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. 13, 2014

Emanuella Grinberg of CNN: "For the first time this year, Seattle and Minneapolis will recognize the second Monday in October as 'Indigenous People's Day.' The cities join a growing list of jurisdictions choosing to shift the holiday's focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants." ...

... Carrie Gibson of the Daily Beast: "Honoring Columbus is an idea whose time has past. That is not to say that we don't have plenty in our history that merits a day of celebration." ...

... Christopher Wanjek of Live Science debunks (October 2011) "the top 5 misconceptions about Columbus." ...

... CW: I'll bet you're wondering what the idiots at Fox "News" think about this. Here's a quote:

Christopher Columbus brought Western ideas, brought technology, brought the future to North America. He is somebody worth celebrating. -- Jonathan Hoenig ...

... Just as accurately as the Fox "News" accounting, Flip Wilson recounts Columbus's first crossing:

** E.J. Dionne: "Outside groups empowered by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision are using mass media in ways that turn off Americans to democracy, aggravate divisions between the political parties and heighten animosities among citizens of differing views. Studies of this year's political advertising show that outside groups are blanketing the airwaves with messages far more negative than those purveyed by the candidates themselves.... There is far too much complacency about big money's role in this year's campaigns, on the grounds that both sides have plenty of it.... Citizens United is deepening our divisions and turning more citizens into bystanders." CW: Thanks again, Supremes! Read the whole column. ...

... Chisun Lee, et al., of the Brennan Center for Justice: A Brennan Center "report collects abundant evidence of state and local election practice over the last four years, and concludes that weak regulation of coordination between candidates and the type of 'independent' spending groups Citizens United unleashed has allowed those groups to serve as de-facto arms of candidate campaigns. Since independent groups are not subject to many campaign finance laws, including spending limits, this effectively allows wealthy donors to circumvent those laws altogether." ...

... CW: Let's be clear here. The conservatives on the Supreme Court -- those high-falutin "independent" justices for life -- who are supposed to protect us from the craven hustlers in the other two branches of government, have in fact facilitated, or rather ordered, candidates for elected office to be even more craven hustlers. The Roberts Court is the first Supreme Court in my lifetime that has been blatantly anti-democratic & has purposefully undermined the Constitution those originalists & their "balls-&-strikes-calling" Ump-in-Chief are sworn to uphold. This isn't my "opinion"; it is supported by factual findings in the studies Dionne cites.

Robert Pear: "Federal officials say they have repeatedly criticized, and in many cases penalized, Medicare health plans for serious deficiencies, including the improper rejection of claims for medical services and unjustified limits on coverage of prescription drugs. The findings, cataloged in dozens of federal audit reports, come as millions of older Americans prepare to sign up for private health plans and prescription drug plans in Medicare's annual open enrollment period, which will begin on Wednesday and continue through Dec. 7."

Michelle Boots of Alaska Dispatch News: "A federal judge ruled Sunday that Alaska's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for gay couples to begin marrying in the state for the first time. 'The court finds that Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,' U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess wrote in an order in the case Hamby v. Parnell, released Sunday." Burgess is a George W. Bush appointee. ...

... Greg Abbott Explains the Facts of Life in a Legal Brief. Lauren McGaughy of the Houston Chronicle: "Attorney General Greg Abbott [-- the Republican nominee for governor --] says Texas' same-sex marriage ban should remain in place because legalizing it would do little or nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to get married and have children. Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said....,

Texas's marriage laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas's marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy.

      ... CW: Yeah, I thought so. Single women get pregnant & don't marry their partners because the gays. The stupidity of this argument alone should convince judges to knock down marriage equality bans. ...

Texas's liberal gun laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage via shotgun weddings, Texas's gun laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. -- Constant Weader, channeling Greg Abbott

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "A day after a Dallas nurse became the second person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, it's still unclear how she contracted the disease ... and the medical community has not taken kindly to the CDC's suggestion that she was somehow at fault. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, said she was following 'full CDC precautions,' including wearing a gown, gloves, and a mask, while caring for [Ebola victim Thomas] Duncan, who died Wednesday. However, Dr. Thomas Frieden, who leads the CDC, said on Face the Nation that the fact that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital hasn't identified what went wrong "is concerning because clearly there was a breach in protocol. The comment exacerbated concerns about whether U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle Ebola patients, and whether the problem lies with the recommended procedures, or hospital workers failing to implement them."

Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News: "According to a new national poll, the more educated you are, the less you fear an Ebola outbreak in a major U.S. city, while the less educated, the greater the fear. Well that's what the latest Reason-Rupe national poll shows anyway, along with the fact that Tea Partiers fear the coming Ebola apocalypse more than Democrats and Republicans." ...

... "The Fear Equation." Michael Specter of the New Yorker: "Our response to pandemics -- whether SARS, avian influenza, MERS, or Ebola -- has become predictable. First, there is the panic. Then, as the pandemic ebbs, we forget. We can't afford to do either. This epidemic won't be over soon, but that is even more reason to focus on what works. ...

     ... CW: Here's something I wondered about, & Specter has the answer: "Rob Carlson..., who has written widely about genetic engineering and vaccine development, says, 'We could have pushed the development of a synthetic Ebola vaccine a decade ago. We had the skills, but we chose not to pursue it. Why? Because we weren't the people getting sick.'" ...

<>Also another case of Ebola was discovered in Texas, prompting an immediate and total ban on travel to and from the Lone Star state. Kidding! We only yap about banning travel to and from places as recommended by the John Bolton foreign policy think tank wizards at Fox News. -- Driftglass

The Tea Party Economy. Paul Krugman: "The world economy appears to be stumbling.... Growth is stalling, and the specter of deflation looms.... Historically, the solution to high levels of debt has often involved writing off and forgiving much of that debt.... [But now] the policy response to a crisis of excessive debt has, in effect, been a demand that debtors pay off their debts in full.... That ... doesn't work."

... Exploding Toasters! Before the [financial] crash, one in five mortgages that were being marketed by the biggest financial institutions were exploding and costing people their homes. No one would permit toasters to be sold when one in five exploded and burned down somebody's house. But they were selling mortgages like that and every regulator knew about it. -- Elizabeth Warren, in an interview with Thomas Frank. Thanks to James S. for the link.

Krugman elaborates on his Rolling Stone column, linked in the Commentariat last week:

CW: Apropos of a discussion Akhilleus & I had in the Comments section last week ...

... Jason Easley of Politics USA: "

Sen. Bernie Sanders knocked John McCain off of his usual Sunday morning warmongering turf by following a typical McCain appearance on CNN State Of The Union with a fact laced shredding of McCain's pro-war propaganda.... It was a rare first to see CNN or any other network have a guest on to rebut McCain's constant Obama bashing and calls for military acceleration":

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "In general, people with political views similar to Bernie Sanders do not get within half a mile of a Sunday morning microphone [because the Sunday show bookers don't invite them].... Whatever the cause of this breakthrough, it was a welcome development. John McCain's views on foreign policy are radical and represent a lunatic fringe. You'd never know it if all you did is watch teevee, but Sanders' views are much more mainstream." ...

... Charles Pierce reviews what-all else you missed on the Sunday shows.

Kirk Semple & Tim Arango of the New York Times: "Kurdistan Workers' Party, or P.K.K..., commanders say their halting, nine-year-old peace process with the Turkish government and, indeed, the future of the region, will turn on the battle for Kobani and on Turkey's response. If Turkey does not help the embattled Kurdish forces in Kobani, the commanders say, they will break off peace talks and resume their guerrilla war within Turkey, plunging yet another country in the region into armed conflict.... Despite increased pressure from the United States and pleas from outgunned Kurdish fighters in Kobani, Turkey has refused to deploy its military against the Islamic State..., or to open the border to allow reinforcements, weapons and supplies to reach the town. In a shift, though, Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases...." (See link in yesterday's News Ledes on this last point.) ...

... Griff Witte of the Washington Post: Great Britain's "most prominent propagandist for the Islamic State [-- Anjem Choudary --] ... and other enablers remain free to spread their seductively messianic ideology on the streets of the United Kingdom and globally, through the Internet. They do so by taking advantage of the very rights they condemn as un-Islamic.... Counterterrorism officials and experts say Choudary and the many shadowy groups he has fronted have directly contributed to the indoctrination of dozens of people who have gone on to plan or commit attacks in the United Kingdom. His network, they say, has also become a vital facilitator in the flow of some of the thousands of Europeans who have swarmed to the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, and who could return to carry out attacks in the West...."

November Elections

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Republican allies are pumping millions of dollars into a final swarm of television ads in the run-up to Election Day.... But much of the advertising by outside groups is coming later -- and at a much steeper cost -- than many on the right had hoped, largely because top conservative donors were slow to open their checkbooks. That foot-dragging has forced super PACs and politically active nonprofit groups to pay a huge premium for last-minute ad buys, and it shows the extent to which their top financiers have dictated the timing and strategy of outside groups this year."

Jonathan Ellis of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "The political world outside of South Dakota learned some stunning news last week: [Republican nominee] Mike Rounds, the guy everybody assumed would be the next senator from South Dakota, actually has been running a campaign more suited for sheriff of Mayberry County than U.S. Senate.... Even last spring, national Republicans were growing increasingly alarmed by Rounds' anemic fundraising.... Rounds failed to raise the resources necessary to defend himself in the cutthroat world of U.S. Senate campaigns, where millions of dollars can be beamed into a race with the flip of a switch." ...

... Martin Longman: "What's still unclear is if the DSCC is primarily concerned with electing their candidate, Rick Weiland, or with electing independent candidate, Larry Pressler. Either way, they hope that Mike Rounds is truly roadkill because that will save them a senate seat that they had every reason to believe was lost."

Danny Vinik of the New Republic rips the Denver Post's endorsement of winger Cory Gardner: "The paper & Cory Gardner disagree on almost every issue." ...

... Luke Brinker of Salon: "Denver Post submits superb entry for most asinine endorsement of 2014 cycle. The paper bemoans Washington gridlock -- and endorses a shutdown-supporting Tea Partier to solve it!"

Jason Zengerle in the New Republic assesses Alison Grimes' (D for Dismal) campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "So preoccupied with not making mistakes, and demonizing the opponent, the modern political campaign often forgets what would seemingly be its most important task: to make an affirmative case for its candidate." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link.

James Hohmann of Politico: In the Michigan gubernatorial race, the candidates debate. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has a small lead over Democrat Mark Schauer.

The Washington Post Editors endorse Democrat Anthony Brown for governor of Maryland as the lesser of two duds.

News Ledes

Guardian: "MPs including the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, have voted to recognise Palestine as a state in a symbolic move that will unnerve Israel by suggesting that it is losing a wider battle for public opinion in Britain. The vote of 274 to 12, a majority of 262, on a backbench motion has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers were instructed not to vote.

** Huffington Post: "Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has 'slowed down' research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe. 'NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'" Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. 'Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.'" CW: Thanks, GOP!

New York Times: "A day after American officials said Turkey had agreed to allow its air bases for operations against the Islamic State, which they described as a deal that represented a breakthrough in tense negotiations, Turkish officials on Monday said there was no deal yet, and that talks were still underway."

Washington Post: "Top clergy considering whether Catholicism must change its approach to sex and marriage on Monday ... [said] the Church must 'turn respectfully' to non-traditional relationships -- including unmarried and same-gender couples -- and 'appreciate the positive values' those unions may have. The comments came in a document cardinals prepared as a sum-up of what's happened during the first half of the two-week long 'synod' Pope Francis had called."

AP: "French economist Jean Tirole won the Nobel prize for economics Monday for research on market power and regulation. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Tirole for clarifying 'how to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms.'"

Boston Globe: "A prosecution witness could testify that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew his older brother was involved in a triple homicide in Waltham in 2011, according to a defense motion filed in federal court Friday. Prosecutors made the revelation of the existence of the witness in a letter in August, according to Friday's filing, which asked for a variety of information from prosecutors, including legible copies of documents from the Russian government and information and evidence related to the Waltham killings. The case remains open, even after a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly confessed and implicated Tamerlan in the killings."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Hundreds of protesters marched to the St. Louis University campus in the heart of the city early today and announced that they planned to stay. The protest culminated at the private school's Midtown campus just west of Grand Boulevard shortly before 2 a.m. after a march that started near the site where a teenager was fatally shot five days earlier by a city police officer. Police say the teenager fired at the officer first."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Hundreds of people turned out Sunday night for an interfaith service where clergy urged a wider call for reforms in response to police violence against minorities. Generational divides became apparent during the three hours that people spoke at Chaifetz Arena, at St. Louis University. At times, the crowd chanted calls for younger speakers -- demanding instead to hear the people who've been on the streets of Ferguson since the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 12, 2014

Robert O'Harrow & Steven Rich of the Washington Post: "Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.... Brad Cates, a former director of asset forfeiture programs at the Justice Department, said the spending identified by The Post suggests police are using Equitable Sharing as 'a free floating slush fund.' Cates, who oversaw the program while at Justice from 1985 to 1989, said it has enabled police to sidestep the traditional budget process, in which elected leaders create law enforcement spending priorities."

The Proliferation of Dark Money:

Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama on Friday officially set aside 346,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, a move to link more communities east of Los Angeles with wild places in their own backyards. 'This is an issue of social justice, because it's not enough to have this awesome natural wonder within your sight -- you have to be able to access it,' Obama said at a ceremony attended by more than 150 people at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas":

... CW: We now have a president who sees the designation of a national monument/wilderness area near a vast urban area as an instrument of social justice. We used to have a president who saw public lands as resources to be exploited by miners, loggers & ranchers. Elections matter.

Daniel Lippman of Politico: "N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden on Saturday defended his disclosure of reams of classified information and said his actions were worth fleeing his seemingly idyllic life in Hawaii and ending up in hiding in Russia, where he was joined by his girlfriend in July.... But he also suggested that if he had been a journalist handling the leaked documents, he would have been more conservative than some of the reporters who wrote about the surveillance programs." ....

... The New Yorker has video of Jane Mayer's full interview of Ed Snowden here. Also see Infotainment.

The New York Times publishes an excerpt from Times reporter James Risen's new book, in which Paul Bremer, whom George W. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his stellar work in Iraq, defends the way he lost billions of dollars to thieves during the course of his stellar work.

Peggy Noonan doesn't like Leon Panetta's book because he trashes Republicans. Here's some text, part of which you can copy & paste into a search engine if you want to read Our Lady of the Daiquiri's random thoughts:

He is catty about David Petraeus -- his office is 'a shrine ... to himself.' Mr. Panetta subtly, deftly, with a winning oh-goshness, takes a whole lot of credit for the bin Laden raid. This section is accompanied by unctuous compliments for Mr. Obama, whose chief brilliance appears to be that he listened to Mr. Panetta. 'Worthy Fights' is highly self-regarding even for a Washington book.

Carrie Brown of Politico: "The Clinton White House tried just about everything to pull itself through the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A trove of documents released Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library sheds light on the White House's internal machinations as it coped with the scandal -- from efforts to discredit rivals and attack the media to attempts to boost West Wing spirits by sharing supportive op-eds or the unfavorable poll numbers for special prosecutor Kenneth Starr."

God News

Steve Bittenbender of Reuters: "The developer of a Noah's Ark-based theme park in Kentucky said on Wednesday he would fight for his religious rights after state officials warned he could lose millions in potential tax credits if he hires only people who believe in the biblical flood." ...

... Simon Brown in Americans United: "... the ministry claims it has a First Amendment right to a tax break. You read that right. These guys believe they have a constitutional right to public support." Both articles via Steve Benen.

Michael Paulson of the New York Times: The "Mass mob -- the latest trend in Rust Belt Catholicism -- which is part heritage tour and part mixer (crudités in the fellowship hall followed the service) ... is bringing thousands of suburban Catholics to visit the struggling, and in some cases closed, urban churches of their parents and grandparents.... Named after flash mobs ... Mass mobs are ... fueled by social media, [and] they are doing best around Lake Erie...."

Philip Pullella of Reuters: "A leading Vatican cardinal said on Thursday the Roman Catholic Church will never bless gay marriage, wading into a controversy over the issue in Italy and other countries. On Tuesday, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano ordered mayors to stop recognizing the validity of gay marriages performed outside the country, prompting protests from rights groups and local officials."

November Elections

Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "... the news networks have some kind of civic responsibility to cover the elections, and I don&'t think they've been doing an adequate job of it. This isn't the primary reason that interest in the elections is low, but it's a significant contributing factor."

Iowa. Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "Iowa's blitzkrieg U.S. Senate race is now a 1-point contest: Republican Joni Ernst is at 47 percent, and Democrat Bruce Braley is right at her heels at 46 percent with likely voters, a new Iowa Poll shows. As armies of Democratic activists go door to door urging Iowans to fill out absentee ballots, they're piling up votes for Braley, who was 6 points down just two weeks ago."

Kansas. Ken Vogel & Tarini Parti of Politico: "A small group of free-spending wildcard donors, including investment tycoons Peter Ackerman and John Burbank, are rallying to support Greg Orman's independent Senate campaign in Kansas. Michael Bloomberg and a Jonathan Soros-backed group are also considering entering the campaign on Orman's behalf.... It's a dramatic twist for a candidate who staunchly opposes big money in politics but has been badly outspent on the airwaves after surging to a surprise lead over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts." ...

... Karoli of Crooks & Liars Is Tired of Your Kvetching: "For six years I've listened to people on all sides of the debate complain because 'Obama failed to shut down Guantanamo' and for six years I've said it was Congress, not Obama." Karoli cites Sen. Pat Roberts' boast that he kept President Obama from sending Guantanamo prisoners to Leavenworth & other U.S. mainland prison facilities. As the Hill noted in its report on Roberts' boast that he would stop Obama again, "Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp as one of his first acts as president, but the Congress overrode him by prohibiting the use of federal funds to transfer detainees."

Texas. Steve M. on Wendy Davis's "nasty" campaign ad attacking her gubernatorial opponent Greg Abbott. No, it isn't the nastiest campaign ad you'll ever see. ...

... Martin Longman: "Admittedly, the advertisement is a personal attack, as it focuses on Greg Abbott's disability. But it's not about his sex life. It's not about his college transcripts or the provenance of his birth certificate. It doesn't attack his wife or children. It's about a matter of law and policy, and it's about Greg Abbott taking advantage of the law to redress an injustice that was done to himself and then denying that same remedy to other Texans who find themselves in the same or similar situations."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, Defense Department officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "A health care worker here who helped treat the Liberian man who died last week of the Ebola virus has tested positive for the disease in a preliminary test, state health officials said Sunday." ...

     ... Dallas Morning News Update: "A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital health care worker in Dallas who had 'extensive contact' with the first Ebola patient to die in the United States has contracted the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed the news Sunday afternoon after an official test.... [She is] the first person to contract the disease in the United States. The director for the [CDC] ... said Sunday that the infection in the health care worker, who was not on the organization's watch list for people who had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, resulted from a 'breach in protocol.'" But they don't know precisely what the "breach" was.


The Commentariat -- Oct. 11, 2014

Carol Lee & Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal: "The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S." Firewalled. Copy part of the lede & paste into a Google search box. ...

... Steve M.: "This is where the entire heartland -- certainly the entire white heartland -- will turn into a bloc of seal-the-borders crazies. To heartlanders, it's going to feel like a border invasion...." ...

... Oh, Surely You Exaggerate, Steve. Let's Hear from the Heartland....

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) on Friday vowed to block all legislation in the Senate with a prolonged filibuster if President Obama tries to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States.... 'I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth. I shall do it again, I shall do it again and if he tries it again I will shut down the Senate,; Roberts said, referring to the military prison located sixty miles east of his campaign headquarters in Topeka where he spoke to campaign volunteers."

Liz Sly of the Washington Post: "The U.S.-led air war in Syria has gotten off to a rocky start, with even the Syrian rebel groups closest to the United States turning against it, U.S. ally Turkey refusing to contribute and the plight of a beleaguered Kurdish town exposing the limitations of the strategy."

Eli Lake of the Daily Beast: "Congress has quietly begun reviewing every U.S. government intelligence collection program. It's got the potential to trigger the next big fight between The Hill and Obama's spies." ...

... Jane Mayer of the New Yorker will interview Ed Snowden today, beginning at 1:00 pm ET. You can watch the interview live here. The New Yorker will also livestream its virtual interview of Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, beginning at 4:00 pm ET.

Ryan Gabrielson, et al., of ProPublica: "Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts -- 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings. The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police."

Aaron Kessler of the New York Times: "In his second day on the witness stand, Ben S. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, recounted his extreme reluctance to lend money to the American International Group in the summer of 2008, even as financial markets were weakening. 'We very, very much did not want to make a loan of this sort,' Mr. Bernanke said. He added that assisting an insurance company like A.I.G. could give an incentive to other nonbank companies to look to the Fed for help instead of the private sector."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Friday allowed same-sex marriages to proceed in Idaho, lifting a temporary stay issued two days earlier by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.... Justice Kennedy, the member of the court responsible for hearing emergency applications from the Ninth Circuit, entered a temporary stay on Wednesday morning on very short notice after a last-minute request from officials in Idaho. He acted so quickly that he included Nevada in his order. A few hours later, Justice Kennedy issued a revised order, limiting the stay to Idaho." ...

... Brad Cooper of the Kansas City Star: "The constitutional assault on same-sex marriage bans zeroed in on Kansas on Friday with a new legal challenge that could clear the way for gay marriage in the state. Two lesbian couples -- one from Lecompton and another from Wichita -- challenged the Kansas ban in federal court Friday afternoon.... The lawsuit by the two couples comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for same-sex couples to wed in Kansas when it let stand lower court rulings that found bans on their marriages unconstitutional. While the court did not rule on the Kansas law, it kept in place an appeals court ruling [against the ban] that would be binding if a challenge were brought against the state law.... Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [R] ... spent Friday in state court trying to stop Johnson County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

Matt Volz & Matthew Brown of the AP: "The U.S. Army War College revoked Democratic Sen. John Walsh's master's degree after an investigation completed Friday concluded that he plagiarized a research paper required to graduate. The college assigned an academic review board to the probe in August after The New York Times published a story showing Walsh borrowed heavily from other sources for the paper he wrote in 2007. Walsh was pursuing a master of strategic studies degree at age 47, a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state National Guard."

Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast: "On Friday, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library released its last batch of previously restricted documents from the 42nd president's administration. The latest document dump included details about Monica Lewinsky's tenure as a White House intern, a personal apology from Keith Olbermann to Clinton about his role covering the scandal, as well the White House's exasperation with Jimmy Carter." Jacobs highlights "five of the biggest and most interesting revelations." A list of the documents, with links, is here.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "In the growing crop of tell-all memoirs by former Obama administration officials including [Leon Panetta,] Robert M. Gates and Timothy F. Geithner, [Hillary] Clinton has emerged largely unscathed -- proof that in Washington, it is easier to kick a sitting second-term president than a potential future one." When Panetta headed the CIA, "he had a shouting match with ... Clinton about who had ultimate authority over drone strikes in Pakistan.... It does not appear in Mr. Panetta's just-published book, even though it seems tailor-made for a volume called 'Worthy Fights.'"

Mike McIntire & Walt Bogdanich of the New York Times: "... an examination by The New York Times of police and court records, along with interviews with crime witnesses, has found that ... [Tallahassee] police on numerous occasions have soft-pedaled allegations of wrongdoing by [F.S.U.] Seminoles football players. From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences." ...

... Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times: "In the midst of an investigation by the federal government and intense scrutiny from multiple attorneys, Florida State University sent a letter to supporters outlining its actions in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case." The letter is here. Article includes response from attorneys of the woman who accused Winston of sexual assault in late 2012.

November Elections

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "More than half of the general election advertising aired by outside groups in the battle for control of Congress has come from organizations that disclose little or nothing about their donors, a flood of secret money that is now at the center of a debate over the line between free speech and corruption. The advertising, which has overwhelmingly benefited Republican candidates, is largely paid for by nonprofit groups and trade associations, some of which are set up with the purpose of shielding from public scrutiny the wealthy individuals and corporations that contribute."

California. Chris Frates & Scott Zamost of CNN: "Charges of sexual misconduct, plagiarism and burglary have pitted a former staffer against a high-profile congressional candidate just weeks before the midterm elections. The drama is unfolding in a city that just weathered a sexual harassment scandal ending the career of its Democratic mayor. The latest accusations by a former campaign aide could derail the career of up-and-coming Republican Carl DeMaio.... This is not the first time DeMaio has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior."

Colorado. CW: Apparently the Denver Post editorial board is comprised of insane people. The board has endorsed right-wing extremist Rep. Cory Gardner over Sen. Mark Udall, who has been an excellent senator. If your read their endorsement, it is one long fairy tale about how Gardner will be bipartisan, blah-blah. Sickening. (The Post endorsed Udall in 2008 & President Obama in 2008 & 2012. It also endorsed Democrat Michael Bennet in 2010.) ...

... If you're wondering how much of a wingnut Gardner is, Luke Brinker of Salon (Sept. 25) ran down some of items on Gardner's "scary agenda." The Post editors not only fail to reveal any of Gardner's wildassed policy prescriptions in their endorsement, one wonders if they are even aware of them. These editors not only don't report the crazy, they endorse it.

Florida. Brendan Farrington of the AP: "Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican-turned-Democrat former Gov. Charlie Crist agreed during a debate Friday that Ebola would be bad for Florida -- and they disagreed about nearly everything else. In a contentious debate that reflected the negative tone of the campaign, Scott and Crist took opposite sides on issues including health care, the minimum wage, Cuba policy, gay marriage and medical marijuana." There are links to video of the debate here. ...

... The Tampa Bay Times editors endorse Charlie Crist for governor.

Kentucky. CW: This is funny. I was all set to watch "40 painful seconds of Alison Lundergan Grimes refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama," as advertised in the Washington Post. The Post picked up the video from the Republican party, which "took no time at all ... to clip the non-answer and put it online." But click on the video & what do you get? A message that says, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Gannett Co., Inc." Better check those copyright laws next time, Mitch. I will say that, generally speaking, Grimes is painful to watch.

New Jersey. Michael Symons of app.com: New Jersey "Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bell said he is behind in the polls by double digits because single mothers are 'wed' to the social benefits like food stamps that Democrats hand out.... Bell is seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Cory Booker in the November election. Booker, who won a special election last year, is seeking a full, six-year term. Bell's recent comments are 'misogynistic, despicable,' said Booker campaign spokeswoman Julie Roginsky." Real Clear Politics' average has Booker over Bell by 12.2 percent.

South Dakota. Jake Sherman of Politico: "Larry Pressler, who is running for Senate in South Dakota as an independent, has his principal residence in Washington, according to District of Columbia tax records. Pressler, who served as a Republican in Congress from 1975 to 1997, and his wife receive the homestead deduction, a generous tax break meant for people who use their D.C. home as their 'principal residence,' according to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The tax break reduces a property's 'assessed value by $70,200 prior to computing the yearly tax liability,' the District says." ...

... Here's the Democratic Senate candidate:

Texas. Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "... the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, who is the Republican nominee for governor, said he would ask the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn the [district] decision [to block Texas's voter ID law]. On Friday, he asked Judge Ramos to clarify whether the ruling would apply to next month's election. The Fifth Circuit court, based in New Orleans, is known as one of the country's most conservative." ...

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Wendy Davis [D] is running one of the nastiest campaign ads you will ever see.... [The] This ad is the sort of highly risky gambit you only see from a long-shot campaign. And, as often as not, these sorts of 'Hail Marys' fail miserably." Here's the ad:

... Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times: "... many political analysts called the TV spot a monumental blunder, one of several bumps that have plagued Davis' campaign since the Fort Worth lawmaker announced her gubernatorial candidacy last October." ...

... CW: Neither the WashPo nor the L.A. Times mentions that Abbott has exploited his disability in his own campaign ad:

Virginia. Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "The son of a former Virginia state senator has told federal investigators that U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner discussed the possibility of several jobs, including a federal judgeship, for the senator's daughter in an effort to dissuade him from quitting the evenly divided state Senate. Warner was part of a string of high-powered Virginia Democrats who in early June pressed then-state senator Phillip P. Puckett not to go through with plans to give up his seat in the middle of a bitterly partisan battle over health care." Warner is running for re-election to the Senate against vile Republican Ed Gillespie. Warner is up by an average of 11 points.

Wisconsin. Jason Stein & Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "In their first meeting Friday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke drew many sharp contrasts but much less blood as they debated their positions on jobs, the minimum wage and abortion. The most pointed attack of the evening came from Burke, who accused Walker of signing a mining bill last year to benefit a company that put $700,000 into an outside group that backed him in the 2012 recall." You can watch the full debate here. ...

... Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel: "Just 14 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter ID law for the Nov. 4 election, five appeals court judges Friday issued a blistering opinion calling allegations of voter impersonation fraud 'a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.' '"Some of the "evidence" of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid, such as the nonexistent buses that according to the "True the Vote" movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places,' wrote appeals Judge Richard A. Posner. Posner, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was joined by four others in his dissenting opinion. The five other judges on the court did not spell out their views on the ID requirement. The latest ruling had no immediate practical effect, and the voter ID law remains blocked for the election." ...

... BUT. Erik Eckholm: "Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican, who signed the bill into law and had been expected to benefit from it in his race against the Democratic candidate, Mary Burke, expressed confidence [same article as linked above re: Texas's voter ID law] that it would eventually be upheld. The state attorney general, J. B. Van Hollen, said without offering details, 'We will be exploring alternatives to address the court's concern and have voter ID on Election Day.'" CW: Yeah, nullifying the Supremes would be cool, J.B. Why not consult Mike Huckabee? I'll bet he's got some great legal advice. ...

... Presidential Race

Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch: Mike Huckabee threatened "to leave the Republican Party if the GOP does not take a stand against the Supreme Court's decision ... not to hear appeals of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in several states.... Huckabee declared that 'I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue,' warning that by doing so the GOP will 'guarantee they're going to lose every election in the future.' ... I'm gone,' Huckabee warned. 'I'll become an independent. I'll start finding people that have guts to stand. I'm tired of this.'" ...

... The most recent poll of Iowa Republicans, conducted by CNN about a month ago, had Huckabee ahead of all other potential presidential candidates. ...

... Steve Benen: "Huckabee's ultimatum reinforces a Republican Party with an awkward dilemma. If the GOP quietly moves towards the mainstream on social issues, it alienates a significant part of the party's base. If Republicans toe the far-right line on the culture war, the GOP will continue to shrink, pushing away younger voters and a mainstream that's increasingly respectful of diversity. To be sure, this has long been a challenge for Republicans, but with the party's demographic challenges becoming more acute, and far-right voices like Huckabee's growing louder, GOP leaders are left with no good options."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Seven New Jersey teenagers were charged on Friday in connection with a series of sexual assaults in a hazing scandal that prompted a high school to cancel the rest of its football season, the authorities said. Six of the teenagers were taken into custody on Friday evening on charges stemming from attacks on four students in four separate encounters at Sayreville War Memorial High School, in Parlin, Andrew Carey, the Middlesex County prosecutor, said in a joint statement with Chief John Zebrowski of the Sayreville Police Department. The seventh teenager was being sought by the police, the officials said." ...

     ... NJ.com has links to numerous stories related to the hazings here.

Washington Post: "Demanding justice for Michael Brown, more than a thousand people marched through downtown St. Louis Saturday morning as part of a 'weekend of resistance.' Chanting 'hands up don't shoot' and 'no justice, no peace,' they marched about a mile through the heart of downtown toward the famed Arch." ...

... The St. Louis Post-Dispatch story puts the number of marchers in the "thousands."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 10, 2014

Alan Cowell of the New York Times: "... the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with a 60-year-old Indian veteran of campaigns on behalf of children. The awards, announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee's chairman, were in acknowledgment of their work in helping to promote universal schooling and in protecting children worldwide from abuse and exploitation."

** Rebecca Traister of the New Republic: "... if there was anything fresh and important about those ridiculous 'Say Yes to the Candidate' spots [which ran in the Commentariat last week], it was that they marked one of the first instances in which conservatives have in any way embraced the idea that women now treat government as a stand-in for husbands.... In 2012, unmarried women made up 23 percent of the electorate; they voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a whopping 67 to 31 percent.... This is the new political reality: Women without husbands decide elections. And it's not surprising that they gravitate toward Democrats, who have more reliably fought for the social supports and rights that make unmarried life possible, over Republicans, who have reliably derided them as man-hating government mooches.... What too often goes unacknowledged is that women aren't the only Americans who have relied on the government as a partner. Rather, it's a model of support and dependence that has bolstered the fortunes of American men throughout the nation's history." Read the whole post.

Joe Klein of Time listens to neighbors talking politics conspiracy theories. The people Klein visited were not drooling morons; they just believed what they read in Breitbart or heard on Fox. "These are stories that stick in the mind and rot the body politic. They are a dominant political currency, and not just in the South." CW: If those executives & producers who want to make the Sunday morning "news" shows "edgy" had the slightest interest in educating their viewers, they would run a segment at the end of every show debunking "The Week's Most Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory." Chris Wallace, I'm talking to you, too. Many of their viewers would be shocked to discover the outlandish stories they accepted as factual were instead "ridiculous conspiracy theories." ...

... Should we be surprised regular people believe wingnut conspiracy stories when they hear some of the same nonsense from Members of Congress? ...

... Steve Benen: Rep. Tom Cotton (RTP-Ark.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (RTP-Calif.), Sen. Rand Paul (RTP-Kentucky) & other "members of Congress have repeated truly bizarre ideas from the fringe about the Boston Marathon bombing, the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, the imaginary IRS 'scandal,' and a parade of related stories. In each case, there are fact-checkers who issue warnings such as, 'As lawmakers, they need to be careful about making inflammatory statements based on such flimsy evidence,' but for much of the right, it just doesn't matter." ...

... Frank Rich: "It'll be interesting to watch that number between now and Election Day as the president's political nemeses do everything they can to spread panic about Ebola and attach that panic to Obama. The right-wing Washington site Daily Caller has already dubbed him 'President Ebola.' Mike Huckabee has found a link to Benghazi. Rand Paul has accused the president of pursuing a 'politically correct' Ebola policy -- presumably because Paul believes an African-American president would rather let an epidemic destroy America than offend anyone in his ancestral continent. All this fire is coming from self-styled Reagan Republicans. Let us not forget that Reagan legacy in reacting to a spiraling health crisis. The first cases of the AIDS epidemic in America were reported in 1981; he didn't give a serious address about the disease until 1987, after thousands of Americans had died. Pat Buchanan, Reagan's communications director, called AIDS 'nature's revenge on gay men.' There's political correctness for you." ...

... Jonathan Cohn: "... you can't truly wipe out the Ebola threat, even for Americans, without controlling it overseas. As long as it's un-contained, it will continue to make its way to other countries -- carried by people over land, sea, or air -- because the world is simply too interconnected to shut down borders completely. Meanwhile, the damage to social and economic fabric of Africa could be devastating, in ways that would hurt the U.S. over the long run." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "In this country, Ebola isn't yet a huge public-health threat. But it's fast becoming a political nightmare.... As public unease mounts, the Republicans are positioning themselves as Ebola hawks, and the Democrats risk being caricatured as doves. If you turn on right-wing talk radio, you will hear Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others excoriating the White House for failing to seal America's borders -- a charge they are already linking to the debate about immigration reform. During the past few days, a number of G.O.P. presidential hopefuls have also weighed in." Read Cassidy's lede graf. I'll bet those guys are white. ...

... Tom Dart & Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "The faltering response to a Liberian's Ebola diagnosis in Texas contrasted starkly to the mobilization after the mere suspicion of the disease in a local law enforcement officer. Some wonder whether it was no coincidence."

Rolling Stone publishes "55 figures that prove President Obama has accomplished more than you may realize."

David Rohde & Warren Strobel of the Atlantic write a mostly-negative assessment of President Obama's foreign policy decisions & his decision-making process. CW: But when I read between the lines, & when I consider the probable consequences of the alternatives, Obama's strategies & processes seem pretty sound.

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker on the imagery of terrorism. "Murder as a publicity stunt is not a new development; it is exactly what terrorism is. But these images [of masked jihadists beheading American & British men] have somehow broken new terror territory. It is hard to believe that, without them, we would now be bombing Iraq and Syria and trying to eliminate ISIS.... If there is one worst moral casualty of the past decade and a half, it surely lies there: Americans have gone from being the hardest of peoples to panic to among the most easily panicked people on the planet. In New Hampshire, the Granite State with the defiant license plate, security fears are dominating the senatorial campaign. New Hampshire voters -- including, it seems, New Hampshire mothers, for whom Islamist terrorism seems less of a danger than lightning at picnics, to say nothing of drunk drivers and proliferating guns -- are panicked enough to think of voting for a 'security' Republican."

Panetta Is "Rewriting History." Michael Hirsh in Politico: "Tommy Vietor, the former spokesman for Obama's National Security Council, says that based on 'talking to my friends back at the White House ... they are going out of their way to avoid a messy public fight' [with Leon Panetta.] But Vietor adds: 'Secretary Panetta was very clear back in 2011 that he wouldn't allow troops to remain in Iraq without the necessary protections from the Iraqi government, and I think it's reasonable for the White House to remind people of those statements.'... On Tuesday, Panetta told NBC's Andrea Mitchell that had the administration armed the fractious Free Syrian Army, as he'd advocated, then 'we would at least be in a better position to have in the rebel operation a group that we would have worked with, known, helped arm....' But several administration officials remember that Panetta was as concerned about arms falling into the hands of radical Islamists as the president was."

Jonathan Chait: "The Congressional Budget Office announced [Wednesday] that the federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2014 came in at $495 billion, almost $200 billion below the previous figure.... Within minutes, Washington's debt-scold community sprang into action to guard against complacency." Now they're focusing on projected increases in deficits several years hence. "Where were the debt scolds when the short-term deficit was high and the business and political communities were freaking out? Their belief in patience and the long view might have helped the political system avoid its disastrous turn toward austerity. Instead they fomented panic.... Their misplaced priorities helped doom millions of Americans to years of suffering." ...

... Paul Krugman is subtle, whacking the Washington Post's deficit-hawk-in-chief/editorial page editor Fred Hiatt in a link, without naming him. Sadly, this won't translate to the print edition. "Deficit scolds actually love big budget deficits, and hate it when those deficits get smaller. Why? Because fears of a fiscal crisis -- fears that they feed assiduously -- are their best hope of getting what they really want: big cuts in social programs." (CW: I linked the Hiatt column a few days ago, as an example of die-hard hawkdom.)

Aaron Kessler of the New York Times: "Ben S. Bernanke ... took the stand [Thursday] in the lawsuit over terms of the 2008 bailout of the insurance giant American International Group. Mr. Bernanke gave terse and clipped responses to questions.... Mr. Bernanke did not agree with the notion -- a central part of the lawsuit -- that A.I.G. got a raw deal from the Federal Reserve, or that it could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. 'It was evident from the fact that the board took the Fed's offer that they didn't have a better offer,' he said, referring to the vote by A.I.G.'s board approving the government's loan, and its terms." ...

... Jon Stewart explains the case. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link:

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post on one effort to help poor, working families: get businesses to buy in by providing counselling for employees in trouble -- counselling that helps them find actual solutions to their difficulties. Rampell reports both the upside -- remarkably low worker turnover -- & downside -- the companies are relying on taxpayer-funded services to help their employees. "'There has been this Wal-Mart mentality," [the program's creator Randy] Osmun says, of cutting wages, reducing taxes that fund social spending, and prioritizing profitability today without thinking about the future. 'Twenty years later we've seen a complete destruction of our school system, huge rates of incarceration and poverty, and now employers are saying, "I can't hire good people." You can't hire good people because you have devastated the community.'" ...

... CW: Of course the government could take this program a step further & force companies to alleviate some of these problems by providing workers not just with flex time to deal with some of their problems but also with, you know, a living wage that would reduce or eliminate their needs for much of the taxpayer-funded aid. Oh wait, Republicans....

     ... Decades ago, when I was a low-wage worker with a family to support, I marvelled at how executives were able to come & go to take care of routine personal business, while I had to practically pretend I didn't have children who needed my attention & sometimes created emergencies. I solved my problem by getting promoted into more flexible, better-paying salaried positions. Not every worker can make that happen. Every worker, however, should be treated with the dignity to which executives treat themselves. (Rebecca Traister's piece, linked above, is relevant here.)

John Peter of USA Today: Jerry "Angelo, who was general manager of the Chicago Bears from 2001 to 2011..., said teams did not discipline players in 'hundreds and hundreds' of domestic violence incidents during his 30 years in the league, and said he now regrets his role in the failure to take action.... The Bears released a statement later Thursday denying any knowledge of Angelo's assertions. 'We were surprised by Jerry's comments and do not know what he is referring to,' the statement read." CW: It's hard to justify watching NFL games or otherwise supporting pro-ball teams, not so much because of Angelo's statement but because of the Bears' response.

Nicholas Kristof, who was the 4th man in the "Politically Incorrect" on-air "debate" about Islam: "Let's not feed Islamophobic bigotry by highlighting only the horrors while neglecting the diversity of a religion with 1.6 billion adherents -- including many who are champions of tolerance, modernity and human rights. The great divide is not between faiths, but one between intolerant zealots of any tradition and the large numbers of decent, peaceful believers likewise found in each tradition." Kristof cites some of the poll results on Muslim beliefs by country, linked Sunday in the Commentariat. ...

... It Depends on What the Meaning of "Most" Is. Hemant Mehta in Patheos: "Yes, most Muslims around the world condemn violence in defense of their faith. But when you exclude those who didn't respond to the question, we're still talking about 21% of Muslims worldwide and 13% in the U.S. who believe suicide bombing is rarely, sometimes, or often justified. That's hundreds of millions of people who do not unequivocally condemn faith-based violence.

November Elections

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With four weeks to go before the midterm elections, Republicans have made questions of how safe we are -- from disease, terrorism or something unspoken and perhaps more ominous -- central in their attacks against Democrats. Their message is decidedly grim: PresidentObama and the Democratic Party run a government that is so fundamentally broken it cannot offer its people the most basic protection from harm."

Kansas. David McCabe of the Hill: "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said [Greg Orman,] the independent challenger to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), would not be welcome to caucus with Senate Republicans if the GOP takes over the upper chamber's majority. 'It is an impossibility. It is not possible,' Priebus told Kansas City's 41 Action News." CW: Apparently Prince Rebus is unaware he is not a U.S. senator & has nothing to say about how the Senate conducts its business. If Orman wins, Senate Republicans will court him.

North Carolina. E. J. Dionne: "In the struggle for control of the Senate, the reaction against reaction has allowed Sen. Kay Hagan, so far at least, to defy the punditocracy. Once seen as one of this year's most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, Hagan has been maintaining a small but steady lead over state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Tillis's problem is the sharp right turn in the governance of one of the South's traditionally moderate states, which he helped engineer along with Gov. Pat McCrory."

Oregon. Laura Gunderson of the Oregonian: "Less than 24 hours after news broke of a secret marriage, Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes tearfully apologized to Oregonians and to her fiancé, Gov. John Kitzhaber, for accepting $5,000 to illegally marry an 18-year-old Ethiopian in need of a green card." Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is running for re-election. The latest poll, which is several weeks old, has Kitzhaber up 12 against his Republican challenger Dennis Richardson.

South Dakota. Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "... while former Sen. Larry Pressler [S.D.], who served nearly a quarter century in Congress as a Republican, won't say who he'd caucus with, he told The Hill Wednesday that, if elected, he'd be a 'friend of Obama' in the Senate. 'I don't regret those votes, 'cause on that day, that's how I felt,' he said of voting for Obama twice, a detail used by Republicans as evidence Pressler is now a closet Democrat.... A poll out this week showed him surging in the race -- despite only having raised about $107,000 through the second quarter of the year, and having spent even less -- narrowing Republican Mike Rounds' lead to just three points. He's more competitive in the four-way race than Democrat Rick Weiland, and in a head-to-head matchup with Rounds, Pressler leads him by 15 points."

** Texas. Phil Helsel of NBC News: "A federal judge has struck down a Texas voter ID law, saying the requirement that all voters show photo identification before casting a ballot amounted to a 'poll tax' designed to suppress voter turnout among minorities. U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos wrote in an opinion released Thursday evening that 'There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combatting voter fraud in Texas,' and that the state hadn't demonstrated that such fraud was widespread. Gonzales said the evidence showed the proponents of the law 'were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law's detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.'... Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said it will immediately appeal Thursday's ruling." Abbott, a Republican, is running for governor. Ramos is an Obama appointee.

     ... CW: This opinion -- which is here -- makes the kind of bold statement that do a number of the pro-marriage equality opinions, written -- as some pundits have pointed out -- for the history books. In fact, Ramos writes extensive of Texas's long history of minority disenfranchisement & voter suppression. Here's a highlight: "In every redistricting cycle since 1970, Texas has been found to have violated the VRA with racially gerrymandered districts." She also recounts the high -- and costly -- hurdles some plaintiffs have had to jump to maintain or reinstate their voting rights. This is an opinion that will make you mad at the Texas GOP all over again.

** Wisconsin. Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "On a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter ID law late Thursday, a month after a panel of appeals judges said it could go into place and less than four weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans approved the law in 2011, but it was quickly blocked by a series of court decisions in four lawsuits. Last month, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled the law could go into place for the upcoming election.... The panel followed that decision up with its final ruling Monday that upheld the voter ID law in its entirety. But the U.S. Supreme Court's ... hold on the law will remain in place until the nation's highest court decides whether to take the case..." ...

... The order is here. Justices Alito, Scalia & Thomas dissented, natch. ...

... In today's Comments, Nadd2 has some tips for Wisconsin voters & GOTV enthusiasts.

... Jessica VanEgeren of the (Madison) Capital Times: "Poverty-wage work is widespread in Wisconsin, particularly in food, retail, residential and in-home health care sectors, with roughly 700,000 workers earning less than a living wage in 2013, according to a report released Thursday by the Madison-based Center on Wisconsin Strategy and the Economic Policy Institute. The 'Raise the Floor' report based the number of Wisconsin workers who are not earning enough to support their families on the federal poverty benchmark for a family of four, or $11.36 an hour. Given that figure, 700,000, or one out of four, Wisconsin workers are employed but living in poverty. Wisconsin's minimum wage is much lower at $7.25 an hour." ...

     ... Scott Walker Is Fine with That. Wisconsin Gazette: "The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development determined this week that $7.25 an hour is a fair wage for minimum-wage workers. The department denied complaints from more than 100 Wisconsin workers. In a statement released this week, Wisconsin Jobs Now said, '... The law in Wisconsin is very clear: "every wage paid by any employer to any employee shall not be less than a living wage." ... The fact that Governor Walker thinks that $290 a week is what it costs to cover the basics of life in Wisconsin is beyond comprehension. This decision makes it unequivocally clear that Scott Walker is more than out of touch: he is brutally neglectful of a huge percentage of his constituents." ...

... CW: So starvation wages are against Wisconsin law? Don't worry about that, people. I'm sure Scotty & his gang in the state legislature can soon repair the situation: they'll repeal the law.

Beyond the Beltway

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Two months after a police officer's killing of an unarmed black teenager set off weeks of racial conflict in a St. Louis suburb, tense clashes emerged [in St. Louis] late Thursday after the Wednesday shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer."

Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch News: "Prosecutors won't proceed with charges in a brawl that involved several members of the Palin family, Anchorage police said Thursday.... Five police officers wrote up police reports on the scene. More than 15 witnesses were interviewed.... Overall, the accounts in the police report seemed to confirm, in broad terms, initial witness reports that surfaced before the police report's release. At least two fights appear to have broken out during the party, according to witness statements: a fight involving Track and Todd Palin, and one involving Bristol Palin. Seven witnesses verified Klingenmeyer's account of being punched in the face repeatedly by Bristol Palin." ...

... For Your Reading Pleasure, via TPM:

Washington, D.C., attorney Jody Westby stands up for her handyman Dennis Stucky, whom D.C. police have stopped for carrying bags (of tools, probably) after a burglar alarm went off in a nearby subdivision. Now imagine how this would have played out if Westby was a young black male attorney instead of a white, upper-crusty lady: