The Wires
The Ledes

Saturday, May 26, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorter Wedding:

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

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

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

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

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

Saturday
Jan092016

The Commentariat -- January 10, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "White House chief of staff Dennis [sic.] McDonough on Sunday said President Obama will not endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary race.... He added that Obama will be 'out there' campaigning after the primary to support the eventual nominee." ...

... Kyle Cheney of Politico: "President Barack Obama has met privately with Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton several times in recent months, but his chief of staff said Sunday that he's powwowed with her chief rival, Bernie Sanders, too. 'He has seen Senator Sanders, both with the Senate Democratic Caucus and privately,' Denis McDonough said on NBC's Meet the Press. 'And so, we'll continue to do that. He's obviously a leading senator in our caucus and we'll continue to do just that.'"

Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "Former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords will endorse Hillary Clinton, a person familiar with her plans confirmed."

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton holds a three-point edge over Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa, a tightening of the race with roughly three weeks until voting begins, according to a new set of surveys of likely voters from NBC/The Wall Street Journal/Marist." Haberman also reports other polling results.

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "... Hillary Clinton said Sunday that attacks against her husband over past infidelities and allegations of sexual abuse 'won't work,' calling them a 'dead end' and a 'blind alley' for her rivals. Speaking Sunday on CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Clinton was asked to respond to an ad released last week by GOP front-runner Donald Trump in which he sought to highlight Bill Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinskey [sic.]. 'If he wants to engage in personal attacks from the past, that’s his prerogative. So be it,' Clinton said...."

Bradford Richardson: "Donald Trump says President Obama’s irresponsible use of executive orders has paved the way for him to also use them freely if he wins the presidential race. 'I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things,' Trump said when asked if he would use executive orders in an interview Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'"

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama has invited a Syrian refugee to sit in the first lady's box for the State of the Union address on Tuesday, the White House said Sunday."

Judith Shulevitz of the New York Times: "As Marx might have said had he deemed women's work worth including in his labor theory of value (he didn't), 'reproductive labor' (as feminists call the creation and upkeep of families and homes) is the basis of the accumulation of human capital. I say it's time for something like reparations.... The universal basic income is a necessary condition for a just society, for it recognizes the fact that most of us -- men, women, parents and nonparents -- do a great deal of unpaid work to sustain the general well-being.... Basic income proposals are sprouting up again, from the right as well as the left."

Mike Rogoway of the Oregonian: "Oregon Public Broadcasting visited the [Malheur refuge] compound Friday and reported that militants appeared to be using federal computers inside the compound, machines that can be accessed only with employees' ID badges. Lists of names and Social Security numbers were visible, alongside government ID cards."

Anthony Faiola & Stephanie Kirchner of the Washington Post: "The Islamist extremist who staged a failed attack on a Paris police station last week had been living in a home for asylum seekers in western Germany, police said, deepening fears that militants may be infiltrating Europe disguised as migrants."

*****

Kristen East of Politico: "Michelle Obama's State of the Union guests this year are two people who President Barack Obama met while campaigning for the Oval Office in 2008. The first lady's guests -- Edith Childs of Greenwood, South Carolina, and Earl Smith of Austin, Texas -- 'personify President Obama's time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous,' a White House official said in a release Saturday." ...

... Also to be one of Michelle Obama's guests: Air Force Staff Sergeant Spencer Stone, who was one of the men "who subdued a gunman in August on a Paris-bound train...." Per Jackie Calmes of the New York Times. ...

... Gregory Korte of USA Today: "The White House said Friday that one seat in the First Lady's box 'will be left empty for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice.' [President] Obama made the announcement in a conference call with more than 20,000 supporters to discuss gun safety." ...

... Neil Vigdor of the CTpost: Connecticut "Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama for Tuesday's State of the Union address, further linking his legacy to President Barack Obama's progressive efforts on gun control." ...

... Kevin Freking of the AP: "A formerly homeless veteran from Las Vegas will sit in first lady Michelle Obama's visitor box during the State of the Union address Tuesday night. Cynthia Dias, 64, served during the Vietnam War on a hospital ship as a registered nurse and attributed her years of homelessness to post-traumatic stress disorder."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court starts the new year Monday with a politically charged battle over organized labor, only one of the controversies that are putting the ideologically divided and aging justices at the center of the presidential campaign. Already on the docket are abortion, affirmative action, the rights of religious objectors to opt out of legal obligations, and a clutch of election-law disputes that could benefit one political party over another."

Missed this. Samantha Page of Think Progress (Jan. 6): "TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, announced Wednesday it is filing a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that the project's permit denial was 'arbitrary and unjustified.' TransCanada is seeking $15 billion in costs and damages due to the denial, and has also filed a separate lawsuit against the U.S. in federal court. Under NAFTA, companies can sue governments that put investments at risk through regulation. If it proceeds, the case will go in front of an international tribunal. (A U.S. company sued Montreal in 2013 over a fracking ban, using the same rationale). The tribunal cannot overturn the permit denial, but it can force payment of damages."

Presidential Race

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is doubling down on his support for President Obama's gun background-checks plan, in the face of mounting attacks from his chief Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton. In a speech Saturday, Sanders set out to 'set the record straight' on a stance that he said has become distorted."

Kristen East: Hillary Clinton's campaign released a new ad Saturday seeking to turn the arguments of the most pointed critics of her tenure as Secretary of State back against them":

... Maureen Dowd: Donald Trump is "wielding his knife on [Hillary Clinton's] most sensitive pressure point: her hypocrisy in running as a feminist icon when she was part of political operations that smeared women who told the truth about Bill's transgressions. Hillary told friends that Monica [Lewinsky] was a 'troubled young person' getting ministered to by Bill and a 'narcissistic loony toon.' Hillary's henchman Sidney Blumenthal spread around the story that Monica was a stalker...." ...

... Your Dowd Antidote. The Phases of the Bill. Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: "Twenty-four years after New Hampshire voters helped to resurrect his own political fortunes, [Bill] Clinton was back in the state, appealing to them.... A gifted Republican opponent will have plenty to say about each of these accomplishments, but over-all Bill's case for his wife was a strong rebuke to the idea that she has been on a cynical crusade to gain political power simply for the sake of holding it. Just as he did for [President] Obama in 2012, Bill made a case for Hillary that was better than the candidate's case for herself." ...

... CW: "A gifted Republican opponent...." Here's one true thing: there is no Republican candidate as gifted at retail politics as is Bill Clinton. ...

... Steve M.: "... making us feel icky about the Clintons, one way or another, is going to be a key Republican tactic this year.... If Trump is the nominee, the attacks are going to be blunt and unsubtle. If it's Cruz, we'll get something subtler. But sexualized discomfort is the goal."

Patrick Healy & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential nominee who represents their interests.... Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, are trying to stage what is effectively a people's coup by selecting a standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and elected officials. And many of those traditional power brokers, in turn, are deeply uncomfortable and even hostile to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz: Between them, the leading candidates do not have the backing of a single senator or governor."

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Some registered voters in Iowa received robocalls Saturday from a white nationalist super PAC that urged them to support Donald Trump in the 2016 election. 'I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America,' Jared Taylor said on the robocall, paid for by the American National Super PAC. 'We don't need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.'... The robocall included two more endorsements from a conservative Christian talk show host and the head of the white nationalist American Freedom Party.... Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not immediately respond to a request for comment." ...

... Donald Trump & Michael Miller of the Washington Post & some former classmates argue over Trump's performance at New York Military Academy. ...

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "...Donald Trump says North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-un deserves 'credit' for the cutthroat efficiency with which he disposes of his political foes." CW: Expect Kim to endorse Donald any day now & Donald to boast about it. If you want to know what kind of a president Trump would be, I believe the answer is embedded here. ...

... Birtherism, Ctd. Trip Gabriel & Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump sharply escalated his rhetoric about Senator Ted Cruz's eligibility to be president on Saturday, suggesting that because he was born in Canada there were unanswered questions about whether he met the constitutional requirement to be a 'natural-born citizen.'... Mr. Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, to an American mother, which automatically conferred American citizenship. Most legal experts agree that satisfies the requirement to be a 'natural-born citizen,' a term that was not defined by the founders." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "... white Republicans -- which can often just be shortened to 'Republicans' -- support disciplining a child with spanking. In 2014, 80 percent of white Republicans agreed with [Ted] Cruz that spanking was okay.... The only region of the country in which a majority opposes spanking is New England: Very white, very Democratic New England."

... MEANWHILE. Anna Palmer of Politico: "As Trump packs stadiums across the country, and Cruz treks through Iowa expanding his lead, the rest of the Republican field -- desperate for traction -- debated the finer points of the earned-income tax credit, charter-school education and how the Republican Party can help alleviate poverty at the sedate -- and serious -- Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity.... Nobody was paying attention. And that's why the forum neatly explained the 2016 race. It lasted more than five hours, the crowd was tame and the candidates -- many of whom have struggled to break through -- spent the entirety of the session in a collegial back-and-forth discussion of vital, if mundane policy proposals that polls suggest most voters don't care a lick about."

Beyond the Beltway

So this guy showed up to "de-escalate" the situation at the Malheur refuge.Sam Levin of the Guardian: "A large group of heavily armed men showed up to the wildlife refuge occupation in eastern Oregon on Saturday, further escalating tensions and causing internal conflicts at the protests.... The men said they were with a group called the Pacific Patriot Network and were a 'neutral party', there to provide security and protection for everyone at the refuge. LaVoy Finicum, a regular spokesman for the armed militia, which has occupied the federal land since last Saturday, told the men they were not welcome or needed and that the militia was trying to minimize conflicts -- not bring more guns to the compound. Ammon Bundy, the leader of the militia, had no idea a new group of armed men would be coming, according to Todd Macfarlane, who said he was acting as a liaison between the militia and the public." ...

... Kelly House of the Oregonian is updating developments. After Ammon Bundy said he didn't want the "help" of the Pacific Patriots Network, members of the heavily-armed group began leaving the immediate area. ...

... Shakezula of LG&M: "Why PPN thought Ammo Bundy wanted them to come to MNWR is indeed a mystery. At the end of his Dec. 30 FB post he writes: 'CALL TO ACTION: All able body men and women come to Burns, Oregon on or before January 2nd. Come prepared and be willing to stand.' PPN showed up seven days after the deadline. That's not fashionably late, that's just gauche."

Bryce Covert of Think Progress: "On Friday, lawyers for [19 women] who alleged that employees of Baltimore's public housing agency demanded sex in return for critical housing repairs announced a settlement for all victims of sexual harassment in public housing. Besides a financial award between $6 million and $7.5 million, the settlement required Baltimore to fire and ban all the abusers from Housing Authority property, move the plaintiffs into livable homes. The Housing Authority also created 50 new maintenance positions with new policies and procedures, and cut down their backlog of repairs from over 4,000 to 1,500." CW: Being a poor woman of color in this country still is a sentence to perpetual indignities, both small & terrible. ...

... For Instance. Magee Hickey & Alyssa Zauderer of WPIX New York: "Police have released surveillance video of five men accused of holding a teenager at gunpoint and raping her inside of a playground Thursday in Brooklyn.... The 18-year-old was walking with her father in Osborn Playground near Hegeman Avenue when they were approached by five men. One of the men pointed a gun at the victims and told the father to leave. The father fled and called police, while all five men raped the teenager. By the time police had arrived, the suspects ran." ...

... CW: Wait a minute. Five men had time to rape a young woman in a public park before NYPD showed up? The incident took place in Brownsville, which is a poor, predominantly African-American section of Brooklyn. Maybe, just maybe, that explains it. Neither this NYC report nor another I read even comment on the time factor. Evidently, the sl-o-o-ow response time is to be expected.

Way Beyond

Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: "After long resisting requests from Washington, the Mexican government is moving toward extraditing Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, to the United States to face drug and murder charges there, Mexican officials said on Saturday." CW: Also, less likely to escape from U.S. max security prison. ...

... While Guzman was on the run, actor Sean Penn interviewed him. Rolling Stone has published the interview along with a lo-o-o-ong prologue by Penn. Penn fancies himself an "author," which he thinks means composing an adverb-laden internal monologue. ...

... Educardo Castillo & Katherine Corcoran of the AP: "A Mexican federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to comment on the issue, told the Associated Press it was the Penn interview that led authorities to Guzman in a rural part of Durango state in October.

Erik Kirschbaum & Marcia Adair of the Los Angeles Times: "Pitched battles erupted during an anti-immigration demonstration in Cologne on Saturday between the right-wing marchers and police as tensions in Germany remained high more than a week after hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed on New Year's Eve." ...

... BBC News: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed changes to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers who commit crimes, after the New Year's Eve sex attacks on women in Cologne." ...

... Der Spiegel (English): "New Year's Eve in Cologne rapidly descended into a chaotic free-for-all involving sexual assault and theft, most of it apparently committed by foreigners. It has launched a bitter debate over immigration and refugees in Germany -- one that could change the country."

News Ledes

AP: "Egypt's first legislature in more than three years, a 596-seat chamber packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, held its inaugural session on Sunday, signaling the completion of a political road map announced after the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president."

AP: "No ticket matched all six Powerball numbers following the drawing for a record jackpot of nearly $950 million, lottery officials said early Sunday, boosting the expected payout for the next drawing to a whopping $1.3 billion. The winning numbers -- disclosed live on television and online Saturday night -- were 16-19-32-34-57 and the Powerball number 13. All six numbers must be correct to win, although the first five can be in any order. The odds to win the largest lottery prize in U.S. history were one in 292.2 million."

Friday
Jan082016

The Commentariat -- January 9, 2016

White House: "In this week's address, the President remarked on the incredible progress that has been made in the American auto industry":

Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama vetoed legislation Friday that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and stripped all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, writing in his veto message that the measure would 'reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America.'" ...

... Here's President Obama's full veto message. ...

... Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "A new CNN-ORC survey of 1,000 Americans finds that the public supports [President] Obama's plan by a 2-to-1 ratio: 67 percent of respondents favored the executive actions, while 32 percent opposed them. Even more striking, a similar share of people in gun-owning households -- 63 percent -- supported the measures. Even more striking: 51 percent of Republicans support Obama's executive action on guns." ...

... Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "Senator Richard C. Shelby, the veteran Republican from Alabama up for re-election in November [and] chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, has summoned [Attorney General Loretta] Lynch for a Jan. 28 hearing to 'discuss the president's firearms proposals and any potential infringement on law-abiding Americans' Second Amendment rights,' he said in a letter to the attorney general." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Gail Collins: "If every gun owner had to demonstrate the ability to handle a weapon, it wouldn't necessarily stop anyone from eventually acquiring a gun. But it would take some time and trouble, which would cut down on casual sales.... Even Jeb Bush, in his assault on the president's itsy-bitsy loophole-closing initiative, talked about how 'law-abiding citizens that are trained to be able to protect themselves creates a safer America.'" ...

     ... CW: We might even get the NRA behind such a law; they & their friends could make a mint running "education ranges." And making money is what the NRA is all about.

Ron Nixon of the New York Times on the Department of Homeland Security's curtailed efforts to track & gather intelligence on anti-government militia groups & other home-grown extremists. As most of you will recall, Republicans objected to the program. CW: Because so many Republicans are anti-government extremists. Really.

Pamela Constable of the Washington Post: "Despite an uproar from liberal Democrats and Latino advocacy groups, administration officials said Friday that they intend to continue the raids [to capture & deport families who fled Central American violence], hoping to send a signal and prevent a repeat of the huge surge in illegal border crossings. Although the numbers dipped last spring, a new spike saw more than 10,000 children reach the border in October and November alone."

Jad Mouawad of the New York Times: "The Department of Homeland Security has given states an extra two years to comply with federal requirements to issue driving licenses with extra safety features, meaning that residents of noncompliant states will have until January 2018 before having to use a passport or other official identification to board a domestic flight. The extension directly concerns six states and territories that are not in compliance with the law, known as the Real ID Act of 2005. Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico and Washington State and the territory of American Samoa have not yet taken steps to satisfy government officials that the driver's licenses they have issued carry enough security features."

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "House Republicans reached out to GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson in 2014 about replacing John Boehner as Speaker of the House, Carson told The Hill on Thursday. 'They were looking for an alternative, they were looking for someone strong and courageous who might really be able to add some spine and some backbone,' Carson said.... Carson declined to identify the House Republicans who approached him, but Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) told The Hill on Thursday that he was one of a group of three who did so." ...

... MEANWHILE, Not-Speaker Carson was in Iowa Friday shaming an unlucky fifth-grader.

Brandi Grissom of Trail Blazers: Texas "Gov. Greg Abbott ... said Friday that he wants Texas to lead the call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and wrest power from a federal government 'run amok.'... Along with the speech, Abbott released a nearly 70-page plan -- part American civics lesson, part anti-Obama diatribe -- detailing nine proposed constitutional amendments that he said would unravel the federal government's decades-long power grab and restore authority over economic regulation and other matters to the states." Grissom lists Abbott's proposed amendments. ...

... Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle: "Gov. Greg Abbott wants to dramatically curtail the U.S. Supreme Court's power and slash federal oversight of states through a national convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. His Friday proposal comes in the wake of Republican outrage over President Obama's actions on issues, including gun control and immigration; Supreme Court decisions on cases involving such matters as gay marriage and health care; and federal agency action on the environment and other issues." ...

... Steve M.: "This comes two days after Marco Rubio wrote in USA Today that he also advocates a convention of states. The idea has been promoted by Koch-affiliated organizations as ALEC and Citizens for Self-Governance. And when you look at the amendments Abbott is pushing, you can see why this would be a pet idea of the Kochs."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "... California teachers have sued [their] union, saying that they are being forced to pay to support positions with which they disagree, in violation of the First Amendment. Their lawsuit, if it is successful, will be the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign to undermine public unions. And there is good reason to think they will win. The Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the case on Monday, has twice suggested that the First Amendment bars forcing government workers to make payments to unions."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Fifteen years almost to the day since former President Bill Clinton left office, a newly released batch of documents from his library offers a fresh look at his later years in the White House.... The release of the transcripts also emphasized the complications for Mrs. Clinton in her second campaign for the White House. Not only does she have her own record as senator and secretary of state to promote or defend, she is also campaigning against the backdrop of her husband's record -- often to her advantage but sometimes not, as in the last few days when Republicans focused attention on Mr. Clinton's sexual misconduct." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Our "Education" Racket. Will Hobson & Stephen Rich of the Washington Post: "As a reward for making an industry fueled by unpaid athletes more lucrative than ever, the men who run these conferences have enjoyed staggering pay hikes doled out by the leaders of many of America's largest universities." CW: Meanwhile, to actually teach students, universities rely more & more heavily on adjunct professors, who don't make a living wage.

Julie Zauzmer & Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "A man who plotted to kidnap one of the Obama family's pet dogs was arrested in the District on Wednesday with a cache of weapons and ammunition in his car, the Secret Service said."

Presidential Race

Nick Gass of Politico: "Bernie Sanders has soared to a 13-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire in a Fox News survey out Friday, nearly a month to the day that primary voters will make their decision at the polls on Feb. 9. Sanders, who in November held a slim 1-point advantage over Clinton in the same poll (45 percent to 44 percent), this time took 50 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Clinton. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley earned 3 percent." ...

... Edward-Isaac Dovere & Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "... White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday that [President] Obama would have to review [Bernie] Sanders' record on guns before committing to support the Vermont senator.... Asked about the president's pledge made in a New York Times op-ed Thursday -- that he wouldn't support any candidate who wasn't for common-sense gun control, including the gun manufacturer liability provision that Sanders has voted against -- Earnest said it wasn't intended as 'any sort of secret or subtle signal to demonstrate a preference in the presidential primary.' The Clinton campaign, & Clinton herself, pointed to Sanders' record of voting against gun-control bills. ...

... Hillary Clinton, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "There's a lot at stake in this election. Nowhere is this clearer than in the US Supreme Court.... On Election Day, three of the current justices will be over 80 years old, which is past the court's average retirement age. The next president could easily appoint more than one justice. That makes this a make-or-break moment -- for the court and our country.... Republicans ... see this election as an opportunity to pack the courts with jurists who will turn back the clock.... Those who care about the fairness of elections, the future of unions, racial disparities in universities, the rights of women, or the future of our planet, should care about who appoints the next justices." ...

... Megan Wilson of the Hill: "The State Department has been providing 'inaccurate and incomplete' responses to requests for emails and other documents involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a watchdog says in a new report released Thursday. The 29-page IG report says the leadership of the State Department 'has not played a meaningful role in overseeing or reviewing the quality' of the responses to requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Eliza Collins of Politico: "Charles Koch is 'disappointed' with the line-up of Republican candidates in the 2016 cycle, and is surprised by the lack of influence he and his brother have wielded so far. In an interview with the Financial Times, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist, said he'll eventually support a candidate who he agrees with on some things with, but that it's hard to get excited. He said a list presented to all the candidates about the Kochs' political arm's priorities 'doesn't seem to faze them much. You'd think we could have more influence.'" CW: Yo, Chuck. You've got Marco in your pocket. And the governor of Texas is good, too. (See link to Steve M.'s post above.)

... CW: A week or so I ago, I wondered what would happen if people attended Trump rallies in traditional Muslim dress but did nothing to disrupt the rallies. Well, now we know:

Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "Rose Hamid, a 56-year-old flight attendant ... wearing a hijab [and] ... sitting in the stands directly behind Trump, stood up Friday during Trump's speech when the Republican front-runner suggested that Syrian refugees fleeing war in Syria were affiliated with ISIS.... Despite her silence, Trump supporters around her began chanting Trump's name -- as instructed by Trump campaign staff before the event in case of protests -- and pointed at Hamid and Marty Rosenbluth, the man alongside her who stood up as well. As they were escorted out, Trump supporters roared -- booing the pair and shouting at them to 'get out.'... After Hamid and three others, all wearing stars reminiscent of those worn by Jews during the Holocaust, were escorted out by police and Trump campaign officials, Trump [said]... 'There is hatred against us that is unbelievable... It's their hatred, it's not our hatred.'" Hamid said some people sitting around her, to whom she had spoken earlier, were kindly & said "sorry" when Trump ejected her. Includes video of Don Lemon's interview of Hamid. ...

... Judd Legum of TPM has CNN video of Hamid's ejection as it happened.

Dana Milbank: "Ted Cruz this week made his latest appeal to America's nativist fringe by naming Rep. Steve King of Iowa as a national co-chairman of his presidential campaign.... King raised questions about President Obama's birth certificate, voiced doubts that Obama had been born in America, floated the idea that Obama's birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers may have been placed 'by telegram from Kenya,' and alleged that Obama 'was not raised with an American experience.' So we're entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web.... Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it's entirely fitting that he gets burned. But however tempting it is, I'm not joining in the Cruz birtherism; it was wrong when done to Obama, and it's wrong now done to Cruz." ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Cruz's mother's name appears on a Canadian government document, obtained by TPM in 2013, that lists Canadian citizens eligible to vote in 1974.... In 2013, a Canadian elections official told TPM that in the process of compiling the list, enumerators asked people to affirm that they were Canadian citizens." ...

... Nick Gass: "In another attempt to quash Trump-fueled speculation that he is not eligible for the presidency based on his Canadian birth, Ted Cruz's campaign released his mother's birth certificate to Breitbart News on Friday, showing that Eleanor Darragh was born Nov. 23, 1934, in Wilmington, Delaware." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "At a stop [in Charles City, Iowa]..., Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told a crowd in a coffee house that when his 5-year-old daughter Catherine tells a lie, 'she gets a spanking.' He went on to suggest that voters should spank Hillary Clinton for lying about Benghaaazi! CW: But there's nothing sexist about that. ...

... David Graham, in the Atlantic's "Gaffe Track": "The moral: Spare the Rodham, spoil the child."

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "... Jeb Bush is calling for an end to the federal food stamp program as part of a proposed revamp of the nation's welfare system. Bush would end the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, generally known as food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Instead, state governments would be able to apply for new federal 'Right to Rise' grants to pay for programs launched to assist lower-income residents." CW: And if voters in your state isn't very, very nice to the administration, the kids will starve. The aristocrats are getting bolder. ...

... Right to Tank. Frank Newport of Gallup: "... Jeb Bush's image among Republicans has steadily worsened over the past 5 ½ months. His current net favorable rating of -1 (44% favorable, 45% unfavorable) among Republicans is significantly lower than his +27 (54% favorable, 27% unfavorable) rating in mid-July." Sometimes having a lot of money doesn't make you popular. Give Charles Koch a call, Jeb! He's lonely & he knows how you feel. Although he too thinks you're a Doofus. (See Eliza Collins' story, linked above.)

Beyond the Beltway

... isn't this the strangest thing that those that are the most fervent fetal protectors seem to be the same ones that besmirch these children once they arrive, whether it be the abuses of the Church, lead poisoning in the water, taking away food stamps---the list goes on. -- P. D. Pepe, in today's commentary

** Charles Pierce: "It's time for Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, and Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, to decide to spend more time with their respective families. By their misuse of their offices, they have forfeited the right to hold them anymore. They have left us with a Hobson's Choice of which is the worse malfeasance under the color of law: covering up the riddling of a young man by your rogue police force, or covering up the fact that your policies have sentenced hundreds of young people in Flint to the lives of mental and emotional damage and upheaval to which lead poisoning inevitably leads."

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "An Iraqi-born refugee charged with attempting to aid Islamic militants made his first court appearance on Friday, telling a judge that he needed a court-appointed lawyer because he could not afford one as federal prosecutors pushed to keep him detained without bond. The refugee, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, a Palestinian who has been living in a Houston apartment with his wife and child, was charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State, designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. He was also accused of procuring citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements during an interview with a federal agent."

Texas, Making Sure Guns Get into the Hands of Those Who May Harm Themselves & Others. Rick Jervis of USA Today: "Visitors to one of Texas' 10 state mental health hospitals will be allowed to openly carry weapons into the facilities, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Employees and patients will still be barred from bringing in weapons. The hospitals this week pulled down signs banning guns at its facilities and posted new ones asking people to leave their firearms in their cars or conceal them from patients, said Carrie Williams, a state health department spokeswoman.... A pair of new laws, enacted this year ... allows Texans with a gun license to legally carry a holstered firearm without concealing it and bans state agencies from posting signs telling people they cannot carry guns on property." CW: It ain't just the inmates who are insane. Shouldn't the state legislature be committed en masse?

Luke Hammill of the Oregonian: "Members of a group from outside Oregon arrived on Friday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to 'secure a perimeter' around the compound and prevent 'a Waco-style situation.'... The group's website says it stands for 'freedom, liberty and the Constitution. We will combat all those who are corrupt.' The website displays the motto, 'When Tyranny Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty!'... The group's arrival came a few hours after [Ammon] Bundy informed reporters that the militants would not immediately accept Sheriff Dave Ward's offer to peacefully escort the occupiers out of town." ...

... Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian: Why does the federal government own so much land? Because that was the founders' intention: "A 1787 agreement among all 13 founding states -- that every bit of land added to the United States would be owned and controlled by a strong federal government -- was the linchpin needed before delegates went on to write the Constitution. That deal was known as the Northwest Ordinance.... Their determination that the federal government would own every shred of land brought into the new nation and dispose of or manage it as it wished was enshrined in the Constitution, in a short half-sentence in Article IV: 'The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "We have people engaging in armed insurrection over the vast oppression of being asked to pay a small fee when grazing their animals on public land; surely an important part of the story is the fact that the perpetrators know that they won't face the consequences that would follow if, you know, some nonwhite group pulled a similar stunt.... Something that strikes me, however -- and which I don't fully understand -- is that when people like this turn to angry rhetoric, with at least a hint of violence, the trigger events tend to be trivial." ...

... Travis Gettys of the Raw Story: "Joe Oshaugnessy, an Arizona militiaman, has been actively seeking volunteers through social media to join the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But his friends tearfully announced that Oshaugnessy, who is known as 'Capt. O,' had left the refuge Wednesday and was instead staying at a motel nearby.... Oshaugnessy had kept the money he had raised through social media for himself and had spent at least some of it on a drinking binge." Emphasis added. CW: And you can bet that drunken "soldier" had plenty of guns & ammo at the ready. Luckily, the big tear-jerking "tragedy" here so far is that some militant yahoos wasted their money funding another militant yahoo's binge. ...

... MEANWHILE, if you were planning to go cross-country skiing in the Malheur Refuge this weekend, as is your right, I'd suggest another venue. ...

Philadelphia Inquirer: "While not classifying the shooting as a terrorist attack, police said Friday that the man arrested after shooting and wounding a police officer in an ambush in West Philadelphia Thursday night confessed he acted 'in the name of Islam.'" ...

... CBS Philadelphia: "During a police press conference Friday afternoon, [Philadelphia] Mayor Jim Kenney stated that he believes the shooting of a Philadelphia police officer has 'nothing to do with being a Muslim,' despite the suspect claiming he did it in the name of Islam. Mayor Kenney said, 'In no way shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam has anything to do with what you've seen on the screen.'"

Samuel Lieberman of New York: "Sergeant Kizzy Adonis, of Staten Island's 120th Precinct, who was present when Eric Garner died after being put in an illegal chokehold by an officer, was put on modified duty on Friday as part of an NYPD internal review of the July 2014 incident. Adonis has been removed from street enforcement and was required to turn in her gun and badge."

Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald: "Gov. Paul LePage responded Friday to the firestorm that erupted after he said drug dealers coming to Maine were impregnating young white girls, admitting to making 'one slip' in the comment before going on to blame the media for implying that the remark was racist.... LePage's comment has once again catapulted the Republican governor into the national spotlight, commanding attention from The New York Times and The Washington Post -- as well as from obscure white supremacist websites. LePage also said his comment about white women couldn't have been racist because Maine's population is predominantly white." ...

... The New York Times story, by Katharine Seelye, is here. ...

... CW: If LePage weren't in a position of power, his denial/blame-the-media/"apology" would be comical. As it is, it further demonstrates what an unreconstructed racist he is. The LePage era is a tragic episode in Maine's history.

Sarah Larimer & Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post: Tonya Couch, "the mother of 'affluenza' teen Ethan Couch, was arraigned on felony charges and ordered to surrender her passport in a Texas courtroom on Friday...." ...

... Emily Schmall of the AP: Tonya Couch "has complained about the conditions of her Texas jail cell, a sheriff said Friday. 'She expressed a slight displeasure about her accommodations, and I told her this was a jail and not a resort,' Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said at a news conference."

Way Beyond

Richard Orange of the (U.K.) Telegraph: "Asylum seekers who met in central Helsinki to celebrate New Years's Eve 'had similar plans' to commit sexual assault and other crimes as those who targeted women in the Germany city of Cologne, Finnish Police have reported. Three Iraqi asylum seekers have been arrested for committing sexual assaults during the celebrations in the city's Senate Square, where some 20,000 had gathered. Security personnel reported 'widespread sexual harassment' during the celebrations, police added, with women complaining that asylum seekers had groped their breasts and kissed them without permission." ...

... Alison Smale of the New York Times: "At least 18 asylum seekers are among 31 people who have been identified so far by the federal police as having played a role in assaults on young women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. The police chief in Cologne was forced out of his job on Friday amid the growing uproar over the episode, which has ignited calls across the political spectrum for expelling convicted criminals, even if they are seeking asylum from war and persecution at home." CW: Well, yeah.

Alison Smale: "At least 231 children who sang in a boys' choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVI were abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday. The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread. At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.... Asked whether Benedict's brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, 'After my research, I must assume so.'" CW: I'll bet Brother Benedict knew, too. This does help explain why Benedict didn't give a Rat's ass about priests' abusing children.

News Lede

New York Times: "One of the last survivors of the inner sanctums of the White House during and immediately after World War II, [George] Elsey died on Dec. 30 in Tustin, Calif. He was 97."

Thursday
Jan072016

The Commentariat -- January 8, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Megan Wilson of the Hill: "The State Department has been providing 'inaccurate and incomplete' responses to requests for emails and other documents involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a watchdog says in a new report released Thursday. The 29-page IG report says the leadership of the State Department 'has not played a meaningful role in overseeing or reviewing the quality' of the responses to requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Fifteen years almost to the day since former President Bill Clinton left office, a newly released batch of documents from his library offers a fresh look at his later years in the White House.... The release of the transcripts also emphasized the complications for Mrs. Clinton in her second campaign.... Not only does she have her own record as senator and secretary of state to promote or defend, she is also campaigning against the backdrop of her husband's record -- often to her advantage but sometimes not, as in the last few days when Republicans focused attention on Mr. Clinton's sexual misconduct."

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "Senator Richard C. Shelby, the veteran Republican from Alabama up for re-election in November [and] chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department, has summoned [Attorney General Loretta] Lynch for a Jan. 28 hearing to 'discuss the president's firearms proposals and any potential infringement on law-abiding Americans' Second Amendment rights,' he said in a letter to the attorney general."

Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian: Why does the federal government own so much land? Because that was the founders' intention: "A 1787 agreement among all 13 founding states -- that every bit of land added to the United States would be owned and controlled by a strong federal government -- was the linchpin needed before delegates went on to write the Constitution. That deal was known as the Northwest Ordinance.... Their determination that the federal government would own every shred of land brought into the new nation and dispose of or manage it as it wished was enshrined in the Constitution, in a short half-sentence in Article IV: 'The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.'"

*****

Chris Mooney of the Washington Post: "A group of 24 geoscientists on Thursday released a bracing assessment, suggesting that humans have altered the Earth so extensively that the consequences will be detectable in current and future geological records. They therefore suggest that we should consider the Earth to have moved into a new geologic epoch, the 'Anthropocene,' sometime circa 1945-1964." A summary of the findings is here. The report itself is Science-subscriber firewalled.

Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "President Barack Obama confronted his critics -- both in the gun lobby and his own party -- on Thursday night as he made the case for stiffening some gun controls in a televised town hall. 'What I've said consistently throughout my presidency is I respect the Second Amendment, I respect the right to bear arms, I respect people who want to have guns for self-protection, for hunting.' Obama said. However, he added, 'everybody agrees that it makes sense to keep guns out of the hands of people who want to do others harm -- or do themselves harm.'" ...

... The New York Times story, by Michael Shear, is here. ...

... Barack Obama, in a New York Times op-ed: "I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve." ...

     ... Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: President Obama's NYT op-ed was a message to Hillary Clinton. ...

... Gabrielle Giffords, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Today, five years after I was shot, we are making progress. While Congress refuses to act, many state leaders are embracing common-sense change that keeps guns out of the wrong hands. This week, we made even more progress when President Obama announced that his administration will significantly narrow the loopholes that let people buy guns without a background check. It is the right, responsible thing to do." ...

** New York Times Editors: "A president who spoke so movingly about the violent gun deaths of children here has taken on the job of sending mothers and children on one-way trips to the deadliest countries in our hemisphere. Mothers and children who pose no threat, actual or imaginable, to our security."

Frank Rich on Obama's push for small-bore gun control measures, Donald Trump's attacks on (and the press's questions about) Bill Clinton's sexual peccadilloes, & white rage.

Keith Bradsher of the New York Times: President Xi Jinping's efforts to manage China's economy have been haphazard & ineffective. ...

... Paul Krugman: "... while China itself is in big trouble, the consequences for the rest of us should be manageable.... Financial linkages may be part of the story, but one also suspects that there is psychological contagion: Good or bad news in one major economy affects animal spirits in others." ...

... CW: Worth noting, as Krugman does not: if we have another recession in 2016, or even a mini-recession, as a direct or indirect result of China's economic woes, welcome President Trump or Cruz or Rubio. One thing American voters are not: economists. They think if their cousin loses his job or WalMart raises the price on Tostitos, it's the president's fault.

Presidential Race

Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "The political arm of Planned Parenthood will endorse Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on Sunday, a Clinton campaign official confirmed. The endorsement marks the first time in the organization's 100-year history that Planned Parenthood Action Fund has endorsed a candidate in a primary."

... there is a big difference between me and everybody else running on both sides. I'm the only person running who says my goal and my pledge is to raise incomes, not raise middle-class taxes. I will not raise middle-class taxes. -- Hillary Clinton, in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 4, 2016

... it's absurd for Clinton to claim that she is the only candidate in either party to have a plan to both raise incomes and not raise middle class taxes. The Republicans all say they won't raise taxes -- and every candidate promises to raise incomes.... This is an example of actually believing your own spin, no matter how absurd. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

I haven't been able to find a trustworthy comparative analysis of Clinton's plan v. other candidates' economic plans. But there is no question that Democrats' plans are friendlier to low- and middle-income Americans than are any of the Republicans' plans, no matter what the candidates claim. In addition, Sanders has said he would raise taxes -- mostly but not exclusively on the wealthy -- in order to provide services that would increase opportunities for low- and middle-class Americans. (His most substantial tax hike on the middle-class -- to pay for single-payer health insurance -- obviously has a huge offset: it eliminates the cost of private health insurance.) Kessler doesn't bother to analyze any of the candidates' plans; instead, he relies on talking points. To criticize Hillary for her talking point while relying on other candidates talking points doesn't make sense. I give him 4 Pinocchios. -- Constant Weader

Ali Vitali & Andrew Rafferty of NBC News: "After a day's worth of drama over the crowd size at Donald Trump's rally here Thursday, the Republican presidential front-runner's campaign attempted to bar anyone who did not pledge their support from attending his event. But that didn't stop a number of protesters from disrupting the event held just blocks from Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign headquarters. On multiple occasions, pro-Sanders or anti-Trump activists made themselves known to the auditorium, one group even moving towards the stage with a 'dump Trump' sign before being escorted out. Trump said those who made it into his rally at a 1,400-seat auditorium were 'very lucky' after his campaign distributed 20,000 free tickets." ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "Trump responded to the interruptions with his characteristic grace and generosity. He helpfully pointed out the unruly audience members, directed his security to move faster, and diagnosed one protester with a substance-abuse problem. He also had a great suggestion for deterring such goon-ish behavior. 'Throw him out into the cold,' Trump said. 'Don't give them their coat. No coats! Confiscate their coats!"' It's a pretty light sentence, compared to a Trump-endorsed beating." ...

... Dan Carter of the New York Times: "... there are striking similarities between [Donald] Trump and George C. Wallace.... What both share is the demagogue's instinctive ability to tap into the fear and anger that regularly erupts in American politics.... [Running for president in Northern-state primaries,] he was a pioneer in the use of code words to attack African-Americans while seldom mentioning race.... Attacks by the mainstream media only strengthened his support.... The Alabama governor's success in mobilizing white working-class voters forced other candidates -- particularly Nixon -- to adapt a housebroken version of his rhetoric and policies. Mr. Wallace may have begun his career as a New Deal Democrat, but the way he appealed to these predominantly Democratic voters by channeling their frustrations against the federal government did much to pave the way for Ronald Reagan's more genial anti-government ideology." ...

... ** Anne Pluta of 538: "One way to understand Trump's longevity is to look more closely at his supporters. Trump's backers tend to be whiter, slightly older and less educated than the average Republican voter. But perhaps more importantly, his supporters have shown signs of being misinformed. Political science research has shown that the behavior of misinformed citizens is different from those who are uninformed, and this difference may explain Trump's unusual staying power.... The difference between the [misinformed & the uninformed] is stark.... The most misinformed citizens tend to be the most confident in their views and are also the strongest partisans.... Attempts to present corrections and generate counterarguments to the group's beliefs only strengthened their opinions." ...

... Katie Glueck of Politico: "... there's little evidence that the Donald Trump-fueled tempest over Ted Cruz's eligibility to run for president is fading away, forcing the Texas senator to field questions about passports and his parents on national television, just three weeks before the Iowa caucuses." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "Ted Cruz fired back at John McCain on Thursday, a day after his Senate colleague had deemed valid questions about whether the Texas senator is eligible for the presidency because of his place of birth. McCain, he declared, is trying to help another senator's run -- Marco Rubio." ...

... About Those Cuban Heels. Jonathan Chait: Marco Rubio's opponents "are trying to make Rubio's boots imply something deeper about his character: that he is a lightweight, unmanly, lacking the angry urgency needed at the moment. The boots are a synecdoche. Sunny and optimistic can be turned into callow, naïve, and even effeminate." CW: The Rubio version of "mom jeans."

Jeb!'s Biggest Backer Thinks He's a Doofus. Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "Former AIG chairman Hank Greenberg is reportedly distancing himself from a $10 million donation made to Jeb Bush's super-PAC. Just hours after The Wall Street Journal reported the large donation from Greenberg -- which would have made him one of the most generous contributors in the 2016 race -- the businessman has reportedly backtracked, attributing the donation to his company and giving less than complimentary assessment of Bush's performance on the campaign trail. 'Listen, I like Jeb Bush. Sorry he's not living up to expectations but that's the reality of it.'" ...

... "Jeb Crow." Neely Tucker of the Washington Post writes an excellent piece on Governor Jeb!'s executive action to end affirmative action in Florida. If you want to know what kind of president Jeb! would be, here's your answer: cunning in his objectives, stupid & nasty in executing them. Why, it's as if he's Dick Cheney & Dubya in one.

Eliza Collins of Politico: "Responding to a question from Fox News' Sean Hannity Thursday night, Reince Priebus said he was confident he could pull his party together even if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or real estate mogul Donald Trump win the nomination. 'One hundred percent. You know the unifying thing about what I have to do is no matter who you're for everyone can agree that we have to have a national party and infrastructure that has its act together ... everyone is gonna get behind whoever the winner is,' Priebus said.... Earlier Thursday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush declined multiple times to commit to voting for Trump if he was his party's nominee."

Beyond the Beltway

Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post: "A federal panel on Thursday imposed a new congressional map [on Virginia] that gives Democrats a chance to pick up a seat in the Richmond area in this year's election. The decision stems from the judges' ruling last year that Virginia's map illegally packed African American voters into the district of Rep. Robert C. 'Bobby' Scott (D) at the expense of their influence elsewhere."

Les Zaitz of the Oregonian: "Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, backed up by two other sheriffs, met face-to-face Thursday with protest leader Ammon Bundy to try to bring a peaceful end to a weeklong occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 'I'm here to offer safe escort out,' the sheriff told Bundy. 'Go back and kick it around with your folks.'... But later Bundy told reporters that the protesters won't leave until federal land in the county is turned over to residents to manage on their own." ...

... Denis Theriault of the Oregonian: Oregon "Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday offered her strongest remarks yet on armed militants' six-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, calling the action 'unlawful' and demanding the group 'decamp immediately.'" ...

... David Neiwert in a Washington Post op-ed: "Not punishing the Bundys for the Nevada standoff led to the occupation in Oregon.... If federal law enforcement authorities had taken their roles as stewards of the rule of law seriously, many of these players would be facing justice in federal courts right now, instead of opportunistically raising hell out in poverty-stricken rural areas. Certainly, there is no small irony in the fact that the tepid response from federal authorities demonstrates how little resemblance they have to the tyrannical thugs the Bundys say they are. But it also shows how just that accusation, when wielded by white conservatives, can cause federal law enforcement to back down." ...

... ** Tim Egan: Ammon "Bundy's not leaving, he says, until land that we own — that is, every American citizen -- is taken from us and given to some unnamed private entity. Yes, it's comical -- white privilege mixed with a 'Hee Haw' parody. The only thing Bundy and his fellow burglars have accomplished thus far is to leave behind enough evidence for prosecutors to file numerous criminal charges against them. But this Gang That Can't Protest Straight is not far removed from a better-dressed crowd in Congress pushing for radical change in the nation's public land endowment. Earlier this year a group led by Representative Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced plans to 'develop a legislative framework for transferring public land to local ownership and control.'" CW: Egan very neatly summarizes the real motivations behind the Bundy Rebellion 2.0.

... Scott Lemieux: Paul LePage, the man for people who feel that Donald Trump's race-baiting is too subtle and dignified:

... Randy Billings of the Portland Press Herald: Maine "Gov. Paul LePage made a racially charged comment in Bridgton on Wednesday night during one of his regular town hall meetings.... LePage responded to a question about how he was tackling substance abuse in Maine. He began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers. 'These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty -- these types of guys -- they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home... Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.' LePage's comment drew widespread condemnation, including from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton." ...

... CW: As a white person, I feel much better knowing that when "my people" abuse drugs, it's the fault of badass black dudes, & when innocent white girls accidentally get pregnant, its because these same badass black dudes came up from the big city & knocked 'em up. Thanks, Maine, for bringing us this nostalgic return to classic, extreme early-20th-century racist stereotyping. I'll bet Shifty wears a zoot suit. ...

... Steve M.: At the same time LePage was explaining the "real reason" for his state's drug-abuse problem, "the RNC ... launched a new racial diversity initiative.... Sorry, Reince. You keep buying different brands of diversity lipstick and applying them to your pig of a party, but at the end of the day, your party is still a pig."

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in DeKalb County, Ga., will seek a criminal indictment of the police officer who in March 2015 fatally shot Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran who was naked and unarmed when he was killed."

Stephanie Gosk, et al., of NBC News: "Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder refused Thursday to say when he knew the Flint water crisis — children being poisoned by lead from their drinking taps -- was being mishandled.... But an internal email obtained by Virginia Tech researchers shows that the governor's office knew months ago that Flint's families had reason to be worried about the problem and the response." ...

... Ryan Cooper of the Week: "Flint started drinking water from the Flint River -- but ended up contaminating children with a poisonous heavy metal. Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency, and the federal government is investigating. Why on Earth did they do this? Austerity. Aside from the obvious humanitarian disaster, this is a stark demonstration of austerity's false economy.... Lead poisoning is one of the lesser-known great evils of the 20th century. Most notably it may have even caused a great crime wave, as basically the entire population was subjected to minor aerosol lead poisoning from leaded gasoline, resulting in lower IQs and poorer impulse control across the population -- and therefore higher crime."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, one of the world's most sought-after drug lords, has been captured, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Friday."

Reuters: "An Islamic State militant executed his mother in public in the Syrian city of Raqqa because she had encouraged him to leave the group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday. The woman in her 40s had warned her son that a U.S.-backed alliance would wipe out Islamic State and had encouraged him to leave the city with her."

New York Times: "In an impressive sprint at 2015's end, employers added 292,000 workers to their payrolls in December, the government said on Friday, punctuating a year of healthy growth. The unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent last month, the Labor Department said, but that was mostly because large numbers of people went looking for work."