The Wires

Hollywood Reporter: "Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project."

New York Times: "CBS said on Tuesday that it had chosen [John] Dickerson, 49, to replace Charlie Rose as the third co-host of “CBS This Morning,” a spot left empty since Mr. Rose was fired in November after allegations of sexual harassment. Mr. Dickerson is to join the lineup of Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, who have carved a niche as a relatively serious, news-driven morning team. Mr. Dickerson — whose mother, Nancy Dickerson, became in 1960 the first female correspondent at CBS News — plans to move to New York and leave 'Face the Nation,' which he joined in 2015. CBS has not yet chosen his successor, effectively setting off a horse race at the network for one of television’s most influential political roles."

Oprah Gives Moving Speech, Celebrities Nominate Her for President. For full coverage of the Golden Globe awards, the Los Angeles Times has a pageful of blurbs & links.

Medlar's Amazing Sports Report (Is about Sports!):

New York Times: "Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota [executed] ... what would prove to be the critical play of the Titans’ shocking 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an N.F.L. wild-card playoff game on Saturday.... [The Titans were] trailing by 18 points in the third quarter..., i and as Mariota scrambled toward the line of scrimmage, he appeared to throw the ball away.... But when Darrelle Revis of the Chiefs batted the pass back toward Mariota, the quarterback snagged it out of the air. And ... Mariota sprinted forward for a touchdown that went into the books as a 6-yard pass from Mariota to Mariota."

New York Times: "Hoda Kotb, a longtime NBC News correspondent, will permanently replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC’s flagship morning program, 'Today,' the network said on Tuesday. Ms. Kotb (pronounced COT-bee) had replaced Mr. Lauer on an interim basis since he was fired in November over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a subordinate. The appointment is the first time that two women will be the program’s official main hosts; 'Today' has an overwhelmingly female audience and is the network’s most profitable franchise. The decision signals a turning point of sorts for NBC: In addition to the Lauer scandal, the network also reviewed 2005 footage from an NBC-owned show in which President Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia but was beaten to publication by The Washington Post, and passed on an exposé of [Harvey] Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: I forgot this part of the tape saga: that NBC suits sat on it until someone at the "Today" show leaked it to David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post.

 

Here's one of the film's trailers:

So finally they called me up because it got so late, and the argument got so tense, and said you're going to have to decide this. And I said, well, why do we have to do it right away? The Times took three months. And they - the editors all got on the phone. And the businesspeople were on the other phone saying wait a day. The editors were saying we mustn't wait a day. Everybody knows we have these papers. And we have to maintain the momentum that was stopped when the Times was enjoined. And it's very important. People have their eyes on us. And we have to publish.... And finally after talking to both sides, I asked my colleague Fritz Beebe what he would do. And he was a lawyer. And he said, I guess I would not. And that made it hard but not impossible. He said it in such a way that I thought he's leaving it up to me. And I can do this. And so I said let's go. Let's publish. And I hung up because I was so freaked out by having had to make that decision so fast. -- Katherine Graham, on her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in an interview, 1997 ...

... Terry Gross of NPR interviewed Katherine Graham in 1997 about her 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon papers -- and other things. Graham died in 2001. Audio & transcript. Via David Von Drehle of the Washington Post.

Guardian: Britain's "Prince Harry is to marry his American actor girlfriend Meghan Markle in spring next year, Clarence House has announced. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,' it said in a statement on Monday."

 

The full Neiman's Christmas book is here, with some items costing less than $35K.

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. Des MacHale (often misattributed to H. L. Mencken)

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

Monday
Jul202015

The Commentariat -- July 21, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "Gov. John R. Kasich, a blunt-spoken and unorthodox Republican who bucked his party by expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care law and says politicians must 'reach out and help those who live in the shadows,' announced Tuesday that he was joining his party's long list of candidates for president. Mr. Kasich, 63, became the 16th prominent Republican to enter the 2016 field."

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama embarks on a trip to Africa this week that includes a controversial stop in Ethiopia, where the authoritarian government has come under sharp international criticism for its handling of political dissent. The Ethipia visit has raised hackles among human rights advocates who question the administration's level of concern about human rights...."

Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has used an unusually emotional interview to reveal he walked away from nuclear talks with Iran on three separate occasions, insisting that the claim that he was too eager to seal a deal was 'one of the dumbest criticisms I've ever heard in my life'"

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "An anti-abortion group has released a second undercover video of an official at a Planned Parenthood affiliate discussing the costs associated with harvesting fetal tissue for medical research. The edited video ... is the second surreptitious recording to be released by activist group Center for Medical Progress."

American conservative Daniel Larison in the American Conservative: Scott "Walker may think that he is getting the upper hand in the primaries by positioning himself as the most aggressive hard-liner, but in the process he is revealing that he has extraordinarily bad judgment on these issues and confirming that his lack of foreign policy experience is a major liability for him. Why should voters trust him with the presidency when he is eager to boast about his readiness to start an illegal war against a country that just negotiated an agreement with the U.S. and its allies?... A preventive war against Iran would be entirely unjustifiable, unnecessary, and illegal under international law.... There is no difference in practice between a war that is called 'preventive' and what a previous generation condemned as a war of aggression." Thanks to Keith H. for the link.

*****

Peter Eavis of the New York Times: "The Federal Reserve introduced new restraints on Monday that would apply solely to the nation's eight largest banks, which hold more than $10 trillion in loans and securities.... The regulations stop short of requiring banks to shrink to a particular size, an approach that the Obama administration and Congress deliberately avoided in the Dodd-Frank Act, the signature financial overhaul passed five years ago. Instead, in its new rules, the Fed is setting standards for the amount of capital a bank must have. The new requirements could persuade the firms to get smaller over time -- making them more resilient to economic shocks and less likely to damage the economy should they fail. 'This final rule will confront these firms with a choice: They must either hold substantially more capital, reducing the likelihood that they will fail,' Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said in a statement, 'or else they must shrink their systemic footprint, reducing the harm that their failure would do to our financial system.'" ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "President Obama said Monday that he would nominate Kathryn M. Dominguez, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan, to a seat on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. Ms. Dominguez, an expert on the behavior of currency markets, fits the mold of a modern central banker.... But her confirmation prospects are uncertain. Republicans, who control the Senate, have not set a hearing for Allan R. Landon, a bank executive Mr. Obama nominated to the Fed's board in January."

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is steering the Senate toward a multi-year highway bill that could take the funding issue off the table through the 2016 elections. The bill could be released as early as Tuesday, though the Kentucky Republican is keeping the details close to his chest as conservative groups watch for anything that resembles a tax hike. McConnell has ruled out raising the gas tax and opposes paying for the bill by devising a new tax regime for overseas profits, limiting his options. But the GOP leader is taking a hands-on approach in negotiations with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and on Monday expressed confidence that a deal was imminent." CW: Toll roads, Mitch! With complimentary EZPasses for "jobs-creators" & contributors to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Influential Republicans called it 'inappropriate' and an 'affront' to Americans that President Barack Obama took his nuclear accord with Iran to the United Nations before a congressional vote.... On Monday morning, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed the pact to scale back Iran's nuclear ambitions and begin loosening some sanctions, the same day that the 60-day congressional review clock began ticking on Capitol Hill. Though Congress has the ability to block lifting congressional sanctions on Iran that are a key portion of the deal, members of both parties are frustrated that the vote for international economic relief for Iran comes two months before a pivotal congressional vote.... Asked Sunday on 'Meet the Press' if this move jams Congress, [Secretary of State John] Kerry responded: 'Absolutely not. We specifically, to protect the Congress, put in a 90-day period before [the U.N. resolution] takes effect. So nothing will change,' Kerry said." See also Akhilleus's comment in today's thread. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Scott Clement of the Washington Post: "A majority of Americans support the Iran deal despite widespread doubts it will stop the country from developing nuclear weapons, according to new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey finds 56 percent support and 37 percent oppose a deal lifting economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for the nation agreeing not to produce nuclear weapons." ...

... Josh Lederman of the AP: "Ernest Moniz, the eccentric MIT professor-turned-U.S.-Energy-secretary, by all accounts played a pivotal role in reaching the historic nuclear accord. Now with his diplomatic legacy on the line, President Barack Obama is turning to Moniz to help sell the deal to a highly skeptical Congress.... This week, he'll appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where doubts about the nuclear pact run high. In between, aides say, the secretary is squeezing in one-on-one briefings with lawmakers ahead of a likely congressional attempt to scuttle the deal. While juggling his 'day job' running the Energy Department, he's also lobbying foreign energy ministers who are similarly suspicious of the deal." ...

... CW: Not sure what Lederman finds "eccentric" about Moniz, other than his "exacting palate when it came to his martinis."

Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed: "Democrats in Congress plan to introduce broad legislation this week to protect LGBT people from discrimination -- including in housing, workplaces, schools, and public accommodations. In effect, the Equality Act would extend the same raft of rights to LGBT Americans that are currently afforded to other protected groups, including people of color, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.... The measure's introduction coincides with a committee vote on a Republican-backed bill to protect people and organizations who disagree with same-sex couples marrying." CW: This should work out well.

"American Limbo." Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker on the difficulties undocumented residents face. "If Clinton wins, and Congress remains in Republican hands, the new President will be reduced to attempting the same kind of piecemeal executive actions as Obama -- if the courts even allow those to proceed. If a Republican wins, [undocumented people's] chances of deportation will rise. Either way, the issue will remain on the national agenda, even as the opportunity to come to any solution continues to recede." See also Scott Walker's "Merkel moment" linked under Presidencial Race.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and a host of other well-intentioned liberals want to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. This is a badly misguided idea. And Hillary Clinton has been right to avoid endorsing it, despite strong pressure from the left.... At just $7.25 an hour, today's federal minimum wage is absurdly low.... [It might work in some parts of the country.] In other, lower-cost parts of the country, however, a $15 minimum -- which, remember, is more than double the current federal level -- would likely throw many, many more people out of work." ...

... CW: Rampell does not seem to take into consideration how middle-class taxpayers are currently subsidizing companies that pay low wages -- thru direct benefits like food stamps, thru Medicaid & other ACA subsidies & via the Earned Income Tax Credit, to name a few. At $15/hour, workers still would be eligible to receive some of these benefits, but at lower levels. As Bernie points out, the Walton family owns as much wealth as 90 percent of the rest of us combined, while we pay taxes to support workers WalMart refuse to pay a living wage. I find this outrageous.

Sarah Dutton, et al., of CBS News: "... 58 percent of Americans favor re-establishing diplomatic relations between the [U.S. & Cuba], while just 24 percent oppose. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents support re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, while Republicans are divided, with 44 percent in favor."

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: "Sen. Robert Menendez, indicted on corruption charges, accused federal prosecutors Monday of misconduct that included allowing an FBI agent to give false testimony.... The allegation was included in multiple court filings submitted by lawyers for Menendez (D-N.J.) seeking a dismissal of the charges. The senator's legal team also argued that the Justice Department had ignored a law shielding members of Congress from criminal prosecution when they are doing their official jobs as legislators."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Former Sen. Saxby Chambliss says he believes Edward Snowden should be publicly hanged as soon the United States can 'get our hands on him.' The Republican from Georgia, who recently retired from the Senate, served previously as the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence."

** Eric Holthaus of Slate: "In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study -- written by James Hansen, NASA's former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields -- concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years.... In the study's likely scenario, New York City -- and every other coastal city on the planet -- may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen's view, requires 'emergency cooperation among nations.'" ...

Jesse Coburn of the New York Times: Reem Sahwil, a 14-year-old disabled Palestinian who begged Chancellor Angela Merkel to allow her family to stay in Germany, has become a "potent symbol" of the plights of Middle Eastern refugees in Europe. (Merkel told Sahwil, "Tough luck, kid." [CW approximate translation])

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. The Nasty Boys' Revolt. Sasha Goldstein of the New York Daily News: "Two of Gawker's top editorial decisionmakers quit Monday following the unanticipated removal last week of a controversial post that was roundly criticized around the Internet. Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Cragg and the site's editor-in-chief, Max Read, both decided to step down as a stand against the decision to remove a story about David Geithner, chief financial officer of Conde Nast and brother of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The article, posted Thursday evening, allegedly outed David Geithner as a married, closeted gay man who backed out of a scheduled tryst with a gay porn star during a business trip to Chicago." ...

... Gabriel Sherman of New York has more on "Gawker's existential crisis." ...

... CW: Ironic, of course, that Cragg & Read (that can't be his real name) have walked out in a huff over an issue re: "journalistic integrity" when a reasonable person might conclude that they possessed minimal integrity themselves in deciding to out someone who had a famous brother but was not a public figure in his own right. ...

... Ryan Holliday of the New York Observer: "Hypocrisy is too weak a word when it comes to Gawker. It is instead an indisputable pattern of malice and mendacity almost without parallel in the history of media. It is essentially a twelve-year spree of destruction, pain and waste. The sole purpose of the entire repugnant edifice has been to make a single owner fabulously rich and a revolving door of mediocre writers feel important and powerful." ...

... MEANWHILE, Gawker is doing absolutely nothing. It's last post (as of 8:45 am ET Tuesday) was a shared weather report loaded just after noon ET Monday.

Presidential Race

Dara Lind of Vox on why black progressives & Bernie Sanders don't see eye-to-eye (and apparently never have). ...

... Jamelle Bouie: "Regardless of where you stand on the wisdom of the direct action against Sanders and O'Malley, it showed the limits of Sanders' brand of liberal coalition-building.... For Black Lives Matter activists..., racism is orthogonal to class: They're two different dimensions of disadvantage, and to improve the picture on one isn't always to improve the picture for the other. Jim Crow, for instance, coexisted with strong unions, high wages, and an active welfare state. When that heckler [at Bernie Sanders' Netroots forum] said 'Public college won't stop police from killing us,' that person was right.... If Sanders is too stubborn to abandon the pitch he's used for decades and adopt one more suited to today -- then we may have seen the beginning of the end of Berniemania. (To his credit, it already appears as though Sanders is learning.) ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "A day after being heckled by Black Lives Matter protesters at a progressive conference in Phoenix, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders spoke out against police brutality at a pair of large-scale rallies Sunday in Texas. 'We want a nation where a young black man or woman can walk down the street without worrying about being falsely arrested, beaten or killed,' Sanders ... said during a stop in Dallas that reportedly drew 8,000 people to a hotel ballroom." Later, Sanders made similar comments to a crowd of more than 5,000 people in Houston.

The Doofus Plan. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush ... outlined a wide-ranging plan on Monday to rein in the size of the federal government and curb the influence of lobbyists who live off it. Portraying himself as a political outsider -- despite his family's 12 years in the White House -- Mr. Bush called for a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce, an immediate hiring freeze, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and a six-year waiting period before members of Congress can become lobbyists.... Mr. Bush demanded changes to the Civil Service system that would make it far easier to punish and replace employees.... Elements of Mr. Bush's agenda seemed at odds with the campaign he is running. For example, Mr. Bush took direct aim at K Street, Washington's collection of lobbying firms that have long employed former lawmakers to do the bidding of major corporations.... As a candidate, Mr. Bush has harnessed the fund-raising prowess of the K Street crowd, bringing in millions of dollars for his 'super PAC' from Washington lobbyists, political operatives, lawyers and business leaders." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... CW: Not sure how Jeb! will get people he's laid off to "work longer hours." The balanced-budget amendment is of course idiotic & further evidence that Jeb! understands nothing about macroeconomics. He may be competent to run a hotdog stand (if the family's usual backers to advance him the seed money), but he is intellectually incapable of administering a national economy. Maybe he's tossing this out now because John Kasich -- No. 1 champion of the balanced-budget amendment -- intends to announce his candidacy today (Tuesday). ...

... Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post on the mess John Kasich has made of public education in Ohio. CW: A record worthy of Bobby Jindal. ...

... Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "... tales of angry tantrums have dogged Kasich throughout his long career, from the state Legislature, to the halls of Congress, to the governorship. So much so that even the famously volatile Sen. John McCain once said of Kasich: 'He has a hair-trigger temper.'"

Eli Stokols of Politico: "Suddenly, the gloves are off between Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.... Bush's political ethos -- his stated philosophy of refusing to pander to the right to win the primary only to become unelectable in the general election -- is itself an implicit rebuke of Walker, who has flipped his positions on immigration and Common Core to better align with the primary electorate (the two issues for which Bush remains opposite the prevailing GOP orthodoxy). For his part, Walker views Bush as a scion of a tarnished political dynasty, another establishment moderate who, like Mitt Romney before him, will struggle to excite the conservative base should he become the GOP nominee."

In his feud with Jeb! -- who suggested Walker's plan to undo the Iran agreement on Day One of his presidency was not "mature" or "thoughtful" -- Scottie-Boy had an excellent comeback:

I believe they should be prepared to act on the very first day they take office. It's very possible -- God forbid, but it's very possible -- that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military action, on the first day in office. And I don't want a president who is not prepared to act on day one. So, as far as me, as far as my position, I'm going to be prepared to be president on day one.

... CW: I don't think Walker has the vaguest idea of how a transition of power works. He just can't think in real-world detail:

     ... Maybe all this is unnecessary if the outgoing president has cooties. Meanwhile, let's all hunker down in anticipation of the first-ever Inauguration Day War (with Whomever). ...

... Scott Walker doesn't know much about evolution, or genetics, or climate change, but he knows WAY MORE about gynecology than medical scientists. Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Monday banning abortions after 20 weeks from fertilization.... Walker said Monday that at this point in a pregnancy a fetus can feel pain, an assertion that the medical establishment says is unproven. 'At five months, that's the time when that unborn child can feel pain,' Walker said. 'When an unborn child can feel pain, we should be protecting that child.'" ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "Twenty-week bans have been struck down in Arizona in 2013 and in Idaho in May of this year, both cases heard by the 9th District. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Arizona case in 2014, meaning a 20-week ban is unconstitutional. Don't expect Walker to be concerned about the consequences of signing this bill, though, including what's likely to be an expensive lawsuit for his state. He's got a presidential primary to think about, and Republican primary voters are who he signed this law for." ...

... Walker has a Merkel moment. Scottie's response: It's all Obama's fault.

** Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: Donald Trump "has exposed and exploited the Republican Party's two great weaknesses: the fact that many of its voters don't agree with Party leaders on immigration and the fact that the Party is powerless to do much about it." Read the whole post.

Dan Balz & Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post: "Businessman Donald Trump surged into the lead for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, with almost twice the support of his closest rival, just as he ignited a new controversy after making disparaging remarks about Sen. John McCain's Vietnam War service, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Support for Trump fell sharply on the one night that voters were surveyed following those comments. Telephone interviewing for the poll began Thursday, and most calls were completed before the news about the remarks was widely reported." ...

... Des Moines Register Editors: "It's time for Donald Trump to drop out of the race for president of the United States.... Trump, by every indication, seems wholly unqualified to sit in the White House. If he had not already disqualified himself through his attempts to demonize immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, he certainly did so by questioning the war record of John McCain.... He has become 'the distraction with traction' -- a feckless blowhard who can generate headlines, name recognition and polling numbers not by provoking thought, but by provoking outrage." ...

     ... CW: Look for Trump's upcoming tweets: "Des Moines Register editors r losers." "... dummies in Des Moines...," "I'm like really smart," "I made $10BB while Des Moines R eds. scribbled bull 4 pennies," etc. ...

... Steve M. is amused by this aspect of the poll: Trump "does far better among those who are not college graduates than among those who are. Trump is also in the 30s among Republicans with a household income of less than $50,000 a year." Steve: "The conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney lost the general election in 2012 because he didn't have the common touch, and therefore Republicans need to nominate someone who's less of an elitist. But then you ask the GOP's working-class voters to pick a candidate -- and Trump's their man. Go figure." ...

... CW: I completely get it. To Trump voters, he is just like them, only he hit the jackpot that keeps alluding them. They're crass, obnoxious bullies whose idea of fun involves loud &/or violent sports; they go to garish casinos in Atlantic City, as a woman once told me, "for the ambiance." There is an underlying presumption that the examined life is for "losers" and conspicuous consumption is evidence of "winners." They boast that their Golden Rule is "Do unto others before they do unto you." Any good fortune they do have they (a) show off, & (b) attribute to their own superiority. This country is full of Donalds.

... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to apologize to military families Monday during his first public comments since the flamboyant real estate mogul mocked his military record in a campaign event Saturday. 'I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country,' McCain said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Monday, stressing that prisoners of war serve honorably. 'Somehow to denigrate that in any way, their service, I think is offensive to most of our veterans.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian: Trump's dismissal of McCain's heroism shows Trump knows nothing about the dangers American pilots faced during the Vietnam War. "The missions were extremely perilous: McCain was in range of North Vietnam's Soviet-provided missiles." ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "... the corollary to Trump's smugness: his open disdain for people who aren't fortunate. Being poor, he suggests, is as much the fault of poor people as being rich is entirely to his own credit. If they are not rich, then they are losers -- and Trump knows what he thinks about losers.... The contempt he has for undocumented immigrants or for a child in a rough neighborhood is of the same species as that he exhibited toward McCain. He likes the people who aren't struggling. The other Republican Presidential candidates ... also need to look at how an unexamined affinity for the wealthy has become part of the G.O.P.'s ethos, too." ...

... Byron York of the Washington Examiner: "... for the actual voters who were in the room when Trump spoke to the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, it's possible Trump's greater sin ... [was his] casual and disengaged characterization of religious faith.... 'While there were audible groans in the crowd when Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero,' [a] senior Republican said via email, 'it was Trump's inability to articulate any coherent relationship with God or demonstrate the role faith plays in his life that really sucked the oxygen out of the room..'" Via Paul Waldman. ...

When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed. -- Donald Trump, explaining the meaning of holy communion to evangelicals

Get over it, you transubstantiating weirdos; that "body of Christ" is just a little cracker! -- Constant Weader translation

... Ed Kilgore: "Perhaps this is all exactly what Trump needs to take his presidential campaign out of the GOP and into a third-party candidacy. In that case Republicans will rue this weekend far more than Donald Trump."

CW: As long as the Republican party is the Confederate party, it will never mount a presidential candidate who is intellectually, morally & tempermentally fit for the top job. Many former Republican voters have figured that out. Meanwhile, the Democrats have at least three candidates who meet the minimum job requirements, & there are a number of others who have decided not to run but who are likely even better-qualified.

Other Races

Russell Contreras of the AP: "Citing sprawl development and a need for more Mexican-American elected officials, 'Breaking Bad' actor Steven Michael Quezada said he is jumping in a heated race for county commissioner in Albuquerque, New Mexico." Quezada is a Democrat. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly notices that Republicans are starting to go after HUD Secretary Julian Castro on the assumption that Hillary Clinton (or some other Democrat!) might tap him as her running mate.

Beyond the Beltway

Brian Ross, et al., of ABC News: "Four days after the [Chattanooga] shooting, the FBI has not found any connection to overseas terrorist groups, but Mohammod Abdulazeez's diary says that as far back as 2013, he wrote about having suicidal thoughts and 'becoming a martyr' after losing his job due to his drug use, both prescription and non-prescription drugs, the family representative said. In a downward spiral, Abdulazeez would abuse sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers and marijuana, along with alcohol, the representative said. Most recently, the 24-year-old was having problems dealing with a 12 hour overnight shift, and had to take sleeping pills, according to the representative. The young man was also thousands of dollars in debt and considering filing for bankruptcy."

David Montgomery of the New York Times: "A Waller County[, Texas,] sheriff's official described a timeline for the jail cell of ... Sandra Bland, that started early in the morning of July 13, when she refused a breakfast tray around 6:30 a.m., until a jailer found her hanging shortly after 9 a.m. For about 90 minutes during that period, there was no movement by jail officials in the hallway leading to her cell, according to a video that the authorities released from a camera inside the jail."

Ellen Fentress of the New York Times: "The Mississippi Highway Patrol on Monday was investigating a car wreck that killed an outspoken advocate of the Confederate flag. Anthony Hervey, 49, author of 'Why I Wave the Confederate Flag, Written by a Black Man,' died Sunday, the state police said, after the Ford Explorer carrying him and Arlene Barnum, 60, of Stuart, Okla., went off the road and flipped over while returning from a pro-Confederate flag event in Birmingham, Ala." ...

... CW: With due respect for the recently departed, this Clarion-Ledger story by Clay Chandler, strongly suggests Hervey was a loudmouthed crank who could be a violent adversary.

William Rashbaum of the New York Times: David "Sweat has revealed ... [details] ... to investigators reviewing his stunning June 6 escape with another inmate from the maximum-security prison in Dannemora, N.Y.... It is also a story of neglect by those who were supposed to keep Mr. Sweat behind bars; of rules and procedures ignored; and of a culture of complacency among some prison guards, employees and their supervisors, whose laziness and apparent inaction -- and, in at least one instance, complicity -- made the escape possible."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Theodore Bikel, the multilingual troubadour, character actor and social activist who created the role of Baron von Trapp in the original Broadway production of 'The Sound of Music' and toured for decades as Tevye in 'Fiddler on the Roof,' died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

New York Times: "E. L. Doctorow, a leading figure in contemporary American letters whose popular, critically admired and award-winning novels -- including 'Ragtime,' 'Billy Bathgate' and 'The March' -- situated fictional characters in recognizable historical contexts, among identifiable historical figures and often within unconventional narrative forms, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 84 and lived in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, N.Y."

New York Times: "A military drone strike this month killed the leader of a shadowy Qaeda cell in Syria that American officials say has been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday. The leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed on July 8 while traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, in northwestern Syria, a Defense Department spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said in a statement."

New York Times: "Eight senior executives at Toshiba, the Japanese industrial conglomerate, including the chief executive, resigned on Tuesday, as they took responsibility for a $1.2 billion accounting scandal, one of the country's largest."

Washington Post: "Defense Sec. Ashton B. Carter met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday in the first high-level U.S. encounter with the Israeli leader since world powers struck a nuclear agreement with Iran, which Israel warns is a dangerous mistake."

Sunday
Jul192015

The Commentariat -- July 20, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Influential Republicans called it 'inappropriate' and an 'affront' to Americans that President Barack Obama took his nuclear accord with Iran to the United Nations before a congressional vote, with Sen. Marco Rubio dubbing July 20 as 'Obama's Capitulation Monday.' On Monday morning, the U.N. Security Council unanimously backed the pact to scale back Iran's nuclear ambitions and begin loosening some sanctions, the same day that the 60-day congressional review clock began ticking on Capitol Hill. Though Congress has the ability to block lifting congressional sanctions on Iran that are a key portion of the deal, members of both parties are frustrated that the vote for international economic relief for Iran comes two months before a pivotal congressional vote.... Asked Sunday on 'Meet the Press' if this move jams Congress, [Secretary of State John] Kerry responded: 'Absolutely not. We specifically, to protect the Congress, put in a 90-day period before [the U.N. resolution] takes effect. So nothing will change,' Kerry said." See also Akhilleus's comment in today's thread.

Josel DelReal of the Washington Post: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to apologize to military families Monday during his first public comments since the flamboyant real estate mogul mocked his military record in a campaign event Saturday. 'I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country,' McCain said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Monday, stressing that prisoners of war serve honorably. 'Somehow to denigrate that in any way, their service, I think is offensive to most of our veterans.'"

Russell Contreras of the AP: "Citing sprawl development and a need for more Mexican-American elected officials, 'Breaking Bad' actor Steven Michael Quezada said he is jumping in a heated race for county commissioner in Albuquerque, New Mexico." Quezada is a Democrat.

*****

Nick Gass of Politico: "The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed to the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers on Monday. The resolution, which will expire in 10 years, also allows for a 'snap back' mechanism for U.N. sanctions to go back in place in case Iran reneges on the agreement." ...

... Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in a round of interviews that aired Sunday, defended the deal they negotiated with Iran, saying that it leaves the Middle East safer and that there is no viable alternative. 'The real fear of that region should be that you don't have the deal,' Kerry said in an interview on CNN's 'State of the Union.'"

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "Three days after four marines and a sailor were killed by a gunman with Middle Eastern roots and a father who was once on the terrorism watch list, the chairman of the House homeland security committee heralded US successes against 'over 60' would-be terrorist attacks by 'Isis followers' in the last year. Of the attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Michael McCaul said: 'What keeps us up at night are really the ones that we don't know about and I'm afraid that this case really falls into that category.'" ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "In an America held hostage by the gun lobby, radicalized lone-wolf terrorists can get their hands on deadly weapons and mountains of ammunition just as easily as disturbed post-adolescents, delusional military subcontractors, virulent racists, and anybody else.... According to officials, at least some of the weapons in Abdulazeez's possession were obtained legally.... In an era of domestic terrorism, gun laws are turning into a national-security issue." ...

... Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times: "Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.... About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by 'representative payees.'" The VA uses such a system.

Kiss the Ring, Ignore the Message. Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "When Pope Francis comes to Capitol Hill in September, he will be the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress, where more than 30 percent of the members are Catholic. The visit will fulfill a long-held dream of [Speaker John] Boehner, who says only his working-class roots as a bar owner's son are more essential to his core than his Catholic upbringing. He has extended offers to popes for the last 20 years, and Francis, after taking nearly a year to consider, was the first to accept. The pope's visit comes with inherent tension for many Republicans, including those who are Catholic."

Paul Krugman: "How did things go so wrong [with the European economy]? The answer is that this is what happens when self-indulgent politicians ignore arithmetic and the lessons of history.... I'm talking about ultra-respectable men in Berlin, Paris, and Brussels, who have spent a quarter-century trying to run Europe on the basis of fantasy economics.... Europe is paying a terrible price for this monstrous self-indulgence." ...

... CW: I know European politicians are not nearly as dependent upon their richy-rich friends as are American pols, but it appears to me Europe's wealthy creditors have many friends in the grand halls of government. I don't believe Merkel, Cameron, et al., & their ministers are too damned dumb to understand rudimentary macroeconomics. Neither are they clueless about the contrasting results of post-WWI & -WWII economic policies. Instead, I think they're doing what their creditor friends say & making convenient excuses about it, in the same way the few intelligent Republicans do here. If Barack Obama could buy into "belt-tightening" rhetoric & policies during a deep recession, why expect better of Europe's political hacks?

Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: "After more than a half-century defined by mistrust and rancor, the United States officially reopened its six-story embassy in the Cuban capital on Monday, the culmination of many months of negotiations to overcome decades of historical enmity and to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations.... The official celebration to inaugurate the American Embassy will not take place until later in the summer, when Secretary of State John Kerry plans to visit, to formally raise the flag and install the new signage." ...

... Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba have been officially restored, with Cuba's foreign minister set to take the hugely symbolic step of raising his country's flag at a newly designated embassy in Washington later on Monday. Bruno Rodríguez, visiting the US capital for the first time in his life, will conduct the ceremony at the mansion which has not functioned as an embassy for more than 50 years."

Manuel Roig-Franzia & Karen Heller of the Washington Post: Bill Cosby's "strategy of ­suppressing coverage of ­sexual-assault accusations has unraveled in stunning fashion. The comedian's own words, included in hundreds of pages of his recently disclosed deposition in a civil lawsuit filed against Cosby by one of his accusers, are being pored over by lawyers who say his admission under oath to supplying drugs to possible sexual partners will bolster efforts to sue him for tens of millions of dollars. They also might be used by law enforcement officials to prosecute the comedy icon, who has not been tried in criminal court, although that possibility could be more remote because of statutes of limitations."

Annals of Journalism. Dawn Ennis of the Advocate: "NBC News pulled out its Nightly News anchor chair Saturday night for Thomas Roberts, the rugged and dashing MSNBC host who came out when it was still considered career suicide. With millions watching, Roberts made history, as the first out anchor of an evening newscast on any of the major TV networks."

Presidential Race

Annie Linskey of the Boston Globe: "Through some combination of political skill, fortuitous timing, well-tuned messaging, and sheer luck this has become the Summer of Sanders -- in which an unkempt 73-year-old man who isn't even a member of the Democratic Party is mounting the strongest challenge to the Democratic establishment. He's gone from being dismissed as a fringe candidate to having a huge early impact on the primary." ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Bernie Sanders drew more than 11,000 people to a rally Saturday night in downtown Phoenix -- the largest crowd to date for a presidential candidate whose audiences have been swelling in recent months. The Vermont senator ... got a rock-star-like reception from supporters who streamed into a cavernous lower-level room of the city's convention center." ...

... David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: Bernie Sanders went to Congress in 1990 in large part because the NRA backed him. ...

... Martin Pegelly: "Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders returned to the issue of police brutality against African Americans on Saturday, after their appearances at a presidential forum at Netroots Nation in Phoenix were disrupted by angry protesters." ...

... Chris Moody of CNN: "Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley apologized on Saturday for saying 'All lives matter' while discussing police violence against African-Americans with liberal demonstrators." ...

... ** Driftglass: "For the organizers [of the Netroots Nation meeting,] this was stepping-on-their-own-dick failure of historic proportions. Honestly, I have never understood why the Netroots crew cannot seem to learn a single damn thing from outfits like CPAC, which draws huge crowds, big-time press coverage and which no first-tier (or second-tier... or third-tier...) Republican candidate would dare miss. But for whatever reason, each year the Netroots' crew manages to make themselves less influential than the year before. And this time -- as the moderator abandoned his duties entirely and turned the proceedings over to the protesters -- they may have hit Peak Irrelevance." Driftglass goes on to weave the Netroots story into his Sunday showz takedown. CW: An excellent piece for our never-ending "Annals of 'Journalism' Ctd. feature.

Free Market Fail. Gabriel Sherman of New York: "What this year's primary shows is that -- at least when it comes to presidential elections -- the GOP is at risk of becoming less of a political party and more like a talent agency for the conservative media industry. Jumping into the race provides a (pseudo)candidate with a national platform to profit from becoming a political celebrity.... With her 2008 breakout, Sarah Palin ... made being a potential primary contender a full-time job.... As this year's ballooning GOP field shows, there are many long-shot candidates who are seeking to follow her path.... These candidates have made six- and seven-figure paydays even before the first ballot is cast.... It's ironic that Republicans are now fretting that their media-driven primary is damaging the party's electoral prospects. They are, after all, the party of the free market. What is more free than a candidate earning millions from the primary process?"

Dana Bash of CNN: "In a weekend interview with Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker about whether the Boy Scouts should allow gay troop leaders, CNN's Dana Bash asked Walker, 'Do you think being gay is a choice?' 'I don't have an opinion on every single issue out there. To me, that's, I don't know,' Walker answered. 'I don't know the answer to that question.'... Reminded that presidents of the United States are actually honorary presidents of Boy Scouts of America, Walker responded that he would have 'plenty much more significant issues to deal with as president.'" CW Reminder: Walker is not a scientist. ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "Walker also said his campaign was doing well because, 'I actually answer questions,' to which the CNN host quickly replied, 'But you're not answering this one.'"

I believe that scouting would be better off if they didn't have openly gay scoutmasters. -- Rick Perry, on "Meet the Press" yesterday

Donald Trump doubles down on his anti-McCain meme in a USA Today op-ed: "Thanks to McCain and his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, their legislation to cover up the VA scandal, in which 1,000+ veterans died waiting for medical care, made sure no one has been punished, charged, jailed, fined or held responsible. McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them. The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona's. He even voted for the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which allows Obama, who McCain lost to in a record defeat, to push his dangerous Iran nuclear agreement through the Senate without a supermajority of votes. A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president." ...

... Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump refused to apologize on Sunday for ridiculing Senator John McCain's war record in Vietnam and accused Mr. McCain of stoking outrage, even as Mr. Trump's comments continued to draw anger and calls from some Republicans for him to quit the 2016 presidential race." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York has a fine roundup of the "anger" of Trump's GOP adversaries. According to Jeb!, the Donald is a lot like that divisive fellow Barack Obama, whereas Jeb! welcomes everybody with open arms & hugs & kisses. ...

... CW: For a peek into the hypocrisy of suddenly "outraged" Republicans, see yesterday's Comments. ...

... Juan Cole: "Trump is a one-man advertisement for campaign finance reform, socialism and banning casinos. Whatever circumstances made him a plausible candidate for president should be immediately changed to make sure that kind of thing never happens to our country again. But in addition, I think all the Republicans who say they are outraged at Trump's comments need to step up and apologize to John Kerry if they didn't, as McCain did, defend him from the swiftboaters." ...

... What Were They Doing Then? Michael Miller & Fred Barbash of the Washington Post: "Christmas [1967], as Donald Trump was celebrating the holiday with his family, McCain was starving in a prison camp called 'The Plantation.'" The only violence Trump faced was at the hands of angry tenants of his father's rental properties. Ah, the heroics of rent-collecting. "As Trump made plans to buy and refurbish bankrupt hotels, McCain was staving off death in a prison dubbed 'The Hanoi Hilton.' And as McCain continued to refuse special treatment, The Donald actively courted it." ...

... Maggie Haberman & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "It was an improvised fit of pique, roundly and vigorously denounced by his rivals all weekend, that exposed the biggest vulnerability of Mr. Trump's campaign for president: It is built entirely around the instincts and grievances of its unpredictable candidate -- and does not rely on a conventional political operation that protects presidential hopefuls from themselves." ...

... Andy Borowitz (satire): "Presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed a little-known episode of personal heroism from his youth on Saturday, telling an Iowa audience that he narrowly avoided capture in Vietnam by remaining in the United States for the duration of the war." Thanks to D. C. Clark for the link.

Beyond the Beltway

Sharon McCloskey of NC Policy Watch: "Attorneys and parties in the voting rights trial return to federal court in Winston-Salem this morning to continue presenting testimony and other evidence to U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder. During week one of what's expected to be a multi-week trial, attorneys for the parties challenging the sweeping voting restrictions adopted in 2013 unfolded their case with personal stories from voters who struggled to vote as a result, along with testimony from experts about the intent and the impact of the election law changes."

"America's Craziest Governor Goes off the Rails." Colin Woodard in Politico Magazine: Maine Gov. Paul "LePage [R] -- a pugnacious, hot-headed, sometimes vulgar Tea Party-style conservative -- is facing a bipartisan investigation into potential abuse of power, a nascent impeachment effort by opponents in the lower State House chamber, and a federal lawsuit by the outgoing Democratic House speaker, who has accused the governor of blackmailing a non-profit school into revoking their job offer to him. Meanwhile, leaders of the Republican-controlled state Senate and many Republicans in the House have turned on the governor, helping overturn hundreds of his vetoes and line-item vetoes in lightning-paced voting sessions, sometimes at a rate of one every 25 seconds. His veto of the bipartisan budget was overturned, narrowly avoiding a state government shutdown. An aggressive attempt to appropriate wider veto authority for his office has been rebuffed by lawmakers and legal experts, but still threatens to plunge the state into a constitutional crisis."

"I love my country. It's the government I'm afraid of." Be sure to read Elizabeth's comment in today's thread.

Way Beyond

We Are Not Amused. Josh Halliday & Louise Osborne of the Guardian: "Buckingham Palace has refused to be drawn into the debate over the royal family's private archives amid mounting pressure to release historical documents following the publication of a video showing the Queen performing a Nazi salute in the 1930s.... Palace aides launched an inquiry on Sunday into the leak of the 17-second home movie.... Respected historians said that releasing some of the material, which stretches back over 250 years, would add to the country's knowledge of the Queen and provide important historical context to the links between some leading royals and the Third Reich before the second world war.... The black-and-white footage is believed to have been filmed by the Queen's father, the future King George VI, on the family's Balmoral estate in Scotland in 1933 or 1934. It shows the future Queen -- then aged six or seven raising her right hand in the air as the Queen Mother does the same. The group were apparently being encouraged by the future King Edward VIII":

... Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post: "I's a reminder of how many viewed Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party throughout the 1930s -- as amusing, even admirable, but not yet the abhorrent force we now know them to be."

News Ledes

Guardian: "Fifa has fired the starting gun on the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the scandal hit organisation, setting the election for 26 February next year. The announcement came as it emerged that it was increasingly likely that Uefa's president, Michel Platini, would stand for the role."

Reuters: "Construction company Mitsubishi Materials Corp ... became the first major Japanese company to apologize for using captured American soldiers as slave laborers during World War Two, offering remorse on Sunday for 'the tragic events in our past.' A company representative offered the apology on behalf of its predecessor, Mitsubishi Mining Co, at a special ceremony at a Los Angeles museum."

Saturday
Jul182015

The Commentariat -- July 19, 2015

Eric Tucker of the AP: "The deadly shootings at military sites in Tennessee illustrate the threat that FBI officials have warned about: violence directed against a vulnerable government target by a lone gunman with apparent terrorist aspirations.... Law enforcement officials describe an ongoing challenge in distinguishing those who merely consume and share messages and those actually motivated to commit violence.... It can be easy for those who read messages, but do not post their own thoughts, to avoid law enforcement scrutiny." ...

... Timothy Williams, et al., of the New York Times: The FBI is still looking for clues to determine Abdulazeez's motivations. Richard Fausset & Manny Fernandez of the Times look into Abdulazeez's family's life. ...

... Greg Jaffe, et al., of the Washington Post gather info about Abdulazeez's "lifestyle." ...

... William Saletan of Slate compares Abdulazeez's attack on a U.S. Marine recruiting center with U.S. drone attacks on similar facilities in Iraq, Syria & Afghanistan. Satetan dubs Abdulazeez's attack"an act of war" by an "enemy combatant" rather than an act of terrorism, which the U.S. code describes "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets."

Thomas Sugrue, in a Washington Post op-ed: "... many of the racial injustices we associate with the South are actually worse in the North. Housing segregation between black and white residents, for instance, is most pervasive above the Mason-Dixon line.... The division between black and white neighborhoods in the North is a result of a poisonous mix of racist public policies and real estate practices that reigned unchecked for decades.... Education remains separate and unequal nearly everywhere in the United States." New York state has the most segregated schools.

Maureen Dowd: "Time to dismiss the Anger Translator. The president is far more energized than a couple years ago.... He clearly enjoys settling into his favorite role -- the man alone in the arena, disdaining the flattering rituals and back-scratching of politics, the dread drinks with Senator McConnell and stupid golf with Speaker Boehner."

Accidents Waiting to Happen. Jeff Donn of the AP: "Five years after the Obama administration promised to move swiftly to permanently plug unused oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, even more shafts are lingering for longer periods with only temporary sealing, an investigation by The Associated Press shows. It is not clear how many incompletely sealed wells may have leaked -- they generally are not monitored as carefully as active wells -- but they contain fewer barriers to pent-up petroleum and rupture more easily. The threat to the environment increases with time."

Graham Bowley & Sydney Ember of the New York Times: In a four-day deposition taken a decade ago, "Even as [entertainer Bill] Cosby denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, he presented himself in the deposition as an unapologetic, cavalier playboy, someone who used a combination of fame, apparent concern and powerful sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women -- a profile at odds with the popular image he so long enjoyed, that of father figure and public moralist.... Through it all, his manner was largely one of casual indifference."

Presidential Race

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "The first gathering of the Democratic presidential candidates played almost according to script here Friday night. Hillary Rodham Clinton stood above the field but did not dominate. Bernie Sanders displayed the passion that has made him such a favorite of the left. And Martin O'Malley's speech got a reception that belied his anemic poll numbers":

S. V. Date of the National Journal: "Black Lives Matter" protesters shut down Bernie Sanders & Martin O'Malley events at the Netroots Nation convention in Phoenix, Arizona. "Netroots declined to criticize the protest." CW: Another lovely example of liberals being as stupid & rude as conservatives.

Jeb! Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Politically, Jeb Bush wants voters to focus on his first name and his own political record. But when it comes to fundraising, he's still banking on the success of his last name. He hosted wealthy donors, many of whom backed his father and brother's presidential bids, at his parents' coastal estate in Maine this month. And on Friday night, he headlined a raucous dinner hosted by a PAC led in part by his two sons."

Let's honor Marco Rubio as Liar of the Day: He blames President Obama & Harry Reid for failing to pass immigration reform legislation. For some reason, Marco forgot to mention GOP senators' opposition -- the last Senate did eventually pass a bill, with only 14 GOP votes -- & House Republicans, who steadfastly refused even to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote (which Democrats would have passed with minimal GOP support).

Alan Rappeport & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump upended a Republican presidential forum [in Ames, Iowa,] Saturday with incendiary comments about Senator John McCain's war record, drawing widespread condemnation.... Asked about Mr. McCain during an event on Saturday sponsored by an Iowa Christian conservative group, Mr. Trump said of Mr. McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam: 'He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.'" ...

... Josh Feldman of Mediaite: "Donald Trump opened his mouth and let slip forth a word salad in trying to clarify why he attacked John McCain's war hero status." ...

... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Trump managed to avoid serving in the Vietnam war because of a series of draft deferments. Asked why he didn't serve, Trump said, 'I had student deferments and ultimately had a medical deferment because of my feet. I had a bone spur.' But Trump said he did not recall which foot was injured and instructed reporters to look up his records. Trump added, 'I was not a big fan of the Vietnam War. I wasn't a protester, but the Vietnam War was a disaster for our country. What did we get out of the Vietnam War other than death? We got nothing.' After meeting with the news media, Trump took to Twitter, where he did not back down from his criticism of McCain." ...

... Adios, Donaldo. Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump's candidacy probably reached an inflection point on Saturday after he essentially criticized John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War. Republican campaigns and elites quickly moved to condemn his comments -- a shift that will probably mark the moment when Trump's candidacy went from boom to bust.... His comments were nothing less than an invitation for the rest of the Republican Party to begin their long-awaited offensive. So far, the Republican National Committee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have already criticized him for his comments." ...

... Steve M.: Trump has given "all his pants-wetting Republican opponents a golden opportunity. Now they can sanctimoniously attack Trump for besmirching the honor of a great American who suffered torture at the hands of brutal communists -- and they don't have to say a word about every other obnoxious thing Trump has said recently." ...

... Colbert King of the Washington Post: "That a decorated Vietnam War veteran would be sarcastically put down by a loudmouth celebrity presidential wannabe who never wore the uniform, but escaped military service with a series of draft deferments, is one of the most disgusting turns of events in national politics."

CW: Mike Huckabee, the Christian Family Values candidate, seems to have had some trouble directing his own sons' values, as Ophelia M. pointed out yesterday. Here's Huck's boy John Mark in an unreleased film. Johnny-Boy posted the clip on YouTube, but took it down for some odd reason, maybe around the time his daddy criticized President & Michelle Obama for allowing their daughters to listen to Beyoncé recordings:

... Worse. Travis Gettys of the Raw Story: Huck's younger son David "was fired as a Boy Scout counselor at age 17 for allegedly hanging a stray dog from a tree after it wandered into the camp where he worked." The full story (linked second here) by the Huffington Post is screw-loose depraved. CW: Repubicans -- George W. Bush (blowing up frogs), Paul Ryan (catfish noodling). Mitt Romney (dog on the roof of the car) -- seem to find animal cruelty amusing, "exhilarating," or at least acceptable. David Huckabee seems to have the right stuff to run for POTUS or VPOTUS on the GOP ticket.

Beyond the Beltway

Jeremy Borden of the Washington Post: "The Loyal White Knights of the KKK, which calls itself the largest chapter in the United States, held a rally in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday afternoon to protest the removal of the [Confederate] flag.... The New Black Panther Party showed up earlier in the day to protest, on the north side of the statehouse. Members encouraged the hundreds who came to keep things peaceful, while also encouraging African Americans to take ownership of their problems and fight back when necessary. When Klansmen arrived later, the groups clashed intermittently."

News Ledes

AP: "A Kuwait-born man who shot and killed five service members in Tennessee suffered from depression since his early teen years and also fought drug and alcohol abuse, spending time in Jordan last year to help him clean himself up, a family spokesman said Sunday. The representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid unwanted publicity, said relatives of 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez believe those personal struggles are at the heart of last week's killings at a pair of military sites in Chattanooga."

Washington Post: "Former president George H.W. Bush has been discharged from a Maine hospital following a recent fall."