Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

... has been cancelled due to a change in management.

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, January 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "The world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, whisked away from the country where he built an empire that delivered tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the world." -- CW ...

     ... New York Times Update: "While most Americans were turned toward Washington and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump..., prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn held a news conference on Friday morning detailing the charges against Mr. Guzmán, who was flown out of Mexico on Thursday afternoon and arrived that night at MacArthur Airport on Long Island.... The government’s detention memo also gave an early glimpse of the case against Mr. Guzmán. It said that prosecutors planned to call several witnesses who would testify about the staggering scope of Mr. Guzmán’s criminal enterprise: including its multi-ton shipments of drugs in planes and submersibles and its numerous killings of witnesses, law enforcement agents, public officials and rival cartel members." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Washington Post: "The Kennedy Center Honors showcased the breadth of American music Sunday night [Dec. 4] with emotionally charged performances celebrating the gospel roots of Mavis Staples, the honeyed vocals of James Taylor and the Southern California harmonies of the Eagles. The 39th annual celebration of lifetime achievement in the performing arts also honored actor Al Pacino and pianist Martha Argerich in a three-hour party that offered a wistful goodbye to Barack and Michelle Obama, who were hosting their last Honors tribute. The sold-out audience stood and cheered for several minutes when the president and first lady were introduced."

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

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The Commentariat -- Oct. 25, 2014

Marc Santora of the New York Times: "The governors of New York and New Jersey announced Friday afternoon that they were ordering all people entering the country through two area airports who had direct contact with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to be quarantined." ...

... Michael Paulson of the New York Times: "Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse who became infected with Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient, walked out of a Maryland hospital on Friday, thanked God and others for her recovery, then went to the White House for a hug from President Obama before her return home to Dallas." ...

... Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: The Soviet Union once worked on developing Ebola as a biological weapon. "The research began amid intense secrecy with an ambitious effort to assess Ebola’s potential as a biological weapon, and it later included attempts to manipulate the virus’s genetic coding, U.S. officials and researchers say. Those efforts ultimately failed as Soviet scientists stumbled against natural barriers that make Ebola poorly suited for biowarfare.... Now, at a time when the world is grappling with an unprecedented Ebola crisis, the wall of secrecy surrounding the labs looms still larger...." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown [D] blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services." With audio. CW: Sherrod Brown is one of my very favorite Senators. And proof that somebody with a coif like Rand Paul's can still be a righteous smart guy. ...

... Gail Collins: "Two years after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the top gun-control priority in the United States is still background checks. There is nothing controversial about the idea that people who buy guns should be screened to make sure they don’t have a criminal record or serious mental illness.... The problem, of course, is the National Rifle Association, which does not actually represent gun owners nearly as ferociously as it represents gun sellers." Read the whole column.

The Two Faces of John Roberts -- Are Both White! Garrett Epps of the Atlantic on Chief Justice John Roberts inconsistent holdings on race: when it suits him, he says the law should be abolutely color-blind. But when a lower court concluded that the Texas voter ID the law was purposely racially discriminatory (i.e., not color-blind), Roberts let it stand anyway, so as not to inconvenience the state or something. 

"What Happened to that GOP Lawsuit?" Josh Gerstein of Politico: "It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the Capitol to the federal courthouse just down the hill, but House Republicans haven’t managed to make that trip in the four months since they announced they’d be suing the president.... Some attribute the delay to electoral politics — suggesting that Republicans were worried it could rile up the Democratic base — though the GOP is mum on why the suit has yet to be filed.... 'I thought this was a constitutional crisis and the republic was in jeopardy because Obama overstepped his bounds. Now, they can’t even get around to filing it?' asked former House Counsel Stan Brand, a Democrat. 'It, to me, emphasizes the not-serious nature of it.'”

Paul Krugman: "Profits are very high, so why are companies concluding that they should return cash to stockholders rather than use it to expand their businesses?... This kind of divergence — in which high profits don’t signal high returns to investment — is what you’d expect if a lot of those profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns on capital."

Josh Marshall of explains Sarah Palin AND Fox "News": "... Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol have now spoken out about their notorious boozy family brawl, recasting Bristol's attack on the event's host as a morality tale about violence against women and media bias.... In talking about themselves they're already railing about Hunter Biden and Chelsea Clinton and media bias and the 'war on women' and the rest. As she has since she stepped onto the national stage six years ago, Palin is the ultimate avatar of base Republican culture since she views herself as an eternal victim, with all the grievance and resentment that entails.... In very broad terms, the origin of Fox News is analogous."

** Annals of Journalism, Ctd. "When Politicians Lie." The Washington Post publishes an essay "excerpted from the Press-Enterprise Lecture [former Post editor Ben Bradlee] delivered at the University of California, Riverside, on Jan. 7, 1997."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Lynne Marek of Chicago Business: "Chicago Sun-Times journalists, whose colleague Dave McKinney resigned this week, are asking the newspaper's owners for reassurance that the latter won't seek to influence editorial content. The request comes in a petition that's posted on the reporters' union website. It follows the exit of Mr. McKinney, the Springfield bureau chief, who questioned in his resignation letter whether the newsroom is insulated from owners' interests." ...

... CW: Back in the Dark Ages when I lived in Chicago, the Sun-Times, although published in tabloid format, was a decent alternative to the righty-right-wing Tribune. Not any more, I guess. I haven't linked to it very often as (a) their Website sucks, & (b) their content is usually fairly sketchy.

November Elections

Tim Murphy of Mother Jones introduces us to Dan Patrick, the next lieutenant governor of Texas: "Man Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through 'Duck Dynasty' Is About to Be Texas' Second-in-Command." We live in one stupid, scary country. ...

... CW: How Republicans can stop the flow of immigrants without building fences: publish truthful profiles of themselves in all the major media of the world. Who would want to come to a place run by people like this?

Presidential Election

Katharine Seelye & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: The Boston Two-Step. When Hillary met Liz. Also, Martha was there. ...

... Maggie Haberman of Politico has more on the Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren offstage meeting.

The Most Interesting Man in Washington, Ctd. Paul Waldman: "... what if placating the right isn’t as hard as it appears? That question is right now being contemplated by Rand Paul, who is running for the White House harder than anybody. Paul has now given a speech outlining his foreign policy vision (which every candidate is supposed to have). The speech shows just how Paul is navigating the tension between the two competing incentives that will define his candidacy.... If you took out the five Reagan references and changed some words and phrases here and there, the speech Paul gave could have been delivered by Barack Obama. The difference between a Republican and a Democrat, apparently, is that the Republican says that we should always be prepared for war, but war should be a last resort, while the Democrat says that war should be a last resort, but we should always be prepared for war.... And also, Reagan Reagan Reagan." ...

... Steve M.: "Unless you think all the older Republicans are going to stay home while under-35s do all the voting, this is a recipe for failure in the GOP primaries." ...

... CW: I dunno. In the 2012 GOP primaries, Romney beat off a handful of professional wingers. Yeah, he said he was "severely conservative," but even the dumbest of dumb bunnies knew he was less conservative than the other candidates (including Jon Huntsman, Jr.). Somehow millions of actual severe conservatives pulled the lever for Mitt. Why? Because Mitt looked & sounded more like a president than, say, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. Winning is everything.

Beyond the Beltway

AND Anthony Weiner, who is not Rep. Anthony Weiner or Mayor Anthony Weiner is still Anthony Weiner. Jordan Sargent of Gawker: "It's been three years (only!) since Anthony Weiner's political career went limp because he sent photos of his dick to random women via social media, and yet he has still not learned how to use Twitter." CW: Actually, he's known all along how to use Twitter: as a medium for sending sexy pictures, this time "favorite-ing" a body-shot of "Sugarfuzz," a woman who urges married men to contact her "to indulge your sexual fantasies by having an affair." Calling Dr. Kate Madison.


The Commentariat -- Oct. 24, 2014

** Tim Egan: "How did we lose our democracy? Slowly at first, and then all at once.... You can trace the Great Breach to Justice Kennedy's words in the 2010 Citizens United case, which gave wealthy, secret donors unlimited power to manipulate American elections. The decision legalized large-scale bribery -- O.K., influence buying -- and ensured that we would never know exactly who was purchasing certain politicians.... At the same time that this court has handed over elections to people who already have enormous power, they've given approval to efforts to keep the powerless from voting.... We Americans have long boasted of having free and fair elections. Thanks to this Supreme Court, they are neither." (See also Open Secrets report, linked under November Elections below.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.... History says they're wrong.... The truth is that a lot of what's going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy. And it's by no means clear which side will win."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Denise Grady of the New York Times: "Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal.... The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011. It never happened.... Only now is the vaccine undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans -- with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa. Its development stalled in part because Ebola was rare.... But experts also acknowledge that the lack of follow-up ... reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to to develop products useful mostly to poor countries with little ability to pay for them." ...

... AP: "A Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus, according to preliminary test results, city officials said Thursday. He's the fourth confirmed case in the U.S.... Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old emergency room doctor, returned from Guinea more than a week ago.... He was rushed to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola center, and was being treated in a specially built isolation ward." ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Marc Santora, is here. ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE, by Marc Santora: "Disease investigators are looking for anyone who came into contact with New York City's first Ebola patient since Tuesday morning, health officials said Friday, adding they were acting out of an abundance of caution to ensure that they find anyone who might have been at risk of infection." ...

     ... Washington Post UPDATE, by Mark Berman: "The federal government is considering altering the protocols for doctors and health-care workers who return to the United States from West Africa, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Friday morning.... The possible change would come in the wake of Thursday's diagnosis of Craig Spencer, a doctor who had treated Ebola patients in Guinea, one of the countries at the heart of the Ebola epidemic." ...

... Carl Zimmer of the New York Times: "Unlike Ebola, the influenza virus is truly airborne. And if recent history is any guide, it will kill thousands in the coming months." ...

... Edgar Walters & Jay Root of the Texas Tribune: Texas Gov. Rick Perry "and other Texas leaders are pointing fingers at the Obama administration, asking for a ban on most flights from West Africa and criticizing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for weak oversight. Meanwhile, a task force Perry assembled is recommending that the state give its health officials more power to quarantine people at risk for infectious disease. Missing from the official talking points is the reality that the state of Texas had full legal power from day one to order travel restrictions or impose quarantines on nurses or other health sector workers ... but did not use that power. Seven people were isolated, but not health care workers.... Perry, who was traveling in Europe when [nurse Amber] Vinson asked Texas health officials for help getting home from Ohio, later blamed the CDC for its 'indefensible' decision allowing Vinson to board a commercial plan. But Vinson's family said she was cleared for travel both by county health officials and the CDC."

Congress May Unite against Nazis. Richard Lardner of the AP: "Legislation to stop suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits will be introduced soon, the latest response to an Associated Press investigation that revealed millions of dollars have been paid to former Nazis who were forced out of the United States. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will release details of the bill Friday.... Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., said they will propose a similar bill in the Senate." CW: Couldn't they get a Senate Republican co-sponsor? Surely, surely we can finally expect some bipartisan legislation. Via Paul Waldman. ...

... Here's the underlying AP story (October 20), by David Rising.

Juliet Eilperin & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The apprehension of a man who jumped the White House fence Wednesday night and was bitten by a guard dog highlighted one of the Secret Service's most effective weapons: its canines. Secret Service agents and K-9 units quickly subdued the latest fence jumper, whom authorities identified as Dominic Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Md., after he punched two of the Secret Service dogs, Hurricane and Jordan, authorities say."

Rachel Bade of Politico: "Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed almost all counts brought against the [IRS] in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years. Walton, a President George W. Bush-appointee, also said individual IRS officials could not be fined in their individual capacity for allowing such treatment because it could hurt future tax enforcement." The Tea party plaintiffs can appeal.

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... government lawyers ... conducted a comprehensive review of the incident [in which FBI agents and lawyers working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr first confronted Monica Lewinsky] in 2000, two years after the encounter. Their findings are contained in a report -- recently obtained by The Washington Post -- that key players had long believed was under court-ordered seal. According to the report, a prosecutor who confronted Lewinsky 'exercised poor judgment and made mistakes in his analysis, planning and execution of the approach.' The report, written by two lawyers appointed to investigate the matter by Robert W. Ray, Starr's successor as independent counsel, concluded that the 'matter could have been handled better.'... The report says prosecutors' actions did not amount to 'professional misconduct' but were more serious than mere mistakes."

Gene Robinson: "The purposes, parameters and prospects of the war [against ISIS] are increasingly uncertain. Americans have a right to be concerned about the whole enterprise.... If degrade-and-destroy is really the goal, I don't see how deeper involvement will be avoided. This has morass written all over it. And morasses, as Obama knows, are dumb."

A. O. Scott, the New York Times film critic, reviews "Citizenfour," Laura Poitras' "partial, partisan view" of Ed Snowden. Scott likes it, describing the film as "a tense and frightening thriller that blends the brisk globe-trotting of the 'Bourne' movies with the spooky, atmospheric effects of a Japanese horror film. And it is also a primal political fable for the digital age, a real-time tableau of the confrontation between the individual and the state."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Hadas Gold & Dylan Byers of Politico: "CNN's Carol Costello apologized on Thursday for joking about a police recording of Bristol Palin." CW: No, Carol, you were right the first time. These people are hilarious rubes, & only not-laughable thing about them is that one of them could have become vice president of the United States. ...

... Contra me, Arit John in Bloomberg, sees Bristol as a victim of sexual assault. But that presumes you believe her screaming, drunken claims. I don't....

... T Bogg of the Raw Story: "Yup. Forget the eyewitness accounts, the police reports, and transcripts taken from a  police interview at the scene. It's all bullshit created by a vast leftwing conspiracy out to destroy America's Favorite Snowbilly Family, and Bristol Palin is here to set the record straight because she was there, man."

November Elections

Open Secrets: "Almost $4 billion will be spent for this year's midterm election, the Center for Responsive Politics is projecting. That figure makes this year's election by far the most expensive midterm ever."

Manu Raju of Politico: “'I think Obama being so unpopular is the biggest factor in this election,' said Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster with the firm Public Policy Polling. 'And I think at the end of the day, it may be too much for a lot of the Democratic Senate candidates to overcome.'... Still, even as the map looks ripe for a GOP Senate takeover, at least 11 battleground states remain within or right at the margin of error, according to an average of public polling. That means if Democrats succeed in driving up turnout as they've vowed to do all year -- particularly in states like Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina -- they could tilt the electorate by one or two points in their direction and win enough races to hold the Senate."

Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View: "There's more evidence Obamacare is here to stay. Take a look at the governor's races in nine states where Republican candidates have a decent chance of replacing Democratic incumbents. All of these states have carried out Medicaid expansions, a major part of the Affordable Care Act. But no matter how strongly these Republican candidates claim to hate Obamacare, check out their websites: Not a single one of the nine reveals any plans to roll back Medicaid expansion."

Alaska. Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is endorsing independent Bill Walker and Democrat Byron Mallott for governor and lieutenant governor of Alaska.... The campaign said Palin endorsed the pair, who last month joined on a single ticket, at a reception she hosted Tuesday night.... The endorsement is ... a snub to the incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who served as Palin's lieutenant governor and took over as governor in 2009, after Palin stepped down. But the two have long been at odds over the state's oil tax laws." CW: Sounds like Palin's endorsement of the other guys was inspired by a grudge. That fits.

Georgia. Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "Democrat Michelle Nunn has jumped into a narrow lead in recent polling of the state's open Senate race, a slight edge driven as much by questions about Republican David Perdue's business career as the former charity executive's centrist appeal."...

... Don't get giddy. Nate Silver: "... the race will require a runoff if neither candidate wins 50 percent of the vote Nov. 4. The dynamics of a potential runoff are a bit unclear but probably somewhat unfavorable to Nunn."

Iowa. The Revolutionary. Sam Levine of the Huffington Post: "Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government. 'I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,' Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. 'But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.'" ...

... Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: "... if you think that the way to resolve policy differences or personal arguments with the government is ... through the use of violence against the government, you have announced that you have no commitment to democracy.... Ernst should be given the opportunity to elaborate -- and pressed to answer specific questions about when she thinks it's acceptable for an American citizen to use violence against representatives of the American government." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "The picture of IA GOP SEN nominee Joni Ernst that's emerging from exposure of her pre-2014-general-election utterances is of a standard-brand Constitutional Conservative embracing all the strange and controversial tenets of that creed. There's Agenda 21 madness. There's Personhood advocacy. There are attacks on the entire New Deal/Great Society legacy -- and perhaps even agricultural program -- as creating 'dependency.' And now, inevitably, there's the crown jewel of Con Con extremism: the belief that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to enable 'patriots' to violently overthrow the government if in their opinion it's overstepped its constitutional boundaries." ...

... ** Steve M.: "In an obvious way, the fact that Ernst can say this and still be the favorite to win a U.S. Senate seat is a clear example of white privilege.... Ernst feels free to make this reckless statement, to a crowd that didn't find it the least bit objectionable, because she feels pretty safe in the assumption that she'll never be called to back those words up with actions. That's because she lives in a country where, regardless of all the hotheaded rhetoric, the government never really tyrannizes people like her and her audience, i.e., heartland white people of some means.... They talk the talk, knowing they won't ever to have to walk the walk." ...

... Dylan Byers of Politico: "Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst skipped out on a scheduled meeting with The Des Moines Register on Thursday, prompting criticism from one of the paper's leading political columnists.... Rekha Basu, a Register columnist..., noted that Ernst, an Iowa state senator, had also 'begged off meetings with The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.'" ...

... Charles Pierce: "Joni Ernst, career crackpot, veteran juggler of pig testicles, and determined foe of Agenda 21, the secret UN plot to steal all our golfs, seems to have gone into a kind of delay game as she edges toward the Senate election in Iowa.... Perhaps she's down in the root cellar, stocking up the canned goods and keeping the crystal set in trim.... She's going to bring down an F-16 with her 9-mil, but she doesn't have the fortitude to stand up to the editorial board of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. She's leading in the polls, by the way."

Kansas. "The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster." Mark Binelli in the Rolling Stone: "In 2012, [Gov. Sam Brownback] enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls ... in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid." This is a long piece that also covers some of the other GOP-led near-fiascos.

Kentucky. McConnell as the Anti-Beatle -- Money Can Buy Mitch Love. One way to use that Koch, et al., dark money -- pay people to pretend they're ardent supporters. Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill (October 20): "Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) campaign is offering volunteers all-expenses-paid trips to join his bus tour and 'contribute to an enthusiastic atmosphere' at his events.... Bussing in supporters isn't a new tactic for McConnell, who has done it to fill out crowds during his previous appearances at the annual Fancy Farm picnic." ...

... Beck for Grimes. Sahil Kapur of TPM: "Glenn Beck doesn't think it would be 'all that bad for the country' if Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) loses reelection to Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).... The nationally syndicated talk radio host told his army of conservative listeners on Thursday that even though Grimes is 'gonna be worse' for America, making her a senator could be worth the price of ousting an establishment Republican whom he suggested has added 'poison' to Congress."

New Hampshire. Tim Buckland of the New Hampshire Union Leader: "The perceived threat from Ebola dominated the first portion of the second televised debate held Thursday night between U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her challenger, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown." ...

... Wolf Blitzer fact-checks Scottie:

... James Pindell of WMUR Manchester: "... in [Scott] Brown's latest campaign finance report, Brown is listed as donating $244 to his campaign on Sept. 9, the day of the Republican primary. His employer is listed as 'Commonwealth of MA' and [h]is occupation as 'state senator.'" CW: Later, Brown participated in a debate with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-Wherever) in Concord & thanked Michele Bachmann for reminding him the town was the site of the "shot heard 'round the world." Via Paul Waldman. Wait, wait, it gets worse ...

... Charles Pierce: "The other night, in a debate, and in a Real Journalism question from my man Chuck Todd, former senator McDreamy was asked why he didn't just run for the Senate from Massachusetts again.... 'Because I live here, he said as the crowd did everything but throw tomatoes.... 'I was born at the Portsmouth Naval shipyard...My mom was a waitress at Hampton Beach.' The problem is that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is in Kittery, which is in Maine. Now, there's a longstanding historical dispute over this, but as of a Supreme Court decision in 2001, the shipyard is not in New Hampshire. So Scott Brown's reason for running for the Senate in New Hampshire, and his primary rebuttal to the charge of being a carpetbagger come to New Hampshire, is that he was born in Maine. Genius!... He's leading in the latest poll, by the way." Read the whole post. It's hilarious -- except for that last jolt of reality. ...

... CW P.S. Hampton Beach actually is in New Hampshire, so good on Scottie. He's one for three, which in baseball is pretty good.

Presidential Election

Paul Waldman in the American Prospect: "... so far, no Republican has gotten nearly the good press Rand Paul has, and it sure looks like it's the product of careful planning and execution.... The other GOP candidates underestimate him at their peril."

"The Most Misunderstood Man in New Jersey." Edgar Sandoval & Larry McShane of the New York Daily News: Gov. Chris "Christie didn't back down an inch Thursday, two days after declaring -- before a firestorm of outrage -- that he was 'tired of hearing about the minimum wage.' But the governor, speaking at a Garden State diner, explained that most people missed his point.... 'The President wants to focus (on minimum wage) because he's a class warrior,' Christie said. '... Our focus should be on creating better paying jobs for everyone in our country.' Diner workers, while quick to pose for photos with Christie, said the governor lacked empathy for their plight."

Beyond the Beltway

Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "... an Amnesty International report released Thursday night ... paints a damning portrayal of the Ferguson police force, which it accuses of committing numerous human rights abuses. The report was deeply skeptical of whether Ferguson cop Darren Wilson was justified in the killing of unarmed Michael Brown, criticized Missouri law it said violates international standards and condemned the local police response for shooting tear gas, rubber bullets, intimidating protesters and restricting residents' right to peaceful assembly." The report is here.

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet, using an international meeting of Russia experts to sell Moscow's view that American meddling has sparked most of the world's recent crises, including those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'"

Washington Post: "The body found on an abandoned property outside of [Charlottesville, Virginia] has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing."

Seattle Times: "Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources. Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.... Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot. He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten." Marysville is near Seattle.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy's press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern's losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 23, 2014

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "Anticipating a takeover of Congress, Republicans have assembled an economic agenda that reflects their small-government, antiregulation philosophy.... The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.... Speaker John A. Boehner has been promoting a roster of 46 House-passed jobs bills.... But Senate Republicans -- many of whom must appeal to a broader range of voters than House Republicans ... -- chose just nine of those House measures for their own 'bipartisan jobs list.'"

Scott Higman & Steven Rich of the Washington Post: "... eight current auditors and employees ... complained about negative findings being stricken from audits [by the USAID's Office of the Inspector General (OIG)] between 2011 and 2013. In some cases, the findings were put into confidential 'management letters' and financial documents, which are sent to high-ranking USAID officials but are generally kept from public view. The auditors said the office has increasingly become a defender of the agency under acting inspector general Michael G. Carroll. Some auditors said Carroll did not want to create controversy as he awaited Senate confirmation to become the permanent inspector general. On Wednesday, Carroll withdrew his nomination, which had been pending for 16 months.... 'You don't hardly ever see this with other IGs,' [Sen.] Tom Coburn recently told The Post." CW: No, you don't hardly. Jeez!

David Beard & Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post: "Secret Service officials apprehended a person who jumped the White House fence late Wednesday. The intruder was captured well before reaching the residence." ...

... Paula Reid of CBS News: "Alleged White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C. [Tuesday] afternoon.... At the hearing it was revealed that Gonzalez had undergone a forensic mental health screening and was found to be 'not competent' to stand trial. This was unusual because at the last hearing, his lawyer, David Bos, objected to the screening, maintaining that Gonzalez was, in fact, competent.

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Four former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors were convicted Wednesday on charges stemming from a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq. Federal court jurors found one defendant guilty of murder and three others of manslaughter and weapons charges, roundly asserting that the shooting was criminal.... Seventeen Iraqis died when gunfire erupted on Sept. 16, 2007 in the crowded Nisour Square in Baghdad. The shooting inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad and helped solidify the notion that Blackwater, America's largest security contractor in Iraq, was reckless and unaccountable.... Nicholas A. Slatten, who the government said fired the first shots, was convicted of murder. The others -- Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough -- were convicted on manslaughter and firearms charges." ...

... New York Times Editors: "The verdict on Wednesday brings a measure of justice for the innocent victims and their families and offers some assurance that private contractors will not be allowed to operate with impunity in war zones. What it does not do is solve the problem of an American government that is still too dependent on private firms to supplement its military forces during overseas conflicts and is still unable to manage them effectively."

Fred Barbash & Justin Moyer of the Washington Post: The Canadian Parliament's "ceremonial" sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, 58, "kept cool amid the chaos as dozens of bullets flew in the corridors, went to his office, retrieved his weapon and ... shot a killer.... Vickers ... then walked away, gun-in hand, having 'taken care of business,' as one news outlet put it.... he has served the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for almost three decades, including a stint as director of security operations for the House of Commons...." Vickers has not spoken to the media about the incident.

Canada, You Had It Coming. Glenn Greenwald on a recent attack on Canadian soldiers: "It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country.... A country doesn't get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it.... If you want to be a country that spends more than a decade proclaiming itself at war and bringing violence to others, then one should expect that violence will sometimes be directed at you as well." CW Note: Greenwald makes the point in an update that he was not referring to the attack yesterday morning, but to an earlier car attack on two Canadian soldiers. The piece was published before yesterday's attack on a solider & on the Canadian Parliament. He's still the pundit I'd most like to punch in the mouth today.

Juan Cole: "Al-Manar reports that the legislature of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (a super-province of Iraq) has voted to send Kurdistan forces to the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane to help it fight off a concerted attack by ISIL. The vote opens the way for Iraqi Kurdistan to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Turkey is alleged to have agreed to let the Peshmerga cross Turkish territory which is quite remarkable.... So the states of the Middle East have substates, and these substates are semi-autonomous in their international decision-making, and are virtually autonomous in their military interventions. It would be like Montana sending National Guard units over into Canada to stop a feud there."

Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "All travelers who arrive in the United States from Ebola-stricken countries will be closely monitored for 21 days by public health officials starting Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said that anyone arriving from the three countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia -- will be actively monitored on a daily basis and will also face new rules about where they can travel within the United States."

Marie's Sports Report. Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "At the University of North Carolina, more than 3,100 students, many of whom were athletes, took phantom classes in a 'shadow curriculum,' netting high marks despite the fact that the classes never met and there wasn't any work beyond a final paper no one read. The scheme ran for years, between 1993 and 2011.... The matter of student-athletes gliding through school unencumbered by academic rigor is an issue often reported, but one that nonetheless persists at numerous institutions.... Not only are athletes forbidden from profiting from the lucrative sports in which they participate, but they're sometimes guided -- either tacitly or explicitly -- into courses that don't prepare them for a life outside sports." ...

... CW: When my husband taught in the Romance Languages department at UNC -- before this period -- student-athletes were directed to a phony Portugese language course. I assume they took other joke courses in other departments. The policy didn't start in 1993.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "When Politico ran an article last year titled 'What BP Owes America,' a big disclaimer was scrolled across the top of the piece: 'Opinion.' The article, written by the President of the National Audubon Society, argued that BP needed to take more responsibility for the devastating environmental effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When Politico Magazine ran an article on Wednesday titled 'No, BP Didn't Ruin The Gulf,' there was no disclaimer. The article, written by an executive of BP, argued that the Gulf of Mexico has 'inherent resilience' when it comes to oil spills and that environmentalists are overreacting about its impacts.... The article did not disclose that the article was written by BP senior vice president of communications Geoff Morrell until the bottom of the piece.... It could have to do with the fact that BP ... one of the most frequent advertisers on Politico's daily email newsletter 'Playbook.'" ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "When Morrell, a former journalist and Pentagon press secretary, joined the BP PR war in 2011, the announcement was reported by Politico's chief White House correspondent and franchise player Mike Allen, complete with glowing quotes like, 'Geoff is top notch and will serve them well.' Indeed.... Mark Leibovich's book This Town ... reports that Morrell and Allen are close friends. Of course, Politico Magazine and 'Playbook' are not directly connected, except for the fact that they are published by the same company. Politico declined to comment on the record...." ...

... Charles Pierce contrasts the was the Canadian Broadcasting Company News covers breaking news & the way American cable channels cover it. CW: In other words, Charles, CBC News covers breaking news about the same way the U.S.'s NBC, ABC & CBS networks cover it. I'm not defending 10 days of wall-to-wall coverage of a Malaysian airliner crash, but I am saying that cable news has a different charter from CBC News's brief, & if the U.S. cable news networks have intelligent, knowledgeable discussions of events even when the news is way past "broke," that seems okay to me. But, yes, of course I'd like to see "Today in Alberta." There's a reason CBC News is publicly-supported -- not many viewers outside Alberta will stick around for "Today in Alberta." Capitalism is awesome, my friend.

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. David Carr of the New York Times on Ben Bradlee's charmed, charming life.

Politico Magazine publishes an excerpt of Richard Norton Smith's biography of Nelson Rockefeller, this chapter on the 1964 GOP convention.

Right Wing World

The Confederate States of Reagan. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide Douglas MacKinnon ... called for a movement of states, starting with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to establish a new country that will adhere to the Religious Right's political agenda. Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included ... because 'there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.'... MacKinnon specifically cited advances in gay rights as a reason for Southern states to leave the U.S.... MacKinnon repeated his view that a new country should be formed, and even proposed an 'interim name' for the ultraconservative breakaway nation: 'Reagan.'" CW: "Traditional family values" is just another term for treason. That's okay. Ta-ta, South Carolina, et al. But, really, please take Texas with you. See safari's comments below.

The Gohmert Gazette

I've had people say, 'Hey, you know, there's nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks.' Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it's a different kind of fighting, it's a different kind of war and if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you're not going to last very long. It's guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that's what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did ... as people have said, 'Louie, you have got to understand, you don't even know your history.' Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It's not a good idea. -- Rep. Louie Gohmert, an elected representative of the people

November Elections

What Elections? Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Hadas Gold of Politico: "ABC's 'World News Tonight' hasn't mentioned the midterm elections in its broadcast since Sept. 1, a study published Wednesday by the conservative-leaning watchdog group Media Research Center found. In the same time period, 'CBS Evening News' and 'NBC Nightly News' mentioned the midterms 14 and 11 times, respectively, MRC found. It's a significant drop when compared to the same period during the 2006 midterms, when ABC mentioned the midterms 36 times, CBS mentioned them 58 times and NBC mentioned the midterms 65 times."

Gail Collins: "Women are big this election season. No group is more courted. It's great! The issues are important. Plus, we all enjoy the occasional pander."

Illinois. John Dodge of CBS Chicago: Dave McKinney, "a top political reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times, resigned on Wednesday, and pointedly accused [GOP gubernatorial nominee] Bruce Rauner's campaign aides of intimidation and interference with his reporting and called into question the newspaper's independence." ...

... McKinney's statement & account of his treatment at the Sun-Times is here.

Kentucky. Manu Raju of Politico: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to go back on the air in Kentucky after the party has been encouraged by new polls suggesting the race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is within reach. The party committee is reserving $650,000 in airtime to boost Alison Lundergan Grimes after reviewing recent internal and public polling, a DSCC official told Politico. The polling, the source says, suggested that undecided voters are moving in the Democrat's direction."

South Dakota. David Montgomery of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "A year and a half after state officials first became aware of an FBI investigation into South Dakota's EB-5 program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday confirmed that the investigation remains 'active.'... U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds has been attacked for his handling of South Dakota's EB-5 program as governor -- though Rounds has said he hasn't been questioned by law enforcement despite his willingness to do so, and doesn't believe he's a target of the investigation." ...

... In mid-September, the Democratic party of South charged that "Joop Bollen committed an act of fraud under Board of Regents Fraud policy that has earned him and his partners over $140 million managing the EB5 citizenship-for-sale program with the approval of Governor Mike Rounds, according to sources unveiled by Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)." ...

... The extremely complicated story set to music: ...

Texas. Andrew Cohen, in the Los Angeles Times: "... the Texas [voter ID] law, one of the most discriminatory voting laws in modern history, runs afoul of constitutional norms and reasonable standards of justice.... Lawmakers -- and for that matter the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court judges ... -- were shown mountains of evidence on what the law's discriminatory impact would be on minority communities.... Only three justices on the Supreme Court -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- had the courage to call the high court's ruling the sham that it is."

Presidential Election

Christie Plans to Rig 2016 Election. Melissa Hayes & Herb Jackson of the Bergen Record: New Jersey "Governor [Chris] Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they're the ones controlling 'voting mechanisms' going into the next presidential election.... 'Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist?" CW: Yeah, great example, Chris. At least you're living up to your promise to "tell it like it is." Not many elected officials would admit they planned to fix a presidential election. ...

... Charles Pierce answers Christie's question(s).

Top-Job Killer. Brian Faler of Politico: "Jeb Bush ... has said he could accept tax increases in a hypothetical deficit-cutting deal. Never mind that he added that would come only in exchange for major federal spending cuts, or that he repeatedly cut taxes as governor. Tax hikes are still apostasy in Republican circles, and the stance could be a big problem for Bush if he decides to seek the party's presidential nomination in 2016." CW: In the Party of No, saying anything even slightly reasonable & responsible is makes you toxic.

Beyond the Beltway

More Secession! Javiar de Diego of CNN: "City of South Miami commissioners have approved a resolution that calls for splitting Florida in half. The resolution outlines a new state, made up of 24 counties in the southern part of the peninsula. The split would be along the Interstate 4 corridor. Specifically, commissioners want Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Orange and Brevard to become the border counties of the state of South Florida." Via Charles Pierce. Pierce's "Laboratories of Democracy" round-up (linked) is particularly rich today.

Kimberly Kindy & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer's gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown's body.... More than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson's account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation.... Some of the physical evidence -- including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests -- also supports Wilson's account of the shooting..., which cast Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer's life." ...

... Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times: "The U.S. Department of Justice condemned the leaks [of evidence given in the Darren Wilson grand jury investigation] Wednesday as 'irresponsible and highly troubling' and said, 'There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.'... Chris King, managing editor of the St. Louis American, a newspaper for black audiences, said law enforcement officials had offered him the leaks, saying 'they had been briefed on the evidence and it didn't look good for Michael Brown supporters,' but he declined and decried 'third-party hearsay' in an editorial for the paper."

Scott Williams of the Green Bay, Wisconsin, Press-Gazette: "A Green Bay alderman[, Chris Wery,] has apologized to a Muslim resident for responding to her inquiry about public bus service with questions about her political beliefs and whether she condemns Islamic terrorism.... 'I phrased it wrong. It was the wrong setting,' he told Press-Gazette Media." CW: No, Chris, racist queries & other objectionable remarks are not piss-poor "phrasing" or instances of inappropriate "settings." They are what they are, no matter how or in what "setting" you "phrase" them. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Today in Gun Etiquette. Joe Dejka of the Omaha World-Herald: "Now graduating seniors attending a central Nebraska school district are free to pose with firearms for their school yearbook picture, as long as it's done tastefully."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."

Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada&'s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal -- a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...

... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 22, 2014

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "The Obama administration has announced America's first Ebola-related travel restrictions, forcing passengers originating from affected countries in west Africa to fly via US airports with screening procedures in place. The limited move comes after days of mounting political pressure to introduce outright travel bans on such passengers entering the US, but will instead make sure all recent travellers to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea are subject to basic tests for fever and face questioning on possible exposure to the disease." ...

     ... Here's the statement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York reports on some of "the most ignorant" Ebola panic episodes. ...

... This lady got the materials for her homemade hazmat outfit at J. C. Penney's. Luckily, no Ebola carriers spit on her exposed wrists. That we know of. ...

... Rachel Abrams of the New York Times: "Major manufacturers of personal protective equipment say they have already experienced a significant spike in demand for their products, as hospitals across the country brace for potential new cases of Ebola, which has already killed more than 4,500 people." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "The Dallas hospital that has treated three Ebola patients will no longer admit anyone who has been infected with the disease, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday. Texas health officials are creating a pair of new Ebola treatment centers to handle any additional cases. Neither of those facilities are at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which has been heavily criticized for its flawed care of the country's first Ebola patient." ...

     ... CW: Perry might have acted sooner to establish these treatment centers, but he was out of the country giving speeches about American exceptionalism. ...

... NBC News: "Ashoka Mukpo, the cameraman diagnosed with Ebola while working in Liberia as a freelancer for NBC News, has been declared free of the virus and will be allowed to leave a biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center on Wednesday, the hospital said Tuesday."

Washington Post Editors: Recent studies have found that mountaintop-removal mining not only has adverse environmental consequences for vast areas surrounding the operations but also creates killing health conditions. "The EPA is right to move more firmly to protect health and environment."

Erica Werner of the AP: "A new government investigation questions a bizarre Secret Service mission that pulled agents from their assignment near the White House and sent them to the rural Maryland home of a headquarters employee embroiled in a personal dispute with a neighbor. The report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general calls the conduct 'problematic,' and says that the employee's friendship with high-level Secret Service officials creates the appearance it was motivated by personal relations 'rather than furthering official government functions.'"

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett in the American Conservative: President "Obama has governed as a moderate conservative -- essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today." ...

     ... CW: Bartlett ticks off a list of Obama's conservative policy preferences, all of which I've pointed out over the years. In a world where Congressional Republicans weren't crazed, hateful ideologues, Obama would have overseen the enactment of a lot of fairly conservative legislation, but some of it -- educational enhancements, job training, infrastructure improvement, immigration reform, stricter across-the-board regulation, etc. -- would have benefited some lower- & middle-class people. And we all would be living in a better economy. The Party of No has proved to the greatest American shame (& sham) of the past half-century.

Annals of Journalism

Robert Kaiser of the Washington Post: "Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post's transformation into one of the world's leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93." ...

... The New York Times' obituary of Bradlee is here. ...

A letter from a WashPo reader, ca. 1977, to editor Katherine Graham:

Dear Mrs. Graham:

Messrs. Eugene Meyer and Philip L. Graham must be turning over in their graves because of the way you are dragging down what used to be a wonderful newspaper.

In my humble opinion, I think the persons really responsible for the Washington Post's decline are Benjamin C. Bradlee and Philip L. Geyelin.

Beneath it was Ben’s response:

Dear Mr. Dodderidge:

Your letter to Mrs. Graham reminded me of the story about W. C. Fields sitting with a drink in his hand in his garden one afternoon.

His secretary interrupted him repeatedly to tell him that a strange man wanted to see him and refused to say what he wanted to see him about. Finally Fields told his secretary to give the man 'an equivocal answer -- tell him to go fuck himself.'

Via Jeff Himmelman, in New York.

In a Time essay, Jill Abramson remembers Bradlee.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

The Anti-Cronkite -- The Least Trusted Man in News. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they don't trust Rush Limbaugh when it comes to news about government and politics, giving the radio personality the highest untrustworthiness rating of 36 news sources included in a recent Pew Research Center Study. Americans overall are three times more likely to say they distrust Limbaugh than to say they trust him." ...

... Amy Mitchell, et al., of Pew Research: "When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study." ...

... Paul Waldman: "One of the distinct things about the Pew results is that conservatives love, love, love Fox News, while no single news outlet has the same kind of near-universal use among liberals." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... assessing the importance of Fox News involves more than just looking at ratings. Its extraordinary central role in 'informing' the ideological 'base' of one of the country's two major political parties is unparalleled."

CW: You might like to read Driftglass on Brooks to remind yourself why you don't read David Brooks' columns. The gist of it: once again Brooks faults the breakdown of society for our most recent ill -- this time, Ebola panic -- without every acknowledging that (a) prominent members of his beloved Republican party, along with the rank-and-file wacko-birds, have been feeding the flames of fear for political advantage, or (b) that a dysfunctional society (this week Brooks is blaming "segmented society") is, in part, the result of GOP policies.

CW: I'm quite supportive of James Risen of the New York Times in his troubles with the Obama administration, which for years has been pressuring him in myriad ways -- including threats of criminal prosecution -- to reveal his sources in a chapter of his book (a story he originally wrote for the Times, which the Times decided not to publish) about a CIA plan to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. While this should not affect Risen's righteous First Amendment beef with the DOJ, it's worth noting that Risen isn't as concerned about other people's rights as he is his own. Risen -- along with Jeff Gerth, who "broke" the Whitewater story & whose reporting on that has since been largely discredited -- fingered Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee as a Chinese spy based on "slim evidence, quick conclusions and loyalty to sources with an ax to grind," as Eric Boehlert wrote in Salon in 2000: "... the entire premise of the New York Times' early news reports and strident editorials -- proclaiming that a Chinese-American scientist inside Los Alamos had given away nuclear secrets that had dramatically helped China improve its arsenal, and that the Clinton administration could have stopped it but chose not to -- had turned out to be flat wrong." Eric Holder was a top DOJ guy in the Clinton administration. I wonder if the grief the government is giving Risen now is payback for the embarrassing -- & expensive -- rabbit hole down which Risen's reporting led federal law enforcement agencies.

** Fred Kaplan of Slate: "If all I knew about Edward Snowden were his portrait in Laura Poitras' documentary, Citizenfour, I'd probably regard him as a conscientious, brave young man, maybe an American hero. But Poitras, a very talented filmmaker who flipped from journalist to collaborator in this story long ago, has chosen to leave a lot out."

Greg Miller
of the Washington Post: "Former CIA director Leon E. Panetta clashed with the agency over the contents of his recently published memoir and allowed his publisher to begin editing and making copies of the book before he had received final approval from the CIA.... Panetta's decision appears to have put him in violation of the secrecy agreement that all CIA employees are required to sign and came amid a showdown with agency reviewers that could have derailed the release of the book...." CW: Evidently Panetta was in a hurry to get the book out before the midterms.

November Elections

Vote Early. The POTUS might give you a smooch:

... P.S. No matter who you are, you will be asked for ID:

Worse than the Poll Tax. Jonathan Chait: "... the costs of contemporary voter I.D. requirements, even in inflation-adjusted terms, is many times the level of the poll taxes that existed before they were outlawed in 1964." CW: Read the whole post. Chait has a lot more to say about voter suppression, but this factoid jumped out at me. ...

... Matthew McKnight of the New Yorker on the Supreme Court's decision to allow Texas to impose a discriminatory voter suppression law: "... this moment, of threatened voting rights and judicial obscurity, presents a paradox: the strongest tool that citizens possess is being made impotent by the government officials who are most immune to the power of the vote."

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch profiles "five Republican Congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled 'establishment,' some 'Tea Party,' but all are emblematic of the party's strong turn to the right." One is worse than the next.

Florida. Nah-ne-na-nah-ni. You're too rich. No, you're too privileged. Charlie Crist & Rick Scott "debate." Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Scott's net worth was more than $132 million last year Crist's was $1.2 million." Steve Bousquet & Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald & Tampa Bay Times: "For a live hour on CNN and in TV stations across Florida, Scott and Crist disagreed, distorted each others' records and exchanged insults."

Georgia. Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post: "Republican David Perdue, the Georgia businessman running for U.S. Senate, has as much as $1 million invested in an exclusive fund managed by a Swiss private bank -- a rarefied investment strategy that has earned him between $100,000 and $1 million since 2012." Via Greg Sargent. CW: Please, Georgia media, pick up this story. Nobody likes a tax cheat.

Iowa. Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: At a campaign event with Donald Trump, Rep. Steve King (RTP-Iowa) "went on a long tirade claiming that America is becoming 'a third-world country' because of 'the things that are coming at us from across the border,' including illegal drugs, Central American children of 'prime gang recruitment age,' ISIS, a childhood respiratory illness that has spread in recent weeks, and the Ebola virus. The ISIS and respiratory disease claims are based on unsubstantiated reports in the right-wing media, while there is absolutely no link between border enforcement and Ebola or the Oklahoma beheading incident."

New Hampshire. Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe: "... incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown engaged in a fiery debate. Shaheen attacked Brown ... as someone driven by his own ambition rather than a desire to serve New Hampshire residents.... Brown painted Shaheen as a lockstep partisan, tying her to President Obama, who has grown unpopular in New Hampshire." OR, as Greg Sargent puts it, "Brown robotically repeat[ed] Obummer-Obummer-Obummer talking points."

North Carolina. Greg Sargent: GOP Senate nominee Thom "Tillis is now suggesting that North Carolina should consider opting in to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Which is funny, because during the GOP primary, he ran an ad boasting that as state House speaker, he had 'stopped Obamacare's Medicaid expansion cold.'"

Wisconsin. I don't want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife. -- RNC co-chair Sharon Day, who might not be as sharp as a knife

Presidential Election

Another Potential GOP Presidential Candidate Is "Tired of Hearing about the Minimum Wage." This week, it's Chris Christie (who told it to the fat cats at a Chamber of Commerce event.) Last week it was Scott Walker. (And of course Walker's sidekick, the state's GOP attorney general nominee Brad Schimel, reflecting Scottie's "values," thinks minimum wage jobs are not "real jobs.") CW: It all makes sense, see? If you don't have a "real job," you don't merit a "real living wage." You have to be satisfied with the fake one the Walker administration came up with: $7.25/hour. Never mind that researchers have calculated that a minimum living wage in Madison is $21/hour, or almost three times the Walker claim. It's all fake, see -- your job, their calculation. That's the way it is in Right Wing World, where their perception is your reality. ...

... Tim Alberta of the National Journal: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched a preemptive strike Tuesday against some potential Republican rivals for the White House, saying the 'experiment' of promoting a lawmaker to president has failed -- and arguing that Republicans must nominate a governor in 2016.... The remarks may well represent Christie's most forceful intra-party offensive to date, a preemptive and unprompted attack against unnamed 'legislators' -- including Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz -- who almost certainly will be competing with him in 2016." ...

... CW: Christie, like Joni Ernst, says, "Pain will be involved. Some people will be unhappy" under his governance. It's hard not to notice a decided sadistic strain running through Republican political philosophy. Both Ernst & Christie describe the pain they intend to inflict upon their constituents as a demonstration of strength: Ernst uses the term "intestinal fortitude"; Christie sees hurting people as a measure of "leadership": "It's time to start offending people," he boasts. "I don't care if I'm loved; I want to be respected."

Ron Paul, Still Marching to His Own Drummer. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Ron Paul on Monday said that calls for a ban on travel from West African countries affected by Ebola are primarily 'politically motivated' -- just days after his son Sen. Rand Paul announced his support for one."

Beyond the Beltway

Preying on the Poor. Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Over the last two years, lawmakers in at least eight states have voted to increase the fees or the interest rates that lenders can charge on certain personal loans used by millions of borrowers with subpar credit. The overhaul of the state lending laws comes after a lobbying push by the consumer loan industry and a wave of campaign donations to state lawmakers." CW: No, these legislators have no shame. They're just as bad as the usurers themselves.

Charles Pierce adds some historical context to the (Allegedly) Felonious Mike story out of Alabama, with more than a cameo appearance of Karl Rove. One thing that unites the GOP establishment in these red states -- they are all dirty rotten scoundrels. ...

... Ferinstance. Lauren McGaughy of the Houston Chronicle: "Former David Dewhurst [R] campaign manager Kenneth 'Buddy' Barfield is facing up to 28 years in prison and millions in fines and restitution payments after pleading guilty Tuesday to embezzling nearly $1.8 million from the outgoing lieutenant governor's failed 2012 bid for U.S. Senate. Appearing before a federal judge, Barfield pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, filing a false tax return and embezzlement. While he faces a maximum of 28 years in prison, seven years supervised release and fines, his ultimate sentence will be determined by a district court judge at a later date." Barfield now lives in Alabama.

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation [into Michael Brown's death], reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it 'does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.'... Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy 'supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.' She added, 'If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he's going for the officer's gun.' Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown's blood had been found on [Officer Darren] Wilson's gun. Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up."

This is the Palin family explaining to the cops what-all happened in the Palin family's Saturday night brawl. Also illustrates that cops do earn their pay. The accounts -- if you can make them out -- differ radically from what other witnesses said, no doubt because the truth is what you will in Right Wing World. Also, describing a fist fight requires a whole lotta swearing & yelling & interrupting everybody else:

... Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch News has a lot more. "Real America" turns out to be a horrible place.

News Ledes

Hill: "The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters took possession of a stray bundle of U.S.-airdropped weapons and other supplies in the Syrian border town of Kobani earlier this week."

New York Times: "The heart of the Canadian capital [Ottawa] was traumatized and placed in emergency police lockdown on Wednesday after a gunman fatally wounded a soldier guarding the National War Memorial, entered the nearby Parliament building and fired multiple times before he was shot and killed. It was the second deadly assault on a uniformed member of Canada's armed forces in three days. While the motive was unclear, the Ottawa attack heightened fears that Canada, a strong ally of the United States, had been targeted in an organized terrorist plot." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities. Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a 'high-risk traveller' by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized -- the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car." The page includes links to related stories. ...

... Here's the Guardian's live feed.

Guardian: "A three-month old baby was killed and eight other people wounded in Jerusalem -- one seriously -- in what Israel police are describing as a 'terrorist attack' in which a speeding car drove onto a pavement crowded with pedestrians alighting from the city's light railway. Video footage posted on social media appears to show a car on the main road slowing slightly before crossing to the train tracks and climbing on to the station pavement and ploughing through the people standing on it."