Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill in Congress that could help us find a cure for Alzheimer's, end cancer as we know it, and help those who are seeking treatment for opioid addiction":

The Ledes

Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Washington Post: "Irving Fradkin, an optometrist who in 1958 began collecting $1 donations to help send local high-schoolers to college and whose efforts grew into a charity that has distributed $3.5 billion to more than 2.2 million students in the United States, died Nov. 19 at his home in Fall River, Mass. He was 95." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Los Angeles Times: "Authorities said they were preparing to deal with dozens of fatalities after a fire raced through a converted warehouse crowded with people attending a Friday night concert, officials said. Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities. He said many of those inside the warehouse were young, some from foreign countries. Firefighters were beginning to move through the burned-out remains of the building looking for victims. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult, Kelly said. Firefighters plan to use drones with thermal-imaging equipment to search the building. There is no known cause of the fire. While arson is not suspected, Kelly said investigators are on scene and nothing has been ruled out. Officials said the warehouse isn’t currently considered a crime scene." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.


The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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The Commentariat -- July 15, 2014

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "President Barack Obama is facing a clash with Democrats in Congress over proposals to water down a law intended to combat human trafficking in order to speed up the repatriation of unaccompanied children crossing the US southern border from Central America." ...

... Just What You'd Expect. Cristina Marcos & Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "Fresh off a trip to Guatemala and Honduras, a House GOP working group on immigration will recommend Tuesday that the conference change a 2008 trafficking law to stop the thousands of immigrant children flooding across the border. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the working group's leader, will argue that child immigrants from Central America should be subject to the same rules as those from Mexico. A source close to Granger said the group will also advise that National Guard troops be sent to the border, a longstanding demand from Republicans." ...

     ... Danny Vinik: The "crisis is real and requires immediate action from Congress, but it has nothing to do with border security." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "The White House said Monday it was 'likely' that immigrant children facing mortal danger in their home countries would be allowed to stay in the United States."...

     ... CW: Huh. Apparently those "facing mortal danger" didn't include those deported to the "gang-ridden Honduran city" of San Pedro Susa. (See Monday's Ledes.) As Gonzalez & Ortega report in the Arizona Republic story linked below,

Over three days in May, gang members in another Honduran city, San Pedro Sula, murdered five children ages 5 to 13. 'They cut their bodies into quarters as a warning to others because the children didn't want to distribute drugs in their neighborhood. -- Father German Calix, director of a Catholic relief agency

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has more on the White House's position re: deportation of children in danger. ...

... Saul Elbein has a piece in the New Republic on what life is like in Guatemala, which he likens to the feudal system depicted in the HBO fictional series Game of Thrones. (CW: I found Elbein's piece sort of confusing, but then so is Guatemala.) ...

... Daniel Gonzalez & Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic have an excellent, in-depth piece on the children who are migrating from Central American countries ("Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala ...rank among the top five countries with the highest murder rates in the world") to the U.S. ...

... AND Then There's This. Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: Immigration "courts have been overwhelmed by the influx of kids coming to the United States without parents or other relatives. But they were overwhelmed even before the children started showing up, in large part because of Republicans' unwillingness to fund and staff them like other federal courts." Read the whole story; former/disgraced AG Alberto Gonzales rates more than a cameo appearance. ...

... Brian Beutler exposes Republicans' hypocrisy on President Obama's nearly $4BB request to alleviate the border crisis.

Ana Marie Cox of the Guardian: "Late last week, the Reason Foundation released the results of a poll about ... the millennials; its signature finding was the confirmation of a mass abandonment of social conservatism and the GOP. This comes at a time when the conservative movement is increasingly synonymous with mean-spirited, prank-like and combative activism and self-important grand gestures.... The conservative strategy of outrage upon outrage upon outrage bumps up against the policy preferences and the attitudes of millennials in perfect discord.... This next generation is not just inclusive, but conflict-adverse." ...

... ** BUT What the Kids Want May Not Matter. Digby has an excellent piece in Salon on the "real reason" for John Boehner's lawsuit against the President. Read it all. ...

     ... CW: I'd add this. George Will, whose demise I have prematurely reported, is at the center of the scheme. Will is well-connected to the conservative Supremes, & it was Will who suggested the challenge to the President's actions re: the ACA. Will may be just the mouthpiece for Scalia, et al., but Boehner surely picked up Will's signals. Retooling the balance of power in the way digby suggests may be these old boys' last hurrah, but it's a helluva hurrah.

Gene Robinson: "Apparently there's a contest among Republicans to see who can be more shameless and irresponsible in criticizing President Obama's foreign policy. So far, Chris Christie is winning.... If you disregard the rantings of unserious provocateurs such as Sarah Palin, Christie's attack represents a new low. He accuses the president of the United States of actually being responsible 'in some measure' for violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Sunnis and Shiites, dictators and rebels -- conflicts and antagonisms that began, I seem to recall, well before Obama took office in January 2009. One might assume that Christie offered specific ideas about what Obama should be doing differently. Nope.... Asked whether Obama should take some kind of military action in the region, Christie answered, 'I'm not going to give opinions on that. I'm not the president.'"

David Nather & Jeremy Herb of Politico: "If you had any doubts about how seriously some Republicans are taking the notion of a Rand Paul presidency, look at how far they’re going to shut down his views on foreign policy. In the past three days alone, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used a Washington Post op-ed to warn about the dangers of 'isolationism' .... Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused the Kentucky senator on CNN of wanting a 'withdrawal to fortress America.' And former Vice President Dick Cheney declared at a Politico Playbook luncheon on Monday that 'isolationism is crazy,' while his daughter, Liz Cheney, said Paul 'leaves something to be desired, in terms of national security policy.'"

Dick Cheney Still Helping Democrats. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, calling it 'absolutely the right thing to do. I believed in it then, I look back on it now, it was absolutely the right thing to do,' the Wyoming Republican said with regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cheney made his comments at a Politico Playbook lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne and daughter Liz at Washington's Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions -- protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a 'war criminal.'" ...

... Charles Pierce on the Cheney Family Reunion (minus "the Gay One") at the Mayflower Hotel: "... this was one of Mike Allen's little grift-o-rama special events -- a 'Playbook lunch,' sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America.... I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price." Thanks to MAG for the link. See more on great journalism below.

Steve Holland of Reuters: "The White House asked the Republican chairman of a congressional committee [Darrell Issa] on Monday to lift a subpoena against President Barack Obama's political adviser [David Simas], who has been called to testify on Wednesday about his office's operations.... Simas is director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have all had at least one top political adviser in a position similar to that of Simas."

Martin Crutsinger of the AP: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will have some good news to tell Congress this week about the health of the labor market.... Yellen is scheduled to deliver the Fed's twice-a-year report to Congress on interest-rate policy and the economy. She testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and will follow that with testimony Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee." ...

... BUT Good News Is Bad News for Rick Santelli. Myles Udland of Business Insider: Tea party inspiration "Rick Santelli had a meltdown on CNBC today.... This debate is sparked by the New Yorker profile of Janet Yellen, as well as recent inflation data that indicate things in the economy could be heating up." Udland has an extended clip. The shorter version is below. ...

It's impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it's impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick.... There is no piece of advice that you've given that's worked, Rick. Not a single one.... The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn't a single one that's worked for you. -- CNBC Steve Liesman to Rick Santelli

The video is something to see:

... Ed Kilgore: It not just that [Santelli's] infamous 2009 'rant' is often credited with creating (or at least spurring) the Tea Party Movement; it's that he so vividly captured the attitude of contempt that 'winners' had for 'losers' in the midst of an economic catastrophe almost no one had any reason to anticipate.... Rick Santelli. What a loser."

Andrew Sorkin
of the New York Times: Sen. Joe Manchin's daughter Heather Bresch, the CEO of a "giant" generic drugs manufacturer, is moving her operations to the Netherlands to evade higher U.S. taxes. But she's very, very sorry she has to go, etc., etc.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, in the Washington Post, explains journalism to the unbalanced. ...

... CW: Here's a good example of non-reporting: Zeke Miller of Time interviews Bobby Jindal. Every damned thing Jindal said is somewhere between untrue & stupid, though usually it's both. Out-&-out garbage. Miller writes it down & Time publishes it.

Lauren Collins of the New Yorker: The scandal-sheet Daily Mail may have met its match in George Clooney.

Senate Races

M. J. Lee of Politico: West Virginia Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R) -- Wall Street's BFF -- is poised to win the Senate seat Democrat Jay Rockefeller is vacating. Monday Elizabeth Warren went to West Virginia to campaign for underdog Democratic candidate Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's current secretary of state. ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got a rock-star reception during a standing-room-only campaign rally [in Shepherdstown, West Virginia] Monday, as hundreds of liberal activists cheered her broadsides against corporate interests and voiced hopes that her presence might shift the political winds in an increasingly Republican state." ...

... Emily Schultheis of the National Journal: Elizabeth Warren is "proving that she can be a good Democratic soldier by helping the party where and when it needs her most, and she's proving that her appeal and the appeal of her populist message extends far beyond deep-blue Massachusetts.... Monday's West Virginia event was Warren's fourth stop for a 2014 Senate candidate; she'll campaign with her fifth 2014 candidate, Rep. Gary Peters, in Michigan on Friday.... Warren's ability to move easily from blue states to red states is proof she has 'become a serious player' on the national stage, said longtime Democratic consultant Bob Shrum."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A sport utility vehicle packed with explosives detonated in a market in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, bringing down shops and leaving the bloodied remains of men, women and children in the rubble. By late afternoon, at least 89 people were known to have been killed, the Defense Ministry said."

New York Times: "Israel accepted Egypt's proposal for a cessation of hostilities with Hamas and other militant Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, but a fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel has left the fate of the cease-fire unclear. The Israeli announcement came via text message and without comment after Israel's top ministers, known as its security cabinet, met early Tuesday." ...

... AND THEN. AP: "Hamas rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel on Tuesday, moments after the Israeli Cabinet accepted the plan, throwing into disarray international efforts to end a week of fighting that has killed 192 Palestinians and exposed millions of Israelis to Hamas rocket fire." ...

... AND THEN. Washington Post: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to escalate Israel's operations in Gaza after Hamas balked at an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, saying it had not been consulted on its terms." ...

... AND THEN. New York Times: "The Israeli authorities said a Palestinian attack caused the first Israeli fatality in the eight-day-old military confrontation, in which Israeli bombings have killed nearly 200 Palestinians."

New York Times: "Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, faced with an imminent deadline for an agreement with the West on the future of the country's nuclear program, said in an interview on Monday that Iran could accept a deal that essentially freezes its capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels for several years, provided it is then treated like any other nation with a peaceful nuclear program."

BBC News: "A Ukrainian military transport aircraft has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say. They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 6,500m (21,325ft). The plane was targeted with 'a more powerful missile' than a shoulder-carried missile, 'probably fired' from Russia. The crew survived, reports say."


The Commentariat -- July 14, 2014

Billy House of the National Journal: "The House and Senate this week will take up several long-awaited legislative items, though they will do so amid the circus atmosphere surrounding the House GOP's buildup to a vote later this month on suing President Obama over his executive actions." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama and other top administration officials will pressure Congress to strike a deal on the Highway Trust Fund in a series of events this week, looking to coerce a deal before the financing for road, bridge, and mass-transit projects is exhausted next month. The president will speak twice on the importance of funding infrastructure...."

Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Citigroup and the Justice Department have agreed to a $7 billion deal that will settle a federal investigation into the mortgage securities the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis. The settlement, announced on Monday morning, includes a $4 billion cash penalty to the Justice Department -- the largest payment of its kind -- as well as $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars earmarked for aiding struggling consumers and $500 million to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."

Massimo Calabresi of Time: "... the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other noncharitable groups from misusing the tax code.... IRS commissioner John Koskinen said the change would result in 'efficiencies [that] will translate into a faster and better review' of bigger nonprofits, while clearing a 66,000-application backlog that has resulted in yearlong waits for groups seeking to start a charity.

Pierre Thomas of ABC News interviews AG Eric Holder on a number of topics:

     ... Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post has a summary.

Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: On "Fox 'News' Sunday" Britt Hume grills Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on Perry's proposal to line the border with National Guardsmen:

But the question I'm trying to get at with you is this: if these children, who have undergone these harrowing journeys to escape from the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won't shoot them and can't arrest them? -- Hume to Perry

It's the visual of it.... -- Perry's best answer

... CW: Cruelly, digby likens Perry to (Commander) Neidermeyer there. Personally, I'm pretty sure Perry has already been whacked on the head by a golf ball & dragged across a field by a horse. Come to think of it, I suspect Perry is sporting those new specs because he had "a traumatic brain injury" which caused brain damage. (Where is Karl Rove when we need him to raise the issue?):

I find Governor Perry interesting in that Republicans keep saying, 'Well, we can't fix the immigration issue because we don't trust the President to enforce the law,' And then, when the president actually follows the law in 2002 and 2008, the very law that was signed by President Bush, they said, 'Well, he should do something different.' -- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on "Face the Nation" Sunday

... apparently his new glasses haven't altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly. -- Rand Paul, in a Politico Magazine opinion piece ...

... Here Gov. Rick Send-in-the-Troops Perry & here Sen. Rand Paul knock each other's views on foreign policy. Paul has the better argument in his piece titled "Rick Perry Is Dead Wrong."

Danny Vinik of the New Republic has "definitive proof that Republicans don't care about the long-term unemployed": Speaker John Boehner rejected the Senate's unemployment extensions bill because it used a gimmick called "pension smoothing" to fake-pay for it (since Republicans demanded the funds not add to the deficit); now Boehner is praising the House-crafted bill to extend the Highway Trust Fund -- a bill that uses that same gimmick to fake-pay for it. ...

... And here's proof -- also in the New Republic -- that Republicans especially don't care about working women. Bryce Covert: "A simple solution [to gender pay inequality] may still be unfeasible, at least politically: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced a handful of times, starting in 2009, but has always been blocked by Republicans. [Emphasis added.] It would, most importantly, prohibit employers from telling their workers they can't discuss pay with peers, tighten the rules for what counts as a legitimate reason for gender pay disparities, and increase the penalties for unfair pay." Women can't sue for equal pay if they don't know what their male peers are making. Covert suggests numerous other policies that also would help reduce the pay gap.

Allie Grasgreen of Politico: "The American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution [Sunday] afternoon calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign if he does not improve under a plan to be implemented by President Barack Obama. The 'improvement plan' would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission's 'Each and Every Child' report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top 'test-and-punish' accountability system to a 'support-and-improve' model; and 'promote rather than question' teachers and school staff.... The resolution comes on the heels of one earlier this month by members of the National Education Association calling for Duncan to step down."

George Packer of the New Yorker: The U.S. is leaving behind Iraqis who helped Americans during & after the Iraq War despite a Congressional mandate to grant them special visas. "... surely America has the capacity to save its Iraqi friends whose war never ended, before ISIS or the militias kill them first."

Laurel Calkins of Bloomberg News: The trial of Perez v. Perry, a fight over Texas redistricting, will begin in federal court in San Antonio today. "It will be the first voting rights trial since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year [in Shelby County v. Holder] that states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need federal approval to change their election rules.... If [the plaintiffs] succeed, Texas might be forced back under federal electoral oversight for as long as 10 years under a largely untested part of the Voting Rights Act left in place by the Supreme Court." ...

... Miriam Rozen of Salon on what she calls "the smoking gun emails" that make the plaintiffs' case.

Kathryn Pogin has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the hypocrisy of "Christian" organizations like Hobby Lobby & the University of Notre Dame that are using economic coercion to discriminate against women, a practice that she writes are at odds with Christian principles. "Hobby Lobby offered coverage for some of the contraceptives it now claims its religious faith forbids it to have any association with, until shortly after the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom asked it if it would be interested in filing suit. The company continues to profit from investments in the manufacturers of the 'objectionable' contraceptives through the 401(k) plan it offers its employees. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced legal trouble for false advertising. It has built a fortune, in large part, by selling goods manufactured in China, infamous for its poor labor conditions and related human rights violations. These are the practices of a corporation that will emphasize the Christian faith of its owners when convenient and profitable, but set that faith aside when it would be costly to do otherwise."

If you are trying to run a whorehouse in the sky, get a license. -- Former Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.), ca. 1966, on the airlines' practice of limiting jobs for flight attendants to young, single women ...

Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.)... ** Louis Menand of the New Yorker on "the sex amendment": how "sex" got added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Paul Krugman: "The usual suspects will keep crying failure, but the truth is that health reform is -- gasp! -- working." ...

     ... CW: Krugman focuses on the fact that "an immense policy success is improving the lives of millions of Americans, but it's largely slipping under the radar." Here I'm in limited agreement with Chuck Todd, who said it was not the media's job to correct the GOP's lies about ObamaCare. Todd is wrong on that, of course, but it isn't up to the media to cheerlead the success of ObamaCare. The Obama administration needs to do that. And they're not. Their failure to tout the program's success hurts all Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans are still pushing repeal.

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Six weeks after being released from five years in Taliban captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to return to life as a regular Army soldier as early as Monday, Defense Department officials said late Sunday." ...

     ... CW: Excellent call. A guy who never should have been enlisted in the Army in the first place is being rushed back into active duty after years as a POW. SNAFU.

Artwork via New York magazine.Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent piece last week in which he documented "7 Ways Paul Ryan Revealed His Love for Ayn Rand." In it, he also demonstrates how "Ryan defenders on the center-right like Ross Douthat, who other public figures say or imply things they don't really mean. The New York Times' official Vatican emissary should revisit Matthew 7:16: "By their fruit you will recognize them."

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Elon James of Salon writes that New York Times opinion columnists really need editors. Exhibit A: David Brooks.

CW: The New Republic's top story today is headed with a screaming invitation to ignore it -- "Did We Just Watch the Last Great World Cup? by Franklin Foer. (1) Foer is TNR's editor. He decides what ledes, so his story is not necessarily the most important in today's online magazine. (2) Any headline framed in the form of a question promises you won't get much of an answer. I usually don't read 'em (& I certainly won't read this one). (3) Any story that relies on predicting the future -- especially the distant future (four years!) -- is most likely pure folly.

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: Some mysterious [semi-literate] person leaked the entire text of a new book/hit job on the Clintons by the Weekly Standard's online editor Daniel Harper. The book, Grove writes, "is juicy and gossipy, yet scrupulously researched, drawing on numerous on-the-record conversations (as well as many not-for-attribution interviews) with prominent Democrats and Clinton insiders, past and present."

The man is a shark. -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, on President Obama's pool game. Obama beat Hickenlooper -- twice -- at his own game in his own bar last week.

Presidential Election

Brent Johnson of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "The WMUR Granite State Poll of residents in New Hampshire -- which hosts the nation's first presidential primary -- showed [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie leading all possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Christie drew 19 percent of the vote, followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (14 percent) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11).... But if [Mitt Romney] were to declare his candidacy, Romney would lead Christie 39 to 7 percent, according to today's poll." CW: In other words, those polled aren't too sold on Christie.

Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is in Iowa "warming up" for the 2016 presidential campaign: "... he is running one of the most vigorous noncampaign campaigns of any 2016 possibility in either party -- raising money, stumping in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling abroad to boost his foreign policy credentials and honing a message that might be characterized, for brevity's sake, as compassionate competence."

Beyond the Beltway

WFTV Orlando: "Two Fruitland Park[, Florida] police officers are off the job following FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that they were members of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Deputy Police Chief David Borst resigned Thursday, and Cpl. George Hunnewell was fired Friday."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Both the Israeli government and leaders of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said late Monday that they would consider a plan for a cease-fire put forward by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry."

New York Times: "Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer whose literary ambitions led her into the heart of apartheid to create a body of fiction that brought her a Nobel Prize in 1991, died on Sunday in Johannesburg. She was 90."

Los Angeles Times: "A planeload of single mothers and children arrived in [the] gang-ridden Honduran city [of San Pedro Sula] on Monday, ferried back on a U.S.-chartered flight as an unprecedented surge of Central American migrants has overwhelmed U.S. border enforcement officials in recent months.... Their return to Honduras came at President Obama's direction, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security, who requested anonymity...."


The Commentariat -- July 13, 2014

Supermoon rises over Olvera, Spain, July 12, 2014. Reuters photo.

Everything Is Obama's Fault. Steve Peoples of the AP: "Partly blaming unrest in the Middle East on President Barack Obama, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday that Obama has not spoken firmly and forcefully on Israel's behalf and that the country no longer trusts it has the full support of the United States because of him." CW: He added that Obama is also responsible for the Peloponnesian Wars, MSG in Chinese food & Bridgegate. ...

... Christie also said ObamaCare is "a failure on a whole number of levels" and should be repealed.

Maureen Dowd is still pissed off that Chelsea Clinton makes so much money: "With her 1 percenter mother under fire for disingenuously calling herself 'dead broke' when she left the White House, why would Chelsea want to open herself up to criticism that she is gobbling whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life?" ...

     ... CW: According to the report Dowd cites, by Amy Chozick of the Times, "... unlike her parents' talks, Ms. Clinton's speeches 'are on behalf of the Clinton Foundation, and 100 percent of the fees are remitted directly to the foundation,' said her spokesman, Kamyl Bazbaz, adding that 'the majority of Chelsea's speeches are unpaid.'" So I'm not sure why Dowd accuses Clinton of "wanton acquisitiveness."

Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: "In response to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is repeating his belief that all national borders were determined by God and therefore anybody who crosses them without permission is directly offending the Creator." Via Steve Benen. CW: Apparently God wrote the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & negotiated the Gadsden Purchase. It was a long, sloppy piece of work, I might add.

Here's the New York Times article, by Jason Horowitz, on Jewish Congressional Republicans, to which Citizen 625 refers in today's Comments.

Beyond the Beltway

I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), May 2014

Marco Rubio is an idiot. -- Mayor Philip Stoddard of South Miami, who is also a biology profressor ...

... ** Robin McKie of the Guardian: "Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on. The problem is the city is run by climate change deniers." ...

... Let's See if Marco is a Good Catholic Boy. Tara Burton of the Atlantic: "In a talk at the Italian university of Molise, [Pope] Francis characterized concerns about the environment as 'one of the greatest challenges of our time' -- a challenge that is theological, as well as political, in nature. 'When I look at ... so many forests, all cut, that have become land ... that can [no] longer give life,' he reflected, citing South American forests in particular. 'This is our sin, exploiting the Earth.... This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation.' And the pontiff isn't stopping there; he's reportedly planning to issue an encyclical, or papal letter, about man's relationship with the environment." Via Steve Benen. CW: This is your sin, Marco. Get right with Jesus. You, too, John I-Am-Not-a-Scientist Boehner. Et al.

Michael Wines of the New York Times: "... Alabamians who vote in Tuesday's runoff election will be able to pack heat openly and with confidence in many of the state's polling places."

Hunter Schwartz of the Washington Post: "Eight state constitutions include restrictions on people who don't believe in a supreme being. However, the Supreme Court ruled in a 1961 case that a Maryland man appointed as a notary public didn't have to declare his belief in a supreme being to hold office, arguing it violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Since then, these restrictions haven't been enforced, said Dave Muscato, a spokesman for American Atheists."

News Ledes

Washington Post: In a 1-0 match, Germany bested Argentina at the end of a 23-minute extra time to win the World Cup.

Reuters: "Thousands fled their homes in a Gaza town on Sunday after Israel warned them to leave ahead of threatened attacks on rocket-launching sites, on the sixth day of an offensive that Palestinian officials said has killed at least 160 people."

Reuters: "Heavy fighting broke out between rival militias near the airport of the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday, residents and officials said, reporting explosions and gunfire that forced the suspension of all flights."


The Commentariat -- July 12, 2014

White House: "Expanding opportunity -- it's time for Republicans to do their part":

... Worth noting: the gloves are off.

"Taxpayer-Funded Bigotry." New York Times Editors: "President Obama should resist a pressure campaign by some religious groups to weaken a promised executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against gay men, lesbians and transgender people in their hiring practices.... The Civil Rights Act gives religious groups some leeway to favor members of their own faith in hiring. In 2002, President George W. Bush extended that leeway to faith-based service organizations receiving federal money, and Mr. Obama has failed to keep a campaign promise to rescind Mr. Bush's order." The Cheneys' Weekly Standard piece is here. It is titled, ironically, "The Truth about Iraq."

Warren Bass of the Wall Street Journal & a former 9/11 Commission staff member: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz, a former U.S. Senate candidate, have written a piece on Iraq in the Weekly Standard that resuscitates an old argument about Saddam Hussein's links to al Qaeda.... The Cheneys write: 'It is undisputed, and has been confirmed repeatedly in Iraqi government documents captured after the invasion, that Saddam had deep, longstanding, far-reaching relationships with terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and its affiliates.' In fact, the 9/11 Commission disputed it 10 years ago." ...

     ... CW: Isn't it rich that Cheney tries to rehabilitate himself with an essay in which he claims to be imparting the "truth" & which is based on at lease one obvious lie. Even if you think Saddam & bin Ladin were BFFs, to claim that the supposed Saddam-al Qaeda relationship is "undisputed" is an undisputed lie:

     ... Paige Lavender of the Huffington Post documents a few others: "In 2002, the New York Times claimed the Bush administration was 'sowing a dangerous confusion' by saying al Qaeda had a relationship with Hussein's regime.... And a 2008 military report released by the Pentagon also showed no connection between the two." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "The Cheneys have seen nothing, heard nothing, and learned nothing since 2002. And they don't even seem to understand they are undermining the credibility of Obama's legion of Republican critics. The word 'incorrigible' comes to mind. Gaze in awe."

Gail Collins has some advice for political candidates, based on the stupid tricks & remarks by politicians around the country. For instance, take your own photos for your campaign ads instead of using various European people (or pigs) to illustrate how great the locals are.

Annals of "Journalism," Megyn Kelly Edition

Megyn Kelly of Fox "News" booked Breitbart's radical winger columnist Ben Shapiro to talk about the Obama administration's response to the violence between Israel & Palestine & specifically the murder of three Jewish teens -- after Shapiro had written a post titled "The Jew-Hating Obama Administration" in which he opined on Obama's response to the murder of the teens, one of whom, Naftali Frenkel, was an American. Here's an excerpt from Shapiro's post:

Presumably Frenkel did not look enough like Barack Obama's imaginary son [a reference to Trevon Martin] for him to give a damn.... Jewish blood is cheap to this administration.... Jew hatred is as old as the Jewish people. It's just found a new home in the White House.

     ... During the Kelly segment, Shapiro said, "It's borderline a Jew-hating administration," to which Kelly responded, "Wow! That's strong," as if she had no idea Shapiro might say something like that. Then her staff tweeted out Shapiro's remark on Kelly's Twitter feed. Oddly enough, some criticized the tweet, & Kelly responded, via Twitter, "Critics have point-@benshapiro quote tweeted by staff during show; not a cmt I wish 2 recirc which is why I challenged on air& deleted tweet." Tom Kludt of TPM has the story. Here's the thing, Megyn. When you book a guy like that who's written crap like that, you invite him to go there on the air, then publicize his remarks, IT'S ALL YOU FUCKING FAULT. You can't "distance yourself" (Kludt's characterization) from sentiments you did everything to encourage & air.

Kendall Breitman of Politico: "Fox News host Megyn Kelly is charging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with being 'guilty' of sexism after her comments on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling. 'The latest installment of misleading hysteria comes from the House minority leader,' Kelly said Thursday.... Kelly's comments came after Pelosi called the ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby 'a frightening one.... We should be afraid of this court, that five guys are determining which contraceptions are legal or not,' Pelosi said Thursday." ...

     ... CW: Yo, Megyn, to claim a woman suffers from "hysteria" is way sexist, too. You could look it up.

Beyond the Beltway

Fernanda Santos of the New York Times: Arizona Attorney Gen. Tom Horne (R), who has a Koch-backed primary challenger in his bid for re-election, "has been caught by F.B.I. agents leaving the scene of a parking-garage fender-bender after a lunchtime tryst, a mishap that exposed not only the affair, but also a federal investigation into alleged campaign finance violations, which ended unceremoniously and without any charges.... The Arizona secretary of state's office said this week that there was enough evidence to support a full investigation of accusations that Mr. Horne used his staff in his re-election campaign." But he can play the piano (begins about 4 min. into the video)!

Senate Race

McDaniel Wins Mississippi Primary! Daniel Strauss of TPM: "Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) said Friday that his campaign and his supporters have found 'over 8,300 questionable ballots cast' in the runoff election for U.S. Senate, which Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) won.... Cochran won the runoff by 7,667 votes.... McDaniel, in the Friday statement, also called on the Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) to allow McDaniel's campaign access to voting records which McDaniel said they have not had access to yet." CW: Uh, how do you know the ballots are "questionable" if you haven't seen the voting records? ...

Presidential Election 2016

Nicole Lafond of TPM: "The Republican Party of Virginia denied on Friday that it was behind a bumper sticker that appeared to take a shot at Hillary Clinton by describing her as 'Monica Lewinsky's X-Boyfriend's Wife.' The bumper sticker was discovered by Reuters political correspondent Gabriel Debenedetti, who tweeted a photo of it on Friday morning and said he found it in Fairfax County, Va. In fine print beneath the Lewinsky line were the words 'Authorized By Republican Party Of Virginia.'" ...

... Update. Nicole Lafond: "A Virginia woman told TPM on Friday that she recently discovered a stack of anti-Hillary Clinton bumper stickers at a local GOP office, despite denials from the state party that it had anything to do with the stickers. Carole Donoghue, a retired journalist, said she found the bumper stickers at Fairfax County Republican Committee headquarters in Fairfax, Va. The bumper stickers read 'Monica Lewinsky's X-Boyfriend's Wife for President.'" Donoghue said that last Sunday she came upon a GOP campaign worker who was ill, so she drove him to the campaign office, where she saw the stack of bumper stickers. "Donoghue said she wanted to speak out about her discovery after the state party denied being involved. 'They are just cheap and stupid, and if you are going to be cheap and stupid at least be honest about it,' Donoghue told TPM. 'The denial was dishonest.'"

Marie's Sports Report

Chris Fedor in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "LeBron James stunned the NBA on Friday around noon when he announced his long-awaited free agency decision, choosing to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and leaving the Miami Heat. According to reports, he will sign a four-year, $88 million max contract." ...

... James explains why he's "coming home" in a Sports Illustrated "as told to" sports writer Lee Jenkins. ...

... Michael Powell of the New York Times: "... even taking into account that he was working with the skilled and guiding hand of the Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins, James offered a rather stunning display of soul-baring from a man who should, by reasonable expectation, possess a dirigible-size ego."

News Ledes

AP: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says both of Afghanistan's presidential candidates are committed to abiding by the results of the 'largest, most comprehensive audit' of the election runoff ballots possible."

Los Angeles Times: "Israel and Palestinians continued to trade airstrikes and rocket fire Saturday with the death toll in the Gaza Strip climbing to 121 on the fifth day of Israel's military offensive targeting Palestinian militants." (CW: As far as I can tell, & I may be wrong, all of those killed were Palestinians.) ...

... New York Times: "As Israel's air war against Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza entered its sixth day on Saturday, a pair of bombings threw the difficulties of the campaign into painful relief: Israel bombed a mosque, which its aerial photos indicated was harboring a weapons cache, and a center for the handicapped, killing two handicapped patients and wounding three, as well as a caretaker."

New York Times: "After potentially serious back-to-back laboratory accidents, federal health officials announced Friday that they had temporarily closed the flu and anthrax laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and halted shipments of all infectious agents from the agency's highest-security labs."

Guardian: "US authorities have charged a Chinese businessman with hacking into the computer systems of companies with large defence contracts, including Boeing, to steal data on military projects including some of the latest fighter jets, according to officials. Su Bin worked with two unnamed Chinese hackers to get the data between 2009 and 2013, then attempted to sell some of the information to state-owned Chinese companies, prosecutors said."

AP: "Tracy Morgan has sued Wal-Mart over last month's highway crash that seriously injured him and killed a fellow comedian. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, claims Wal-Mart was negligent when a driver of one of its tractor-trailers rammed into Morgan's limousine van."

Guardian: "Germany is determined to extract a public commitment from the US over future spying activity during talks with John Kerry this weekend, despite a White House preference to try to mend their battered diplomatic relationship behind closed doors."