The Wires

New York Times: "CBS said on Tuesday that it had chosen [John] Dickerson, 49, to replace Charlie Rose as the third co-host of “CBS This Morning,” a spot left empty since Mr. Rose was fired in November after allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Dickerson is to join the lineup of Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who have carved a niche as a relatively serious, news-driven morning team. Mr. Dickerson — whose mother, Nancy Dickerson, became in 1960 the first female correspondent at CBS News — plans to move to New York and leave 'Face the Nation,' which he joined in 2015. CBS has not yet chosen his successor, effectively setting off a horse race at the network for one of television’s most influential political roles."

Oprah Gives Moving Speech, Celebrities Nominate Her for President. For full coverage of the Golden Globe awards, the Los Angeles Times has a pageful of blurbs & links.

Medlar's Amazing Sports Report (Is about Sports!):

New York Times: "Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota [executed] ... what would prove to be the critical play of the Titans’ shocking 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an N.F.L. wild-card playoff game on Saturday.... [The Titans were] trailing by 18 points in the third quarter..., i and as Mariota scrambled toward the line of scrimmage, he appeared to throw the ball away.... But when Darrelle Revis of the Chiefs batted the pass back toward Mariota, the quarterback snagged it out of the air. And ... Mariota sprinted forward for a touchdown that went into the books as a 6-yard pass from Mariota to Mariota."

New York Times: "Hoda Kotb, a longtime NBC News correspondent, will permanently replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC’s flagship morning program, 'Today,' the network said on Tuesday. Ms. Kotb (pronounced COT-bee) had replaced Mr. Lauer on an interim basis since he was fired in November over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. The appointment is the first time that two women will be the program’s official main hosts; 'Today' has an overwhelmingly female audience and is the network’s most profitable franchise. The decision signals a turning point of sorts for NBC: In addition to the Lauer scandal, the network also reviewed 2005 footage from an NBC-owned show in which President Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia but was beaten to publication by The Washington Post, and passed on an exposé of [Harvey] Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I forgot this part of the tape saga: that NBC suits sat on it until someone at the "Today" show leaked it to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post.

 

Here's one of the film's trailers:

So finally they called me up because it got so late, and the argument got so tense, and said you're going to have to decide this. And I said, well, why do we have to do it right away? The Times took three months. And they - the editors all got on the phone. And the businesspeople were on the other phone saying wait a day. The editors were saying we mustn't wait a day. Everybody knows we have these papers. And we have to maintain the momentum that was stopped when the Times was enjoined. And it's very important. People have their eyes on us. And we have to publish.... And finally after talking to both sides, I asked my colleague Fritz Beebe what he would do. And he was a lawyer. And he said, I guess I would not. And that made it hard but not impossible. He said it in such a way that I thought he's leaving it up to me. And I can do this. And so I said let's go. Let's publish. And I hung up because I was so freaked out by having had to make that decision so fast. -- Katherine Graham, on her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in an interview, 1997 ...

... Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Katherine Graham in 1997 about her 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon papers -- and other things. Graham died in 2001. Audio & transcript. Via David Von Drehle of the Washington Post.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."

 

The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

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

Saturday
Jul252015

The Commentariat -- July 26, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "In a rare and fiery weekend session, the Senate voted on Sunday to resurrect the federal Export-Import Bank, handing the Republican Party's most conservative wing a major defeat and setting up a showdown this week with House leaders divided over the moribund export credit agency. The bipartisan vote -- 67 to 26 -- broke a filibuster and allowed supporters to attach a measure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to a three-year highway and infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass the Senate early this week. The agency's authorization expired June 30, halting all new loan guarantees and other assistance to foreign customers seeking to purchase American companies' products. A clear majority in the House also supports resurrecting the agency, but it will be up to House leaders to decide whether the body will get a vote...."

Steve M. points to & elaborates on a post by David Futrelle titled "Angry misogynist murders women at showing of film by feminist comedian; police worry 'we may not find a motive.'" CW: Steve & Futrelle seem to be on the right -- or at least a plausible -- track. In addition, I think it's easy to connect the dots between Houser's motives & columns like the one Ross Douthat wrote for today's Times, linked below. I don't mean to suggest that Douthat is directly responsible for the multiple murders of women, but his point that Planned Parenthood medical personnel -- a large percentage of whom are women, & whose clientele are mostly women -- "have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts ... dead human beings," can lead some crazy men to "reason" that it's okay to kill young women who might have abortions & allow "dead human beings" to be carved up like meat. Houser may have figured that by killing young women, he was saving lives, i.e., the lives of Douthat's "dead human beings." Some readers will think I'm exaggerating. Probably I'm not. ...

... Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "We don't know exactly why yet Houser shot up a theater that was showing a movie written by an unapologetic feminist, but this moment should still be a wake-up call about the problem of misogynist violence in our culture. If we're not going to talk about gun control, then let's talk about how to get fewer men to see guns as the solution to their inchoate rage at women."

Adam Sneed of Politico: "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump charged on Sunday that Hillary Clinton's private email practices as secretary of state were 'criminal.' 'What she did is far worse than what Gen. [David] Petraeus did, and he's gone down in disgrace,' Trump said on in a telephone interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.' 'What she did is criminal.'... Trump refused to elaborate when pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper, who noted that federal inspectors general had cited security rather than criminal concerns."

Worst Argumentum ad Hilterum Ever. This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. Mike Huckabee, in a Breitbart interview. MAG contributed the link

I may run with links to some reactions to Huckabee's remark. Other than that, from now on, Huck gets the Sarah Palin treatment here: no coverage unless highly newsworthy. -- Constant Weader

*****

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama challenged the land of his father on Sunday to break the cycle of corruption, strengthen its shaky democracy, overcome ethnic divisions and end discrimination against women and girls as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Kenya full of potent symbolism. Delivering a tough-love message, Mr. Obama hailed the economic and political advances of recent years and forecast a bright future for the country, but he said that further progress would require it to confront 'the dark corners' of its past and tackle problems that have plagued it for generations."

Erica Werner of the AP: "It's a rare Sunday session for senators, and on the agenda are efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and reviving the federal Export-Import Bank. Both are amendments to a must-pass highway bill that the Senate is trying to complete ahead of a July 31 deadline. If Congress doesn't act by then, states will lose money for highway and transit projects in the middle of summer construction season."

Juliet Eilperin & Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post: "President Obama on Saturday committed the United States to an intensified fight against terrorists in East Africa, announcing here that his administration would expand support for counterterrorism operations in Kenya and Somalia, including increased training and funding for Kenya's security forces. 'We have to keep that pressure going even as we're strengthening the Somali government,' he said at a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta."

... David Smith of the Guardian: "The US president, Barack Obama, has launched an unprecedented defence of gay rights in Africa, telling Kenya's president that the state has no right to punish people because of 'who they love'.... Obama personalised the issue by comparing homophobia to racial discrimination that he had encountered in the United States. Never before has such a powerful foreign leader challenged Africans so directly on their own soil."

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "President Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sparred over support for gay rights here Saturday, with Obama urging fast changes and Kenyatta saying it was not something Kenyan culture or society would 'accept.'... Standing by Obama's side at a joint press conference here in front of the Kenyan state house, Kenyatta repeated what he has said before about gay rights: it's 'a 'non-issue.' Kenyatta's remarks were the ones that drew applause among the Kenyan audience":

Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "The banking industry is scrambling to kill a provision in the Senate highway-funding bill that would reap billions of dollars in revenue by cutting a century-old system that has reaped annual awards for banks. Industry lobbyists say they were blindsided by the inclusion of the provision, which would help policymakers cover the bill's cost by cutting the regular dividend the Federal Reserve pays to its member banks [from 6% to 1.5%].... In a Congress where lawmakers are always hunting for politically palatable ways to raise revenue or cut costs to cover the expenses of additional legislation, the Fed provision was a novel, and rich, one. The proposal is estimated to raise $17 billion over the next decade, and is by far the richest 'pay for' included in the bill." CW: Hard to imagine this was Mitch's idea.

George Joseph of the Intercept: "The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.... The documents ... indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful.... The tracking of domestic protest groups and peaceful gatherings raises questions over whether DHS is chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights, and over whether the department, created in large part to combat terrorism, has allowed its mission to creep beyond the bounds of useful security activities as its annual budget has grown beyond $60 billion." ...

... Maya Park & Daniel Strauss of Politico: Their disruption last weekend of Netroots Nation forums featuring Martin O'Malley & Bernie Sanders has energized the Black Lives Matter movement. "Seizing the moment, the Black Lives Matter group -- a movement organizing action on topics important to the black community and racial injustice -- decided to quickly put together a summit in Cleveland, Ohio. The summit describes itself as 'hundreds of Black freedom fighters from around the country' coming together to coordinate and build a new coalition for action in the black community. The conference offers panels on, for instance, self defense and organizing for black activists." CW: Don't be scared, white people. DHS is on this.

** Dear Smug Bastards.... Emily Badger & Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "By the time they're 60 years old, [a comprehensive study] has found, nearly four in five people experience some kind of economic hardship: They've gone through a spell of unemployment, or spent time relying on a government program for the poor like food stamps, or lived at least one year in poverty or very close to it.... If you don't like food stamps because you think you'll never need them, maybe these probabilities would change your mind.... the poverty figures may well be a conservative estimate for what someone who's 25 today could expect in the coming decades as incomes continue to stagnate and job security worsens."

The venerable New York Times continues to give one fucking, lying shmuck in the person of Ross Douthat a platform for his disgusting, self-righteous lies: "... these are dead human beings being discussed on video today: Human beings that the nice, idealistic medical personnel at Planned Parenthood have spent their careers crushing, evacuating, and carving up for parts." CW: No, Ross, they are not human beings; they are clusters of underdeveloped tissues, sort of like the flabby muscles that occupy that place between your ears where many of us have brains.

Frontline obtained photos, thru an FOIA requiest, of Bush administration officials to the 9/11 attacks.

Presidential Race

Michael Schmidt & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: Hillary "Clinton's aides announced Saturday morning that she had accepted an invitation to testify on Oct. 22. But a spokesman for the Republican-led committee said hours later that no agreement had been reached." ...

     ... CW: Schmidt, BTW, leads by boasting, "Amid renewed controversy surrounding Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of private email for government work...." I'm still waiting for the Times' public editor to comment. I sent her a link to the analysis of the Times' "reporting" by Kurt Eichenwald, which I linked yesterday (it's here), so she wouldn't have any excuse to whitewash her opinion. If you haven't read Eichenwald's piece, I highly recommend it. ...

... AP: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton, said on Saturday she never knowingly sent or received classified information using her private email server and did not know what messages were being cited by intelligence investigators as examples of emails containing classified information." ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Two government inspectors general involved in the Hillary Clinton email referral flap released a joint statement [Friday] afternoon to try and explain exactly what happened.... the two ... IGs released a joint statement later explaining that the referral was not criminal in nature, 'it was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes.'" The post includes the IGs' statement. CW: Funny, but it would seem Schmidt & Apuzzo didn't bother to interview the IGs or ask for comment before they splashed their inaccurate story across the front page of the Times. ...

... Dylan Byers: "The New York Times report claiming that inspectors general had sought a criminal investigation relating to Hillary Clinton's personal email account was finally changed early Saturday morning, one day after all parties involved in the story -- the two inspectors general, the Justice Department, and the Clinton campaign -- issued public statements disputing the language in the Times report.... The Times also updated its headline, removing the word 'criminal' from 'Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton's Use of Email.'... Journalists, political operatives and even Times staffers expressed surprise at how long it took the Times to correct the report." ...

... CW: Gee, Dylan, maybe now you can get your colleague Annie Karni to remove the word "criminal" from her report on another matter, which -- amazingly -- Politico published after Karni had already worked with you to debunk the Times story. ...

... Here's more from Ben Dimiero of Media Matters. ...

... Not surprisingly, over there in Right Wing World, they're treating the story that blew up in the Gray Lady's face as a Clinton-NYT conspiracy to hide the troof. This is a meme that won't die.

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "To the list of Republican rivals he has insulted, Donald J. Trump on Saturday added a new name: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whom he accused of mismanaging his state's budget and creating a disaster for its roads, schools and hospitals. Mr. Walker, who has been restrained in criticizing Mr. Trump's provocative remarks compared with other Republican presidential candidates, is leading in the polls in Iowa...." ...

... Adam Gabbatt of the Guardian: "Several people listed as part of the 'Veterans for Trump coalition' formed by Donald Trump following his incendiary comments about John McCain's war record have denied they are part of the group.... When the Guardian contacted several claimed Veterans for Trump members on Friday, three said they had never heard of the organisation and had not signed up as members.... On Saturday, the Trump campaign disputed the accounts of those interviewed by the Guardian."

Beyond the Beltway

Julia O'Donoghue of the Times-Picayune: "Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order aimed at keeping the Westboro Baptist Church protestors away from the funerals of the Lafayette shooting victims. Jindal said the Louisiana State Police plan to strictly enforce existing state law that prevents protesters from interfering with funerals, burials, wakes and other memorials. The protestors must stay 300 to 500 feet away from funeral proceedings for two hours prior to the event until two hours after it concludes. They are also not allowed to block or interfere a funeral route.... Before killing himself Thursday night, the Lafayette theater shooter, John Russell Houser, had praised the Westboro Baptist Church in online posts." ...

... CW: Every once in awhile, I agree with Bobby Jindal. As far as I can tell, Jindal is not violating the Supreme Court decision which ruled 8-1 for the Westboro church's First Amendment rights.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown, the only child of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown died at a Georgia hospice facility on Sunday. She was 22.

Washington Post: "A [female sex worker] in Charleston, W.Va., may have saved her own life and the lives of many other women, as well, when she shot and killed an alleged attacker in her home last week." Police suspect that Neal Falls, whom the woman shot, may have been a serial killer.

Friday
Jul242015

The Commentariat -- July 25, 2015

Peter Baker & Marc Santora of the New York Times: President "Obama emphasized his ties to Kenya shortly after his arrival when he had dinner at his hotel with about three dozen members of his extended family, including his half sister, Auma, and his step-grandmother, known as Mama Sarah. The powerful symbolism masked the daunting challenges as Mr. Obama tries to use the visit to Kenya and then Ethiopia to deepen trade ties, encourage economic development and bolster efforts to combat the Shabab, a ruthless affiliate of Al Qaeda based in Somalia, while nudging both countries away from the repression of dissent that has characterized recent years." ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "Declaring that 'Africa is on the move,' President Obama urged a gathering of entrepreneurs Saturday to pursue innovative projects to stimulate economic development on the continent. Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Obama argued that these business projects could lead to a broader political opening in Africa and improve the lives of women and girls here":

... Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: Kenya "may be the most dangerous place Barack Obama has visited as president. Kenya is arguably more treacherous for the president than Afghanistan, where there are U.S. troops on the ground and hardened military bases to shield him. By contrast, [Nairobi] is a bustling, crowded city with an active terrorist group -- in this case, Al-Shabaab, Somalia-based Islamists who've aligned themselves with Al Qaeda. Last year, they attacked a Nairobi shopping mall and killed 67 people. Just two weeks ago, they killed 14 people and wounded a dozen others in a nighttime attack in northeastern Kenya. The State Department last week issued a travel warning for Kenya that doesn't mention Obama's visit but cites the entrepreneur summit he will attend as a potential lightning rod for attacks."

White House: "In this week's address, the President speaks to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis":

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "A federal judge in California has ruled that the Obama administration's detention of children and their mothers who were caught crossing the border illegally is a serious violation of a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible. In a decision late Friday roundly rejecting the administration's arguments for holding the families, Judge Dolly M. Gee of Federal District Court for the Central District of California found that two detention centers in Texas that the administration has opened since last summer fail to meet minimum legal requirements of the 1997 settlement for facilities housing children. Judge Gee also found that migrant children had been held in 'widespread deplorable conditions' in Border Patrol stations after they were first caught, and she said the authorities had 'wholly failed' to provide the 'safe and sanitary' conditions required for children even in temporary cells."

Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify on Oct. 22 before the House select committee investigating her role in connection with the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said Saturday. The testimony will be public, Merrill said. It follows months of wrangling between the Republican-led committee and Clinton, whose allies accuse the panel of conducting a fishing expedition for damaging material that might be used against her as she runs for president in 2016."

Today's No-Brainer. Liam Stack of the New York Times: "The Defense Department on Friday asked armed civilians who have volunteered to guard military recruiting stations across the country in the wake of he mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn., to leave their posts. The Pentagon said in a statement that it took the safety of its enlisted and civilian personnel 'very seriously' and that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter was reviewing recommendations to improve security at all facilities, including recruiting stations. The presence of armed civilians, it said, might cause safety problems.... A Defense official said that Friday's statement asking volunteers to go home was prompted by an 'accidental weapons discharge' from a civilian weapon outside a recruiting station in Lancaster, Ohio, the day before." ...

... CW: Really? It took an "accidental discharge" of "an AR-15 rifle outside a recruiting center" in a shopping mall to get you people to figure out that "civilians -- often heavily armed, sometimes dressed in camouflage combat fatigues, and overwhelmingly male" -- "might cause safety problems"?

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

After being called out by several media watchers, the New York Times finally printed a correction some time Friday to its Thursday night story about two inspectors general requesting the DOJ to initiate a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of her e-mail account. Here's the correction:

An earlier version of this article and an earlier headline, using information from senior government officials, misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's personal email account while she was secretary of state. The referral addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that personal email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton.

... CW: Those "senior government officials" are almost certainly Republicans in the House, likely either Trey Gowdy or another GOP rep on his Select Committee to Investigate Hillary Clinton through November 8, 2016. A later Times story (see below) refers to a letter from one of the inspectors general "to Congress." So there's your reliable source.

But wait. There's more. Lots more.

The Times has a new story by the same reporters -- Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo: "Government investigators have discovered four emails containing what they say is classified information on the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, the investigators said in a letter to Congress released on Friday. Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, said Friday that ... she was concerned about 'a lot of inaccuracies' in the reporting of her personal email account.... A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton's campaign released a brief statement on Twitter, saying, 'Any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.'...

     "... On Thursday night and again Friday morning, the Justice Department referred to the matter as a 'criminal referral' but later on Friday dropped the word 'criminal.' Regardless of the terminology, the referral raises the possibility of a Justice Department criminal investigation into Mrs. Clinton's emails as she campaigns for president." ...

... CW: Right. Because the word "criminal" is just "terminology." And where do we find out the "terminology" the Times used was erroneous? Down in Paragraph 8. The original story (linked first above) still has "criminal" in the headline & in the lede. So I guess that's going to stand for the use of Republicans from here to eternity. But, WTF, it's just "terminology." Sorry, boys, you can't clean up the mess of your first story by burying a mealy-mouthed disclaimer in Graf 8 of a second story, a story that still attempts to paint Clinton as culpable of something. And then go on to Graf 9 to excuse yourselves for using said "terminology" by saying that, who knows, sometime in the future there is a "possibility" the DOJ could launch a criminal investigation. This is Breitbart-worthy "journalism." Note: According to Dylan Byers (see below), the DOJ did initially tell the Times reporters that one IG had asked for a criminal investigation. ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "The U.S. Justice Department said Friday that, contrary to media reports, it did not receive a request to open a criminal investigation into how sensitive information was handled in Hillary Clinton's private emails. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Martin Matishak of the Hill: "Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is rebutting reports that the State Department has formally requested a federal criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. 'I spoke personally to the State Department inspector general on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage,' Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Friday in a statement. Instead, State Inspector General Steve A. Linick, 'told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the [Freedom of Information Act] review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified.'" ...

... Dylan Byers: "The most significant error rests with the Justice Department: multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said that the DOJ told the Times on Thursday that the Intelligence Community Inspector General had sought a criminal investigation.... (On Friday, the DOJ also initially told other news organizations the referral was 'criminal.') But hours later, the DOJ reversed course: 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral,' the Department said in a statement.... The Director of National Intelligence's office also said Friday that the Intelligence Community Inspector General's referral was not criminal....

     "Meanwhile, the Times' claim that two inspectors general sought an inquiry also came into question on Friday afternoon after Jennifer Werner, a Democratic spokesperson for the Select Committee on Benghazi ... [said] that the State Inspector General 'did not ask for any kind of investigation, criminal or otherwise.' Werner said the referral 'went from the Intelligence Community IG to the FBI,' and that the Times was therefore wrong to report that two inspectors general had sought the investigation." ...

... ** Matt Gertz of Media Matters has an excellent rundown of all the normal, due-diligence reporting the Times apparently did not do before the paper ran with the story. ...

... Although it is not at all clear from the Times reporting in either story, the whole fracas is over e-mails that the State Department released, under Judge Rudolph Contreras' order, after Clinton left the State Department. Since the judge required State to release the e-mails much sooner than they had proposed -- they didn't want to release them till January 16, 2016, & Contreras ultimately ordered the department "to release emails from the former secretary of State's private account every 30 days beginning June 30[, 2015] -- it's hardly surprising that "mistakes were made." Contreras is an Obama appointee. ...

... ** UPDATE. Kurt Eichenwald, a former Times reporter, in Newsweek, completely dismantles the Times reports & demonstrates again & again how the reporters used deception, elisions & out-and-out falsehoods to craft their story in such a way as to fool readers into inferring there is some kind of scandal here. "In terms of journalism, this is terrible. That the Times article never discloses this is about an after-the-fact review of Clinton's emails conducted long after she left the State Department is simply inexcusable. That this all comes from a concern about the accidental release of classified information -- a fact that goes unmentioned -- is even worse. In other words, the Times has twisted and turned in a way that makes this story seem like something it most decidedly is not. This is no Clinton scandal. It is no scandal at all. It is about current bureaucratic processes, probably the biggest snooze-fest in all of journalism." Read it. ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM: "... the errors in this story seem so dramatic and so easily checkable that I feel like there's something up at the Times. Not something nefarious, I don't think. But some unexamined institutional bias, some over-haste to push out stories based on leaks from interested parties. Something. Because as it stands, it's not just that the story doesn't add up. We know that. They've admitted that. How this mistake got made doesn't add up either."

... CW: We will skip the crowing & howling on the right, but will note that "non-partisan" Ron Fournier of the National Journal asserts that however inaccurate the Times' reporting, "Clinton's Conspiracy of Secrecy [Is] Worthy of Criminal Probe.... She's blaming The New York Times, which is as pathetic as it is laughable."


Greg Miller
of the Washington Post: "Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. intelligence analyst who spied for Israel and was sentenced to life in prison, could be released as early as November when he becomes eligible for mandatory parole, according to the Justice Department. His release would eliminate a long-standing wedge in U.S.-Israel relations at a time of increased tensions between the countries over a nuclear deal with Iran.... The White House rejected the suggestion that it would use Pollard's release for political gain."

The Distinguished Gentleman from Kentucky Is a Serial Liar. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz on Friday rushed across a line rarely crossed on the Senate floor: He accused the leader of his party, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of lying to his colleagues. 'What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie,' Cruz said Friday morning. 'We know now that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false....'... Prompting Cruz's outburst: McConnell's move to set up amendment votes on a must-pass transportation bill. After senators voted to consider the bill, McConnell (R-Ky.) set up votes on two controversial measures -- a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States -- and did it in such a way that will make it difficult for other amendments to be considered. That move incensed Cruz -- who had announced his intention to offer other amendments...":

Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "The Senate will come back on Sunday for votes on these amendments. It's safe to say Cruz will take that opportunity to make some more headlines. He's got to do something to out-Trump Trump."

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started a fast-track process Friday on legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding in the wake of two controversial videos showing officials discussing delivery of fetal parts.... [Sen. Ted] Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), both of whom are running for president in 2016, as well as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), were hoping to use the the Senate's long-term highway bill as their vehicle to defund the agency.... The legislation McConnell is fast-tracking was introduced earlier Friday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is running for president." ...

... Dave Levitan & Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org: "Several Republican presidential candidates have claimed that Planned Parenthood is 'profiting' from abortions. But the full, unedited video they cite as evidence shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research. Four experts in the field of human tissue procurement told us the price range discussed in the video -- $30 to $100 per patient -- represents a reasonable fee. 'There's no way there's a profit at that price,' said Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital's 'biorepository.'... It remains legal to donate tissue from a legally aborted fetus, and for that tissue to be used for research purposes." ...

... Jen Gunter in the New Republic: "The anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress ... claims the videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donation (which would be illegal) and that they are 'haggling' over the price of 'baby parts.' As an OB/GYN, I can tell you that neither of these claims are [sic.] true. Tthese are not 'baby parts.'... Calling the tissue 'baby parts' is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize an embryo or fetus." And Planned Parenthood is not making money or "haggling over the sales price." "As the facts are inconvenient, the only option is to circumvent them by any means possible. These videos are the kind of propaganda that only reinforces those fixed, false beliefs." ...

... Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "Hillary Clinton strongly defended Planned Parenthood Thursday as the women's health organization reels from the fallout over a sting video released by anti-abortion activists earlier this month.... Before Clinton spoke Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed the controversy as a GOP invention. And White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the videos were 'selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also Planned Parenthood.'" ...

... Annie Karni of Politico: "In her first big address detailing her approach to reforming Wall Street and corporate America, Hillary Clinton laid out a plan that would increase taxes on short-term investors. She also voiced support for more transparency when it comes to executive compensation and stock buyback transactions, and said she supports raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour -- at least in expensive cities like New York and Los Angeles.... [Clinton's speech] was overshadowed by news that the Justice Department had been asked by two inspectors general to open a criminal investigation into whether classified information had potentially been sent from Clinton's personal email account during her tenure at the State Department." ...

     ... CW: Politico posted Karni's report at 5:45 pm ET yesterday, & updated it at 11:02 pm, approximately half-a-day after numerous news outlets, including Politico, had reported that there was no criminal investigation underway. Yet, WTF, Karni & her editors went with the "criminal investigation" line. As I said yesterday, "Hillary Clinton/criminal investigation" is a meme that's going to stick. Now we know it's going to stick because supposedly objective straight reporters will keep inserting it into their copy & their fact-checkers will let it pass.

Campbell Robertson, et al., of the New York Times: "The picture that emerged Friday of the gunman who killed two women and wounded nine other people in a theater here was one filled with instability and rage, from a history of mental illness, to vandalizing and booby-trapping a house, to venting his fury at women's rights, minorities and liberals.... On Twitter, on antigovernment discussion boards, and on other forums online, a person using the names Rusty Houser and John Russell Houser praised the Westboro Baptist Church, which has drawn ire for demonstrating against gays at military funerals; Timothy J. McVeigh, who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168, and even Adolf Hitler. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and antigovernment groups, said the posts were all from Mr. Houser." Also, too, he liked to fly the Confederate flag. ...

... So, naturally ... Lis Power of Media Matters: "Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded to breaking news of a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by baselessly asking about possible connections to ISIS or radical Islam." ...

... Then there's this from Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit. Here's the headline: "FIGURES. Lafayette Shooter Was Obama Supporter: 'I Was For His Re-Election, I Liked His Spending.'" Now read the context as to what-all Houser "liked" about President Obama. ...

... CW: See also Kate Madison's comment in today's thread about Houser's "mental illness." I'd like to hear her diagnosis of Jim Hoft's condition. ...

... Maybe you remember this. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "... the Department of Homeland Security's ability to monitor anti-government fanatics, who have carried out far more lethal attacks on Americans in recent years than Islamic extremists, was severely crippled during the 2009 dispute over a Department of Homeland Security report [PDF] on domestic right-wing terrorists. As we've reported, Republican politicians and conservative activists alleged that the report focused on a non-existent threat and would be used by the government to mark all conservatives, particularly Christians, gun owners and veterans, as terrorists.... Under pressure, Homeland Security retracted the report and ended up 'gutting' the very unit combating such threats.... The report ... specifically assessed 'lone wolves' that hold 'violent rightwing extremist ideology' as 'the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States' bent on 'commit[ing] violent acts.'..." ...

... Ian Millhiser: "Louisiana, the state where this occurred, has some of the weakest -- if not the weakest -- gun laws in the nation.... Louisiana does not require gun dealers to obtain a state license. It does not limit the number of guns that may be purchased at one time. It forbids local governments from regulating firearms. And it has no laws restricting assault weapons or .50 caliber rifles.... A 2013 report by the Center for American Progress examined all 50 states according to 10 factors related to gun violence. Louisiana received the worst rating of any state on several of these factors, including overall firearm deaths from 2001-2010, firearm homicides in 2010, and firearm homicides among women from 2001-2010. The report also rated Louisiana the worst state overall when all 10 factors were aggregated." ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday deflected questions about whether Thursday night's movie theater shooting should prompt a reevaluation of gun policies.... 'There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics, and I'm sure that folks will want to score political points of this tragedy, as they've tried to do on previous tragedies'", he said. ...

... Martin O'Malley, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "This week, we again watched in horror as more images of gun violence flashed across our TV and computer screens.... During the first 204 days of 2015, there have been 204 mass shootings: a mass shooting for every day of the year.... We cannot let this become the new normal.... We need comprehensive gun safety laws to save lives.... While the public strongly backs common-sense gun safety reforms, Congress has refused to act on them.... Stopping the preventable deaths of American citizens should not be a partisan issue, or the purview of special interests. These members of Congress need to find the courage to do the right thing, without fear of the NRA's clout, come next election."

Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register: "Donald Trump's presidential campaign has denied The Des Moines Register press credentials to gain access to a candidate event scheduled for Saturday in Oskaloosa. The reason: an editorial published by the newspaper last Tuesday calling on Trump to quit the Republican race.... The Register's editorial board operates independently from the editors and reporters who conduct political coverage.... It is highly unusual for a political campaign to deny credentials to a media organization." CW: I wonder if President Trump would trample First Amendment free-press rights. I hope we'll never know.

Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle: "An appeals court on Friday rejected one of the criminal counts against former Gov. Rick Perry but said he must face the other one in the abuse-of-power case against him. Perry was indicted by a grand jury in 2014 after being accused of abusing his veto power to try to force out the Democratic Travis County district attorney in the wake of her messy drunken-driving arrest. The former governor, who is running for the GOP nomination for president, repeatedly failed in efforts get the indictment dismissed by state Judge Bert Richardson. He took his case to the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin."

Rebecca Elliott & Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle: "The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Houston City Council must repeal the city's equal rights ordinance or place it on the November ballot. The ruling comes three months after a state district judge ruled that opponents of Houston's contentious non-discrimination ordinance passed last year failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum."

Here are a couple of things I missed this week:

"No Class." Raquel Reichard of Latina: Marco Rubio compares Donald Trump to President Obama. "'I don't think the way he's behaved over the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of the office that he seeks,' Rubio said about Trump. 'We already have a president now that has no class. We have a president now that does selfie stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people who eat cereal out of a bathtub.'" CW: Because having a sense of humor is just like calling Mexican immigrants rapists & murderers.

... Lindsey Graham decides how to deal with Donald Trump's revealing his personal cellphone number:

... Funny, but I don't know if it would pass Marco's classy test.

Marco in the Middle. Looks like back in '89 when he was a high-schooler, Marco thought this was classy:

Now that he's more mature, this is his classy presidential look:

I suppose Bernie & Hillary, et al., have their own health problems, but maybe the Leader of the Free World, who must make speech after speech, should consult someone about his dry mouth. In the two most important speeches of his national political career, Marco has had to take a big gulp. In the clip below, you can tell he is having trouble as he pilliories Hillary, then -- in the second before he announces his presidential candidacy -- he reaches for the H20.

Here's the famous big gulp that interrupted Marco's breakout moment as the official GOP designated hitman response to President Obama's 2013 SOTU address:

News Ledes

CNN: "Two former detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba were arrested by Belgian police in a counterterrorism operation targeting a recruiting network for al Qaeda in Syria. They were arrested Wednesday night along with three others as they were about to break into a house to raise funds in the town of Hoboken, near Antwerp, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN. 'We have dismantled a serious recruiting network for Syria,' the official told CNN.... One of the former ... detainees was Moussa Zemmouri, 37, a Moroccan national born in Antwerp, Belgian federal prosecutors announced Friday. The other was an Algerian identified as Soufiane A., who prosecutors believe spent time in Syria." Zemmouri was released in 2005.

AP: "Two animal-rights activists have been charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which they released about 5,740 mink from farms, and vandalized the homes and businesses of industry members, the FBI said Friday. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Joseph Brian Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Juanita Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, California, and federal prosecutors charged them with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act."

New York Times: "Turkish fighter jets, which on Friday attacked Islamic State targets in Syria, have launched a wave of airstrikes in northern Iraq, targeting camps of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party for the first time in four years, the prime minister's office said Saturday. The Iraq incursion, which began late Friday and continued into Saturday, effectively ended an unstable two-year cease-fire between the Turkish government and the Kurdish militants, known by the initials P.K.K. After 30 years of conflict that claimed at least 40,000 lives, the two sides reached a fragile peace in 2013, though there have been a few minor clashes since then."

Thursday
Jul232015

The Commentariat -- July 24, 2015

Bridie Jabour of the Guardian: "Barack Obama is 'distressed' he has been unable to strengthen gun-safety laws in America, acknowledging it will be the unfinished business of his presidency. Obama's comment went to air on the BBC a few hours before the latest shooting in America which left three people dead, including the gunman, at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana." See also today's News Ledes.

... Tim Devaney of the Hill: "Gun production has more than doubled over the course of the Obama administration, according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The manufacturing boom has come in the face of the president's push to expand background checks and place new restrictions on guns in the wake of high-profile shootings like the recent mass-killing in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. The numbers paint a picture of gun owners who are concerned about new restrictions on their Second Amendment rights, activists say. 'The ATF report confirms what we already know, that Barack Obama deserves the "Gun Salesman of the Decade' award,' said Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America. 'People have been rushing to buy firearms because they're afraid that Obama will take away their Second Amendment rights.'" CW: BTW, Pratt's group thinks the NRA is squishy on gun rights. ...

... digby comments on the Louisiana theater shooting -- and all the others. And freeedom. ...

... Here's President Obama's full BBC interview, which was conducted prior to his leaving for Kenya. He also discusses his visit to Kenya & Ethopia, the Iran nuclear agreement, the U.K.'s staying in the European Union, & race relations in the U.S. CW: Once again, I defy any of the GOP candidates for president to sit for an interview, facing a broad range of unvetted questions, & answer so ably & thoroughly. See also Jeb!'s remarks on Social Security below:

... Patrick Wintour & Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian: "Downing Street has played down the significance of Barack Obama's comments urging the UK to remain part of the European Union if it did not want to lose influence in the world, stating that the British people would have the final say. The US president made his strongest intervention yet in Britain's nascent referendum campaign in an interview with the BBC, when he said Washington had much greater confidence in the transatlantic union with the UK as part of the EU."

Helene Cooper & Ceylan Yeginsu of the New York Times: "The United States and Turkey have reached an agreement for manned and unmanned American warplanes to carry out aerial attacks on the Islamic State from two Turkish air bases, Obama administration officials said Thursday. The agreement on the bases, Incirlik and Diyarbakir..., came after months of negotiations that culminated on Wednesday with a phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and President Obama, another administration official said. The development came as Turkish forces were reported to have engaged in the first direct combat with Islamic State forces on the Syrian side of the border."

Michael Gordon & Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday told skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the recently negotiated accord with Iran is the only chance to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and that failure to enact the agreement would isolate the United States internationally.... Mr. Kerry's testimony, along with the testimony of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, came as the Iran deal architects made their first public appearance before lawmakers since the accord was announced last week." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Senate Republicans opened the first public hearing on the Iranian nuclear agreement Thursday with sharp criticism that made clear they are unlikely to be persuaded to support a deal aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a bomb." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "... the vast majority of Republicans appear to have made up their minds before a single classified briefing, hearing or visit with administration officials. Their view seems born of genuine distaste for the deal's details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran's nuclear abilities." ... CW: Being a knee-jerk reactionary naysayer, however, is an excellent timesaver & a preservative for brain cells, prudent precautions for those who must expend so much energy rattling their sabers & moving Social Security funds to defense appropriations. ...

... J. J. Goldberg of Forward: "There's a deep crack emerging in the veneer of wall-to-wall support offered by Israel's political leadership to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his war against the Iran nuclear agreement. The crack has a name you might recognize: the Israeli security establishment. You know -- the folks whose job it is to identify and address threats to Israel's safety. A small but growing group of high-power ex-commanders has been speaking out in media interviews and op-ed essays in the past few days, saying that Netanyahu has got the Iran issue wrong.... All agree that undermining Israel's alliance with America is a far greater existential threat than anything Iran does." Via Paul Waldman. ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful. Amnesia is part of the reason why. If Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Benjamin Netanyahu knew that before denouncing the Iran deal they’d be required to account for their views on Iraq, they might not show up in the green room. If they did, their television appearances would take a radically different course from the course they generally take today." CW: But they will be in the green rooms, Peter, because Tuck Chodd, John Davidson & Whoever Is Filling in for Stephanopoulos. The consequences of these little "Annals of 'Journalism,' Ctd. stories I link are not so funny.

Big Break for Billionaire Backers. Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday the tax agency won't adopt any new regulations for the political activities of tax-exempt groups until 2017. He said the IRS doesn't want to be seen as trying to influence the outcome of the election.... Koskinen said new regulations could be unveiled next year, but they wouldn't take effect until after the election."

Congressional GOP Still in Disarray. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: The Senate & House "are headed to a showdown" on transportation funding. Mitch McConnell hopes a bill will pass in the Senate, but the House leadership wants a temporary, five-month fix. ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Two months after the high-speed derailment of an Amtrak train killed eight people and injured hundreds more in Philadelphia, a Senate transportation bill headed for debate this week calls for a three-year delay of the deadline for installing a rail safety system that experts say would have almost certainly prevented the Pennsylvania accident. Lawmakers from the Northeast and train safety experts expressed outrage over the provision...."

Turtles Can Be Slippery. Tamar Hallerman of Roll Call: "Senate appropriators folded into a draft spending bill a provision long sought by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would relax campaign finance coordination rules between candidates and the political parties. This marks the second time in less than a year that lawmakers have sought major changes to campaign finance regulations through must-pass appropriations measures.... The provision would effectively consolidate power within the national parties.... Democratic appropriators on Wednesday were quick to label the campaign finance provision as objectionable and said it would create a loophole that 'effectively overrides' current spending limits...."

Colby Bermel of the National Journal: "Congressional Republicans continued to put a spotlight on illegal immigration Thursday, as the House passed a bill meant to punish so-called sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds. The vote was 241-179, with only about a half-dozen members of each party crossing the aisle. President Obama on Thursday pledged to veto the bill, which is opposed by the Major County Sheriffs' Association and the Fraternal Order of Police." ...

... Democrats are calling the bill "The Donald Trump Act." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is throwing cold water on several House Republicans' efforts to immediately defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the group's undercover video controversy.... 'Facts first,' Boehner said when asked twice about Planned Parenthood funding during his Thursday news conference. Boehner's remarks, which come several days after he ordered a congressional probe into the videos, put him at odds with the 80 House Republicans who have backed a new bill from Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that would immediately block Planned Parenthood's funding for one year while the government investigates." CW: Notice how the GOP always finds a woman to sponsor anti-woman legislation. Now women of America must rely on well-known feminist John Boehner to defend their healthcare needs. Great.

Sometimes States' Rights Are Inconveeenient. Lydia Wheeler & Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "The House on Thursday passed hotly contested legislation that would keep states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which passed 275-150, would instead create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of foods with GMO ingredients."

Paul Krugman: "... being right isn't necessarily enough to [get policymakers to listen]. But it's still better to be right than to be wrong, and M.I.T.-style economics, with its pragmatic openness to evidence, has been very right indeed." ...

... Notes from another noted economist, David Brooks: "Raising the minimum wage will produce winners among job holders from all backgrounds, but it will disproportionately punish those with the lowest skills, who are least likely to be able to justify higher employment costs." CW: Oddly, Brooks never calculates the cost savings to taxpayers, who have been subsidizing companies that pay their workers poverty wages. I'm so surprised. But three cheers for the Waltons & CEOs with multi-million-dollar annual incomes. Nor does he mention that the poor customers -- about whom Brooks is now terribly concerned -- who frequent McDonalds might just opt for homecooked meals & those traditional family dinners.

It's unbelievable to me that liberals, that President Obama, of course he sends his children to private school, as did Al Gore, and Bill Clinton and every other celebrated liberal. They just don't want to let those idiot inner city kids that they purport to be so supportive of ... they don't want to give them the same opportunity their own kids have. It's disgraceful. -- Sen. Ron Johnson, on a Milwaukee radio show

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: Johnson later told the Post," 'I was being, that quote is, I'm being very sarcastic in that's how liberals view these underprivileged kids. That is not my viewpoint in any way.' But he said he understood how 'hearing that little snippet' might make one 'go, yikes.'" CW: In fairness, you can't expect the Stupidest Man in the Senate to be articulate. I do think Johnson meant to characterize Democrats' prejudice against inner-city children, not his own.

Presidential Race

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday. The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton's private account contained 'hundreds of potentially classified emails.'" ...

     ... CW: Around this great land of ours, wherever they may be -- in the cornfields of Iowa or in the ancient mountains of New Hampshire -- there are presidential candidates singing. Turns out "crim-i-nal in-ves-ti-ga-tion" can be set to music. ...

... Eric Tucker of the AP: "One U.S. official said it was unclear whether classified information was mishandled and the referral doesn't suggest wrongdoing by Clinton herself." CW: Oh, so what? There's a sentence out there -- writ by members of the librul media -- with "Hillary Clinton" & "criminal investigation" in it. That's enough for the Red Team. ...

... Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Whatever the endgame of this legal matter, changing the underlying laws is long overdue. Outcomes would be less uneven and capricious if being charged criminally for mishandling state secrets required a review of whether the secrets were properly classified, evidence of willful misbehavior, and plausible harm to national security. Without such reforms, these laws will continue to be abused with impunity." ...

     ... Dylan Byers: "The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's State Department email account late Thursday night.... The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation 'into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.' That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed:... 'into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.' The Times also changed the headline of the story.... One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, [said the change] 'was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them.'" ...

... Bill & Hillary's Excellent Vacation. Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "After much hand-wringing over their vacation plans, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton will return to the Hamptons this summer...." She's planning a fundraiser during the family vacation, but not "in an opulent private home, which could strike an elitist tone." CW: Should definitely help your populist creds, Hil.

... Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "... Hillary Clinton on Thursday declined to endorse legislation championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would break up big banks. Warren and other liberals -- including Clinton's 2016 primary opponents Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- are pushing to reinstate legislation that President Bill Clinton repealed in 1999 called Glass-Steagall.... 'I think this is a much more complicated issue than to just point at any one piece of legislation and say, if we just pass that, everything would be fine,' Clinton said when asked about it while campaigning South Carolina.... 'We have a too-big-to-fail problem still and we have to figure out the best way to address it, and I will be talking more about that. But I am not going to be pointing at any one change and saying, you know, "that'll solve all our problems."'" ...

... Tom Dart of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton said that the death of Sandra Bland is an example of the 'hard truths about race and justice' that America needs to face as uncertainty and anger over the circumstances of the 28-year-old's death continued on Thursday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Doofus Plan, Ctd. I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something -- because they're not going to have anything. -- Jeb Bush, Wednesday evening, on eliminating Medicare

... Steve Benen: "It says something important about Republican politics in 2015 when the most mainstream candidate is also the candidate who wants to scrap Medicare altogether.... [Bush] is convinced that 'people understand' the need to get rid of Medicare. He's mistaken.... While Republicans fight to eliminate the Medicare program, Democrats have had great success in strengthening Medicare finances and extending its fiscal health for many years to come. The secret, apparently, was passing the Affordable Care Act."

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border dominated the airwaves on Thursday -- in English and Spanish. While the national newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC covered Trump's visit to Laredo, Tex., coverage of the GOP presidential candidate dominated the national news broadcasts on Univision and Telemundo. Republicans fearful of how Trump is hurting the party's image with the nation's fast-growing Latino voting population need only play back Thursday night's broadcasts as proof." ...

... Kevin Cirilli & Bob Cusack of the Hill: "Donald Trump says the chances that he will launch a third-party White House run will 'absolutely' increase if the Republican National Committee is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season. 'The RNC has not been supportive. They were always supportive when I was a contributor. I was their fair-haired boy,' the business mogul told The Hill in a 40-minute interview from his Manhattan office at Trump Tower on Wednesday. 'The RNC has been, I think, very foolish.'... 'I'll have to see how I'm being treated by the Republicans,' Trump said. 'Absolutely, if they're not fair, that would be a factor.'"

Tim Egan: "Somewhere, we crossed a line -- from our mothers' modesty to strutting braggadocio, from dutiful decorum to smashing all the china in the room, from respecting a base set of facts to a trumpeting of willful ignorance.... [Donald] Trump is the [Republican] brand, to a sizable degree.... And now that the party can't control him, Trump threatens to destroy its chances if he doesn't get his way, running as an independent with unlimited wealth -- a political suicide bomb.... Trump has forced party leaders to decry something they have not only tolerated, but encouraged." ...

... Brian Beutler: "In years past, Republicans didn't think of Trumpism as a liability so long as Trump was outside the tent pissing further out. When Trump was busily whipping up reactionary sentiment, indulging birther conspiracies, Republicans didn't see a'jackass' -- they saw an opportunity.... They didn't call him a media creation back then -- they sought his endorsement. Trump is now inside the tent, pissing everywhere.... By condemning him so vocally, his Republican critics are reminding Trump's supporters of everything they don;t like about the Republican party." In a three-way general-election race, with Trump running as a third-party candidate, the GOP candidate would not stand a chance. ...

... Ed Kilgore: According to the latest WashPo/ABC News poll, "In a hypothetical three-way general election contest against Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would basically run even with them among non-college educated white voters (Bush: 34%; Clinton: 31%; Trump: 31%). These numbers ... show why Trump might pose an existential threat to the Republican Party if he runs as an independent candidate. Mitt Romney won 61% of the non-college educated white vote in 2012. He still lost, and the percentage in this demographic needed by a Republican is gradually going up as its comparative size continues to shrink.... The emergence of Trump as a white working class hero is the latest twist in the discussion of this demographic...." ...

... CBN winger David Brody writes that evangelicals are attracted to Trump because both think & speak in absolutes. The entire post is, well, entertaining, especially the part about their resentment at being played by a ho-mo-sex-u-al. ...

... Steve M.: "... the source of all this is the obsession with an absolute sense of right and wrong. Other Christians acknowledge Christianity's strict moral code but regard all human beings as sinners; the religious right seems to spend far more time tallying lists of the righteous and the infidels, with themselves firmly in the former category. And then they apply that vision to politics, in as self-righteous and mean-spirited a way as possible."

Dana Milbank: Scott Walker is a dangerous demagogue who is scapegoating unions the way Joe McCarthy frightened people about communist infiltrators.

Dumbest Presidential Candidate Quote of the Day, First Runner-up. We accepted 60,000 people from Iraq as refugees. What I don’t get about it is, I thought asylum would be when you lost the war. We won the Iraq War! We put in place a democratic government. Why would there be any people seeking asylum from Iraq after the war? -- Sen. Rand Paul

CW: Contributor P. D. Pepe mentioned Rachel Maddow's interview of Rick Santorum, but I just did not get to it. Arturo Garcia of the Raw Story has the short version here, along with embedded video of the exchange. It seems Santorum has a remarkable view of Constitutional balance of powers. He disagrees that the Supreme Court is the body that, as Rachel dumbed it down for him, "decide[s] what’s constitutional," because, according to Santorum, "it’s not a superior branch of government," so Congress & the president can get together & pass a law that overrides any Supreme decision. Two-to-one, I guess. Supermajority. Congress + President > Supreme Court.

Beyond the Beltway

of the Washington Post: "Waller County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam told reporters that medical examiners didn’t find marks or injuries on Sandra Bland’s neck and head that are usually consistent with a violent struggle. There were also no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands, he said. '... I have not seen any evidence to indicate that this is a homicide,' Diepraam said. Bland’s death has been classified by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office as suicide by hanging." ...

... ** Orin Kerr in the Washington Post: "The Bland video brings up an overlooked problem with the law of police-citizen encounters. The police can back up their orders with force because it’s often a crime to disobey a lawful order from a police officer. But from a citizen’s perspective, it’s often impossible to know what is a lawful order. As a result, it’s often impossible for citizens to know what they can and can’t do during a police encounter.... It’s hard to know if the officer is following the law or violating your rights." Kerr cites the Oregon Supreme Court's contradictory findings. ...

... Orin Kerr: "... in short: Bland did not have to put out her cigarette. She likely had to exit the car, although it’s possible to that she didn’t have to because the officer was ordering her out of the car for reasons of retaliation — a possibility that might have been raised later in court, but wouldn’t persuade the officer." ...

... Leon Neyfakh of Slate: "How a bail system the Justice Department has called unconstitutional may have contributed to [Sandra Bland's] death." Thanks to contributor carlyle for raising the issue of bail in today's Comments. ...

Kevin Rector of the Baltimore Sun: "A Glen Burnie venue on Wednesday abruptly canceled a planned fundraiser for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray after the scheduled entertainment — a former Baltimore officer singing in blackface — drew sharp criticism. Bobby Berger, 67, who was fired from the city police force in the 1980s after his off-duty performances in blackface drew the ire of the NAACP, had said he wanted to revive the act to help the families of the officers. He said he had sold 600 tickets at $45 each to the bull roast scheduled for Nov. 1..., where he and several singers planned to perform.... [Berger] said he organized the fundraiser because he knows how it feels to be suddenly without a paycheck from the department." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. ...

... CW: Apparently Bobby, who has has some three decades to think about why he was fired, has not figured it out yet. As you know, cops are not all that smart.

Adam Raymond of New York: "Richard Matt, one half of the duo who escaped prison last month and led police on a two-week manhunt, was more concerned with getting drunk in a secluded cabin than finding a more permanent hiding place, according to the state trooper who led the search. That's what led to his downfall. In an interview with upstate paper The Press-Republican, Major Charles Guess said Matt and fellow escapee David Sweat argued about staying in a cabin, which was well stocked with booze, after they'd already spent a few nights there.... Another successful marriage torn asunder by alcohol."

Julia Marsh & Laura Italiano of the New York Post: “'60 Minutes' correspondent Bob Simon was responsible for his own death, the limousine company being sued for the crash that killed him insists in galling new court papers. Simon ... 'assumed the risk' when he climbed into the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car last February, Skyline Credit Ride says in the Manhattan Supreme Court filing.... The driver, Abdul Reshad Fedahi, 44, had nine license suspensions and two speeding convictions on his record — and was driving with one hand because his right arm had been rendered useless due to a suicide attempt. Eyewitnesses have told The Post that Simon’s Lincoln was veering erratically as it traveled southbound on the West Side Highway near West 30th Street, just before the 7 p.m. crash on Feb. 11. The Lincoln grazed a Mercedes, then accelerated before slamming into barriers along the median, one witness said...."

Odd News. Nick Gass of Politico: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was seen at a Northern California marijuana farm during a raid last weekend, where the former captive of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Afghanistan was reportedly visiting friends.... Authorities from the county sheriff’s department confirmed to NBC Bay Area that Bergdahl did not face any charges and was not arrested during the raid.... Bergdahl is currently awaiting a court martial on charges of desertion, after being returned to the United States last May as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A gunman opened fire on a movie theater in Lafayette, La. Thursday night, killing at least two people and injuring nine others before killing himself, police said.... The suspect is a 58-year-old white male with a criminal history, Craft said. He seemed to be sitting alone in the theater and fired a semi-automatic handgun." ...

... ABC News: "The gunman who opened fire inside a packed movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, Thursday night, was John Russel Houser, police said at a news conference this morning.... Houser was described as a drifter by police, who said he had likely been in Lafayette since early July." ...

... New York: "The two victims who died are 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, who died at the theater, and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson, who died at a nearby hospital. One of those injured is in critical condition.... The gunman ... John Russell Houser from Alabama ... had been staying in a Motel 6 in the area for a few weeks; police found wigs and disguises inside his room, and a car with switched plates parked out front." ...

... AP: "The White House says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting at a Louisiana movie theater that left three people dead, including the gunman." There are links to more stories about the shooting on the linked Times-Picayune page. ...

... CNN: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke from just outside a Lafayette movie theater after a deadly shooting took place there Thursday, saying he was 'horrified and shocked.'"

A(ustralian)BC: "A US air strike in Afghanistan has killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in charge of the group's suicide bombings, the Pentagon says."

Guardian: "Turkish fighter jets have struck Islamic State targets in Syria and the government has rounded up hundreds of suspected militants in a coordinated crackdown as the country deployed military force for the first time against the terror group."