The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, September 3, 2015.

AFP: "Embattled Guatemalan President Otto Perez announced his resignation Thursday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for allegedly masterminding a huge fraud scheme."

New York Times: "Five Chinese Navy ships were sailing in international waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, in what Pentagon officials said was the first such foray by Beijing. The move came on the last day of President Obama’s three-day visit to Alaska.... The White House said that the intent of the Chinese operation was unclear, but that the Pentagon had not detected any threatening activities."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
September 3

1:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

7:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden delivers a lecture in Atlanta, Georgia (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Over there on the "liberal" teevee channel MSNBC, they are expanding "Morning Joe," starring the Clinton impeachment guy, to a four-hour gig.

Making Iced Tea out of Lemons. Not originally intended for publication. A friend of mine had some electrical work done on her house. She told me yesterday she was awaiting the inspector. Today in an e-mail titled "Inspector A Hole," she wrote, "Well, the inspector came early this morning.... He saw the gate closed and left. He did not ring the doorbell."

I wrote back, "I think when he arrived -- even if he didn't tell you what time he was coming -- you were supposed to be standing at the gate smiling, wearing an attractive outfit & holding out a tray of iced tea & cookies for him. A neat 'Welcome, Inspector A. Hole' sign would have been nice, too."

 A few minutes later, she responded with this:

You can't let the bastards get you down. Which helps explain why I so often post links to the most ridiculous inanities & hypocrisies coming out of the mouths of pols & pundits.

New York Times: "Bloomberg News laid off as many as 90 journalists on Tuesday[, Sept. 1,] in its newsrooms in New York, Washington and across the world, part of a plan to refocus the organization’s coverage on business, finance, economics, technology and politics. The rationale for the dismissals was outlined in a lengthy memo to the staff from Bloomberg’s new editor in chief, John Micklethwait."

Maureen Dowd: Trump has got the best of Jeb! & Hillary: "Trump’s 'gusto,' as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary. Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics."

The Oliver Brief. We do note, however, that the so-called 'Insular Cases,' which established a less-than-complete application of the Constitution in some U.S. territories, has been the subject of extensive judicial, academic, and popular criticism. See, e.g., Juan Torruella, The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid, 77 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 1 (2008); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CesHr99ezWE. -- Footnote, Paeste v. Guam, Ninth Circuit Judge Marsha S. Berzon

Jordan Golson of Wired: "Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage. The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars — there’s no flying beams of light, no 'pew! pew!' sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down. People keep flying their drones where they shouldn’t.... Luckily, there haven’t been any really bad incidents — that is, no one has been killed by a civilian quadcopter or plane, yet."

"The cream cheese is too damn much." Scott Lemieux and I agree.

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

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Sunday
May262013

The Commentariat -- May 27, 2013

On Memorial Day, Juan Cole remembers conscientious objector Henry David Thoreau.

hollowed: having an indentation or inward curve
hallowed
: holy, consecrated, sacred, revered

-- Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Of Course They Were "Targeted." Nicholas Confessore & Michael Luo of the New York Times: "Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications. But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review." ...

     ... CW: congratulations to the Times for finally getting around to the crux of the controversy, something liberal writers have been on top of since the "scandal" broke. Also, good on the editors for making this a front-page story. (Plus, let's not forget the other part of the story: all 3 branches of government contributed to giving IRS functionaries an impossible task, then derogates them for doing the best they can with a mess of the accusers' making.) ...

... T. Steelman of Addicting Information: Fox "News," "the same network that is up in arms over this whole IRS 'scandal,' ..., in July of 2011 ... was on a campaign to have Media Matters' non-profit status revoked." Fox on-air personalities were teaching listeners how to complain to the IRS about Media Matters' tax status & urging them to spam the IRS. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

     ... CW: Fox "News"s attempt to get the IRS to revoke Media Matters' tax-exempt status is not entirely analogous to the current controversy. The IRS reviews of 501(c)(4) applications were not about revoking any group's tax-exempt status, but rather about determining if these organizations should be "pre-cleared" to conceal the names of their donors. AND the IRS was not exclusively flagging right-leaning groups for this "pre-clearance" status. While I don't agree with the Supremes' interpretation that money = speech, even accepting that as a given, the First Amendment does not guarantee anonymous free speech. Nino & the Gang would agree with me on that. So what Fox was doing to Media Matters -- had the IRS bit -- would have had a much more serious direct financial impact on Media Matters than would an IRS review of Tea Party R-Us (c)(4) status.

Thanks to Jeanne B. for the lesson. CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE. It's worth it.

I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year's Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas. -- Bob Dole, on today's GOP ...

... Bernie Becker of the Hill: "Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) on Sunday sharply criticized both his own party and the Senate he served in for close to three decades. Asked on 'Fox News Sunday' if the Senate was broken, Dole responded that 'it is bent pretty badly.'"

... Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog points out that Dole himself, according to a 1998 New York Times report, masterminded & orchestrated "a form of scorched-earth partisan warfare unprecedented in modern political life." That is to say, the party has simply gone from bad to worse.

Ben Ambruster of Think Progress: Peter King (R-N.Y.) "The House Homeland Security Committee chairman, said on Sunday that he was 'offended' that President Obama considered moral questions about U.S. counterterrorism policy in his major speech on national security last week.... Civilian casualties as the result of drone strikes, lack of transparency in the President's targeted killing program, and indefinite detention without charge or trial and torture-like force-feeding at Guantanamo, these are all issues Obama sought to address in his speech last week and ones Peter King seemingly could [sic.] care less about. In fact, he said 'we should be proud' of U.S. counterterror policy and 'defend what we're doing and stop apologizing for America.'" ...

... CW: I'm not surprised King was upset by Obama's speech. As Jane Mayer of the New Yorker pointed out last week, Obama rejected the cowboy/"might is right" mentality that underlay the Bush administration's foreign policy. Worse than Bush, King has a sickening jingoistic worldview, bashing Muslims at every opportunity, something that Obama also clearly rejects. American foreign policy is supposed to follow moral guidelines -- we used to pride ourselves on that (even when the pride was unjustified) -- but King & his ilk are not ashamed to put raw power before morality. There's little difference between his POV & that of any two-bit despot. He does help explain why the right hates & fears the United Nations -- because its charter is to promote peace & tolerance among all nations, with no special exception for U.S. interests.

Paul Krugman: "... it does look as if there's an Obamacare shock coming: the shock of learning that a public program designed to help a lot of people can, strange to say, end up helping a lot of people -- especially when government officials actually try to make it work." ...

... CW: one possible outcome -- further dividing the country along red state/blue state lines. People in red states will envy/resent the lucky duckies who live in blue states where health insurance is affordable, but that won't make red-staters demand that they get the same deals. Conservatism thrives on existential resentment, so this will just be one more tick on a long list going back to the War of Northern Aggression -- & before. ...

... Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Wall Street investors hungry for advance information on upcoming federal health-care decisions repeatedly held private discussions with Obama administration officials, including a top White House adviser helping to implement the Affordable Care Act. The private conversations show that the increasingly urgent race to acquire 'political intelligence' goes beyond the communications with congressional staffers that have become the focus of heightened scrutiny in recent weeks." ...

 

... Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "... even as Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of the New York archdiocese] insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade." CW: somehow the Church manages to tolerate the intolerable when it is in its interest to do so. The fact that unions have been able to muscle the archdiosese into covering women's health needs is another example of why they are important & why the successful efforts to squelch them have been devastating to ordinary Americans.

Phillip O'Connor of the Oklahoman: "President Barack Obama came to Oklahoma on Sunday to comfort grieving families, laud the work of emergency responders and offer assurances that the nation stands ready to assist with recovery from last week's deadly tornadoes."

     ... Video of the President's full remarks is here.

Congressional Races

Politico Sounds the Alarm. James Hohmann of Politico: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) "looked to be a top GOP pickoff target next year after his agonizing seven-month recount and legal battle put him in the Senate in 2009 by a mere 312 votes. Yet, in a turnabout few could've predicted, Franken has yet to draw a Republican opponent.... Franken's success so far fending off a serious challenger speaks to the broader recruitment challenge Republicans face in 2014.... Also of help: Minnesota — genuinely purple a decade ago -- has taken on a more bluish hue. And the state Republican Party is reeling, debt-ridden and seeking to find its way after its Ron Paul-affiliated Senate nominee lost to Sen. Amy Klobuchar by 34 points in November."

Local News

Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post on how North Carolina is becoming a model for an ultra-conservatives agenda because Republicans control both houses & the governorship, thanks in some part to the financial support of multimillionaire Art Pope, whom Gov. Pat McCrory made the state's budget chief.

Three strikes and you're out. A great university with great students and alumni deserve better. From the mishandling of the Rice situation to the Eddie Jordan thing, where they didn't know that he didn't have his degree, to a woman who can't remember that every member of her volleyball team called her to leave. You remember that on your death bed. She should go, too. You can't make this stuff up. -- Former New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey (D), calling on Rutgers President Richard Barchi to resign ...

... Craig Wolff of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "Political leaders from across the state reacted with a mix of dismay and astonishment yesterday that Rutgers found itself flush with yet-more controversy after Julie Hermann, the school's athletic director in waiting, had been accused of mental and verbal abuse by former players while she was the volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee.... Gov. Chris Christie told NBC on Sunday morning in Asbury Park that he will 'be asking questions' about Hermann's past and of Rutgers officials."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Designs for many of the nation's most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, according to a report prepared for the Pentagon and to officials from government and the defense industry."

New York Times: "Divisions among European Union foreign ministers on Monday prevented the renewal of the arms embargo on Syria, raising the possibility of a new flow of weapons to rebels fighting to bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad."

Washington Post: "Hoping to use economic promise as a bridge to a peace deal between Palestinians and Israel, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced an estimated $4 billion economic development proposal for the West Bank on Sunday that he said could cut the 21 percent unemployment rate by two-thirds."

AP: " Washington state plans to install within weeks a temporary fix for an interstate highway bridge that crumpled after being hit by a truck, tossing cars and people into a chilly river but causing only minor injuries. Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that the temporary spans for the Interstate 5 bridge will be installed across the Skagit River by around mid-June, if plans go well." Seattle Times story here.

Reuters: "Heavy fighting raged on Monday around the strategic border town of Qusair, [Syria,] and the capital Damascus, amid renewed reports of chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces."

Reuters: "A gunman randomly firing from his pickup truck killed one person and wounded five, including the sheriff of Concho County, Texas, on Sunday before the suspect was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, officials said. Authorities recovered an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the suspect, who was said to be 23 years old and from North Carolina. The name was withheld pending notification of relatives, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement." ...

     ... Update: " A Texas gunman who killed one person and wounded five others before being shot to death by police was stationed at a North Carolina Marine base, the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Monday. The gunman was identified as Esteban Smith, 23, who was stationed at Camp Lejeune...."

Saturday
May252013

The Commentariat -- May 26, 2013

David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in a New York Times op-ed: "Fifty years ago, on Memorial Day in 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that foreshadowed profound changes that would be achieved in only 13 months and that mark us still." CW: I discovered this speech about 5 years ago; it was remarkable, not just because Johnson was the leading politician of the "Solid South," but also because the President whom Johnson served was not nearly so advanced, at least in his public statements. Here's the full text.

Ethan Bronner, et al., of the New York Times: "The emerging details of [leak] cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts."

Maureen Dowd doesn't let down Robert Gibbs, who complained last week that she always writes the same column. Today's column: "... Obama is trying to escape the shadow of the Bush presidency just as W. is trying to escape the shadow of the Bush presidency." Dowd tours Dubya's library: "You could fill an entire other library with what's not in W.'s."

Everybody's favorite whiney professor, Jonathan Turley, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.... The vast majority of 'laws' governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats." Turley suggests Republicans are right to block Richard Cordray's confirmation because he's to head up yet another agency with too much power.

AP: "The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday the bridge collapse in Washington state is a wake-up call for the nation. 'This is a really significant event and we need to learn from it, not just in Washington but around the country,' Debbie Hersman said after taking a boat ride on the Skagit River below the dramatic scene where a truck bumped against the steel framework, collapsing the bridge and sending two vehicles and three people falling into the chilly water." ...

... Mike Baker & Joan Lowy of the AP: "Thousands of bridges around the U.S. may be one freak accident or mistake away from collapse, even if the spans are deemed structurally sound. The crossings are kept standing by engineering design, not supported with brute strength or redundant protections like their more modern counterparts. Bridge regulators call the more risky spans 'fracture critical,' meaning that if a single, vital component of the bridge is compromised, it can crumple."

Conor Humphries of Reuters: "The Irish government is examining options to close a loophole in its tax system that has allowed multinational companies to significantly reduce taxes they pay on profits, the Sunday Business Post newspaper reported. Ireland has been criticized by British and U.S. legislators in recent weeks for the fact that multinationals like Apple and Google reduced their global tax bills by channeling profits through Irish subsidiaries."

Phil Stewart of Reuters: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called sexual assault a 'scourge' on Saturday as he addressed graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where a sergeant stands accused of videotaping female cadets in the showers."

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "An all-male panel of House lawmakers considered a bill on Thursday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy across the United States, without exceptions for rape, incest or health of the mother."

If enough people were praying He would've intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms. -- Pat Robertson, on the Oklahoma tornado

... if your community is ravaged by a natural disaster, it's your fault. That [Robertson] chose not to blame the tornado on gay people is, however, a sign of progress. -- Steve Benen

The Lord Does Not Want You to Have Health Insurance. I think before [President Obama's] second term is over, we're going to see a miracle before our eyes; I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we'll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare. -- Michele Bachmann (also via Benen)

Benen also points to this exchange between theologian Wolf Blitzer & a tornado survivor. God bless that woman!

The Good News for Atheists! Citing scripture, Pope Francis says atheists can be redeemed through good works. CW: For what it's worth, I think Francis's interpretation of the passage in Mark is correct. It's an argument I've made before. It's only the Gospel of John -- naturally a favorite of fervent Christians -- that claims belief in Jesus is the only path to salvation. ...

... Rachel Donadio of the New York Times: "Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio..., has changed the tone of the papacy, lifting morale and bringing a new sense of enthusiasm to the Roman Catholic Church and to the Vatican itself, Vatican officials and the faithful say."

Local News

Craig Wolff of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: Rutgers University is trying to fix its image as a school that allows coaches to intimidate basketball players by hiring a new athletic director, Julie Hermann, who -- according to many of her former players at the University of Tennessee -- has a history of intimidating basketball players. Also, Hermann is apparently very good at blocking unpleasant memories. CW: personally, I don't think I would forget attending a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid, especially if video of that wedding was the basis of a successful lawsuit against me:

     ... Hermann also said she can't remember a letter all 15 of her players at Tennessee wrote to her in which they accused her of calling them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled." CW: Either she has a really bad memory or she's a serial liar.

At Least One GOP Governor Is Serious about Expanding Medicaid. Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic: "Gov. Jan Brewer sent five bills to the scrap heap Thursday in a pointed gesture intended to prod lawmakers into a deal on the budget and her plan to expand Medicaid. The five vetoes, follow-through on Brewer's promise to block legislation until her top priorities move forward, capped a tense day that saw some lawmakers receive threats over their support for the plan to provide health care for more of the state's poor."

Fort Myers News-Press: "Former GOP Reps. Connie Mack IV of Florida and Mary Bono Mack of California are divorcing, only months after losing congressional races." CW: So much for those traditional family values that caused CoMa to contract an advanced state of hyper-homophobia.

Sean Whaley of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "A constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to legalize gay marriage passed the final hurdle of the 2013 legislative session Thursday but still has a long way to go. Senate Joint Resolution 13 passed the Assembly on a 27-14 vote, bringing the process to get it to the ballot in 2016 to an end for this year. All the no votes were Republicans. Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, voted with Democrats. The proposed amendment must pass again in identical form in the 2015 legislative session before it can go to the ballot. Gov. Brian Sandoval's signature is not required." Thanks to Jeanne B.

Illinois Gets Real. Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "Illinois public schools will be required to include medically accurate information about birth control in their sex ed classes under a measure that the state legislature passed this week. HB 2675, which Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is expected to sign into law, will prohibit health classes from teaching abstinence-only curricula. Illinois' current law requires sex ed classes to emphasize abstinence as 'the expected norm,' and stipulates that 'course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage.'" Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

News Ledes

New York Times: "A Connecticut man who was shot and killed by the local police at the start of the Memorial Day weekend was identified Sunday by state authorities as a 75-year-old Army veteran and founder of a military museum in Danbury." The Danbury News-Times story is here.

AP: "Two women died after being swept away by floodwaters after weekend rains deluged numerous roads in San Antonio, forcing more than 235 rescues by emergency workers who aided stranded motorists and homeowners at times using inflatable boats."

AP: "Officials reacted with outrage Sunday to an audacious attack by about 200 suspected Maoist rebels who set off a roadside bomb and opened fire on a convoy carrying Indian ruling Congress party leaders and members in an eastern state, killing at least 24 people and wounding 37 others."

New York Times: "The leader of the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah decisively committed his followers on Saturday to an all-out battle in Syria to defeat the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. He said the organization, founded to defend Lebanon and fight Israel, was entering 'a completely new phase,' sending troops abroad to protect its interests." ...

... AP: "A pair of rockets slammed into a car dealership and a residential building in strongholds of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia in southern Beirut on Sunday, wounding four people and raising fears that Syria's civil war is increasingly spreading into Lebanon. Lebanon's sectarian divide mirrors that of Syria, and Lebanese armed factions have taken sides in their neighbor's civil war."

Al Jazeera: "Brazil has said it plans to cancel or restructure $900m worth of debt in 12 African countries as part of a broader strategy to boost ties with the continent. Brazilian officials said on Saturday that President Dilma Rousseff, visiting Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to mark the African Union's 50th anniversary, was set to announce a new development agency alongside the cancellation that will offer assistance to African countries."

Al Jazeera: "Protests against seed giant Monsanto have been held across the US and in dozens of other countries. 'March Against Monsanto' organisers said they were calling attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food and the companies that produce it. Protests were being held in more than 250 cities on Saturday."

Friday
May242013

The Commentariat -- May 25, 2013

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

     CW: In the Republicans' weekly address, Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks of the tornado that hit Moore. He doesn't just ignore climate change; except for asking for handouts, he pretty much ignores the rest of the country because the "Oklahoma Standard" ensures that Okies will take care of themselves. Bernie Becker of the Hill reports.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen's private e-mail account secret, arguing to a federal judge that the government might need to monitor the account for a lengthy period of time.... Yesterday, hours after President Obama said, in a speech at National Defense University, that he had asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review the Justice Department's policies concerning investigations of the media, NBC News reported that the warrant to search Rosen's e-mail account was personally approved by Holder." CW: which part of the First Amendment don't you understand, Eric? Ah. The "freedom of the press" part. I said Holder was a mistake as soon as Obama nominated him. I'm still right. ...

... Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "The Justice Department pledged Friday to review its policies relating to the seizure of information from journalists after acknowledging that a controversial search warrant for a Fox News reporter's private emails was approved 'at the highest levels' of the Justice Department, including 'discussions' with Attorney General Eric Holder." ...

... D. S. Wright of Firedoglake: "During Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony before the House Oversight Committee he made an interesting statement in response to a question from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)... :

HOLDER: I would say this with regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy. In fact my view is quite the opposite.

      ... Holder was under oath at the time raising the possibility of a perjury charge."

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: " Fox News chairman Roger Ailes yesterday released a statement describing that administration's actions as 'an attempt to intimidate Fox News.' But while Ailes and his team will no doubt try to spin this into a partisan confrontation, the First Amendment doesn't say that 'Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of The Fox News.' Especially given the AP phone records subpoena, the issue isn't some sort of political witch hunt against Fox. Instead, it's that the government put its desire to stop leaks ahead of the Constitutional right to freedom of the press without even giving the press a chance to defend itself. That's a problem that needs to be fixed." ...

... Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, in a long Post op-ed: "... the Obama administration's steadily escalating war on leaks, the most militant I have seen since the Nixon administration, has disregarded the First Amendment and intimidated a growing number of government sources of information -- most of which would not be classified -- that is vital for journalists to hold leaders accountable. The White House has tightened its control over officials' contacts with the news media, and federal agencies have increasingly denied Freedom of Information Act requests on the grounds of national security or protection of internal deliberations." ...

... The Big Chill. Christine Haughney of the New York Times: reporters who cover national security say their sources are drying up. CW: So I guess this crackdown on leaks thing is working.

... The Press Is Really Whiney. Jack Shafer of Slate Reuters takes a contrarian POV: "... all this legal battering of the press, while real, hardly rises to the level of war.... Obama's wholesale deflation of their standing has made comrades out of ideological enemies. How else to explain Len Downie hollering 'Nixon' at the same time Fox News's Roger Ailes is invoking 'McCarthy' to denounce the Obama administration?" CW: I largely disagree with Shafer's conclusion, but he makes a number of valid points in reaching it. Also, he uses the phrase "prelude to a kiss-off." ...

... Also, as Schafer wrote the other day, Rosen is a lousy investigative reporter: "Rosen's journalistic technique, if the Post story is accurate, leaves much to be desired. He would have been less conspicuous had he walked into the State Department wearing a sandwich board lettered with his intentions to obtain classified information and then blasted an air horn to further alert authorities to his business." Plus, his big scoop-di-doo was stupid." CW: and it seems to me it did, at least marginally, cause a national security risk -- for no good reason -- & could possibly endanger some covert agents.

David Firestone of the New York Times: "The most striking thing about President Obama's speech on counter-terrorism yesterday was his eagerness to end the 'global war on terror' and redefine it as a series of smaller-scale skirmishes. And the most striking thing about the reaction of Republicans was their stated refusal to end it, their longing to keep it going as the pinnacle of national priorities.... Anti-terrorism is a definitional position for a party that spent decades using Communism as a foil and seemed lost after the Soviet Union fell." ...

... CW: also underlying GOP saber-rattling are two things: some Republicans are too simple-minded to think beyond knee-jerk machismo; others assume the public is too simple-minded to think beyond knee-jerk machismo, so talking tough is just good PR. As Jim Fallows wrote (linked yesterday), Obama treated his listeners as adults as he explained the complexities of American foreign policy; unfortunately, the opposition party is operating at the level of youthful video-war-games aficionados. ...

... "Steve Coll and Dexter Filkins talk to Amy Davidson about the speech Obama gave on Thursday":

Brian Beutler of TPM: "... in California, where the state government and advocacy groups are actually interested in doing Obamacare right, things are looking pretty good. They're standing up their exchanges and it turns out premiums for basic bronze and more comprehensive silver health plans will actually come in lower than anticipated. This is almost unambiguously good news for Obamacare.... "All the states trying to make the law fail will look very stupid and terribly craven if California pulls this off." ...

... Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post has the data on which Beutler based his post. ...

... ** GOP War on Poor People. NEW: Robert Pear of the New York Times: "The refusal by about half the states to expand Medicaid will leave millions of poor people ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance under President Obama's health care law even as many others with higher incomes receive federal subsidies to buy insurance.... More than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand Medicaid." These states include Texas, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. ...

... Paul Krugman: "The whole political calculus was supposed to be that Republicans in red states could point to the horrors of Obamacare and ride them to political victory. Instead, it looks as if we're going to see blue-state residents reaping the benefits of a functional health care system, while red-state residents are denied many of those benefits, for what looks like no better reason than mean-spirited spite -- because what's going on is, indeed, mean-spirited spite." ...

Oh Yeah? Don't be so smug, Krugman. The IRS is rifling through your most intimate medical files:

When people realize that their most personal, sensitive, intimate, private health-care information is in the hands of the IRS that's been willing to use people's tax information against political opponents of this administration, then people have pause and they pull back in horror. -- Michele Bachmann, May 20

Bachmann has made a sweeping claim.... There is no evidence to support this assertion, and she is simply scaring people when she repeats it on television. Bachmann thus continues her record-breaking streak of outlandish claims.-- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, SO


Oh. Never mind. -- Constant Weader

Floyd Norris of the New York Times: "In the 84 years that the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has been calculated, it doubled during the terms of only four presidents before Barack Obama's election in 2008. This month that number rose to five as the index climbed to more than twice what it was when he took office." The other 4 presidents were FDR, Eisenhower, Reagan & Clinton. "... none came close to the average annual gain so far under Mr. Obama."

Gail Collins considers whether women or Ted Cruz have done more to get Senators working together again. And here's that moment Collins refers to "in the State of the Union address when President Obama called for more bridge repair projects and John Boehner failed to applaud" (unfortunately, the camera cuts away from Boehner quickly [I guess because he didn't applaud]):

... Jonathan Chait puts John McCain's outbursts against his Tea Party colleagues in context: "McCain is a cranky man in general, and the latest punks he told to get off his lawn include tea-party hoodlums Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.... McCain's disagreement over what appears to be a technical point of Senate process is actually a fundamental split over the party's approach toward Obama. The conservatives want to continue their stance of total opposition and instigating crises -- the stance that has defined the party throughout the Obama era -- while McCain wants to engage in compromise and negotiation." Read the whole post. ...

... Jonathan Bernstein disagrees with Chait's analysis: "... it's a combination of electoral incentives and personal vendettas." CW: I think they're both right.

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Friday that the 'Gang of Eight' immigration bill doesn't have enough votes to pass the Senate. The bill won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 13-5 vote, but Menendez said it lacks the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate -- despite the bill's four Republican co-sponsors."

Yesterday President Obama signed "a bill designating the Congressional Gold Medal commemorating the lives of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing of 1963":

President Obama gave the commencement address yesterday at the U.S. Naval Academy (see yesterday's Commentariat for a link to a New York Times report on his speech):

Local News

J. J. Hensley of the Arizona Republic: "A federal judge's ruling that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office engaged in racial profiling against Latinos could bring significant changes to the agency's controversial approach to immigration enforcement. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued a lengthy ruling that prohibits sheriff's deputies from using race as a factor in law-enforcement decisions, from detaining people solely for suspected immigration violations and from contacting federal immigration authorities to arrest suspected illegal immigrants who are not accused of committing state crimes." The decision is here. ...

... bmaz of emptywheel: "The decision is long at 142 pages, but it is beautiful and contains specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that will make it hard to reverse on appeal...."

News Ledes

New York Times: "One of the top officials in the Archdiocese of Newark has been forced out for failing to properly monitor the activities of a priest who had been forbidden from having contact with children, the archdiocese announced on Saturday. The dismissal of Msgr. John E. Doran, who reported to Archbishop John J. Myers, is the latest fallout from a sexual abuse scandal that stretches back more than a decade."

Boston Globe: "On this dreary, drizzly morning, thousands of runners and their supporters came out to finish what they started [-- the Boston Marathon --] jogging the final mile from Kenmore Square to the finish line and reclaiming the long-imagined moment they were denied."

AP: "Gay-rights campaigners and their opponents clashed at an unsanctioned rally in the Russian capital on Saturday, but a heavy police presence in kept the two sides apart at that country's first-ever gay pride march. Russian police said they arrested at least 30 gay rights campaigners and Christian Orthodox vigilantes in Moscow."

Thursday
May232013

The Commentariat -- May 24, 2013

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama will address Naval Academy graduates on Friday morning.... White House officials said Mr. Obama is likely to address the sexual assault issue in his speech to the graduates in Annapolis. Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense, is expected to do the same at the West Point graduation on Saturday." ...

     ... Update. New Lede: "President Obama used a commencement speech before Naval Academy graduates on Friday to urge them to follow an 'inner compass' and to warn that rising numbers of sexual assaults in the military threatened to erode America’s faith in the armed forces."

This war, like all wars, must end. -- Barack Obama

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama on Thursday announced new restraints on targeted killings and narrowed the scope of the long struggle with terrorists as part of a transition to a day he envisions when the nation will no longer be on the war footing it has been on since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." ...

... The prepared text is here. Toward the end, Obama went off script several times to respond to a heckler. It was, IMHO, an impressive speech that addressed numerous matters, including the issue of journalistic freedom:

Jim Fallows of the Atlantic highlights important points of the President's speech. (CW: Of course I would like Fallows' take as he picked the same one I did as the overarching message.) ...

... Jane Mayer of the New Yorker: "One first impression left by President Obama's much-anticipated speech ... is that of the contrast between Bush's swagger and Obama's anguish over the difficult trade-offs that perpetual war poses to a free society. It could scarcely be starker." ...

The President's speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory. -- Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) ...

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: President Obama's GOP Senate critics respond. CW: the usual suspects with the usual whining. They raise some valid issues, but shouldn't they be helping to solve these conundra instead of just bellyaching? ...

... Saxby there should have caught the top of Rachel Maddow's show. Osama bin Laden's central demand & reason for killing Americans was to force the U.S. to get its military bases out of his home country of Saudi Arabia. We did. Quietly. The same week George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq (April 2003). Similarly, after the deadly bombing of the U.S. barracks in Beiruit, Lebanon, in 1983, carried out to force U.S. peacekeeping troops out of Lebanon -- Ronald Reagan pulled the troops out of Lebanon. What about that, Saxby?

... The ACLU responds. Via Jonathan Bernstein. ...

... Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: "Arguably, no agency has changed more in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks than the C.I.A., and no agency could be affected more by the new direction of the secret wars laid out by American officials on Thursday. More than half of the C.I.A.'s work force joined the agency after 2001, and many of those new officers have spent the years since almost exclusively on the work of man-hunting and killing. Some American officials and outside experts believe it could take years for a spy agency that has evolved into a paramilitary service to rebalance its activities."

Nick Anderson of the Washington Post: "The House approved a Republican proposal Thursday to allow interest rates on federal student loans to rise or fall from year to year with the government's cost of borrowing, ending a system in which rates are fixed by law. The proposal cleared the GOP-led House on a largely party-line vote of 221 to 198, but it faces opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate and a veto threat from the Obama administration. The legislation responds to a looming deadline: On July 1, unless the law is changed, rates for a certain type of new loan for undergraduate students in financial need will double to 6.8 percent, from 3.4 percent."

Jonathan Chait: absent any evidence that the President was directing the IRS to hassle wingers, the IRS story has nevertheless metastasized into a right-wing/GOP conspiracy theory based wholly on the presumption that Obama Is a Bad Guy. ...

... Obama Is a Bad Guy, one supposes, is also the underlying premise of numerous fantastic right-wing theories, including my newest favorite: that the Moore tornado -- though it could have been a natural phenomenon -- might well have been a "government weather weapon." Yes, this is as crazy a theory as I've heard, & it wouldn't be humorous if it had not been pitched by radio host Alex Jones, a popular guy among "former Rep. Ron Paul and current Sen. Rand Paul; Fox News figures Lou Dobbs and Andrew Napolitano; gun activists Ted Nugent and Larry Pratt; and climate misinformer Marc Morano [who] have all repeatedly appeared on Jones' show," according to an April 16 report by Ben Dimiero & Eric Hananoki of Media Matters. ...

... Bernie Becker & Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "Congressional Republicans are skeptical the IRS's treatment of conservative groups warrants a special prosecutor, fearing that step could limit their own investigation into the agency.... A special prosecutor concentrating on criminal violations, they say, might not look into ways Tea Party groups were harmed that fall short of a crime." CW: Right. Because a special prosecutor would step on Republicans' sworn duty to carry on endless sensationalist hearings right through election season 2014. And 2016. ...

It scares me: Who will appoint the special prosecutor? Holder! Do I really want the administration that I don't trust appointing a prosecutor right now? I think not. -- Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Lois Lerner, the head of the Internal Revenue Service’s division on exempt organizations, was put on administrative leave Thursday, a day after she invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify before a House committee investigating her division's targeting of conservative groups. Lawmakers from both parties said Thursday that senior I.R.S. officials had requested Ms. Lerner's resignation but she refused, forcing them to put her on leave instead. Whether her suspension will lead to dismissal was unclear, given civil service rules that govern federal employment." ...

A president that touts ego, power, and a hatred for dissent above everything else, that's Barack Obama, that's the leader of this country. I don't think this administration realizes that the First Amendment wasn't a suggestion. The Bill of Rights is not a wish list, it's a set of non-negotiable limits on the federal government. -- RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Monday evening ...

I don't think this Lois Lerner did herself or the scandal any favors by pleading the Fifth Amendment yesterday, which -- whether you agree with it as a basis of law or not -- implies there are some criminal aspects of the investigation.... I understand. I went to law school. I get it.... You don't need to plead the Fifth if you've done nothing wrong.... If you have an administration that says they've done nothing wrong & this is just a bunch of low-level people in Cincinatti, & then you have Lois Lerner come forward & plead the Fifth, I think it raises questions. -- Reince Priebus, Thursday morning

Sometimes, it's such a short distance between you and your own petard. -- Charles Pierce

Apparently the Fifth Amendment is "just a suggestion" which is debatable "as a basis of law." -- Constant Weader

... the [Fifth Amendment] privilege protects the innocent as well as the guilty. -- U.S. Supreme Court, per curiam.

... This part of the discussion among Prince Rebus, John Heilmann & PretendDem Harold Ford -- from the same "Morning Joe" show -- is interesting, too. Heilmann, BTW, is not a partisan; he's an even-handed journalist who obviously sees no reason to give Squeaky a pass on his sleights of hand -- "we must wait for the facts, which are that Obama is the mastermind of a vast criminal operation." (Notice how Squeaky doesn't see anything wrong with that "logic.") Also, Jeanne B. & I were unaware there were 132 Democratic Senators:

... Juliet Eilperin & Ed O'Keefe: "House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is inclined to recall Internal Revenue Service official Lois G. Lerner to testify before his panel, but will await recommendations from committee lawyers, the nonpartisan House Counsel, other outside legal experts and committee Democrats before making a final decision, he said Thursday." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "In a dramatic departure from existing White House procedures, President Obama requested today that his staff start cc’ing him on stuff." ...

... ** Norm Ornstein, writing in the National Journal, gives the IRS story some needed context: it "is all about disclosure of donors, and about political actors trying to find ways to avoid disclosure. And we should be clear that the ability to conceal donors, to launch stealth attack ads, or to threaten lawmakers with such ads if they don't support the policy preferences or legislative goals of the donors is something the Supreme Court rejected 8-1 in the famous Citizens United decision. But political professionals on both sides of the aisle, through their high-priced campaign lawyers, have for many years probed for ways to finesse the law and the norm of disclosure endorsed by the Supreme Court (most eloquently, by the way, by Justice Antonin Scalia)." Read the whole article.

Surprise! Tom Curry of NBC News: "With one of President Barack Obama's key nominees on the verge of being confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared to edge away Wednesday from an idea that some Democrats are calling for: enacting a change in Senate rules to stop filibusters which delay votes on Obama appointees. During a debate on the Senate floor with Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Reid said, 'I'm not saying we're going to change the rules' regarding the filibuster, but argued that the Senate must move faster to confirm Obama nominees." ...

... BUT on Thursday, McConnell Blinked. Brian Beutler of TPM: "McConnell caved Thursday morning on the Senate floor. A small cave. But a cave nonetheless. [Sri] Srinivasan will be confirmed [as a judge in the DC Circuit Court] Thursday afternoon. But the 'cave' is only a small part of the story.... McConnell is actively trying to undermine Reid's efforts to present Republicans with a Sophie's choice between dropping their filibuster threats against nominees they oppose and standing by as Democrats do away with the filibuster on presidential nominees altogether." ...

     ... Update. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Sri Srinivasan – the principal deputy solicitor general President Obama has nominated to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was confirmed in a 97 to 0 vote Thursday. The vote is significant for several reasons. Srinivasan is the first D.C. Circuit nominee confirmed since 2006...."

... Jonathan Bernstein in the Post: "Even though one might think there's an incentive for both sides to eventually find an equilibrium in which Republicans block some nominees but not quite enough to trigger the nuclear option, the chances for miscalculation are pretty large." ...

... Bernstein: "... it's absolutely ridiculous that a unanimous pick took eleven months.... Having given up on Srinivasan, will Republicans now blockade the remaining three vacancies on the DC Circuit Court, perhaps on the bogus pretext that those judges aren't actually needed? ... And ... it would help if there actually were nominees for those three vacancies." ...

... Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) explains to Chuck Grassley (RDopey-Iowa) what "packing the court" means after Grassley complains 5 times that Democrats are attempting to pack the D.C. Circuit Court, a preposterous assertion. Via Dylan Matthew of the Washington Post:

Thursday morning on the Senate floor, John McCain ripped Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee, who is a frequent co-conspirator with Tailgunner Ted & Li'l Randy:

... Greg Sargent: "Tea Party Senators have pushed their disregard for basic governing norms so far that even fellow Republicans are calling them out for it.... As McCain rightly pointed out, the Tea Party demand is effectively is that Republicans must not negotiate over the budget 'unless certain conditions are imposed' on the negotiations beforehand 'that happen to be important to a small group of United States Senators.' ... This is really remarkable stuff, and again goes to a basic fact about today's politics, which is that Tea Party lawmakers have -- willfully, it seems -- decided that they no longer have any obligation to engage in basic governing."

Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday ended its longstanding policy of forbidding openly gay youths to participate in its activities, a step its chief executive called 'compassionate, caring and kind.' ... The Scouts did not consider the even more divisive question of whether to allow openly gay adults and leaders." ...

... Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee: "... when I read yesterday that the Boy Scouts had come up with what can only be described as a pathetic Solomon-like decision of allowing gay boys to join the scouts, but not allowing gay men to be scout leaders, I had to observe that this is perhaps the worst signal that could be sent to aspiring gay scouts. That message is: you're ok as a gay child, but it's not ok to be a gay man. We think you'll eventually become a pervert." Thanks to James S. for the link.

Paul Krugman: "... the really remarkable thing about 'Abenomics' -- the sharp turn toward monetary and fiscal stimulus adopted by the government of Prime Minster Shinzo Abe -- is that nobody else in the advanced world is trying anything similar. In fact, the Western world seems overtaken by economic defeatism.... So, how is Abenomics working? The safe answer is that it's too soon to tell. But the early signs are good...."

Plus ça change.... An excellent post by Eric Lipton & Ben Protess of the New York Times on how banks are writing financial "regulation" bills again. "The cordial relations [between bank lobbyists & members of Congress] now include a growing number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, whose support the banks need if they want to roll back parts of the 2010 financial overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank." CW: How could this happen? "The lawmakers who this month supported the bills championed by Wall Street received twice as much in contributions from financial institutions compared with those who opposed them, according to an analysis of campaign finance records performed by MapLight, a nonprofit group."

Local News

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Anthony D. Weiner ... re-emerged on the city's political stage Thursday as his essential, unadulterated self, at once gratingly self-mythologizing and charmingly self-effacing." ...

... Former Congressman, Currently Unemployed. Will Accept Mayoralty of Any Major U.S. City. Azi Paybarah of Capital New York: "The New York City skyline is one of the most recognizable in the world. The skyline portrayed in the banner on Anthony Weiner's campaign website isn't it. It's Pittsburgh. To be precise, the banner shows the top of what appears to be the Roberto Clemente Bridge." The photo has since been swapped out & Weiner's marketing firm "takes full responsibility." Via Gawker. ...

... Oh, Great. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Former congressman and newly announced New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (D) said in an interview Thursday morning with WNYC-FM that there could be women coming forward with more e-mails or photos from the inappropriate digital conversations that led to his resignation in 2011."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Haynes Johnson, a distinguished Washington Post journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for civil rights coverage in the 1960s and later sought to pierce the mysteries of the politics and gamesmanship of the capital, died May 24 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 81."

Dan Sligh describes his "rough day" after he & his wife plunged in their truck into the Skagit River after an I-5 bridge in Washington state collapsed:

Seattle Times photo.

Seattle Times: "A chunk of Interstate 5 collapsed into the Skagit River near Mount Vernon on Thursday evening, dumping two vehicles into the icy waters and creating a gaping hole in Washington state's major north-south artery. Officials said the highway will not be fixed for weeks at the very least. Rescuers pulled three people with minor injuries from the water after the collapse, which authorities say began when a semitruck with an oversized load struck a steel beam at around 7 p.m....The bridge, built in 1955, was inspected twice last year and repairs were made.... The bridge is classified as a 'fracture critical' bridge by the National Bridge Inventory. That means one major structural part can ruin the entire bridge, as compared with a bridge that has redundant features...."

Reuters: "A North Korean envoy told China's president on Friday that his reclusive country was willing to take 'positive actions' to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, as China steps up diplomatic efforts to bring Pyongyang back to talks." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, bluntly told a North Korean envoy on Friday that his country should return to diplomatic talks intended to rid it of its nuclear weapons, according to a state-run Chinese news agency."