New York Times Editors: "... a focus on mass murder, while critical, does not get at the broader issue of gun violence, including the hundreds of single-victim murders, suicides, nonfatal shootings and other gun crimes.... Focusing on the mentally ill, most of whom are not violent, overlooks people who are at demonstrably increased risk of committing violent crimes but are not barred by federal law from buying and having guns. These would include people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors including assaults, and those who are alcohol abusers. Unless guns are also kept from these high-risk people, preventable gun violence will continue."
Mark Felsenthal of Reuters: "The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers' expense. 'Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support,' John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.... The White House move ... came some six weeks after the suicide of Internet openness activist Aaron Swartz, who was renowned for making a trove of information freely available to the public." Here's Holdren's response to a We the People petition. Here's a pdf of his memo on the subject to department & agency heads.
On a week when the White House called out David Brooks for making up stuff, Margaret Sullivan -- the Times' public editor -- writes on how much editing the Times' "star columnists" get. Let me just say that Sullivan was about as informative as Brooks, whose major boo-boo she didn't even hint at. What a bore! ...
... On the other hand, Paul Krugman writes today, apropos of absolutely nothing,
Suppose that some pundit who has spent his whole career calling for bipartisanship, a compromise between the extremes of left and right, were to admit the plain fact that Obama is very much a centrist, who is in particular proposing deficit reduction through exactly the kind of mix of tax hikes and spending cuts 'centrist' pundits demand -- and that the GOP, by contrast, is an extremist organization whose extremism is almost solely responsible for the bitterness of the partisan divide. A pundit making that admission would in effect be saying that everything he has said and done for the past several years was not just useless but harmful, actively misleading readers about the state of the debate. He just can't do it. ...
... Whoevah could he mean, Tom Friedman, David Brooks?
"Our Kind of Guy." Wherein Krugman Compares Alan Simpson to Bernie Madoff: "Simpson is, demonstrably, grossly ignorant on precisely the subjects on which he is treated as a guru, not understanding the finances of Social Security, the truth about life expectancy, and much more. He is also a reliably terrible forecaster, having predicted an imminent fiscal crisis -- within two years -- um, two years ago. Yet he remains not only respectable among the Beltway crowd; as Ezra says, he's lionized in a way that looks from the outside like a clear violation of journalistic norms.... And think about what it says about them that their kind of guy is this cantankerous, potty-mouthed individual, who evidently feels not a bit of empathy for those less fortunate."
Steve Peoples & Ken Thomas of the AP: "Governors from both parties are warning of the damaging economic impact if the White House and Congress fail to reach a deal to stave off across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect Friday."
One thing I didn't notice in reading Bob Woodward's "It's Obama's Fault" column -- linked yesterday -- is that Woodward also claims that "when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts." As Brian Beutler says more nicely, Woodward is an ignoramus: "Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration. It's true that John Boehner wouldn't agree to include new taxes in the enforcement mechanism itself, and thus that the enforcement mechanism he and Obama settled upon -- sequestration -- is composed exclusively of spending cuts." Get that? The sequester, as written, in Boehner's baby. And, to reiterate, the only reason there ever was a sequester in the first place was that Boehner couldn't herd his cats -- the ones who were threatening to default on the nation's debt & cause worldwide chaos. ...
... Joe Wiesenthal, a Republican like Woodward, of Business Insider, calls Woodward's column "nonsense on stilts." BTW, he says, "the sequester was a great idea compared to a 2011 default." ...
... Update: Jackie Calmes of the New York Times has a fairly balanced report on the finger-pointing.
Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog has a summary of the government's brief in the DOMA case -- U.S. v. Windsor. If the Court buys the government's argument -- ha ha -- "some observers" say "not one of the state denials of marriage to same-sex couples can survive constitutionally. Such denials have come in thirty-nine states." ...
... Joan Biskupic of Reuters on the voting rights challenge before the Supreme Court. Conservatives on the Court are likely to gut the Voting Rights Act. CW: all this would be moot if U.S. citizens had a Constitutional right to vote. We don't. ...
... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) was one of the earliest supporters of rigging the Electoral College.... Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi was one of the leading supporters of election-rigging the and late this week, he -- along with a dozen other co-sponsors -- introduced a new plan to rig the Electoral College votes in ... Pennsylvania" making it effectively impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win the state, even though Pennsylvania has voted for the Democrat in every election since 1992.
Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "Though the Senate passed another bipartisan VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] reauthorization over a week ago, House Republicans may derail passage once again. On Friday, House GOP leaders released their own VAWA bill, stripping protections for LGBT individuals and adding a loophole for Native American victims." CW: Read the update. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is exactly right. And I would add, House Republicans are cruel SOBs.
** Tabassum Zakaria of the AP: "Former American diplomat Thomas Pickering said what struck him most during a review of last year's attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were the frequent personnel changes, second-guessing on security upgrades, and dismissive attitude toward dozens of security incidents."
It takes Maureen Dowd a long time to get to it, but at the end of her description of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg's "cause," Dowd writes, "Sandberg may mean well, and she may be setting up a run for national office. But she doesn't understand the difference between a social movement and a social network marketing campaign. Just because digital technology makes connecting possible doesn't mean you're actually reaching people.... Sandberg has co-opted the vocabulary and romance of a social movement not to sell a cause, but herself. She says she's using marketing for the purpose of social idealism. But she's actually using social idealism for the purpose of marketing."
Best First Lady Ever!
Ali Soufan in a New York Times op-ed: "I watched 'Zero Dark Thirty' not as a former F.B.I. special agent who spent a decade chasing, interrogating and prosecuting top members of Al Qaeda but as someone who enjoys Hollywood movies. As a movie, I enjoyed it. As history, it's bunk.... The creators of 'Zero Dark Thirty' attempted to document the greatest global manhunt of our generation. But they did so without acknowledging that their 'history' was based on dubious sources. The filmmakers took the 'firsthand accounts' of a few current and former officials with an agenda and amplified their message worldwide -- suggesting to Americans in cinemas around the country, and regimes overseas, that torture is effective and helped lead to Bin Laden." CW: if you wonder why I didn't put Soufan's essay in Infotainment, read it.
Here's the Time article on medical bills by Steven Brill which contributor Calyban recommends. None of it is news to anyone who has ever read her/his hospital and doctor bills, but far down the story Brill does make a good case for lowering, not raising, the Medicare eligibility age. Contributor Janice's pithy observation on this topic is exactly right.
Okay, So Lex Luthor, True to Form. National Memo: Rick "'Scott's hospital company, Columbia/HCA, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid a total of $1.7 billion in fines related to Medicare fraud,' according to PolitiFact. 'Even though Scott had resigned by the time the case settled, prosecutors said the widespread fraud occurred while he was at the helm.'This history would make many reluctant to let Scott anywhere near taxpayer money. However..., Florida will be allowed to privatize its Medicaid program that currently covers about three million residents. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed to this even though Scott and Florida's GOP had already been experimenting with Medicaid privatization to disastrous results. Nearly half of the 200,000 residents signed up to the program had been dropped by the private provider because they didn't offer a big enough profit margin." Thanks to Barbarossa for the link.
Ian Millhiser: "A bill introduced by Montana state Rep. Steve Lavin would give corporations the right to vote in municipal elections.... This bill was tabled shortly after it came before a legislative committee, so it is unlikely to become law.... According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Lavin was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) now defunct Public Safety and Elections Task Force. Last year, pressure from progressive groups forced ALEC to disband this task force, which, among other things, pushed voter suppression laws." CW: wonder if Lavin's bill included a special carve-out to suppress the vote of minority-own corporations. Thanks to James S. for the link.
AP: "Raul Castro announced Sunday that he will step down as Cuba's president in 2018 following a final five-year term, for the first time putting a date on the end of the Castro era. He tapped rising star Miguel Diaz-Canel as his top lieutenant and first in the line of succession." CW: or they could have an election?
New York Times: "The Afghan government on Sunday banned elite American forces from operating in a strategic province adjoining Kabul, citing complaints that Afghans working for American Special Forces have killed and tortured villagers in the area."
AP: "At least 33 fans were injured Saturday during a NASCAR race when a car flew into the fence at Daytona International Speedway, hurling a tire and large pieces of debris into the stands."
AP: "Police are seeking a 26-year-old man as the prime suspect in last week's pre-dawn shooting and crash on the Las Vegas Strip that killed three people and injured several others The black SUV used as a getaway car was found Saturday as police named Ammar Harris in connection with the shooting and six-vehicle chain-reaction carnage Thursday on the neon-lit boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally's and Flamingo resorts." Story includes a mugshot of Harris.
Reuters: "The United States condemned a Syrian army Scud missile attack that killed dozens of people on Friday in the city of Aleppo, and invited the Syrian opposition for talks on finding a negotiated settlement to the conflict."
Reuters: "Italians voted on Sunday in one of the most closely watched and unpredictable elections in years, with pent-up fury over a discredited elite adding to concern it may not produce a government strong enough to lead Italy out of an economic slump."
Reuters: "Cypriots voted on Sunday in a runoff to elect a president who must clinch a bailout deal before the island nation plunges into a financial meltdown that would revive the euro zone debt crisis."
Reuters: "Pope Benedict, speaking in his last Sunday address before becoming the first pope in some six centuries to step down, said he was following God's wishes and that he was not abandoning the Roman Catholic Church." ...
... Butt Out, Mahony. Reuters: "Roman Catholic activists on Saturday petitioned a U.S. cardinal to recuse himself from taking part in selecting a new pope so as not to insult survivors of sexual abuse by priests committed while he was archbishop of Los Angeles. The activists delivered a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures to the North Hollywood church where Cardinal Roger Mahony resides."
AP: Carl Pistorius, "the brother of Olympic star Oscar Pistorius, is facing a culpable homicide charge for a 2008 road death, compounding problems for the family after the double-amputee runner was charged with premeditated murder in the Feb. 14 shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp."