the victim, Hamada Saber, said in an interview later that the officers had been helping rather than attacking him."

AP: "Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said."

New York: former President Bill Clinton & New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will eulogize former Mayor Ed Koch tomorrow.


The Commentariat -- Feb. 2, 2013

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. CW: Interesting. The President's "balanced approach" to cutting the deficit is suddenly not about "belt-tightening" -- which he implicitly warns against -- & more about cutting tax loopholes available only to corporations & the wealthy. Why, for a brief moment, I might believe our President has had an epiphany wherein he has accepted Krugman as his personal savior. Let's see if he can keep the faith. One ambiguous weekly address does not a vocation make.

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton gave her final speech as secretary of state on Friday, thanking employees at the State Department in an emotional goodbye and pledging to them that she 'will be an advocate from outside' for the work that they do." ...

... John Cassidy & Ryan Lizza discuss Hillary Clinton's performance as Secretary of State with Dorothy Wickenden:

David Sanger of the New York Times: "'It's somewhere between baffling and incomprehensible,' a member of Mr. Obama's own team of advisers on Iran said on Thursday night when asked about Mr. Hagel's stumbling performance on the question [of containing a nuclear Iran] during the all-day hearing." ...

... ** Dana Milbank: Jim "Inhofe [RNasty-Okla.] is the new ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he seems intent to use this prominent perch to wage all-out war on the president. This is significant because when it comes to the military, lawmakers have historically been able to overcome partisan differences for the good of the country.... Inhofe is leading Republicans to a position of gratuitous hostility. Following his statement, Republicans on the panel signaled Thursday that they would vote against Hagel, simply because he held views, shared by the president, with which they disagreed."

... Ben Armbruster of Think Progress: "Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said on MSNBC this morning that he does not intend for vote for Hagel; but when asked if he would support a filibuster of the former Republican senator, Blunt said he would not and that Hagel should receive an up-or-down vote."

"A Rancid Tub of Ignorance." Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Senate Republicans are unusually rude, even to each other. "... many Senate Republicans now are newly elected, deeply conservative members who have less regard for the old rules of comity and respect for elders." And the rest of 'em are runnin' skeert.

Paul Krugman disagrees with Washington Post economics writer Neil Irwin, who wrote (linked in yesterday's Commentariat) that Krugman & the VSPs are speaking different languages: "There isn't any symmetry here; my side of the debate is actually paying attention both to the numbers and to the arguments of the other side, while the Very Serious People only listen to each other." ...

... Here's what the deficit scolds are too stupid to get. Krugman again: "... fiscal austerity is the difference between where we are now and an unemployment rate not much above 6 percent. It's a policy disaster." CW: why this isn't self-evident is beyond me.

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal has a very interesting piece on the strengths & weaknesses of the Democratic coalition.: CW: And I didn't know this: Obama is "only the third Democratic president ever to reach at least 51 percent of the popular vote twice." One was FDR; the other was Andrew Jackson (I hadda look that one up). ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... Democratic centrists would be better advised to promote their favored policies on the merits instead of as bipartisanship-bait, which at the moment just is not a credible approach. And if Democrats do indeed need to improve their performance among elements outside the 'Obama coalition' -- and in the short term, they do if they ever want a sizable congressional majority and control of a majority of states -- they should focus on what these voters actually do and do not favor instead of assuming 'moderate' rhetoric will do the trick."

Greg Sargent: "Sarah Dawn McKinley, a young mother from Oklahoma, was thrust into the national spotlight this week when conservatives at the Senate gun hearing cited her run-in with intruders to make the case against Obama's new gun proposals. On December 31, 2011, Ms. McKinley, at home with her three-month-old baby, fought off two men, killing one who was bearing a knife with her shotgun.... She told me she does not favor an assault weapons ban, even though she didn't use an assault weapon in warding off her intruders. But Ms. McKinley said she supports the idea of expanding the background check system, telling me: 'Anybody should be willing to get a background check that wants to take a gun.'"

New York Times Editors: "The Obama administration has proposed a sensible way to provide women who work for religiously affiliated institutions with free coverage of contraceptives while exempting the organizations they work for from financial or administrative obligations to provide the coverage." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "The decision ought to be taken by the nation's Catholic bishops as a victory, because it is. Many in their ranks, including some of the country's most prominent prelates, are inclined to do just that -- even if the most conservative bishops seem to want to keep the battle raging."

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "In a strong move to protect the privacy of Americans as they use the Internet on their smartphones and tablets, the Federal Trade Commission on Friday said the mobile industry should include a do-not-track feature in software and apps and take other steps to safeguard personal information."

How Many Ways Is Bob Menendez a Sleazebag? Dave Weigel of Slate: "Taken on its own, an A1 story [in the New York Times {see link in yesterday's Commentariat}] about the Foreign Relations chairman's mobby relationship with a donor would be devastating. But it's less devastating than what the conservative Internet has tried and convicted Menendez for -- an unproven sex scandal. If Menendez did decide to ruin his career by telling prostitutes his real name and stiffing them on a bill, obviously, he'll go. But if that part of the story is bogus, while some number of people will always believe it, Menendez will skate on the financial sleaze that he never even tried to deny."

Jill Lawrence of the National Journal: "The Democratic Party and Senate hopefuls ... are fortunate that [former Massachusetts Sen. Scott] Brown has decided to stand down in the June 25 special election to succeed new Secretary of State John Kerry. Republicans, meanwhile, have suffered the (perhaps temporary) loss of an unusual, highly valuable candidate: One who has both charisma and firsthand familiarity with life among the 47 percent.... The new thinking is he will run for governor in 2014. Democrats would be smart to start looking for the next Elizabeth Warren right now."

Joe Nocera: "New York's three greatest mayors were also three of its great egotists. It's no accident." CW: Nocera skips Rudy Giuliani. Has there ever been a greater egotist than "America's Mayor"?

The Washington Post Editors notice that Republican grand plans to fix presidential elections "would destabilize the already imperfect electoral college." One reason they should not go forward with their schemes, the Editors write, is that such brazen partisan moves would damage the GOP's reputation, oh my.

News Ledes

For those of you who prefer to get your weather report from rodents rather than from climate-change-denying teevee weatherpersons, the AP sez, "An end to winter's bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania's famous groundhog ... Punxsutawney Phil."

Reuters: "The United States is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Biden said Iran - which says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy only - now faced 'the most robust sanctions in history' meant to ensure it does not use its program to develop nuclear weapons." CW: um, probably what Chuck Hagel should have told the Nasty Boys on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Does it seem as if Joe Biden has been putting in overtime cleaning up other people's messes?

Reuters: "The leader of the Syrian opposition was expected to meet U.S., Russian and U.N. officials on Saturday at a Munich conference which may provide a rare chance to overcome differences on how to end Syria's civil war. U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, head of the Syrian National Coalition Moaz Alkhatib, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were all expected to meet - but not necessarily all at the same table, as the opposition hoped."

New York Times: "Taliban militants killed at least nine soldiers and four paramilitary troops in an attack on a Pakistani army base in northwestern Pakistan early Saturday, officials said. Ten civilians, including three women and three children who were living in a nearby compound, were also killed."