The Ledes

Friday, October 9, 2015.

New York Times: "The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday 'for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011'.... The quartet comprises four organizations: the Tunisian General Labour Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. But the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasized that the prize 'is awarded to this quartet, not to the four individual organizations as such.'”

AP: "Officials say one person is dead and three others are wounded following an early morning shooting at Northern Arizona University. School public relations director Cindy Brown says the suspected shooter is in custody."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 8, 2015.

New York Times: "Paul Prudhomme, the chef who put the cooking of Louisiana — especially the Cajun gumbos, jambalayas and dirty rice he grew up with — on the American culinary map, died on Thursday in New Orleans. He was 75.

Air Force Times: "Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, who helped take down a gunman on a train in Belgium, was stabbed four times in the chest in Sacramento early Thursday morning, Air Force Times has learned.... Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said in an email in Air Force Times, "... He is currently in stable condition." Sacramento police tweeted: 'The assault incident is not related to a terrorist act.  Assault occurred near a bar, alcohol is believed to be a factor.'”

Motherboard: "On Wednesday, a jury in Sacramento, California, found Matthew Keys, former social media editor at Reuters and an ex-employee of KTXL Fox 40, guilty of computer hacking under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act. In 2010, Keys posted login credentials to the Tribune Company content management system (CMS) to a chatroom run by Anonymous, resulting in the defacement of an LA Times article online. The defacement was reversed in 40 minutes, but the government argued the attack caused nearly a million dollars in damage."

New York Times: "The leadership of world soccer’s governing body plunged into chaos on Thursday, as three of the game’s most powerful figures, including Sepp Blatter, the longtime president of FIFA, were suspended amid an investigation by the Swiss authorities into suspected corruption. In addition to Mr. Blatter, Michel Platini, who is a FIFA vice president and the head of European soccer’s governing body, and Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general who was already on disciplinary leave, were “provisionally banned” from the sport. The suspensions took effect immediately."

Reuters: "The number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected to near a 42-year low last week, pointing to ongoing tightening in the labor market despite the recent slowdown in hiring."

New York Times: "Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and prose writer, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday 'for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,' the Swedish Academy announced."

Washington Post: "The United Auto Workers union narrowly avoided a strike against Fiat Chrysler of America early Thursday morning, announcing an agreement less than two days after threatening to pull as many as 40,000 workers off the job while contract negotiations soured."

The Week: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his wife, Landra Gould, filed a product liability lawsuit Tuesday in Clark County, Nevada, against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid said was behind an accident in January that injured his eye."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post [Sept. 11]: "Aggressive treatment of high blood pressure can sharply cut the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in people 50 and older, according to a landmark federal study released Friday that urges doctors to bring their patients’ blood pressure well below the commonly recommended target. The new research advises people with high blood pressure to keep their “systolic” pressure — the top number in the reading that health-care providers routinely tell patients — at 120 or below.

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

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

White House Live Video
October 9

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

AND contributor D. C. Clark was kind enough to remind us of Eva Cassidy:

Here's a break from the parade of horribles in the left column:

A friend sent me this version. You'll want to supersize it:

MoviePilot: Quite a few people think the film "The Martian" -- which depicts an Earthly astronaut stuck on Mars -- is "based on a true story." ...

... CW: Reminds of Orson Welles' 1938 radio production of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. History Channel: "Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, 'New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!'”

New York Times: "Europe’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people’s digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid. The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how seamlessly global technology giants — the likes of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — can continue to collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday’s ruling."

One More Reason Not to Let Jeff Bezos into Your House. Bloomberg: " Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t 'interact well' with Prime Video." ...

... Karl Bode of Tech Dirt: "Amusingly, Amazon unloads what has to be one of the larger piles of ambiguous bullshit in defense of an anti-competitive position seen in some time: "Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,' Amazon said in [an] e-mail [to sellers]. 'It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.'" Hilarious. Except it's up to developers to embed Chromecast support into their services and apps, and both Google and Apple publish open software development kits that allows any application to be utilized on both devices. In other words, it's Amazon's choice that Chromecast and Apple TV won't play nicely with Amazon Prime Instant Streaming. It has nothing to do with the devices not 'interacting well' with Amazon's services." ...

... Alison Griswold of Slate: "It will be interesting to see whether Amazon’s move with regard to streaming content raises any antitrust flags. Generally speaking, a company has breached antitrust laws when it has a monopoly and uses that monopoly to stifle competition."

Congratulations, Aliens! You are no longer in violation of U.S. copyright law:

... Our Long National Nightmare Is Over. Los Angeles Times: "In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, [a federal] judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the 'Happy Birthday To You' song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.... Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song."

When the posh British PM David Cameron was a lad, he fucked a dead pig. The antics of our own Aqua Buddha Boy pale by comparison.

New York Times: "It was a night of firsts, and a night for establishment cable at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best lead actress on a drama series, for her role as a defense lawyer on ABC’s 'How to Get Away With Murder'; Jon Hamm won his first Emmy after seven previous nominations for his role as the tortured Don Draper on 'Mad Men'; and HBO, led by victories for the comedy 'Veep,' the drama 'Game of Thrones' and a four-part limited series, 'Olive Kitteridge,' had a triumphant showing, with 14 victories, including best drama and outstanding comedy series."


Washington Post: "When Pope Francis arrives in Washington this week for the start of a six-day visit to the United States, he might find at least one local spot that reminds him of home. That’s Brookland, a neighborhood in Northeast Washington so chockablock with Catholic institutions that it has been called 'Little Rome.'”

New York Times: "When the comedian Steve Rannazzisi has explained his success, which includes seven seasons starring on a popular TV show, 'The League,' and a one-hour special this Saturday on Comedy Central, he has frequently attributed it to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.... Confronted this week, though, with evidence that undermined his account, Mr. Rannazzisi, after a day of deliberation, acknowledged on Tuesday that his account was fiction."

Washington Post (Sept. 15): "King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain ... arrive in Washington this week for their first official visit.... The couple will meet with President Obama and Senate leaders on Tuesday (which happens to be the queen’s 43rd birthday), open an American-Spanish scientific conference at Georgetown University [where Felipe attended grad school], meet with American chief executives who do business in Spain, and head to Florida to celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine."

Perfect! Guardian: "Arnold Schwarzenegger is to replace Donald Trump as the host of the NBC reality show Celebrity Apprentice, the network has announced."

New York Times: "For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new subway stop [in Manhattan] is open for business.... The extended subway line is a descendant of the train lines that ran along 11th Avenue from the mid-1800s until 1941." The stop is an extension of the No. 7 line. Exits are at 34th St. & 11th Ave.:



MoDo goes to Paris to check out Google's Google's Cultural Institute, which is on a mission to "digitally replicate and curate all art and culture on earth." CW: The Times should stop giving Dowd these difficult war-correspondenty assignments. Why isn't she in New York, checking out the runways during Fashion Week?

The President Awards the National Medals of the Arts and Humanities:

Washington Post: "New images of Pluto show the amazing diversity of" the planet's landscape. "Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team, added that the surface was 'every bit as complex as that of Mars,' with jumbled mountains, nitrogen ice flows, and possible dunes." Includes slideshow.

Wowza! New York Times: "Acting on a tip from spelunkers two years ago, scientists in South Africa discovered what the cavers had only dimly glimpsed through a crack in a limestone wall deep in the Rising Star cave: lots and lots of old bones. The remains covered the earthen floor beyond the narrow opening. This was, the scientists concluded, a large, dark chamber for the dead of a previously unidentified species of the early human lineage — Homo naledi. The new hominin species was announced on Thursday by an international team of more than 60 scientists led by Lee R. Berger, an American paleoanthropologist who is a professor of human evolution studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The species name, H. naledi, refers to the cave where the bones lay undisturbed for so long; 'naledi' means 'star' in the local Sesotho language." ...

... Here's the Life Sciences report. ...

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The Commentariat -- May 4, 2013

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. ...

... Randal Archibold & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of young people [in Mexico City], on Friday declared a new era in relations with Mexico that will focus on strengthening the countries' economic ties and that will play down the battle against drug gangs that has dominated the discourse for several years":

... Kathleen Hennessey & Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama on Friday painted a sunny picture of a modern Mexico emerging from its past troubles, an attempt at rebranding that serves the political aims of both governments but clashes with the realities of a country beset by violence and poverty."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The American economy continues to add jobs in proportion to population growth. Nothing less, nothing more. The share of American adults with jobs has barely changed since 2010, hovering between 58.2 percent and 58.7 percent. This employment-to-population ratio stood at 58.6 percent in April. That is about four percentage points lower than the employment rate before the recession, a difference of roughly 10 million jobs. In other words, the United States economy is not getting any closer to recreating the jobs lost during the recession." ...

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "Over the last 12 years, the United States has gone from having the highest share of employed 25- to 34-year-olds among large, wealthy economies to having among the lowest." ...

... Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "The unemployment rate for college graduates in April was a mere 3.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for the work force as a whole.... Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.... ... There is ample evidence that employers are hiring college-educated workers for jobs that do not actually require college-level skills -- positions like receptionists, file clerks, waitresses, car rental agents and so on." ...

... Floyd Norris of the New York Times: "The economic recovery from the recession that officially ended in 2009 has been extremely disappointing for American consumers. But for business, it has been the best recovery in decades."

"It's the GOP's World; We Just Live in It." Kevin Drum points out, in case nobody noticed, that Congressional Democrats & President Obama are playing into Republicans' hands. ...

... Jonathan Bernstein, in the Washington Post: "The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has released an important new report that details Barack Obama's record on nominating judges during his first term. It's no surprise: Republican obstruction against his selections was unprecedented.... Ordinary people who just want to get their legal matters taken care of promptly have suffered because of all the vacancies on federal courts. It's really a disgrace."

Lyin' Ryan, Ctd. Rebecca Leber of Think Progress: "David Novak, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency in Wisconsin, confronted [Paul] Ryan over the impact the sequester is having.... Ryan's response to Novak reinvented his long standing position on budget cuts. Not only did Ryan disavow any responsibility for helping create the sequester, he also omitted how his budget plan similarly shrinks the EPA" for which Novak works. Novak, BTW, was satisfied with Ryan's response. Lies work. ...

... Or maybe Ryan just has a really, really bad memory. Steve Benen chimes in with a list of things Ryan accidentally forgot:

Ryan doesn't remember the spending cuts in the Budget Control Act.

Ryan doesn't remember that he used to refer to his own plan to end Medicare as "vouchers."

Ryan doesn't remember taking credit for the sequestration policy he later condemned.

Ryan doesn't remember learning about Democratic alternatives to the sequester.

Ryan doesn't remember what happened with the 2011 "super committee."

Ryan doesn't remember Bill Clinton's tax increases.

Ryan doesn't remember the times he condemned social-insurance programs as "taker" programs.

Ryan doesn't remember all of the times he appealed to the Obama administration for stimulus funds for his congressional district.

Ryan doesn't remember his marathon times.

Ryan doesn't remember how much he was inspired by Ayn Rand.

Ryan doesn't remember his own speeches.

Jon Favreau in the Daily Beast on the limited powers of the presidency.

Joe Nocera: "For all the protestations by gun owners that most are responsible with their weapons, I have been struck by how many killings take place because people do careless, stupid things. In the gun report that my assistant, Jennifer Mascia, and I compile on my blog, I see daily examples of children accidentally shooting other children with a gun found in the house.... When a passenger dies in a car accident that is the result of negligence, there are usually serious legal consequences for the driver. If we really want to reduce gun violence, there must be consequences for negligent gun owners, too." ...

Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, was killed by the gunman, was outside the building and said she hoped to talk to as many NRA members as she could. 'I am not against people owning guns. I am asking for safe and responsible gun ownership and gun laws. I don't understand where the problem is with background checks,' Lafferty said." That young woman has more courage in her little finger than the whole bunch of convention-goers cheering Sarah Palin, et al. (The photo accompanying the AP story in the Houston Chronicle is of a guy standing next to a tee-shirt emblazoned with a picture of a pistol beneath the statement "I Don't Dial 911."

The NRA was started ... by some Yankee generals who didn't like the way my southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the 'War of Northern Aggression.' Now, y'all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the War of Northern Aggression down south.... The very reason that they started the National Rifle Association, was to teach and train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm. And I am one who still feels very strongly that that is one of our most greatest charges that we can have today, is to train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm, so that when they have to fight for their country they're ready to do it. Also, when they're ready to fight tyranny, they're ready to do it. -- Incoming NRA President Jim Porter, in a 2012 speech

... Vertuno has more on Porter: "As shown by his 'culture war' comment Friday and others in his past, Porter's style is likely to be one that fans the flames of an emotionally combustible debate."

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "Libertarian activist and radio host Adam Kokesh is hoping to get 1,000 people to march on Washington on July 4 -- armed with loaded rifles. The plan, launched with a Facebook group today, is to gather on the Virginia side of the Potomac, where gun laws are lax, and then march across the bridge with loaded rifles slung over their shoulders into the District, where openly carrying weapons is generally prohibited. 'This will be a non-violent event,' the Facebook group warns, 'unless the government chooses to make it violent.' ... [Friday] he tweeted this: 'When the government comes to take your guns, you can shoot government agents, or submit to slavery.'" Thanks to Akhilleus for the link & commentary on same. ...

... Ed Kilgore follows up in a big way on my comment re: Louie Gohmert's dangerous rabble-rousing rhetoric: "... please join me in calling on conservatives to cut this crap out and separate themselves from those who believe in vindicating the 'original constitution' or defending their property rights or exalting their God or protecting the unborn via armed revolution. If William F. Buckley could 'excommunicate' Robert Welch and the John Birch Society from the conservative movement back in the 1960s, today's leaders on the Right can certainly do the same to those who not only share many of that Society's views, but are willing to talk about implementing them by killing cops and soldiers."

Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department has acknowledged flaws in forensic testimony by the FBI that helped convict a man in the 1992 slayings of two Mississippi State University students, and federal officials have now offered to retest the DNA in the case. The extraordinary admission and offer come just days before the man is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday and present a quandary for Mississippi officials about whether to stop the execution of Willie Jerome Manning, 44."

FINALLY, in its annual spring cleaning feature, the Washington Post asks reporters what should be tossed out. Thomas Hicks, a former Post reporter, suggests Texas.

Congressional Races

Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Gabriel E. Gomez, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Massachusetts, is nearly tied with his Democratic opponent, US Representative Edward J. Markey, according to a poll released Friday. Gomez, who scored an upset victory over two rivals in the Republican primary on Tuesday, has the support of 40 percent of likely voters in the June 25 general election,compared to 44 percent for Markey, according to the survey by Public Policy Polling.... Sixteen percent of respondents said they were undecided. The four percentage point spread is surprisingly thin in such a heavily Democratic state and suggests Markey, a 36-year veteran of the US House, is far from a lock in the general election."

Alexander Burns of Politico: Michael McFadden, "a wealthy Minneapolis finance executive, appears poised to enter the race against first-term Democratic Sen. Al Franken." Sez McFadden: "Minnesotans would rather have a crass materialist represent them than a clown who gives a shit about people." CW: okay, maybe he didn't say that, but no doubt that's what he thinks.

Local News

Nullification. Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "In late April, the Kansas legislature passed and Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a law that blocks enforcement of any federal gun laws on guns produced and used within the state of Kansas. Under the law, 'any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.' Attorney General Eric Holder has written to Brownback that the law is unconstitutional and that the government 'will take all appropriate action including litigation if necessary, to prevent the State of Kansas from interfering with the activities of federal officials enforcing federal law.'" Other states are pulling similar stunts.

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "Six months after Florida became the butt of late-night jokes for a chaotic voting process that bedeviled the 2012 presidential election, the State Legislature passed a bill on Friday to remedy many of those problems." The Miami Herald report, by Mark Caputo & Michael Van Sickler, is here. Seems Marco Rubio (who used to speaker of the Florida house) had a hand in writing the law.

Seanna Adcox of the AP: South Carolina "State senators inserted a clause in the 2013-14 budget plan that would bar Gov. Nikki Haley's office and the Governor's Mansion from buying junk food with public money, whether for employee treats or entertaining. The move was a response to state efforts to fight obesity by limiting what people can buy with money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, known more commonly as food stamps." Adam Beam of The State has a longer piece here. ...

... Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian, a trial lawyer, longtime Democratic leader, and legendary figure in local politics, reportedly told a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner that the Democratic challenger would send "Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from.' Haley was born in South Carolina. Her parents are from India." CW: You might be a racist if -- you're a white Southerner, no matter your political affiliation.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old man who the authorities say is one of two brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, died of gunshot wounds and blunt trauma, according to his death certificate."

AP: " A wildfire tearing through a coastal region in Southern California nearly tripled in size as high temperatures fueled the flames, but a fire official said early Saturday that a favorable shift in the weather will likely help crews make progress against the flames. The fire 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles mushroomed to 43 square miles Friday...."

Reuters: "Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday." ...

     ... Update. The Washington Post has more here. ...

     ... Update 2. AP: "Israeli missiles struck a research center near the Syrian capital Damascus, setting off explosions and causing casualties, Syria's state news agency reported early Sunday, citing initial reports. If confirmed, it would be the second Israeli strike on targets in Syria in three days, signaling a sharp escalation of Israel's involvement in Syria's bloody civil war."

Reuters: "Five U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb in southern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the U.S. Armed Forces said on Saturday. The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive on Sunday, saying it would take aim at foreign military bases and diplomatic areas."

Bags of Cash Are on the Truck. AP: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that the CIA's station chief in Kabul has assured him that regular funding the U.S. intelligence agency gives his government will not be cut off."

AP: "The death toll in the factory-building collapse in Bangladesh rose to more than 530 on Saturday, a day after the country's finance minister downplayed the impact of the disaster on the garment industry, saying he didn't think it was 'really serious.'"


The Commentariat -- May 3, 2013

Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "Whatever the data ultimately show for April, economists ... say the economy would be showing much more momentum if it were not for the combination of higher payroll taxes that went into effect in January, as well as the process of automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that began to bite last month." ...

... Jared Bernstein on today's jobs report: "Those looking for losses in sequester-sensitive industries could see some evidence in the report, as construction (down 6,000), government (down 11,000), and manufacturing (zero jobs added) all came in weak. Thus, all of the job gains last month came from private, service producing industries. Also, in signs that labor demand is still not strong enough, wage growth remains subdued, up 1.9% over the past year, and average weekly hours ticked down last month." ...

... Paul Krugman: Oh, noes. Inflation is too low!

Julie Pace of the AP: "Acknowledging uncertainty ahead, President Barack Obama said Thursday the U.S. will cooperate with Mexico in fighting drug-trafficking and organized crime in any way Mexico's government deems appropriate. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto emphasized that the security relationship must be expanded to focus on trade and commerce." ...

Gene Robinson: "Rather than use the veto pen that must be gathering dust in some Oval Office drawer, Obama signed legislation that cushions air travelers from the effects of the crude, cruel budget cuts known as the 'sequester.' The ... FAA is now allowed to shuffle funds around to avoid furloughing air-traffic controllers -- thus avoiding flight delays. At his news conference Tuesday, Obama said he agreed to sign the measure because the alternative was to 'impose a whole bunch of delays on passengers.' That's true -- and it's precisely why the president should have vetoed this quick-fix bill." ...

... CW: I'm totally with Gene on this. The FAA bill was an instance where Obama could have "showed some leadership" but utterly failed to do so. After all, Democrats voted for the FAA deal en masse, right along with Republicans. Signing that bill was an unconscionable act of weakness. The whole idea of the sequester, as Robiinson says, was to set up conditions so untenable that even the Tea Party brats would have to "come to the table." Obama brought their tea & crumpets right to their desks so they didn't have to doff their tricorns & act minimally responsible.

Lolita Baldor of the AP: "The Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels who have been locked in a civil war with the Syrian regime for more than two years, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday, becoming the first top U.S. official to publicly acknowledge the reassessment."

New York Times Editors: "Appearing before Planned Parenthood's annual convention last Friday, President Obama pledged his continuing support for women's reproductive rights. In a speech before the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, Mr. Obama promised to keep science a sphere 'not subject to politics' or 'skewed by an agenda.' On Wednesday, his administration betrayed both reproductive rights and science. The Justice Department announced that it would appeal a federal court ruling that would make morning-after pills available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama on Thursday said he is 'very comfortable' with a new rule issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would allow women ages 15 and older to buy the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B without a prescription.... Obama said he understood that there was 'solid scientific evidence' that the contraception was safe for girls of that age.... The president also defended the Justice Department's decision, announced late Wednesday, to appeal a federal court ruling that made the pill available to girls of all ages without a prescription. Obama maintained that both the appeal and the FDA rule were decisions made without the involvement of the White House. The president also left open the possibility that the FDA could revisit the Plan B rule and create over-the-counter access for girls under 15."

** Michael Tomasky of Newsweek offers the passage of the controversial Panama Canal Treaty in 1978 -- wherein the U.S. gave up the canal it had built -- as proof that today's GOP, by contrast, "is simply not a mainstream political party in the traditional American sense. It is a radical oppositionalist faction, way beyond the normal American parameters both in terms of ideology and tactics.... [Jimmy] Carter, a weakened and already not-very-popular president, got 16 Republican votes.... What was different then was ... the nature of the GOP. Imagine Obama presenting a similar treaty to the US Senate today.... It wouldn't have a prayer of getting a single Republican vote. This would not be because Obama doesn't scare people or, conversely, because he fails to drink bourbon with McConnell.... This is a unique and bleak historical situation." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "A major new study on Medicaid just became public.... This study is already getting a lot of attention: Conservatives and libertarians are citing it as evidence that expanding Medicaid is wrong. That has me wondering: Did they read read the same study that I did? ... The big news is that Medicaid virtually wiped out crippling medical expenses among the poor.... In addition, the people on Medicaid were about half as likely to experience other forms of financial strain.... The other big finding was that people on Medicaid ended up with significantly better mental health.... One place improvement did not appear was physical health. And this was something of a surprise." ...

... CW: I don't find this especially surprising, especially in light of Ezra Klein's excellent piece (which I linked a few days ago) on the very effective visiting nurse program, which the government is thinking of shutting down. I expect that, on average, poor people are less able than wealthier people to understand & follow "doctors' orders." They are probably less educated, more intimidated by doctors, less able to comprehend medical jargon, less willing to ask questions of doctors & other medical personnel, less organized in their daily habits (so have more difficulty in following routine daily medical regimens), less willing to take personal responsibility for their health & dietary needs, more skeptical about cause-and-effect, etc. To that add that doctors themselves may be partially to blame as I don't doubt that many treat Medicaid patients with less respect than they do their "paying" -- i.e., privately-insured -- patients. For Medicaid to be effective, patients must be educated -- and coaxed -- to follow through on prescribed regimens. P.S. Please save your outrage over my "stereotyping" Medicaid patients. I know that plenty of them are sharp, responsible people. I'm talking about averages, not individuals. And I might be wrong. But I doubt it. ...

     ... Update. Wait, wait, conservatives' glee at the study results gets even more hilarious. It turns out they could not have, um, read the study. Kevin Drum discovered that the only reason the study results showed "no improvement" in the health conditions they tested for is that the sample was too small to be statistically conclusive. In fact, in the small sample, "it turns out there were improvements" in health conditions.

This is stunning. In an ad, the Republican National Committee blames President Obama for Republicans obstructionism. In addition, they used news footage of the President consoling a grieving Newtown mother in support of their "point." So if I punch you in the mouth, it's your fault you're bleeding. The whole damned GOP is a sociopathic cancer on the nation.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest round of polling finds that Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu helped their cause for reelection with their recent votes in support of background checks for gun sales. More than 70% of voters in each of their [red] states support such checks, and their constituents say they're more likely to vote for them next year because of their votes.... Polling we released earlier in the week showed what a backlash there was against Senators on both sides of the aisle who voted against the background checks bill. But what this polling shows is that voters aren't just mad at politicians who voted against Manchin/Toomey - they're also ready to reward Senators who supported it- even in states that voted for Mitt Romney last year like North Carolina and Louisiana."

This segment isn't particularly funny, but it speaks to an egregious government SNAFU that Stewart has highlighted before:

Jamie on the Hot Seat. Jessica Silver-Greenberg & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Government investigators have found that JPMorganChase devised 'manipulative schemes' that transformed 'money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers,' and that one of its most senior executives gave 'false and misleading statements' under oath." The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission warned the bank it would crack down on the schemes. "The possible action comes amid showdowns with other agencies. One of the bank's chief regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is weighing new enforcement actions against JPMorgan over the way the bank collected credit card debt and its possible failure to alert authorities to suspicions about Bernard L. Madoff.... The comptroller's office delivered an unusually stark message to Jamie Dimon, the chief executive and chairman: the nation's biggest bank was quickly losing credibility in Washington....Dimon, who is not suspected of any wrongdoing, met this week with prosecutors and the F.B.I. to discuss the [Madoff] case."

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: "A day after the Walt Disney Company disclosed that it was ending apparel production in Bangladesh, that country’s garment manufacturers expressed alarm that other Western corporations might follow Disney's lead. They feared that could bring about a potential mass exodus that would devastate Bangladesh's economy and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people." CW: maybe you corrupt bastards should have thought of that before you threatened the lives of tens of thousands of workers.

Adam Serwer of Mother Jones criticizes Charles Pierce for claims that black homophobia is "the most virulent and stubborn of all."

Local News

Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun: "Surrounded by religious leaders, civil rights activists and others who have fought for years to stop executions in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the state's death penalty. Unless the law is overturned in a referendum, Maryland will become the 18th state to end capital punishment, leaving life without parole as the maximum penalty for any crime." ...

... New York Times Editors: "But, in too many states, support for capital punishment continues to overwhelm good sense. The Florida Legislature this week passed a bill that requires the governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of a review of a capital conviction by the State Supreme Court, and the state to execute the defendant within 180 days of the warrant. This rush-to-execute bill irresponsibly ignores the fact that since 1973, when the state reinstituted the death penalty, one death row inmate has been exonerated for every three executed."

Randal Edgar of the Providence Journal: "With hundreds looking on, Governor Chafee signed two bills Thursday that make Rhode Island the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.... Chafee added his signature to the bills shortly after the House passed them on 56 to 15 votes. The bills allow same-sex weddings as of August 1 and also allow couples who joined in civil unions to change their status to married."

Congressional Races

Scott Keyes & Adam Peck of Think Progress: "South Carolina has a reputation for dirty tricks, and next week's special election between former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is no exception. One of the most popular tactics is known as 'push polling,' whereby a group calls up voters under the guise of conducting a poll, only to ask questions that leave the voter with a highly-misleading impression about a certain candidate." Here are some of the questions the push-pollers asked, the hypotheses of which have no basis in fact:

What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had had an abortion?

What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held her in contempt of court at her divorce proceedings?

What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time?

What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she was caught running up a charge account bill?

     ... CW: BTW, I checked the Charleston paper, the Post & Courier News, & South Carolina's biggest paper, The State, and neither of them carried a story on the push-polling as far as I could tell, so unless some of the local TV stations reported on it, potential voters -- especially unsophisticated ones -- would have no idea they were being fed lies.

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe: "In the first sign that Democrats are preparing to pull out the party's big financial guns for US Senate nominee Edward J. Markey, Michelle Obama is scheduled to appear at a Boston fund-raiser for the Malden congressman later this month.... The First Lady, who is making her first fund-raising appearance since the November presidential election, will headline the party at the Taj Boston on May 29...."

The Louie Gohmert Daily News

Government by Old White Boys. Tim Egan noticed Louie! -- the "un-representative" of the people. "... look at how different this Republican House is from the country they are supposed to represent. It's almost like a parallel government, sitting in for some fantasy nation created in talk-radio land...."

AND Glenn Kessler noticed Louie, too!


News Ledes

Washington Post: "Federal law enforcement officials are sharpening their focus on the widow of the dead suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings after finding al-Qaeda's Inspire magazine and other radical Islamist material on her computer, according to law enforcement officials."

Bloomberg News: "Employment picked up more than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, showing the early stages of government budget cuts failed to destabilize the U.S. labor market. Payrolls expanded by 165,000 workers last month following a revised 138,000 increase in March that was larger than first estimated...."

New York Times: "The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings told F.B.I. interrogators that he and his brother considered suicide attacks and striking on the Fourth of July as they plotted their deadly assault, according to two law enforcement officials." Story includes other updates on the case, including developments in the investigation of Katherine Russell, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow.

New York Times: "Gunmen on Friday fatally shot a Pakistani prosecutor who had been investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the 2008 Mumbai attacks, carrying out an assassination that threw into turmoil Pakistan's most politically charged cases. Assailants opened fire on the prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfikar Ali, as he drove to work from his home in a suburb of the capital, Islamabad, for a court hearing in which the former military leader, Pervez Musharraf, faces charges in relation to Ms. Bhutto's death in 2007."

Atlantic: "For the second time this week an American cargo plane has crashed overseas, after a military jet has gone missing in Kyrgyzstan. The C-135 fuel transporter disappeared from radar on Friday, shortly after taking off from a U.S. air base near the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border. Kyrgyz emergency services say the plane has crashed, but there is no word yet on casualties."

Ratburgers. Reuters: "Chinese police have broken a crime ring that passed off more than $1 million in rat and small mammal meat as mutton ... in a food safety crackdown that coincides with a bird flu outbreak and other environmental pressures."


The Commentariat -- May 2, 2013

Obama 2.0. Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama will nominate Penny Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and a longtime financial backer of the president, to be the new commerce secretary.... The president will also nominate Michael Froman, a top national security official, to be the new United States trade representative." ...

... Matt Vasilogambros of the National Journal sketches Pritzker's biography & alludes to some of the issues she likely will face in the confirmation process. ...

... ** Romney 1.0. Obama 2.0, Ctd. John Cassidy on Obama's bad pick to head the FCC -- veteran communications industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler. CW: Wheeler sounds just like the kind of nominee Mitt Romney would select -- and make Democrats howl.

Obama 1.Stupid. Pam Belluck & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "The Obama administration moved Wednesday to keep girls under 15 from having over-the-counter access to morning-after pills, as the Justice Department filed a notice to appeal a judge's order that would make the drug available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.... The decision to appeal is striking in part because, before [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius overruled it in 2011, the F.D.A. -- the Justice Department's client in this case -- had moved to do exactly what Judge [Edward] Korman ordered last month. ...

... Josh Lederman & Lauran Needgaard of the AP: "The Obama administration's decision to appeal a court order lifting age limits on purchasers of the morning-after pill set off a storm of criticism from reproductive rights groups, who denounced it as politically motivated and a step backward for women's health." ...

... CW: Linda Greenhouse addressed the case in her column two weeks ago (which I linked timely), writing that Judge Korman's decision was "worth reading in full by anyone who wants to observe the judicial process at its finest." Greenhouse wrote that she hoped the Obama administration would accept Korman's decision, "and thus display judgment and courage that it has conspicuously lacked on this issue until now." Sorry, Ms. Greenhouse, but the president's desire to control his daughters' activities trumps science & all the unnecessary & often dangerous pregnancies that will occur because ... Obama's daughters.

** "Who's Sorry Now." Linda Greenhouse reflects on Sandra Day O'Connor's recently-expressed doubts about Bush v. Gore.

Tom Hamburger & Dina ElBodhdady of the Washington Post: "The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued subpoenas to a firm [Height Securities] and individuals in connection with the leak last month of a federal funding decision that appeared to cause a surge in stock trading of several major health companies. The move deepens the government's scrutiny of the growing 'political intelligence' industry, which has been thriving on delivering valuable information from Washington to investors."

I cannot force Republicans to embrace those common-sense solutions...It's tough. Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They're worried about primaries.... And we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what's going to be best for the country. But it's going to take some time. -- President Obama, at his press conference Monday

... ** Brian Beutler of TPM: "... as a long shot [President Obama] and his allies can create atmospheric and procedural and rhetorical conditions that might allow House Republicans to give Obama something he wants without appearing to have consorted with him in any way. Ideally while retaining a pretense that they've somehow dealt him a defeat.... That's precisely what Obama meant at his press conference on Tuesday when he talked about building a 'permission structure' upon which Congressional Republicans might engage in some responsible budgeting." Beutler neatly calls out Maureen Dowd & wonders if the term "permission structure" "isn't leadership-y sounding enough." ...

** NEW. Jonathan Chait: "You don't use 'leadership' against your opponents!" Read the whole post. ...

... Mark Murray of NBC News tries to explain basic Constitutional principles to MoDo: "... the greatest legislative achievements in American history have come when one party controls the White House and Congress -- usually by overwhelming numbers. In the 1930s, as Congress was passing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, Democrats held between 69 and 75 Senate seats, as well as 300-plus House seats. In 1965, during Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, Democrats controlled 68 Senate and 290-plus House seats. Talk about supermajorities. Even the top legislative accomplishments under Obama -- the stimulus, the health-care law, financial reform, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal -- came when Democrats held 60 Senate seats (or close to it) and a majority in the House. But when there's divided government? That's typically a recipe for gridlock." ...

MoDo, sprawling, if not across a staircase. ... Might as well throw in Charles Pierce's delightful takedown of MoDo here: "It is the job of the voters not to elect morons. It is the job of the non-morons in the congressional leadership to keep the morons from driving the entire train over a cliff. When those two checks fail, as they obviously have, it still is not the job of the president to be the country's chief moron-wrangler. I think we are heading into the endless thicket of Dowdian Daddy Issues here again." ...

... MEANWHILE, E. J. Dionne wants Obama to be more upbeat: "Obama’s calling card was hope. There is more to be hopeful about right now than his own public weariness would suggest." ...

... NEW. AND, actually, Frank Rich remarks, Obama can show some leadership on Gitmo, where he has demonstrated a "weirdly passive refusal to be proactive in dealing with the 86 inmates who've been cleared by our own intelligence agencies for transfer out." ...

... BUT Toomey Goes on the Record. Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post: "Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to 'be seen helping the president.'" CW: Oh gosh, E.J., MoDo, et al., isn't that just what Obama said (if a little more elegantly)? ...

... Steve Benen: "According to Toomey -- who presumably has a pretty good sense of the motivations of his own colleagues in his own party -- the media's blame game had it backwards. No amount of presidential arm-twisting can overcome the will of lawmakers who want to defeat the president's agenda because it's the president's agenda.... This is unsustainable. The American system of government is dependent on a series of compromises...." ...

... CW: the question is not, "Why can't Obama be more like LBJ or FDR (or Michael Douglas or Jeremy Irons)?" but "Why can't Congress have lots more Democrats?" ...

... That is, Real Democrats. Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times: "Conservative politicians..., [according to results from an academic study], overestimate the conservative leanings of constituents by the largest margins -- by about 20 percentage points; liberals overestimate by about 10 points; and centrist Democrats like [Heidi] Heitkamp overestimate by about 15 points. This suggests that Heitkamp, Begich, Pryor and Baucus are likely to have overestimated the conservatism of their constituents in making judgments on the political cost of voting for the background check amendment.... Insofar as [they] take the easy way out, they reinforce the stereotype of an all-powerful N.R.A.... Submission [to the N.R.A.] serves only to reinforce the image of Congress as the captive of special interests." ...

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek makes the case that Manchin-Toomey will pass the 60-vote threshold the next time around, which could come before the August break. ...

... Let's end this with a related remark by Charles Pierce: "... anyone who takes idly the effect of some of the rhetoric that's been launched against this president and his policies is sleeping on a genuine national-security problem.

The survey, aimed at measuring public attitudes toward gun issues, found that 29 percent of Americans agree with the statement, 'In the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.'

      ... CW: when you have a sitting member of Congress (Louie Gohmert) accusing the U.S. attorney general of siding with terrorists (see yesterday's Commentariat), is it so surprising that millions of Americans are girding (and many of them arming) themselves for the revolution? Gohmert's incendiary remarks are potentially a lot more damaging than tossing out perjoratives to describe minorities or scrubbing campaign accounts.

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama is warning liberal supporters that their push to make changes in a comprehensive immigration bill could jeopardize the strategy of Senate leaders, who are aiming to win up to 70 votes for the measure.... Obama and other Democrats have mounted a behind-the-scenes campaign in recent days aimed at mollifying advocates, who argue that an 844-page Senate bill excludes too many illegal immigrants and makes it too hard for the rest to become citizens.... In a private meeting with a dozen Latino leaders at the White House this week, Obama emphasized that securing a large margin in the Senate is crucial to putting pressure on House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to accept the general framework of the legislation."

Li'l Randy is an accomplished liar, but then it's in his genes. Via Driftglass:

Congressional Morons Re-Introduce Pro-Ignorance Bill. Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post: "Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) is rolling out the Census Reform Act this week.... The bill ... would abolish the Current Population Survey, which is used to compute the unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. We wouldn't have an unemployment rate if Duncan and his cosponsors -- who include GOP House libertarian-leaners like Jason Chaffetz, Raul Labrador, Thomas Massie, Steve Stockman and Walter Jones -- get their way.... It's hard to overstate the loss of knowledge that this bill would bring about.... This has a concrete impact on government spending.... You shouldn't worry too much about the Duncan bill becoming law ... because it has garnered the strong opposition of businesses" that "use the survey to make decisions." ...

This is not a scientific survey. It's a random survey. -- Jeff Duncan, in an exceptional display of ignorance ...

Of course, randomness is a prerequisite for scientific validity in surveys, not a barrier to it. -- Dylan Matthews

CW: I missed this Monday night, but Jon Stewart had a couple of great segments on Congress's response to airport delays:

Congressional Race

Dana Milbank: Mark "Sanford is now poised to ... hand the [Congressional] seat to Democrats for the first time since 1978, when they still had a foothold in the South. Sanford's opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, has been aided by her brother, comedian Stephen Colbert, who has helped with fundraising. In this there is a cruel irony: The 'Comedy Central' personality is helping to keep from Congress a man who would be an endless source of comedy. Not since Anthony Weiner sheathed his camera phone has a public figure exhibited such poor public judgment as Sanford has over the past five weeks." ...

... Gail Collins, in a column that wrote itself because for laughs all you have to do is copy down what Mark Sanford says/does, has her way with the hapless candidate.

Right Wing World *

Science Daily: "When it comes to deciding which light bulb to buy, a label touting the product's environmental benefit may actually discourage politically conservative shoppers." Thanks to James S. for the link.

* The best place to find dim bulbs.


News Ledes

New York Times: "In an unexpected turn in the investigation into the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza building, the Bangladeshi police on Thursday arrested the engineer who warned a day before the disaster that the building was unsafe."

Boston Globe: "The family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev picked up the body of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber from the state medical examiner's office this afternoon, a state official said."

AP: "The FBI announced Wednesday that it is seeking information on three people who were on the grounds of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, when it was attacked last year. The bureau posted photographs of the three people and said they may be able to provide information to help in the investigation of the attack." The linked story includes images of the three men of interest.

New York Times: "North Korea said Thursday that its Supreme Court had sentenced an American citizen to 15 years of hard labor for committing hostile acts against its government. The citizen, Kenneth Bae, 44, a Korean-American from Washington State who ran a tour business out of China, was arrested in the special economic zone of Rason in northeastern North Korea in November after leading a group of businessmen there from Yanji, China. On Saturday, the North said it was indicting him on charges that he tried to overthrow Pyongyang's government." ...

     ... Update: "The United States said Thursday that North Korea should immediately release an American citizen who was sentenced this week to 15 years of hard labor, setting up a potential new source of confrontation between the two countries that could aggravate tensions still high over North Korea's nuclear war threats."

New York Times: "... in response to the disclosures last year that the entertainer Jimmy Savile had been a serial sexual predator with scores of victims, many of them under age," British law enforcement officials have been investigating numerous aged minor celebrities for alleged sexual abuses that occurred decades ago. Two have been arrested.


The Commentariat -- May 1, 2013

Obama 2.0. Shahien Nasiripour of the Huffington Post: "President Barack Obama will nominate Mel Watt, a longtime Democratic congressman from North Carolina, to oversee government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a move that may give the White House greater control over housing policy. Obama will announce his nomination of Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Wednesday...." ...

... Obama 2.0, Ctd.. Jessica Yellin of CNN: "President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday he's nominating Tom Wheeler, a top fundraiser for the president's re-election campaign, to head the Federal Communications Commission, according to a White House official."

Megan Three-Brenan of the New York Times: "Americans are exhibiting an isolationist streak, with majorities across party lines decidedly opposed to American intervention in North Korea or Syria, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll." ...

... Stephanie Gaskell of Politico: "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Martin Dempsey] hit a cautionary note on Syria Tuesday, questioning just how effective U.S. military intervention might be in ending the two-year civil war there." ...

... Mark Landler & Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: "The White House is once again considering supplying weapons to Syria's armed opposition, senior officials said Tuesday. Such a decision would be a policy shift for the Obama administration, which has stepped up its nonlethal aid but stopped short of lethal weaponry and has expressed reluctance about greater military entanglements in the Syrian civil war."

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "Wall Street bankers and some of the world's top finance ministers are waging a bitter international campaign to block Washington financial regulators from extending their policing powers far beyond the nation's shores.... A former investment banker, [Gary] Gensler [chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,] defends his proposals, arguing that too many bad bets in the global derivatives market can be traced to overseas locations -- including the $6 billion loss last year by a JPMorgan Chase trader called the London Whale -- and threatened markets in the United States."

Jamelle Bouie of the American Prospect: "Barack Obama Asks Press to Maybe, Possibly Hold Republicans Responsible Sometime.... Much of Washington is in the grips of what several observers call the 'Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power.' For those unfamiliar with the comics, the Green Lanterns are a galaxy-spanning corps of space police. Each Lantern is given a power ring that emits a green energy. With it, Lanterns can do anything -- the only limit is their will. Likewise, pundits and journalists from across the spectrum seem to understand the president as a singular figure whose power flows from his willingness to 'get things done.'" ...

... Greg Sargent: "here's the problem: If a reporter or analyst were to call out Republicans for failing to compromise with Obama, that reporter or analyst would be calling on them to adopt a particular policy position.... It would amount to a criticism of the Republican position.... This is impermissible for the neutral writer, because it constitutes an ideological judgment. On the other hand, faulting Obama for failing to get Republicans to move his way does not constitute taking any kind of stand on who is right, ideologically speaking. It only constitutes a judgment of Obama for failing to manipulate the process adequately." CW: so it's all about reportorial neutrality. But an opinion writer does not have to jump through the neutrality hoop. So that doesn't account for ...

... Green Lantern Aficionado MoDo: "Actually, it is[ Obama's] job to get [Congress] to behave. The job of the former community organizer and self-styled uniter is to somehow get this dunderheaded Congress, which is mind-bendingly awful, to do the stuff he wants them to do. It's called leadership." CW: She does bring up one point of which I was unaware: "Congress put restrictions on transfers of individuals [in Guantanamo] to other countries with bad security situations. But, since 2012, Congress has granted authority to the secretary of defense to waive those restrictions on a case-by-case basis. [Emphasis added.] The administration hasn't made use of that power once. So it's a little stale to blame Congress at this point." ...

... Ah, Charlie Savage of the New York Times explains: "The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California, noted that the Obama administration had never exercised the power it has had since in 2012 to waive, on a case-by-case basis, most of the restrictions lawmakers have imposed on transferring detainees to countries with troubled security conditions." ...

... New York Times Editors: "If [President Obama] is serious about moving toward closure [of Guantanamo], there are two steps proposed by the American Civil Liberties Union that could get the ball rolling. He could appoint a senior official 'so that the administration's Guantánamo closure policy is directed by the White House and not by Pentagon bureaucrats,' the A.C.L.U. said, and he could order Mr. Hagel to start providing legally required waivers to transfer detainees who have been cleared. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has urged Mr. Obama to urgently review the status of those prisoners -- a primary issue for the hunger strikers."

Allison Kopicki of the New York Times: "Nearly half of Americans agree with the Obama administration's contention that the economy will be hurt by the spending cuts prompted by the sequestration, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. About one-third said the automatic cuts to military and domestic programs that went into effect because President Obama and Republicans in Congress could not agree on a budget plan would have no effect on the economy one way or the other. Just 1 in 10 said the automatic cuts would help the economy."

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "Gay advocates were sharply disappointed to find that same-sex couples were excluded from the [immigration reform] legislation.... But in the lengthy closed-door negotiations that produced the overhaul proposal, the four Republicans in the bipartisan group made it clear early on that they did not want to include such a hot-button issue in a bill that would be a challenge to sell to their party even without it.... Now, with the immigration bill scheduled to advance next week toward a vote in the Judiciary Committee, Democrats are in a quandary about whether to offer an amendment that would give green cards to same-sex partners."

The People Who Make Your Lovely Clothes Are Dead. Jim Yardley of the New York Times: Sohel "Rana, 35, is under arrest, the most reviled man in Bangladesh after the horrific collapse of Rana Plaza last week left nearly 400 people dead, with many others still missing. On Tuesday, a top Bangladeshi court seized his assets, as the public bayed for his execution, especially as it appears that the tragedy could have been averted if the frantic warnings of an engineer who examined the building the day before had been heeded. But Mr. Rana ... is partly a creation of the garment era in Bangladesh, during which global businesses have arrived in search of cheap labor to keep profits high and costs low. Directly or indirectly, international brands are now sometimes interlinked with men like Mr. Rana.... Television stations reported the cracks in the building the night before it collapsed, but no local authority prevented Mr. Rana from opening the building the next morning." ...

... Made in the USA. Brad Plumer of the Washington Post: "Lenovo..., Caterpillar, GE and Ford are among those that have announced that they're shifting some manufacturing operations back to the United States. And economists are debating whether these stories are a blip -- or whether they signal the beginning of a major renaissances for American manufacturing.... The narrowing of the wage gap between China and the United States is the most significant factor. China has been getting wealthier, and its factory workers are demanding ever-higher wages. Whereas the gap in labor costs between the two countries was about $17 per hour in 2006, that could shrink to as little as $7 per hour by 2015...." CW: as I've always believed, we're better off when people in other countries are better off. Being the world's biggest economic power may be great for American fat cats, but it is bad for American workers.

Kaiser Foundation: "Four in ten Americans (42 percent) are unaware that the [Affordable Care Act] is still the law of the land, including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court, and 23 percent who don't know whether or not the ACA remains law." Via Alex Rogers of Time.

Kathleen Miles of the Huffington Post: About half of the L.A. Times' reporters say they would quit if the Koch brothers bought the paper. CW: I doubt that the Koch boys care; they can tap into that deep bench of A-Plus "reporters" from Breitbart, Daily Caller, etc.

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "The contentious political fight over gun control moved into the White Mountains of New Hampshire on Tuesday as gun-control activists began to focus on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) as a prime target in their effort to revive their push for stricter gun laws."

Steve Benen on Tailgunner Ted: "All of this dishonest grandstanding ... should ... cause Cruz some trouble on Capitol Hill. Senators have traditionally forged relationships with their colleagues in order to build coalitions and be more effective in passing legislation. Cruz is going out of his way to do the opposite -- scolding his veteran colleagues, lecturing them on his wisdom, and creating conditions in which just about everyone who knows him dislikes him. This should make it all but impossible for Cruz to play a constructive role in the chamber, though that may not matter to him, since he doesn't seem especially interested in governing anyway." ...

... Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog: "Cruz is the future of GOP politics. He doesn't even bother trying to seem cooperative. He defines everyone to the left of him, even the likes of Jennifer Rubin, as sellouts and RINOs.... His goal is noncooperation until the wingnut revolution happens, and then merciless application of right-wing Correct Thinking afterward. He's the counterrevolutionary New Man." ...

... Robert Costa of the National Review: "Freshman senator Ted Cruz is considering a presidential run, according to his friends and confidants." Via Alex Rogers. CW: wonder if Tailgunner Ted & fellow Savior-of-the-Constitution Li'l Randy will remain best buds when they each notice the other guy wants to be president, too.

Poster Boy. Cameron Easley & Lisa Weissmann of WCSC, Columbia: "A website connecting users looking for casual, and often extramarital, affairs is making Mark Sanford the face of their new marketing campaign. unveiled a billboard on Interstate 26 in Columbia...."


Congressional Race

Martin Finucane & Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe: "Gabriel E. Gomez, a 47-year-old son of immigrants who became a Navy pilot and SEAL before becoming a private equity investor, won the Republican nomination tonight for the US Senate special election to replace John F. Kerry, bringing a fresh face to a race that had drawn scant interest from an electorate distracted by the Boston Marathon bombings. Meanwhile, veteran US Representative Edward J. Markey beat fellow Representative Stephen F. Lynch in the race for the Democratic nod in the traditionally blue state." ...

... Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "Markey defeated Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) for the Democratic nomination with 57 percent support to Lynch's 43 percent support, with 60 percent of precincts reporting.... Washington Democrats ... hammered Gomez as 'way outside the mainstream' of Massachusetts voters in a statement from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee deputy executive director Matt Canter. 'A small group of Republican voters in Massachusetts have decided that Gabriel Gomez, a former spokesman for a Super PAC that attacked President Obama over the killing of Osama bin Laden, best represents their extreme right wing views....'"

The Louis Gohmert Weekly (or is it Daily?) News

Igor Volsky of Think Progress: Rep. Louie Gohmert (RTP-Texas) "suggested on Tuesday that Attorney General Eric Holder permitted a federal judge to read Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights because the Obama cabinet official is biased towards terrorism."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "Two men from Kazakhstan and a man from Cambridge were arrested and charged today in the Boston Marathon bombings investigation, federal prosecutors said. Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19 and of New Bedford, were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by plotting to dispose of a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks belonging to bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the US attorney's office said in a statement. Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge was charged with making false statements to law enforcement officials in a terrorism investigation, prosecutors said. All three were, or had been, students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev, 19, was also a student."

Guardian: "Three British soldiers have been killed and several others injured after the heavily armoured vehicle they were travelling in was hit by a large roadside bomb while they were on a routine patrol in Afghanistan."