The Ledes

Sunday, May 29, 2016.

New York Times: Hedy "Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who spoke widely about the persecution of the Jews in Germany, and who spent most of her adult life working for a broad range of social justice movements, died on Thursday at her home in St. Louis. She was 91.” Epstein made international headlines when she was arrested in St. Louis in 2014 for protesting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's actions in the aftermath of the Michael Brown police killing case. -- CW 

Washington Post: "Cassandra Q. Butts, who was President Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School and a longtime member of the president’s inner circle who advised him throughout his political career and served as a deputy White House counsel, died May 25 at her home in Washington. She was 50." -- CW 

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, President Obama solemnly reflected on the meaning of Memorial Day and recognized the sacrifices made by the American warriors who never made it back home":

The Ledes

Saturday, May 28, 2016.

Washington Post: "Bryce Dejean-Jones, a guard for the New Orleans Pelicans, died after being shot in the abdomen early Saturday morning in Dallas, according to Dallas police. Dejean-Jones, 23, was found shot in an apartment breezeway. He died after being taken to a hospital." According to the manager of the apartment complex, Dejean-Jones "was attempting to enter the apartment of an 'estranged acquaintance' but instead entered a different unit and was shot." -- CW 

Washington Post: "A World War II-era fighter plane crashed into the Hudson River on Friday night, killing the pilot, according to New York authorities. Officials said William Gordon, the 56-year-old pilot from Key West, Fla., died in the crash, the Associated Press reported." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (May 22): "An outbreak of a life-threatening illness that has been linked to foods packaged by a processing plant in Washington State has prompted a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names. The scale of the recall reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness, listeria, and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have “trickled down” into other products, said Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." -- CW

Washington Post: "After an epic duel of word masters, an 11-year-old Texan and a 13-year-old New Yorker tied Thursday night [May 26] in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the third year in a row two victors shared the championship trophy."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

... Washington Post: The White House goes Scandinavian for a state dinner for the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

New York Times: "Morley Safer, the longest-serving correspondent on '60 Minutes' who was known as much for his hard-hitting reporting as the quirky stories he covered, will formally retire this week after a career in broadcast news that lasted more than 50 years, CBS said on Wednesday. Mr. Safer, 84, served on '60 Minutes' for all but two of its 48 seasons. He started scaling back his appearances on the show after he turned 80; his last segment, a profile of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, aired in March.... An hourlong program on Sunday, “Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life,” will, among other highlights, recall an investigation by Mr. Safer that resulted in the freedom of Lenell Geter, a black man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas. In an appearance on the special, Mr. Geter credited Mr. Safer with saving his life."

U.K. Telegraph: "A Canadian schoolboy appears to have discovered a lost Mayan city hidden deep in the jungles of Mexico using a new method of matching stars to the location of temples on earth....In hundreds of years of scholarship, no other scientist had ever found such a correlation.... Studying 22 different constellations, [William Gadoury] found that they matched the location of 117 Mayan cities scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. When he applied his theory to a 23rd constellation, he found that two of the stars already had cities linked to them but that the third star was unmatched. William took to Google Maps and projected that there must be another city hidden deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The Canadian Space Agency agreed to train its satellite telescopes on the spot and returned with striking pictures: what appears to be an ancient Mayan pyramid and dozens of smaller structures around it."

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

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The Commentariat -- Feb. 27, 2014

Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today: "The Army has disqualified 588 soldiers as sexual assault counselors, recruiters and drill sergeants for infractions ranging from sexual assault to child abuse to drunken driving, USA Today has learned. The number of disqualified soldiers from what are called 'positions of trust' is 10 times higher than the initial number the Army reported last summer after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that troops in sensitive positions be screened for previous criminal or unethical behavior.... The Army is moving to get rid of 79 of the soldiers, said ... an Army spokesman. Others could face further action from their commanders, he said." ...

These continued reports paint a very clear picture of why nine out of 10 sexual assault victims don't report their attack and why the military needs a reformed, independent and transparent system of justice. -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Two Congressional Heroes Speak Truth to Power

Alan Fram of the AP: "The Senate's top Democrat criticized a pair of billionaire brothers in unusually harsh terms Wednesday, accusing the conservative duo of being 'un-American,' spreading lies about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and lacking a conscience. In a pair of appearances on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., became the latest Democrat this election year to denunciate Charles and David Koch.... The brothers' representatives said Reid's attack was 'disgraceful' and accused him of attacking people hurt by the 2010 health care law. Reid's focus was on television ads that are being used against Democratic congressional candidates, commercials that he said misleadingly criticize the health care law. 'When you make billions of dollars a year you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be,' Reid said.":

     ... Update: Burgess Everett of Politico under the headline "Harry Reid Tempers Koch Criticism." CW: The "tempering"?: "Reid went back to the floor & said, 'I can't say that every one of the Koch brothers ads are a lie, but I'll say this … the vast, vast majority of them are.... It's too bad that they are trying to buy America. And it's time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers, who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.'" (Video above.) ...

... Update: Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gives Reid's truths two Pinocchios, concluding that "He would have been on safer ground if he dropped the harsh rhetoric and had simply said that many of the ads have serious problems and even rely on actors, not real people." CW: Maybe so, but I'm still with Reid. ...

... ** Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Texas Arizona), in a New York Times op-ed: "If the president approves the Keystone XL pipeline on the basis of the lobbying and bad science that has been offered to support it, much of his good work will be undone and a business-as-usual atmosphere will settle back on Washington.... As the news media has reported widely, the contractor chosen by the State Department to assess the pipeline's environmental impacts violated federal conflict-of-interest rules to get the job.... That company, Environmental Resources Management, did work for TransCanada, Keystone's parent company, in the recent past and told the State Department the exact opposite on disclosure forms...." ...

... Matthew Daly of the AP: "A consulting firm that helped write an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline complied with federal rules regarding possible conflict of interest, the State Department's inspector general said Wednesday.... A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, a strong Keystone supporter, said the inspector general's report was the latest study to find no reason for the Obama administration to continue blocking the project.... But Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., a pipeline critic, said the inspector general's review was overly narrow. The report focused on 'whether the State Department followed its own flawed process for selecting a third-party contractor,' Grijalva said. 'The fact that the answer is 'yes' doesn't address any outstanding concerns about the integrity of ERM's work, the State Department's in-house ability to evaluate its quality or whether the process itself needs to be reformed.' Far from inspiring confidence in the project, the report 'is evidence of the problem,' Grijalva said." ...

... By Contrast

Blah, blah, blah, blah. -- Speaker John Boehner, in response to a question about tax increases in Rep. Dave Camp's (R-Mich.) tax reform proposal

I have no hope for [tax reform] happening this year. -- Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Tuesday, on Camp's proposal

... "GOP Loves Tax Reform in Theory. In Reality? Not So Much." Lisa Desjardins of CNN: Republicans, who have spent years clamoring for tax reform, were much less enthusiastic Wednesday when faced with a sweeping tax overhaul plan in an election year, reticent to discuss whether the proposal from House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Michigan, should even get a vote. Camp's 'Tax Reform Act of 2014' would lower tax rates for most Americans, but presents conservatives with an uncomfortable tradeoff: It raises the tax bill for large banks and the wealthy. ...

... AND Michelle Obama Speaks Truth to My Fat Butt. Helena Evich of Politico: "The Obama administration will unveil the most sweeping update to nutrition labeling on food packages in more than two decades on Thursday -- and Americans are in for a reality check about how many calories and how much sugar they are consuming.... First lady Michelle Obama -- whose staff was key in getting the proposal out of FDA, where the labeling revamp has been in the works for 10 years -- is slated to announce the changes at a Let's Move! anniversary event at the White House with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg."

Dana Milbank: Their "newfound love of activist judges is the latest manifestation of what has been called Obama Derangement Syndrome: The president's opponents are so determined to thwart him that they will reverse long-held views if they believe that doing so will weaken his stature. Republicans have, for example, long deplored the filing of 'frivolous lawsuits.' But at Wednesday's hearings, they were contemplating legislation that would authorize either chamber of Congress to file lawsuits against President Obama -- even though legal experts, including one of the Republican committee members' own witnesses, have said the efforts would fail."

** Peter Beinart has an excellent piece in the Atlantic which eviscerates Dubya's fake "freedom agenda" (elsewhere called the "Bush Doctrine") & knocks New York Times writer Peter Baker's false equivalency re: Bush's & Obama's international policy. (CW: Beinart claims Baker's reporting is "usually excellent"; I would disagree with that. I've spoken to Baker personally about his he-said/she-said domestic political reporting. Baker is, IMO, a rather callow reporter, & false equivalencies are his trademark.) At any rate, the next time somebody tells you Bush was dedicated to making the world safe for democracy, Beinart gives you the goods to refute that claim.

Michael O'Brien of the Atlantic on how the Fed let the international depression happen: On September 16, 2008, the day after Lehman crashed & burned, "... the Fed was just as worried about an inflation scare that was already passing as it was about a once-in-three-generations crisis. It brought to mind what economist R. G. Hawtrey had said about the Great Depression. Back then, central bankers had worried more about the possibility of inflation than the grim reality of deflation. It was, Hawtrey said, like 'crying Fire! Fire! in Noah's flood.'"

CW: While I was deleting those desperate e-mails from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, this happened. Edward-Isaac Dovere & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Democratic National Committee ... is $15 million in debt, with an over $8 million bank loan due in June -- an amount that exceeds its current cash on hand. President Barack Obama may be starting to pay more attention to the DNC..., but that attention comes after five years of presidential disengagement, the last year spent prioritizing the independent Organizing for Action that sprouted from his reelection campaign.... The RNC has $9.8 million cash on hand. And no debt."

Beyond the Beltway

Many Arizona businesses posted this sign in their storefronts over the past few days.

Dan Nowicki, et al., of the Arizona Republic: "Facing intense pressure from political and business interests and a growing public outcry, Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday that she had vetoed Senate Bill 1062, the divisive right-to-refuse service legislation. 'Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value -- so is non-discrimination,' Brewer said." ...

... The New York Times story, by Fernanda Santos, is here. ...

... Gail Collins: "Arizona. Wow. How often do you find yourself saying, 'Go, entrenched interests of the business community!' Yet here we are.... Struggles for human rights always begin with brave men and women who stand up, isolated, against the forces of oppression. But, in the United States, victory really arrives on the glorious day when the people with money decide discrimination is bad for business. Thanks, Arizona."

Robert Garrett of the Dallas Morning News: "A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deprives some citizens of due process and equal protection under the law by stigmatizing their relationships and treating them differently from opposite-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings as having trumped Texas' moves to ban gay marriage.... Although Garcia issued a preliminary injunction against the state's enforcing its 2003 law and 2005 constitutional amendment that limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, he stayed it from taking effect until his ruling can be reviewed on appeal. Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state would appeal.... Abbott strongly opposes legalizing gay marriage, as do four of his fellow Republicans in next week's GOP primary for lieutenant governor. So do three GOP candidates in the race to succeed Abbott as attorney general." ...

... Steve M.: "So I guess the Texas governor's race will now be entirely about gay marriage."

Congressional Races

Jonathan Martin & Megan Thee-Brenen of the New York Times: "Republicans are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year's midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows." CW: Obviously, this makes sense only if the respondents have no idea what the parties' policy positions are. I'd say that is the case.

Lynn Bartels & Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post: "Republican Congressman Cory Gardner intends to drop his re-election bid to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Mark Udall, lobbing a bombshell that alters Colorado's political landscape for the November elections. Shortly after The Denver Post first reported Gardner's plans, the GOP front-runner in the Senate race, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, revealed he was going to run for Gardner's seat in the 4th Congressional District." ...

... Buck, you may recall, is a Tea Party loon. If you don't recall, Josh Israel of Think Progress is here to remind you.

News Ledes

Guardian: "Rebekah Brooks signed off payments to public officials half a dozen times during her editorship of the Sun and News of the World, she told the Old Bailey on Thursday. Brooks admitted sanctioning cash payments to public officials when she believed there was an overwhelming public interest in the information being published, the court heard."

Washington Post: "The parliament building in Ukraine's Crimea was seized by armed men, described by witnesses as ethnic Russian separatists, in a direct challenge to Ukraine's new leaders." ...

... Washington Post: "Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president of Ukraine, has asked for and received a security guarantee from Russia, news agencies reported from Moscow. Yanukovych still considers himself the rightful president of Ukraine, according to a statement distributed to Russian news organizations, and believes that his opponents have violated a deal reached last Friday that would have allowed him to remain in office until a presidential election could be held in December."

Washington Post: "NATO defense ministers agreed here Thursday to begin preparing for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of this year, as a senior U.S. military official warned that 'the progress we've made is not sustainable' by Afghan forces without an ongoing U.S. and international troop presence. The alliance also expressed strong concern for ongoing events in Ukraine and urged Russia 'not to take any action that could create misunderstanding.'"

AP: "Kerry Kennedy said she doesn't remember anything that happened as she drove on a New York interstate one summer day in 2012 -- swerving out of her lane, hitting a tractor-trailer and blowing a tire -- because she accidentally took a sleeping pill before getting behind the wheel.... Kennedy testified Wednesday, the third day of her drugged-driving trial in White Plains."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 26, 2014

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The Republican plan to overhaul and simplify the nation's tax code is expected to call for a cut in the top corporate income rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, and a reduction of the seven individual tax brackets to two -- at 10 percent and 25 percent -- according to aides familiar with the proposal. The proposal, which is set to be released Wednesday after nearly three years of behind-the-scenes work, is the brainchild of Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee...." ...

     ... Uh-Oh. New Lede: "The proposal by the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee to overhaul and simplify the nation's tax code is already coming under scrutiny from fellow Republicans, with at least one party leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, saying the plan has no chance." ...

     ... CW: Democrats' criticism of the ways & means of Dave Camp -- which are near the bottom of the story -- are worth reading. It is pretty clear that Camp doesn't want the legislation to pass. It's just a campaign ploy.

Billy House of the National Journal: "Several governors are trying to thwart attempts to reduce food-stamp payments to their states, in a move that could affect portions of the recently passed farm bill aimed at saving $8.6 billion over the next 10 years.... What the governors have in mind amounts to an end run around a new set of requirements that governs how recipients receive food-stamp assistance in the states." CW: The only governors House mentions are Democrats: Dannel Malloy of Connecticut & Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

President Obama spoke about manufacturing innovation yesterday:

Reid Abelson of Politico: "Touting the latest White House Obamacare benchmark, President Barack Obama told his political base not to be discouraged by partisan attacks.... 'We're going to make a big push these last few weeks,' Obama told OFA volunteers and officials. 'I can talk, my team can talk here in Washington, but it's not going to make as much of a difference as if you are out there making the case. The work you're doing is God's work. It is hard work.' ... He devoted the bulk of his time to health care but also called on supporters to back his effort to raise the minimum wage and touched on his push to expand broadband Internet access to schools."

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday accused GOP governors of 'playing with people's lives' by refusing to expand Medicaid in their states under ObamaCare. The criticism from Sebelius is the latest example of an effort by Democrats and the White House to take the offense on the issue of healthcare." CW: Um, also, Sebelius is right. Dead right. But never mind about that: when Democrats tell the truth, it's a campaign tactic. ...

... One Republican "Good Idea" to "Fix" ObamaCare. Sahil Kapur of TPM: "A Republican-led bill designed to 'save American workers' would cause 1 million workers to lose their health care coverage and increase the deficit by $74 billion, according to [the Congressional Budget Office]. The legislation, offered by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and 208 co-sponsors as a tweak to Obamacare, would change the definition of a full-time work week under the health care law from 30 hours per week to 40 hours.... The bill was touted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) as part of the GOP's winter 2014 agenda."

Tom Edsall of the New York Times: The real reason Darrell Issa & other Congressional Republicans won't stop their phony investigations of the phony IRS "scandal": the investigations have paralyzed the Exempt Organization Division of the IRS which now devotes most of its time to preparing for & responding to these witch hunts, thus leaving the division no time to investigate the labyrinth of fake "social welfare organizations" backed by Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, et al. ...

     ... CW: In other words, the real scandal is the partisan investigation of the IRS, from Bush hack IG Russell George's initial flawed report (in which he accidentally forgot to note that the IRS was "targeting" possible fake social welfare groups with liberal-sounding names, too) through all the subsequent Congressional hoohah. Couple that with Citizens United, decided by Dubya appointees to the Court, the post-regnum staying power of Rove -- "Bush's Brain" -- & other Bush operatives, and you realize that our disgraced former president, while hiding out at the ranch, still manages to cast a long shadow. ...

... AND, Right on Cue. Bernie Becker of the Hill: "House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress. Issa told Lerner's attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5."

Hayes Brown of Think Progress: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney took to Fox News on Monday night to lambaste the Obama administration's proposed cuts to the military budget.... 'And I think the whole thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances, it's driven by budget considerations. He'd much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.' [Emphasis original] ... A Defense Department review released last year showed that military families were more reliant on food stamps in 2013 than in any previous year, with over $100 million in food stamp spending at military grocery stores.... 'Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011,' the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in a

Zeke Miller of Time: "Efforts in several states to toughen voter identification requirements are driven by 'hatred,' Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday ... at an evening reception for African-American History Month at the Naval Observatory.... In 1982, when President Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond backed reauthorization, Biden told the crown he 'thought it was done -- finally, finally done,' pounding the podium with his fist. But Biden angrily spoke out against the Supreme Court's decision last year to overturn parts of the law, and legislation in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas that toughens voting requirements. 'These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away,' Biden [said]. He added: 'The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.'"

Jad Mouaward of the New York Times: "Federal regulators on Tuesday ordered shippers to properly test and classify crude oil from the productive Bakken region before loading it onto freight trains, a move meant to tighten regulatory standards after a spate of derailments and explosions that highlighted the hazards of carrying crude oil on rails. The announcement from the office of secretary of transportation, Anthony Foxx, was the fourth emergency order or safety advisory issued in the last seven months related to the booming oil-by-rail trade.... The order effectively limits the shipping of oil to the most commonly used type of tank cars.... Even those cars, however, are known to break up too easily in a crash. Regulators are also working on new, tougher tank car standards."

Mike Lillis & Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "A K Street lobbying giant joined a brewing battle over gay and lesbian rights Tuesday when it disowned a former employee who is hawking legislation to bar gays from the National Football League (NFL). In an unusual public rebuke, Holland & Knight denounced the efforts of Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman, a former associate who says he's lining up congressional support for his NFL player ban."

Henry Farrell in the Washington Post: "Bitcoin is like Tinkerbell: If people stop clapping, it's going to die." See yesterday's Ledes.

Congressional Races

Paul Kane & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Democrat Debbie Dingell plans to run for the seat being vacated by her husband, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), two senior Democratic strategists on Capitol Hill familiar with her plans told Post Politics. She will begin her campaign as the clear front-runner to succeed her husband. Debbie Dingell is an experienced Democratic strategist who currently serves as chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. John Dingell has praised her as his closest confidant."

Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "Former President Bill Clinton packed a crowd of more than 1,200 people into a Galt House ballroom on Tuesday to raise money and boost Alison Lundergan Grimes' Senate campaign. During a 25-minute speech, he alternately praised Grimes, the daughter of his longtime friend Jerry Lundergan, and took shots at U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who she hopes to beat in the November election." ...

... Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "The former president's presence on the stage also underscored a larger truth of the 2014 midterm campaign: Mr. Clinton is embraced in states, mainly in the South and the West, where Mr. Obama is all but unwelcome." CW: Just can't figure out why that is. Martin doesn't tell us.

New Jersey News

Ginger Otis of the New York Daily News: "Embattled Port Authority Chairman David Samson lacks the moral authority to be in charge, Gov. Cuomo's top appointee to the bistate agency told the Daily News on Monday. Executive director Patrick Foye made the blunt assessment during a wide-ranging discussion with the Editorial Board that touched on everything from Bridgegate to pay for airport workers." ...

... New York Daily News Editors: "The shockwaves touched off by Bridgegate have made clear that Samson perverted the PA into a toll-financed dispensary of favors and punishments for Christie allies and enemies -- as well as a benefactor of clients of Samson's law firm.... Samson must go in order for the Port Authority to get back on track."

An anonymous blogger at Daily Kos has produced a preliminary lists of lies in which the media or others have caught Chris Christie. They go waaay back. Most of these are baldfaced, CYA lies, not liberal "interpretations" of facts. Thanks to Barbarossa for the link.

Elsewhere in the Nation

Jeremy Duda of Arizona Capitol Times: "Corporate tech giant Apple has asked Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the controversial religious freedom bill SB1062, the company and the Governor's Office confirmed.... The chorus of anti-SB1062 businesses kept getting louder on Monday as 83 companies, trade organizations and other business groups signed onto a letter, originally sent on Friday by the Arizona Technology Council, urging the governor to veto the bill. The additional signees included several major hotel chains, tourism groups, corporate giants like AT&T and other technology companies." ...

James Hohmann & Burgess Everett of Politico on prominent Republicans -- including both of Arizona's U.S. senators -- who see the Arizona bill as an election-year loser. CW: My favote is Sen. John Thune (S.D.), who urges Republicans to "stay focussed on ObamaCare." So the GOP's "principled stand" is -- better to make sure fewer people have health insurance than to make sure gay people can't eat at Bud's BBQ. Pretty impressive.

... Jim Small of the Capitol Times: "In the automated poll of 802 Republicans by Coleman Dahm, a Republican political consulting firm in Phoenix, 57.1 percent of respondents who were asked about the bill said they would like Brewer to veto it. Only 27.6 percent said they want her to sign SB1062. The remaining 15.3 percent had no opinion. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points." ...

... Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic: "Brewer has said that before taking action she wants time to meet with interested parties and review the bill, which would offer a legal shield for businesses that cite religious convictions as a reason to not serve or cooperate with certain customers." ...

... MacKenzie Weinger of Politico: "Right talk radio is turning its focus this week to Arizona's controversial bill that would allow business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, and Rush Limbaugh is leading with the charge that Gov. Jan Brewer is being 'bullied' into vetoing the measure 'in order to advance the gay agenda.' Media Matters has audio of the Limbaugh segment here. ...

... Dana Liebelson of Mother Jones: "A bill moving swiftly through the Georgia House of Representatives would allow business owners who believe homosexuality is a sin to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or banning them from restaurants and hotels.... The Georgia House bill's text is largely identical to controversial legislation that passed in Arizona last week.... Legal experts ... warn that Georgia and Arizona's religious-freedom bills are so sweeping that they open the door for discrimination against not only gay people, but other groups as well." The Georgia bill has Democratic as well as Republican sponsors.

Presidential Election 2016

Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal: "Rand Paul Is the GOP's Early Presidential Front-Runner. While the establishment hopes for a governor to emerge, he is quietly putting together a formidable operation."

Right Wing World

Religious Freedom? Not in Right Wing World. Dan Merica of CNN: "Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth at the conservative conference, the group's spokeswoman said Tuesday. The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite."

News Lede

Canadian Press: "Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered massive exercises involving most of its military units in western Russia amid tensions in Ukraine.... A senior Russian lawmaker on Tuesday told pro-Russia activists in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula where Russia has a major naval base that Moscow will protect them if their lives are in danger."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 25, 2014

Helene Cooper & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: "In shrinking the United States Army to its smallest size since 1940, Pentagon officials said Monday that they were willing to assume more risk the next time troops are called to war. But assuming more risk, they acknowledged, meant that more of those troops would probably die." ...

... Charles Pierce points out that the F-35 fighter jet made the cut. He notes that the jobs creations figures Lockheed attributes to its "Amazing Jet-Propelled Lemon Of The Skies" were likely calculated by "the same people doing the math ... for our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline. Maybe they, too, are counting the strippers."...

... Nikki Haley: "Obama Was Mean to Us." Zeke Miller of Time: "Republican governors are accusing President Barack Obama of making politically motivated cuts to their states' National Guard funding. Speaking to reporters after a meeting between the President and the National Governors Association, the GOP governors said they were deeply troubled by Obama's tone when asked about planned cuts to the National Guard. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Obama became 'aggressive' and that his tone 'chilled the room quite a bit. He basically said, "Many people in this room have asked for cuts, and now you're getting 'em,'" Haley said..., adding that her husband, a guardsman, just returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. She said Obama was trying to 'punish all these people who are asking for debt reduction by cutting the National Guard.'" Rick Perry concurred. ...

     ... CW: As contributor Kate Madison might say, "Boo-fucking-hoo." Where exactly does Haley think that "debt reduction" should come from? Oh, I know: programs that help ordinary Americans & those under economic stress. Also, especially, "jobs-killing" regulators.

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Monday that state attorneys general who believe that laws in their states banning same-sex marriage are discriminatory are not obligated to defend them. Mr. Holder was careful not to encourage his state counterparts to disavow their own laws, but his position, which he described in an interview with The New York Times, injects the Obama administration into the debate over gay marriage playing out in court cases in many states. Six state attorneys general -- all Democrats -- have refused to defend bans on same-sex marriage, prompting criticism from Republicans...." ...

     ... CW: Doesn't everything a Democratic official does "prompt criticism from Republicans"?

Elizabeth Titus & Andrew Restuccia of Politico: "Republican governors say President Barack Obama assured them Monday that he expects to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline within a couple of months. The White House declined to confirm the governors' accounts. But the information contradicts speculation by parties on both sides of the pipeline dispute, who have said Obama could delay the long-awaited decision until after November's midterm elections because of a state court ruling last week in Nebraska."

"Does Not Play Well with Others." Zeke Miller of Time: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched into a repeated assault on President Barack Obama's leadership in the shadow of the West Wing, in defiance of established bipartisan protocol. Speaking after a meeting of the NGA at the White House, Jindal, the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, said Obama is 'waving a white flag' by focusing on executive actions with three years left in his term. 'The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy,' Jindal added.... Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy rose to challenge Jindal immediately after he spoke to reporters, calling his remarks on Obama waving a white flag 'the most insane statement I've ever heard.' Jindal then returned to the microphones to continue his barrage against the Obama administration." ...

... Bobby Jindal misbehaves in front of the White House:

Vice President Biden & President Obama address the governors. Both behave like grownups:

Two Guys Walked into the Supreme Court ...

Dana Milbank: "Monday morning's Supreme Court argument about the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases went badly for the Obama administration -- so much so that the real question before the justices seemed to be how severe the EPA's loss would be.... Anthony Kennedy, made clear that he agreed with the conservatives that the administration had gone too far in its carbon-dioxide regulations. Even some of the liberal justices voiced skepticism about the Justice Department's position...." ...

... Lyle Denniston: "It was quickly evident that the EPA's initiatives, seeking to put limits on ground sources of greenhouse gases, almost certainly had four votes in support: Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.... Justice Kennedy ... was quite protective of the Court's own decision seven years ago, launching EPA into the field of greenhouse gas regulation, and of a reinforcing decision on that point by the Court three years ago. But neither was close enough to the specifics of what EPA has now done, so he seemed short of just one precedent that might be enough to tip his vote for sure."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times writes a fairly complicated -- but not impossible to understand -- piece on stare decisis -- i.e., precedent -- and Justice Clarence Thomas, who takes a dim view of precedent.

Eli Lake of the Daily Beast interviews DNI James Clapper, & we learn Clapper is a fine public servant.

CW: I don't think I linked this story, published in January, by NBC News reporters & Glenn Greenwald: "The British government can tap into the cables carrying the world's web traffic at will and spy on what people are doing on some of the world's most popular social media sites, including YouTube, all without the knowledge or consent of the companies." Here's the "Nightly News" report:

     ... CW: If you're shocked, shocked by this story, bear in mind that the British agency has the capability to do this -- something we already knew -- but does not, as far as the reporting shows, actually do so. What brought the story to my attention was this:

... Glenn Greenwald: "... far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people's reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they've been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats." CW: Greenwald presents some of the Brit's slides (pilfered by Ed Snowden, of course), parts of which read like something out of junior high school "mean girls" plot, & parts of which seem to come from the British series "House of Cards." If British intelligence is actually doing some of this stuff, targeting innocent (or unindicted) people, it's pretty despicable. ...

... ** As Juan Cole points out, the programs, as described by Greenwald, fit all the criteria identified in the psychopathy of trolling. "To have such institutions, pay for by tax payers, engaging in trolling the internet is highly corrosive of the values of a democratic country. Democratic politics depends on citizens knowing each other and knowing where they stand politically. To have secret government officers manipulating the reputations of people, breaking up their friendships and associations, and entrapping them with sex set-ups creates a situation where it is impossible to trust democratic process.... For when there is no real civilian oversight over invisible government, the opportunity for graft and other criminal behavior is enormous."

Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.... 'If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,' Burkman said. Burkman's firm, JM Burkman & Associates, signed 70 new clients last year, the most of any K Street firm ...." ...

... CW: Let us set aside for a moment the unconscionable nature of Burkman's proposal to find out from Steve M. what sort of "morals and values" Jack Burkman has elsewise.

David Maraniss of the Washington Post recalls John Dingell's [D-Mich.] career. Dingell, the longest-serving Congressman ever, will retire at the end of this term. ...

... Karen Tumulty & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: Washington "is a city where no one seems to have the clout to make things happen anymore, and where even the most junior members of Congress have the ability to stop those who try. Which is why it is no longer John Dingell's Washington. And why he has decided to hang it up when his term ends." ...

... Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "... many accountseven those composed by supporters of stricter gun controls -- tended to gloss over Dingell's most glaring deviation from the progressive cause. There is simply no overstating how destructive Dingell was to the prospects for sensible gun regulation in this country.... Let's not whitewash one of the most enduring legacies of [his six decades of] service."

Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call: "The Senate returned from the Presidents Day recess by reprising one of the chamber's greatest -- and perhaps most ironic -- traditions. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was recognized for the annual reading of George Washington's Farewell address. In the lengthy speech, the nation's first president warned 'against the baneful effects of the spirit of party.' ... 'The leader's office called and I jumped at the chance because I think it's such a great document. You know who wrote it?' asked King. 'Who Washington had as ghostwriters? Madison and Hamilton. Not bad.' James Madison had initially drafted a farewell speech for Washington in 1792, which Washington used as a basis for the eventual speech. Washington asked Alexander Hamilton to revise what Washington himself drafted from what Madison had provided. The University of Virginia has an online repository of papers related to the address and the various drafts":

Congressional Races

As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "... what is startling to Republicans this year is the sheer number of candidates who are willing to take on the party's most powerful players in Washington, and the backing they are receiving from third-party groups. The primaries are another measure of the internal tensions within the party, and the erosion of allegiance to it, as it seeks to maintain the enthusiasm of Tea Party supporters even as it tries to project a message with broader appeal to swing voters Republicans will need in the fall."

CW: If you've been flummoxed as to why Rand Paul has been attacking Bill Clinton & have reasoned the Republican presidential hopeful was making an oblique preemptive strike against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, you may have been looking at the wrong political race. Abby Phillip of ABC News: President Bill "Clinton plans to address some 1,200 people at a sold-out fundraiser in Kentucky today on behalf of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan-Grimes, bringing his political clout to one of the most closely watched and contentious Senate contests of this election cycle.... n Kentucky, the former president is considered one of their own. He won the state twice and has deep political connections there -- including with Lundergan-Grimes and her father, former state legislator and Kentucky Democratic party chairman Jerry Lundergan. Clinton has advised Lundergan-Grimes and endorsed her candidacy in an early campaign video, and he is considered an uncle figure."

Presidential Race 2016
And Beyond!

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "For generations, the two major political parties have taken strikingly different approaches to picking their presidential candidates: Republican primaries usually amount to coronations, in which they nominate a candidate who has run before or is otherwise deemed next in line, while the Democratic contests are often messier affairs, prone to insurgencies and featuring uncertain favorites.... But as the early positioning for the 2016 presidential primaries gets underway, the two parties appear to be swapping their usual roles."

Jeb's not ruling out a run. ...

... ** But Wait! What about Jeb's Son? Alex Pareene: "George Prescott Bush, son of Jeb and grandson of George Herbert Walker, is running for Texas land commissioner. Next stop: the White House! ... The Bush family passion for 'public service' increasingly resembles that of the Romney family, in which running for office is viewed as a sort of philanthropic gesture, as if the candidate is offering the masses the experience of being governed by a decent and right-thinking natural leader." The secret to Pee's hoped-for success? Keep his mouth shut so people won't know whether or not he's an idiot. CW: Quite an enjoyable read. Unless you let it get to you.

OR maybe you prefer Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) for president, who started violating campaign rules -- in multiple instances -- when he was in college.

New Jersey News

Christopher Baxter of the Star-Ledger: "Records turned over to the state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings show the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson, has been 'intimately involved' with day-to-day operations.... 'When you see the intimate level of involvement, it's hard to even come with a rationale why it's not a conflict,' [Assemblyman John] Wisniewski [D] said, noting that the Port Authority was intended to be an independent entity. 'It becomes clear when you look at everything as a totality that the Port Authority really became a subdivision in the governor's office.... When you look at the number of people in that upper echelon with the governor and their routine involvement with the Port Authority, and in particular in some cases with this issue, you just kind of shake your head and say how is that possible?' he said."

Linh Tat of the Bergen Record: Fort Lee "Mayor Mark Sokolich ... voluntarily spoke with the U.S. Attorney's Office, his lawyer confirmed Monday. The Fort Lee mayor met for approximately 3½ hours with federal investigators in Newark on Friday to discuss the September lane closures...."

AP: "A high-ranking New Jersey official has acknowledged for the first time that performance problems are the reason a contractor hired last year to handle applications for the state's biggest post-Sandy housing recovery program is no longer working for the state. Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable fielded questions from lawmakers Monday about Hammerman and Gainer. The New Orleans-based firm stopped doing work for the state in December, though state officials did not say it had been dropped for nearly two months."

Elsewhere Beyond the Beltway

** Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "A pregnant woman is just a 'host' that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views. 'I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,' Martin wrote. 'However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it.' Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the 'bearer of the child' instead of the 'host.'" ...

     ... CW: Martin's rant is a classic gaffe, wherein he reveals what he & his fellow abortion foes really thinks of women. We are not full human beings. We are vessels whose purpose is to serve the "whole" people: white, Christian, propertied, straight men. We perform a variety of functions for the fully-realized humans, and one of those functions is hosting their projeny. When conservatives speak of the "traditional role of women" or the "traditional family," this is what they mean. Throughout history, men have viewed women as lesser beings, and this view has been codified in the laws & enshrined in the cultural mores of most nations. Conservatives hate those who would change that tradition. ...

... Tal Kopan of Politico has more.

** Even some of the Arizona state Republican senators who voted for the anti-gay "religious freedom" bill are now urging Gov. Jan Brewer to veto it. Public reaction against the bill has been widespread. ...

... Howard Fischer of the Arizona Daily Star has more. ...

... Dana Bash of CNN: "Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer tells CNN she will make her decision in the 'near future' about whether to sign or veto a bill that supporters say promotes religious freedom and opponents call discriminatory against gays and lesbians.... Brewer plans to return to Arizona Tuesday, and a source tells CNN those familiar with her thinking say she will likely spend at least one full business day in the state before acting. She has until Saturday morning to sign or veto the bill. If she does nothing, the bill automatically becomes law."

Florida, Land of the Blind (Where the One-Eyed Man Has No Advantage). Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: "A blind man in Florida who was acquitted after shooting his friend to death ... got his guns back on Thursday.... Police confiscated both of John Wayne Rogers' guns when he was arrested for shooting a friend in the chest during a fight in his Geneva, Fla. home in March 2012. He was granted immunity after citing Florida's 'stand your ground' law in January.... Judge John Galluzzo reluctantly ordered authorities to return Rogers both of his firearms, a 10mm Glock and a rifle, even though he said he didn't want to. 'I have to return property that was taken under the circumstance,' Galluzzo said. 'I have researched and haven't found case law to say otherwise.' The judge did not let Rogers have his ammunition back, however.... Rogers was also on probation four years ago for shooting 15 rounds at his cousin, according to

A blind man in Florida who was acquitted after shooting his friend to death under Florida's "stand your ground" law got his guns back on Thursday, according to WESH Orlando.

Way Beyond the Beltway

** Sally Kohn of the Daily Beast: "The evangelical organization that describes itself as a Christian mafia has been the hidden hand behind Uganda's anti-gay bill, along with Rick Warren, the gay-bashing pastor who presided at Obama's first inauguration." Hillary Clinton is deeply implicated, too. "Uganda's anti-gay law is not just an international disgrace. It is an American disgrace. And the American religious and political figures who played a role in spreading vicious homophobia in Uganda, whether actively or by turning a blind eye, should do more than just denounce the country's law. They should denounce their own role in facilitating it." This isn't news. Jeff Sharlet wrote about it years ago. But it's worth repeating. Again & again.

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama, apparently resigned to President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a long-term security agreement with the United States before he leaves office, told him in a phone call on Tuesday that he had instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. But in a message aimed less at Mr. Karzai than at whoever will replace him, Mr. Obama said that the United States was still open to leaving a limited military force behind in Afghanistan to conduct training and counterterrorism operations."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper today was sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program, and failure to file tax returns. U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon handed down the sentence nearly a year after Harper was indicted following what appeared to be a whirlwind investigation by the FBI.... U.S. Attorney David Hickton, in a news conference this afternoon, said the prosecution of Harper is over, but the investigation of the city is not."

Back to the Gold Standard! CNN: "What was once the world's largest trading platform for bitcoins is now a blank page. The Bitcoin-trading website Mt.Gox was taken offline late Monday, putting at risk millions of dollars put there by investors who gambled on the digital currency. The exchange also deleted all of its tweets, and Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the Bitcoin Foundation's board of directors on Sunday. The news frightened Bitcoin investors elsewhere, knocking the price down about 3% to $490 -- its lowest level since November." ...

... New York Times: "On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin's existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation."

New York Times: "The biggest protests since the death of the longtime leader Hugo Chávez nearly a year ago are sweeping Venezuela, rapidly expanding from the student protests that began this month on a campus in this western city into a much broader array of people across the country. On Monday, residents in Caracas ... and other Venezuelan cities piled furniture, tree limbs, chain-link fence, sewer grates and washing machines to block roads in a coordinated action against the government."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 24, 2014

Thom Shanker & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: " Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal.... The proposal ... takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations."

E. J. Dionne: "One of the disappointments of Obama's time in office is his failure to lead a thoroughgoing reform of the way the federal government works and to launch an inspiring campaign to bring fresh talent to its ranks. The devotion he won from young Americans in 2008 presented him with an extraordinary opportunity to draw a new generation into government service, much as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 1930s and John F. Kennedy did, even in his brief time in office, in the 1960s. Alas, Obama didn't really try. Now he can, and he should."

Greg Sargent: "While [Americans for Prosperity] is spending huge sums of cash on ads that hype or even invent stories about the law's supposed victims, the group is actively working to block health coverage under Obamacare from reaching untold numbers of real people." ...

... Paul Krugman: "Even supporters of health reform are somewhat surprised by the right's apparent inability to come up with real cases of hardship.... Why can't the right find these people and exploit them? The most likely answer is that the true losers from Obamacare generally aren't very sympathetic. For the most part, they're either very affluent people affected by the special taxes that help finance reform, or at least moderately well-off young men in very good health who can no longer buy cheap, minimalist plans. Neither group would play well in tear-jerker ads." ...

... "The Right's Sociopathic Scam." Brian Beutler of Salon: "If [Julie Boostra, the cancer-stricken star of an AFP anti-Obamacare ad] and AFP get their way, she'll be just as much a victim of Obamacare repeal as all the people who face health circumstances similar to hers. And the saddest part of that tragic irony is that Boonstra doesn't even seem to understand what her circumstances are, or why it doesn't make sense to devote her energies to repealing the law.... AFP, and everyone else on the right 'supporting' Julie Boonstra, are using her as a weapon in a war against herself."

... Steve Peoples & Ken Thomas of the AP: " America's governors, Republicans* and Democrats alike, suggest that President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is here to stay."

     * Except for Bobby Jindal.

Zeke Miller of Time: "Republican Governors Association Vice Chair Bobby Jindal will take the lead when GOP governors visit the White House Monday morning for a business meeting with PresidentBarack Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the embattled chairman of the organization, left this weekend's meeting of the National Governors Association early on Sunday morning to avoid the press & photo-ops with Obama return home for his daughter Sarah's 18th birthday...."

Last night, President Obama welcomed governors & their spouses to dinner at the White House. He begins with jokes:

Jennifer Steinhauer & Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "... under [Jim] DeMint, a South Carolinian who gave up his Senate seat last year to take the helm, [the] Heritage [Foundation] has shifted. Long known as an incubator for policy ideas and the embodiment of the party establishment, it has become more of a political organization feeding off the rising populism of the Tea Party movement.... In recent months, some of the group's most prominent scholars have left. Research that seemed to undermine Heritage's political goals has been squelched, former Heritage officials say. And more and more, the work of policy analysts is tailored for social media." ...

... CW: Actually, Krugman was eviscerating Heritage's work product well before DeMint took over. Last fall he wrote on his blog, "... it has done nothing but junk 'research' at least since 2000.... They took the think out of that think tank a long time ago." Weisman & Steinhauer should read their own damned newspaper.

Byron Tau of the Politico: "National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday she has no regrets about her now-infamous round of TV interviews in 2012 about the the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Rice, appearing on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' said that nobody in the Obama administration intended to mislead the American people when she appeared on Fox, ABC, CNN, NBC and CBS in 2012 shortly after the attacks."

Promoting Putin's Puppet. Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: "Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government -- and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed. The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media." ...

... CW: If left-leaning bloggers had been taking payola in exchange for propagandizing for an anti-Western, Soviet-style tyrant, wingers would not just have accused the bloggers of being anti-American commies, they would have demanded that the Obama administration hang the bloggers for treason. And surely, surely Darrell Issa would be investigating the traitors while teabaggers like Steve King & Michele Bachmann filed articles of impeachment against Obama. Meanwhile, Tailgunner Ted would take to the well of the Senate, wave sheafs of paper & declare, "I have here in my hand a list of 157 communist bloggers, a list of names that was made known to the President of the United States...."

Raffi Khatchadoourian in the New Yorker: "... the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor..., the most complex machine ever built..., could solve the world's energy problems for the next thirty million years, and help save the planet from environmental catastrophe."

Edward Wyatt & Noam Cohen of the New York Times: "Comcast, the country's largest cable and broadband provider, and Netflix, the giant television and movie streaming service, announced an agreement Sunday in which Netflix will pay Comcast for faster and more reliable access to Comcast's subscribers. The deal is a milestone in the history of the Internet, where content providers like Netflix generally have not had to pay for access to the customers of a broadband provider. But the growing power of broadband companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T has given those companies increased leverage over sites whose traffic gobbles up chunks of a network's capacity. Netflix is one of those sites, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all Internet traffic at peak hours. The agreement comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable...."

Badger News

"You're Not Answering My Question." Josh Israel of Think Progress: "On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace grilled Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) about thousands of pages of e-mails released this week suggesting he knew his Milwaukee County Executive staff was illegally coordinating efforts with his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Walker refused to offer any specific defense, repeating that he was not charged and attempting to change the subject":


... Digby: " I guess Roger Ailes has someone else in mind for 2016. (Or Chris Wallace woke up with some sort of longing for the days when he was an actual newsman instead of a hack...).... I don't know why anyone would be surprised that the GOP Governors are all crooks. It's a defining feature of consrvatism. (They call it 'freedom.')"

Jason Stein, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "In the heat of the 2010 governor's race, Scott Walker urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, newly unsealed documents show. It was just such anonymous posts by a county worker on campaign issues that prompted prosecutors to expand a secret 'John Doe' investigation -- launched to probe into missing money in a veterans fund -- to also examine whether taxpayer dollars were being used illegally to finance political operations."

I'm Not Christie. Zeke Miller: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker came to Washington this weekend with a clear message to deliver to the national press: He's not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie."

I'm just grateful that I don't have Democratic governors who have those challenges. We don’t get indicted, we don't get criminal investigations -- we create jobs. -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association ...

New Jersey News

Revote on a Crooked Deal. Shawn Boburg of the Bergen Record: “The Port Authority next month will reconsider a controversial decision made two years ago to lease a North Bergen parking lot to NJ Transit for $1 a year, two sources said on Saturday. The vote in 2012 to reduce NJ Transit's lease payments to the Port Authority from more than $900,000 a year to $1 came under scrutiny last week when The Record reported that records indicated that Port Authority Chairman David Samson voted for the deal at the same time as his law firm was representing NJ Transit." Samson is a Christie appointee.

Congressional Election 2014

Nolan Finley of the Detroit News: "Rep. John Dingell is leaving the Congress he's served for longer than anyone else in United States history. At a luncheon Monday in his beloved Downriver, the Dearborn representative says he will announce he won't seek re-election this fall to the seat he's held since 1955."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Harold Ramis, a writer, director and actor whose sly but boisterous silliness helped catapult comedies like 'Groundhog Day,' 'Ghostbusters,' 'Animal House' and 'Caddyshack' to commercial and critical success, died on Monday in his Chicago-area home. He was 69."

New York Times: "Gary Melius, a well-known Long Island developer and prominent political patron, was shot in the head by a masked gunman on Monday afternoon in the parking lot of his opulent Gold Coast estate in Suffolk County, the police said. His daughter rushed him to Syosset Hospital and he was later transferred to North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, where he was undergoing surgery late Monday afternoon. He was described by the authorities as alert and conscious earlier in the day."

Gary Melius purchased Oheka Castle in 1984. The house was built in 1917 and its exteriors were featured prominently in the movie 'Citizen Kane.'” New York Times photo.New York Times: "The trial of Kerry Kennedy, who is accused of driving in 2012 under the influence of a sleeping pill, got underway on Monday.... The trial here in Westchester County has attracted widespread attention in part because it involves a member of the Kennedy clan. Ms. Kennedy is the former wife of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy."

AP: " Egypt's interim prime minister announced Monday the resignation of his Cabinet, a surprise move that could be designed in part to pave the way for the nation's military chief to leave his defense minister's post to run for president. Hazem el-Beblawi's military-backed government was sworn in on July 16, less than two weeks after Field Marsh Abdel-Fettah el-Sissi, the defense minister, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after a year in office."

New York Times:"Ukraines acting interior minister issued a warrant on Monday for the arrest of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, accusing him of mass killing of civilian protesters in demonstrations last week." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Russian leaders expressed their distrust and dislike of the new government of Ukraine on Monday, saying it came to power through 'armed mutiny,' just hours after the authorities here announced a nationwide manhunt for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych on charges of 'mass murder of peaceful civilians.' Russia questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's interim leadership...."

AP: "Uganda's president has signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex. President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill Monday at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials and journalists. Government officials clapped after he signed the bill."

Guardian: "Washington will seek the extradition of Mexico's most-wanted man, the US attorney's office announced Sunday, as reports emerged that Joaquín Guzmán Loera spent his final days of freedom scrambling through tunnels and drains before ending up pinned to a bed in a beachside condominium unable to reach a Kalashnikov rifle lying on the floor.... The Mexican ambassador to the US, Eduardo Medina Mora, had earlier rejected calls for an American trial...." ...

     ... The Los Angeles Times has background on "Guzman's famous Houdini-style string of getaways."