The Wires
The Ledes

Saturday, May 26, 2018.

New York Times: "Alan Bean, who became the fourth man to walk on the moon and turned to painting years later to tell the story of NASA’s Apollo missions as they began receding into history, died on Saturday at Houston Methodist Hospital. He was 86.”

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.

New York Times: "A thousand-year-old English castle echoed with the exhortations of an African-American bishop and a gospel choir on Saturday, as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American actress, nudging the British royal family into a new era. Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, her future father-in-law and presumably the future king of Britain. Prince Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, has long called on Britain’s monarchy to draw closer to the daily life of its people. But the most extraordinary thing he has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her views. Their choices at Saturday’s wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made it clear that they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy.” ...

Serena Williams, at the When Harry Wed Meghan rites.... Anthony Lane of the New Yorker attended the nuptials & reports back: "Love, as warmly recommended by the preacher, held sway. The sole unpleasantness that crossed my path took the form of a burly fellow wearing a fascinator, with ripped jeans and mirrored shades: not an outfit that I will soon forget." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are wondering what a "fascinator" is, so was I. There were hundreds of them worn to Windsor Saturday. It's a ridiculous thing that otherwise sensible women attach to their heads. We are not fascinated.

Shorter Wedding:

This is the WashPo's live coverage of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. You can supersize it:

The Guardian is posting updates re: the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. "The Queen has announced the titles given to the married couple. Prince Harry, or to give him his formal title, Prince Henry of Wales, has been made Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.So he will be His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and, once married, Meghan Markle will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex."

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

An American Princess. In case you're interested in all the tabloid-induced "scandals" surrounding Meghan Markle's family, Sarah Lyall of the New York Times will bring you up-to-date. As of this writing, IT IS UNCLEAR IF MEGHAN'S FATHER WILL WALK HER DOWN THE AISLE. Oh wow.

Guardian: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have named their baby son Louis Arthur Charles, Kensington Palace said. In a statement the palace said: 'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their son Louis Arthur Charles. The baby will be known as His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.' The prince is the duke and duchess’s third child, the younger brother of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s sixth great-grandchild. Lord Louis Mountbatten was Prince Charles’s beloved great-uncle who was assassinated by the IRA in 1979. Prince Louis of Battenberg was the Duke of Edinburgh’s grandfather’s name. The three names are popular choices recycled by the royal family. Prince Charles is Charles Philip Arthur George, while Prince William is William Arthur Philip Louis. Prince George’s full name is George Alexander Louis."

... Guardian: "The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a boy. Kate and Williams’s third child was born at 11.01am at St Mary’s hospital, Paddington, central London. The baby weighed in at 8lb 7oz. The birth was announced to the public by Kensington Palace with a tweet.... The new Prince of Cambridge is fifth in line to the throne, and is Queen Elizabeth II’s sixth great-grandchild."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie on "Why I take my political advice from country & western stars":

I would have voted for [Donald Trump] because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right? -- Shania Twain, a Canadian C&W performer

Especially if you're into very high-end decorative porcelain, here are some highlights of David & Peggy Rockefeller's collection that will go on auction beginning May 1. Unless you're a Rockefeller, your grandmother's curio cabinet never looked quite like this. To access the full Christie's catalog on the Rockefeller estate objets, start here.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

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

Tuesday
Jan192016

The Commentariat -- January 20, 2016

... Haeyoun Park & Matthew Bloch of the New York Times: "Deaths from drug overdoses have surged in nearly every county across the United States, driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin. Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014: 47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day."

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "The Syrian refugee issue returns to Capitol Hill on Wednesday with Senate Republicans eager to bring up a bill passed by the House in November to tighten scrutiny of those entering the United States from Syria and Iraq. Senator Mitch McConnell ... has set a vote for Wednesday afternoon on opening debate over the refugee measure, which was approved by the House before Thanksgiving in the immediate aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks."

Julie Bosman & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "President Obama planned to meet on Tuesday in Washington with the mayor of Flint, Mich., about the health crisis that has erupted from the city's contaminated drinking water, White House officials said. The meeting was scheduled for the afternoon, hours before Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan [R] was to deliver his annual State of the State address in the capital, Lansing. Local news media reported that a large part of his speech would be devoted to the Flint situation and that he would discuss assistance for residents. Mr. Obama is scheduled to be in Michigan on Wednesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but the administration said he was not planning to visit Flint during the trip." ...

     ... New Lede: "Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan issued a sweeping apology on Tuesday to the residents of Flint for a contaminated water supply. He pledged to promptly release his emails about the issue, and laid out more specifics than had previously been known about the state's handling of the matter.... Over and over on Tuesday, Mr. Snyder expressed contrition, referring to the matter as a 'crisis' and 'catastrophe,' saying 'mistakes' had been made and promising to pray for the people of Flint. But he also left residents of the city, whose population has dwindled with the departure of the auto industry to fewer than 100,000, with unanswered questions." ...

... The Detroit Free Press story, by Paul Egan & Kathleen Gray, is here. ...

... Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press: Snyder's "encouraging words -- 'We are praying for you.' 'We are working hard for you.' 'We will not let you down' -- weren't hollow. I believe that he meant them. But it may have been the first time in a long time, if ever, that he spoke directly to people who aren't rich, who don't have a lot of choices and who have been using poison water for more than a year." ...

... ** Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation in a Washington Post op-ed: "In early 2015, shortly after his victory in a heated reelection contest, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) began exploring a run for president.... He embarked on a national speaking tour and set up a fundraising organization. Its name: 'Making Government Accountable.' As Snyder was testing the presidential waters, however, his government was being shamefully unaccountable' [to the residents of Flint].... The biggest obstacles to desperately needed public investments are politicians like Snyder who conflate 'accountability' with austerity." CW: vanden Heuvel does a good job of summarizing the fiasco. ...

... Everything Is Obama's Fault. Inexplicably, Julie Davis of the New York Times thinks the Flint fiasco is President Obama's problem.

Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "The federal budget deficit is expected to increase in 2016 for the first time in six years, due mostly to a massive tax package Congress passed last month as part of a year-end budget deal." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Adam Liptak & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would consider a legal challenge to President Obama's overhaul of the nation's immigration rules. The court ... will now determine the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Greg Sargent: "This is very big news, not only because it could help determine the status of millions of undocumented immigrants whose fates are hanging in limbo, but also because it could thrust the immigration debate to the forefront right when the presidential race is hitting full boil.... Whatever happens at the Court, it's hard to see this debate playing in the GOP's favor." ...

... OR, as Brian Beutler puts it, "Great news: Unelected Supreme Court justices will decide if Obama is Caesar.... But as in previous Supreme Court cases, like King v. Burwell and others, it will also test the merits of the right's reflexive opposition to administrative action in the Obama era." ...

... Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "... the Court's decision today to hear the case was a victory for the President. If the Court had put off its decision for even another week or two, the clock might have run out on this year's Supreme Court term.... The question of executive authority has also split the Justices along ideological lines, but with unpredictable implications for the current case.... It will be interesting to see if [Justice] Thomas and his conservative colleagues are as solicitous of President Obama's claims as they were of President George W. Bush's. Likewise, we will see whether the liberals who slapped down Bush on Guantánamo apply the same reasoning to Obama's claims on immigration." ...

... New York Times Editors answer all of Toobin's questions: "The states should never have been allowed standing to sue in the first place, and their substantive claims are groundless.... Mr. Obama's pragmatic deportation exemption programs are well within his legal and constitutional authority. The Supreme Court explicitly stated in 2012 that the federal government had 'broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens' under the Constitution.... Congress should have passed comprehensive immigration reform years ago, rather than, say, threatening to impeach the president when he took on the issue." ...

... BUT the big question is, "What will Judge Judy decide?" Daniella Diaz of CNN: "Nearly 10% of college graduates surveyed in a poll believe Judith Sheindlin, aka 'Judge Judy,' serves on the Supreme Court.... The poll, conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in August 2015 but released in January 2016, concluded from the 1,000 surveyed that college graduates 'are alarmingly ignorant of America's history and heritage.'"

Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: "The US Supreme Court now has twice heard major challenges to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and twice it's come down on the side of the Obama administration and upheld the law. But that hasn't kept opponents from trying again -- and again and again. Today, the court refused even to hear the latest challenge to the law, a sign that the justices are perhaps ready to move on. The case, Sissel v. HHS, involves an artist and National Guard reservist who, like other anti-ACA plaintiffs, really doesn't want to buy health insurance." CW: Oh, & Ted Cruz, along with his Senate pals John Cornyn (Texas) & Mike Lee (Utah) wrote a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Sissel.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: A strange First Amendment case -- or maybe it's not a First Amendment case -- gets a hearing before the Supreme Court. "... the question was what happens when the boss retaliates against an employee on the mistaken belief that the employee has" exercised his First Amendment right to support a particular political candidate. CW: This would have been a super case for moot court.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal judge has rejected President Barack Obama's assertion of executive privilege to deny Congress access to records pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, a gunrunning probe that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to flow across the border into Mexico. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department's public disclosures about its response to the so-called 'gun walking' controversy undercut Obama's executive privilege claim.... Jackson, an Obama appointee, left open the possibility in her ruling Tuesday that some of the disputed records could still be held back from Congress because they contain sensitive information on law enforcement techniques, implicate foreign policy concerns or discuss matters covered by attorney-client privilege."

Zygote News Today. "The Best Interests of the Embryos." Tamar Lewin of the New York Times: "Anti-abortion groups are seeking a foothold on a new battlefield: custody disputes over frozen embryos.... As scientific advances have made frozen embryos common, they have brought new complications to divorces. Most courts have treated embryos as marital property, often favoring the party that plans not to use the embryos, emphasizing a right not to be forced to procreate.... But anti-abortion groups argue that such cases should be decided according to the best interests of the embryos, the same legal standard used in child-custody disputes."

Jane Mayer in Politico Magazine: "Charles Koch might claim that his entry into politics is new, but from its secrecy to its methods of courting donors and recruiting students, the blueprint for the vast and powerful Koch donor network that we see today was drafted four decades ago." The article is adapted from Dark Money.

Liz Sly of the Washington Post: "Russia's military intervention in Syria is finally generating gains on the ground for Syrian government forces, tilting the battlefield in favor of President Bashar al-Assad to such an extent that the Obama administration's quest for a negotiated settlement to the war suddenly looks a lot less likely to succeed.... Peace talks scheduled to start in Geneva next week are already in doubt because of disputes between Russia and the United States, their chief sponsors, over who should be invited."

Mark Hosenball, et al., of Reuters: "Three U.S. citizens who disappeared last week in Baghdad were kidnapped and are being held by an Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia, two Iraqi intelligence and two U.S. government sources said...."

Reuters: "A media outlet associated with Islamic State on Tuesday released a eulogy for 'Jihadi John', a member of the militant group who gained notoriety for his filmed execution of hostages, the monitoring organization SITE reported. The militant was identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen of Arab origin. The U.S. military said in November it was 'reasonably certain' it had killed him in a drone strike."

Andrew Roth & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who was held in an Iranian prison for more than four years, on Tuesday talked with the media about his release.

Presidential Race

On the One Hand ... On the Other Hand.... Greg Sargent tackles the question of which Democratic candidate is more electable in a general election -- Clinton or Sanders.

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Speaking on the national holiday commemorating [Martin Luther] King's legacy, [Bernie Sanders] told an overflow crowd estimated at more than 7,000 people [in Birmingham, Ala.,] that King's work, in addition to civil rights, focused on helping poor people, regardless of race. Sanders reminded the audience that King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, where he had traveled to show solidarity with striking city sanitation workers. 'The fight for economic justice is exactly what this campaign is about,' Sanders said, vowing to fight to carry on King's 'radical and bold vision for America.'" ...

... Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: Bernie Sanders & his campaign have been complaining about the scant media attention he has received relative to his popularity among voters. But. "He's managed to strike a remarkable balance in which the media takes him seriously enough to note his rise but not quite seriously enough to pick apart his record in great detail. The longer he can maintain this balance, the better for him. But it can't last forever. Part of me wonders whether Sanders's desire for more coverage is actually genuine; decrying the 'corporately owned media; fits perfectly into his populist image. But ... surely, he knows that an influx of media attention would bring a level of scrutiny and negativity that he's been able to avoid so far." ...

... Paul Krugman gives Bernie the old one-two, whacking both Sanders' plan to curb Wall Street (which Krugman has done before) and his health "plan." And there's a big three: Krugman calls the health plan dishonest: "On health care: leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer.... The Sanders health plan looks a little bit like a standard Republican tax-cut plan, which relies on fantasies about huge supply-side effects to make the numbers supposedly add up.... And look: if the political theory behind supporting Sanders is that the American people will vote for radical change if you're honest about what's involved, the campaign's evident unwillingness to fully confront the issues, its reliance on magic asterisks, very much weakens that claim." ...

... Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times: Republican superPACs are promoting Sanders' campaign. ...

Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider: "Emails that passed through Hillary Clinton's private server while she served as US secretary of state reportedly contained intelligence so sensitive that it has since been marked beyond 'top secret,' Fox News reported on Tuesday. The network reported on the contents of a letter authored by Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III. The January 14 letter to senior lawmakers has not yet been made public." CW: Gosh, I wonder how Fox got hold of the letter.

Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday blasted the Republican field [of presidential candidates] for their rhetoric on destroying the Islamic State. 'First of all they, they don't know what they're talking about,' Gates told MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.'... Alluding to political outsiders [Donald] Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Gates challenged their ability to be an effective president. '... I think that if you don't have any experience in how government works, if you have never been in government, your ability to make the government work is going to be significantly reduced.'... Asked ... whether any candidate had met his criteria, Gates said, 'I don't see any.'" CW: The Bush presidents père et fils, who employed Gates in high public positions, must be thrilled to hear him deem Jeb! not qualified to fill their fancy footwear.

David Wasserman of 538: "The GOP's primary calendar is surprisingly front-loaded with states friendly to insurgents like Trump and Cruz. But because of Republican National Committee rules, all but one of these states will award their delegates on a proportional basis, intentionally making it difficult for any one candidate to build a durable or commanding lead."

Match.com, another successful hook-up. -- Diane, in yesterday Comments ...

... CW: Guess I have to mention this, since it's the top o' the news. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Sarah Palin ...will endorse Donald J. Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, officials with his campaign confirmed. The endorsement provides Mr. Trump with a potentially significant boost just 13 days before the state's caucuses." CW: And a reminder that the Republican party didn't get stupid all of the sudden. A linguist should have fun with their speeches. ...

     ... Update. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post reports on Palin's endorsement, which Palin delivered at a Trump rally in Ames, Iowa. ...

... CW: This is all I could stand, but you can hear Palin's full speech in this YouTube video, via Fox "News":

... OR, if you prefer to read it ... Kyle Blaine of BuzzFeed: "So, Uh, Here's The Full Text Of Sarah Palin's Bizarre Trump' Speech." ...

... THEN AGAIN, I particularly like Kevin Drum's annotated snippets. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: Why would Palin endorse Trump when he's not the most conservative candidate? Because they're both a couple of rogues who challenge Republican orthodoxies. CW: On the other hand, so is Ted Cruz. Maybe Palin has become one of the millions of people who just can't stand Ted. ...

     ... OR, maybe Palin just knows how to pick a winner. Ask Ted Cruz about that. ...

... AND, right on cue, the Palin clan rejoins the circus. Earlier in the day, Bristol Palin, daughter of Todd & Sarah, wrote a post complaining that "staffers from Ted Cruz’s office ... slam[med] my mom." CW: The Cruz campaign did not slam Sarah Palin, IMHO, but then I'll never have the grievance quotient of a Palin. ...

... BUT wait, there's more ...

... Jordan Sargent of Gawker: "Track Palin -- the 26-year-old son of Sarah Palin... -- was arrested [Monday] night, and court documents obtained by Gawker reveal more details about the bloody and frantic altercation." Thanks, Track, it wouldn't have been a Big Palin News Day without some Palin punching a woman in the face, kicking her & brandishing a gun (according to the woman, IDed as his girlfriend, Track threatened to kill himself, not her). The gun, an AR-15 rifle, was not loaded when the police found it on the kitchen counter of Sarah & Todd Palin's house. The police officer stated that Track was initially "uncooperative, belligerent & evasive." Also drunk. ...

... Steve M.: "Donald Trump got Sarah Palin's endorsement today, which is amusing because he's been portraying himself as a great defender of women, unlike that woman-hating Hillary Clinton.... Talk to us about defending women, Donald. Really, this would be the perfect time." ...

... Corn Dawg. Timothy Cama of the Hill: "Donald Trump said Tuesday that federal regulators should increase the amount of ethanol blended into the nation's gasoline supply. Speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump ... said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ought to follow the ethanol volumes Congress set in 2007.... Trump spoke very briefly about the ethanol mandate at the beginning of his speech, reading from notes in a straightforward fashion, before continuing onto other subjects in the more lively manner he usually shows in stump speeches. The event came hours after Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told voters ... that they shouldn’t vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).... Branstad cited Cruz's opposition to continuing the ethanol mandate after 2022, saying Cruz is 'heavily financed by Big Oil.'"

They have this phony [unemployment] number, 5.2 percent. Everybody that quits looking for a job is considered statistically a person that has a job. It's a phony number. You probably -- real numbers like 22, 23 percent. -- Donald Trump, at Liberty University, Jan. 18

So why does Trump claim 23 percent? We have no idea, since as usual his campaign refused to explain his reasoning.... Trump's claims on the unemployment rate would not pass muster in an Economics 101 course. While he has apparently cut his estimate of the unemployment rate from 42 percent to 23 percent, his figure is still more than double the most expansive rate published by the government. -- Glenn Kessler, Washington Post

... Trump’s 'reasoning' seems like a pretty charitable description of his mental processes. -- Greg Sargent

Dana Milbank on what British members of Parliament think of Donald Trump. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) CW: How does being reviled by our allies makes America great again.

Brendan O'Connor of Gawker: "Following Sarah Palin’s endorsement Tuesday of Donald Trump, GOP consultant Rick Wilson ... described members of the American 'alt right' (which is basically code for white supremacists) ["who think Donald Trump is the greatest thing"] as 'mostly childless single men who masturbate to anime.' The point was to discredit them as a category, bereft of any 'real' political significance.... However, it is also a discredit to those who masturbate to anime." ...

... CW: I did have to look up "anime."

I love Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is fantastic. Without her friendship and support I wouldn't be in the Senate today. And so regardless of what Sarah decides to do in 2016 I will always remain a big, big fan of Sarah Palin's. -- Ted Cruz, minutes before Palin confirmed her endorsement of Trump

... Here's Cruz, boosting his rogue creds. Katie Glueck of Politico: "Ted Cruz on Tuesday dismissed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as a crony capitalist who is part of the GOP establishment, hours after the prominent Republican governor indicated that he did not want Cruz to win Iowa. 'It is no surprise that the establishment is in full panic mode,' Cruz told reporters [in Center Barnstead, N.H.]. 'We said from the beginning, that the Washington cartel was going to panic more and more. As conservatives unite behind our campaign you're going to see the Washington cartel firing every shot they can, every cannon they can. Because the Washington cartel lives on cronyism, it lives on making deals, it lives on picking winners and losers and supporting corporate welfare and cronyism. This is what people are so fed up with.'"

They sold out of those boots online. They’re made in Wisconsin. Florsheim! You know what that means? That means I did more for American business in one week than Barack Obama did in seven years! -- Marco Rubio, Waverly, Ohio, Jan. 18

His Florsheim ankle boots aren't made in the Badger State, where the company is headquartered. Florsheim told us ... Rubio's boots came from India. -- Joshua Gillin, Politifact

Now, don't say I don't cover the important stuff. -- Constant Weader

... This one does matter:

When I become president of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama, and it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took office the hostages were released from Iran. -- Marco Rubio, on "Meet the Press." Sunday

Rubio said that Iranian hostages were released in 1981 as Reagan took office because Iran perceived that America was 'no longer under the command of someone weak.' In reality, Reagan's foreign policy approach wasn't a factor in the hostages' release, as scholars told us. The Carter administration negotiated the deal months before Reagan's inauguration, without involvement by Reagan or his transition team. Rubio's claim is an imaginative re-reading of history. -- Angle Holan & Louis Jacobson of Politifact

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and his wife, Mary Pat, underwent marriage counseling to wrestle with what he called 'really challenging times' in their relationship. They waited seven years to have children to ensure they 'definitely liked each other.' And to this day they retreat to a walk-in closet to loudly argue away from their children's earshot, according to a new book." (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

Emily Reyes & Matt Lait of the Los Angeles Times: "The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay more than $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that investigations by dishonest LAPD detectives led to their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars. Kash Delano Register, who won his freedom in 2013 after lawyers and students from Loyola Law School cast doubt on the testimony of a key prosecution witness, will receive $16.7 million -- the largest settlement in an individual civil rights case in the city's history, his attorneys said. Bruce Lisker, who was released from prison in 2009 after a Times investigation into his conviction, will get $7.6 million."

Ivan Penn of the Los Angeles Times: "California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change -- and whether such actions could amount to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws.

Les Zaitz of the Oregonian: "The divide among friends and neighbors over the refuge occupation boiled into the open [in Burns, Oregon,] Tuesday night in a community meeting that crackled with emotion.... In sometimes highly personal remarks, speaker after speaker vented anger -- at public officials, at the federal government and at the man in the brown cowboy hat sitting high in the bleachers to take it all in -- Ammon Bundy." ...

... Where the Deer & the Antelope Play. Katherine Krueger of TPM: Some militiamen at the Malheur Refuge call "Christians" to join them:

... CW: So did they bring these instruments with them, or did they kill off some antelope (or whatever) on the supposed refuge for the horns? ...

... Update: Sam Biddle of Gawker points out that the horns the militants are using to call Christians resemble shofars, which are traditional horns used during various Jewish high holy days.

News Lede

New York Times: "At least 19 people were killed and several wounded when militants attacked a university campus in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, a senior government official said.... A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban called reporters in Peshawar to claim responsibility for the attack and say that four of their men were involved."

Monday
Jan182016

The Commentariat -- January 19, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Adam Liptak & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would consider a legal challenge to President Obama's overhaul of the nation's immigration rules. The court ... will now determine the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions."

Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "The federal budget deficit is expected to increase in 2016 for the first time in six years, due mostly to a massive tax package Congress passed last month as part of a year-end budget deal."

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and his wife, Mary Pat, underwent marriage counseling to wrestle with what he called 'really challenging times' in their relationship. They waited seven years to have children to ensure they 'definitely liked each other.' And to this day they retreat to a walk-in closet to loudly argue away from their children's earshot, according to a new book."

Dana Milbank on what British members of Parliament think of Donald Trump.

*****

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The Obama White House is working frantically to quell the political outrage among immigration rights advocates and Latino leaders who say they feel betrayed by a recent series of deportation raids launched by the administration, mostly against women and children from Central America. While the raids continue with administration support, White House aides announced an expanded State Department partnership with the United Nations to resettle Central American refugees in the United States and elsewhere, and Vice President Biden traveled to the region last week to meet with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador."

Eric Levitz of New York: "If the wealthiest 62 billionaires on the planet decided to pool their resources, they could buy up every last thing owned by the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report from Oxfam. The report, which was released just as some of those billionaires were arriving in Davos for the World Economic Forum, shows that the gap between rich and poor has grown wider in recent years: In 2010, the bottom half owned as much as the richest 338 individuals. Analyzing data collected by Credit Suisse, the anti-poverty organization further reports that the global one percent controlled as much wealth as the bottom 99 percent in 2015 -- a milestone that was reached one year earlier than Oxfam had previously predicted." (Also linked yesterday.)

Andrew Roth & William Branigin of the Washington Post: "Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter freed Saturday after almost 18 months of incarceration in an Iranian prison, met with Post editors Monday for the first time since his release and said he was 'feeling good' physically as he recovers in a U.S. military hospital [in Landsthul, Germany]." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The Iranian authorities held the wife and mother of the journalist Jason Rezaian without telephones for hours in a separate room at a Tehran airport on Sunday before finally agreeing under American pressure to let them leave along with prisoners released in an exchange with the United States. The last-minute conflict came close to unraveling a prisoner swap that was negotiated during 14 months of secret talks and that had already been announced to the world. In the end, Mr. Rezaian's wife and mother were permitted to fly with him to Europe later on Sunday, but the episode underscored that parts of Iran's factionalized system still strongly resist any rapprochement with the United States." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Emily Shapiro of ABC News: "The price of gas hit a stunning low -- just 47 cents per gallon -- in Michigan on Sunday. Michigan was the first state to have gas under $1 in likely over a decade, Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, told ABC News today. A gas station in Houghton Lake, Michigan, hit the 47 cents mark after a price war between three stations in the town, DeHaan said."

Robert Barnes: An Alaskan moose-hunter has his day in the Supreme Court. John Sturgeon's suit challenges the federal government's authority to regulate Alaskan rivers, even in national preserves.

Rebranding -- You're Going to Love These Avaricious Billionaires. Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "As the Kochs prepare to launch the most ambitious political effort of their lives, they appear to be undergoing the best image overhaul that their money can buy." ...

... Speaking of manipulation, those of you enthralled with or enraged by the Netflix documentary "Making of a Murderer" should read Kathryn Schulz's New Yorker essay. Bronwen Dickey, writing in Slate, makes similar points about the series.

Amy Chozick & Brooks Barnes of the New York Times: "... 'Weiner,' a new documentary that The New York Times was allowed to view exclusively ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, provides an unfettered look at the implosion of [Anthony] Weiner's [New York City] mayoral campaign and a wrenching inside account of [his & his wife's] interactions in the aftermath of his second explicit texting scandal.... The footage also centers on [Weiner's wife Huma] Abedin, who is best known as the closest aide to Hillary Clinton.... The film comes at an uncomfortable time for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign, as it grapples with attacks from both the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump and others reminding voters of the more sordid sexual episodes of her husband's past.... 'Weiner,' which will be released in theaters on May 20, is expected to have its television premiere on Showtime in October, just weeks before the general election."

"Happy Slaves." Sara Jerde of TPM: "Scholastic announced Sunday it was pulling 'A Birthday Cake for George Washington' from shelves after it received criticism for the way it depicted happy slaves. The publishing company wrote in a news release that all returns will be accepted and that the book needed more context on the 'evils of slavery.'... The book is about an enslaved worker who bakes the president a birthday cake alongside her daughter.... The publishing company had previously defended the book, saying it approached the topic with the "utmost care" and that it depicted a story of slaves who were living in 'near-freedom' and were happy because they found pleasure in cooking...."

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick: "Facing a tougher than expected challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Hillary Clinton's campaign is preparing for a primary fight that could stretch into late April or early May and require a sprawling field operation in states and territories from Pennsylvania to Guam.... For all its institutional advantages, the Clinton campaign lags behind the Sanders operation in deploying paid staff members...." ...

... CW: I find this odd & worrying. Hillary now has been at the center of four presidential campaigns, more than anyone since the Roosevelts. In 2008, she practiced how not to run one. Yet she seems to be doing it again. If her operation can't beat Bernie -- once again because she was overconfident she would wrap up the nomination in February -- what will happen in a general election? ...

... The horse-race touts called the Democratic debate for Bernie Sanders, by a nose. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jonathan Chait makes the case against nominating Sanders: "... it seems bizarre for Democrats to risk losing the presidency by embracing a politically radical doctrine that stands zero chance of enactment even if they win."

... Your Philosophy Minute. Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect: "In a sense, [the] difference [between Hillary & Bernie] calls to mind the famous essay by political philosopher Isaiah Berlinabout the fox, who knows many things, and the hedgehog, who knows one important thing. Hillary's the fox, of course; Bernie's the hedgehog." ...

... Henry Farrell in the Washington Post: Bill O'Reilly says that if Bernie Sanders is elected president, he will move to Ireland to escape Sanders-style socialism. Yes, Ireland, where "the effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income"; where the government runs the hospitals & "everyone is entitled to free basic health care in hospitals"; where welfare benefits are far more generous than in the U.S.; & where Billo would not be able to own a handgun (luckily for his family). And the government is even promising to liberalize its draconian anti-abortion laws. Thanks to D.C. Clark for the link. (Also linked yesterday afternoon. Because this is very important.)

Hadas Gold of Politico: "The Republican National Committee officially severed ties on Monday with NBC for what was supposed to be a Feb. 26 Republican primary debate in Houston. Instead, CNN will host the debate in Houston on Thursday, Feb. 25, five days before Super Tuesday. The committee voted via conference call Monday after negotiations with NBC failed.... The RNC initially suspended the relationship with NBC on Oct. 30, following a debate on CNBC that angered many of the campaigns and the RNC for the network's handling of the debate format and the moderators' line of questioning."

David Brooks is desperately seeking Not-Trump/Cruz. Here's his dream candidate: "What's needed is a coalition that combines Huey Long, Charles Colson and Theodore Roosevelt: working-class populism, religious compassion and institutional reform." CW: I didn't make that up. What's most hilarious is that Brooks already has -- and opposes -- two out of his three ideal candidates; i.e., (1) Trump/Long & (2) Cruz (&/or Carson)/Colson. There are no Teddy Roosevelts in today's GOP. ...

... The WashPo's version of Brooks, in the person of Michael Gerson, is also warning against a Trump or Cruz victory: "For Republicans, the only good outcome of Trump vs. Cruz is for both to lose. The future of the party as the carrier of a humane, inclusive conservatism now depends on some viable choice beyond them." CW: The trouble, of course, is that the GOP has not represented "human, inclusive conservatism" for decades.

Meredith Griffiths of ABC News: "British MPs have spent three hours in the House of Commons debating whether they should ban US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.... UK legislators from all sides criticised Mr Trump during the heated discussion, branding him an 'attention seeker', a 'fool', a 'buffoon', a 'demagogue' and a 'wazzock'. But many more lawmakers opposed the ban, saying it would go against free speech. Ultimately the MPs did not vote on the matter, and the Prime Minister, who has the final say, had already indicated he had no intention of banning Mr Trump." ...

... According to Griff Witte of the Washington Post, it's the home secretary, not the PM, who has the authority to ban undesirables. ...

The WashPo is dumping its research on Donald Trump, Real Estate Mogul. Here's the latest installment: Robert O'Harrow: "The Post found that Trump's statements during the campaign about his companies' bankruptcies play down his personal role in the downfall of the Taj [Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey]. Trump took extreme risks in a shaky economy, leveraged the Taj deal with high-cost debt, and ignored warnings that Atlantic City would not be able to attract enough gamblers to pay the bills, documents and interviews show." It would seem Trump doesn't agree with the paper's reporting: "'This was not personal. This was a corporate deal,' he said. 'If you write this one, I'm suing you.'" ...

... Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "'I am a Protestant and I am very proud of it,' Donald Trump told Liberty University..., on Monday, as he attempted to appeal to this key demographic in the Republican primary. The GOP frontrunner also told the crowd that if he is elected, 'every store will have to say Merry Christmas'. [CW: Including Katz Deli.] But a biblical reference fell flat when he introduced a passage from 2 Corinthians as 'Two Corinthians' rather than 'Second Corinthians.' Other than this, Trump did not seem to tailor his address to the crowd of clean-cut Christian students. Instead..., [he] talked about his poll numbers and discussed his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border, which he claims that Mexico will pay for." ...

... Kevin Drum: "... today's gaffe, as trivial as it seems, suggests ... that he literally has paid no attention to Christianity at all. In fact, given how hard that is in a country as awash in religious references as the United States, it suggests much more: Donald Trump has spent most of his life actively trying to avoid religion as completely as possible." ...

     ... CW: Oh, please. The fault lies with the staffer who found the citation (which is about "liberty" -- get it?) & wrote "2 Corinthians" instead of "2nd Corinthians" or "Second Corinthians." A 2 is a "two." I know enough to say "Second Corinthians" should I ever have occasion to do so, but when I read it, I always think "Two Corinthians." Because that's what it says.

... Martin Longman in the Washington Monthly: "Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971, in Lynchburg, Virginia. And Jerry Falwell was a segregationist who badmouthed Martin Luther King, Jr, James Farmer, and Desmond Tutu, and encouraged his followers to invest in the Apartheid regime in South Africa. So, really, Liberty University is a wholly inappropriate place to go to celebrate Martin Luther King Day." ...

... Kevin Cirilli of Bloomberg: "... Donald Trump won glowing praise from a Christian evangelical leader in one of the nation's biggest battleground states on Monday. Jerry Falwell Jr., head of the Virginia-based Liberty University, didn't formally endorse the billionaire, who spoke at the school's convocation, but his remarks went further than for any other candidate to speak there during this race." ...

... Molly Ball of the Atlantic: "There were many unbelievable moments over the course of Donald Trump's speech on Monday at Liberty University.... But the most breathtaking part of Trump's appearance may have come before he spoke. It was his introduction by Jerry Falwell Jr., the school's president and son of its founder, who praised the thrice-married, socially liberal tycoon at great length.... (The Falwells, with their history of racism and misogyny, have often spoken for a branch of the religious right that more thoughtful leaders find distasteful, [Liberty alum Jonathan] Merritt noted; in this, Jerry Falwell Jr.'s comparison of Trump to his father may not have been so far off.)" ...

... CW: Now here is a candidate who is knowledgeable about his Christian faith. This is actually quite an impressive sermon:

... AND it helps explain why Marco has no trouble believing, or at least spouting, other myths, like this one about the wrath of the Angel Ronaldo:

When I become President of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama. And it will be like Ronald Reagan where as soon as he took office, the hostages were released from Iran. -- Marco Rubio, on "Meet the Press" Sunday ...

... CW: I forgot to mention yesterday how completely STUPID (accidentally hit the caps lock; stet) Marco's "I, Reagan" posture was (not to mention, Chuck Todd's failure to call him out). So here's Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "It wasn't the case, [Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation] said, that the release was simply prompted by a tough-talking Reagan's inauguration -- rather, diplomats under President Jimmy Carter negotiated a resolution finalized on Carter's last full day as president. Carter secured the 52 hostages' release in exchange for the unfreezing of Iranian assets, an American pledge not to meddle in internal Iranian affairs and the creation of a framework for resolving post-revolution financial claims.... Senior Reagan administration officials later went on to engage in secret talks with Iran to gain the release of hostages held by Iranian client groups in Lebanon. The deal negotiated by the Reagan officials included the sale of arms to Iran, the proceeds of which were funneled to right-wing rebels in Nicaragua, later exploding into the Iran-Contra affair." ...

... CW: STUPID is not funny in presidential candidates. I like Paul Waldman's comment: "Some Republican candidates say that when it comes to Iran, when they're president they'll Reagan like Reagan did, with extra Reagan.... [As for] Ronald Reagan's actual record on Iran. Here's a hint: Guess which president sold them weapons to give to terrorists?" ...

... "Die Hard Conservatives." AND here's what Paul Krugman has to say about Marco's Christmas gun that he bought to save his family from ISIS terrorists: "Adults are supposed to realize that they aren't characters in a Bruce Willis movie. But Republican presidential candidates not only have such fantasies, but are proud of them."

"New York Values." Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: "Arguments over cultural affinity are a mainstay of Republican politics, and [Ted] Cruz knows that if he's going to win, it's going to be by traveling a path where folks don't much like big-city Northeasterners, one that starts in Iowa and runs through the South. And that's what Cruz is really talking about when he mentions 'New York values' -- not a specific issue, not liberal politics, but the idea that New York is alien, different, even threatening, and the people from there just aren't our kind of people.... Ted Cruz's home town of Houston (population: 2.2 million) has more in common with New York than with, say, Osterdock, Iowa (population: 59). But bashing the big city is an easy way to tell Republican voters, 'I'm one of you.'" CW: A good deal like putting on blackface to accept the endorsement of the "Duck Dynasty" kook.

Jill Lepore argues in the New Yorker that Ted Cruz is eligible to become president "in the spirit of the Constitution," even if Ted doesn't share that spirit when it comes to everybody else. "To cling to the narrowest possible meaning of 'natural born citizen' is to cling to the narrowest possible understanding of citizenship. That may be what Cruz himself is doing. But it's not what the American people stand for." CW: Personally, I don't mind a bit seeing Cruz hoisted with his own petard.

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: President Tailgunner Ted would get rid of a lot of stuff. Like the IRS, the ACA & ISIS. CW: I suppose in Ted's mind, one is as bad as the others. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Zeke Miller of Time: "In an interview with Time in Iowa Sunday, [Chris] Christie issued a sharp rebuttal to [Ted] Cruz, who recently characterized 'the values in New York City' as 'socially liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage.' Christie called Cruz's language divisive and insulting to the people of New York and of his own state across the Hudson River, before mocking Cruz for taking money from the very people whose views he was disparaging.... 'You want to be President of the United States, you have to unite this country. And for him to somehow be implying that certain values are more appropriate, more American, depending upon what region of the country you're from, is to me just asinine.'"

Beyond the Beltway

So Cal Gas Decides Not to Set Off Catastrophic Explosion. Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times: "Southern California Gas Co. said Monday that it has abandoned a plan to capture and burn the leaking natural gas that has forced thousands of Porter Ranch residents to relocate, citing safety concerns. The announcement came just two days after the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that the company's proposal to burn the gas would be placed on hold because of the risk of a catastrophic explosion. The AQMD said the burn plan needed approval from state and federal regulators, along with fire officials."

Mara Gottfried of the St. Paul, Minnesota, Pioneer Press: "St. Paul police have placed a sergeant on leave as they investigate a report that he posted on Facebook, 'Run them over,' in response to an article about an upcoming Black Lives Matter protest. The comment detailed what people could do to avoid being charged with a crime if they struck someone during the unpermitted march on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which blocked traffic on the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A high-impact snowstorm for the [Washington, D.C.,] region is nearing inevitability and there is some chance it will be historic, paralyzing travel and disrupting normal routines. Every major computer model is now forecasting double-digit snowfall totals for the D.C. area Friday and Saturday."

New York Times: "Rescue workers on Tuesday combed the beaches and waters off the north shore of Oahu for a fifth day, searching for any sign of 12 Marines who went missing after two helicopters apparently collided last week.... It was not immediately clear what caused the helicopters to disappear. The Marine Corps has released the names of the aircrew." The article includes the names of the Marines.

Sunday
Jan172016

The Commentariat -- January 18, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Eric Levitz of New York: "If the wealthiest 62 billionaires on the planet decided to pool their resources, they could buy up every last thing owned by the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report from Oxfam. The report, which was released just as some of those billionaires were arriving in Davos for the World Economic Forum, shows that the gap between rich and poor has grown wider in recent years: In 2010, the bottom half owned as much as the richest 338 individuals.Analyzing data collected by Credit Suisse, the anti-poverty organization further reports that the global one percent controlled as much wealth as the bottom 99 percent in 2015 -- a milestone that was reached one year earlier than Oxfam had previously predicted."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The Iranian authorities held the wife and mother of the journalist Jason Rezaian without telephones for hours in a separate room at a Tehran airport on Sunday before finally agreeing under American pressure to let them leave along with prisoners released in an exchange with the United States. The last-minute conflict came close to unraveling a prisoner swap that was negotiated during 14 months of secret talks and that had already been announced to the world. In the end, Mr. Rezaian's wife and mother were permitted to fly with him to Europe later on Sunday, but the episode underscored that parts of Iran's factionalized system still strongly resist any rapprochement with the United States."

The Guardian is liveblogging the parliamentary debate about whether to ban Donald Trump from the U.K.

The horse-race touts called the Democratic debate for Bernie Sanders, by a nose.

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: President Tailgunner Tedwould get rid of a lot of stuff. Like the IRS, the ACA & ISIS.

Henry Farrell in the Washington Post: Bill O'Reilly says that if Bernie Sanders is elected president, he will move to Ireland to escape Sanders-style socialism. Yes, Ireland, where "the effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income"; where the government runs the hospitals & "everyone is entitled to free basic health care in hospitals"; where welfare benefits are far more generous than in the U.S.; & where Billo would not be able to own a handgun (luckily for his family). And the government is even promising to liberalize its draconian anti-abortion laws. Thanks to D.C. Clark for the link.

*****

Peter Baker, et al., of the New York Times: "The Obama administration announced Sunday that it was imposing new, more limited sanctions on some Iranian citizens and companies for violating United Nations resolutions against ballistic missile tests. The move came less than 24 hours after the White House lifted broader sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. The announcement, which was prepared several weeks ago but delayed by the Treasury Department, was made shortly after a Swiss plane carrying Americans freed by the Iranian authorities departed Tehran. The release of the Americans came a day after Iran and the United States concluded delicate negotiations on a prisoner exchange tied indirectly to the completion of a nuclear agreement. President Obama on Sunday hailed the agreements with Iran as the beginning of what he hoped would be a new era of constructive relations between two nations, which have been long estranged over ideology and regional ambitions":

... The transcript, via the White House, is here. CW: You'll want to read it or listen to the President's speech. Eat your hearts out, Republicans, including you, George W. Bush. ...

... And you too, Bibi. Steven Erlanger of the New York Times: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel would ensure that Tehran never obtains nuclear weapons, while also taking credit for keeping Iran from already having them." ...

... Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and two other Americans released from an Iranian prison landed Sunday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and were expected to be whisked immediately to the nearby U.S. military medical center at Landstuhl. Rezaian is accompanied by his mother and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian who was allowed to leave the country with him.... Although the prisoners were released Saturday, the Swiss Air plane that was there to take them out of Iran was delayed many hours before takeoff. Administration officials said [President] Obama waited to speak only after their departure was confirmed. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the delay was due to last-minute misunderstandings over whether Rezaian's mother, Mary Rezaian, and his wife were on the flight manifest. The departure was also complicated by flight crew rest rules, he said." ...

... Sari Horwitz, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Obama offered clemency to seven Iranians charged with violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran as part of a historic prisoner agreement with Iran that freed four Americans Saturday.... The Iranians, six of whom are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens, were imprisoned or were awaiting trial in the United States. The U.S. government dismissed charges against 14 other Iranians, all outside the United States, after assessing that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful, according to a U.S. official.... Obama insisted that none of the individuals be 'people who have been prosecuted for offenses related to terrorism ... or violent crime.'" The reporters provide some details on those who received clemency. ...

... Peter Baker, et al., tell how the negotiations for the prisoner release went down: "... it took 14 months of turbulent talks punctuated by high diplomatic drama and multiple near-collapses that paralleled the final year of nuclear negotiations." ...

     ... Carol Morello & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post tell the story from the Post's perspective. The Post was actively involved in trying to get Rezaian & his family out of Iran.

Jeffrey Collins of the AP: "The [South Carolina] NAACP said there is still more work to do to honor [Dr. Martin Luther] King[,Jr.] and the theme of this year's rally is 'education equity,' with speakers calling for South Carolina to spend more money to help students in poorer, more rural school districts, which frequently have a majority of black students. And this year's event will also include appearances by all three main Democratic presidential candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. The rally in Columbia is one of many planned nationwide recalling the legacy of King...." ...

... Muster Up, People -- It's Robert E. Lee Day. AP: "In three southern states [-- Alabama, Mississippi & Arkansas --] on Monday, civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr and civil war Confederate commander General Robert E Lee will share a common holiday. In Arkansas, however, they will do so for perhaps the final time. Asa Hutchinson, the state's Republican governor, is pushing to separate the joint celebration after critics said it is an insult to the man who fought to end racial segregation to share a day with a man who fought to preserve slavery.... In January 2015, Arkansas lawmakers defeated a bill that would have reserved the January date for King and established a memorial day, although not a holiday, for Lee in November.... Hutchinson wants lawmakers to pass legislation that gives King a day of his own...." ...

... The Native American Slave Trade. Rebecca Onion of Slate: "Europeans didn't just displace Native Americans -- they enslaved them, and encouraged tribes to participate in the slave trade, on a scale historians are only beginning to fathom.... The practice dates back to the earliest history of the European colonies in the future United States." ...

... Joan Quigley, in a Washington Post op-ed, on Mary Church Terrell, the Washington, D.C., civil rights activist whose suit to desegregate District restaurants, the Supreme Court decided in her favor in 1953, a year before its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)." CW: Brown did not arise sui generis. There were a number of desegregation cases, like this one (the NAACP brought most of them), that anticipated Brown.

Rick Hasen in the Washington Post: "... money doesn't buy elections. Instead, it increases the odds of electoral victory and of getting one's way on policies, tax breaks and government contracts. And the presidential race is the place we are least likely to see money's effects. Looking to Congress and the states, though, we can see that the era of big money unleashed by the Supreme Court is hurtling us toward a plutocracy in which the people with the greatest economic power can wield great political power through campaign donations and lobbying.... Money can matter more to the outcomes of congressional and state races because of relative scale. Millions of dollars spent in these contests can swamp the competition and help swing close elections, especially by influencing low-information voters." ...

... Tom Hamburger of the of the Washington Post reviews Dark Money, Jane Mayer's book on the Koch brothers. Even the review is riveting.

Presidential Race

Rumble! Patrick Healy & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton targeted Bernie Sanders's electoral appeal with some of her strongest language yet in a debate on Sunday night, seizing on Mr. Sanders's recent policy shifts on universal health care and gun control to try to undercut his image as an anti-political truth teller. Mrs. Clinton also repeatedly aligned herself with a former political rival, President Obama, as she sought to portray her current one, Mr. Sanders, as a fringe candidate who did not stand with Mr. Obama on major issues like Wall Street regulation. Mr. Sanders, in turn, gave no quarter as he criticized Mrs. Clinton as dishonest in her attacks." ...

... CW: I saw only a tiny portion of the debate, and in that tiny portion, here was my visceral impression: Screeching Harridan Attacks Bumbling Old Guy; Milquetoast Can't Break Up the Fight. The Bickersons & their mousy neighbor are not going to Make America Great Again, which is to say, the Democratic candidates all made Donald Trump look pretty good. But not Ted Cruz. He's still the worst. No wonder Wasserman Schultz wants to hide these people (see link below). I take it all back, Debbie. You're a trooper for the party! ...

... The Washington Post has an "annotated" transcript. Click on the highlighted text & an "annotator"'s comment/tweet pops up in a sidebar. ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York reprises some of the low moments. ...

... Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "... Bernie Sanders repeated Sunday that Bill Clinton's past marital infidelities are 'deplorable' but indicated he isn't interested in talking about them. 'That question annoys me,' Sanders said at the Democratic debate in South Carolina when asked whether he regretted calling the former president's actions 'totally disgraceful and unacceptable.'... Asked by NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell why he answered the question, Sanders said: 'I was asked a question. Then if I don't answer, then it's another front-page story. Yes, his behavior was deplorable,' Sanders continued. 'But I'm going to debate Secretary Clinton and Gov. [Martin] O'Malley on the issues facing the American people' and not on Bill Clinton's personal life." ...

... Daniel Strauss of Politico: "... Hillary Clinton didn't want to leave Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate without addressing one topic that didn't come up until she mentioned it: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's handling of a contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.... Sanders joined with Clinton in condemning Snyder's handing of the situation." ...

     ... Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: "Note that the answer came from Clinton, and not debate moderators, who can't be trusted to give environmental and climate challenges any serious attention." CW: I know that "journalists" like gonzo stories, so "earth slowly becoming inhabitable" doesn't thrill them, but isn't "governor secretly poisons & kills residents" dramatic enough for them?

... Glenn Kessler & Michelle Lee of the Post fact-check some of the candidate's claims. Their fact-check is fairly useful as they explain, among other things, Sanders' votes on gun-control legislation. ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker puts Sanders' position on gun control in the context of Vermont's history: "At least as interesting as the story of how Sanders worked to change Vermont is what he decided he was comfortable with, and not to challenge or change at all." ...

... Calvin Woodward of the AP does a brief fact-check of debate claims. ...

... Brian Beutler had a more positive view of the Democratic debate than did I -- probably helped to watch more than five minutes: "By contrast with Tuesday night's rancorous Republican primary debate, the three remaining Democratic candidates were able to argue with one another for two hours Sunday without questioning anyone's citizenship, threatening to bomb countries, or letting Donald Trump almost entirely off the hook. But one of the most fundamental political differences between the parties at the moment is that Republican officials don't want their frontrunner to win their presidential nomination, and Democrats do. And in that sense, Sunday's Democratic debate was almost as dire for professional Democrats as Tuesday's was for Republicans.... Bernie Sanders really is a formidable opponent who will be hard to fend off in Iowa and New Hampshire.... Hillary Clinton is a candidate who could pull it off." ...

... Paul Waldman (in the Washington Post) homes in, as he has done before, on the difference between Hillary's (and Obama's) pragmatism & Bernie's revolutionary vision. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Alas for the Sanders campaign..., according to the latest Gallup weekly presidential job approval tracking poll, [President Obama's] rating among Democrats is 84 percent.... It is extremely difficult for Sanders to make his case that HRC is too close to Wall Street or too militaristic or too timid on domestic policy without co-indicting the incumbent president.Hillary Clinton understands that, which is why she took so much care in the NBC debate to identify her approach to regulation of Wall Street with Obama's; to defend Obamacare in contrast to Sanders' advocacy of a single-payer health care system; to remind Democrats she was a major architect of Obama's foreign policy; and to refuse opportunities to separate herself from Obama even though some consultants probably think she'll need to do that to win a general election."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times provides a list of ways you can watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate Sunday night. NBC is broadcasting the debate live at 9 pm ET. ...

... Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Michaeleen Crowell, 41, is a policy wonk whose day job is chief of staff in Mr. Sanders's Senate office. But in her off hours these days, she is the senator's practice Hillary." ...

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on Sunday said she scheduled primary debates with the goal of maximizing media attention for the party's presidential candidates.... She said scheduling more debates would 'take away' from opportunities for voters to see candidates in person on the campaign trail.... Wasserman Schultz's comments come before Sunday night's debate on NBC, a day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on the same night as a National Football League playoff game. The next debate will come on Feb. 11, after both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary." CW: At least we know how stupid Wasserman Schultz thinks we are.

Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Bernie Sanders released the details of his 'Medicare for all' single-payer healthcare plan just two hours before the Democrats debate here on Sunday night, putting a cap on weeks of wrangling between his team and Hillary Clinton's over the plan's details."...

... ** Ezra Klein: "On Sunday night, mere hours before the fourth Democratic debate, Sanders tried to head off Clinton's attacks by releasing his plan. Only what he released isn't a plan. It is, to be generous, a gesture towards a future plan."

... Gabriel Debenedetti: "After weeks of fighting with Hillary Clinton's campaign over his gun control record, Bernie Sanders on Saturday night said he backs new legislation that amends a controversial 2005 law on which he voted to limit liability on gun manufacturers. That vote has been at the center of substantial sniping from Clinton allies, and the former secretary of state has been using it as an example of Sanders being out of step with the party on gun control. 'I'm pleased that this legislation is being introduced,' said Sanders of legislation from Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Adam Schiff." ...

... Isaac Arnsdorf of Politico: "Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday dismissed questions raised by a Hillary Clinton ally about his health and promised to release his medical records. 'Of course, we're going to release our medical records,' the Democratic presidential hopeful said on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'Thank God, I am very healthy. We will get our medical records out the same way that Secretary Clinton has gotten her records out. It is not a problem.'" ...

... Paul Krugman joins the debate on healthcare legislation & sides with Hillary Clinton for practical reasons. CW: However, Krugman does favor the public option, which -- as far as I know, & I may be wrong -- Clinton has not spoken to in this election cycle (or ever??). The public option would leave private insurance in place but would allow consumers to opt-in to a "Medicare for all" type of insurance, which is Sanders' basic proposal (update: tho, as Ezra Klein explains above, Sanders' idea actually is different from Medicare in several aspects). So Krugman, in a way, seems to be think they're both right. ...

... Kristen East of Politico: "Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz have the greatest chances of winning the Iowa caucuses two weeks from Monday, new polling-based forecasts from FiveThirtyEight show." CW: If you like statistics, you'll want to read Nate Silver's 538 piece (linked (2nd here); my eyes glazed over.

** The Ignoramuses. Fred Kaplan of Slate: "The events of the past week reveal a few things about the Republican critique of Obama's foreign policy. First, it is completely uninformed on substantive grounds: The jeremiads against the nuclear accord in particular reflect a deep-seated ignorance of what's in the nuclear deal. Second, it is completely uninformed on procedural grounds: The candidates know nothing about the diplomatic back-and-forth that produced the nuclear deal, the prisoner release, or the release earlier this week of the 10 U.S. sailors who'd somehow crossed into Iranian territorial waters. Trump rails against the 'stupid' deals concocted by 'political hacks': If the deals were what he says they are, he might have a point. But they aren't, and he doesn't."

Banned in Britain? Griff Witte of the Washington Post: Britain's House of Commons will hold a debate today on whether or not to ban Donald Trump from Great Britain. "The parliamentary debate was triggered when more than a half-million people signed an online petition arguing that Trump should be outlawed from visiting Britain because of his call last month to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Trump's proposal, petitioners said, amounted to 'hate speech.'" ...

... McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed in a New York Times op-ed: "... while [Donald Trump's] anti-Muslim provocations have rightly drawn the largest share of public outrage, Mr. Trump has in fact been using his bully pulpit throughout this election season to attack religious minorities of all stripes. He deploys this tactic on the campaign trail whenever it suits his political purposes, and his religious digs and dog whistles are often so cartoonishly retro that they sound as if they're being delivered by a billionaire Archie Bunker." CW: That's it! "a billionaire Archie Bunker." ...

... John Santucci of ABC News: "... Donald Trump is turning up the heat on his fiercest rival in the Hawkeye State -– Sen. Ted Cruz. 'I don't think Ted Cruz has a great chance, to be honest with you,' Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on 'This Week' Sunday. 'Look, the truth is, he's a nasty guy.... Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.... You can't make deals with people like that and it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country. Very nasty guy.... He's a total hypocrite.... He wants to look like Robin Hood that he's the one protecting the people from the banks while he's actually borrowing money and personally guaranteeing it and not disclosing it, which is illegal.'" With clips. ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: Chris Wallace of "Fox 'News' Sunday" takes apart Ted Cruz's "carpet-bombing ISIS" plan, but Cruz insists "We will utterly destroy them." Because "GOP candidate = saber-rattler." This does not require making any sense. ...

... LOL. Bradford Richardson: "... Marco Rubio on Sunday said he bought a firearm on Christmas Eve in order to protect his family from a potential Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist attack." CW: It's much more likely that Marco will shoot a family member than an ISIS terrorist. But since when does a presidential candidate have to be rational? ...

... Amnesty! Isaac Arnsdorf: "Sen. Marco Rubio says people who immigrated to the U.S. illegally but haven't committed any major crimes could be allowed to stay. In an interview airing Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' the Florida contender for the Republican presidential nomination said felons shouldn't be allowed to stay, but those who commit lesser crimes could still qualify. In this interview, he didn't specify whether those allowed to stay would ever be able to become citizens."

Congressional Race

Mike Lillis of the Hill: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "has infuriated many Democrats with her handling of the party's presidential primary debates. She drew further howls from liberals for deeming a whole generation of young women 'complacent' about their abortion freedoms. And now she's facing a primary challenge from a liberal Wall Street reformer who says she's a corporate shill detached from her district....Timothy Canova, a professor at the Shepard Broad College of Law in Florida's Nova Southeastern University, says Wasserman Schultz's positions on trade, criminal justice, consumer protection and drug policy reform -- among others -- are evidence that she's sold out to corporate interests at the expense of her constituents. It marks the first primary challenge to Wasserman Schultz since her arrival on Capitol Hill in 2005."

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Bethencourt of the Detroit Free Press: "As Flint's water crisis reached a new national spotlight this week, director and Flint native Michael Moore held a rally in the city on Saturday, where he accused government leaders of intentionally poisoning thousands of people. 'This is not a mistake,' Moore said of the crisis. 'Ten people have been killed here because of a political decision. They did this. They knew.'" ...

... The Free Press Editors want to see the e-mails & other Snyder administration correspondence & records regarding the Flint water contamination, even though "Michigan law privileges all of that information, shielding it from the Freedom of Information Act...." ...

... Paul Egan of the Free Press: "Last year at this time, Gov. Rick Snyder was boasting about the state;s financial accomplishments, toying with a presidential run, and delivering a State of the State address that said his administration would ensure all Michigan residents could be pulled along by Michigan's 'river of opportunity.' But as Snyder prepares to deliver his sixth State of the State address on Tuesday, his political capital has plummeted, the state is grappling with what could be a billion-dollar mistake with incalculable consequences for human lives, and his river analogy is particularly unfortunate...." ...

... Tom Sullivan, in Hullabaloo, connects the Flin"t fiasco to "The Big Short." It's about the money. Sullivan does admit, "Okay, it is not immediately clear exactly how the decision to switch Flint's water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River makes somebody money. But given the history, you can smell it." ...

... Sullivan doesn't mention it, but there's this lovely entrepreneur who hopes to make $2.4BB off California's drought, pumping water from underground sources in the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles & other Southern California cities. Rupert Neate of the Guardian reports, republished in the New Republic.

Kelly House of the Oregonian: "As the standoff led by Arizona businessman Ammon Bundy entered its third week at the refuge headquarters, accusations swirled that Child Protective Services workers had begun visiting some of the occupiers' families. Meanwhile, a visit to the refuge from land conservationists devolved into a shouting match, complete with a bullhorn and name-calling, after the group tried to address news reporters. The spectacle erupted just after occupiers arrived for a morning news briefing with a wicker basket full of surveillance cameras they removed Friday from a transformer station outside Burns." Because the cameras violate their Fourth Amendment protections. Uh-huh.

Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post: "The sexual assault case against Bill Cosby could face a new hurdle, according to CNN. As first reported on Friday, the network has revealed details of an email outlining a verbal agreement made by a former district attorney [of Montgomery County, Pa.,] assuring the comedian that the contents of his deposition in a 2005 civil proceeding would not be used against him in a criminal case."

News Ledes

CNN: "Glenn Frey, a founding member of the rock band the Eagles, has died at 67, a publicist for the band has confirmed." ...

     ... Update: A New York Times obituary is here.

AFP: "US and Iraqi authorities were searching on Monday for three Americans who were kidnapped in Baghdad, the latest group of foreign nationals abducted in recent months. The three US nationals were kidnapped from a 'suspicious apartment', a security official said, using language implying the location was a brothel."

AP: "French President Francois Hollande pledged Monday to redefine France's business model and declared what he called 'a state of economic and social emergency,' unveiling a 2-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) plan to revive hiring and catch up with a fast-moving world economy."