The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, September 26, 2016.

New York Times: "Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, thrilling tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, died on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his business enterprises. Palmer was 87." -- CW 

Miami Herald: "Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who fled Cuba on a speedboat eight years ago to become one of baseball’s dominant players and a hometown hero to fans well beyond the stadium walls, died early Sunday in a violent boat crash off South Beach. He was 24. Two friends were also killed in the accident, which remains under investigation and led Major League Baseball to promptly cancel Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Braves." -- CW 

Read more here:

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: (August 2): "Federal health authorities on Monday urged pregnant women not to visit a South Florida neighborhood where new cases of the Zika virus have emerged, the first time officials have warned against travel to part of the continental United States due to the outbreak of an infectious disease.” -- CW

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.


The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

You'll want to supersize this one:


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unsuccessful in his bid to become Donald Trump's running mate, has reimagined himself as a celebrity, instead. He'll appear this season on "Dancing with the 'Stars,'" competing against other fabulous celebrities like Ryan Lochte, unless Lochte is unavoidably detained in a Brazilian jail. (Here's a link to Perry's veepstakes proffer. Of course Trump ultimately rejected Perry, but promised to make him head of some agency or department Perry probably can't remember.) CW: As always, we concentrate on the serious, important news because politics ain't funny.

...Washington Post: Charles Osgood, who is 83 years old, announced Sunday, August 28, that he was retiring as host of the long-running CBS show "Sunday Morning." "He will stay on through Sept. 25. Osgood has been the face of the weekly program since 1994, when he took it over from its first host, Charles Kuralt." -- CW 

... Guardian: "The search for life outside our solar system has been brought to our cosmic doorstep with the discovery of an apparently rocky planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun. Thought to be at least 1.3 times the mass of the Earth, the planet lies within the so-called 'habitable zone' of the star Proxima Centauri, meaning that liquid water could potentially exist on the newly discovered world." -- CW 

Guardian: "A fisherman in the Philippines has kept what might be the largest natural pearl ever found hidden in his home for more than 10 years. The enormous pearl is 30cm wide (1ft), 67cm long (2.2ft) and weighs 34kg (75lb). If it is confirmed to have formed within a giant clam, as has been reported, it would likely be valued in excess of US$100m." CW: Looks like there will be a fight on this: when he moved house, the fisherman entrusted it to his aunt for safekeeping. "With his permission, she offered the pearl to the mayor, Lucilo R Bayon, to serve as new tourist attraction of city." -- CW 

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The Commentariat -- April 22, 2014

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration is beginning an aggressive new effort to foster equity in criminal sentencing by considering clemency requests from as many as thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug offenses, officials said Monday. The initiative, which amounts to an unprecedented campaign to free nonviolent offenders, will begin immediately and continue over the next two years, officials said. The Justice Department said it expects to reassign dozens of lawyers to its understaffed pardons office to handle the requests from inmates." CW: Pretty terrific. ...

... Jane Hamsher comments on Jon Walker's Firedoglake story on the potential pardons: "Obama's legacy is a bit thin at the moment -- a neoliberal insurance bill that transfers millions from already burdened young people to the insurance industry, continued international interventionism, unprecedented domestic spying, exactly zero banksters prosecuted -- but if he actually frees massive numbers of people from the clutches of the prison industrial complex would qualify as a significant achievement." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "... this is great news, and long overdue, but the only reason it is happening is because of local activists on the ground who changed the [marijuana] laws in their states."

Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama on Monday said he has selected W. Neil Eggleston to become chief counsel, adding the expertise of a veteran attorney who was involved in some of the most heated legal battles of the Clinton administration. Eggleston, a white-collar defender who is now at Kirkland & Ellis, will replace departing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler in mid-May." ...

... Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "In choosing a veteran of Washington's recurring oversight wars, the White House may be signaling that it expects the final two years of Mr. Obama's presidency to be defined by politically charged hearings, demands for information by Republicans in Congress and legal battles over the scope and limits of executive authority."

Timothy Cama of the Hill: "Environmental groups are marking the 44th Earth Day on Tuesday with an assault on the Keystone XL pipeline, greenhouse gas emissions and other issues related to climate change. Activists hope to use the day to press the case against Keystone, which they say would worsen climate change, while spotlighting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) upcoming rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants." ...

... Darren Goode of Politico: "Horses, Daryl Hannah, sacred fires and Neil Young -- these are some of the things you're likely to see on the National Mall starting Tuesday as part of the latest protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. The 'Reject and Protect' protest is a weeklong event hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of ranchers, farmers and leaders of seven Native American tribes." ...

... Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "Experts say that Mr. Obama's eventual decision on the [Keystone XL] pipeline will have a marginal impact on global warming emissions, while ... dull-sounding E.P.A. rules and treaty talks will determine his environmental legacy." ...

... Peter Bell & Brian McGill of the National Journal: "In April 2010, Democrats spoke of Earth Day over 150 times, mostly in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. But no Republican has uttered the words 'Earth Day' on the House or Senate floor since 2010. The last to do so was Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, in support of expanding nuclear-power generation."

Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: Most Americans who have opted not to get health insurance cited the cost of insurance, but others said they objected to the government requirement, or to President Obama, or claimed they didn't need it. Some said it was because they had trouble signing up. ...

... Jonathan Cohn: Healthcare costs are rising. Cohn says the rate of increase is likely to taper off.

Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: "The Boy Scouts of America, which voted last year to allow gay scouts but not openly gay scout leaders, has revoked the charter of a church-sponsored troop [in Seattle, Washington,] for refusing to fire its adult gay scoutmaster. The decision, which one gay rights organization said was a first since the policy change last year, essentially bars the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church and its 15 scouts from using logos, uniforms or names associated with the Boy Scouts as long as the scoutmaster and Eagle Scout Geoffrey McGrath, 49, remains in charge."

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The unanimous three-judge panel, reversing a lower court decision, said the government had waived its right to keep the analysis secret in light of numerous public statements by administration officials and the Justice Department's release of a 'white paper' offering a detailed analysis of why targeted killings were legal."

Cecelia Kang & Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a civil case filed against the two-year-old private firm [Aereo] by ABC, CBS, NBC and other major broadcasters alleging that Aereo is no different from cable and satellite firms that are required to pay hefty fees to rebroadcast their shows.... Aereo uses thousands of tiny antennas to capture broadcast television programs, then converts the shows into online video streams for subscribers in 11 cities.... Aereo argues that it is entitled to draw freely from programs transmitted on public airwaves. If successful, the argument has the potential to blow apart the expensive channel bundles that have been forced on American cable consumers and to radically reduce the cost of watching television." ...

... Andrew Cohen of the Atlantic analyzes the arguments in the Aereo case. Plus, "Whatever else it represents, this case is a sign that the industry can no longer control its future the way it once could. It's a sign that technology is once again pushing up against the law. And if the history of this country teaches us anything, it is that the law cannot hold back technology for long."

Paige Cunningham of Politico: "The Supreme Court will consider Tuesday whether an anti-abortion group can challenge an Ohio law that could have restricted it from publicly accusing a political candidate of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions in Obamacare. The justices aren't likely to decide whether the law chills free speech -- although Susan B. Anthony List and even the Ohio attorney general say that it does. They're instead being asked to decide whether SBA List has standing to challenge the law since the group was never prosecuted under it." ...

     ... CW: I think the lying liars have the better argument. Giving the state the right to decide which political ads are "true" and which are not gives the party that appoints the "deciders" an incalculable advantage.

David Savage of the Los Angeles Times: "In a case that could strengthen truth-in-labeling laws, Supreme Court justices on Monday voiced deep skepticism about Coca-Cola's Pomegranate Blueberry juice that is 99.4% apple and grape juice, saying the name would probably fool most consumers, including themselves. The high court is hearing an appeal from Stewart and Lynda Resnick of Los Angeles, makers of a rival pomegranate juice called Pom Wonderful, who complained that the name of the Coca-Cola product, sold under the Minute Maid brand, is false and misleading."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times interviews Justice John Paul Stevens.

And let's face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a -- I'll say it crudely -- but a manhood problem in the Middle East. -- David Brooks (See video in yesterday's Commentariat)

You know who had a 'manhood' problem? George W. Bush. He acted childishly, wantonly invading Iraq without a shred of international legality, because Saddam 'tried to kill my daddy.' He even adopted the diction of a 4-year-old as he initiated the mass slaughter of several hundred thousand people and the displacement of millions. You see, the opposite of 'manly' is not, as Brooks imagines, 'cautious.' It is childish petulance.... As 9/11 should have signaled to us, there is a price to pay for recklessly inserting ourselves into quagmires in global backwaters. It isn't worth it, and Obama is a man because he knows that, whereas Brooks is an insecure little boy. -- Juan Cole

Michael Roppolo of CBS "News": "Overall, Americans show more skepticism than confidence in the scientific concept that a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago. There was also considerable doubt about the science behind global warming and the age of the Earth..., according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll." ...

... Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic points out that the wording of the question could have scewed the results toward dumb. Here's his lede, though: "A majority of Americans don't believe in even the most fundamental discovery of 20th century physics, which 99.9 percent of members of the National Academies of Sciences do: that our universe began with an enormous explosion, the Big Bang." ...

... CW: Isn't everything that passes for knowledge really just hypothesis or opinion? What about the .1 percent of scientists there who don't cotton to the Big Bang theory? The richest Americans -- the top one-tenth of one percent -- control almost 40 percent of the nation's wealth. So that means .1 percent of scientists has a 40% chance of being right. I'm pretty sure this brand of logic would fly on Fox "News." ...

Via AkhilleusPhyllis Schlafly's Bra. Twelve-year-old Madison Kimrey explains to Schlafly why women should have choices & not center their lives around appealing to boys & men. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link.

Massimo Calabresi of Time: The New York Times' early reporting (2005!) on Cobalt ignition problems is trouble for GM executives who claimed they had no knowledge of the shut-off problem. One of those execs who could feel the blowback: Debbie Dingell, wife of longtime Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan). Debbie was PR director in 2005, & she is now running for her husband's Congressional seat.

"Uneasy lies the head that wears the propeller beanie." Charles Pierce anoints pajama-boy Rep. Blake Farenthold (RTP-Texas) Royal Regent of the Crazy. Sometimes titles of nobility are appropriate, even in a country where they are unconstitutional.

Be Careful What You Wish For, Ctd. Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "One month after the lightning annexation, residents of [Crimea] find themselves living not so much in a different state, Russia, as in a state of perpetual confusion. Declaring the change, they are finding, was far easier than actually carrying it out. In Crimea now, few institutions function normally. Most banks are closed. So are land registration offices. Court cases have been postponed indefinitely. Food imports are haphazard. Some foreign companies, like McDonald's, have shut down." ...

... Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "Russian forces skillfully employed 21st-century tactics that combined cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops in its annexation of Crimea."

Beyond the Beltway

Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "The Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed the imminent executions of two murderers late Monday, ending a Kafkaesque legal showdown in which courts argued over jurisdiction even though the prisoners had successfully challenged the legality of the state's secrecy in obtaining lethal drugs. On Monday, lawyers for Clayton Lockett, who was to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and Charles Warner, who was to be executed at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, filed the latest of several appeals to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, asking it to set aside its odd jurisdiction battle and grant a delay while there was still time."

News Ledes

AP: "In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, [Vice President] Biden told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms." The Guardian story is here.

CNN: "The first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line Monday, triumphant in a storied race that has become a national symbol of resiliency and determination. Meb Keflezighi, 38, won the men's division with an official time of 2:08:37, according to the Boston Marathon's Facebook page. With video.

AP: "Although [a] 15-year-old [airplane stowaway] apparently wanted nothing more than to run away, his success in slipping past layers of security early Sunday morning made it clear that a determined person can still get into a supposedly safe area and sneak onto a plane.... In San Jose, airport officials said they were reviewing how the boy slipped through security that includes video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers."


The Commentariat -- April 21, 2014

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times interviews economist Thomas Piketty: Piketty's "book punctures earlier assumptions about the benevolence of advanced capitalism and forecasts sharply increasing inequality of wealth in industrialized countries, with deep and deleterious impact on democratic values of justice and fairness." ...


... Piketty & Hitler. Chrystia Freeland, in Politico Magazine, on why Piketty's thesis is such a threat to plutocrats. ...

... Alexander Burns & Alex Byers of Politico: Napster billionaire Sean Parker gears up his political operation. CW: If you don't see the connection between Parker & the reviews & commentary on Piketty's work, you aren't paying attention. ...

... Ben Mauk of the New Yorker: "Today, the Ludlow massacre [of April 20, 1914]..., remains one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of American industrial enterprise.... The struggle that Ludlow embodied and that, historically, unions have taken up -- is a contemporary one, even if unions are no longer playing as public a role."

... Paul Krugman: "Whatever their motives, sadomonetarists have already done a lot of damage. In Sweden they have extracted defeat from the jaws of victory, turning an economic success story into a tale of stagnation and deflation as far as the eye can see. And they could do much more damage in the future. Financial markets have been fairly calm lately -- no big banking crises, no imminent threats of euro breakup. But it would be wrong and dangerous to assume that recovery is assured: bad policies could all too easily undermine our still-sluggish economic progress. So when serious-sounding men in dark suits tell you that it's time to stop all this easy money and raise rates, beware: Look at what such people have done to Sweden."

Walter Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times: "For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "The right has always been against race-conscious remedies to racial discrimination, touting 'colorblindness' as the 'constitutional' approach to making policy. But it's only been in the last five years -- since the election of Barack Obama -- that it's scored significant victories.... Circumstances change and ideologies shift, but the message from conservatives stays the same: What happens on the ground doesn't matter; equality under the law is sufficient for civil rights.... But if you see racism as a force to fight -- if, in other words, you think the facts matter -- then you'll reject this 'colorblindness' for what it is: a reactionary excuse for doing nothing." ...

     ... CW: Stephen Colbert epitomizes this view with his "Colbert Report" character who "doesn't see color," and only surmises he is white because he "is told" that's so. ...

... Digby, in Salon: "... to constantly bring up the fact that Democrats can't win if they don't have the votes of racial minorities and young people[, as Republicans do,] implies that there's something not quite legitimate about it."

** Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama departs Tues­day for a week-long, four-nation tour of Asia, where he and his top aides will be less focused on any big policy announcements than on reassuring jittery allies that America remains committed to bolstering its security and economic ties to the region. The trip -- rescheduled from October, when Obama canceled his plans because of the government shutdown -- includes two of the countries on his original itinerary, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as Japan and South Korea."

The Village Idiots Are Still Idiots

Forget Marxism. Ross Douthat: "... what's felt to be evaporating could turn out to be cultural identity -- family and faith, sovereignty and community -- much more than economic security." CW: Also, doesn't know "data" is plural. ...

     ... Steve M.: "Yes! Of course! We need a whole lot more of Jesus and a lot less rock 'n' ro-- er, progressive taxation.... The way Douthat sees it -- if I correctly understand a Scott Winship post he cites approvingly -- people are getting way too much in Social Security and Medicare and employer-provided health care to be suffering from any sort of real increase in equality." ...

     ... Mark Sumner of Daily Kos: "Ross Douthat is really determined to prove that he can write just damn anything and still get paid.... Douthat writes a whole column in which seeing all the wealth go to the 1% is perfectly fine so long as the 99% aren't starving so badly that they are rioting in the streets, and the real threat is that people might attack those institutions that keep people living under the rule of the 1%. Because, you know, that might lead to instability."

     ... Via Ben Armbruster of Think Progress. AND, playing right along, Chuck Todd remains firmly Tuck Chodd.

CW: ALSO, I'm not sure Nino understands much about how a representative democracy is supposed to work. You know, where citizens try to effect policy change through nonviolent means like voting, protesting, etc. CBS DC: "Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a crowd of law school students that if taxes in the U.S. become too high then people 'should revolt.'"

Suffer the Little Children. At least veteran Village Idiot Cokie Roberts gets something right. Evan McMurry of Mediaite: Cokie spars with Ralph Reed & Franklin Graham over gay adoptions. It was Easter, but the Righteous Men could not come up with coherent responses. Well, maybe this one:

... Aaron Barlow in Salon: "Backseat driving in the clown car: That's what pundits are about, today. In the New York Times, David Brooks tries to turn that around, making out that it is those who disagree with him who have the red noses and squeeze horns. He mounts a defense of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) based on the idea that those he shills for are the wise and considerate and caring -- and that everyone else is either raw material or the lunatic fringe (both left and right)."

William Rhoden
, in a New York Times column, remembers Rubin Carter: "Carter offers a reminder that one's deeds on the court or on the field will be quickly forgotten; contributions to society resonate across decades. Carter's name endures not because he had a great left hook but because of the principles he represented until the day he died." See also Sunday's News Ledes.

Noah Shachtman of the Daily Beast: "NSA leaker Edward Snowden instantly regretted asking Russian President Vladimir Putin a softball question on live television about the Kremlin's mass surveillance effort, two sources close to the leaker tell The Daily Beast.... 'He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia. He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite,' added Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who serves as one of Snowden's closest advisers.... Even Jesselyn Radack, one of Snowden's American lawyers, instantly acknowledged that the interchange was a misstep."

Beyond the Beltway

Times-Picayune Editors: "Gov. Bobby Jindal [R-La.] remains unmoved by the plight of hundreds of thousands of uninsured Louisiana residents, by pressures on hospitals left to treat those patients in emergency rooms, by the loss of thousands of new health care jobs, by the good that Medicaid coverage has done for poor children here.... [State] Sen. [Ben] Nevers' [D] Senate Bill 96 would put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot.... The amendment would direct Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals to file everything necessary by Jan. 1, 2015, to receive the federal funding to provide Medicaid to residents who are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty rate.... Lawmakers should pass Sen. Nevers' bill...." Via Greg Sargent.

Presidential Race

Katie Glueck of Politico: Rick Perry gets an "extreme makeover." This time around, advisors are working to try to ensure he isn't such a dolt. CW: Good luck with that. ...

... Andy Borowitz: "With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters, aides to the Governor confirmed today." ...

... BUT there's this:

... Paul Weber of the AP: "A judge seated a grand jury in Austin [last] week to consider whether [Texas. Gov. Rick] Perry, who is weighing another run for the White House, abused his power when he carried out a threat to veto $7.5 million in state funding for public corruption prosecutors last summer. Aides to Perry say he legally exercised his veto power. Others say Perry was abusing his state office and is finally getting his comeuppance." ...

... Christy Hoppe of the Dallas Morning News: "The grand jury is looking at potentially three state statutes: whether ... [Perry] tried to bribe a public official into stepping down; if he abused his position by misusing public funding 'to obtain a benefit'; or whether -- and prosecutors believe this could be the strongest charge -- he tried to coerce [Travis County D.A. Rosemary] Lehmberg into taking 'a specific performance of [her] official duty."

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "But his efforts to capitalize on his résumé and reputation have thrust [Jeb Bush] into situations that may prove challenging to explain should he mount a Republican campaign for the White House." Besides associating himself with a number of shady operations, "At one point, Mr. Bush sat on the boards of six companies, twice as many as leading corporate governance experts recommend given the time and fiduciary responsibilities of such a position."

News Ledes

New York Times: "American drones and Yemeni counterterrorism forces killed more than three dozen militants linked to Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen over the weekend in one of the largest such attacks there in months, officials from both countries said Monday. At least three airstrikes were carried out against Qaeda fighters in a convoy and in remote training camps in southern Yemen. They were militants who were planning to attack civilian and military facilities, government officials said in a statement."

Guardian: "Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused Ukraine of violating an accord reached in Geneva last week aimed at averting a wider conflict. Lavrov also told a news conference that a deadly gunfight on Sunday near Slavyansk, a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, showed Kiev did not want to control 'extremists'." ...

... Washington Post: "Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow will intervene if bloodshed continues -- even as Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of stirring it up."

Washington Post: "South Korean President Park Geun-hye castigated the captain and some crew members of a sunken ferry on Monday, saying their actions in abandoning a vessel with hundreds of passengers still aboard were 'tantamount to murder.' Park's comments came in the face of steady criticism about her government's response to the disaster amid a growing sense of fury in South Korea about alleged criminal incompetence aboard the ferry Sewol."


The Commentariat -- April 20, 2014

Cliven Bundy, Writ Large. Kristen Moulton of the Salt Lake Tribune: "It's time for Western states to take control of federal lands within their borders, lawmakers and county commissioners from Western states said at Utah's Capitol on Friday. More than 50 political leaders from nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal: wresting control of oil-, timber -and mineral-rich lands away from the feds.... The summit was in the works before this month's tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing, [Utah Speak Becky] Lockhart said. 'What's happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem,' Lockhart said." ...

... Kieran Suckling of the Guardian has more on Bundy.

... CW: For those who want to see the environment go to hell, turning federal lands over to the states is an excellent way to go. ...

... ** Evan Halper of the Los Angeles Times: "The Koch brothers and large utilities have allied to reverse state policies that favor renewable energy. Environmentalists are pushing back, but the fight is spreading and intensifying." Surprise, surprise -- ALEC & other usual suspects are in there, too, fighting renewable energy policies. CW: Read the whole story. Fuckin' greedy bastids.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "... President Obama and his national security team are looking beyond the immediate conflict to forge a new long-term approach to Russia that applies an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment. Just as the United States resolved in the aftermath of World War II to counter the Soviet Union and its global ambitions, Mr. Obama is focused on isolating President Vladimir V. Putin's Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state. Mr. Obama has concluded that even if there is a resolution to the current standoff over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin, aides said."

Sarah Kliff of Vox: "15 charts show our health care prices are totally insane."

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: Common Core, which sets national education standards, is dividing the Republican party, ever since Barack Obama embraced it. (CW: Although Martin doesn't mention it, President Bush advocated it again in his speech at the LBJ Library. Bush linked national education standards to the civil rights movement. See yesterday's Commentariat.) ...

... Jonathan Martin: "Many of those helped by the health care law — notably young people and minorities -- are the least likely to cast votes that could preserve it, even though millions have gained health insurance and millions more will benefit from some of its popular provisions." And Democratic candidates are still conflicted about it.

White Houses Hosts Young Plutocrats Society. Jamie Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson family, in the New York Times "Style" section: "On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House. Their name tags read like a catalog of the country's wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.... Policy experts and donors recognize that there's no better time than now to empower young philanthropists." CW: Right. Because young billionaires just don't have enough power. ...

... Kathy Geier: The whole article is creepy beyond belief. ...

... Digby: "It's very nice that many of these young idealistic aristocrats want to do good deeds. But this is really nothing more than good old fashioned noblesse oblige which basically leaves the betterment of man to the whims of rich people." ...

... CW: Both Digby & Geier home in on this graf by Johnson: "(Disclosure: Although the event was closed to the media, I was invited by the founders of Nexus, Jonah Wittkamper and Rachel Cohen Gerrol, to report on the conference as a member of the family that started the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.)" ...

... Matt Murphy of Gawker: "At a conference for such refined people as these, not just any reporter will do. No, it must be a writer who intimately knows the struggles of the young and wealthy, and who can accurately transmit the ways in which they're saving the planet to the unwashed Times-reading masses."

... CW: Reality Chex readers may remember Jamie Johnson from his documentary dissing "The One Percent," which I embedded here some months back.

     ... If Mitt Romney thinks the only appropriate place to talk about income inequality is "in quiet rooms," Barack Obama does his pandering to the .01 percent "in quiet rooms." I guess that's the difference between Republicans and Democrats -- a difference without much of a distinction.

Danielle Ivory, et al., of the New York Times: "G.M.'s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, has called the company's slow response [to replace faulty ignition switches] an 'extraordinary' situation. But an analysis by The New York Times of the automaker's recalls since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 shows its handling of the ignition problem was not an isolated event: G.M. has repeatedly used letters, called technical service bulletins, to dealers and sometimes to car owners as stopgap safety measures instead of ordering timely recalls, The Times found." ...

... AP: "General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released Saturday."

John Milburn of the AP: "A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for [Michelle] Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day." CW: And whaddaya bet many of those parents think Brown v. Board of Ed, which outlawed segregated schools, was a horrible decision. ...

... Digby: "Well, they aren't lining up in front of the courthouse to block her entrance so I suppose they've evolved. I think we know what's really going on here don't we? Yes, the people they interviewed said they were all very upset because it took the spotlight off the kids. And that might even make sense if having guest speakers at graduations wasn't something you see all over the nation every single year." ...

... Steve M. disagrees. ...

... Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker: "... sixty years after Brown, it is clear that the notion of segregation as a discrete phenomenon, an evil that could be flipped, like a switch, from on to off, by judicial edict, was deeply naïve. The intervening decades have shown, in large measure, the limits of what political efforts directed at desegregation alone could achieve, and the crumbling of both elements of 'separate but equal' has left us at an ambivalent juncture."

Oh, Jesus. Sarah Jones of Americans United: "An Oklahoma school district has approved the use of a Bible curriculum designed by Steve Green, the controversial owner of Hobby Lobby. The Mustang public schools will begin offering the curriculum next academic year.... [Based on a speech Green made in 2013,] this class isn't intended to teach the Bible. It's intended to teach Christian apologetics and promote a fundamentalist view of that tome. And there lies the trouble." Via Steve Benen.

Marsha Shuler of the Advocate: "Louisiana legislators advanced a bill Thursday that would make the Holy Bible the official Louisiana state book, despite concerns the move could prompt litigation." Also via Benen.

News Lede

New York Times: "Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a star prizefighter whose career was cut short by a murder conviction in New Jersey and who became an international cause célèbre while imprisoned for 19 years before the charges against him were dismissed, died on Sunday morning at his home in Toronto. He was 76."


The Commentariat -- April 19, 2014

Friday Afternoon News Dump. Andrew Restuccia & Darren Goode of Politico: "The Obama administration says it is indefinitely extending its long-awaited review of the Keystone XL pipeline -- providing a Good Friday jolt to one of the president's most wrenching environmental decisions. The move could easily push President Barack Obama's final decision past the November election."

Amanda Holpuch of the Guardian: "People charged with the murders of almost 100 people can be linked to a single far-right website, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The White Nationalist web forum says it promotes values of 'the embattled white minority,' and its users include Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a 2011 massacre in Norway, and Wade Michael Page, who shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012.... The report was released a month early after white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, was accused of killing three people at a Jewish center in Kansas City on Sunday." The report is here (pdf).

Oligarchy by Any Other Name. John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that ... the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.... The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto." ...

... CW: This research could help explain why gay rights have advanced with lightning speed, while racial civil rights remain problematic after centuries. The rich are gay or they have gay friends, & they want the same freedoms straight people have. Few of the rich, however, are black or have close black friends. That civil rights have advanced as much as they have could be a result of capitalists realizing that black people constitute, you know, an undertapped market. Besides, when the rich want cheap help, there are always those undocumented workers ("I'm running for president, for Pete's sake!"). ...

... AND, Speaking of Mitt, He's Back. Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party's most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November's midterm elections. He may not direct a high-powered political action committee or hold a formal position, but with the two living former Republican presidents -- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- shying away from campaign politics, Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority." ...

... "One-Take Romney." Not-President Romney cuts an ad in Not-the-Oval Office for Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who's facing a Tea Party challenge:

Jill Lepore, Evan Osnos & Dorothy Wickenden of the New Yorker discuss the influence & imact of Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

Washington Post staffers pick the most interesting stuff from the latest Clinton Library docudump. ...

... Digby on press reaction to Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy: "I don't recall anyone wondering if old Mitt might need to spend so much time with his grandkids that he wouldn't have time for the presidency...."

Can we talk about the human drama that is Grandma Clinton? I don't want to be cynical and I'm not suggesting anyone's having a baby for election purposes, but -- [panel groans]. It's gonna change the dynamic of the campaign. -- NYT Columnist Andrew Sorkin on "Morning Joe"

... Here's the publisher's blurb for Hillary Clinton's latest book, Hard Choices. ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Although the book is technically an 'inside account of the crises, choices and challenges' she faced as secretary of state ... this isn't just an exercise in self-expression. It's a billboard, and for now it says, 'I'm thinking about it.' But with room for deniability, of course."

In yesterday's Comments, Whyte O. recommended George W. Bush's speech at the commemoration of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Whyte noted, Bush's speech would make him a loser in a Republican primary. The speech is remarkable in a number of ways, not the least of which is its defense of the federal government, which Bush says must step in when states fail in their duties. The speech centers on equal access to educational opportunities. For me, the speech also suggests that brother Jeb -- whose main policy (and business) focus has been education, albeit a relentless drive to shift public funds to private educational institutions -- will run for president. Anyway, as Whyte wrote, "Worth a listen." Really:

Travis Bruner & Greta Anderson of the Western Watersheds Project, in Salon, on the real harm Cliven Bundy & his ilk are doing to public lands, as well as to actual taxpayers: "... the American public is woefully misinformed about the entrenchment, expense, and ecological harm of this land use. Make no mistake, Bundy isn't the only rancher ripping off the American public. Every public lands livestock permittee is banking on federally-funded range infrastructure like solar wells and fences and benefitting from federally-funded wildlife killing that targets native predators like wolves and coyotes for the sake of livestock safety. Many permittees benefit from drought payments and disaster payments, seek handouts for 'restoration projects' that are really just reseeding the forage species their cows stripped in the first place. And most livestock operations occur at the peril of endangered species...."

Journalist Sally Denton says Franklin Roosevelt faced even more virulent conservative opposition than President Obama does; there was even a "Wall Street Putsch," a plot to take over the government by force, leaving FDR as a mere figurehead while the Street men ran the show. Joshua Holland of interviews Denton; the piece is republished in Salon.

Bryce Covert of Think Progress: "The 70 people who work at Treehouse, an online education company that teaches people about technology, only work four days a week at the same full salary as other tech workers. Yet the company's revenue has grown 120 percent, it generates more than $10 million a year in sales, and it responds to more than 70,000 customers, according to a post in Quartz by CEO Ryan Carson." CW: Read the post to see some of the employer advantages to the shorter work week. Yes, that's employer, not employee.

I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could. -- James Mitchell, the psychologist credited with developing the CIA's "enhanced interrogation methods" -- waterboarding, sleep deprivation, etc.

... Jason Leopold of the Guardian interviews Mitchell. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Mitchell should be facing a tribunal for war crimes, not whining about an unflattering Senate committee report.... The man has worms in his soul."

CW: I see why Ed Snowden was upset by reaction to his "surprise interview" of Vladimir Putin. Underwhelmed bloggers like Driftglass write stuff like this: "... Russian President Vladimir Putin needs something sharp and pointy and very public with which to poke President Obama in the eye. Cue Uncle Vlad allowing Ed Snowden to 'interview' him on Russian state teevee! And by 'interview' I mean he was permitted one softball question with no follow up. Eerily similar to the way David Gregory 'interviews' every Republican who has ever been on Meet the Press ... except, of course, Greggers* is not living under the surveillance and protection of the person he is questioning -- a person who has a long record of locking up or killing dissidents and journalists and is middle of the slow-motion military invasion of a neighboring country. Mr. Snowden's sock-puppet question was introduced by one of the programs co-hosts...."

Senate Race

John Hanna of ABC News: "Departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not considering running for the U.S. Senate, a spokeswoman said Friday." ...

... Gail Collins: "Maybe Kathleen Sebelius should reconsider that Senate thing." Collins explains why. Funny.

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Earlier this month, the [Wisconsin Republican] party's Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party 'supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin's right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.' ... Gov. Scott Walker, the leader of the state party, distanced himself from the resolution last week." ...

... Dana Milbank: Walker "has in mind being president of the United States, and that ambition could be frustrated if his state were no longer part of the union."

Katie McDonough of Salon: "Residents of Latta, S.C., are raising questions about the sudden firing of the town's first female and openly gay police chief.... Many Latta residents have rallied around Moore.... South Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Poland and the United States will announce next week the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central and Eastern Europe in response to events in Ukraine." ...

... Washington Post: "Pro-Russian­ militants, boasting that they do not take orders from diplomats in Washington or Moscow, refused to end their armed occupation of a dozen government buildings across eastern Ukraine on Friday, upending hopes for a quick end to the standoff."

Los Angeles Times: "The captain and two crew members of a ferry that capsized off the southern coast of South Korea were detained Saturday on suspicion of negligence in the accident that left at least 28 people confirmed dead and 274 missing, officials said.