The Ledes

Friday, July 3, 2015.

Hill: "France has rejected an asylum request from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. In a statement reported by Channel News Asia, Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s office explained the rejection by saying that Assange is in no immediate danger. Assange, who has been holed up in Equador’s embassy in London, requested asylum in a letter."

AP: "A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama. A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay."

New York Times: "The health insurer Aetna said on Friday that it had agreed to acquire its smaller rival Humana for $37 billion in cash and stock, signaling the start of what may become a flurry of consolidation in the sector. The deal would bring together two of the United States’ biggest health insurers. The combined company would have estimated operating revenue of $115 billion this year and more than 33 million consumers."

Washington Post: "A U.S. drone strike has killed Tariq al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State militant in Syria, in an attack that took place a day after another American aircraft killed his brother, also an influential militant, in neighboring Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the strike that killed Tariq al-Harzi occurred June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria...."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

Public Service Announcement

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."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 3

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today (as of 9:45 am ET).

New York Times: "On the eve of the most anticipated publishing event in years — the release of Harper Lee’s novel 'Go Set a Watchman' — there is yet another strange twist to the tale of how the book made its way to publication, a development that further clouds the story of serendipitous discovery that generated both excitement and skepticism in February."

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."


Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

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The Commentariat -- Feb. 6, 2013

** Michael Kugelman, in a New York Times op-ed, on the global land grab: big corporations buying up massive tracts of land in impoverished & strife-torn countries, with no benefit & considerable devastation coming to indigenous people.

Frank Newport of Gallup: "At least two-thirds of Americans favor each of five specific measures designed to address immigration issues -- ranging from 68% who would vote for increased government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders, to 85% who would vote for a requirement that employers verify the immigration status of all new hires. More than seven in 10 would vote for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now living in this country."

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama on Wednesday will nominate business executive and former engineer Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department, an administration official said. Jewell is the president and chief executive officer at the outdoors company Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor adventures with more than 100 stores across the country. Prior to joining REI in 2000, Jewell worked in commercial banking and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation." CW: why is it that I think a CEO & former oil company engineer might not be the best choice for secretary of the interior? ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post has more on Jewell. ...

     ... UPDATE. John Broder of the New York Times: "President Obama has selected Sally Jewell, the chief executive of Recreational Equipment Inc., to lead the Interior Department, White House officials said Wednesday."

Robert Worth, et al., of the New York Times: "... the [U.S.'s] clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama's nominee for C.I.A. director." ...

... Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama's plan to install his counterterrorism adviser as director of the CIA has opened the administration to new scrutiny over the targeted-killing policies it has fought to keep hidden from the public, as well as the existence of a previously secret drone base in Saudi Arabia."

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "The summary memo is a chilling document, full of twisted definitions, gaping loopholes and hints that the White House still isn't sharing its full justification for killing citizens without due process.... Fortunately, the president's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA gives the Senate an ideal opportunity to demand that the White House be more forthcoming.... If the White House doesn't hand over the memos, then the Senate should strongly consider delaying Brennan's confirmation."

... New York Times Editors: "... the newly disclosed 'white paper' offering a legal reasoning behind the claim that President Obama has the power to order the killing of American citizens who are believed to be part of Al Qaeda ... had the air of a legal justification written after the fact for a policy decision that had already been made, and brought back unwelcome memories of memos written for President George W. Bush to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture.... This dispute goes to the fundamental nature of our democracy, to the relationship among the branches of government and to their responsibility to the public."

Michael Shear & Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday called on lawmakers to quickly pass a new package of limited spending cuts and tax changes that can head off the automatic, across-the-board reductions set to begin March 1":

... Lori Montgomery & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "As Obama spoke, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office rolled out new projections showing that the spending battles of the past two years have helped shrink record budget deficits but have also hampered economic growth. The deficit — the annual gap between taxes and spending -- is projected to fall to $845 billion this year, the first time it has come in under $1 trillion since 2008." ...

... CW: yesterday the Cantor crowd accused President Obama of stepping on Cantor's speech when he (Obama) made brief remarks in the White House briefing room. However, I suspect Cantor's speech was itself an effort to cover up the CBO report to Congress. Why muzzle the CBO? How about this? -- Steve Benen: "The conversation on Capitol Hill is so ridiculous, it no longer resembles reality in any meaningful way. Congressional Republicans insist they want to improve the strength of the recovery. How? By cutting spending that undermines the strength of the recovery." Read Benen's whole post & you have to come away realizing it is not just the crop of House Tea Party Republicans who are crazy -- it's the "mainstream" leadership, too. (I originally typed that "meanstream"; shoulda left it. ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "... debt reduction just isn't a five-alarm fire kind of problem, no matter how loudly the Pete Petersons of the world claim otherwise.... If we rein in healthcare spending, we're in good shape. If we don't, we have problems." ...

... AND Brian Beutler of TPM explains one reason not to rely on the CBO report: "... this particular budget and economic forecast is highly uncertain, even in the short term. Looming fights over the sequester, government appropriations, and the debt limit could dramatically alter the fiscal outlook and thus the economic forecast, for the year and coming decade. Similarly, deficits will be higher than projected if Congress, as it routinely does, extends expiring tax credits and overrides a 25 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates before the end of the year."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to travel to Israel this spring for the first time since taking office, as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the last four years now that both have won re-election."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Two Democrats and two Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would create a dedicated federal anti-gun-trafficking law while further cracking down on people who buy firearms for someone else and lie about it on federal background check forms."

Eric Cantor's big speech. Text of remarks as prepared. ...

... Ed Kilgore has video of Cantor's "bad speech, poorly delivered." Still, Cantor had an experienced speechwriter -- Barack Obama:

... Jonathan Easley of Politics USA: "Eric Cantor wanted to attach the same stale Republican ideas to the language of Obama. A side by side comparison of the two speeches reveals the hollowness of this technique. Obama's speech in Topeka followed the language with examples and policy proposals. Eric Cantor's speech was full of attempts to relate to the common man and families, but specific ideas were mostly missing. This omission was intentional. Cantor is only interested in changing the tone of the Republican Party, not the policies." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "If Republicans are actually proud of this essay in policy minimalism..., then they are further away from any real reinvention of themselves than even hostile observers like me thought possible." ...

... Headline of the Week: "Eric Cantor Puts Old Whine in New Bottles." (Mark 2:22) Charles Pierce was not impressed with the "details." Because there weren't any. ...

... CW: one thing about this "rebranding" -- borrowing Obama's language without embracing any of Obama's policies -- is that in his borrowing, Cantor implicitly acknowledges that Obama won the election, & polls show he won because Americans like Obama's policies better than they liked the GOP's. Moreover, in this speech Cantor muttered what Republicans haven't said since Saint Ronald decreed "government is the problem": while the bulk of Cantor's speech was the usual boilerplate "get government out of the way of hardworking, self-sufficient Americans," Cantor also admitted that government does have a role to play beyond killing people in foreign lands, & even got semi-specific once; to wit: "There is an appropriate and necessary role for the federal government to ensure funding for basic medical research." One small step from a guy who last year wasn't sure he could vote for disaster aid. ...

... MEANWHILE, Dana Milbank can't help but notice the duplicity of a man who recites Emma Lazarus but claims he has no idea what Senate Republicans are doing about immigration & talks about the evils of ObamaCare without acknowledging that standard-issue Republicans like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio -- a former colleague of Cantor's -- were buying into ObamaCare. Maybe a better biblical reference would be Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." ...

... Perhaps Steve Benen best gets to the heart of Cantor's insurmountable problem: "Cantor seems to realize that another 'government is evil' speech is pointless -- for all the assumptions about the 'center-right nation,' he realizes that the American mainstream sees a role for a healthy public sector that promotes the general welfare. But the problem with this latest rebranding campaign is that Cantor wants to present a Republican agenda that will 'benefit families across the nation,' but he can't fill in the blanks. There's a reason for this, which the right generally prefers not to admit: conservatism isn't an effective governing philosophy when it comes to using government to make a positive material difference in the lives of working families."

Brian Beutler of TPM re: that recent Washington, D.C. Circuit Court decision nullifying President Obama's NLRB recess appointments: "The Congressional Research Service found a total of 329 intrasession recess appointments -- appointments that occurred when the Senate adjourned in the middle of a session -- since 1981. By the terms of Noel Canning v. NLRB, all of those appointments would have been invalid." CW: the D.C. court is so extreme, they claim every president in recent history -- including those who appointed them -- has routinely violated the Constitution while no one objected. Funny this never came up before.

Here's a news quiz from the Pew Research Center. CW: I missed the same question contributor P. D. Pepe missed. Fifty-seven percent of those who took the quiz got the right answer. So we're not so smart. Thanks to James S. for the link.

Nicole Perlroth for the New York Times: at "the Kaspersky Annual Summit in San Juan, P.R..., one of the scarier presentations was delivered by Ang Cui, a Columbia Ph.D. student, who demonstrated how to spy on calls made with Cisco's VoIP phone. Yes, that is the same phone ... President Obama [uses] aboard Air Force One." Cisco tried repeatedly to patch their system, but Cui found work-arounds every time. Cisco gave up. ...

... Perlroth: "Phil Zimmermann, the creator of the widely used Pretty Good Privacy e-mail encryption software, recently unveiled Silent Circle, which adds security features to phone, video and text messages sent by smartphones. The new service, which charges a monthly fee, could emerge as a more secure rival to Snapchat and Skype."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Roveland. Jed Lewison: Karl Rove's new SuperPAC to stop crazy Republicans from winning primaries boasts about have just re-elected the same crazy Republican they held up as the poster Boy of All Crazy Republicans: Rep. Steve King of Iowa. CW: if you think this makes absolutely no sense, remember that you're in Right Wing World where making sense is against the law.

Local News

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Maryland appears likely in the next few weeks to join the growing list of states that have abolished capital punishment. Some longtime death penalty opponents say no one in the country has done more to advance that cause than [Kirk Noble] Bloodsworth. But ending executions in Maryland, the state that once was determined to kill him, would be a personal victory for him." CW: Bloodsworth, the first death-row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence, has a compelling story to tell, & Shane tells it.

America's Worst Governor Makes Plans for a Second Term. Alexander Burns & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Rick Scott is preparing to defend his Florida governorship with the most expensive reelection campaign in state history, drawing up plans for a battleship-sized political operation aimed at overcoming the Republican's deep personal unpopularity. The anticipated price tag, according to sources familiar with Scott’s plans: $100 million." Scott's possible opponent -- Republican-turned-Democrat & former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS makes a pre-emptive strike against actor Ashley Judd, who has expressed an interest in running against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. Kevin Cerilli of Politico has the backstory:

News Ledes

Boy Scouts Not Prepared. AP: "... the Boy Scouts of America is retreating until May from a decision about whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it's likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting."

AP: "The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says. In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August."...

     ... New York Times Update: "Saying it needed to take drastic steps to stem billions of dollars in losses, the Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would seek to stop Saturday delivery of letters, a sweeping change in the way the agency operates that immediately drew criticism from postal unions and some businesses."

Guardian: "The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives."

New York Times: "A leading Tunisian opposition politician, [Chokri Belaid,] who had been critical of the Islamist-led government was fatally shot outside his home in Tunis Wednesday, the government news agency said." ...

... Reuters: "Thousands of protesters gathered in Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, after a prominent secular opponent of Tunisia's moderate Islamist-led government was shot dead on Wednesday."

Reuters: "Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland will pay U.S. and British authorities $615 million and plead guilty to wire fraud in Japan to settle allegations it manipulated global benchmark interest rates."

AP: "As FBI and police negotiators sought for days to coax an Alabama man into freeing a kindergartner held hostage in an underground bunker, the captor was planning for violence.... He rigged the bunker with explosives, tried to reinforce it against any raid, and when SWAT agents stormed the shelter Monday to rescue the boy, Jimmy Lee Dykes engaged in a firefight that left the captor dead, the FBI and officials said."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 5, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton, in Politico, on the Family & Medical Leave Act, which he signed into law 20 years ago today.

President Obama spoke Monday in Minneapolis about controlling gun violence:

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama traveled to the nation's heartland to press his case for tougher gun laws on Monday, even as evidence mounted in Washington that expanded background checks on gun sales may emerge as a legislative compromise in the bitterly divisive cultural debate." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post is not impressed with the NRA's repeated claim that there are thousands of gun laws that are not being enforced: "It may well be the case that there are 'thousands' of laws, but what does that mean? What does counting statutes, or local regulations, say about the quality or effectiveness of those laws? ... This 20,000 figure appears to be an ancient guesstimate that has hardened over the decades into a constantly repeated, never-questioned talking point."

Jim Abrams of the AP: "Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, on Monday launched a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans. The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8.... Advocates hope that Republicans [in the House], smarting from election losses among women voters in November, won't repeat their resistance last year to the Senate approach." ...

... Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The Senators who voted against moving to debate on the bill were: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID)."

Manu Raju & David Rogers of Politico: "Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. The Arizona Republican ... said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel's confirmation."

Julia Preston & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, said on Monday that a series of hearings he will schedule in the coming months would examine ... a possible overhaul of the immigration system, including proposals for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.... Mr. Goodlatte ... has established a solid record of opposition to any measures he regarded as amnesty for illegal immigrants. But he said the Judiciary hearings would include scrutiny of proposals to offer legal status to most of the immigrants living illegally in the country."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans.... White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in his State of the Union address next week." CW: Please do look at the accompanying charts of how long it took different groups to vote. I am so very proud of the bottom line -- the length of time it took to vote in Florida relative to other states. Go Rick Scott! ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A new study by Princeton molecular biologist and neuroscientist Sam Wang digs deeper into the effect of the Republican gerrymander, and finds that the gerrymanders in seven states were so powerful that they are the equivalent of 1.7 million Democrats simply deciding not to show up at the polls.... Such gerrymanders can exist because five conservative justices refused to block partisan redistricting in a case called Vieth v. Jubelirer."

"Republicans v. Consumers." Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to President Obama, cosigned by 42 other Senators, insisting on 'structural changes' to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... Unless those changes are made, Mr. McConnell said, the Senate by golly is not going to approve the appointment of a director." ...

... ** Nullification. Jamelle Bouie: "Republicans have decided to simply block any attempt at enforcing laws they don't like. For the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], this means blocking confirmation for its director -- former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray -- until the administration agrees to gut the agency and leave consumers more vulnerable to predatory financial practices.... Blanket objections to any nominee -- out of opposition to the agency itself -- is an unacceptable and unprecedented abuse of Senate powers. Far from offering 'advice and consent,' GOP senators are using the confirmation process to block implementation of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president." ...

... ** Charles Pierce: "the Republicans seem to be arguing over whether they will be the Party Of Plutocracy or the Party Of The Stupid Rapey Guys. Will they represent the interests that stole most of the economy and wrecked what was left, or will they be the party of the people obsessed with snowflake Jeebus zygotes? ... (It's not the Tea Party that's trying to castrate the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. It's 'establishment Republicans' like Mitch McConnell.... They're acting in the interest of the mountebanks in the new financial establishment, all of them independent political actors.)" CW: I've got news for Pierce. There are plenty of elected GOP officials -- like Paul Ryan -- who represent both wings. ...

... Pierce also wrote an excellent translation of Carly Fiorina's economic philosophy, as expressed in an exchange we saw in yesterday's Commentariat: "Krugman and Fiorina got into it about the best way to put people to work, and Fiorina carefully explained to the Nobel Prize-winning economist that, in her experience at cratering companies and walking away with a big score, public sector employees don't do real jobs and are not paid in real money. They are paid in Magic Federal Dollars which are stolen from the rest of us.... Yes. You see that guy out there with the shovel, filling in the potholes on your street? His salary, such as it is, is not the same thing, and not even remotely as 'efficient,' as paying someone $21 million to clean out their desk."

Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be 'senior operational leaders' of al-Qaida or 'an associated force' -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo ... provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's ... dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan."

New York Times: "The Justice Department, along with state prosecutors, plans to file civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, accusing the firm of fraudulently rating mortgage bonds that led to the financial crisis, people briefed on the plan said Monday. A suit against S.&P. -- expected to filed this week -- would be the first the government has brought against the credit ratings agencies related to the financial crisis, despite continued questions about the agencies' conflicts of interest and role in creating a housing bubble."

Stephen Colbert interviews Justice Sonia Sotomayor. An excellent value:

Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he will accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, becoming the fifth Republican governor to embrace the provision of the health care reform law that the Supreme Court made optional. The governor unveiled the decision as part of his budget proposal."

Rachel Maddow & Frank Rich talk about Republican infighting:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post has what I thought was a fairly good piece on the continuing criticisms of Michelle Obama's physique. Thompson ledes with the story of an Alabama high school football coach -- Bob Grisham -- who, according to Thompson said, "Fat butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight." Thompson even cites a couple of people who -- accurately -- attribute the remarks to racism. But inexplicably Thompson does not report the clearest racist remark Grisham made -- that Obama is "a fat gorilla." ...

     ... CW Update: I've since listened to the audio tape, & Grisham was not the one who made the "fat gorilla" comment, as reported in the Huff Post & elsewhere, though he certainly did not challenge the remark, which might have been made by a student.

... Grisham also made extremely derogatory remarks about gays. According to the AP, "... Grisham has been suspended without pay for 10 days and is ordered to attend sensitivity training for four days." CW: I'm pretty sure whatever "sensitivity training" Coach Bubba gets in Alabama will turn him into a notable civil rights advocate. ...

Bob Grisham. Times-Daily photo.... Update: in response to JJG's comment today, I've posted a picture of Grisham, which unfortunately does not include a shot of his posterior. Nonetheless, the headshot suggests the man is not svelte. The other two people Thompson mentions who have made public remarks criticizing Michelle Obama's body are Rush Limbaugh & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.). ...

In case you don't know what Jim Sensenbrenner looks like, here's his official portrait; that is, what he thinks he looks like:

Now let's see what Sensenbrenner really looks like:

Re: JJG's comment on the obesity rate in Alabama: at 32 percent, it's one of the highest in the nation.

Justin Sink of The Hill: "Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) broke his silence on an alleged prostitution scandal for the first time Monday, dismissing the allegations that he solicited women during trips to the Dominican Republic as 'totally unsubstantiated' and 'absolutely false.' ... One of the women cited ... was interviewed Monday by Univision, and denied having ever worked as a prostitute or having met Menendez."

CW: Rachel Maddow explores a subject I touched on the other day. You cannot confuse wingers with the facts. Also, it's worth noting that over there is Right Wing World, it isn't just Michelle Obama who is too fate; so is her husband (unless he photoshopped in that little tummy the way he did the gun & the smoke & the Mom jeans, etc.):

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: it seems people are outraged at this tweet by former Rep. Ron Paul, the presidential candidate & libertarian dahling: "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense." CW: It seems to me Paul was just stating the obvious, tho because I am always reticent to speak ill of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their deaths, I would have kept my mouth shut on this, too. At least for now. Well-meaning people make mistakes every day, even in their efforts to help others. But those mistakes usually aren't fatal -- unless lethal weapons are involved. ...

... One of those upset: the latest Paul presidential candidate -- Li'l Randy.

The Smoking Gun: "Paul Guaschino was driving Friday when a fellow motorist spotted an 'Impeach Obama' bumper sticker on the 62-year-old Connecticut resident's vehicle. According to cops, the other driver apparently did not appreciate the bumper sticker and 'displayed his dislike by showing his middle finger.' In response, Guaschino allegedly followed the other driver to a traffic light, where he exited his car -- baseball bat in hand -- and struck the trunk of the middle finger-waving driver. The second motorist 'fled in fear of his safety,' police reported." CW Safety Tip of the Day: Do not challenge wingers. They are crazy. Some of them are crazy-violent. They carry weapons. They are prone to using the weapons. ...

... CW: Speaking of guns & Kentucky (see Paul, Rand), this PCCC ad against Mitch McConnell is, IMHO, extremely effective:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lived for decades with a stunning secret -- that she was the interracial daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist who never acknowledged her publicly as his child — died Monday in a nursing home near Columbia, S.C. She was 87."

AP: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, marking a historic departure from years of frigid ties between the two regional heavyweights. Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on the tarmac at Cairo airport, shaking the Iranian's hand and exchanging a kiss on each cheek as a military honor guard stood at attention."

New York Times: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files last Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago to make the painful history public. But it now appears that the files the church released with much fanfare are incomplete and many are unaccounted for, according to the abuse victims' lawyers. In addition, on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, in apparent violation of a judge's order." "Astronomers should dramatically ramp up the sky surveys, not only to better prepare for threats to Earth [by asteroid hits] but also to exploit asteroids' contents, scientists say."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 4, 2013

The Inconsistent Client. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: President Obama's shifting stance on gay marriage creates challenges for his lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Virrelli, who must argue two cases on the issue before the Supreme Court this term.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: "... the release of her new memoir, 'My Beloved World,' suggests that [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] has broader ambitions than her colleagues, to play a larger and more personal role on the public stage."

Lindsey Bourma of CBS News: "President Obama said today there's 'no doubt' additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit, but believes lawmakers can do it 'without raising taxes again'":

Republicans = "Friends of Fraud." Paul Krugman on GOP efforts to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "... just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again."

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "... the Labor Department's latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath. These Americans in their 50s and early 60s -- those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security -- have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to ... a data analysis company." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: but, see, boomers' vulnerability is a big cost-savings for "entitlement" programs. "Failure to provide adequate social services to unemploy[ed] 61 year-olds not only saves money because you don't need to pay for the benefits, it saves even more money when it leads to that guy dying at 71 rather than 74." CW: it's the GOP Die Quickly Plan that Rep. Alan Grayson [D-Fla.] outlined about 4 years ago.

... Digby: "This is why I so love Pete Peterson and Alan Simpson for launching their generational war.... In fact, they should look at what happened to this baby boom generation as an object lesson in timing. You just never know when the bottom is going to fall out and all your best laid plans for saving and accumulating wealth are shot to hell because a bunch of greedy bankers and financiers decided to gamble with other people's money. Most of those who wind up depending on Social Security are hard-working people who did everything right. And that's why these millionaire plutocrats are such con artists. They are trying to preserve America for the young, alright. But it's for their own heirs. That's how moneyed elites turn themselves into Aristocrats."

** NEW. Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: "Take a seat, balloon boy. Paul Krugman has become the first human I've ever witnessed escaping from the gravitational pull of something with black hole-like density: Joe Scarborough and his gang of deficit hacks.... This is not an issue of right-versus-left ideological conflicts. This is a right-versus-wrong conflict, pure and simple. It's a Beltway bubble versus real-world conflict. It's a data-tested versus magical-thinking conflict."

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: "The $178 billion wireless industry is fiercely lobbying against the federal government's plan to create powerful WiFi networks across the nation, but Google, Microsoft say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark major innovation."

David Sanger & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: The Obama administration is moving, "in the next few weeks, to approve the nation's first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack."

NEW. Steve Benen: "In LaPierre's mind, it doesn't matter what officials say their position is, and it doesn't matter what policymakers include in legislation. What really matters is the paranoid imagination of Wayne LaPierre -- who apparently can read minds and ascertain what Democrats secretly have in mind." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The NRA is now revealed as an insane organization." Krugman lets some GOP backbencher have it, & Carly Fiorina lies about what Krugman said less than 2 minutes after he said it. How can anyone abide her?:

... ALSO, Fiorina goes off on one of her myth-repeating rants, & Krugman calls her out for it:

     ... CW: Fiorina's smug girly-girl/schoolmarm demeanor is insufferable, especially because she adopts the pose to make her smoke-blowing seem like heart-rending truthtelling. Wouldn't it be nice if Snuffolopogus were able to fact-check her instead of sitting there mute while she spews disinformation? ...

... CW: One thing to always bear in mind about arguments from the denizens of Right Wing World -- you cannot win because they always grossly distort what their opponents say, whether they're pulling a Fiorina & arguing against something you didn't say or pulling a LaPierre & "reading your mind" and/or calling you a duplicitous liar. Combine this with their uncanny ability to make up "facts" & "statistics" that suit them, & it is pointless to speak to these people.

Law Prof. Shirley Katzen has a very good op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the faulty reasoning behind the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to void President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB. For one thing, the Court has no business interfering at all.

Please, Moroni, Let This Be True. Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Tagg Romney, son of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is considering a Senate run in Massachusetts's upcoming special election, according to the Boston Herald." ...

    ... UPDATE: Crap, there is no Angel Moroni. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Two sources close to both Tagg and his father Mitt tell ABC News it's not going to happen. One consideration for Tagg Romney may be that his father lost the Bay State in last year’s presidential election by 23 points."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Right Wing World. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (and Fox "News"): "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate.The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: American "Crossroads president Steven Law told the New York Times that Crossroads allies are creating the new organization to oppose candidates such as former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who lost a once-competitive Senate race last year. Both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund -- two of the most prominent groups that have boosted candidates on the right -- mocked the new initiative as yet another hapless establishment-side attempt to muzzle the GOP base. Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, branded it the 'Conservative Defeat Project.'" ...

... AND Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... it's possible the Conservative Victory Fund could save the GOP a few seats in 2014, [but] there's also the potential that its existence will only strengthen the right's resolve to fight the party establishment -- and to help the very candidates it's designed to stop."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs finds "an absolutely blatant, in your face example of how the right wing blogs tell each other lies, circulate them, and turn them into unquestionable articles of faith. It's a microcosm of the reality-denying reactionary sickness at the heart of the conservative movement." No Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not say waterboarding led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Michael Harlin of the right-wing American Thinker (a blog name apparently not meant to be comedic) in a post titled "Seven Reasons Why It's a Photoshop." CW: Right Wing World is so predictable, their "journalists" could save a lot of trouble by hiring liberals to write parodies of what they are definitely going to write themselves, then publish the parodies as straight copy & call it a day. ...

... AND Daniel Halper of the Winger Weekly Standard had the Scoop of the Day: the White House released the photo with this caveat: "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House." ...

... CW: Yo, Danny Boy, that standard copyright language goes on every photo the White House makes available for publication. But great catch anyway. Asshole. Apparently Halper has never sought out a depiction of President Obama that doesn't look more-or-less like the WS's "official" portrait. ...

... P.S. Halper's revelation was such big news over there In Right Wing World that -- as is common practice -- it made the rounds. Assholes. ...

... P.P.S.: of course the law-abiding, Constitooshun-loving denizens of Right Wing World couldn't wait to violate the copyright, which -- on accounta they're violating a specific government regulation -- is a federal offense. Instead of throwing 'em all in Club Fed, let's send them to those re-education camps that concerned Michele Bachman. I'll be the teacher. ...

... Michael Shaw of Bag News points out a delicious irony re: the photo release: "... critics and conservatives short-sightedly forced Obama into releasing one of the most advantageous photos of his presidency. We know, of course, that such a photo, unilaterally released by the White House, would have been skewered as an epic example of pandering, in the caliber of 'Dukakis in the tank,' with skeet shooting sure to be derided by NRA-types as sissy stuff. Instead however, forced into releasing the photo as a STFU and evidence he's inhaled fired, the Administration, with absolutely no negative consequence, has inserted this amazing visual into the public record."

News Ledes

Lavonne Paire Davis, known as Pepper Paire. Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.New York Times: "Lavonne Paire Davis, a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 1950s and a consultant for the hit movie 'A League of Their Own,' died on Saturday in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. She was 88.... Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944..."

AP: "President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government's borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation's debt until later this year."

ABC News: "A week-long Alabama standoff in which a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement. 'FBI Agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference. The agent said negotiations with the suspect Richard Lee Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours."

New York Times: "Edward I. Koch, the three-term New York City mayor..., was celebrated on Monday as a transformational figure in the city's history and a quintessential New Yorker."

New York Times: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reported for duty Monday, acknowledging that as Hillary Rodham Clinton's successor he has 'big heels to fill' and promising to protect U.S. foreign service workers from terrorist attacks overseas."

AP: President "Obama will pitch his proposals to stem gun violence Monday in Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state where officials have been studying ways to reduce gun-related attacks and accidents for several years."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 3, 2013

Skeetergate Ends! -- President Exonerated!
Until Conspiracy Theorists Determine Photo Is Faked
Which They Surely Already Have

... Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time. -- President Obama, to The New Republic, January 2013 ...

... A funny segment:

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post puts the President to the Pinocchio test: "The evidence suggests that until Obama had access to a shooting range as president, he never went skeet shooting. He certainly did not speak like a politician who had once used a firearm." Kessler did not award any Pinocchios because he did "not have enough information." Kessler has since updated his post & awarded the President a "Geppetto." ...

... Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs: "Pro tip: if you want to be taken seriously as a fact checker, maybe you should avoid writing absolutely ridiculous articles like [Kessler's].... A 'Gepetto Checkmark' for the president. I'm sure he'll cherish it always." ...

... Peter Baker & Mark Landler of the New York Times: "... on Saturday, the White House tried to silence the skeptics by releasing a photograph of Mr. Obama shooting on the range at Camp David in August." ...

... CW: Clearly (1) an Obama look-alike; (2) Photoshopped: (3) Taken yesterday. I do believe it will be necessary to put White House photographer Pete Souza under oath to settle this. ...

... Sure enough, an actual smoking gun is not good enough for skeetergaters. Max Rivlin-Nadler of Gawker provides a few examples. ...

... CW P.S. To those wingers who are saying "Yeah but Obama can't be a very good shot because blah-blah-blah," let me just note that, unlike Dick Cheney, Obama did not shoot any Republicans in the face. That we know of.

Comparatively Irrelevant News & Commentary

Chris Wallace tore into Wayne LaPierre on "Fox 'News' Sunday." Wallace demonstrated just how ridiculous is the NRA's attempts to make gun safety a "class warfare" issue & to label the President an elitist because his children have Secret Service protection & yours don't. Via Igor Volsky of Think Progress:

David Nakamura & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "President Obama is aiming to grant same-sex couples ... equal immigration rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The proposal could allow up to 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to apply for legal residency and, potentially, U.S. citizenship. But the measure has inspired fierce pushback from congressional Republicans and some religious groups, who say it could sink hopes for a comprehensive agreement aimed at providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants." ...

... NEW. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry [Reid] (D-NV) expressed support for including gay and lesbian families in comprehensive immigration reform, during an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday, insisting that they should have the same protections as everyone else." ...

     ... UPDATE: video of full interview:

Will Weissert of the AP: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry said emphatically Saturday that the Boy Scouts of America shouldn't soften its strict no-gays membership policy, and dismissed the idea of bending the organization to the whims of 'popular culture.' Perry is an Eagle Scout and in 2008 he authored the book 'On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.'"

Mark Landler & Michael Gordon of the New York Times interviewed Hillary Clinton on Thursday. ...

... Landler & Gordon: "As she leaves the State Department, the simplest yardstick for measuring Mrs. Clinton's legacy has been her tireless travels: 112 countries, nearly a million miles, 401 days on the road. Historians will point to how she expanded the State Department's agenda to embrace issues like gender violence and the use of social media in diplomacy."

What a Friend We Had in Timmy. Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times on some reasons the big banks were lucky to have Tim Geithner at Treasury -- and the rest of us were not. Thanks to Kate M. for the link.

Don Walton of the Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star: "Sen. Mike Johanns [R-Neb.] said Saturday he will vote to confirm Chuck Hagel's nomination for secretary of defense. In the wake of Hagel's contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, the green light from Nebraska's senior Republican senator could be timely and pivotal in helping pave the way for additional Republican support in the Senate." ...

... Steve Erickson of the American Prospect in Salon on "John McCain's sad, bitter twilight," much of which Erickson says is a function of his hatred of the upstart Obama. CW: when Obama pisses you off -- as he invariably will do -- just remember that he saved us from McCain & McRomney. ...

... Frank Rich comments on the foibles & fantasies of McCain & Co.

"Cockroach Ideas." Paul Krugman complains about people's continually repeating the same economic myths. ...

... Richard Longworth of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has a summary of Krugman's remarks. The page also has a link to audio of the program. (I've listened to the audio, & it's quite good.)

Alex Pareene of Salon: "... deficit fear-mongering succeeded in getting 57 percent of survey respondents to believe that Social Security is a 'crisis or significant problem,' until they learned that minor tax increases would make it totally sustainable for 75 years, at which point 74 percent of Americans were like 'Oh, really? Then it seems fine, why don't they ever put it like that on the news.' ... This news will presumably enrage and baffle Joe Scarborough, because everyone he knows knows that we must Do Something About Entitlements."

Zeke Emanuel in the New York Times: "... bending the health care cost curve will actually spur the economy forward."

Jake Miller of CBS News: "Republican Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after the disclosure of thousands of 'late night telephone calls' Sheehy placed to four women, none of whom were his wife, during the last four years. His resignation was announced at a morning press conference by Gov. Dave Heinemann, also a Republican, who said that Sheehy had broken 'the public trust.' ... His wife, Connie Sheehy, filed for divorce last July...." CW: how is it possible that the lieutenant governor of a state with a population of less than 2 million has so much to do that having phone sex with multiple women would interfere with his public duties?

News Ledes

So apparently the Ravens beat the 49ers in a "Super Bowl thriller," CBS reports. I was nevermore thrilled.

AP: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in phone calls this weekend, assuring them the Obama administration will continue to pursue a Mideast peace agreement while recognizing the individual concerns on both sides."

Odd News. New York Times: "The story of an emaciated, ragged man found wandering barefoot in the middle of a quiet country road last week in County Leitrim, near the border with Northern Ireland, continues to confound the police, even after he was identified as a missing Irish property tycoon who said he was abducted eight months ago and tortured during his captivity." The Irish Times has related stories here.

New York Times: "The Israeli attack last week on a Syrian convoy of antiaircraft weapons appears to have also hit the country's main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons, according to American officials who are sorting through intelligence reports."

AP: "Former Navy SEAL and 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle was fatally shot along with another man Saturday on a Texas gun range, a sheriff told local newspapers." ...

     ... New York Times Update: police have identified a suspect in the shooting -- Eddie Ray Routh, a veteran whom Kyle & a friend had taken to a shooting range. Routh allegedly also shot & killed Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield.

New York Times: "Egypt's interior minister offered a rare apology on Saturday after officers under his command were seen on television beating a naked man two blocks from the presidential palace. But under what his family said was police coercion, the victim, Hamada Saber, said in an interview later that the officers had been helping rather than attacking him."

AP: "Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said."

New York: former President Bill Clinton & New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will eulogize former Mayor Ed Koch tomorrow.