The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

New York Times: "Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was called the matriarch of the voting rights movement — and whose photograph, showing her beaten, gassed and left for dead in the epochal civil rights march known as Bloody Sunday, appeared in newspapers and magazines round the world in 1965 — died on Wednesday in Montgomery, Ala. She was 104." ...

     ... President Obama's statement is here.

New York Times: "Frank E. Petersen Jr., who suffered bruising racial indignities as a military enlistee in the 1950s and was even arrested at an officers’ club on suspicion of impersonating a lieutenant, but who endured to become the first black aviator and the first black general in the Marine Corps, died on Tuesday at his home in Stevensville, Md., near Annapolis. He was 83."

New York Times: "... Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. on Wednesday issued 12 life sentences in prison to James E. Holmes, who fatally shot 12 people in a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora three years ago and wounded 70 others. The judge also imposed 3,318 years in prison on Mr. Holmes for his nonlethal crimes, including attempted murder."

CBS News: "A gunman killed a reporter and videographer for a CBS affiliate in Virginia in a shooting that was broadcast live Wednesday morning. Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, a reporter and cameraman respectively for CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ-TV, died in the shooting, the station's general manager, Jeff Marks, said during a live broadcast later in the morning." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, of Roanoke — who also goes by the name Bryce Williams -- ... the suspect in the fatal shooting of two television journalists..., died Wednesday afternoon at a Washington area hospital after reportedly shooting himself during a chase on a highway west of the city.... Flanagan was a former employee of the station and had worked with the victims. He was fired in 2013, the station’s manager said.... Flanagan is believed to have posted on social media videos showing him shooting the two television reporters.... A man who claimed to be the gunman sent ABC News a 23-page letter on Wednesday morning saying he was motivated by the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church last month...." ...

     ... The New York Times has more on this maniac, who "used the tools of social media to ensure that his crime was broadcast live, recorded from multiple angles and posted online."

Public Service Announcement

New York Times [Aug. 20]: "As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes."

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

White House Live Video
August 27

4:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks in New Orleans

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Sunday Morning Come-Down. Politico: "Al Sharpton is leaving MSNBC's weekday dayside lineup, and moving to Sunday mornings. Sharpton's last weekday 'PoliticsNation' will be Sept. 4. He moves to Sundays a month later on Oct. 4, according to a memo sent to MSNBC staff by the channel's president Phil Griffin Wednesday evening."

Washington Post: "Stephen Hawking believes he’s solved a huge mystery about black holes."

Washington Post: "The case for canonizing [Sister Blandina Segale,] the 19th century Italian-born nun, whose run-in with Old West outlaw Billy the Kid is the stuff of legend, was presented at a ceremonial 'first inquiry' in Albuquerque on Tuesday. If approved, her name will be sent to the Vatican, where it will head down the long (and somewhat secretive) path toward sainthood."

New York Times: Can't sidewalk scaffolding be attractive? Yes, it can.

Terror in Toledo! ABC News: "A man caught on video the moment a public art installation in Toledo, Ohio -- a giant, 250-pound red ball -- decided to run away and start rolling down streets lined with parked cars. Part of a Toledo Museum of Art exhibit, the RedBall Project had been wedged between Roulet Jewelers and Ice Restaurant in downtown Toledo when a thunderstorm and strong winds this past Wednesday evening knocked the ball loose and caused it to start rolling away, according to Kelly Garrow, the museum's director of communications."

... AP: "America’s two foremost Democratic families, the Obamas and the Clintons, mingled on Saturday[,August 15,] as politics mixed with summer repose on swanky Martha’s Vineyard."

Washington Post: "Offering such perks as 'free' bags and 'free' airline tickets, [some credit] cards are big on promises, but they often fall short on the delivery. And although these financial instruments are legal, experts say they are not always worthwhile."

Kori Schulman of the White House: "Today (August 14), the White House joined Spotify — and our inaugural playlist was hand-picked by none other than President Obama. When asked to pick a few of his favorite songs for the summer, the President got serious. He grabbed a pen and paper and drafted up not one, but two separate summer playlists: One for the daytime, and one for the evening." ...

... CW: If you're subscribed to Spotify, you can play the President's list from the linked story (at "Today".)

Washington Post: "Google, one of the best-known brands on the planet, on Monday[, August 10,] radically restructured itself under the corporate name Alphabet, an almost unprecedented shift that reflects the company’s far-reaching ambitions and the vast Web it helped evolve. The move represents Google’s biggest push yet to ... turn the company into a multifaceted General Electric for the digital age."

Bureaucracies Move in Mysterious Ways. New York Post: "The city [of New York] moved to fire an employee for missing about 18 months of work, even though he had the best excuse of all time — he was dead. Bureaucrats at the Human Resources Administration filed charges against Medicaid-eligibility specialist Geoffrey Toliver accusing him of going AWOL — even though his death by cancer was reported in an online obituary.... 'It is my understanding that . . . his employer was fully aware that he was not able to come back to work,' Toliver’s brother Anthony told The Post. 'It is my understanding that my brother’s family spoke directly to his supervisor during his long hospitalization and informed them of his death.'” ...

... CW: Doesn't surprise me at all. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother sent me a gift which came directly from the catalog company from which she had bought it. My father had died a few years earlier, but my mother was still getting these catalogs in his name. So my father's name, not hers, appeared on the package as the giftor. He had never lived in New York City. He was not the addressee on the package. The package didn't come from New York City. And my father was dead. But never mind all that. A few months after I received the gift, I got a letter at my New York home addressed to my father. It was a notification from the city ordering my father to show up for jury duty. Or else.

 

Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "For years and years, plenty of websites (Mediaite included) have written about the many times Jon Stewart has 'destroyed,' 'annihilated,' or 'eviscerated' anything from terrorism to race relations to Fox News. Well..., on his penultimate night, Stewart discovered that he didn’t actually do any of that":

Exit Laughing. John Koblin of the New York Times: "Since [Jon] Stewart started hosting 'The Daily Show' 16 years ago, the country’s trust in both the news media and the government has plummeted. Mr. Stewart’s brand of fake news thrived in that vacuum, and turned him into one of the nation’s most bracing cultural, political and media critics. With his over-the-top presentation of the news — his arms swinging wildly, his eyes bulging with outrage, followed by a shake of the head and a knowing smile — Mr. Stewart attracted a generation of viewers ready to embrace an outlier whose exaggerations, in their view, carried more truth than conventional newscasts." ...

...Stewart hasn't done any interviews prior to ending his run on the "Daily Show," but he did sit down with "Daily Show" producers for an "exit interview" on Episode 20 of the "Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart." You can listen to it here.

Los Angeles Times: "Donald Sterling filed for divorce Wednesday[, August 5] in Los Angeles Superior Court, almost a year after a contentious legal fight with his wife, Shelly, led to the sale of the Clippers.... However, the court later rejected Wednesday’s filing because it was incomplete, according to a spokeswoman. The matter is expected to be re-filed."

New York Times: "Jason Fine, the editor of Men’s Journal, will take over as the managing editor of Rolling Stone as part of what the magazine’s publisher, Jann S. Wenner, described as a 'shake-up.'”

"Where Are My Pancakes?"

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

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Wednesday
Apr032013

The Commentariat -- April 4, 2013

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 [23] 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."

Local News

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.

News Ledes

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 Tom Clements 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.

Tuesday
Apr022013

The Commentariat -- April 3, 2013

** New York Times Editors: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets it wrong on the political climate at the time the Court decided Roe v. Wade. Her misunderstanding could negatively affect how she helps decide the gay marriage cases before the Court now. ...

... AND, as Maureen Dowd points out, it's the Supremes who are behind the times now, not the public. So Ginsburg is doubly wrong.

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: President "Obama was traveling to the Denver suburbs Wednesday, stepping up his call for universal background checks for gun buyers as well as his demands for Congress to at least vote on an assault weapons ban and limits on large-capacity ammunition magazines." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "With Senate Democrats still struggling to line up support, the success or failure of President Obama's four-month campaign to overhaul gun laws will most likely revolve around a single provision: a proposal to expand federal background checks for gun purchases.... Even though around 90 percent of those polled in public surveys support background checks, the fight for it and the rest of the first major piece of gun control legislation since 1993 faces a difficult test in the coming weeks." ...

... Peter Finn of the Washington Post: "A 225-page study commissioned by the National Rifle Association has endorsed and amplified the gun rights group's immediate response to the mass killing in Newtown, Conn.: that all schools in the United States should have police or armed staff members trained to confront a shooter. Although ostensibly independent of the NRA, the examination of school safety issues, released Tuesday, provides the organization with an alternative narrative to the various gun control measures on Capitol Hill that it is opposing or seeking to dilute." CW: a study! I'll bet it's really scientific & all. ...

... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas who led the task force, unveiled the report at a packed news conference with unusually heavy security, including a bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever. A dozen officers in plain clothes and uniforms stood watch as he spoke; one warned photographers to 'remain stationary' during the event." ...

... ** Dana Milbank of the Washington Post: "In a spectacle that officials at the National Press Club said they had never seen before, the NRA gunmen directed some photographers not to take pictures, ordered reporters out of the lobby when NRA officials passed and inspected reporters' briefcases before granting them access to the news conference. The antics gave new meaning to the notion of disarming your critics." If the NRA prevails, "American schoolchildren may grow accustomed to the sort of scene Hutchinson caused Tuesday, protected by more armed guards than a Third World dictator." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Well, the NRA has managed to come up with its 'Guns For Everybody School Safety Plan' and it contains pretty much what you'd expect it to contain, including whole new markets and increased profits for the guns-and-ammo manufacturers that represent the NRA's primary constituency.


Zachary Goldfarb
of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place. President Obama's economic advisers and outside experts say the nation's much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession."

Jonathan Bernstein, in the Washington Post: "Media Matters has noticed something important: Climate was almost completely absent on the national broadcast network news last year. Only twelve stories, combined, on the CBS, ABC, and NBC news shows, were devoted to the topic -- which certainly has a legitimate claim as the single most important policy problem facing the United States right now." Bernstein says to get climate change in the news, politicians need to talk about it more often. ...

... Media Matters has a "Take Action" petition here. ...

... Matthew Wald of the New York Times: "The Environmental Protection Agency's latest proposed tightening of limits on sulfur in gasoline, and its previous rules, will most likely have the perverse consequence of retarding the development of cars running on batteries, advanced biofuels or hydrogen -- all promising but expensive technologies that have not become mass-market products. At the least, domestically produced gasoline and rapid advances in technology to make the internal combustion engine more efficient are likely to help the conventional automobile survive against competition from vehicles powered by electricity, natural gas and other cleaner alternatives." CW: this is a "perverse consequence" we're lucky to have.

Dion Nissenbaum of the Wall Street Journal: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to voluntarily give up part of his $200,000 annual salary in solidarity with about 700,000 of his civilian workers facing mandatory furloughs this summer ... even though his paycheck is immune from the mandatory cuts."

Words Matter. Paul Colford of the AP: "The AP Stylebook today is making some changes in how we describe people living in a country illegally. Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains...: 'The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term "illegal immigrant" or the use of "illegal" to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that "illegal" should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.'" CW: to Rep. Don Young's (R-Alaska) dismay, the AP Stylebook has also dropped "wetback" from its list of acceptable descriptors. ...

 ... Margaret Sullivan of the New York Times: "The Times, for the past couple of months, has also been considering changes to its stylebook entry on this term and will probably announce them to staff members this week....From what I can gather, The Times's changes will not be nearly as sweeping as The A.P.’s." CW: For instance, the Times will continue to permit the use of terms like "beaner," where appropriate. ...

Washington Post Editors: Sen. Marco Slo-Mo "Rubio [R-Fla.] appears paralyzed -- or to be trying to have it both ways. At first he led the charge, trying to brand an overhaul of the immigration system as his signature achievement. Then, when progress was made last weekend, he backed away, warning that talk of a breakthrough was premature.... [But] it's one or the other; Mr. Rubio needs to decide."

... SO, expect reactions like this one from the person who writes the Right Scoop: "I refuse to call illegals by any other name, no matter how insensitive people are going to claim it is. Because that is next, papers and news orgs will fall in line and minorities here illegally will begin claiming discrimination in a louder voice and pretty soon saying 'illegal' when referring to someone will be akin to hate-speech." CW: mind you, there's not an iota of hate in her/his big heart. ...

... Weasel Zippers calls the change a "major victory for the lib PC enforcers." ...

... AND Allahpundit at Hot Air sees an insidious liberal plot: "The timing here suggests that this is the AP's dumb little way of cheerleading for immigration reform in Congress...."

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog: "Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois became the second GOP Senator to endorse gay marriage today...." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Tuesday he now supports same-sex marriage, now leaving just seven Senate Democrats who have not publicly voiced support for allowing gays to marry. 'As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public's opinion on gay marriage -- and so has mine,' Carper said in a post to his Facebook page." ...

... Rep. John Carney, also a Delaware Democrat and the only Delaware representative in the House, announced his support for same-sex marriage today, too. ...

... Josh Israel of Think Progress notes that "With Vice President Joe Biden the tie-breaker, this marks the first time that a majority in the U.S. Senate has endorsed same-sex marriage." CW: yet another reason the filibuster matters. ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs provides some examples of how wingers are responding to the senators' announcements. I won't reproduce any of the remarks here.

Motoko Rich of the New York Times: "... the Atlanta school cheating scandal, the largest in recent history..., is fueling critics who say that standardized testing as a way to measure student achievement should be scaled back."

Jim Williams of the Pew Public Policy Center: "On our national poll this week we took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many of these theories are well known to the public, others perhaps to just the darker corners of the internet. Here's what we found: 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at 41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax." CW: this one is scary, but the rest of the results are more fun.

Congressional Races

Steve Holland of Reuters: "President Barack Obama will launch a fund-raising drive for the 2014 U.S. mid-term elections on Wednesday with addresses to deep-pocketed donors in California, hoping the Democratic Party can defy the odds and gain congressional seats in the polls."

Bruce Smith of the AP: Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford won the Republican primary race to fill a vacant Congressional seat in South Carolina. Sanford "faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert, in a May 7 special election." ...

... Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal: Colbert Busch could beat Sanford. ...

... Even Politico is wary of Sanford's chances. Alex Isenstadt: "Fellow GOP pols don't like him. Neither do female voters. His campaign is largely an exercise in seeking forgiveness for his transgressions four years ago -- a defensive crouch that makes it tricky to take the fight to Colbert Busch...."

Local News

Michael Wilson & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: according to a criminal complaint which federal prosecutors unsealed Tuesday, influential state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat turned Republican, & Queens City Councilman Daniel Halloran, a Republican, conspired with others to buy Smith the Republican nomination for mayor of New York City. "Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan whose office is prosecuting the case, said the arrests demonstrated 'that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government.'" ...

... Jim Dwyer of the Times has more. ...

... Thomas Kaplan of the Times: "The charges against Mr. Smith were particularly disruptive [to state government] because he was part of an unusual and fragile two-party coalition controlling the Senate and because he was the only nonwhite member of that coalition, criticized for a lack of diversity."

Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: "On his radio show last night, Mark Levin had on newfound conservative 'hero' Dr. Ben Carson to discuss all the lashings he's received from the 'left-wing media' over his views on gay marriage and religion. While discussing his being a black conservative, Carson told Levin that, in his experience, white liberals are the 'most racist people there are. They need to shut me up, they need to delegitimize me,' Carson told the radio host while explaining why he believes the media has [sic.] scorned him for lumping homosexuality in with unsavory sexual acts like bestiality and pedophilia." CW: right you are. Because liberals would not have even noticed if a white person had made the bigoted remarks Carson did. ...

... Fer instance, Tim Rohan of the New York Times: "In a video shown Tuesday on ESPN, the Rutgers men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice, is seen yelling homophobic slurs at his players, kicking them, grabbing them and shoving them. He also throws basketballs at their legs, their heads and their bodies from point-blank range -- as if he were playing dodge ball." Rutgers fired the person who shot the video & reported it to higher-ups. CW: Now, Coach Rice looks like a white guy to me, so I'm guessing white liberals will see those homophobic slurs & all as A-okay, especially because it appears most of the players Rice abused were black....

... CW: Here's the portion of the video ESPN aired. Rutgers' athletic director Tim Pernetti gave Rice only a three-game suspension & $50K fine for repeated criminal assault & battery on the players. As far as I can tell, it was Pernetti who fired videographer Eric Murdock, who is black. Rice should be in jail, & both he & Pernetti -- an accessory after the fact -- should be banned from working in school sports programs:

... Update: Tom Canavan of the AP: "Now that the video has gone viral, many -- including the governor of New Jersey -- are wondering why Rutgers let Rice keep his job at all. Athletic director Tim Pernetti said Tuesday that the school was reconsidering its decision to retain the fiery 44-year-old coach. The videotape, broadcast Tuesday on ESPN, prompted scores of outraged social media comments as well as sharp criticism from Gov. Chris Christie and Miami Heat star LeBron James. The head of the New Jersey Assembly called for Rice to be fired." ...

... Steve Politi of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "Mike Rice has to go. That's the easy part. If Pernetti doesn't reach that decision soon, and doesn't lead the healing process for his broken basketball program, he'll be the next one out the door."

The Gohmert Daily News

Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch: "During the course of [a conference call with a notorious anti-gay activist, Rep. Louis] Gohmert [RTP-Texas] was asked about his opposition to any gun control legislation, which he explained by bizarrely linking the topic to gay marriage and bestiality.... Earlier in the discussion, Gohmert called on Christians to take a more active role in politics ... because otherwise their churches are going to be forced to hire cross-dressing Satan-worshipers."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Jane Henson, the widow of and original collaborator with Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, died on Tuesday at her home in Greenwich, Conn. She was 78."

New York Times: "Milo O'Shea, an Irish character actor -- recognizable by his black bushy eyebrows, tumble of white hair and impish smile -- whose films included 'Ulysses,' 'Barbarella' and 'The Verdict,' died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 86."

New York Times: "The United States announced Wednesday that it was speeding the deployment of an advanced missile defense system to Guam in the next few weeks, two years ahead of schedule in what the Pentagon said was 'a precautionary move' to protect American naval and air forces from the threat of a North Korean missile attack."

New York Times: "In one of the deadliest insurgent attacks in the decade-long war in Afghanistan, nine Taliban fighters dressed as Afghan soldiers stormed a government compound in the western part of the country on Wednesday morning, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 100 in a hostage standoff."

AP: "A sheriff known for cracking down on the drug trade in southern West Virginia's coalfields was fatally shot Wednesday in the spot where he usually parked his car for lunch, a state official said, and a suspect was in custody."

Reuters: "African heads of state on Wednesday refused to recognize rebel leader Michel Djotodia's self-appointment as president of Central African Republic, calling instead for the creation of a new transitional body to guide the country to elections."

Washington Post: "The United States and Jordan have stepped up training of Syrian opposition forces that may be used to establish a buffer zone along Syria's southern border, according to U.S. and Jordanian officials. Training begun last year has been expanded and accelerated after rebel gains in the south, including capture of a stretch of the Jordanian-Syrian border near the Golan Heights, two military outposts and the country's main border crossing with Jordan."

Reuters: "A Syrian jet flew 20 km (12 miles) into Lebanon and fired a missile into a field on the outskirts of the border town of Arsal on Wednesday but caused no casualties, witnesses said. Lebanon has maintained a policy of 'dissociation' from Syria's two-year-old conflict. But many Lebanese officials feel their country is increasingly at risk of being dragged into the civil war, which the United Nations says has killed 70,000 people."

Washington Post: "North Korea on Wednesday banned South Korean workers from entering a joint industrial complex near the demilitarized zone, officials in Seoul said, jeopardizing a project that provides the only daily contact between the two Koreas amid an escalating threat of conflict on the peninsula."

Reuters: "Uganda has suspended the hunt for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army fighters, blaming hostility towards foreign troops by Central African Republic rebels who seized power last month. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He and his commanders are accused of abducting thousands of children to use as fighters in a rebel army that earned a reputation for chopping off limbs as a form of discipline." ...

... Update: "The United States on Wednesday offered a reward of up to $5 million each for fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and some of his top aides in the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group."

ABC News: "The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist prison gang, has become one of the top focuses of authorities investigating the murders of two Texas prosecutors, sources told ABC News. Prosecutors from Kaufman County,Texas, had helped imprison dozens of Aryan Brotherhood of Texas members late last year...."

Monday
Apr012013

The Commentariat -- April 2, 2013

John Markoff & James Gorman of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday will announce a broad new research initiative, starting with $100 million in 2014, to invent and refine new technologies to understand the human brain."

Chris Hayes launches his MSNBC 8 pm show with a look at the Keystone XL pipeline:

... Charles Pierce: "This is the way we do things in America these days. Everything's working fine, until the catastrophe, which nobody could have foreseen, because everything's working just fine since the previous catastrophe. The pelicans must think we're all crazy."

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, the Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees -- a major selling point for the health care legislation. The law calls for a new insurance marketplace specifically for small businesses, starting next year. But in most states, employers will not be able to get what Congress intended: the option to provide workers with a choice of health plans. They will instead be limited to a single plan." ...

Richard Kirsch of the Roosevelt Institute, in Salon: "Big flaws in the [Affordable Care Act] will mean that many low-wage workers will be forced to choose between paying huge chunks of their income on premiums or on a penalty that leaves them with no coverage at all.... The news is much worse for family coverage." ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress explains why it's bad news for women that the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear Hobby Lobby's case against the Obama administration's requirement that health insurance include contraceptive coverage. ...

... Ed Kilgore: the ACA has myriad problems. "Supporters of Obamacare need to get out of the habit of thinking that Obamacare's a done deal that the president's re-election entrenched beyond serious challenge." ...

... ObamaCare to Turn Violent Criminals Out on the Streets. Well, okay, no, that's just something Ted Cruz said. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "States that expand their Medicaid programs under a provision in the Affordable Care Act will be forced to open their prison doors and allow violent criminals to roam the streets, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed during a radio interview on Monday, insisting that the cost of providing health care to lower-income residents would reduce state funding for priorities like incarceration or education." CW: For Ted Cruz, April Fools' Day never ends.

Jonathan Chait of New York: "I'm an advocate of the theory, first put forward a decade ago by Ruy Teixeira and John Judis, that the electorate is forming a natural Democratic majority.... The picture looks grim for the GOP." CW: let's hope Chait is right.

Andrew Rosenthal: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's relationship with Jonnie Williams, the head of Star Scientific, "is a clear and direct example of the improper use of government money, facilities and power for the personal enrichment of friends. If the speech and the party were not a quid pro quo for the help with the wedding feast, it's hard to imagine what a quid pro quo is. Mr. Williams, it goes without saying, is also a big campaign contributor to Mr. McDonnell."

What's the Matter with Marco? Joan Walsh: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) "wants the stature bump that would come with being key to hammering out a[n immigration reform] deal, but he can't let it come about too quickly, lest he seem to have capitulated to [Sen. Chuck] Schumer [D-N.Y.].... For now, anyway, he's putting the Tea Party over Latinos." ...

... CW: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a weasly waffler who is fond of dancing with Democrats till he brushes them off, & he may do so again. But he is running for re-election in Red State Heaven & he still has a lot more guts than Sen. Marco Slo-Mo Rubio (R-Fla.) on immigration reform -- an issue where even red-state voters would probably cut Marco some slack on accounta his heritage. A person who is demonstrably weaker-willed than Lindsey Graham just might not be of presidential timbre, Marco.

Mark Follman of Mother Jones: "Ever since the massacres in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, it's been repeated like some surreal requiem: The reason mass gun violence keeps happening is because the United States is full of places that ban guns.... Not only is there zero evidence to support [this theory], our in-depth investigation of America's mass shootings indicates they are just plain wrong.... [Also,] if more guns in more places is a solution to the bloodshed, then why did we just witness the worst year for mass shootings in recent history?" ...

... Jon Lender & Jenny Wilson of the Hartford Courant: "With the nation watching, Newtown parents still grieving and gun owners objecting, legislative leaders Monday said they had met the solemn challenge presented by the Sandy Hook school massacre with a bipartisan agreement for the nation's strongest gun control bill. Easy passage of the legislative response to the Dec. 14 killings is expected in House and Senate votes scheduled for Wednesday, leaders of both the Democratic majority and Republican minority said after completing weeks of negotiations on the bill."

David Voreacos of Bloomberg: "Salomon Melgen, the Florida political donor at the center of a criminal probe, said he and Senator Robert Menendez are 'like brothers' who spoke weekly, yet his companies never benefited and he broke no laws." CW: well, okay then, totally believable; that settles that.

Colby Itkowitz of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Morning Call: "Sen. Bob Casey told The Morning Call on Monday he now supports same-sex marriage. In an interview, the Pennsylvania Democrat said he had decided over time that the Defense of Marriage Act -- the federal law that defines marriage as one man and one woman -- should be repealed, and determined that such a belief could not be separate from the overall question of gay marriage." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... Dan Amira of New York chronicles Bill O'Reilly's evolution on gay marriage. ...

... Peter Beinert of Newsweek: "O'Reilly is a conservative populist, which is to say, he only champions those conservative viewpoints that he believes enjoy mass appeal." Beinert notes several hot-button issues where O'Reilly has "evolved" along with popular opinion. "If I were a GOP presidential aspirant, I'd watch O'Reilly closely over the next few years, because the Republican candidate who best articulates his brand of conservatism will be the candidate best able to regain the White House in 2016." Oh, you know who hasn't evolved? Why -- serial-husband Rush Limbaugh. ...

... In a letter to the New York Times, law professor & former Reagan solicitor general Charles Fried argues that President Obama should have defended DOMA or hired an outside advocate to do it. This would have eliminated the "standing" question. CW: he has a point.

Obama 2.0. Emily Heil of the Washington Post: "Caroline Kennedy is heading to Tokyo to be the U.S. ambassador." Jason Horowitz of the Post has more.

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones: "The Internal Revenue Service is taking a closer look at the finances of some 1,300 nonprofit organizations, including unions, trade associations, and the type of dark-money groups that controversially spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2012 elections. That includes Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the pro-Obama outfit Priorities USA, all of which keep their donors secret." ...

... Peter Overby of NPR has more.

Andy Revkin of the New York Times: "After nearly half a century of research in planetary and climate science for NASA, James E. Hansen is retiring on Wednesday to pursue his passion for climate activism without the hindrances that come with government employment."

Where's the Beef Stroganoff? Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times public editor, agrees with critics of the obituary of rocket scientist Yvonne Brill: "The emphasis on her domesticity -- and, more important, the obituary's overall framing as a story about gender -- had the effect of undervaluing what really landed Mrs. Brill on the Times obituaries page: her groundbreaking scientific work." The obit department defended the writing. CW: I'll have to admit I am so accustomed to this sexist style of writing -- especially in the Times -- that when I read & linked the obit, I just skipped right over the beef stroganoff & good mother folderol & got to the science stuff. Whatever you think of the NYT, it is still a newspaper largely written by, for and about men. ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker is brutal. P.S. Making beef stroganoff is not rocket science. "It is one notch above macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper, and has much in common with both." ...

... Megan Garber of the Atlantic has a well-nuanced critique: "An obituary that can't easily marry the professional and the personal is symptomatic of a society that has trouble marrying them, too." Also, she introduces what should become a new idiom: "getting stroganoffed."

Congressional Race

Harriet McLeod of the Reuters: "Voters in South Carolina's coastal first congressional district will choose on Tuesday between former Governor Mark Sanford and former Charleston County Council member Curtis Bostic as the Republican nominee for the open seat."

Local News

GOP Outreach, Ctd. Morgan Whitaker of NBC News: "Arkansas Republicans have officially overridden Democratic Governor Mike Beebe's veto of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. The Arkansas House voted 52-45 to override the veto Monday. Last week, the GOP-led Senate voted 21-12 to override it.... Only a simple majority is needed in each chamber in order to override a veto."

GOP Outreach, Ctd. AND Most Original Argument against Gay Marriage Yet. Tom Kludt of TPM: "Sue Everhart, chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party, told the Marietta Daily Journal ... that once gay nuptials are legally permitted, there will be nothing to stop a straight person from exploiting the system in order to claim marital benefits." ...

... Steve Benen: "If the Georgia GOP chair's argument seems vaguely familiar, there's a reason for that: it was the basis for a 2007 movie called 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.' ... If this is an argument against same-sex marriage, isn't it also an argument against opposite-sex marriage? After all, what's to stop a man and a woman who are friends from pulling the same scam? ... If avoiding fraud is paramount, does the chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party want to prohibit all marriages?"

Jack Norman of the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel op-ed: "... it's totally appropriate to blame the governor's policies for the slumbering condition of Wisconsin's economy.... Wisconsin slump[ed] to 44th among the states in private-sector job growth....[ An] accompanying chart shows the extraordinary picture that Wisconsin's job slump - relative to the national economy - coincides almost exactly with [Gov. Scott] Walker's time in office and deepened just when his policies went into effect.... My colleagues and I ... made exactly that prediction two years ago.... Wisconsin, unfortunately, has become a case study in the failure of austerity economics at the state level." ...

... Mike Ivey of the Madison Capital Times has more.

Just When You Think State Legislators Can't Come up with Any Worse Ideas ... Tom Humphrey of the Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel: "Legislation to cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school has cleared committees of both the [Tennessee] House and Senate after being revised to give the parents several ways to avoid the reductions." ...

Okay, More Worser Ideas. Kate Brumback of the AP: "Backers of a newly adopted ordinance requiring gun ownership in a small north Georgia town acknowledge they were largely seeking to make a point about gun rights. The ordinance in the city of Nelson -- population 1,300 -- was approved Monday night and goes into effect in 10 days. However, it contains no penalties and exempts anyone who objects, convicted felons and those with certain mental and physical disabilities."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to create the first treaty regulating the international arms trade, a landmark decision that imposes new constraints on the sale of conventional arms to governments and armed groups that commit war crimes, genocide and other mass atrocities. The vote was hailed by arms-control advocates and scores of governments, including the United States...."

New York Times: "Confusion, anger and charges of racism played out at the Fulton County Jail [in Atlanta, Georgia] on Tuesday as the players on both sides of the nation's largest school-cheating scandal began the arduous process of jailing 35 educators."

AP: "North Korea said Tuesday it will escalate production of nuclear weapons material, including restarting a long-shuttered plutonium reactor, in what outsiders see as Pyongyang's latest attempt to extract U.S. concessions by raising fears of war."

AP: "Because of a paperwork error, the suspect in last month's killing of Colorado's corrections chief was freed from prison in January -- four years earlier than authorities intended. Judicial officials acknowledged Monday that Evan Spencer Ebel's previous felony conviction had been inaccurately recorded and his release was a mistake."

Reuters: "The euro zone jobless rate was stable at 12.0 percent in February, the European Union statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday, which could add pressure for an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank."

Sunday
Mar312013

The Commentariat -- April 1, 2013

As contributor MAG pointed out yesterday, Paul Krugman was not impressed with what he called David Stockman's "rant": "It's cranky old man stuff, the kind of thing you get from people who read Investors Business Daily, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and maybe, if they're unusually teched up, get investment advice from Zero Hedge." ...

... In a later post, Krugman adds, "As Mark Thoma points out, the verdict among everyone who knows anything is that Stockman’s piece, mysteriously given star treatment, was pathetic and embarrassing.... This is not a bipartisan problem of runaway deficits! Pre-1980, no problem at all; after 1980, deficits were very much a monopartisan issue until the financial crisis, which was a time when running deficits was appropriate. Anyone who says differently hasn't done his homework." ...

... Thoma gives Stockman 'the wingnut of the day award. ...

... Jared Bernstein: "... like most crazed rants, it's hard to pick out the argument, but I think it's this: for almost a century, economic policy makers have ... um ... made policy, and that's led to cheap money, high indebtedness, crony capitalism, and econo-moral-turpitude.... It's like hearing a crazy person on a street corner ranting against whatever: they invariably stumble on some profound and piercing insights, but it's mostly nonsense, and instinctually, we keep our heads down and move on." ...

... ** Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider: "The piece can truly be characterized as Hard Money Buzzword Bingo, as Stockman tries to get in as many  scare lines as possible.... Probably the most telling and self-contradicting aspect, is the fact that he traces the original sin of the economy back to FDR taking the US off of the gold standard.... The problem is that the last 80 years, since then have represented a marvelous time for economic progress in America (and elsewhere).... Beyond that, the fact that things have gone on for 80 years without the gigantic collapse that Stockman has predicted is a sign that perhaps FDR's move wasn't so horrible." ...

James Surowiecki of the New Yorker does not directly address Stockman, but he does refute Stockman's assertion that the Fed has been profligate in gifting the big banks: "Currently, the big risk isn’t that the Fed will wait too long to raise interest rates; it's that pressure from savers will cause it to raise them prematurely."

<'>In his column today, Krugman writes, California's "problems bear no resemblance to the death-by-liberalism story line the California-bashers keep peddling. California is ... a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making.... The era of hamstrung government seems to be coming to an end.... California's political story — in which a radicalized G.O.P. fell increasingly out of touch with an increasingly diverse and socially liberal electorate, and eventually found itself marginalized -- is arguably playing out with a lag on the national scene too."

** Canadian professor Thomas Homer-Dixon, in a New York Times op-ed: "If President Obama blocks the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all, he'll do Canada a favor.... Tar sands production is one of the world's most environmentally damaging activities.... Also, bitumen is junk energy.... Both the [Canadian] cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream climate science.... [Canada] behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry.... Stopping Keystone XL would be a major step toward stopping large-scale environmental destruction, the distortion of Canada's economy and the erosion of its democracy." ...

... Steve Mufson of the Washington Post: "Exxon Mobil said that one of its pipelines leaked 'a few thousand' barrels of Canadian heavy crude oil near Mayflower, Ark., prompting the evacuation of 22 homes and reinforcing concerns many critics have raised about the Keystone XL pipeline that is awaiting State Department approval.... Many critics of the Keystone XL pipeline say that corrosion risks are greater in pipelines carrying low-quality bitumen-laden crude from the oil sands. They have urged President Obama to reject the Keystone XL permit application."

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration has begun to search for a replacement for FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and for the first time one of the leading contenders is a woman. One of several people under consideration, according to current and past administration officials, is Lisa Monaco, who left a senior post at the Justice Department this month to become President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser."

David Sirota in Salon: "... in a coincidental turn of events, the president's visit [to Colorado Wednesday] will occur at the very moment the Colorado Republican Party is making a high-profile effort to derail Democratic legislation that would disarm domestic abusers.... The president is swooping in to the home of Columbine and Aurora to draw national attention to the gun extremism of the Republican Party -- and he will be able to point right to the state capitol where that Republican Party is opposing legislation to simply enforce federal law that is supposed to be protecting women from gun-wielding domestic abusers. Not only that, he will be in the state where Democrats' have most maximized their inherent advantage with women." ...

... Niall Stanage & Amie Parnes of the Hill: "Vice President Biden is calling his former colleagues on Capitol Hill on a near-daily basis as he mounts a full-court press to achieve new gun control measures. Biden has already held private meetings with Republican senators including John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.), according to a senior administration official. The official added that Biden would also be spending considerable time on Capitol Hill in the weeks to come." Via Greg Sargent.

Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times: "As Republican leaders try to woo Latino voters with a new openness to legal status for the nation's illegal immigrants, the party remains at odds with America's fastest-growing ethnic community on another key issue: healthcare. Latinos, who have the lowest rates of health coverage in the country, are among the strongest backers of President Obama's healthcare law. In a recent national poll, supporters outnumbered detractors by more than 2 to 1. Latinos also overwhelmingly see guaranteeing healthcare as a core government responsibility, surveys show. Yet congressional Republicans continue to make repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act a top agenda item and have renewed calls for deep cuts in health programs such as Medicaid, which are very popular with Latinos." ...

... AND the GOP has this itty-bitty problem. Jonathan Martin of Politico: "... as some [(Oxymoron Alert!) Republican] party intellectuals openly wonder if the heyday of the religious right has come and gone, social conservatives are responding with ferocity, indicting John McCain and Mitt Romney for their losses and bluntly warning that the GOP will cease to exist if the party abandons those voters who are in the party because of, not despite, its platform on values. If cultural conservatives are headed toward extinction, they are making clear they won't go away without a fight." ...

... MEANWHILE, Greg Sargent reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "has launched online video advertising that hits 17 vulnerable House Republicans over their support for Paul Ryan's 'Robin Hood in reverse' fiscal vision for America":

Michael Catalini of the National Journal: "The efforts to woo a moderate Democrat to defeat [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell are part of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's plans to compete in the most inhospitable territory for Democrats -- for open seats in Georgia, South Dakota, West Virginia, and possibly, even in Kentucky against the powerful and well-funded Senate minority leader. Facing a challenging political landscape in 2014, the party is close to landing credible candidates in all of those states." ...

... Our Political Aristocracy. Beth Reinhart of the National Journal: in other red states, Democrats are relying on the scions of political dynasties -- like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana & Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

** The Evolution of Harry Reid. Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Harry "Reid’s evolution from a proponent of gun rights to the shepherd of legislation that would expand background checks, among other gun control measures, emerges from a complex web of political calculations that have come to define his leadership style over the last decade.... After the Senate returns from its recess next week, it will consider a bill that would expand background checks and increase penalties for so-called straw purchases...."

Susanne Craig of the New York Times: "Since the financial crisis, compensation for the directors of the nation's biggest banks has continued to rise even as the banks themselves, facing difficult markets and regulatory pressures, are reining in bonuses and pay."

Neil Irwin of the Washington Post, in an adaptation of his new book: "... over three days and four nights in May 2010 is essential to understanding the economic predicament in which the world still finds itself. In that moment, the major Western central banks -- and their leaders, Ben S. Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Mervyn King of the Bank of England, and [Jean-Claude] Trichet of the ECB -- made a series of decisions that created the world economy we inhabit today, and likely far into the future."

Boxers or Briefs? Who Cares? Scalia Doesn't Read Them. Although -- as Ezra Klein points out -- the American Sociological Association presented an amicus brief in the DOMA case which states flat-out, "Whether a child is raised by same-sex or opposite-sex parents has no bearing on a child' wellbeing," Scalia opined -- based on his "feelings," I guess -- during oral argument that "there's considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not." Actually, Nino, there's no disagreement at all.

Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and throw out the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe, we don't need professionals to tell us. -- Sarah Palin, at CPAC

Palin's PAC spent $5.1 million in the last election cycle (more than it raised in that time period, raising some questions about Palin's claims of fiscal responsibility). how donors' money was actually doled out: just $298,500 to candidates. The bulk of the rest of it, more than $4.8 million, went to -- you guessed it -- consultants. -- Jon Avlon of the Daily Beast

... CW: I avoided linking to this story this weekend because I don't really care what Cardinal Timothy Dolan has to say about gay relationships, but since most of the press is making a big deal out of it, I guess readers should know that the head of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops says you gay peoples should not be having sex with each other. So cut it out right now. With video. ...

... ALSO, Ross Douthat, the Vatican's Emissary to the New York Times, says you're ruining straight marriage after all: "Since [David] Frum warned [in 1997] that gay marriage could advance only at traditional wedlock's expense, the marriage rate has been falling faster, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has been rising faster, and the substitution of cohabitation for marriage has markedly increased. Underlying these trends is a steady shift in values: Americans are less likely to see children as important to marriage and less likely to see marriage as important to childbearing (the generation gap on gay marriage shows up on unwed parenting as well) than even in the very recent past." CW: Maybe by way of penance you could take Dolan's advice. ...

... The Father (Dolan), the Son (Douthat) & the Holy Spirit (Noonan). Charles Pierce comments on both & throws in Peggy Noonan's random ramblings on the abortion thing. Amen.

Rick Hertzberg has a terrific piece on the word "entitlement(s)." Especially if you're prone to use the term &/or think it "makes sense," read Hertzberg.

Awesome Homemaker Was Pretty Good Rocket Scientist, Too (for a Girl). Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon: "When Yvonne Brill, who died last week at age 88, was remembered in the New York Times over the weekend, the first paragraph of her obituary described her as a woman who 'made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. She was also, according to her son Matthew, "The world's best mom."' It was only in the second graph that the paper of record got around to mentioning that stroganoff champ, husband follower and awesome mom Brill also 'invented a propulsion system to help keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.' Oh, that too." (NYT obit, now altered, is linked in March 30 Ledes.)

Right Wing World

Google's War on Easter, Ctd. The Guardian has a funny piece on the right's outrage over Google's honoring Cesar Chavez Day, made all the more hilarious by the screamers' inability to distinguish Cesar Chavez from Hugo Chavez. Also, it's Barack Obama plot. What's funny is not the story -- it's a straight news piece -- but the content. ...

... Eric Dolan of Raw Story names some of the usual freaked-out suspects.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Elwin Wilson, a former supporter of the Ku Klux Klan who made repeated apologies late in life for racist acts he committed decades earlier — including the bloody beating of a civil rights worker who later became a member of Congress [Rep. John Lewis {D-Ga.}] -- died on Thursday at a hospital in South Carolina. He was 76."

New York Times: "The Indian Supreme Court rejected a Swiss drug maker's patent application for a major cancer drug Monday in a landmark ruling that will allow poor patients continued access to many of the world's best drugs, at least for a while. The ruling allows Indian makers of generic drugs to continue making copycat versions of the Novartis drug Gleevec.... The ruling's effect ... will help maintain India's role as the world's most important provider of inexpensive medicines, which is critical in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases."

The New York Times has more on the assassinations of Kaufman County, Texas, district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia McLelland.

Reuters: "President Hamid Karzai held talks with Qatari leaders on Sunday ... on a visit the Kabul government has said would seek to explore the possibility of talks with Taliban insurgents on ending Afghanistan's war."

Reuters: "The condition of South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela has improved further, the government said on Sunday, as the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero spent a fourth day in hospital receiving treatment for pneumonia."