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

Wednesday
Dec022015

The Commentariat -- December 3, 2015

Ian Lovett, et al., of the New York Times: "Investigators on Thursday hunted for a motive in the backgrounds of a husband and wife suspected in a shooting rampage that left 14 dead and 17 others wounded here, while federal agents traced the origins of the four guns recovered from the suspects, all of them bought legally, and officers combed through a sprawling set of crime scenes for evidence." ...

... James Queally, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "As authorities continued to comb through the home of the husband and wife responsible for a mass shooting at a San Bernardino holiday party, investigators and legislators from California to Washington, D.C., tried to understand what motivated the shooters. Speaking at the White House on Thursday morning, President Obama said the FBI was now leading the probe into the attack at the Inland Regional Center, which left 14 people dead and 17 wounded":

... CW: In today's thread, contributor D.C. Clark offers a useful differentiation between terrorist acts & other acts of violence. ...

... New York Times liveblog, 12:57 pm ET: "San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said there were 21 people injured in the attack, updating the previous tally of 17. And he said that investigators found 12 pipe bombs at the home of the suspects, searched after the killings." ...

... New York Times, liveblog, linked above, 12:44 pm ET: "The F.B.I. is treating its probe into the San Bernardino massacre as a counterterrorism investigation, two law enforcement officials said Thursday.... The F.B.I. has also uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in touch with people domestically and abroad who have Muslim extremist views, according to law enforcement officials. Mr. Farook had contact with them over several years, the officials said." ...

... Jack Dolan, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: [Mass murder suspect] Syed "Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned with a new wife he met online. The couple had a baby and appeared to be 'living the American dream,' said Patrick Baccari, a fellow inspector who shared a cubicle with Farook." CW: I suspected, early on, when President Obama "For those who are concerned about terrorism, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can't get on planes, but those same people that we don't allow to fly could go into stores in the United States and buy a firearm and there's nothing we could do to stop them," that the shooter would be IDed as someone on a terrorist watch list. We still don't know that's the case, but I'd sure watch a guy who suddenly became a very religious Muslim & traveled to Saudi Arabia. I shudder to think where the party of Trump will take this. ...

... Julie Turkewitz & Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times examine what's known about the actions of Farook & Malik. ...

... L.A. Times liveblog, 7:45 am PT: "The female suspect in the deadly shooting rampage allegedly carried out with her husband was Pakistani, a federal source confirmed." ...

... L.A. Times liveblog, 7:01 am PT: "... Democrats will try to force the Senate to vote Thursday on legislation to stem gun violence. The specific measures are still being considered, but they would be proposed as amendments to a GOP package to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Passage of any effort to limit access to firearms appears unlikely...."

... L.A. Times liveblog, linked above, 10:19 pm ET, Wednesday: "The male and female suspects who died in a gun battle with police Wednesday after.noon were Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tafsheen Malik, 27, San Bernardino's police chief announced. Farook was born in the U.S. and worked as a county employee, and Malik's nationality was not yet known, Chief Jarrod Burguan said."

... L.A. Times liveblog, 6:47 pm: "Two law enforcement sources identified one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting as Syed Farook. According to public records, a Syed R. Farook worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County. It's unclear whether that is the same person connected to the attack. The shooting occurred at an event for the county's public health department." ...

... L.A. Times liveblog, 6:09 pm PT: "The lead gunman connected to the mass shooting in San Bernardino is believed to be a U.S. citizen, according to a federal law enforcement source speaking on condition of anonymity. The source added that links to international terrorism are still on the table, however, as the assailants could have been encouraged by a foreign terror group." ...

... L.A. Times liveblog, 5:56 pm PT: "Two people, a man and a woman, are dead after a confrontation with police.  A third person seen running away from the scene has been detained, but it's not clear if he is connected to the shootings. Both deceased suspects were inside a dark SUV that was the subject of a police pursuit after officers arrived to investigate a home in Redlands. The suspects in the SUV were dressed in 'assault-style clothing' and were armed with assault rifles and handguns, officials said." ...

... LA.Times liveblog. 4:19 pm PT: two suspects are in custody. "At least one suspect is down and there may be another at large after a police pursuit and shootout, said San Bernardino Sheriff spokeswoman Sgt. Vicki Cervantes." ...

... L.A. Times liveblog, 3:52 pm ET: "According to a federal law enforcement official, authorities believe that one man angrily left the event that county employees were holding Wednesday morning at the Inland Regional Center.The man, they believe, returned with 'one or two' others and opened fire."

... Adam Nagourney, et al., of the New York Times: "Hours after as many as three gunmen stormed a service center for people with disabilities ... on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 17 others, the police engaged in a shootout in nearby surburban neighborhood, that officials said left one suspect dead, one likely wounded in an S.U.V. and a third suspect on the run.... ... Witnesses described a wild scene as the police closed in on the vehicle, with hundreds of shots being fired. Dozens of police officers rushed to the scene, many with their guns drawn, as the people in the vehicle battled the police. When the guns fell silent, the police swarmed out into the neighborhood and hunted for one person believed to be on the run." The story has been updated repeatedly. ...

... Richard Serrano, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "As many as three assailants attacked a gathering inside a San Bernardino office building Wednesday morning, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 14 others, according to law enforcement officials. The shooters, who carried long guns and wore masks and camouflage clothing, may have opened fire on a holiday party being held by county employees, federal law enforcement sources and a witness told the Los Angeles Times. The shooting took place in a large conference room on the grounds of the Inland Regional Center, which serves people with developmental disabilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties." CW: This story has been updated. ...

... The L.A. Times is liveblogging events here & currently has live KTLA coverage embedded in the liveblog. KTLA currently (6:15 pm ET) has a helicopter reporter covering what they say is police approaching a suspect who may be "down." This apparently follows a "shootout." The number of injured has been raised to 17. KTLA is now saying the subject is definitely down. The SUV involved in the shootout is riddled with bulletholes & all the tires are shot out. ...

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "'We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,' said [President] Obama, who expressed his sympathies to the victims, in a CBS News interview with Norah O'Donnell that was taped as information about the situation was developing. 'And there's some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently'":

... Elizabeth Bruenig of the New Republic posts presidential candidates' Twitter reactions to the San Bernardino massacre: "... that's prayers, luck, and blessings from Republicans, and gun policy prescriptions from Democrats."

Your 'thoughts' should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your 'prayers' should be for forgiveness if you do nothing -- again. -- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) (Via Greg Sargent)

... With Gun Violence Increasing, Americans Want More Guns. Mona Chalabi of the Guardian: "In 2014, 336 mass shootings were recorded by a Reddit community which tracks all incidents where four or more individuals are injured (including the shooter). That number has already been surpassed this year. In the 334 days since 1 January, there have been 351 mass shootings in the country -- that total doesn't include [Wednesday's] shooting [in San Bernardino]. The number of victims has also risen. In 2014, 383 people were killed in mass shootings and 1,239 were injured. So far this year, 447 individuals have been killed and 1,292 injured.... The interval between shootings is falling.... Despite the rise in the number of mass shootings, public opinion about gun control has shifted over that period away from controlling gun ownership according to Pew Research Center.... When Pew has conducted surveys immediately before and after shootings, they have found that violence has little effect on public opinion about gun control." ...

... Sharon LaFraniere, et al., of the New York Times: "More than one a day. That is how often, on average, shootings that left four or more people injured or dead occurred in the United States this year, according to compilations of episodes derived from news reports.... Ted Alcorn, the research director for Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that advocates gun control, said the shootings with multiple victims were just a small subset of everyday gun violence in America. 'You have 14 people dead in California, and that's a horrible tragedy,' he said. 'But likely 88 other people died today from gun violence in the United States.' In a recent report, the Congressional Research Service found a slight uptick in shootings in which four or more victims died." ...

... German Lopez of Vox: "With 14 people dead, the San Bernardino shooting would count as a mass shooting under any definition. But whether these types of shootings are more common today depends on which definition you use for mass shootings.... America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada and 15 times as many as Germany, according to UN data compiled by the Guardian's Simon Rogers. In fact, no other developed country comes close to the levels of gun violence that America has...." ...

... Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "On Wednesday morning, a group of doctors in white coats arrived on Capitol Hill to deliver a petition to Congress. Signed by more than 2,000 physicians around the country, it pleads with lawmakers to lift a restriction that for nearly two decades has essentially blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence. Joined by a handful of Democratic lawmakers, the doctors spoke about the need to view gun violence as a public health epidemic and research ways to solve it -- as the country would with any disease causing the deaths of thousands of Americans each year.... Hours later, another mass shooting began to unfold in San Bernardino, Calif." ...

... Here's a statement from Doctors for America. ...

... Delphine D'Amora of Mother Jones has more on the Congressional gag order. "A Mother Jones investigation published this summer found that gun violence costs the United States a staggering $229 billion every year."

... Gun TV. Joanna Walters of the Guardian: "A new home shopping channel will launch in the US early in 2016. It will be called, simply, Gun TV.... Gun TV's specialty will be exactly that: guns. It will also sell ammunition, accessories such as concealed-carry holsters and clothing, such as hunting jackets.... The channel's logo shows a bullet whizzing through the words Gun TV, which are depicted in shining silver. The tagline: 'Live shopping. Fully loaded'." CW: Folks, make sure your cable provider carries Gun TV! This is a marketing innovation the country really needs right now. What a shame the channel won't be up in time for Christmas.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "... when [Republicans'] intensely inflammatory and deliberately shocking language coincides with not one but six actual attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics -- and a massive upsurge in threats of violence -- it's sort of absurd to suggest that there is no conceivable connection. Oh, and there is this as well. What they are saying is a lie.... There is no factual or empirical basis from which to believe that Planned Parenthood sells fetal parts for money.... One side is lying about Planned Parenthood and declining to admit the truth about the consequences of violent, graphic rhetoric. The other side is pointing out that the lies about Planned Parenthood are lies and that words have consequences. There is no equivalency here."

Alan Fram of the AP: "Republicans pushed legislation toward Senate approval Thursday that would demolish President Barack Obama's signature health care law and halt Planned Parenthood's federal money, setting up a veto fight the GOP knows it will lose but thinks will delight conservative voters in next year's elections." See also L.A. Times liveblog above, at 7:01 am PT today. ...

... Wait, Wait! There's More! Dana Milbank: "... like Captain Ahab and the white whale, congressional Republicans continue their quest to repeal the law. On Wednesday, House Republicans announced that they were joining yet another legal challenge to Obamacare, and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), commander of this latest judicial Pequod, called reporters to a Capitol meeting room and declared that the very survival of the nation was at stake.

Mike Lillis & Scott Wong of the Hill: "Citing dozens of 'poison-pill' riders, House Democrats have rejected the Republicans' initial year-end government funding bill and plan to respond with their own alternative package. GOP leaders had delivered the sweeping spending proposal to the Democrats on Tuesday evening as Congress scrambles to fund the government and prevent a shutdown ahead of a looming Dec. 11 deadline."

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: "In a critical report to be released publicly Thursday, House investigators describe the ... [Secret Service] as an 'agency in crisis' that has failed to fix many of the deeply ingrained problems exposed last year amid a string of humiliating security lapses, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post.... [A] staffing decline, which includes the uniformed-officer division that guards the White House, is 'perhaps the greatest threat' to the Secret Service, the report says. Among other factors, the report points to past budget cuts and 'systemic mismanagement' by the agency.... The committee's probe uncovered a number of previously unreported breaches...."

GOP Senate Campaign Committee Ready to Clone Trump. Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "In a seven-page confidential memo [dated September 22] that imagines Trump as the party's presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump's tactics, issues and approaches -- right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter. In the memo on 'the Trump phenomenon,' NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker said Republicans should embrace Trump's tough talk about China and 'grab onto the best elements of [his] anti-Washington populist agenda.' Above all, they should appeal to voters as genuine and beyond the influence of special interests.... Still, Baker sees limits to being like Trump. He writes that it is prudent for Senate candidates to craft their own political brands distinct from Trump's and to distance themselves by quickly condemning his more controversial comments, such as 'wacky things about women.'" The memo is here. ...

... CW: Every time I think Republicans can't get worse, they prove me wrong. ...

... Greg Sargent on the Senate memo: "... the mere possibility that [Donald Trump] might win the nomination requires GOP establishment figures to evade acknowledging the true sources of his appeal."

You've picked the wrong people. I don't understand how you could do this. You've picked the wrong people! -- Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to President Obama, on his nominations of Tim Geithner & Larry Summers, ca. late 2008 ...

... ** David Dayen, in the New Republic, offers a provocative & compelling take on the rise of the angry right: "The right-wing surge after the financial crisis was predictable. So was its endurance when it interacted with the realities of American politics. But Democrats had a moment after 2008 to restructure the financial system, not just rebuild it. Failure to do so wasn't just bad policy; it hurt at the voting booth." Read the whole post. CW: This is very much what most liberals were saying in 2009 & 2010, as the Obama administration's foolish, bank-friendly response to the financial crisis was rolling out, but Dayen adds some empirical research to back us up. Worth noting: this makes Hillary Clinton the worst possible Democratic candidate for 2016. Expect to see ads depicting her bronco-riding the Wall Street bull a la Slim Pickens in "Dr. Strangelove."

** Judge Richard Posner & Eric Segall, in a New York Times op-ed, expose the judicial philosophy of Justice Antonin Scalia. "The logic of his position is that the Supreme Court should get out of the business of enforcing the Constitution altogether, for enforcing it overrides legislation, which is the product of elected officials, and hence of democracy.... Justice Scalia seems to want to turn the Constitution upside down when it comes to government and religion; his political ideal verges on majoritarian theocracy."

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "Alabama now faces a federal lawsuit over its voter ID law after closing 30 or so driver's licenses offices, many of them in areas with high African-American populations. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is bringing the suit on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP. It was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said on Wednesday that economic conditions were ripe for the Fed to start raising its benchmark interest rate this month, a move that appears all but inevitable barring a sharp change in the economic weather."

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The Chinese government recently arrested a handful of hackers it says were connected to the breach of Office of Personnel Management's database this year, a mammoth break-in that exposed the records of more than 22 million current and former federal employees. The arrests took place shortly before a state visit in September by President Xi Jinping, and U.S. officials say they appear to have been carried out in an effort to lessen tensions with Washington."

Griff Witte & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Britain on Wednesday night opted to join a U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria, with Parliament endorsing a push by Prime Minister David Cameron following a raucous debate marked by accusations that revived the ghosts of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war."

Ben Hubbard of the New York Times: "The Islamic State claims to be more than a militant group, selling itself as a government for the world's Muslims that provides a range of services in the territory it controls. But that statehood project is now in distress, perhaps more so than at any other time since the Islamic State began seizing territory in Iraq and Syria, according to a range of interviews with people who have recently fled.... As its smuggling and oil businesses have faltered, the Islamic State has fallen back on ever-increasing taxes and tolls imposed on its squeezed citizens."

Presidential Race

Dan Merica of CNN: "Hillary Clinton supports an independent investigation into the Chicago Police Department, her campaign spokesman said Wednesday, days after the department released video of the Laquan McDonald's shooting death at the hands of police.... This lines Clinton up against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton aide who worked for former President Bill Clinton in the White House. Emanuel, who is facing calls for his resignation, said Wednesday he was against a federal inquiry." Clinton is not calling for Emanuel to step down.

Upside-Down World. Peter Stone of the Guardian: "A conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and their wealthy allies boasts a scorecard on its website that rates the presidential candidates based on their opposition to policies meant to tackle climate change.... Texas senator Ted Cruz scored the highest rating on the American Energy Alliance site, which labelled him a 'hero' due in part to his opposition to regulation and taxes. Cruz was followed on the scorecard by four other Republican candidates -- Florida senator Marco Rubio, ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who were named as 'defenders'."

Ed Kilgore, who now works for New York magazine: "You may still be able to find pundits who will dismiss everything that's happened up until now as meaningless (tell that to Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal!), and confidently predict big TV ad money will determine the nomination by and by. But the desultory impact of the very real money spent so far on very real campaign ads suggests the only 'shock and awe' in sight is in the minds of donors who realize they are pouring a lot of money down a lot of ratholes." ...

Ben Schreckinger of Politico: Donald "Trump once said that all presidential candidates should release their medical records. But so far in the 2016 race, he had declined to release his, and a campaign spokeswoman had not responded to multiple requests for comment about the candidate's health records stretching back to October. On Thursday, three hours after this article was published, the billionaire businessman relented, tweeting that he'll release his records within the next two weeks. 'As a presidential candidate, I have instructed my long-time doctor to issue, within two weeks, a full medical report-it will show perfection,' Trump said in the tweet." ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "On Wednesday, [Donald] Trump joined eminent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for a discussion of New Jersey's jihadist Muslims, the imminent threat of a one-world government, his own 'George Washington-level' greatness, and other true things that the lamestream media is afraid to report on. Here's a quick rundown of all the things we learned...: Donald Trump grew up with 'nothing.'... Trump was the only major U.S. figure to oppose the Iraq War.... If we don't drastically increase surveillance, we won't have a country anymore.... If Trump isn't elected, we probably won't have a country anymore.... President Obama is afraid to talk about radical Muslim ... stuff.... Trump won't drop out, even if the globalists try to kill him." ...

... BUT Jonathan Chait argues that "a nominated Trump would be a different figure.... Republicans who currently have a strong incentive to tear him down would instead have a strong incentive to rally around their nominee and salvage his standing. A nominated Trump would bring onboard some Establishment advisers currently working for his rivals. Conservatives who insisted during the primary they could never support him would see in their nominee a different, more sober and thoughtful figure than the demagogue they had lambasted months before. And because Republicans would now be rallying around him, Trump would enjoy far more latitude for his wild claims. Fear of partisan bias would then dissuade the media from labeling Trump's lies as lies."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "... after weeks of carnage inflicted by terrorists in France, Mali and Lebanon, doubts about [Ben] Carson's knowledge of the world have reversed his momentum.... Tied with Mr. Trump in early November, Mr. Carson's support was down seven percentage points, leaving him essentially tied for second place with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Support for Mr. Trump, who continues to lead, grew to 27 percent from 24 percent last month." ...

... David Catanese of US News: "Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson beat back questions about the loss of a top fundraiser and categorized the shootings in San Bernardino, California, as a 'hate crime' during a testy news conference [in Wellford, South Carolina,] Wednesday.... The Wall Street Journal reported that one of Carson's top fundraisers had left his campaign over a dispute over the direction of its leadership.... Carson shrugged off the loss during a question-and-answer session with reporters. 'People come and go when they feel that things aren't being run the way they want them to be run,' he said."

CW: I try to avoid mentioning one particular fake presidential candidate, but Tim Murphy of Mother Jones provides another useful reminder of what a scam artist Mike Hucksterbee is. But then Jesus came up with some mighty fakey miracle cures, so I guess it's all okay.

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [D] has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the Chicago Police Department's practices violate federal and constitutional law. Madigan said Tuesday that the 'shocking death' of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old who was fatally shot by white police officer in 2014, raises serious questions about the use of lawful and excessive force. She says trust in the police department is 'broken.'"

How Do You Spell "Hypocrite"? T-E-X-A-S  R-E-P-U-B-L-I-C-A-N-S. ...

     "The Reddest State Goes Green." Taylor Hill of Take Part: "... ranching and farming operations across West Texas are changing a century-old way of life to adapt to the new reality of climate change, even if, in their unwillingness to talk about global warming, they see their actions as a pragmatic response to a new business reality. So a state that once spawned oil billionaires like T. Boone Pickens now mints wind barons like, yes, T. Boone Pickens, and rock-ribbed conservative cities are ditching dirty coal for wind and solar energy. Texas may be home to some of the nation's most vociferous climate skeptics -- hello, Ted Cruz -- but Texans are already fighting climate change, even if they won't admit it. Survival, it turns out, trumps denial." Via Nancy Le Tourneau of the Washington Monthly. ...

     ... MEANWHILE. KVUE Austin, Texas: "Gov. Greg Abbott comes home to Texas Wednesday following a three day trip to Cuba that focused on travel, trade and exports. Abbott met with Cuban officials Tuesday, stressing that he wants close economic ties between Texas and Cuba regardless of whether the U.S. embargo is lifted, according to KVUE's partners at the Austin American-Statesman."

... BUT climate change is a liberal hoax & President Obama is a Castro-loving commie.

Way Beyond

Greg Botelho of CNN: "ISIS released video Wednesday showing the beheading of a man it claims joined the terrorist group but was in fact a Russian spy, as well as a message chastising Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatening his country's citizens."

Guardian: "Britain has carried out its first airstrikes in Syria, hours after MPs voted overwhelmingly to authorise military action. Four RAF Tornado jets were seen taking off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus early on Thursday morning and the Ministry of Defence later confirmed they had carried out the "first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes'."

AP: "Oscar Pistorius was convicted of murder on Thursday by a South African appeals court that described the once-glittering story of the double-amputee Olympian and Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he killed in his home in 2013, as 'a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.' The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a lower court's conviction against Pistorius on the less serious charge of manslaughter, adding another twist to a case that riveted people around the world...."

Tuesday
Dec012015

The Commentariat -- December 2, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Nick Gass of Politico: "Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday that he would not resign, despite growing criticism for what some are calling his botched response to video footage showing a Chicago police officer last year firing 16 times at Laquan McDonald, who was walking away from officers." ...

... Contributor Citizen625 wrote in today's thread: "Rahm Emanuel is a Dick Cheney Democrat, expect him to never admit doubt or accept blame." CW: Sounds about right to me.

*****

Monica Davey & Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "Mayor Rahm Emanuel ousted Chicago's police superintendent on Tuesday, responding to an uproar over a white officer shooting a black teenager 16 times and anger at the Police Department for resisting, for more than a year, release of a video of the fatal shooting. 'He has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction,' Mr. Emanuel said of Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. He said he had asked for, and received, Mr. McCarthy's resignation.... Last year, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division found that the Newark[, New Jersey,] police had engaged in a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing, including when Mr. McCarthy was chief. The Chicago Police Department has been accused of some of the same shortcomings, including almost never punishing officers for wrongdoing." ...

... The Chicago Sun-Times story, by Fran Spielman, is here. ...

... New York Times Editors: "Mayor Rahm Emanuel demonstrated a willful ignorance when he talked about the murder charges against the police officer who shot [Laquan] McDonald, seeking to depict the cop as a rogue officer. He showed a complete lack of comprehension on Tuesday when he explained that he had decided to fire his increasingly unpopular police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, not because he failed in his leadership role, but because he had become 'a distraction.'... All along, Mr. Emanuel's response, either by design or because of negligence, was to do as little as possible -- until the furor caused by the release of the video forced his hand."

Governor Moonbeam. Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times: "Four decades ago, [California Gov. Jerry Brown's] focus on the environment -- talking of 'Spaceship Earth' and exhortations that 'small is beautiful' -- was a curiosity. But as 50,000 people gather in Paris in an ongoing effort to stop global warming, it's clear that the world has caught up with Brown." ...

... Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Marshall Islands are disappearing.... Most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, spread out over 29 narrow coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level -- and few are more than a mile wide. For the Marshallese, the destructive power of the rising seas is already an inescapable part of daily life. Changing global trade winds have raised sea levels in the South Pacific about a foot over the past 30 years, faster than elsewhere." Excellent photos by Josh Haner. ...

... So What? Our Irresponsible Congress. David Herszenhorn of the New York Times: "Hours after President Obama on Tuesday pledged in Paris that the United States would be in the vanguard of nations seeking a global response to climate change, Congress approved two measures aimed at undercutting him. In a provocative message to more than 100 leaders that the American president does not have the full support of his government on climate policy, the House passed resolutions, already approved by the Senate, to scuttle Environmental Protection Agency rules that would significantly cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing and future coal-fired power plants.... The legislation will be sent to the White House, where Mr. Obama has said he will veto them. The Senate approved each measure by the same margin, 52 to 46, signaling that Republican congressional leaders would not be able to muster the two-thirds majority needed for an override." ...

... The New Luddites. Ryan Cooper of the Week: "World elites, it turns out, are beginning to correctly grasp the implications of climate change -- that it is not some niggling environmental issue, but a serious threat to human society.... Most everyone was coming naturally to this understanding, but not in America. There are two large obstacles to the U.S. getting on board with the rest of humanity, but both are slowly cracking. The first is the awesome wealth and power of the carbon industry.... The second is the denialism of the Republican Party: Basically alone among major parties in the industrialized world, the GOP does not accept that climate change is happening." Emphasis added.

Our Irresponsible Congress, Ctd. Kelsey Snell of the Washington Post: "The Senate is expected to vote this week on an Obamacare repeal package designed to put them -- and President Obama -- on record rejecting the president's signature domestic achievement.... The bill also contains language to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the killings at a Colorado clinic last week."

In the Nick of Time. Maybe. Keith Laing of the Hill: "House and Senate negotiators struck an agreement Tuesday on a $305 billion highway bill that would extend federal transportation funding for five years, setting up an eleventh-hour dash to win approval in both chambers. The resulting 1,300-page bill, paid for with gas tax revenue and a package of $70 billion in offsets from other areas of the federal budget, comes just days before transportation spending is set to expire on Dec. 4.... If enacted, the package would reflect the first transportation funding legislation to last longer than two years since 2005."

Emily Arrowood of US News: "... you're seven times more likely to be killed by a homegrown, anti-government extremist than a Muslim terrorist. Yet following the Islamic State group's attack in Paris, the U.S. was awash with calls to block the entry of Syrian refugees in the name of national security -- even though several of the Paris terrorists were French-born. In the wake of Friday's mass shooting at Planned Parenthood, there's been no similar national security outcry over a threat from white, Christian men, despite the fact that Dear was Caucasian and reportedly professed to be a Christian.... What's more, we'd rather not correct the record on the fact that Planned Parenthood was not in the business of harvesting baby parts.... Our collective denial allows white, anti-government extremists to slip under the radar with their arms full of guns and their heads full of lies." CW: Very nice, Emily. You might have mentioned that all the resistance to talking about anti-government extremists comes from confederate Republicans. But no. Because both sides do it, right? ...

... ** Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: "Republican politicians who fueled the overwrought and unsupported controversy over selling baby parts bear some measure of responsibility [for the attack on the Colorado Spring Planned Parenthood clinic].... This is, literally, a manufactured issue, cobbled together from doctored videotapes and overheated accusations. The organization's activities have been so mischaracterized, and the practice of providing fetal tissue so overblown and so manipulated by lawmakers and politicians, that blame for the ensuing violence falls more heavily on them.... Extreme rhetoric combined with falsehoods tips the balance toward greater culpability.... Contrast the candidates' immediate outcry over the videos with their reticence on the shootings." ...

... CW: Good for Marcus. It's high time MOR Democrats & members of the press starting calling out Republicans for what they've do.

Mark Matthews of the Denver Post: "Pointing to Friday's shooting in Colorado Springs, congressional Democrats on Tuesday urged Republican leaders to disband a panel created just weeks ago to investigate Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In a press conference attended by the six U.S. House Democrats assigned to the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, the lawmakers drew a line between the rhetoric used by anti-abortion legislators and Friday's attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, in which three people were killed and 12 injured. 'Since July, the phrase "baby parts" or similar phrases have been used by the eight (Republican) member of this committee -- just those eight members -- 33 times,' said Diana DeGette of Denver, one of the Democrats on the panel." ...

... Richard Fausset of the New York Times profiles Robert Dear, the (alleged) Planned Parenthood shooter. CW: I scanned it, & the gist seems to be that he is a weird Christianist fanatic long prone to violence & abuse. ...

... William Wan of the Washington Post: "Before his arrest for last week's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Robert Lewis Dear had on several occasions been accused of erupting in bursts of violence, particularly toward women. At least two of his three ex-wives have accused him of physical abuse, according to court records. And in 1992, Dear was arrested and accused of sexual violence and rape." ...

... Alex Johnson & Vivian Glover of NBC News: "Dear appears to have been opposed to [Planned Parenthood] for decades. Barbara Mescher Michaux, who was married to Dear from 1985 to 1993, said Tuesday that Dear once put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood clinic near where they were living at the time -- and 'that was over 20 years ago when he did that,' she said." ...

... Lance Benzel of the Colorado Springs Gazette: "An El Paso County clerical error was apparently to blame for Planned Parenthood shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear Jr. being listed as a woman on his [driver's license &] voter registration card - a detail that fueled national speculation over his gender identity.... Dear received the erroneous driver's license in the mail. Records show he traveled to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Salida to report the error and request a corrected license, which he received, Parsell said." Dear also attempted to correct his voter registration card. "Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz recently downplayed reports that Dear said 'no more baby parts' by saying that he's also been reported to be a 'transgendered leftist activist,' a claim that appears to be limited to conservative blogs and news sites."

AP: "Former top national security officials from Republican and Democratic administrations urged Congress on Tuesday to continue allowing the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States. 'Refugees are victims, not perpetrators, of terrorism,' the 20 retired military, security experts and others wrote in a letter sent to all lawmakers. 'Categorically refusing to take them only feeds the narrative of ISIS that there is a war between Islam and the West....' Among those signing the letter are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Madeleine Albright. Retired Gen. David Petraeus also signed the letter, as did former Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and onetime Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel and William Cohen." The letter opposes a Republican-led bill to "erect high hurdles for Syrian and Iraqi refugees." Forty-seven House Democrats voted for the bill, which is pending in the Senate.

Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "The Pentagon will send a new Special Operations force to Iraq to intensify U.S. and Iraqi operations against the Islamic State, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Tuesday. Carter, providing the House Armed Services Committee an update on President Obama's plan for countering the extremist group, said the United States was sending 'a specialized expeditionary targeting force' to help Iraqi troops and to intensify direct action against the militants there."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Carolyn Johnson & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "Gilead Sciences executives were acutely aware in 2013 that their plan to charge an exorbitantly high price for a powerful new hepatitis C drug would spark public outrage, but they pursued the profit-driven strategy anyway, according to a Senate Finance Committee investigation report released Tuesday." ...

... ** Donald McNeil of the New York Times: "Despite major medical advances and more than 30 years of effort, the United States is still in danger of losing the war on AIDS, according to the country's top disease-control official. In an essay in The New England Journal of Medicine published on Tuesday, World AIDS Day, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Jonathan Mermin, the agency's chief of AIDS prevention, paint a bleak picture of the fight. 'Hundreds of thousands of people with diagnosed H.I.V. infection are not receiving care or antiretroviral treatment,' they wrote. 'These people account for most new H.I.V. transmission.'... Risky behaviors -- including unprotected anal sex and needle-sharing -- appear to be increasing. Infection rates are rising among young gay men, especially blacks and Hispanics. The national averages are dragged down by states, mostly in the South, that have high H.I.V. rates but rejected the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, which would have covered testing and treatment."

American "Justice," Ctd. David Smith of the Guardian: "A man who has spent 13 years in the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was arrested partly in a case of mistaken identity, US officials conceded Tuesday. Officials admitted that Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri, 37, was a low-level Islamist foot soldier and not an al-Qaida courier and trainer as previously thought, during a Guantanamo hearing."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A move by the Supreme Court Tuesday will keep a legal dispute over President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration on track for the case to be resolved by June.... Texas and 25 other states had asked for a commonly granted 30-day extension of their deadline.... However, the Obama Administration opposed the 30-day delay.... A court spokeswoman said Tuesday that the court had granted only an eight-day delay for the states' filing.... The high court has still not decided whether it will actually hear the immigration-related executive power dispute, as Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. has asked. The votes of four justices are needed for the court to take the case." ...

... Anna Palmer of Politico: "The Mark Zuckerberg-backed group that spent tens of millions on a failed bid for immigration reform is reigniting its efforts for the 2016 election. Fwd.us is launching a multi-pronged campaign that could spend as much as $10 million over the next year on digital and TV ads, research and polling.... The initiative includes an expansion of its ground operation into 12 states, focusing on presidential battlegrounds and targeted House seats held by Republicans. Fwd.us is looking to counter the anti-immigration reform rhetoric in the GOP primary and lay the groundwork for an overhaul of the country's immigration laws in early 2017 once the next president takes office. Formed in 2013 by tech giants including Facebook's Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman and Eric Schmidt, among others, the group accounted for 75 percent of all paid media spent in 2013 and 2014 to support immigration reform and had field operations in 29 states and 149 target House districts at the peak of the debate." ...

... Vendu Goel & Natasha Singer of the New York Times: "Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, announced on Tuesday that he and his wife would give 99 percent of their Facebook shares 'during our lives' -- holdings currently worth $45 billion -- to charitable purposes. The pledge was made in an open letter to their newborn daughter, Max, who was born a week ago."

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "In the church [in Montgomery, Alabama,] where, 60 years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired residents to boycott the local bus network, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called for overhauling the criminal justice system, saying there is something 'profoundly wrong' when black men are disproportionately stopped and searched by the police, arrested or killed.... Six decades have passed since [Rosa] Parks's arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, and yet as Mrs. Clinton addressed the crowd the country was reeling from another shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Chicago, and grappling with civil rights and racial justice issues that have become central to the 2016 presidential campaign." CW: Odd that Chozick doesn't mention Clinton's ties to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton. ...

     ... The Guardian story, by Matthew Teague, is here. ...

... James Hohmann of the Washington Post: "The State Department posted 7,800 pages of Hillary Clinton's e-mails yesterday afternoon, the latest batch of the 55,000 pages that she sent and received while in office." Hohmann provides some highlights.

Abby Phillip & Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "As the first primary contests rapidly approach, a rash of bickering has broken out among several Republican presidential candidates, marking the beginning of a new, more serious phase of the race.... The feuding is particularly notable among New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio...."

Dana Milbank: "Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.... At some point you're not merely saying things that could be construed as bigoted: You are a bigot.... Trump's rivals for the nomination are slowly and haltingly finding the courage to call the man what he is." ...

... Thomas Edsall of the New York Times talks to psyciatrists & psychologists to explain Donald Trump's appeal. They don't say anything we haven't said here: Trump appeals to undereducated wingers who are angry & fearful of the big, wide world & their own places in the community. ...

This guy Kasich, he's like a lunatic. You watch him on the stage, he can't debate, he can't talk. -- Donald Trump, on Serius XM

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Donald Trump went after the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin on Tuesday, just after the conservative writer wrote a post titled, 'Is Donald Trump too chicken to debate?' 'Highly untalented Wash Post blogger, Jennifer Rubin, a real dummy, never writes fairly about me. Why does Wash Post have low IQ people?,' Trump tweeted." CW: Okay, sometimes I agree with Donald Trump, at least in part. ...

... Charles Pierce urges the national teevee media to stand up to Donald Trump's "new rules": "I know of no other candidate for any office anywhere who's gotten away with just being a voice on the telephone. It's one baby step away from Hal Philip Walker, the candidate in Robert Altman's Nashville who campaigned only as a voice on a sound truck. In your cowardice and your insecurity, you've allowed him to rewrite rules that you have every right and duty to enforce."

Our Irresponsible Presidential Candidate. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush on Tuesday belittled President Obama's trip to Paris for the global climate conference, saying that if he were president, he most likely would have skipped the meeting, where officials from nearly 200 nations are seeking to avert potentially catastrophic damage to the environment." CW: No "potential" about it. Republicans can keep on belittling the President for trying to save the earth's environment; I see this as a losing issue for them. At least I hope it is. ...

... Jeb!'s Last Stand. Eli Stokols of Politico: "New Hampshire is beginning to look like Jeb Bush's final stand. Stuck in the middle of the GOP pack he was expected to dominate, Bush is accelerating the time frame for his campaign's next ad buy in the state. His campaign also announced Tuesday that it is opening four regional field offices in New Hampshire and upping its on-the-ground staff from 12 people to 20. That concentration of resources comes after his Right to Rise super PAC has already spent $12 million on TV ads and blanketed New Hampshire with four direct mail pieces. Bush himself has made 60 campaign appearances. Despite those efforts, polls show the former Florida governor remains mired in sixth place in the early state he most needs to win."

Here's the simple and undeniable fact: The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Nov. 30, 2015

... Cruz is wildly off base when he claims that across the United States the 'overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.' The data that is [sic!] the source of his statement was based on the party registrations of mostly black and Hispanic prisoners in just three states -- and does not make a distinction between violent and nonviolent felons. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Wow! Ben Carson thinks up a great excuse for committing non-Christian acts of violence. Sally Quinn of the Washington Post: "Does he ever ask himself what Jesus would do? Would Jesus say 'find them and kill them'? ["them" being members of the Islamic State] 'I seriously doubt he would put himself in that position.' Jesus, he says, would never run for president." ...

     ... CW: Many scholars point out that the Biblical story of Jesus's arrival in Jerusalem was a copy of earlier Jewish leaders' (David, the Maccabees) triumphant entries into Jerusalem, where they became heads of the Jewish state. So not president, but the country's top political (and religious) leaders. Some scholars assert the story of Jesus is true, & that he went to Jerusalem with the idea that a popular revolt would make him head of state; in this scenario, the reason for his trial & crucifixion was that the Jewish Sadducee leaders & the Romans both believed he aimed to effect a coup & were fearful he would be successful. In any case, "Jesus would never run for president" is pretty disingenuous. But it's still a super copout! ...

Ben Carson Says Whatever Pops into His Mind. The Family Research Council, according to some government agencies, is a terrorist group. -- Ben Carson, November 29th, in a CNN interview

We could find no government agency that singled out the Family Research Council as a terrorist group, and experts told us they were unaware of any government lists that did. -- Louis Jacobson of Politifact

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Among some [New Jersey Muslim] community leaders, who saw [Chris] Christie as a rare Republican who rejected alarmist, broad-brush rhetoric about Islam, a sense of betrayal has set in. Most distressing ... has been Mr. Christie's rigid stance on refugees fleeing Syria: Citing his distrust of President Obama's administration to screen them for security risks, Mr. Christie has called for a full stop to the settling of refugees in the United States. That includes, he said on a radio show, 'orphans under 5.' Community leaders say Mr. Christie has also missed opportunities to speak out ... about what they see as flagrantly hateful remarks from other Republicans." ...

... Charles Pierce: The New Hampshire Union Leader's endorsement of Chris Christie, which ignores his actual governing record, has given the New Jersey governor a media bump.

Beyond the Beltway

Washington Post: "Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Baltimore police officer William G. Porter, 26, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal injury after his April 12 arrest and died a week later. The trial is expected to run until at least mid-December." The Post is liveblogging developments at the linked page.

Oliver Laughland & Jon Swaine of the Guardian: Timothy Loehmann, "the officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio, has delivered his first public account of the killing..., arguing his actions were justified as he was engaged in an 'active shooter situation' and believed Tamir was 18 years old.... 'The suspect had a gun, had been threatening others with the weapon and had not obeyed our command to show us his hands,' he said. Loehmann fatally shot Tamir, who was black, within two seconds of arriving at a local park on 22 November last year, after a 911 caller reported that there was a juvenile in the area with a weapon that was 'probably fake'. The full details of the call were not passed on to the officers, according to other accounts.... Loehmann said he told Tamir to raise his hands repeatedly as the boy was 'reaching into his waistband' before the officer opened fire.... On Tuesday, Rice family lawyers described the prosecutor's decision to allow the officer's unsworn statements before the grand jury as 'a stunning irregularity'."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Samuel R. Berger, a political confidant of President Bill Clinton who became his national security adviser, died early Wednesday in Washington. He was 70. His death was announced by Tara Sonenshine, his longtime aide and friend. Mr. Berger, known as 'Sandy,' was given a cancer diagnosis more than a year ago. On Tuesday, he wrote to his colleagues at the Albright Stonebridge Group, an international consulting firm he ran with former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, that his condition had worsened and that 'time is not on my side.'" ...

     ... NEW: Berger's Washington Post obituary is here.

New York Times: "NATO announced plans on Wednesday to enlarge its membership, a move that brought an angry response from Moscow, as Secretary of State John Kerry sought support from the alliance as he reaffirmed Washington's desire to remove President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from power.... The decision to invite Montenegro to join the military alliance adds another layer of complication to efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria."

Monday
Nov302015

The Commentariat -- December 1, 2015

Angela Keane & Justin Sink of Bloomberg: "The U.S. will meet commitments to help finance developing nations' efforts to reduce carbon pollution, President Barack Obama said, challenging congressional Republicans who have fought most of his environmental policies.... 'My expectation is that we will absolutely be able to meet our commitments,' Obama said Tuesday at a news conference in Paris. 'This is part of American leadership, by the way. This is part of the debate that we have to have in the United States more often. Too often American leadership is defined by sending troops somewhere.'" ...

... Sylvie Corbet & Angela Charlton of the AP: "... leaders of poor nations most affected by climate change are sharing their stories of global warming with leaders of some of the richest on Tuesday. The encounters -- French President Francois Hollande met African leaders and President Barack Obama was meeting envoys from island nations -- highlighted one of the biggest debates among delegates negotiating an international climate agreement: how much rich countries should help poor ones cope adapt to global warming and reduce their emissions." ...

... AP: "U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the House will not go along if President Barack Obama tries to commit taxpayer money to support a climate accord reached in Paris.... McCarthy suggested that a must-pass year-end spending bill currently in the works could become the vehicle for language blocking any such expenditure." ...

... Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama told world leaders who gathered northeast of Paris on Monday for a climate conference that the United States is at least partly to blame for the life-threatening damage that environmental change has wrought, and he urged world leaders to join him in fixing the problem.... Mr. Obama also repeated an argument, lampooned by some Republicans, that the climate conference was a fitting response to the terrorist attacks that cost the lives of 130 people in and around Paris on Nov. 13. 'What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it,' he said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) CW: Can hardly wait for the GOP response to Obama's admitting U.S. culpability on climate change: "Weak!" "Hates America!" _______Fill in______

     ... As the World Burns. Eliza Collins of Politico: "Republican presidential candidates and their allies made fun of President Barack Obama's comments about climate change in Paris on Monday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, during a town hall in Iowa, said Obama 'apparently thinks having an SUV in your driveway is more dangerous than a bunch of terrorists trying to blow up the world.'" Et-cetera.

... The Times has a running commentary on the Paris talks. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Devin Henry of the Hill: "The White House is pushing congressional Republicans to formally authorize military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and institute new rules to prevent terrorism in the United States.... Speaking in Paris, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Congress needs to implement a series or proposals rather than engage in politically motivated posturing that is 'wrong, dangerous and falls far short of what the America people deserve.'" ...

... Michael Dougherty of the Week: "Conservatives today are incensed that President Obama didn't plunge America deeply into a needless war in Syria two years ago.... But two years ago, it was conservative opposition to a needless war in Syria that stopped Obama from plunging in. This history is clear. It is undeniable. But many of my fellow conservatives, when faced with the choice of acknowledging reality or deriding a Democratic president as weak and feckless, will always and infallibly choose the latter."

Greg Sargent: "It looks increasingly likely that some time in the next few days or weeks, the GOP Congress may realize a longtime dream of Republicans: Pass something that seriously guts Obamacare. The health law won't actually be repealed, of course, since President Obama will veto such a measure. But that alone -- forcing Obama to veto a repeal bill -- is deemed a worthy goal in and of itself."

The New York Times editors call for the resignations of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy & Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez over their self-interested cover-up of the (alleged) police murder of Laquan McDonald. "Around the time the freelance journalist Brandon Smith filed suit for release of the dash-cam video, on Aug. 5, 2015, the Chicago Police Department told him that it had already received, and rejected, 14 other Freedom of Information Act requests for the evidence." ...

     ... CW: Let's hear from President Obama on his support for & employment of Rahm Emanuel. Now would be a very good time for him to get over the "Chicago-style politics" his critics accuse him of practicing. ...

... Bill Ruthhart of the Chicago Tribune: "On Tuesday, Emanuel will seek to quell some of the growing chorus of criticism by announcing a task force his administration says 'will review the system of accountability, oversight and training that is currently in place for Chicago's police officers,' according to a brief news release issued late Monday. Appointing a committee to look into an issue is a tried-and-true tactic elected officials long have employed to buy time and breathing room when faced with a scandal or crisis." ...

     ... CW Note: The Trib has nixed my link above, but I got there via a link in Item 10 of this Mother Jones story by Brandon Patterson. Patterson provides a quick rundown of recent news regarding the case.

CBS/AP: "Fifty-seven-year-old Robert Lewis Dear appeared before a judge in a brief video hearing on Monday, standing next to public defender Daniel King. He's the same lawyer who represented Colorado theater shooting gunman James Holmes.... Judge Stephen J. Sletta has sealed court documents in this case. The order was made available Monday after being issued Friday, the day of the attack. Such documents detail evidence gathered by investigators that justify arresting suspects and searching property."

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) who head the special committee designed to convict investigate Planned Parenthood is not even about Planned Parenthood because the resolution establishing the committee does not specifically mention Planned Parenthood even those others -- including Speaker Ryan -- have said the committee is specifically charged to look into federal dollars Planned Parenthood receives.

     ... CW: So here's my question. Do they take lessons on how to tell whoppers with a straight face before or after they're elected to Congress? ...

... digby: "Hey, if you don't want to get shot, don't go to a Planned Parenthood clinic. That's pretty much what these anti-abortion leaders told Irin Carmon at MSNBC.... They just think that Planned Parenthood is dismembering living babies for profit and that it's perfectly natural for someone to want to kill them. And if someone happens to be there to support a friend it's unfortunate collateral damage. You can decide for yourself whether it matters that one of our major political parties is completely cowed by these terrorists." ...

... Rebecca Traister of New York: "That Democratic politicians are daring to draw connective lines between Republican language -- [Sen. Bernie] Sanders's 'bitter rhetoric' -- and the violence enacted this weekend represents a bold strategic shift. It could be the beginning of a reversal that has been a long time coming: the association of 'life' -- as in [Sen. Barbara] Boxer's evocation of the 'life-saving health care' provided by Planned Parenthood -- with reproductive-rights activism, and violence as the domain of those who stand between women and access to legal, high-quality health services, including abortion."

Jordain Carney of the Hill: "The Senate on Monday signed off on a new administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) amid a growing Syrian humanitarian crisis. Senators voted 79-7 to confirm Gayle Smith to lead the agency, seven months after President Obama nominated her for the post.... Despite the bipartisan consensus around her nomination, Smith was delayed over partisan fighting on unrelated issues. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ... said earlier this year that he would block all State Department nominations because of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal."

Politico: "House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday officially invited President Barack Obama to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 12."

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "The United States has delivered more than $260 million in non-lethal military equipment to help the government of Ukraine in its fight against a Russian-backed insurgency, but some of the U.S.-supplied gear meant to protect and transport Ukrainian military forces is little more than junk.... It is unclear how much of the material sent to Ukraine is secondhand and antiquated. The U.S. government has also sent new equipment, such as night vision and first-aid kits. Troops there have also received advanced equipment such as counter artillery, counter mortar radars, and communications gear."

Keith Bradsher of the New York Times: "The International Monetary Fund on Monday designated the Chinese renminbi as one of the world's elite currencies, a major milestone that underscores the country's rising financial and economic heft. The decision will help pave the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance, securing China's standing as a global economic power. Just four other currencies -- the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen -- have the I.M.F. designation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post: Economist Thomas Piketty says "Inequality is a major driver of Middle Eastern terrorism, including the Islamic State attacks on Paris earlier this month -- and Western nations have themselves largely to blame for that inequality.... Within [Middle East] monarchies, he continues, a small slice of people controls most of the wealth, while a large -- including women and refugees -- are kept in a state of 'semi-slavery.' Those economic conditions, he says, have become justifications for jihadists, along with the casualties of a series of wars in the region perpetuated by Western powers."

Will Hobson & Steven Rich of the Washington Post: "... at many of America's largest public universities, athletic departments making millions more every year from surging television contracts, luxury suite sales and endorsements continue to take money from tens of thousands of students who will never set foot in stadiums or arenas. Mandatory student fees for college athletic departments are common across the country. Often small line items of a couple hundred dollars on long, complex tuition bills, these fees make millions for athletic departments at larger colleges.... Some smaller schools charge more than $2,000 per year in athletic fees...."

Paresh Dave of the Los Angeles Times: "By doing little more than taking a photo and swiping across their smartphone screen a few times, Snapchat users on Tuesday can raise as much as $3 million to combat AIDS. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plans to donate $3 to the nonprofit group (RED) for each use of a decorative 'World AIDS Day' banner on Snapchat.... The Gates Foundation expects to close donations after 1 million uses of the geofilter. But it will donate an additional $1 million if a music video on YouTube -- starring Scarlett Johansson, Barry Manilow and Jimmy Kimmel -- is shared more than 333,000 times." ...

... CW: Evidently reporter Paresh Dave thinks this is a lovely, generous plan. Pardon me for disagreeing. Here are these billionaires announcing, "If you will jump through a hoop for me, I will give you $3. Also, you have to be rich enough to have a smartphone, & have enough time to figure out how to use Snapchat (a commercial operation) & get that banner across your photo. Here's another idea, Bill & Melinda: write a check for $3MM & send it in. Oh, wait, no publicity for you.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan says her paper should quit presenting as fact claims made by Donald Trump & his campaign. CW: Seems pretty obvious. ...

... CW: The dogged reporting of independent journalist Brandon Smith & the stenographic "reporting" of New York Times reporter Alan Rappeport makes a nice contrast, doesn't it? (And yes, I know the Times often sues to obtain documents under the FOIA.)

Presidential Race

Liz Kruetz of ABC News: "One by one [Monday] night, 13 female Democratic senators took the stage inside the packed ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC to raise money and announce their support for Hillary Clinton. But it was the person missing from the group who stood out most. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive lawmaker from Massachusetts, was the only female Democratic senator who wasn't at the endorsement event and fundraiser for Clinton's presidential campaign.... Clinton's campaign said it invited the 13 female senators who have endorsed Clinton to attend tonight's event, but would not say whether or not they invited Warren. They also would not comment about Warren's absence." ...

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Evoking the investment in American infrastructure by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton on Monday unveiled the most sprawling -- and costliest -- government program of her campaign to date. Mrs. Clinton said her five-year, $275-billion federal infrastructure program was aimed at creating middle-class jobs while investing heavily in improving the country's highways, airports and ports. Bridging the 'infrastructure gap' between the United States and developing nations like China would also eliminate red tape and fuel overall economic growth, she said." ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "The State Department released its largest batch yet of Hillary Clinton's emails on Monday, part of a gradual process to put all of the messages that she claimed were work-related out for the public to see. The department released 7,800 pages of the former secretary of State's emails, including one email that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had originally flagged as potentially containing classified information before deciding it did not contain intelligence agency information. Monday's document dump was the seventh of the process."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders stepped off the campaign trail on Monday to have a procedure to repair a hernia. Mr. Sanders, the independent from Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate, had an outpatient procedure at George Washington University Hospital and was expected return to his Senate duties on Tuesday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker has the first fair report of presidential candidates' reactions to last week's Planned Parenthood murders. "Do the Republican candidates think that nobody is listening to them? Are they even listening to themselves?"

Maggie Haberman & John Corrales of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump met privately on Monday with black pastors and religious figures at Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he was expected to hold preliminary discussions to seek their endorsements." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Trump thinks the fiasco was the fault of BlackLivesMatter. Nick Gass of Politico: "'I think what happened, probably, it gets publicity, unfortunately, as everything I do gets publicity, and probably some of the Black Lives Matter folks called them up and said, "oh, you shouldn't be meeting with Trump because he believes that all lives matter,'" Trump remarked." CW: It seems MSNBC's "Morning Joe" is using Trump for critical commentary on the climate summit. Good work, Joe! ...

... Here are some things Donald Trump thinks are funny: Hernia operations, physical disabilities, calling the President a dumbass. If you don't think hernias & other physical impairments are funny, you're like those media critics who can't take a joke & are just trying to make an excellent humorist "look bad." ...

... Hadas Gold of Politico: "Donald Trump threatened to boycott the next Republican debate on Monday night, unless hosting network CNN donated $5 million to a charity. 'How about I tell CNN, who doesn't treat me properly I'm not gonna do the next debate, okay,' Trump said at a rally in Georgia. 'How about we do this for CNN: I won't do the debate unless they pay me five million dollars, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or goes to vets?'"

Chris Christie Will Not Be Ready on Day One. But Maybe on Day Seven. If Provoked Enough. Katherine Krueger of TPM: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday gave a stronger rebuttal to ... Donald Trump's claims that Muslims Americans were cheering the attacks on 9/11, saying 'that didn't happen.'...The clarification comes a week after the governor said he didn't 'recall' Muslims cheering, in part because he was concerned about family and friends who were close to the attacks.... Christie's remarks came the same day Trump hit the governor on Twitter for his record of running the 'deeply troubled' state."

Ted & Marco Accuse Each Other of Once Doing Their Jobs. Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: It now appears that we are entering a period of the campaign in which the two Republican senators who may have the best shot at unseating the front-runner, Donald Trump, and winning their party's nomination are veering into a potential murder-suicide pact over who was more complicit in actually trying to get something accomplished in Washington."

Dana Milbank: "Just days before the shooting [in Colorado Springs], [Ted] Cruz trumpeted an endorsement from an antiabortion activist who once called killing an abortion doctor a 'justifiable defensive action' and who leads a group, Operation Rescue, where a colleague did prison time for a conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic. The activist whose endorsement Cruz celebrated, Troy Newman, is also on the board of the Center for Medical Progress, which made the surreptitious Planned Parenthood videos that prompted Cruz and many other conservatives to accuse the organization of selling 'baby parts' -- the phrase Dear allegedly used." Cruz has suggested that, according to media reports, The (alleged) shooter Robert Dear might be a "transgendered leftist activist." ...

... Here's the Rachel Maddow segment which Victoria D. links in the Comments below. The portion concerning Ted Cruz begins at about 13 min. in. The whole segment is worth watch:

Last I checked we don't have a rubber shortage in America. When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom, you put .50 cents in and voila! So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them, but it's an utterly made-up nonsense issue. -- Ted Cruz, outlining his reproductive rights program

Hillary Clinton embraces abortion on demand in all circumstances up until the moment of birth. Partial-birth abortion with taxpayer funding, with no notification for parents in any circumstances -- 91% of Americans say that's nuts. -- Ted Cruz, outlining Clinton's reproductive rights program

CW Translation: Contraceptive choices should be left to the man & I can lie wildly about Clinton's position on abortion. P.S. Thanks, CNN, for not bothering to fact-check Ted's remarks.

McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "Jeb and his team recognized the threat posed by Rubio nearly a year ago, and took aggressive action to knock him out of 2016 contention -- with some in Bush's circle trying to smear the senator by allegedly circulating lurid, unsubstantiated rumors of infidelity.... Ever since he began to make a name for himself in Tallahassee, Rubio had been trailed by a persistent series of unsubstantiated rumors about his sex life. Jilted mistresses, sordid affairs, secret love children.... No one in the staid, starchy D.C. press corps was willing to explicitly lay out the rumors dogging Rubio -- but they gestured toward them all the time...." Adapted from a segment of a book by Coppins. CW: Let's hope the sleaziest part of the story is not that Jeb!'s people do sleazy oppo research. What this election cycle is missing is sex. ...

... Andrew Prokop of Vox: "Since there's no evidence that these rumors about Rubio have any truth to them, the mainstream press has tended not to mention them in print. But a whisper campaign like this could well lead GOP elites to be hesitant to fall behind Rubio for fear of a looming scandal."

Andy Borowitz: "Calling criticism of her misrepresentations about Planned Parenthood 'typical left-wing tactics,' ... Carly Fiorina said, on Sunday, 'I will not be bullied into telling the truth.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Benjamin Weiser & Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "Sheldon Silver, who held a seemingly intractable grip on power for decades as one of the most feared politicians in New York State, was found guilty on Monday of federal corruption charges, ending a trial that was the capstone of the government's efforts to expose the seamy culture of influence-peddling in Albany. Mr. Silver, 71, a Manhattan Democrat, was convicted on all seven counts against him. The charges of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering stemmed from schemes by which he obtained nearly $4 million in exchange for using his position to help benefit a cancer researcher and two real estate developers.... As a result of the conviction, he must automatically forfeit the Assembly seat to which he was first elected nearly 40 years ago." ...

... David Klepper & Larry Neumeister of the AP: "The conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has shaken New York politics down to the granite foundations of the state Capitol, provoking fresh calls to overhaul a system that has stubbornly clung to its long history of corruption."

Brian Lyman of the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser: "Alabama would pay just over $51,000 in legal fees to settle a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood Southeast over Gov. Robert Bentley's attempt to cancel the organization's Medicaid contract, under an agreement filed in federal court Monday morning.... The draft agreement, which still needs approval from U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, says that Medicaid restored PPSE's contract after Thompson ruled against Bentley last month."

Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Officials have filed charges today against four men accused of shooting into a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis a week ago. Protests have been ongoing outside the precinct building since police shot Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, just a few hundred yards down the road on 15 November. He died in hospital a day later." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post: "Allen 'Lance' Scarsella, the man charged with shooting five people at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Minneapolis last week," has been identified as an adherent to the "sovereign citizens" philosophy, "a strange subculture united by little more than anti-government ideology and a sense of desperation.... According to the criminal complaint, Scarsella, who is white, spoke derogatorily about African Americans and stored racist images on his cellphone."

This is my only warning. At 10 a.m. on Monday mourning (sic) I am going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with a M-4 Carbine and 2 Desert Eagles all fully loaded. I will execute aproximately (sic) 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time (sic) Mcdonald (sic) was killed. I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same. -- Jabari Dean, online posting (allegedly) ...

... Michael Pearson & Dana Ford of CNN: "A 21-year-old man was arrested Monday, accused of threatening to kill students and staff at the University of Chicago in an apparent attempt to avenge the death of Laquan McDonald, authorities said. Jabari Dean, 21 was arrested without incident. He is expected to appear in court later in the day."

Lately There Seem to be Quite a Number of Cop Stories Like The One. ...

... Denver Post, Nov. 9: "Commerce City[, Colorado] police have issued a Blue Alert as they search for the man who shot an officer in the torso Sunday.... The officer's ballistic vest stopped the bullet, and he is being treated for injuries that are not life-threatening." ...

... Denver Post, Nov. 30: "A Commerce City police officer was formally charged Monday with falsely accusing a non-existent motorist of shooting him."

Way Beyond

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "The Chinese military scaled back its cybertheft of American commercial secrets in the wake of Justice Department indictments of five officers, and the surprising drawdown shows that the law enforcement action had a more significant impact than is commonly assumed, current and former U.S. officials said.

News Lede

Washington Post: "A former wife of the Islamic State's leader was released Tuesday after more than year in custody in Lebanon as part of a prisoner swap involving Lebanese security forces held captive by militants in Syria. Lebanese authorities handed over Saja al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi who was briefly married to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the presumed head of the Islamic State. Along with Dulaimi was a group of mostly Islamist detainees, according to officials in Lebanon's military."