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.
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.
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.
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.'"