The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, August 31, 2014.

New York Times: "Israel laid claim on Sunday to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem — a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area — defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion."

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called on Ukraine on Sunday to begin talks on “the statehood” of that country’s rebellious southeast, a vague and provocative turn of phrase he used while demanding that the Ukrainian government negotiate directly with pro-Russian separatists."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times, August 15: "The Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin — made by Genentech, a unit of the Swiss drug maker Roche — for a new use against late-stage cervical cancer, the seventh indication for the biotech drug, which had global sales of $6.25 billion last year."

White House Live Video
September 1

9:30 am ET: Vice President Biden speaks at Detroit's Labor Day parade

2:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks a LaborFest 2014

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


... Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter interviews Jon Stewart, mostly on the making of his film "Rosewater," which is based on the arrest & incarceration of journalist Maziar Bahari in Iran in 2009.

AP: Actors "Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married Saturday in the French hamlet of Correns, a spokesman for the couple says. Jolie and Pitt wed in a small chapel in a private ceremony attended by family and friends at Provence's Chateau Miraval. In advance of the nondenominational civil ceremony, Pitt and Jolie obtained a marriage license from a local California judge. The judge also conducted the ceremony in France."

No, he isn't. -- David Chase, in answer to the question, "Is Tony dead?" ...

... However, it's more complicated than that. Follow-up story, with Chase's response to the original Vox story by Margaret Nochimson, here.

Todd VanDerWerff of Vox discusses the final scene of "The Sopranos":

New York Times: "The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was a win for broadcast and cable television, which earned numerous awards as the digital gate-crasher Netflix was nearly shut out. AMC’s 'Breaking Bad' scored big on Monday night, winning a total of five awards, including its second consecutive prize for outstanding drama series. The crime drama, about a high school teacher who receives a diagnosis of lung cancer and starts selling crystal meth with a former student, concluded its final season." Here's the L.A. Times' coverage.

... Via Slate.

Looking for a bucolic retreat where the townspeople will protect you from curious outsiders? Got about $700K to burn? Then you might be interested in purchasing the former home of fiction writer J. D. Salinger. the property is located in Cornish, New Hamphire:

... Many more pix & a virtual tour here.

Kevin Roose of New York: "How to make $200MM in 28 months." CW: Yeah, I know. Twenty-eight months is a lo-o-o-ong time.

Stupid Wiki Tricks. Telegraph: "Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has refused a photographer’s repeated requests to stop distributing his most famous shot for free – because a monkey pressed the shutter button and should own the copyright."

The Wrap: "James Corden is taking over for Craig Ferguson as host of 'The Late Late Show' on CBS, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap.... Corden stars in Disney's 'Into the Woods' and can currently be seen alongside Keira Knightley in 'Begin Again.'”

John Oliver on "native advertising." Via Juan Cole:

New Yorker illustration.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives for the summer. An excellent opportunity to get in on some fabulous reading.


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The Commentariat -- June 14, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "'Candor' Is Not a Synonym for "Self-Serving." The NYTX front page is here.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The back-and-forth this week over Russian support for Syria's government as it tries to crush an uprising underscored the limits of Mr. Obama's ability to 'reset' ties with Moscow."

Kevin Drum has more on Daniel Klaidman's book, To Kill or Capture, on the evolution of President Obama's policy in regard to terrorist suspects.

Bishops Form Pro-Child Abuse Lobby, Get Results. Laurie Goodstein & Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "Victims [of child sex abuse] and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the [statutes of limitations] or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary 'windows' during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred. The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims." CW: I hope the last three people who thought the RC Church had any moral authority whatsoever are now ready to change their minds.

"The Wall Street Senate." Dana Milbank has a lively take on JPMorgan Chase CEO & Know-It-All Jamie Dimon's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. The only person in the room you might come away liking is Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), but he barely gets a walk-on. Happily, Dimon did do a number on Republicans. ...

... David Dayen of Firedoglake gets more into the nitty-gritty, and he does highlight an exchange between Dimon & Merkley. Dayen's analysis is easy to understand. ...

... Dorsey Shaw of BuzzFeed on "Jamie Dimon's 5 Least Apologetic Moves At The Senate Banking Hearing." The first four are accompanied by illustrative videos, the last in the countdown to No. 1 is this: "Makes JPMorgan shareholders $2 billion richer while testifying":

Sam Baker of The Hill: "The Supreme Court's landmark healthcare ruling will pose a big test for Republicans, even if the court strikes down all or part of President Obama's healthcare law.So far, the party has not come together around a set of policies to replace the healthcare law.... Republicans also haven't said how they would handle policies that are already in place, including discounts on prescription drugs for many seniors." ...

... Jake Sherman & Jonathan Allen of Politico: well, House leadership is working on healthcare strategy. But in the meantime, "... many rank-and-file Republicans are grumbling that they don't have much to show for the last year and a half in Washington." ...

... If you're into tea-leaf reading on the Affordable Care Act, Linda Greenhouse has a fun post, stuffed with speculation, that, if nothing else, shows what a close reader of the Supremes she is.

Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times: "It's one of the most hyped bills on Capitol Hill, and it doesn't even exist. Three months after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] revealed he's working on an alternative to the Dream Act, triggering a gusher of positive news coverage, he's yet to produce a written proposal." CW: I'm shocked, shocked, to find out my senator is a do-nothing phony.

"Obama Snubbed Me." Alexander Bolton of The Hill: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this week that President Obama never made a sincere effort to reach out to him after the 2008 election." CW: it appears Obama made quite a few efforts, what with a candlelight dinner in honor of McCain & all, but apparently they weren't "sincere" enough. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Presidential Race

Steve Kornacki of Salon: In his economic speech today, President Obama "needs to find a way to frame the modest recovery as a delicate work in progress, something that has been painfully slow because of the epic nature of the catastrophe he inherited and the obstructionism and ideological rigidity with which congressional Republicans greeted his presidency. And he needs to make the case that a Romney presidency would upend the progress that's been made and return the country to the exact same policies that preceded the collapse of the economy." It can be done, if not easily. CW: I have no idea why, at least so far, the White House live site is indicating it will not carry the speech. If they change their minds, I'll run it here. ...

... Erin McPike of Real Clear Politics: Both Obama & Romney will speak in Ohio today, where "the economic conditions ... have been steadily improving, with the unemployment rate almost a point lower than the national average at 7.4 percent. What's more, two major actions taken by the Obama administration are viewed as a boon to Ohioans. For starters, both sides agree that the auto bailout has helped Obama's prospects in the northern part of the state. And on Wednesday morning -- after nearly four years of wrangling -- the Energy Department agreed to a $350 million investment in the United States Enrichment Corporation's 'shovel-ready' nuclear facility in Piketon, a small rural town in southern Ohio." Via Greg Sargent.

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Americans continue to place more blame for the nation's economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September."

I guess we should all watch this, though if you live in a swing state, it will be coming to a teevee near you anyway in this and -- as the campaign season wears on -- many other forms, I'm sure:

Charles Babington of the AP does an excellent job of debunking Willard's claims that cutting public-sector jobs will help the economy & that the federal government doesn't pay for them. This is important because these AP stories often make it into papers throughout the nation. (The one I picked up appeared in the Boston Globe.)

Andrew Rosenthal: "Republicans love to kvetch about 'uncertainty' -- employers' uncertainty about the economy, for instance.... About the only 'uncertainty' they don't talk about is the status of health care reform. That's because this particular uncertainty was entirely manufactured by Republicans -- who began plotting to undo the Affordable Care Act by re-legislating it in the courts before the ink was dry on Mr. Obama's signature." CW: Plus, Rosenthal debunks another Romney lie. Willard just won't stop. ...

... Greg Sargent has the backstory, which is worth reading. ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has more. He gives President Obama kudos for his response to a local TV news questioner whose premise was counterfactual, & dings everybody else, including Romney, for their piling on misstatements.

What Could Possibly Be Wrong with This? Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "In recent days, [Sheldon] Adelson, a billionaire casino owner, and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a 'super PAC' backing the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney..., leaving the Adelsons by far the most prolific campaign donors in the country. All told, the Adelsons have now given at least $35 million to super PACs during the 2012 campaign, not including several hundred thousand dollars worth of $2,500 contributions directly to federal candidates." ...

... E. J. Dionne: in this election cycle, "Americans won't even fully know what's happening to them because so much can be donated in secrecy to opaque organizations. It's always helpful for voters to know who is trying to buy an election, and for whom. This time, much of the auction will be held in private. You can be sure that the candidates will find out who helped elect them, but the voters will remain in the dark."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News highlights Romney's opposition to requring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats are hitting him on this, but let's hope they hit harder later in the campaign.

Stupid Romney Tricks. Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "Over the weekend, an op-ed authored by one of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s economic advisers appeared in a German newspaper. In the piece, Glenn Hubbard criticized the Obama administration's approach to Europe's ongoing economic woes, instead calling for the adoption of more austerity.... Aside from the fact that Hubbard ... explicitly [took] politics beyond 'the water's edge,' he is advocating for a doubling down on austerity that has simply made Europe’s economic situation worse." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Politics Is for Twits. Alex Altman of Time on the Twitter war between backers of Obama & Romney. CW: Just trying to keep you informed.

Right Wing World

Ali Gharib of Think Progress: "In a rare 'scoop' for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders' costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense. The insurance -- technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members -- is available as a rider to the 'excess personal liability' plan":

CW: Congratulations to San Diego County! Looks as if they have elected themselves a birther as superior court judge. It was a tight race. I just checked, & with 100 percent of the votes counted, Kreep (yes, that's his name, which is way better than that of his opponents, which is Peed -- not making this up) won by 122 votes. I suspect there will be recount.

Local News

This is really stunning. Laura Conaway of the Rachel Maddow Show reports on the GOP state house in Michigan both faking a voting total & violating the state constitution, all in an effort to make it harder for people to register to vote. With video of the farce. Back in the day, the parties didn't admit to stealing votes. Now Republicans do it right out in the open. They have no shame.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "President Obama will travel to Cleveland on Thursday to deliver what aides describe as a speech that will sharply cast November's election as a choice between his economic stewardship and an alternative that would return the country to the policies that caused the downturn." ...

... New York Times: "On the eve of a major economic speech by President Obama, Mitt Romney told a group of business leaders in Washington on Wednesday that the Obama administration had pursued the 'most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history' and was responsible for the tepid pace of the recovery."

Reuters: "The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, government data on Thursday showed, suggesting persistent weakness in the labor market after stumbling badly in recent months." ...

... BUT. Bloomberg News: "Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed for the fourth straight week as more Americans said their personal finances were improving." ...

... AND. Bloomberg: "Americans are digging themselves out of mortgage debt. Home equity in the first quarter rose to the highest level since 2008 as homeowners taking advantage of record-low borrowing costs to refinance their loans brought cash to the table to pay down principal. The gain in percentage terms was the biggest jump in more than 60 years...."

New York Times: "Rejecting suggestions that he struck deals with Rupert Murdoch's newspapers to win electoral support, Prime Minister David Cameron began a day of testimony on Thursday at Britain's inquiry into media standards about the nature of his relationship with Mr. Murdoch, his family and his aides." The Guardian is liveblogging here, & includes live video. ...

     ... NYT story has been updated.

New York Times: "Nokia said Thursday it would slash 10,000 jobs, or 19 percent of its work force, by the end of 2013 as part of an emergency overhaul that includes closing research centers and a factory in Germany, Canada and Finland, and the departures of three senior executives."

New York Times: "The United States Anti-Doping Agency is set to bring doping charges against Lance Armstrong that could lead to his being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles."


The Commentariat -- June 13, 2012

CW: I was not going to write about Tom Friedman's prepostrous thesis du jour, but I did anyway. Here's my column in the New York Times eXaminer. The NYTX front page is here.

Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books: the 2012 election is important because "this election year gives Republicans one of their last chances -- perhaps the very last one -- to put the seal on their plutocracy." Read the whole post. Thanks to Peter S. for the link.

Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein talk about reporting Watergate:

     ... There are more short video interviews, etc., on Watergate at this Washington Post page.

Neil Sinhababu: "if you're in an economy where there's massive unemployment and very little inflation, as you are, the Federal Reserve is to blame." CW: and I do.

Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post: "One-tenth of one percentage point -- that's how much President Barack Obama's health care reform law will increase national spending on health care over 10 years so as to provide health insurance to almost 30 million who otherwise would not be covered, according to an independent government auditor."

Maureen Dowd covers the Jerry Sandusky trial. ...

... Jill of Brilliant at Breakfast was brilliant this morning. In a post on the overreporting of the Sandusky trial, Jill writes, "At a time when the Catholic Church is trying to hold undue influence over American health care policy regarding contraception, and when politicians from both sides of the political spectrum are giving this church all kinds of unwarranted deference simply because its clergy and its history claims some kind of direct conduit to the Great White Alpha Male in the Sky, I think it's worth asking what kind of moral authority a church hierarchy that has behaved like a massive criminal enterprise where child sex abuse is concerned can claim to have, and why anyone is even considering building policy around what these people want."

Mark Landler & Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "With evidence that powerful new weapons are flowing to both the Syrian government and opposition fighters, the bloody uprising in Syria has thrust the Obama administration into an increasingly difficult position as the conflict shows signs of mutating into a full-fledged civil war. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States believed that Russia was shipping attack helicopters to Syria that President Bashar al-Assad could use to escalate his government's deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. Her comments reflected rising frustration with Russia...."

CW: we were discussing Jonathan Haidt the other day, & I wrote that I thought he was wrong on lotsa stuff. Comes now George Monbiot of the Guardian, who writes, "While the psychological findings [Haidt] presents are well-attested and thoroughly referenced, he offers not a shred of evidence to support his political contentions, either in the article or in his book. His claims are unsourced, unsubstantiated and plain wrong." More interesting: Monbiot argues that working-class people have not really turned to the right; they just don't vote.

Michael Stafford, an overwrought young man, announces he is leaving the Republican party because "the party has come unhinged.... Republican economic policies are also indefensible."

Matt Bai profiles former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who is running for Nebraska Senate after a 12-year hiatus, for the New York Times Magazine. ...

     ... If you read Bai, also read Alex Pareene of Salon, who does an excellent job of skewering both Bai & Kerrey: "It is incredibly instructive as a guide to the incredibly misguided priorities of the rich, moderate elite, and their very odd explanations for what, precisely, has gone wrong in American politics.... For Bai and Kerrey, the goal is the grand bargain itself. The grand bargain helps the system convince itself that the system works. Rich old moderates need to believe that only rich old moderates can save America."

Presidential Race

Reid Epstein & Byron Tau of Politico: "President Obama went on the offense against Republicans and their nominee Mitt Romney, pushing back on the often-repeated accusation that his administration has ballooned the country's deficit":

It's like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, a martini and all that stuff, then just as you're sitting down they leave and accuse you of running up the tab. -- Barack Obama ...

... Steve Kornacki of Salon has a smart commentary on Obama's "epicurean analogy."

Andrew Leonard of Salon: "The difference between Obama and Romney's spending plans is the difference between reality and fantasy."

Murray Waas & Christopher Rowland of the Boston Globe: "Stifling [an anti-gay-bullying] guide's publication was among steps that Romney and his aides took during his last year in [the Massachusetts governor's] office to distance the Republican governor from state programs designed to specifically support gays, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender people.... The move to block the bullying report immediately followed Romney's threat to shut down the Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission.... When he ran for Senate in 1994 against the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Romney boasted that he would be a more effective and outspoken proponent of gay rights than Kennedy...." ...

     ... Steve Kornacki: "The positions that Romney staked out in '94 and '02 put him in sync with the Massachusetts electorate, but what Mitt Romney the man actually thinks about gay issues is anyone's guess.... As a Republican president at the mercy of congressional Republicans, though, it's not hard to see how he'd approach the issue. Their agenda would be his agenda."

Kevin Drum: Romney lies because the media let him get away with it.

Andy Rosenthal thinks Willard is purposely confusing the facts to try to dance out of his "Who needs teachers & cops?" assertion. Rosenthal is probably right, but I think we should always bear in mind this possibility: Mitt Romney is not smart enough to understand economics.

Diane Ravich, in a New York Review of Books blogpost, eviscerates Mitt Romney's so-called education plan, which is a full right-wing, red-meat, extensive menu of policies to destroy public education. Read the whole post.

Right Wing World

Louie Gohmert, Goober Neurologist. Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "While most officials in Washington expressed concern for Commerce Secretary John Bryson after his seizure-induced car accidents this weekend, the inimitable Texas Republican Louie Gohmert used the health lapse to attack the Obama administration figure. 'That's who's in charge of keeping businesses going -- a guy who crashes his car from car to car,' the congressman told American Family Association Radio today. Gohmert also seemed to be skeptical of the news that Bryson had a seizure."

Local News

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Even if Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) administration prevails in its new lawsuit against the Obama administration, his efforts to purge voters before November's election still faces a major obstacle -- the county elections supervisors, including 30 Republicans.... Republican Ann McFall, county supervisor of elections for Volusia County, told ThinkProgress that the lawsuit does not have her support and she will not resume purging voters before the elections, regardless of the suit's outcome."

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama presented Israel's president, Shimon Peres, with America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, calling Mr. Peres 'the essence of Israel itself -- an indomitable spirit that will not be denied.'"

AP: "Federal prosecutors dropped all charges Wednesday against John Edwards after his corruption trial ended last month in a deadlocked jury."

AP: "Jerry Sandusky pinned down a foster child and performed oral sex on him, threatened to keep him from seeing his family if he reported what happened and then later told him he loved him, the accuser testified Wednesday. The man, now 25 and called Victim 10 by prosecutors, told jurors Sandusky assaulted him in the basement of the former Penn State assistant football coach's State College home in the late 1990s, then threatened to keep him away from his biological family."

New York Times: "Britain's coalition government came under renewed strain on Wednesday after its junior partner, the Liberal Democrats, threatened to withhold support for Prime Minister David Cameron's handling of events flowing from a failed bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take full control of BSkyB, the country's biggest satellite broadcaster." Guardian story here. ...

... Guardian: "Sir John Major has claimed Rupert Murdoch demanded his government change its policy on Europe or his papers would oppose him at the 1997 general election."

Arizona Daily Star: "Democrat Ron Barber will finish the congressional term of his former boss, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber soundly defeated Republican Jesse Kelly by about 7 percentage points in Tuesday's Congressional District 8 special election." ...

... Reuters has a rundown of some of yesterday's primary results.

New York Times: "A coordinated series of attacks struck Shiite Muslims in the capital on Wednesday morning as they began gathering to mark the death of a revered imam who was the Prophet Muhammad's great-grandson."

AP: "[An Israeli] government report released Wednesday harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision-making in a deadly Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound ship two years ago, saying it was flawed and marked by superficial discussions." Haaretz story here.

He's Sorry He Lost Billions. AP: "JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon plans to apologize before members of Congress on Wednesday for a trading loss that has cost the bank more than $2 billion." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "JPMorgan Chase is 'likely' to try to recover compensation from executives responsible for a recent multibillion-dollar trading blowup, according to Jamie Dimon, the bank's chief executive. In testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Dimon assured lawmakers that the bank's board was investigating the trading losses...."

The Hill: "Senate Democrats blocked a resolution introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to introduce an outside special counsel to investigate a number of recent military and intelligence leaks."

Orlando Sentinel: "The judge who revoked George Zimmerman's bond did so after he determined that it was 'apparent' that Zimmerman's wife had lied under oath, and clear that Zimmerman 'does not properly respect the law.' Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester revoked Zimmerman's bond on June 1, but his written order was filed Monday. In it, Lester lays out his rationale."


The Commentariat -- June 12, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "Forget Democracy"; it's a comment on David Brooks' column. The NYTX front page is here.

** "The Rent-Seekers." Joe Stiglitz in Politico: No, most of the richest Americans have not earned their wealth through their innovations & other great contributions to society. "The U.S. is headed down the path that so many dysfunctional societies have traveled -- divided societies in which the rich and poor live in different worlds.

Economics Profs. Ben Polak & Peter Schott in the New York Times of "America's Hidden Austerity Program": "... there is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof.... The United States has ... seen unprecedented austerity at the level of state and local governments, and this austerity has slowed the job recovery." ...

... Paul Krugman: First, Mitt Romney ridiculed Obama for saying that we need more public employment: "He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message in Wisconsin?" Afterwards, some commentators wondered, couldn't he have chosen different professions to ridicule? And the answer is no. When we talk about public workers, that's pretty much who we're talking about." With a chart! ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday."

"There's broad agreement on platitudes." Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: top Senators from both parties are starting to stir up efforts to stave off another fiscal crisis.

Kevin Drum on why President Obama caved on national security -- among other things, Congressional Democrats would not support less draconian measures.

Fareed Zakaria in Time: the U.S.'s "broken & obsolete" immigration laws have caused the country to lose its "exceptionalism" to more progressive countries like Canada & Australia, who welcome talented immigrants who can't get U.S. visas.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic on why the voluntary reforms some healthcare providers & insurers are making are not nearly as significant as reforms required by the Affordable Care Act.

Jonathan Karl, et al., of ABC News: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) takes a tiny step toward ending the Norquist Reign of Terror.

There's a special election today in Arizona's 8th Congressional District for the seat Gabby Giffords vacated. The Democratic candidate, Ron Barber, whom Giffords endorsed, was ahead by 12 points in the most recent PPP poll. Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics has the story.

Presidential Race

The Secret Life of Willard Romney. Kasie Hunt of the AP: "Keeping his secrets, Mitt Romney tends to lift the veil on his finances and campaign only if the law says he must. The Republican presidential candidate refuses to identify his biggest donors who 'bundle' money for his campaign. He often declines to say who's meeting with him or what he's doing for hours at a time. He puts limits on media access to his fundraisers. And he resists releasing all of his tax returns, making just a single year public after facing pressure to do so."

Today, government at all levels consumes 37 percent of the total economy or GDP. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, government will reach half of the American economy. — Mitt Romney, economic speech, June 7, 2012

... it makes little sense and is frankly a bit foolish -- especially for a candidate whose signature legislative achievement as Massachusetts governor was to enact a health care law that at the state level included insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, an individual mandate and other provisions that he now claims extends the 'reach' of government. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Vouchers! Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... as president, Mr. Romney would seek to overhaul the federal government's largest programs for kindergarten through 12th grade into a voucherlike system. Students would be free to use $25 billion in federal money to attend any school they choose -- public, charter, online or private -- a system, he said, that would introduce marketplace dynamics into education to drive academic gains.... Mr. Romney's policy seems closely inspired by a pro-voucher report issued in February by the conservative Hoover Institution. Five of eight members of a task force that produced the report are among the 19 education advisers the Romney campaign named last month." CW: in case you were wondering, this is all about undermining public schools while giving your tax dollars to for-profit corporations whose lobbyists have the GOP in their pockets.

Right Wing World

BuzzFeed: "Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said [Monday] that both Ronald Reagan and his father George H. W. Bush would have had a difficult time getting nominated by today's ultra-conservative Republican Party.... Bush called the present partisan climate 'disturbing. It's just a different environment left and right,' he said of 'this dysfunction.' And Bush also blamed President Obama for much of the conflict." ...

... Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: "Bush is clearly engaged in an effort to position himself as the next leader of the Republican Party."

"Justifiable" Homicides. Joe Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal: "While the overall homicide rates in those states [with "stand-your-ground" laws] stayed relatively flat, the average number of justifiable cases per year increased by more than 50% in the decade's latter half. In a new study..., Professor Mark Hoekstra and Cheng Cheng, use state-level crime data from 2000 to 2009 to determine whether the laws deter crime. The answer, they conclude, is no. In fact, the evidence suggests the laws have led to an increase in homicides." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "The bill passed in Florida [before any other state], and was immediately signed by Gov. Jeb Bush. Yes -- that would be the same Jeb Bush who is running around today bemoaning radical Republicans. You know, the same 'moderate' Jeb Bush who signed the laws giving him permission to insert himself into Terri Schiavo's marriage. They are all radicals." ...

... As John Nichols of The Nation noted in March: Jeb Bush "quickly signed the measure into law -- despite explicit and repeated warnings that this law would encourage shootings of innocents like Trayvon Martin. And despite explicit and repeated warnings that people of color and young people would be unreasonably and disproportionately harmed by the law."

Local News

AP: "Florida filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Washington D.C., demanding that the state be given the right to check the names of its registered voters against an immigration database maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit came the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced its plan to ask a federal court to block the state from pushing ahead with removing potential non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls. Authorities contend that the state's effort violates federal voting laws."

News Ledes

Arizona Daily Star: "Democrat Ron Barber has a 9-point percentage lead on Republican Jesse Kelly, the first 154,000 votes counted in the Congressional District 8 special election show. The votes, which are early ballots, represent 37 percent of registered voters." ...

     ... Update: "The Associated Press has called the special election to replace Giffords for Barber...."

New York Times: "Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday strongly criticized the recent decision by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint two United States attorneys to investigate recent disclosures of classified national security information, saying that the move was not enough and that he should appoint a special prosecutor."

New York Times: "George Allen brushed aside three conservative Republican rivals in the Virginia primary [for U.S. Senate], setting up a fall battle to regain the seat he lost in 2006.... Allen's victory sets up a November clash with another former Virginia governor, Tim Kaine, in a campaign closely tied to the presidential race in a battleground state both parties consider vital for victory." Washington Post story here.

AP: Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified against Jerry Sandusky today.

Orlando Sentinel: George Zimmerman's wife Shellie Zimmerman has been arrested on perjury charges in connection with her testimony at her husband's bondhearing.

The Guardian is liveblogging the Leveson Inquiry.

Washington Post: "The first witness in the Jerry Sandusky trial said the veteran football coach plucked him from a broken home at age 13 and turned him into an unofficial Penn State mascot.... But the good things came at a price, he said. Sandusky groped him in the shower during 'soap battles,' repeatedly forced him to perform oral sex and treated him like 'his girlfriend,' the witness said."

New York Times: "The Bronx district attorney's office said Monday that it was interested in hearing any reports of sexual abuse of students at the Horace Mann School, regardless of when they occurred, in an effort to address the rising concern about faculty behavior at the prestigious private school... after an article in The New York Times Magazine chronicled accounts of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior more than a generation ago by three teachers, all of whom are now dead."

Washington Post: "Outrage escalated on the historic University of Virginia campus Monday over the abrupt ouster of President Teresa Sullivan by a governing board that offered few new details about why it had acted or what exactly had gone awry.... Sullivan learned of the board's wishes late Friday, after an annual executive retreat.... Sullivan had no inkling that her job was even in jeopardy...."

Guardian: "Syrian government forces and militia loyal to the Assad regime are killing and sexually abusing children and using them as human shields, the UN says, amid fears that the conflict is intensifying."

Politico: "The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and BlackBerrys the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money."

New York Times: "A controversial judicial commission has ruled that Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, [Husain Haqqani,] secretly approached the Obama administration last year requesting help to stave off a possible military coup.... The court then issued an order for Mr. Haqqani, to return to Pakistan from the United States, where he has returned to a teaching job at Boston University. Legal experts said the former ambassador could face treason charges."

New York Times: ten thousand "demonstrators gathered in a drenching rain in central Moscow on Tuesday" in response to government efforts to crack down on protest demonstrations.

AP: "The dingo really did take the baby. Thirty-two years after a 9-week-old infant vanished from an Outback campsite in a case that bitterly divided Australians and inspired a Meryl Streep film, the nation overwhelmingly welcomed a ruling that finally closed the mystery. A coroner in the northern city of Darwin concluded Tuesday that a dingo, or wild dog, had taken Azaria Chamberlain from her parents' tent near Ayers Rock...."


The Commentariat -- June 11, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "Liberals Remind Him of Nazis." The NYTX front page is here.

Government Is the Solution (And Liberals Should Say So). E. J. Dionne: "Let's turn Ronald Reagan's declaration on its head: Opposition to government isn't the solution. Opposition to government was and remains the problem. It is past time that we affirm government's ability to heal the economy, and its responsibility for doing so."

TARP o' Marks. In a blogpost, Paul Krugman explains what the Spanish bailout means: It "may -- may -- put a temporary end to the 'doom loop' of funds fleeing Spanish banks, forcing the banks to sell assets, driving asset prices down and creating further doubts about solvency." ...

     ... AND elaborates in his column: "Put it all together and you get a picture of a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.... Whatever the deep roots of this paralysis [in Europe & the U.S.], it's becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don't despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner."

Jill Lepore has a long, discouraging piece in the New Yorker on the Supremes: "However the Court rules on health care, the commerce clause appears unlikely, in the long run, to be able to bear the burdens that have been placed upon it. So long as conservatives hold sway on the Court, the definition of 'commerce' will get narrower and narrower, despite the fact that this will require, and already has required, overturning decades of precedent. Unfortunately, Article I, Section 8, may turn out to have been a poor perch on which to build a nest for rights." ...

... Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: whatever the Court decides, health care providers and government officials can look forward to a messy, complicated implementation.

New York Times Editors: "The federal courts that have reviewed [the Defense of Marriage Act] since 2010 have found that it fails to meet the most elementary test of constitutionalismy." But Republicans keep defending it anyway.

The Washington Post has published another excerpt from David Maraniss's biography of President Obama. This one is about Barry's days as a basketball player at Punahou High, which had an outstanding team.

Kyrie O'Connor of Salon interviews Gail Collins about Collins' new book As Texas Goes....

Matthew Wald of the New York Times: "... the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets on Wednesday to consider President Obama's choice to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.... For the first time, the president has chosen a geologist for the post, Allison M. Macfarlane of George Mason University, and her expertise aligns with the pressing concerns facing Congress and the nuclear industry."

Ryan Lizza Is an Oracle. In a New Yorker feature, he speculates on what President Obama will accomplish in his second term.


Grumpy McCain Is a Psychic. Ashley Killough of CNN: "Sen. John McCain continued his blitz against the Obama administration Sunday, saying the president was responsible for the recent national security leaks -- whether he knew about them or not. 'It's obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are in the administration,' McCain said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'The president may not have done it himself, but the president certainly is responsible as commander in chief.'" ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on Obama's "press problem" & his penchant for whacking whistleblowers: "... the better way to achieve consistency would be to chase fewer leakers, not more. Instead, the Administration seemed overly alarmed by goading from Republicans like John McCain -- who talked about 'gravely serious breaches of our national security' and wanted not just any old investigation but a special prosecutor -- and treated this as a matter of pride. In trying to look tough, [the administration] gave into bullying, demanding to know who told rather than giving its own policies the hard look they need." ...

... New York Times reporter David Sanger reveals his source to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

Presidential Race

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Googles racists to give a picture of how important racial animus was in the 2008 presidential election.

News Ledes

** Washington Post: "The nation's largest health insurer will keep in place several key consumer provisions mandated by the 2010 health-care law regardless of whether the statute survives Supreme Court review. Officials at UnitedHealthcare will announce Monday that whatever the outcome of the court decision -- expected this month -- the company will continue to provide customers preventive health-care services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law."

CBS News: "U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is being investigated in a felony hit-and-run case after allegedly crashing a Lexus into two vehicles in California on June 9, Los Angeles County police have confirmed." Los Angeles Times story here. ...

     ... AP Update: "Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area that left him injured and unconscious, the government said Monday." ...

     ... New York Times Update 2: "By late Monday night, Mr. Bryson informed the White House that he would be taking a medical leave of absence to undergo tests and evaluation and that Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank would assume his duties."

New York Times: "Starting four days of evidence by political leaders about the sway of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers over public life in Britain, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke passionately on Monday about a 2006 story published in The Sun, a Murdoch tabloid, saying his infant son had cystic fibrosis, and denied that his family had given permission for it to appear." The Guardian's liveblog is here.