Michael Shear of the New York Times: President "Obama, who appears to be leaning toward approval of the [Keystone XL] pipeline, acknowledged that it is difficult to sell aggressive environmental action to Americans who are still struggling in a difficult economy...."
National Constitution Center: "It was 45 years ago today that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed by an assassin's bullet in Memphis. The world has changed greatly since 1968, but King's message survives intact." CW: the world may have changed, but the hatred & greed against which Dr. King fought is still controlling our politics.
Ezra Klein has a good piece on what a GOP health expert claims is the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare: "This isn't a plan to 'replace Obamacare.' It's a plan to do the opposite of replacing Obamacare.... Rather than make comprehensive insurance more accessible through government subsidies and regulation, it makes insurance stingier and rarer by removing government subsidies and regulation.... Obamacare and the Republican ideas aren't even apples to oranges. They’re apples to taking away apples.... The fact that Republicans haven't put forward an actual legislative replacement to Obamacare suggests that" they know their "plan" would be exposed as a sham.
Yes, the Sequester Is Killing People. Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts. Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially." ...
... Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post: "Of all the blinkered buzz-saw cuts in this year's $85 billion spending sequestration, perhaps none is as counterproductive -- or as flat-out boneheaded -- as the one now hitting medical research under way in a refurbished industrial expanse of central St. Louis." ...
... Peter Baker & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in solidarity with federal workers who are going to be furloughed as part of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, an administration official said Wednesday. The voluntary move would be retroactive to March 1, the official said, and apply through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September. The White House came up with the 5 percent figure to approximate the level of spending cuts to nondefense federal agencies that took effect that day." CW: sure hope that makes Medicare patients dying of cancer feel better.
Jon Lender, et al., of the Hartford Courant: "After more than 13 hours of debate..., the [Connecticut] General Assembly early Thursday approved an historic and far-reaching gun-control bill that proponents said was their toughest-in-the-nation response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre. The state House of Representatives at 2:26 a.m. gave final legislative approval to the bill by a vote of 105 to 44, with 2 absent. Of the 98 House Democrats present, 13 voted no; and 31 of the 51 Republicans in the hall voted no. About eight hours earlier, the state Senate had approved it by a 26-10 vote -- with two of 22 Democrats and eight of 14 Republicans opposed. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign the bipartisan bill into law at noon Thursday in the Old Judiciary Room on the third floor of the state Capitol." ...
... AP Update by Susan Haigh: "Alongside family members of some of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy signed the bill hours after the General Assembly approved the measure to give the state some of the toughest gun laws in the country."
... Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "The Maryland House of Delegates passed what would be among the nation's most restrictive gun-control measures Wednesday, voting to ratchet up the state's already tough rules by requiring fingerprinting of gun buyers, new limits on firearm purchases by the mentally ill, and bans on assault weapons and on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.The 78 to 61 vote handed Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).... The bill now returns to the state Senate, which passed a substantially similar version of the legislation last month." ...
... Erica Goode of the New York Times: "Many states with the weakest gun laws have the worst rates of gun violence, ranking high on numerous indicators, like gun homicides and suicides, firearm deaths of children, and killings of law enforcement officers, according to a report ... issued Wednesday by the liberal Center for American Progress." Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress has more. The study report is here (pdf). ...
... there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them.... We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. -- Barack Obama, 2004 Democratic Convention
I am a pundit. -- Constant Weader
... Denver Post: "President Barack Obama took to a lectern in Denver to make his case for tougher federal gun laws Wednesday with the backdrop of a Western state that focused the nation's attention on a mass shooting last year and took significant legislative steps on guns this year":
GOP Sides with Iran, North Korea & Syria (Not a Typo). Steve Benen: "Following seven years of negotiations, the Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly, 154 to 3, though there were  abstentions. The United States was part of the majority." China & Russia were among the abstentions. The three "no" votes: Iran, NK & Syria. "The National Rifle Association and Republican policymakers are taking the Iranian, North Korean, and Syrian side of the argument." ...
... Gavin Aronsen of Mother Jones: "... the treaty doesn't dictate domestic gun laws in member countries. It requires signatories to establish controls on the import and export of conventional arms.... The US is the world's leading arms exporter, and gun dealers aren't eager to be required to report weapons exports that may wind up in the hands of warlords or terrorists overseas."
UN Arms Treaty should be rejected outright by US Senate. It is international gun regulation, plain and simple & it must never be ratified. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas), in a Tweet
The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is another attempt by internationalists to limit and infringe upon America’s sovereignty. Such a treaty would require the United States to implement laws as required by the treaty, instead of the national controls that are currently in place. -- Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Via Jonathan Bernstein.
One thing we know about Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi -- he has no sense of humor:
Brian Beutler of TPM: "We’ve reached a point in the power struggle between the White House and Senate Republicans where it's unclear whether President Obama can get a judicial nominee supported by Ken Starr -- yes, that Ken Starr -- confirmed to a federal appellate court.... John Roberts' old seat on the DC Circuit has been vacant for eight years." And still no filibuster reform. Beutler thinks the Senate's blocking Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. CW: I think the camel has a mighty strong back. ...
... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "The Republican party excuse: "The DC Circuit doesn't really have a very heavy caseload, so it doesn't need any more judges.... Now that David Sentelle has retired and the court has four vacancies, maybe this argument won't fly any longer. Then again, maybe it will."
"The Nihilism of David Stockman." Neil Irwin of the Washington Post: "Stockman’s view of the economy seems to be: that basically anything the state does to try to fix things is undermining some elegant capitalist order and will inevitably lead to chaos.... [But] capitalism can only exist in a framework -- monetary and legal -- set up by the government." ...
... William Greider of the Nation: in the 1990s & 2000s, Paul Krugman got the effects of globalization seriously wrong. Thanks to Kate M. for the link. Here's Krugman's withering 1997 review of Greider's book, which Greider mentions in his column.
Gail Collins agrees with a portion of a comment contributor Diane made in yesterday's Comments. Collins writes that former South Carolina Gov. Mark "Sanford has always had a terrible case of chronic self-absorption. Now that he's talking about his feelings so much, it's turned into a creepy New Age egomania."
Ta-Nehisi Coates, in a New York Times op-ed, on Dr. Benjamin Carson, the latest Conservative Black Hope.
Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times: "Walmart, the nation's largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts. Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. Before the recession, at the start of 2007, Walmart had an average of 338 employees per store at its United States stores and Sam's Club locations. Now, it has 281 per store, having cut the number of United States employees while adding hundreds of stores." CW: maybe one reason consumers have "lost confidence" in WalMart is that they don't like shopping at stores that underpay AND overwork their employees. Meanwhile, the Waltons just keep getting richer.
Steve Eder & Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "On Wednesday morning, Rutgers fired the men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, a day after video surfaced of him berating his players during practices, throwing basketballs at them, kicking them and taunting them with vulgar language, including homophobic slurs. But Mr. Rice's dismissal did little to quiet critics, including selected officials, faculty members and students, who called for the dismissal of [athletic director Tim] Pernetti and [university president Robert] Barchi and demanded to know why Rutgers had not fired Mr. Rice after it initially investigated the abuse allegations last November." ...
... New York Times Editors: "Critics like Walter Byers, a former N.C.A.A. executive director, have complained of a 'neo-plantation' system of college sports in which athletes are pawns while high-priced coaches and athletic directors -- under pressure to win -- exercise the power of kings. The Rutgers tape is a timely warning not only to Rutgers but to university presidents everywhere as the final games of the N.C.A.A.'s basketball tournament play out before the nation."
Harry Warren, et al., of WRAL Raleigh: "A resolution filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide. The resolution grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers." ...
... Charles Pierce: "Thus does North Carolina march boldly into the past, looking neither right nor left as it passes 1789 or 1776, until it arrives at 1640, and Quakers and Catholics are hiding under the bed." ...
... David Graham of the Atlantic: "The bill might be pointless grandstanding, but it's just one of many pointless pieces of grandstanding that signal the revival of nullification as a legal theory in the Obama years, mostly among conservatives who have claimed that states could disregard duly passed federal laws on matters like health care or gun control. (Liberals have indulged too, demanding that the feds not enforce drug laws in states that have legalized marijuana.)" ...
... Laura Leslie of WRAL: "The [Republican-controlled North Carolina] state Senate voted 33-14 Wednesday to repeal the state's historic Racial Justice Act and restart executions in North Carolina. The 2009 Racial Justice Act allowed death row inmates to appeal their sentences on the grounds of racial bias in the court system. If a judge agreed, the inmate's sentence could be commuted to life without the possibility of parole."
Right Wing World *
War on Women, Ctd. Digby: "Here's more evidence that the Republican Party is 'moderating' on these pesky social issues due to their shellacking in the last election. This post is by Reince Preibus, Chairman of the Republican Party: 'Media Covers up Democrat-Backed Planned Parenthood's Support for Infanticide.' ... Anyway, I think we can all feel fairly confident that the War on Women has not been abandoned. ...
... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "This is damage control, folks -- a sop thrown to the religious right, who are getting very angry with the Republican Party and their talk of 'rebranding.' The absurdly hateful lie that President Obama supports infanticide has been bouncing around the right wing echo chamber for years, impervious to refutation, and Priebus is very calculatedly playing to that lovely group of people who are willing and eager to believe it." CW: my thoughts exactly. Besides, the 22 percent of Romney voters who believe Obama is the Anti-Christ won't be slightly surprised that he supports infanticide.
Even More GOP Outreach. (The Hits Just Keep Coming.) Lou Chibbaro of the Washington Blade: "Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli has filed a petition with the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond asking the full 15-judge court to reconsider a decision by a three-judge panel last month that overturned the state's sodomy law. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on March 12 that a section of Virginia's 'Crimes Against Nature' statute that outlaws sodomy between consenting adults, gay or straight, is unconstitutional based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003 known as Lawrence v. Texas." CW: the ruling should have been 3-0; don't know what the problem was with the dissenting judge, but I can guess.
* Is still right-wing.
New York Times: "Roger Ebert, the popular film critic and television co-host who along with his fellow reviewer and sometime sparring partner Gene Siskel could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with their trademark thumbs up or thumbs down, died on Thursday in Chicago. He was 70." CW: the obituary, written by Douglas Martin, who also write Virginia Brill's obituary, does not mention until th een dof the 4th paragraph that Ebert "published a cookbook on meals that could be made with a rice cooker." The Chicago Sun-Times obituary of Ebert is here, with links to related stories.
New York Times: the Manhattan D.A. brought indictments "against 63 members of ... three [East Harlem] gangs. All males, they range in age from 16 to 25. All but eight of them are younger than 20. Forty-nine of them face up to life in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. The top charges against the 14 others carry sentences of up to 25 years in prison. Most of the young men were arrested on Wednesday in an operation that involved more than 300 police officers. Throughout the day on Thursday, they were brought before two judges in Manhattan, where they all pleaded not guilty."
Christian Science Monitor: "Investigators in the case of slain Colorado prison chief have begun a search for two white-supremacist prison gang members identified as persons of interest in the case. The men, James Lohr and Thomas Guolee, are said to be part of the 211 Crew, a gang whose members also included Evan Ebel, the primary suspect in Mr. Clements's killing."
Reuters: "The Bank of Japan unleashed the world's most intense burst of monetary stimulus on Thursday, promising to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years, a radical gamble that sent the yen reeling and bond yields to record lows. New Governor Haruhiko Kuroda committed the BOJ to open-ended asset buying and said the monetary base would nearly double to 270 trillion yen ($2.9 trillion) by the end of 2014, a dose of shock therapy officials hope will end two decades of stagnation."
Reuters: "New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and four others were charged with corruption by U.S. prosecutors on Thursday, in the second federal graft case brought against New York politicians this week. Federal prosecutors have accused Stevenson of taking more than $22,000 in bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting and sponsoring legislation to assist four businessmen in opening a network of adult daycare centers in the Bronx and avoid competition."
Reuters: "An Ohio judge sentenced Richard Beasley to death on Thursday for the murder of three down-on-their-luck men who responded to an ad he placed on the Craigslist website for a nonexistent job."
AP: "The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week by 28,000, the third straight increase. Weekly applications increased to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the highest level since late November."
New York Times: "An enormous leak of confidential financial records has revealed the identities of thousands of wealthy depositors — including European and Russian officials and corporate executives, Asian dictators and their children, and even American doctors and dentists -- who have stashed immense amounts of money in offshore tax havens.... The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a 15-year-old Washington-based group that obtained the secret records, collaborated with The Guardian, Asahi Shimbun, Le Monde, The Washington Post and more than 40 other news organizations to untangle and report their contents." The Guardian story is here, with links to related stories.