The Ledes

Friday, September 30, 2016.

Washington Post: "Federal investigators are assessing whether equipment failure, an incapacitated operator or other factors could have caused a packed commuter-rail train to barrel into Hoboken Terminal and slam into the station in a Thursday morning rush-hour crash that killed one person and injured more than 100 others. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said the operator of the train, who was hospitalized and later released, was cooperating with the investigation. He will be interviewed by National Transportation Safety Board officials in coming days." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, September 29, 2016.

New York Times: "A commuter train crashed into one of the busiest train stations in the New York area during the morning rush on Thursday, killing at least one person, injuring more than 100 others and creating a scene of chaos and destruction, the authorities and witnesses said. The crash occurred around 8:45 a.m., when a commuter train traveling at a high rate of speed barreled through the barriers meant to stop it and finally stopped against a wall of the Hoboken Terminal building, officials said." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

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

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

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


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

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

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

You'll want to supersize this one:


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

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The Commentariat -- May 11, 2014

Ezra Klein on wealth inequality. Thanks to Ken W. for the link:

Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post: "Just a few miles from his family home, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) felt the wrath of the tea party Saturday, when activists in his congressional district booed and heckled the second-most powerful House Republican. They also elected one of their own to lead Virginia's 7th Congressional District Republican Committee, turning their back on Cantor's choice for a post viewed as crucial by both tea partyand establishment wings in determining control of the fractured state GOP."

Russell Berman of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is stacking the House select committee on Benghazi with lawyers as he looks to demonstrate that the panel will be a serious investigation and not a partisan exercise." ...

... CW: Uh-huh. I guess that's why the Orange Man announced the names of the members of the so-called select committee in a Twitter image. What could be more serious than a Twitter image?

Maureen Dowd: "Pope Francis appears guilty of condoning that most base Vatican sport: bullying nuns.... Women, gays and dissident Catholics who had fresh hope are going to have to face the reality that while this pope is a huge improvement on the last, the intolerance is still there."

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: "Top Secret Service officials ­ordered members of a special unit responsible for patrolling the White House perimeter to abandon their posts over at least two months in 2011 in order to protect a personal friend of the agency's director [Mark Sullivan], according to three people familiar with the operation." CW: Apparently protecting this particular president & his family is not all that important.

Presidential Race

Peter Hamby of CNN: "Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a closed-door fundraiser in South Carolina Friday and delivered what one attendee called 'an Elizabeth Warren-type speech' about the struggles of America's middle class, remarks that were well-received by a room full of influential primary state Democrats.... Another Democrat in the room said the vice president 'talked about how the system was rigged against the middle class....' Biden did not mention his own White House ambitions. But several Democrats at the event were struck by one remark he made about Bill Clinton's presidency: Three sources there told CNN that Biden said the fraying of middle-class economic security did not begin during President George W. Bush's terms, but earlier, in the 'later years of the Clinton administration.'" ...

... James Hohmann of Politico: "GOP leaders reconsider Rand Paul."

Jonathan Alter on the five Roman Catholic justices who think explicitly Christian prayer in public meetings is constitutional: "With judicial temperaments abstracted to the point of indifference, they seem incapable of imagining themselves even in the shoes of their own grandparents, much less people different from themselves. This is among the worst judicial traits imaginable."

Beyond the Beltway

Christina Huynh of the AP: "Two women were married on a sidewalk outside a county courthouse in Arkansas on Saturday, breaking a barrier that state voters put in place with a constitutional amendment 10 years ago. A day after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said the ban was 'an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,' Kristin Seaton, 27, and Jennifer Rambo, 26, exchanged vows at an impromptu ceremony, officiated by a woman in a rainbow-colored dress."

Matt Lee-Ashley of Think Progress: "An illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride planned this weekend through Recapture Canyon in Utah is ... is already drawing criticism from the Navajo Nation, putting American Indian burial sites and cultural resources at risk.... Yet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a 'mini-Mesa Verde' because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country. Cliven Bundy ... has reportedly urged his supporters -- who include armed militia members -- to join Lyman in Utah this weekend."

News Lede

Washington Post: "Residents of two regions of eastern Ukraine turned out in significant numbers Sunday to vote in support of self-rule in a referendum that threatens to deepen divisions in a country already heading perilously toward civil war."


The Commentariat -- May 10, 2014

Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "Putting his personal seal on the annexation of Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived in the naval port of Sevastopol on Friday, where he used the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany to assert that Moscow had the right to take over the Black Sea peninsula." ...

... Shaun Walker, et al., of the Guardian: Meanwhile, "the gravity of the crisis gripping the rest of Ukraine was underscored by more deadly clashes in the southern city of Mariupol."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday stood between patio lights and women's blouses in a Walmart [in Mountain View, California,] as he unveiled his latest executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency. Mr. Obama said that he had ordered $2 billion in upgrades to federal buildings to increase their energy efficiency, adding that the Department of Energy would also be adopting new standards that would be the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road":

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "As Congress left Capitol Hill for a two-week recess on Friday night, it remained unclear whether Democrats will participate in the newly minted House committee to investigate the Obama administration's handling of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced a roster of seven Republicans -- primarily comprised of members loyal to the GOP leadership -- who will serve on the committee, which is charged with determining whether the State Department responded to the attacks properly.... The Republicans named to the committee were Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mike Pompeo (Kan.), Martha Roby (Ala.), Peter Roskam (Ill.) and Lynn A. Westmoreland (Ga.). The roster notably excludes many of the Republican caucus's most vocal members when it comes to the controversy over the Benghazi attacks. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will chair the panel." ...

... Paul Waldman watches some YouTube videos & finds out why Boehner pegged Gowdy to prosecute investigate the State Department's handling of Benghaaazi! "To call Gowdy prosecutorial would be an understatement. Uniformly angry and outraged, these videos show Gowdy always seemingly on the verge of shouting, he's so damn mad. Like any good lawyer, he never asks a question to which he doesn't already know the answer. But when a witness gives him an answer other than the one he expects, he repeats his question at a slightly louder volume and angrier pitch, as though the question hadn't actually been answered." ...

     ... CW: Waldman's discovery is more confirmation of the obvious: we're going to see fake outrage over a fake scandal. At this point, the only thing authentic about the Republican party is that some of its members -- including legislators -- are too dumb to know their outrage is fake. Gowdy, however, apparently knows what he's doing.

... The New York Times Editors wrote a scathing rebuke of the whole "Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal." ...

... OR, as Andy Borowitz puts it, "A new poll indicates ... millions of Americans who need jobs want Congress to get to bottom of this Benghazi thing first."

Robert Costa & Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Several leading Republicans have called for raising the federal minimum wage and others are speaking more forcefully about the party's failure to connect with low-income Americans -- stances that are causing a growing rift within the party over how best to address the gulf between the rich and poor.... The latest GOP fissure came Friday and involved the party's 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.... Appearing on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Romney said he parts company 'with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage' and thinks 'we ought to raise it.'"

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: In an interview, "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Friday broke with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud, saying the party was alienating and insulting African-Americans.... In the interview, Mr. Paul stressed his commitment to restoring voting rights for felons, an issue he said black crowds repeatedly brought up whenever he visited them."

If You Don't Agree with Ted Cruz, You're a Criminal. Dana Milbank: "Sen. Ted Cruz, in a speech to fellow conservatives at the Federalist Society this week, provided detailed evidence of what the right calls the 'lawlessness' of the Obama administration. The Texas Republican, in his latest McCarthyesque flourish, said he had a list of '76 instances of lawlessness and other abuses of power.' ... An examination of the accusations reveals less about the lawlessness of the accused than about the recklessness of the accuser.... Cruz disagrees with Obama on just about everything. But this doesn't make Obama a criminal."

Congressional Races

Gail Collins write a hilarious column about the GOP's ridiculous candidates, especially their ridiculous females candidates.

Ryan Lizza & Jeff Toobin talk with Dorothy Wickenden of the New Yorker about Thom Tillis, the new GOP nominee for Senate, & about the midterm elections in general:

Beyond the Beltway

Andrew DeMillo of the AP: "A judge has struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage, saying the state has 'no rational reason' for preventing gay couples from marrying. Pulaski county circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled on Friday that the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of same-sex couples. The ruling came nearly a week after state attorney general Dustin McDaniel announced he personally supports gay marriage rights but that he will continue to defend the constitutional ban in court. McDaniel's office said he would appeal Friday's ruling."

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), one of the nation's most enthusiastic voter suppressors, released a report on Thursday outlining the results a two-year investigation into possible voter fraud, conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at his request. But while Schultz has frequently scared Iowa voters with allegations of thousands of possible non-citizens voting in the state and living people showing up at the polls to cast ballots in the name of dead voters, the investigation revealed found an infinitesimal number of illegal votes cast and zero cases of impersonation at the polls." ...

... Nicole Flatow of Think Progress: "Since Pennsylvania's embattled law requiring photo ID at the polls was passed two years ago, it has not been in effect during an election. Officials blocked the photo ID law from going into effect during the 2012 election, after estimates that some 750,000 did not have the required ID. And in January, a trial court struck down the law, calling the burden imposed by the requirement 'so difficult as to amount to a denial' of the right to vote. On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) announced he would not appeal the ruling, meaning that trial court's ruling will stand, and the law remains invalidated. Corbett, however, stood behind the idea of a photo ID requirement...."

Something is happening to Tuck Chodd. He's trying to do his job. Here he questions "Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) on Thursday over the state’s recent decision to reduce the amount of time available to voters in the state to cast their votes":

     ... BUT Tuck lets Husted get away with a whopper. Josh Israel: "Husted, who has been one of the nation's strongest advocates of measures to suppress voter participation, attempted to deflect the blame to the state legislature -- even though it acted on his own recommendations." (Emphasis added.) Here's the exchange, much abbreviated:

Tuck: Why did you make the decision to round down, right? You could have rounded up and said, 'I want fair and uniform elections and the standard has been Sundays, we're going to do these two Sundays, expand the hours, and make sure every voting jurisdiction has the same set of hours.'

Husted: ... Actually, the legislature shortened the early voting period... But that's not me, Chuck. That's the legislature. I have clashed with the legislature.

Tuck: Do you think they made a mistake? Do you wish they didn't do that?

Washington Post: "The Pledge of Allegiance does not discriminate against atheists and can be recited at the start of the day in public schools, Massachusetts' highest court ruled Friday. The Supreme Judicial Court said the words 'under God' in the pledge reflect patriotic practice, not a religious one. The court acknowledged that the wording has a 'religious tinge' but said it is fundamentally patriotic and voluntary."

News Ledes

AFP: " Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday angrily denied the latest media charge of Israeli spying on its US ally and said that someone was trying to sour bilateral relations. Newsweek magazine on Thursday said that during a 1998 visit to Israel by then US vice president Al Gore a Secret Service agent surprised an intruder emerging from an air duct in Gore's room, before his arrival."

Guardian: "A hastily organised referendum on creating the quasi-independent statelet of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine will go ahead on Sunday, as violence and chaos rage in the region in what increasingly resembles the beginning of a civil war. At least seven people died in the southern port city of Mariupol on Friday when the Ukrainian army entered the city in armoured vehicles, apparently to regain control of the city's police HQ, where separatist fighters were exchanging fire with barricaded police."

New York Times: "A United States Special Operations commando and a Central Intelligence Agency officer in Yemen shot and killed two armed Yemeni civilians who tried to kidnap them while the Americans were in a barbershop in the country's capital two weeks ago, American officials said on Friday. The two Americans, attached to the United States Embassy, were whisked out of the volatile Middle East nation within a few days of the shooting, with the blessing of the Yemeni government, American officials said."

New York Times: "On the granite plaza of the World Trade Center memorial, families of Sept. 11 victims gathered on Saturday morning beneath mist-shrouded skyscrapers to watch as the unidentified remains of people killed there nearly 13 years ago were moved to what may be their final resting place. A slow-moving procession transferred the remains on their short journey across from a city medical examiner's office on 26th Street, near the East River, to a specially built repository at ground zero, between the footprints of the old Twin Towers."


The Commentariat -- May 9, 2014

Paul Krugman: "Last year..., 25 hedge fund managers made more than twice as much as all the kindergarten teachers in America combined.... The vast gulf that now exists between the upper-middle-class and the truly rich didn't emerge until the Reagan years.... The evidence suggests that hedge funds are a bad deal for everyone except their managers they don't deliver high enough returns to justify those huge fees, and they're a major source of economic instability.... Next time you hear someone declaiming about how cruel it is to persecute the rich, think about the hedge fund guys, and ask yourself if it would really be a terrible thing if they paid more in taxes." ...

A little twerp -- Andrew Sorkin -- interviews a little twerp -- hedge fund manager private equity executive Tim Geithner. CW: I didn't read it; if anybody finds anything interesting, please share. ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM read it: "Bill Clinton told former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner that nothing would appease the populist 'blood lust' for bankers -- not even slitting the throat of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in a dark alley." CW: According to Sorkin, Geithner's telling this story is evidence he has "personality." As far as I'm concerned, it's (even more) evidence that Clinton & Geithner were always in the tank for rich Wall Streeters. ...

... Hunter Walker of Business Insider also read it: "Geithner also told Sorkin he began asking Obama to let him leave Treasury in 2010. He said he even proposed alternative options [for Treasury secretary,] including Hillary Clinton and Erskine Bowles." CW: Fucking twerp. This is precisely why progressives give up & vote for Nader. (And, no, I'm not recommending that! But President Hillary will be President Mitt, minus the horrifying judicial appointees.) ...

... Do you think Hillary reads Krugman? Ha!

Tim Egan: The Koch brothers "have used a big part of [their] fortune to attack the indisputable science on climate change, to buy junk scholars, to promote harmful legislation at the state level, to go after clean, renewable energy like solar, and to try to kill the greatest expansion of health care in decades.... Yet, while these billionaire industrialists may win in the short term..., in the larger fight against progress and modernity the Kochs have already lost. Clean energy is here to stay, and no sane political party would try to take away the health care of eight million fellow Americans." ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Charles Krauthammer believes climate change is a mere superstition, just like the 'rain dance of Native Americans.'" The logic here? Sometimes meteorologists inaccurately predict the next day's weather, so they can't possibly know anything about climate trends over multiple years or decades. CW: Inexplicably, Krauthammer forgot to wear his Koch Industries T-shirt while delivering the billionaires' message.

CW: I Believe I'll Have a Subway Sandwich. Alan Pyke of Think Progress: Fred DeLuca, "the founder and CEO of Subway, says a minimum wage increase wouldn’t be such a bad thing for his stores and workers and believes it should be changed so that wages rise automatically with inflation. DeLuca's support is noteworthy in part because of the size of his business. Subway has the most locations of any fast food chain. While a majority of small business owners support a $10.10 wage hike, major corporations of that scale typically oppose raising wages.:

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued a strong warning on Thursday to public school districts nationwide not to deny enrollment to immigrant students in the country illegally."

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "A new pre-publication review policy for the Office of Director of National Intelligence says current and former employees and contractors may not cite news reports based on leaks in their speeches, opinion articles, books, term papers or other unofficial writings.... It says, 'The use of such information in a publication can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security.'"

New GOP Talking Point: Boko Haram abducted 200 Nigerian schoolgirls because Hillary Clinton is soft on terrorism. CW: If only those schoolgirls were white, this scandal could be the new Benghaaazi! ...

... Here's the old Benghazi. Dave Weigel: "Trey Gowdy is precisely the person the White House doesn't want investigating Benghazi.... To conduct hearings that may lead to impeachment, Republicans needed a leader who seemed unimpeachable." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "That congressional Republicans are contemplating [impeachment] so seriously when Barack Obama is already heading towards the exit -- and given the vast evidence a similar move backfired decisively in the 1990s -- shows how much pressure they are under from 'the base,' and how deranged the supposed Great Big Adults of the Republican Establishment have become. Maybe the glittering prospect of impeaching Obama while disqualifying HRC is just so bright that they aren't thinking straight." ...

... Brian Beutler: Nah, Boehner & company are just faking their Benghaaazi! (or #Benghazi) outrage. ...

... BUT Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg News: Yeah, Republican legislators really do believe their own hype. "A party incapable of seeing outside of its own propaganda bubble is unlikely to be able to govern competently.... Republicans have [built] an extensive aligned media that has all sorts of incentives to cocoon itself, while also building an extensive ideology of opposition to the 'neutral' media and, at times, to facts."

Annals of American Journalism, Ctd.

Amanda Hess in Slate: "While [Monica] Lewinsky expresses regret for her ill-fated relationship with [President] Clinton -- and many Americans have come to realize that Lewinsky got a raw deal -- [Maureen] Dowd is not yet ready to assume responsibility for her own role." AND the Pulitzer committee gave Dowd the prize for trashing Lewinsky.

And now that Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, has become topic one--again--for the GOP, the sycophants, the lackeys, the lazy, and the ideologues in the fourth estate, it's worth reviewing one of the earlier bungled attempts to remake a bad turn of events into a scandal of historic proportions. Reporter Joe Hagan, in NY Magazine earlier this week published an extensive look at the rise and fall of Lara Logan, disgraced CBS journalist whose highly questionable Benghazi report on 60 Minutes created a furor, a retraction, and a leave of absence. Logan's rise, attributable, says Hagan, to CBS's desire to balance its image on the right as a "liberal" organization, was aided by a need to look tough and amenable to conservative viewpoints. "'She got everything she wanted, always, even when she was wrong, and that's been going on since the beginning,' says a former CBS News producer who worked with her." ...

... Ann Friedman writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, considers the problems news operations get themselves into when they tie their brand too closely to personalities like Logan who have their own brand and their own following.

He meant well...

The re-imagining of George W. Bush continues apace. Matt Bai, writing on Yahoo, wants everyone to quit being mean. In his opinion, The Decider was actually a nice, sincere guy who meant well. All that business of thousands being killed, millions dispossessed and trillions wasted was just unfortunate. Steve M., at No More Mister Nice Blog begs to differ: " If you accept Bai's characterization of Bush -- that he was a decent guy who got in over his head, y'know, the way people do -- the point is that he's like a guy who sets up a storefront medical clinic in an underserved area even though he has no medical training and botches most of his procedures, often killing his patients or doing them some other form of permanent harm. Who the hell cares if someone like that is sincere? He's a menace." In fact, Bush really, really, really cares about all those people he sent to die for a made up war. Well, shit, I feel so much better about that now.

He goes on to review Peggy Noonan's latest delusion that Benghazi was much worse than Iran-Contra. (Her fever dream piece is behind a Wall Street Journal firewall. But...well, you know...) Why? Because Reagan meant well too. Sincerity must be the new route to a re-jiggered legacy. These people really do inhabit a different universe.

Senate Race

Tuck Chodd gives GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis a hard time:

Beyond the Beltway

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Oklahoma's attorney general has agreed that the state's next execution should be delayed for six months following the botched execution last week."

Right Wing World: Haters Unite

There's no live and let live in Right Wing World. And there certainly is no golden rule. Or anything vaguely resembling comity. It's not enough for wingers to be against something. If you cross whatever Cloud Cuckoo Land line in the sand they draw, they will go after you. Today is the second day of the NFL draft and the wingnuts are ready to pounce. Jack Burkman, head of the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm J.M. Burkman & Assoc. who is seeking to ban gays from the NFL, says he intends to build a national coalition to boycott any football franchise that picks openly gay football player Michael Sam in the NFL Draft. Burkman promises that his attack will be "relentless". According to a call to arms on the Christian Post website, "The NFL, like most of the rest of American business, is about to learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values there will be a terrible financial price to pay," said Burkman.

Sam, who came out in February will be the first openly gay player in the NFL if drafted. Luckily, some businesses, Visa, for one, are not too concerned about Burkman's threats.


The Commentariat -- May 8, 2014

CW: Light postings today & in the near future. I'm veddy, veddy busy. I'll do my best, but "best" won't be optimal.

They Have No Shame. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The House voted Wednesday to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official who is the focus of multiple investigations into whether the agency targeted President Obama's opponents. The vote gives a politically charged issue new prominence in an election year. In a contentious debate before the vote, Republicans made allegations of a Watergate-style inside job to cover up high crimes that helped steal a presidential election. Democrats invoked former Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and delusions of widespread conspiracy." ...

... Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said the special committee he'll lead on Benghazi could continue into the 2016 campaign, when Hillary Clinton might be running for the White House. Asked about that possibility Wednesday on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Gowdy said the length of his work would depend on the administration's level of cooperation.... Some Democrats suspect Republicans want to keep Benghazi in the news to try to hurt Clinton if she runs for the White House in 2016, as expected. " CW: "Some Democrats"? How about "every sentient political observer"? ...

... Dan Merica of CNN: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she is 'absolutely' satisfied with what she knows about the Benghazi terror attack, and cast doubt on the intentions of House Republicans spearheading a select committee to investigate it."

... They Got Nothin'. Ed Kilgore: "All along, the underlying GOP J'Accuse! seems to be that the administration was ignoring an upsurge of al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist violence, the relative absence of which since then would seem to be a show-trial-stopper if the inquisitors hadn't already moved along to second- and third-order questions about who 'covered up' what when." ...

... USA Today Editors: "After 13 inquiries, a select committee on Benghazi hardly seems the best way for Congress to spend its time." ...

... Even Tuck Chodd agrees "It looks like nothing more than a partisan stunt":

... Olivia Kittel, et al., of Media Matters answer anew "The Already Asked-And-Answered Questions Fox Wants To Know From The Benghazi Select Committee." Useful, if you need to counter your Foxbot brother-in-law.

ObamaCare Aversion Syndrome, Ctd. Robert Pear of the New York Times: "House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it. Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted. Indeed, several insurers said their stock prices had increased in the last few years. The executives also declined to endorse Republican predictions of a sharp increase in insurance premiums next year, saying they did not have enough data or experience to forecast prices." ....

... CW: The GOP committee members' apparent surprise at the execs' testimony is an indicator that the bubbleheads actually do live in a bubble. They believe their own fake talking points. ..

... Jonathan Chait recaps "some of the predictions made by the critics [of ObamaCare] that have taken a factual beating.... They still have many predictions of doom that cannot be falsified for years and years to come.... But if they truly believe the arguments they have made -- that the law not only should not but cannot work -- shouldn't they be expressing, at minimum, some serious doubts?"

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "A Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission called Wednesday on the agency's chairman [Tom Wheeler ]to delay a proposal for new net neutrality rules, throwing into doubt whether the chairman will be able to muster enough votes at an F.C.C. meeting next week to issue proposed rules. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission, said in a speech Wednesday that a delay was warranted because of a 'torrent of public response' to the idea that the commission's rules might create a fast lane on the Internet for companies willing to pay for it."

Digby, in Salon, on one effect of open carry laws: "... in the wake of the new Georgia law that pretty much makes it legal to carry deadly weapons at all times in all places, parents were alarmed when an armed man showed up at the park where their kids were playing little league baseball and waved his gun around shouting, 'Look at my gun!' and 'There's nothing you can do about it.' The police were called and when they arrived they found the man had broken no laws and was perfectly within his rights to do what he did.... Common sense tells anyone that a man waving a gun around in public is dangerous so the parents had no choice but to leave the park. Freedom for the man with the gun trumps freedom for the parents of kids who feel endangered by him.

... CW: The majority of the Supremes may declare these open-carry laws constitutional, but they clearly violate the central tenet of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness." Anyone who feels "free" to pursue his bliss while a guy is waving a gun in his face is as crazy as the gunman. A person without a gun is not "equal" to or "independent" from a loon with a loaded firearm. Too bad the Declaration carries no weight of law.

** Adam Weinstein of Gawker: "In all the furor over Tal Fortgang -- the privileged white Princeton freshman who wrote so passionately about how he's not a privileged white guy -- no one, not even the New York Times, noted that his post was made possible by a conservative group that bankrolls and grooms college kids for right-wing leadership."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who is in a difficult race for re-election, invited President Obama to visit the tornado-devastated town of Vilonia, despite Obama's unpopularity in Arkansas. "Mr. Pryor, a two-term incumbent, stood right behind Mr. Obama as he made his remarks, and the president made sure to point out the senator's leadership role in the tornado recovery efforts. He praised Mr. Pryor; Vilonia's mayor, James Firestone; and Gov. Mike Beebe and Representative Tim Griffin, for being 'hands-on, on the ground throughout these difficult days.'"

Lisa Desjardins of CNN: " The election-year attention on women lands directly on the House floor Wednesday, after Republican leaders decided to allow a vote on a National Women's History Museum, changing their approach to the issue. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, has pushed the idea of a national women's museum for over 17 years. Her bill to trigger the first step, a museum commission, has passed the House and Senate before, but during separate sessions of Congress. In each case a Democratic majority in one chamber approved the museum commission but Republicans in the other blocked it.... Maloney is quick to credit her bipartisan cosponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, who personally made the case for the museum to key GOP leaders in the House." CW: Turns out Blackburn is good for something, even if it is any election-year ploy.

Gail Collins: often their gone-viral videos outlast the candidates. Collins reprises several outrageous campaign videos, but concentrates on this one, which I've embedded before:

... Afterword. (By Collins): "Winteregg's employer, a conservative Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio, was not amused and fired him from his job as adjunct professor of French. It's always unfortunate when educators get punished for their outside political activities. On the other hand, I believe I speak for all of us who have been adjunct professors when I say it's unlikely that we are talking about losing a living wage."

Annals of American Journalism, Ctd.

Jonathan Cohn demonstrates once again that if your only source of news is the Right Wing World Gazette, you will be ignorant.

Joe Strupp of Media Matters: "News veterans and journalism ethicists are urging CBS News to reopen the investigation into the discredited 60 Minutes Benghazi report following new questions about correspondent Lara Logan's actions and concerns that an earlier internal review did not do enough to reveal all the facts.... This week, New York magazine uncovered [also linked on the Commentariat a few days ago] new internal details about the report and how it got on air, several of which were inconsistent with what was found in CBS' internal review.... According to New York, Logan relied heavily on a highly partisan source, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, when crafting her report, while internal CBS office politics allowed the story to air without standard vetting - neither of which were disclosed by the initial internal review."

Eating Their Young. Amanda Marcotte in Salon: Over there at Fox "News," where the median-age viewer is 68 (great demographic), the new "war" is a war on young people. It seems -- for the first time in history! -- the kids are going on spring break where they wear skimpy bathing suits, get drunk & have sex. Tut, tut and tut.

Gubernatorial Race

Peas in a Pod. Chris Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, traveled to Maine today to stump for Gov. Paul LePage. Christie promised to spend big for LePage, who is in a three-way race. Mario Maretto of the Bangor Daily News: "Democrats on Wednesday agreed LePage and Christie were cut from the same cloth. 'They both claim to be straight talkers who tell it how they see it, but as we've all learned the hard way, they're masters of the absurd tirade, which have embarrassed the people of their states,' [Vermont Gov. Peter] Shumlin[, head of the Democratic Governors Association,] said during a conference call with reporters. Shumlin and the Democratic Governors Association highlighted LePage's record of inflammatory comments and notable controversies ... including when he called the IRS the 'new Gestapo' and told the NAACP they could 'kiss my butt,' as well as a document-shredding scandal at the state Center for Disease Control."

Presidential Race

Philip Elliott of the AP: "The Republican National Committee wants to take more control over how the party picks a White House nominee. The RNC was to meet Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, to choose members who will effectively set the calendar for 2016's long list of potential presidential contenders. If the party's chairman, Reince Priebus gets his way, the GOP will pick its nominee more quickly than during past contests and have fewer debates in which candidates could criticize each other. The RNC also was expected to put penalties in place for candidates who don't follow the committee's plans."

Beyond the Beltway

... Whitewash Is Expensive. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "The cost to New Jersey taxpayers for Gov. Chris Christie's internal inquiry into lane closings at the George Washington Bridge is likely to reach several million dollars, outpacing early estimates and touching off urgent attempts to reduce the cost, according to newly available documents and interviews."

Patrick Marley, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "After 24 hours of legal maneuvering in a politically charged investigation of Gov. Scott Walker and his allies, an appeals court late Wednesday handed prosecutors a victory, preventing for now the destruction of evidence from the case. The three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago stayed U.S. District Court Rudolph Randa's preliminary injunction from Tuesday stopping the John Doe investigation, saying he had overstepped his authority. The appeals court ruling also said Randa cannot order prosecutors to destroy evidence they have collected in the five-county probe."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine vowed Thursday to press ahead with a referendum on independence, defying Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise call for Sunday's vote to be postponed."

Guardian: "A majority of the jurors who this week convicted [Cecily McMillan,] an Occupy Wall Street activist, of assaulting a New York police officer have asked the judge in her case to not send her to prison."