The Wires
The Ledes

Saturday, May 26, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorter Wedding:

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

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

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

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

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

Tuesday
Dec082015

The Commentariat -- December 9, 2015

Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "The FBI's system for tracking fatal police shootings is a 'travesty' and the agency will replace it by 2017, dramatically expanding the information it gathers on violent police encounters in the United States, a senior FBI official said Tuesday. The new effort will go beyond tracking fatal shootings and, for the first time, track any incident in which an officer causes serious injury or death to civilians, including through the use of stun guns, pepper spray, and even fists and feet."

NEW. Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Wednesday that the couple who waged a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, Calif., last week had been talking of an attack as far back as two years ago, while they were still dating. 'Our investigation to date shows that they were radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online,' Mr. Comey said, 'and as early as the end of 2013 were talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and married and were living in the U.S.' The couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were married in the United States in 2014. Mr. Comey said that the F.B.I. believes they were inspired by foreign extremist groups.... They are not believed to have had any accomplices, although investigators are suspicious about what family members and friends may have known about the couple's plans." ...

... Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Federal authorities believe the Facebook posting from one of the attackers who killed 14 people here last week was made on behalf of both shooters, according to several senior U.S. law enforcement officials.... The FBI remains keenly interested in a former neighbor who provided the military-grade rifles used by Syed Rizwan Farook ... and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, during the massacre that killed 14 people and injured 21 others." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... James Koren of the Los Angeles Times throws cold water on speculation that the $28,000 deposit in the San Bernardino shooters' bank account came from Daesh. The deposit was a loan through a third-party broker called Prosper: "People familiar with the industry say it's exceedingly unlikely that Prosper or similar platforms, such as Lending Club, could be used in that way." ...

... BUT. Richard Serrano, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: The couple may have used the loan to "acquire last-minute firearms, ammunition and components to build explosives, two federal officials said Tuesday." ...

... AND. Pamela Brown of CNN: "Investigators believe San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook may have been plotting a [2012] attack in California with someone else, two U.S. officials said.... One official said the two decided not to go through with the earlier attack after a round of terror-related arrests in the area. 'They got spooked,' the official said."

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "As Republicans squabbled over Donald Trump's controversial proposal to bar all Muslims from traveling to the United States, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill imposing new restrictions on a visa waiver program that currently permits roughly 20 million people to enter the country each year. The bill, which was approved on a 407 to 19 vote, would increase information sharing between the United States and the 38 countries whose passport holders are allowed to visit the country without getting a visa, while also attempting to weed out travelers who have visited certain countries where they may have been radicalized.... But there are key differences between the House's bill and a measure from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), which has not yet been scheduled for a vote...."

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post on some 120 Republican House members vote "no" on bills they hope will pass with Democratic votes.

Michael Mann, in a New York Times op-ed, on the attempts by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to intimidate climate scientists. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

NEW. Wendy Davis (D), in a Politico Magazine opinion piece, apologizes for supporting Texas's open-carry law when she ran for governor in 2014. She urges lawmakers not to make the mistake she did.

German Lopez of Vox: Don't listen to what your uncle told you he read in the Right Wing News about gun/murder statistics. Those are junk studies that don't control for other factors. "'Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide,' David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health."

** Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "A closely divided Supreme Court on Tuesday struggled to decide 'what kind of democracy people wanted,' as Justice Stephen G. Breyer put it during an argument over the meaning of the constitutional principle of 'one person one vote.'... Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., ... seemed attracted to counting only voters.... The Constitution requires 'counting the whole number of persons in each state' for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives among the states. Justice Elena Kagan said it struck her as unlikely that a different rule should apply for purposes of drawing state districts." ...

... "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Rick Hasen, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "... as compelling as [Roberts'] argument may sound in the abstract, it's not practicable. And it seems doubtful these justices would be willing to mandate a standard that would cause so much upheaval, not only in the states, but at the Supreme Court itself, which would see a new flood of cases clarifying the standard." ...

... ** David Gans of the New Republic: "The case was initiated by activists who seek to empower certain voters at the expense of the entire population, which in Texas would tilt power toward more rural and, yes, conservative areas of the state. But the Constitution settles this question, and Evenwel should begin and end with the text and history of the Constitution." ...

... Amy Howe of ScotusBlog tries to read the justices on the Arizona redistricting case. ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "The Supreme Court Looks Poised To Blow Up Everything You Think You Know About Redistricting." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... this week could be high noon of John Roberts's Day Of Jubilee." CW: Just for fun, read Pierce's description of the plaintiffs.

... CW: AND this, my knuckleheaded friends, is why you vote for Hillary Clinton whether you like her or not. Donald Trump may curtail Muslim civil rights, but certain members -- perhaps a majority -- of the Supreme Court are inclined to make "nonpersons" of children of all stripes, Latinos, blacks, legal noncitizen residents, disenfranchised felons & every lazy adult who can't drag his sorry ass to the polls. One, two or three more Ninos on the court will obliterate the last shreds of democracy for generations to come. (The upside: if you're a white Christianist voter [and the courts don't rescind your franchise on some other excuse], you will be a wee American prince, a card-carrying member of the Voter Caste.)

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "Imports from China by Walmart ... eliminated or displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013, according to an estimate by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive research group that has long targeted Walmart's policies. The jobs, mostly in manufacturing, represent about 13 percent of the 3.2 million jobs displaced over those same years that the study attributes to the United States' goods trade deficit with China. Walmart's Chinese imports amounted to at least $49 billion in 2013, according to the study, which was based on trade and labor data. Over all, the United States' trade deficit with China hit $324 billion that year." ...

... CW: A spokesman for the Walton family said they are personally helping the U.S.-China balance of trade by not buying any of the cheap Chinese crap WalMart sells. "People of the Waltons' means do not shop at WalMart, for Pete's sake," the spokesman added. The Waltons also suggest that, in the spirit of the holiday season, Americans contribute to the WalMart employee food bank, which helps underpaid WalMart employees feed their hungry children. The Waltons invite you to drop donations into the colorful holiday bins they have placed conveniently near the check-out stands at WalMarts & Sam's Clubs. "From your pocket to ours," is a concept pioneered by our beloved dad Sam, the heirs said through their spokesman.

James Risen of the New York Times: "When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday..., one of the issues on his agenda was to encourage a more aggressive fight against Ukraine's rampant corruption and stronger efforts to rein in the power of its oligarchs. But the credibility of the vice president's anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine's largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine's ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Time chooses Angela Merkel as its Person of the Year.

Presidential Race

"She's Got Some Balls, You Know." Thomas Edsall: "A late November YouGov survey conducted after the attacks in Paris but before San Bernardino found that Hillary Clinton stood apart from Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina as the only candidate a majority of voters believe 'is ready to be Commander in Chief. She is the only one about whom as many people express confidence in her ability to handle an international crisis as say they are uneasy.'"

Juliet Eilperin & Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to block all Muslims from entering the United States 'disqualifies him from serving as president.'... The press secretary noted that while several GOP elected officials and presidential hopefuls had not embraced the controversial policy proposal, 'Today the newly-elected speaker of the House said he would vote for Donald Trump for president if he's the party's nominee. They should say right now that they will not support him for president,' Earnest added." ...

... CW: Earnest added that all Republican presidential candidates who stand by Trump also have disqualified themselves. I can't recall any administration ever having made a similar statement. I can't say Earnest's condemnation of Trump is unprecedented (because I don't know), but it might be. ...

... Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Republicans on Capitol Hill strongly denounced a proposal from Donald Trump -- their party's frontrunner in the presidential race -- for a 'total and complete' ban on Muslims entering the United States. But the two leading Congressional Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), both stopped short of saying they would reject Trump were he to lead their party's ticket in 2016." ...

... Paul Waldman: "So in other words, he's a bigot and a race-baiter who spits on fundamental American values, but if he gets the nomination ... Go Trump!" ...

... Here's why. Susan Page of USA Today: "... 68% of Trump's supporters say they would vote for ... [him] if he ran as an independent rather than a Republican just 18% say they wouldn't. The rest were undecided." ...

... Dana Milbank: "Trump's chin-out toughness, sweeping right-hand gestures and talk of his 'huge' successes and his 'stupid' opponents all evoke [Benito Mussolini]'s style.... Trump uses many of the fascist's tools: a contempt for facts, spreading a pervasive sense of fear and overwhelming crisis, portraying his backers as victims, assigning blame to foreign or alien actors and suggesting only his powerful personality can transcend the crisis." ...

No Surprise. Brian Beutler: When large swaths of the conservative movement resisted the notion that the GOP needed to widen its appeal to minorities, and could win by appealing to a broader base of whites, it was liberals who warned that these voters would drag the party into a racial abyss. Trump is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Better than any Republican candidate in recent memory, he intuits the mood of the disaffected Republican electorate. Or rather, because he's almost entirely uninterested in straddling party factions, he gives voice to their paranoia and racism without massaging it the way the pretenders to his lead do." ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Tuesday defended his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States, casting it as a temporary move in response to Islamic State terrorism, and invoking President Franklin D. Roosevelt's actions toward Japanese, German and Italian aliens during World War II as precedent.... In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation apologizing to and compensating more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps in World War II." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump has widened his lead in New Hampshire.... A CNN/WBUR survey found that 32 percent of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire support Mr. Trump, up from 26 percent in September. In second place was Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, at 14 percent, followed by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at 9 percent and Jeb Bush at 8 percent. The poll follows a spate of terrorist attacks around the world and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that have made national security a central issue in the 2016 race, but it was taken after Mr. Trump's provocative proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States." ...

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "In President Obama's speech Sunday, he told Americans that 'just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination.' Afterward, on Fox News, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ... [asked] 'Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims?' Senator, allow me to introduce you to Donald Trump. You may recognize him as the man who has been trouncing you in the polls for months.... Trump has -- and there's no other way to put this -- embraced an unconstitutional, fascist-like approach. And there's no question that the Islamic State wants Americans to embrace -- or at least tolerate -- Trump's ideas.... For the national security of the country, [Republicans] must reject supporting him if he is the nominee." ...

... CW: Really, Marco? If you can't find "widespread evidence" of "discrimination against Muslims," he might ask his oppo team to monitor a Trump rally. Or, like, read stuff. ...

... Ah, I see Jonathan Chait is equally dumbfounded by Marco's (feigned?) ignorance: "It is unclear what sort of evidence Rubio would accept. According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslim-Americans, which spiked in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, have settled in at an elevated level five times higher than before 2001. If Rubio considers these dry statistics too abstract, he could look to current Republican poll leader Donald Trump." And he goes on, also citing remarks by Marco's rivals & by Marco hisself. Read the whole post. ...

... MEANWHILE, in Trumpsylvania. Michael Matza of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Philadelphia police, the FBI, and the city's Human Relations Commission launched investigations Monday after a worker at a North Philadelphia mosque found a severed pig's head outside its door. Surveillance video outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society..., showed a red pickup truck drove past the building twice just before 11 p.m. Sunday.... On its second pass, the video shows, someone extended an arm from the passenger window and tossed something that rolled to a stop near the mosque's front door." CW: A pickup truck, of course. Probably a gun rack behind the seats. And if you home in on the rear bumper, chances are you'll find a Trump for President sticker. Make American Great Again. Thanks to Ophelia M. for the lead.

NEW. Alana Wise & Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: "Senator Ted Cruz ... said on Tuesday that he introduced legislation to give governors the ability to opt out of refugee resettlement programs." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Ted Cruz's clever scheme to reap the benefits of Trump's Islamophobia." CW: Cruz is what Trump would look like if Trump were smarter & more devious.

Leonard Burman, et al., of the Tax Policy Center analyze "Jeb Bush's tax proposal. It would reduce individual and business marginal tax rates, curtail tax expenditures, and convert the corporate income tax into a cash-flow consumption tax. The proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, reducing federal revenues by $6.8 trillion over its first decade before considering macro feedbacks. The plan would improve incentives to work, save, and invest, but unless accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by as much as 50 percent of GDP by 2036, which would tend to put a drag on the economy. ...

... Jeb!'s Extremely Extremist Tax Plan. Dylan Matthews of Vox: "The analysis also shows how much more extreme Republican tax policy has gotten since Bush's brother was president. The sticker price of George W. Bush's 2001 tax cuts was $1.35 trillion.... The cuts were rightly considered one of the most dramatic reductions in federal taxes in modern American history. But their $1.7 trillion total estimated cost at passage (they ended up costing less after the recession led incomes to plummet) is only one-fourth the size of what Jeb is proposing. Jeb is trying to position himself as a responsible, establishment Republican.... That he thinks he can do that while proposing four times more in tax cuts than his brother passed is extraordinary, to say the least." ...

... Being Jeb! Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Being Jeb Bush these days means coping with a series of petty humiliations. At a weekend conference in Miami, fundraisers questioned the direction of the campaign and worried it's too late for a rebound. During a foreign policy speech in Washington, people slipped out of the room to go see rival Chris Christie instead. The jebbush.com domain was redirected to Donald Trump's website because the Bush campaign failed to lock it down. And on the campaign trail, the press corps following the former Florida governor is dwindling and focused mostly on his terrible polling numbers, now mired in the low single digits."

McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: Cranky old Ron Paul is jealous of his boy Li'l Randy & doesn't like the kid.

Beyond the Beltway

Reuters: "A 22-year-old man [Matthew Riggins] suspected of burglarizing homes in Florida was killed and partially eaten by an 11ft (3.4-meter) alligator after he waded into a lake, apparently to avoid detection by law enforcement officers pursuing him, police said on Tuesday." CW: Riggins should have read Elmore Leonard's Maximum Bob, which is set nearby. Better to be in the pokey than to become an alligator snack like Bob's dog Pokey. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

... CW: Thanks to Akhilleus for linking the video above. The negative comments unsuspecting people recorded here are fairly measured. I would love to see someone in the U.S. try this out. I don't think we'd hear so many mild responses.

News Ledes

Guardian: "A 23-year-old man from Strasbourg, eastern France, has been identified as the third attacker involved in the terrorist assault at the Bataclan music hall in Paris, police sources have said. Foued Mohamed Aggad went to Syria with his brother and a group of friends at the end of 2013, according to a source close to the investigation. Most of the others were arrested in spring last year after returning to France but Aggad stayed on in Syria, the source said."

New York Times: "Douglas Tompkins, a noted conservationist and the founder of the clothing brands North Face and Esprit, died on Tuesday after a kayaking accident on General Carrera Lake in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. He was 72."

Monday
Dec072015

The Commentariat -- December 8, 2015

Afternoon Update:

@MAG: Something like this? ...

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump on Tuesday defended his call to block all Muslims from entering the United States, casting it as a temporary move in response to Islamic State terrorism, and invoking President Franklin D. Roosevelt's actions toward Japanese, German and Italian aliens during World War II as precedent.... In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation apologizing to and compensating more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps in World War II."

Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Federal authorities believe the Facebook posting from one of the attackers who killed 14 people here last week was made on behalf of both shooters, according to several senior U.S. law enforcement officials.... The FBI remains keenly interested in a former neighbor who provided the military-grade rifles used by Syed Rizwan Farook ... and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, during the massacre that killed 14 people and injured 21 others."

Michael Mann, in a New York Times op-ed, on the attempts by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to intimidate climate scientists.

James Risen of the New York Times: "When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday..., one of the issues on his agenda was to encourage a more aggressive fight against Ukraine's rampant corruption and stronger efforts to rein in the power of its oligarchs. But the credibility of the vice president's anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine's largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine's ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych."

Reuters: "A 22-year-old man [Matthew Riggins] suspected of burglarizing homes in Florida was killed and partially eaten by an 11ft (3.4-meter) alligator after he waded into a lake, apparently to avoid detection by law enforcement officers pursuing him, police said on Tuesday." CW: Riggins should have read Elmore Leonard's Maximum Bob, which is set nearby. Better to be in the pokey than to become an alligator snack like Bob's dog Pokey.

*****

Bridget Bowman of Roll Call: "In his Sunday address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State. But the response from top congressional Republicans was essentially: Authorization for what? They say the president already has the authority to fight ISIS, and has not presented any new strategy that would warrant a new authorization. Congress has discussed the topic for months, but remains split.... The president submitted a draft of the authorization in February, but that proposal has not moved in Congress due to a lack of consensus. Democrats are mostly concerned it would lead to increased military involvement, while many Republicans are concerned it would constrain future presidents." Via Greg Sargent. ...

     ... Sargent sez, "Yes, agreeing on an Authorization for the Use of Military force might be difficult, so let's not do it! Meanwhile, Congress eagerly voted to restrict Syrian refugees and to scuttle diplomacy with Iran." ...

... Alicia Caldwell of the AP: "The Obama administration will announce a new terror alert system 'in the coming days,' Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday. Johnson said the new alert system will better inform the public about threats to the United States, but he did not provide specific details. This will be the third terror alert system put in place by the Homeland Security Department since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "The Department of Homeland Security plans to change the terrorism alert system so it can provide general advisories to the public about threats, national security officials said on Monday. Under the current system, there are two levels for threats: imminent and elevated. A new level will be added to cover less serious threats, though officials declined to say what it will be called. 'It wouldn't be specifics like time and place,' one of the officials said. 'It would be along the lines of terrorists have expressed interest in attacking this type of target.'" ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Intelligence officials have determined that Islamic extremists have explored using the refugee program to enter the United States, they told the head of the Homeland Security Committee. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) revealed portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Monday, which offered new claims not previously disclosed by the Obama administration. The disclosure could give ammunition to critics of the White House's refugee plans who have warned that the program is vulnerable to infiltration by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)." ...

** Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times: "As the debate on how best to contain the Islamic State continues to rage in Western capitals, the militants themselves have made one point patently clear: They want the United States and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.... The group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region." Read the whole article. CW: Oh, and thanks, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Lindsey Graham, et al., for aiding & abetting terrorists. ...

... Adam Nagourney of the New York Times: "Both the assailants in the deadly attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people last week had been radicalized for a long time and had been practicing their aim at a target range just days before their murder spree, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday." ...

     ... The Los Angeles Times report, by Richard Serrano & others, which is more detailed, is here. ...

... The Los Angeles Times editors say people on the no-fly list should be able to buy guns. ...

... Nicole Hensley of the New York Daily News: "Syed Farook received a $28,500 deposit to his bank account nearly two weeks before he and his wife unleashed a deadly terrorist attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, according to a Fox News report. The origin of the money was not immediately clear. It was then split between Farook in the form of a $10,000 cash withdrawal and $15,000 transfer to an account believed associated with his live-in mother, Rafia Farook, the report stated citing an anonymous source close to the investigation."

Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "A bipartisan group of negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of striking a year-end spending deal by the end of Monday so Congress has enough time to pass the legislation before Friday and avert a government shutdown." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Greg Sargent points to Ryan's Lizza's piece on House Republicans (linked here yesterday) that demonstrates that House GOP extremists believe any signs of "governing" represents failure: "First..., it is an article of faith that shutdowns won't hurt the GOP.... Second..., compromising in certain areas, rather than employing maximal intransigence..., itself constitutes a failure to sufficiently 'stand' for something."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a voting rights case that has the potential to shift political power from urban areas to rural ones, a move that would provide a big boost to Republican voters in many parts of the nation. The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, will address a question many thought had been settled long ago: What is the meaning of the principle of 'one person, one vote'?"

Adam Liptak: "The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a Second Amendment challenge to [a Highland Park,] Illinois ordinance that banned semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.... Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.... The ordinance, enacted in 2013..., prohibited possession of what it called assault weapons, defining them as semiautomatic guns that can accept large-capacity magazines and have features like a grip for the nontrigger hand." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Fred Barbash of the Washington Post: NRA shoots itself in the foot.

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "Reacting to a new surge in unaccompanied children crossing the southwest border illegally, the federal government is moving to open two shelters in Texas and one in California this month, adding at least 1,400 beds to handle the increased flow, senior Obama administration officials said Monday."

Craig Whitlock: of the Washington Post: "The Navy announced Monday that it has reprimanded a two-star admiral [David F. Baucom] for getting drunk and wandering naked around a Florida beachfront hotel while attending a conference with defense contractors."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

"We Are No Longer Entertained." Arianna Huffington: "On the heels of Trump's proposed change for America, we will be changing how we cover him at The Huffington Post. Back in July, we announced our decision to put our coverage of Trump's presidential campaign in our Entertainment section instead of our Politics section.... Since then Trump's campaign has certainly lived up to that billing. But as today's vicious pronouncement makes abundantly clear, it's also morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics. So we will no longer be covering his campaign in Entertainment." ...

     ... CW: In July, I said moving coverage of Trump to the "Entertainment" section was a stupid, inappropriate stunt. He wasn't entertaining then, either. Discriminaton against Central Americans is no less entertaining than discrimination against Muslims. It took the HuffPost a damned long time to notice.

David Bauder of the AP: "Two Fox News contributors were suspended Monday for using inappropriate language about President Barack Obama while discussing his speech on terrorism the night before in two separate episodes. The analysts, former U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and actress Stacey Dash, were each ordered off the air for two weeks.... 'This guy is such a total pussy, it's stunning,' Peters said.... Dash ...said... that Obama's speech was an epic fail and followed up with an obscenity. 'I felt like he could give a s--, excuse me, like he could care less.'"

Here are Time's "Person of the Year" finalists. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the reader preference poll, didn't make the finalists list.

Presidential Race

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton previewed a slew of ideas 'to rein in Wall Street' on Monday, including fines for executives whose companies break the law and an 'exit tax' on companies moving abroad.... [Clinton] outlined her proposals in part to reassure progressive voters that she has the will to fight bankers who have backed her." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton, hearing criticism for her ties to the financial industry, received the critical support of Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday for her proposal to expand the Dodd-Frank regulatory structure and urging of President Obama to veto any legislation that would weaken Wall Street regulation."

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump called Monday for a 'total and complete shutdown' of the entry of Muslims to the United States 'until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.'In a statement released by his campaign Monday afternoon, Trump included recent poll findings that he says show that a sizable segment of the Muslim population has 'great hatred towards Americans.'" ...

... Patrick Healy & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "A prohibition of Muslims -- an unprecedented proposal by a leading American presidential candidate, and an idea more typically associated with hate groups -- reflects a progression of mistrust that is rooted in ideology as much as politics.... Experts on immigration law and policy expressed shock at the proposal Monday afternoon.... At a rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina on Monday night, Mr. Trump drew sustained cheers from the audience as he outlined his idea for the ban." ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Asked by The Hill whether that would include American Muslims currently abroad, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks replied over email: 'Mr. Trump says, "everyone."'" ...

... Here's Trump's full statement. ...

... a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing '25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad' and 51% of those polled 'agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.' -- Donald Trump, partial statement

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "The Center for Security Policy is an organization run by Frank Gaffney, who is identified as an anti-Muslim extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The survey Trump cites was conducted earlier this year on behalf of the organization.... This was an online survey of 600 people ... [reportedly] conducted using an opt-in Internet survey.... The questions asked were agree/disagree, which can favor an 'agree' response.... There is no question that the results of the survey ... were influenced by the organization that paid for it.... That survey is of U.S. Muslims. Meaning that even this already questionable survey has absolutely no relationship to the people from overseas that Trump hopes to restrict.... There is, in fact, no reliable evidence that a large percentage of Muslims in the United States -- or, for that matter, Muslims hoping to travel to the United States -- support doing harm to the country or plan to commit acts of violence." ...

     ... The Southern Poverty Law Center says Gaffney's Center for Security Policy is "at the forefront of a well-funded effort to vilify Muslims in the United States and instill a climate of fear," and that Gaffney himself is “gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within." ...

... Annie Gowen of the Washington Post: "... Donald Trump's call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States was widely condemned around the world Tuesday." ...

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States has drawn swift condemnation from his Republican rivals for the nomination, raising the question of whether the billionaire businessman has finally gone too far." Democratic candidates weren't nearly as nice. ...

... Nia-Malika Henderson of CNN: "... unlike with past provocative statements, Trump appears to have sparked a level of backlash from GOP party leaders and his opponents that could be a tipping point for the willingness of fellow Republicans to criticize him directly and openly.... In an unprecedented move, the state party chairs of the three early presidential contests all waded into the fray, criticizing Trump's idea, suggesting at the very least that Trump has crossed a line they feel could damage the Republican brand." ...

... Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times: "'I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps,' [St. Petersburg, Florida, Mayor Rick] Kriseman tweeted [yesterday].... 'You make a ridiculous statement, so you answer with a ridiculous statement,' Kriseman said. 'There are some people who thought I was seriously going to ban Donald Trump from St. Petersburg, and that's obviously not something I would try to do.'" CW: Kriseman is a Democrat. Thanks to Marvin S. for the heads-up. ...

... Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the United States violates U.S. and international law and would never be allowed by the courts, legal scholars said late Monday." ...

... Slaveowners More Tolerant of Muslims than Trump. Juan Cole: "Forbidding people from entering the United States on the basis of their religion is inconsistent with the ideals of the Founding Generation of the United States of America, who explicitly mentioned Islam among the cases when they spoke of religious freedom." ...

... Evan Osnos of the New Yorker is wringing his hands: "What does it say about all of us, as Americans, that [Trump] has made it so far?" ...

     ... CW: It doesn't say a damned thing about me. Intolerance of others, or tribalism, is a human trait that pervades every culture. The part of this country that wasn't founded by slaveholders & would-be slaveholders was founded by Puritans fleeing religious oppression who turned around & oppressed everybody from Quakers to their own "witches" & other nonconformists. "Their 'city upon a hill' was a theocracy that brooked no dissent, religious or political.... From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America's shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the 'heretic' and the 'unbeliever' -- including the 'heathen' natives already here." -- Kenneth Davis, Smithsonian magazine (Oct. 2010). Tolerance is the product of high culture & broad experience. It is older than human history, but it is rarer than Trumpism.

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Ted Cruz took the stage at a town hall [in Greenville, S.C.,] on Monday ready to counter a barrage of attacks from his rivals who have used his vote to curtail National Security Agency surveillance powers as evidence that he is weak on terrorism.... Cruz pulled no punches, presenting himself as a tough-talking pol willing to do 'whatever is necessary' to take on the Islamic State.... He suggested lighting the oil fields of ISIL 'on fire.' He accused President Barack Obama of focusing more on combating 'Islamophobia' than on defeating 'radical Islamic terrorism.' And he dismissed Russia's Vladimir Putin as a 'KGB thug.'" ...

... Where "Pulling no Punches" = Making up Stuff. Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "During a town hall event in South Carolina on Monday..., Ted Cruz [said] ... he will defend religious liberty because 'what kind of country are we living in where ... we're threatening teenage girls with going to jail if they say the name of Jesus?' Cruz ... [told] the story of Angela Hildenbrand, a high school valedictorian who he claims was 'threatened with jail if she exercised her right to pray during her graduation speech.'... But Hildenbrand was not actually threatened with jail for praying. In fact, every part of Cruz's statement ... is incorrect, Greg Lipper, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church & State, who worked on the case, told ThinkProgress."

... Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "For the first time, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas took the top spot in an early-state poll, pulling ahead of Donald J. Trump in Iowa in a survey released on Monday by Monmouth University. Mr. Cruz, the beneficiary of a crucial endorsement by a hard-right Iowa congressman [Steve King] and the precipitous decline of Ben Carson, was supported by 24 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa.... Mr. Trump had 19 percent, Marco Rubio had 17 percent and Mr. Carson was at 13 percent." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Bill of Rights Is an A la Carte Menu -- Marco. Steve Benen: "When Democrats take steps to stop suspected terrorists from buying guns, [Marco Rubio] positions himself as a champion of 'due process' and believes the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. But moments later, Rubio also celebrates mass surveillance and the collection of American's phone data through an expansive National Security State -- because 'due process' and the Fourth Amendment must be malleable given the security threat.... If he has concerns about the integrity and reliability of FBI watch-lists, why hasn't he introduced legislation to reform and improve these lists?... Rubio argued [Sunday] that 'there are over 700,000 Americans on some watch-list.' The actual number is about 10,000."

History as Irony. Brian Beutler: "Jeb Bush, who purged thousands of innocent voters from the Florida rolls, thinks the no-fly list is too error-ridden to screen gun buyers.... [Jeb's] most lasting political legacy is shaping up to be the creation of an erroneous voter-purge list, which restricted voting booth access without due process in order to help steal an election for his brother (who then created the no-fly list and terrorist watch lists)." ...

... Donald Kicks Sand in Jeb!'s Face Again. Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones: Jeb! "has been using Jeb2016.com as his main campaign website. But ... if you type ... a more intuitive URL ... JebBush.com into your web browser, it'll automatically redirect you to DonaldJTrump.com, the official website for Donald Trump's presidential campaign. It's unclear whether this fun bit of trolling comes from the Trump campaign itself, or just an overzealous fan of The Donald."

Beyond the Beltway

Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The Chicago police, facing almost daily protests and a newly announced Justice Department investigation, released footage Monday night showing a 38-year-old black man being shocked by a Taser and dragged down a hallway by officers in 2012. The officers' treatment of the man, Philip Coleman, received a withering rebuke from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose handling of other police use-of-force cases has prompted calls for his resignation, and who has announced a series of policy changes and personnel moves in recent days as pressure mounted." ...

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in Chicago will not file criminal charges against a police officer who shot and killed a black man last year, an incident that occurred a week before a different fatal shooting that brought national scrutiny to Chicago's police force, officials said Monday.... George Hernandez, a Chicago police officer, shot and killed Ronald Johnson III in October 2014, the week before a different officer shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sunday
Dec062015

The Commentariat -- December 7, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a Second Amendment challenge to [a Highland Park,] Illinois ordinance that banned semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.... Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.... The ordinance, enacted in 2013..., prohibited possession of what it called assault weapons, defining them as semiautomatic guns that can accept large-capacity magazines and have features like a grip for the nontrigger hand."

Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "A bipartisan group of negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of striking a year-end spending deal by the end of Monday so Congress has enough time to pass the legislation before Friday and avert a government shutdown."

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton previewed a slew of ideas 'to rein in Wall Street' on Monday, including fines for executives whose companies break the law and an 'exit tax' on companies moving abroad.... [Clinton] outlined her proposals in part to reassure progressive voters that she has the will to fight bankers who have backed her."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "For the first time, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas took the top spot in an early-state poll, pulling ahead of Donald J. Trump in Iowa in a survey released on Monday by Monmouth University. Mr. Cruz, the beneficiary of a crucial endorsement by a hard-right Iowa congressman [Steve King] and the precipitous decline of Ben Carson, was supported by 24 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa.... Mr. Trump had 19 percent, Marco Rubio had 17 percent and Mr. Carson was at 13 percent."

Alicia Caldwell of the AP: "The Obama administration will announce a new terror alert system 'in the coming days,' Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday. Johnson said the new alert system will better inform the public about threats to the United States, but he did not provide specific details. This will be the third terror alert system put in place by the Homeland Security Department since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks."

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in Chicago will not file criminal charges against a police officer who shot and killed a black man last year, an incident that occurred a week before a different fatal shooting that brought national scrutiny to Chicago's police force, officials said Monday.... George Hernandez, a Chicago police officer, shot and killed Ronald Johnson III in October 2014, the week before a different officer shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old."

Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: During the past six months, the government has been working to identify the "remains of hundreds of sailors and Marines who perished 74 years ago Monday" at Pearl Harbor.

Britt di Resta, in a New York Times op-ed piece, on oppo research: how it's done & how it works.

*****

Michael Shear & Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama sought on Sunday to calm a jittery American public after the terrorist attack last week in California, delivering a prime-time address designed to highlight the government's campaign against an evolving threat. Speaking from behind a lectern in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama bluntly acknowledged the heightened fears that followed attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif., which his administration over the weekend called an 'act of terrorism' that was inspired, but not directed, by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria":

... The Washington Post has an annotated transcript here. ...

... Nahal Toosi of Politico: "... President Barack Obama's carefully scripted Sunday night address to the nation included at least one mistake. Obama said he'd requested a review of the 'visa waiver program' under which one of the suspected San Bernardino attackers arrived in the United States. But that alleged assailant, Tashfeen Malik, came under a fiancé visa; she didn't arrive under the program that waives a visa requirement.... White House officials confirmed after the speech that the president was supposed to say 'visa program,' but apparently the word 'waiver' also slipped through. The official transcript includes a correction." ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "At the core of Barack Obama's terrorism speech on Sunday night lay a contradiction. He gave the address to convince an increasingly fearful nation that he takes the terrorist threat seriously. But he doesn't, at least not in the way his political opponents do.... Unlike Rubio, he considers violent jihadism a small, toxic strain within Islamic civilization, not a civilization itself. And unlike [George W.] Bush, he doesn't consider it a serious ideological competitor.... While Republicans think ISIS is strong and growing stronger, Obama thinks it’s weak and growing weaker." ...

... Onward, Christian Soldiers. Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "Moments after Barack Obama delivered a primetime address aimed at easing Americans' fears in the wake of last week's terrorist attack in California, top Republicans condemned the president's speech as insufficient and lacking a sense of urgency in the fight against the Islamic State." CW: Ferociously rattling sabres in one hand while their trigger fingers of the other twitched ominously over imaginary nuclear red buttons, the GOP presidential candidates all vowed to remain part of the problem. Most promised to hunt down Muslims in their beds while defending the rights of American terrorist suspects to own multiple assault rifles & yuuuge ammo depots. You'll have to read Siddiqui's report for details. I stick to the overviews here. ...

... Caroline Bankoff of New York has more details of candidates' responses. ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "... no one else, least of all the likes of Trump, Cruz, and Graham, has any dramatic answers either. Obama has laid out a road. Critics who have never been dealt hard questions on the subject soon reveal that their road doesn't look very different. Some have called the war against groups like ISIS a 'long war.' There are no magic bullets or buzzwords." ...

... Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "None of the Republicans used the moment of Mr. Obama's speech to take a new or surprising stand on war strategy or gun control, or offer much more than familiar partisan attacks on the president.... Mr. Obama had not even begun speaking when one Republican candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, issued a statement calling on the president to use the phrase 'radical Islamic terrorism.'... Mr. Cruz pressed Mr. Obama to lay out 'a plan for decisive action for victory over evil.'... Mr. Cruz said as president he would 'direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS.'" ...

     ... Greg Sargent: "Taking 'decisive action over evil' and 'directing DOD to destroy ISIS' are great ideas. Why didn't anyone else think of this?" ...

... Andy Borowitz: "Moments after its conclusion on Sunday night, President Obama's speech about combating ISIS came under heavy criticism from people with zero better ideas." CW: I told you you couldn't satirize these people. Borowitz's lede is no different from the line I cited from Healy's NYT report.

... Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Law enforcement agents Sunday again searched the home of a man suspected of providing San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook with the military-grade rifles he and his wife used to gun down 14 people, expanding the investigation into the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.... [Enrique] Marquez, who works as a Walmart security guard, checked himself into a mental health facility Friday; it is not yet clear whether he has already been questioned by authorities or if he will be charged.... On Sunday, Italian publication La Stampa published an interview with Farook's father, also named Syed, in which he said his son had harbored anti-Semitic animosity." ...

... Ted Bridis of the AP: "The U.S. government's ability to review and analyze five years' worth of telephone records for the married couple blamed in the deadly shootings in California lapsed just four days earlier when the National Security Agency's controversial mass surveillance program was formally shut down. Under a court order, those historical calling records at the NSA are now off-limits to agents running the FBI terrorism investigation even with a warrant.... Under the new law, passed in June, investigators still can look for links in phone records but they must obtain a targeted warrant to get them directly from phone companies...." ...

... CW: While we're all ringing out hands over presidential candidates' irresponsible statements about gun control & the Congress's refusal to enact curbs on even rapid-fire assault weapons for terror suspects, we shouldn't forget the third branch of government's role in this mass-murderous situation. Dorothy Samuels of the Brennan Center is here to remind you that Nino's majority opinion in Heller v. D.C., "was less in sync with the founding generation than with the top priority of" the NRA & "was an aggressive exercise in mendacity" which "upend[ed] the well-established meaning of the Second Amendment" and "made the country less safe and less free."

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker has a long piece on the division within the Republican House.

Monica Davey & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The Justice Department plans to begin a far-ranging investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, part of the continuing fallout over a video released last month showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a person familiar with the case said Sunday. The investigation, similar to those of troubled police departments in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, could be announced as early as this week."

David Gans of the New Republic: "... with two cases from Texas, including a second trip to the Supreme Court for the Fisher case, [conservative organizer & financer Ed Blum] is hoping to rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment's broad guarantee of equality, seeking to sharply limit affirmative action on college campuses and deny unnaturalized immigrants, children, and others equal representation in state legislatures.... In Evenwel [v. Abbott], Blum's team insists that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to draw districts on the basis of the state's voter population, not its total population. In other words, only a subset of the population is entitled to representation in state legislatures. Blum’s argument is that unnaturalized immigrants, children, and other who lack access to the ballot should not be counted for purposes of legislative representation, which would unquestionably result in a major shift in political power away from urban population centers toward the whiter, more rural areas of the state. No court in history has ever accepted Blum's radical claim...."

Brady Dennis & Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Former president Jimmy Carter told a large Sunday school class he was teaching that there are no signs of the cancer in his liver and brain months after his melanoma diagnosis, a family friend in attendance said."

Paul Krugman: There's a good chance the Federal Reserve is making a mistake by raising interest rates. "I suspect, however, that [Fed] officials have been worn down by incessant criticism of their policies, and want to throw the critics a bone. But those critics have been wrong every step of the way. Why start taking them seriously now?" ...

... CW: I believe Larry Summers says the same thing, but you'd have to be the sharpest kid in his Econ 482 class to correctly interpret his WashPo op-ed. But nice try, Larry, at connecting with the masses. ...

... Jared Bernstein in the Washington Post (Dec. 4), on why the Fed will likely raise interest rates: "... there are a lot of data saying 'don't raise.' On the other side, unemployment is low, job growth is solid and steady, the economic expansion is 'mature' (it's been in place for over six years) and the Fed's got a seven-year itch they're about to scratch."

AP: "The National Park Service and the U.S. Navy plan to hold a joint memorial service Monday to mark the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The joint service is a rehearsal for what is expected to be a much bigger memorial service next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack by Japan that killed over 2,400 Americans and brought the U.S. into World War II, KITV TV reported (http://bit.ly/1R3z7aA)."

Sarah Marquis of NOAA (Dec. 3): "NOAA and University of Hawaii archaeologists today released rare images of a U.S. Navy airplane sunk during the opening minutes of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Oahu on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II. Minutes before attacking Pearl Harbor, Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft bombed the nearby U.S. Naval Air Station on the east coast of Oahu. Twenty-seven Catalina PBY "flying boats" on the ground or moored on Kāne‛ohe Bay were destroyed, and six others were damaged."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

... we just can't underestimate -- this is the reason why the elected officials take on Trump and it doesn't help and, in fact, it helps Trump in a way, because people have a deep distrust of our elected officials, confidence and honesty and in some ways, frankly, after the last decade, you'd say having a distrust in political elites and financial elites is warranted. -- Bill Kristol, "a chief architect of the Bush Administration 'Lie America Into Iraq' strategy" (TM Driftglass), on ABC News "This Week"

Driftglass locates the appropriate response to Kristol's remark:


Presidential Race

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that the Islamic State had become 'the most effective recruiter in the world' and that the only solution was to engage American technology companies in blocking or taking down militant websites, videos and encrypted communications. 'You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: "freedom of speech,"'; Mrs. Clinton said in an hourlong speech and question-and-answer session at the Saban Forum.... Mrs. Clinton said, 'We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS.'... It was the second time in two weeks that Mrs. Clinton ... had thrown herself into the brewing battle between Silicon Valley and the government over what steps should be taken to block the use of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and a range of encrypted apps that are adopted by terrorist groups. Mrs. Clinton's comments echo recent White House calls for what would amount to a cease-fire with technology firms after the revelations by Edward J. Snowden...." ...

     ... Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the United States is 'not winning' the battle against the Islamic State and called on Congress to update the use-of-force authorization passed after Sept. 11, 2001, to give President Obama more options to fight the militant group. But she stopped short of calling for a declaration of war." ...

... In a New York Times op-ed, Hillary Clinton outlines her plan to "rein in Wall Street." CW: If I were a Wall Street banker, I'd be pleased to know Hillary was on my side. Clinton is as likely to "rein in Wall Street" as Rick Santorum is to preside at a gay marriage. ...

... CW: If you think it is only right-wing dingbats who can't remember the past (Ralph Nader), whose "thinking" doesn't get much past bumper-sticker slogans (Hillary Clinton is "strikingly dishonest"; "why buy a cow when you can get the milk for free?") & whose rigidly ideological views are both nutty & disastrous, read Shane Ryan, who is apparently a regular at Salon now. His proposal -- & his "reasons" -- to "just let the Republicans win" are way past stupid. P.S. I don't care for Hillary Clinton, & I voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary. So I understand the "feeling" Ryan has, but it does not translate into reasonable action, just as I have a "feeling" I'd like to box Ryan's ears, but I wouldn't do it.

Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: "Bernie Sanders rolled out a 16-page climate change plan on Monday that combines many of his long-held environmental positions, like dropping fossil fuel subsidies and banning offshore drilling, with a couple of new ideas.... What truly separates Sanders's plan from those of the other Democratic candidates, though, is its emphasis on special interests and big money in campaigns (which fits into the larger themes of Sanders's campaign). The U.S. can't take necessary action on climate change, Sanders says, until polluters lose their stranglehold on the political process." CW: And that's the truth.

E. J. Dionne: "Republicans are having trouble taking on Trump not only because they welcomed his support in the past and not only because they have often embraced (in a less colorful and direct way) many of the themes he is accenting, but also because they have delivered next to nothing to their loyal white, working-class supporters."

Patrick Healy: "Donald J. Trump is having trouble keeping some details straight about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Three times during the last week Mr. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, has made remarks that do not align with the timeline [of what actually happened]." ...

     ... CW: Read Healy's post. I'll bet you remember more-or-less what time of day the planes hit the World Trade Center, even if you didn't see victims jumping to their deaths from your Manhattan penthouse four miles away. The fact that Trump seems to think the planes hit the Towers at "dinner" or "lunch" time suggests he has no memory at all of 9/11, but maybe watched news reports later in the day or in the days that followed. It is quite possible that the guy who says he has "one of the all-time great memories" is suffering from some form of progressive dementia, a disease that presents in the form of "memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning." And no, I'm not kidding. ...

... Patrick Healy: "Mr. Trump ... said on CBS's 'Face the Nation' that Americans have been too politically correct regarding Muslims and repeated his disgust over reports that neighbors did not contact authorities with concerns about the California couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, out of fear that it could be considered racial profiling. Mr. Trump, who has called for mosques to be monitored and for a database to track Muslims, made his clearest statement yet in support of racial profiling...." Trump rivals Chris Christie, John Kasich & Jeb Bush disagreed with Trump's call for racial profiling. ...

... CW: This Daily Caller post (Dec. 3) appears to be the report Trump is referencing. According to numerous media reports, Farook & some friends often worked on restoring cars in his garage. In addition, the Farooks had a new baby. So the so-called "suspicious activity" -- working in the garage & receiving "quite a few packages" -- have innocent explanations. As for a neighbor's claim that the police may have been called to settle a domestic dispute, I'd say the authorities already knew about that, if it happened. A few neighbors' reports of "suspicious activities" sound like hindsight to me. Trump, then, has proposed a sweeping plan to curtail the rights of millions of Americans because of a Daily Caller post says a few neighbors didn't report the Farooks for the same kinds of "suspicious activities" most of us engage in from time to time: working in the garage & getting several packages over the course of a few days.

Reasons terrorist suspects should be able to buy arsenals full of guns & ammo:

     (1) David Edwards of the Raw Story: "... John Kasich warned over the weekend that people on the terrorist watch list should be able to buy guns or it could 'tip somebody off' that they are being watched." ...

     (2) Katie Valentine of Think Progress: "Marco Rubio said Sunday that people on the U.S. government's No-Fly list should still be able to purchase guns, because the list is full of 'everyday Americans' who are on the list by accident. 'The majority of the people on the No-Fly list are often times people that just basically have the same name as somebody else, who doesn't belong on the No-Fly list,' he said on CNN's State of the Union.... When [Jake] Tapper said he didn't think it was accurate that a majority of people on the No-Fly list were there by mistake, Rubio said he thought it was a 'very significant number.'" ...

... CW: Rubio might have a point, if he were a consistent defender of civil liberties. But after the Paris terrorist attack, Rubio out-Trumped Trump. He said he "doesn't just want to consider shutting down mosques, as [Donald] Trump says, but wants to shut down 'any place where radicals are being inspired.'" A week or so before that he compared Muslims to Nazis.

Beyond the Beltway

Texas Republican Party Votes against Secession. Patrick Svitel of the Texas Tribune: "In a voice vote Saturday afternoon, the [Texas] State Republican Executive Committee rejected a measure that would have put [secession] on the March 1 primary ballot.... The pro-secession measure was sent to the full body on Friday after approval by its Resolutions Committee. The ballot language before the executive committee Saturday afternoon read, 'If the Federal Government continues to disregard the Constitution and the sovereignty of the State of Texas, the State of Texas should reassert its prior status as an independent nation.'" In a nearly-unanimous vote, the executive committee also rejected a proposal to move the state convention from Dallas, which has a new anti-discrimination ordinance to which some in the party objected.

Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "A former Australian politician says his country should warn citizens about traveling to the U.S. in the wake of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting. Tim Fischer, a former deputy prime minister who spearheaded Australia's mandatory gun buyback program in 1996, said it is time to 'call out' the U.S. on gun violence.... 'Have we not reached the stage where the Smart Traveler advice of the [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] needs to be muscled up?' he asked." CW: Months ago, I suggested other countries should think about warning their citizens about the dangers of travel to the U.S. It hasn't happened yet, but it is on some people's minds.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The U.S. military alleged Monday that Russian warplanes were responsible for an attack on a Syrian army position in eastern Syria, an airstrike that Syria blamed on the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State militant group in the country."

New York Times: "Officials in the Chinese capital declared for the first time on Monday evening that the thick smog blanketing the city was bad enough to require a red alert, the highest level of alarm. It was the first time a code red had been sounded since Beijing announced an emergency air pollution response system with multicolored warnings in 2013. Across the city, residents braced for the onset of another 'airpocalypse' -- the term that some English speakers here use for the most toxic bouts of air pollution."