Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Just as strife in the former Yugoslav republic confounded first President George Bush and then his successor, Bill Clinton, the bloody crackdown in Syria -- underscored by last week's massacre of children and other villagers -- has put Mr. Obama in a deeply uncomfortable position."
New York Times Editors: "Mr. Obama ... is a politician, subject to the pressures of re-election. No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield -- depriving Americans of their due-process rights -- without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle.... To provide real assurance, President Obama should publish clear guidelines for targeting to be carried out by nonpoliticians, making assassination truly a last resort, and allow an outside court to review the evidence before placing Americans on a kill list. And it should release the legal briefs upon which the targeted killing was based."
Nicholas Kristof: "Michael Sandel, the Harvard political theorist..., argues that in \recent years we have been slipping without much reflection into relying upon markets in ways that undermine the fairness of our society.... 'The marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives,' Sandel writes. 'We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our children go to different schools. You might call it the skyboxification of American life. It's not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live.'"
Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times: "Race is the project of the Roberts court – more than enhancing corporate welfare, more than lowering the barrier between church and state, more than redefining the boundary between state and federal authority." CW: no longer the court of last resort, the U.S. Supreme Court has become instead the last refuge of scoundrels, not to mention a sinecure for a few of those scoundrels.
Charles Pierce has concluded the jurors in the John Edwards trial -- who have come to no conclusion after eight days of deliberation -- don't know what they're doing, for which they can be forgiven inasmuch as almost nobody understands U.S. campaign finance law. "John Edwards ... will go down in political history as a joke and a knave and a hypocrite, even by American political standards."
As part of the White House's summer jobs program, Jimmy Fallon describes his first job. Very inspirational:
Ticks! Gail Collins: "I cannot tell you what a relief it was when I discovered that the multibillion-dollar trading loss at JPMorgan was because of deer." CW: this was my first thought, too.
Mary Carmichael & Stephanie Ebbert of the Boston Globe: "Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren acknowledged for the first time late Wednesday night that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American, but she continued to insist that race played no role in her recruitment....While she has said she identified herself as a minority in a legal directory, she has carefully avoided any suggestion during the last month that she took further actions to promote her purported heritage."
Jennifer Epstein of Politico: "President Obama called Mitt Romney on Wednesday to offer his congratulations to the former Massachusetts governor on securing the Republican presidential nomination after Tuesday night's GOP primary."
Stephen Colbert on Romney's brilliant new campaign tool (watch to the end):
Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Romney is hammering President Barack Obama for playing favorites with green-tech companies rather than letting businesses succeed or fail on their own.... It's a powerful line of attack....But it might invite unfavorable comparison with Romney's tenure as governor of Massachusetts.... During that time, Romney pursued a hands-on approach to economic development that favored some industries over others and, in some instances, singled out individual firms for special favors.... Sometimes ... Romney's efforts panned out. Other times they did not."
Jed Lewison of Daily Kos on Mitt Romney's brilliant jobs plan: "Mitt Romney on Tuesday morning, tell[s] the people of Craig, Colorado that he wants to put them back to work by firing 145,000 Americans for the simple crime of working in the public sector." Lewison explains why the Romney plan is (a) based on inaccuracies and (b) nonsensical.
Hmmm. Could this be a case of NPD? What's Good for Me Is Bad for Thee. Steve Benen: A Romney camp press release: "Governor Romney Inherited An Economy That Was Losing Jobs Each Month And Left Office With An Economy That Was Adding Jobs Each Month." Benen writes, "... if Romney's to be congratulated for inheriting an economy that was losing jobs and then turning things around, by that identical standard, he ought to be patting Obama on the back for a job well done.... Romney has spent two years arguing that this standard isn't good enough for the president, but apparently it is good enough for himself." CW: See also the Mike Tomasky's post, linked in yesterday's Commentariat, in which Tomasky did the math & found that percentage-wise, Obama has been a better jobs creator than Romney. ...
... Memo from David Axelrod (pdf): "Ten years ago, Mitt Romney told the people of Massachusetts that his experience in business uniquely qualified him to strengthen the state's economy. Foreshadowing the message of his current campaign, Romney presented himself as a 'job creator,' whose experience as a corporate buyout specialist had given him special insight into how to grow the economy.... It was a false representation.... When he left office, however, state debt had increased, the size of government had grown, and over his four years, Massachusetts' record of job creation was among the worst in the nation." ...
... AND now, here's the video:
... Amy Gardner of the Washington Post has a brief story on the Obama campaign's new Massachusetts front.
Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly has a nice post on Romney's "big, historic moment..., as Texas officially put him over the 1144 delegates needed to win the GOP presidential nomination. With precision timing, his team unleashed a barrage of attacks on Barack Obama's stewardship of the economy and the federal budget. But at the moment of his triumph, Mitt was in Las Vegas grubbing for money with Donald Trump at Donald Trump's hotel, with Newt Gingrich appearing as a sort of ragged supporting act." ...
... John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor, former Bush Pere Chief of Staff, really does not want to talk about the First Birther:
... CW: This kind of attack is what the media can expect when they ask principals of the Romney camp hard questions. Teevee "journalists" should buck up & take the verbal flak. It's nothing compared to what war correspondents endure.
Justin Berrier of Media Matters: "While Fox & Friends has long been a home for some of the most vicious, misleading, petty, and dishonest attacks on President Obama, they crossed a new ethical line [Wednesday] by producing and airing what is essentially a four-minute anti-Obama attack ad. The video -- opening with the text 'Fox & Friends Presents' -- played lines from Obama's past speeches mixed with commentary from unidentified speakers and graphics purporting to show that Obama has broken the promises he's made since his 2008 campaign":
... Oliver Willis, also in Media Matters: "The four minute long anti-Obama attack ad presented on Fox & Friends this morning not only crossed the ethical line but it may violate News Corp.'s own internal policy for ethical behavior."
... Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine: "The bajillion dollars Republican super-PACs plan to spend to take down Barack Obama does not include compensating Fox News for its services, but maybe it should. On Fox and Friends this morning, the cable news network debuted a four-minute, um, documentary looking back on the last four years of 'hope and change.' Cue foreboding music! Break out the apocalyptic video filters! Prepare for mayhem.... We can't wait to see what they come up with for Mitt Romney!" ...
... David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun: "Today's version of the [Fox "News"] morning show featured an anti-Obama video that resembled propaganda films from 1930's Europe more than it did responsible TV politics of today. And the remarkable thing was the witless crew on the couch that serves as hosts for this show had the audacity to present it as journalism and congratulate the producer who put it together." ...
... Even winger Ed Morrissey of Hot Air is squeamish: "The video starts with 'Fox and Friends Presents' on the screen, making this an explicit argument from the news channel itself. Should a news organization produce and publish attack ads like this?" ...
... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has long defended his network from charges of bias, explaining -- incorrectly -- that only the network's primetime hosts are explicitly partisan."
... Guardian Update: "Bill Shine, the executive vice president for programming at Fox News, has released a statement denouncing the video. 'The package that aired on "Fox & Friends" was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network,' Shine said." CW: how ya gonna put that genie back int the bottle, Shiny Bill? ...
... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: Shine's "statement answers one question — whether Fox News is standing by the video -- even as it raises many others." ...
... CW Update: Just checked in with Media Matters to see how "Fox & Friends" walked back their "unauthorized" airing of the video "package" on Obama's epic failures. They didn't: "Fox & Friends this morning did not address the widespread criticism of the 4-minute anti-Obama attack video it aired twice on Wednesday."
"How Do You Say Brouhaha in Polish?" Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: "In the case of the upset over President Obama's reference last night to 'Polish death camps,' I'm left with more mystification than dismay, because the uproar of sensible people like David Frum and Michael Tomasky is genuine.... And for this we fly into high dudgeon? Sorry, this is ridiculous." ...
... CW: MacGillis makes an important point: he distinguishes between gaffes that inadvertently betray the speaker's real thinking -- "cling to their guns & religion" -- and poor wording or a flubbed line that does not reflect the speaker's thinking -- "Polish death camps." (The poor wording here, BTW, certainly was the work product of a staffer, not of Obama. You have to think that Obama believes Polish people were responsible for the death camps for this to matter. It's ironic that wingers who think Obama is completely dependent upon a teleprompter because he's too dumb to speak for himself now claim Obama's reading the teleprompter speaks to his deepest, darkest hatred of the Polish people.) ..
... Here's Frum: "... this administration bungled everything: past, present, and future."
Quirky Economics. Catalina Carnia of USA Today reports that Ron Paul (remember that guy?) puts his money where his mouth is -- an advocate of returning to the gold standard, Paul has much of his net worth tied up in gold and silver mining stocks.
Right Wing World
Dana Milbank: Rep. Trent Frank (RTP-Arizona) brings racism to his anti-abortion crusade -- and not for the first time.
E. J. Dionne: Gov. Scott Walker (RTP-Wisc.) is being challenged not because he pursued conservative policies but because Wisconsin has become the most glaring example of a new and genuinely alarming approach to politics on the right. It seeks to use incumbency to alter the rules and tilt the legal and electoral playing field decisively toward the interests of those in power.
New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday ordered Florida to stop enforcing several 'onerous' requirements on voter registration groups that were part of a law passed last year in an effort to tighten election rules.... But Judge Hinkle left most of the 2011 election law intact, a decision that pleased Gov. Rick Scott, who pushed for the changes last year."
Raleigh News & Observer: "The jury in the John Edwards trial on Thursday found the former presidential candidate not guilty on one of six counts in his campaign finance trial and announced it could not agree on the five remaining counts. Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on the five counts and dismissed the jurors. It was unclear whether the government will seek another trial." New York Times story here.
The Hill: "The House on Thursday rejected a Republican bill that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of the child, a practice known as sex-selective abortion. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that's a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass."
The Hill: "Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod was shouted down Thursday at an event in Boston that was staged to attack Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts. Axelrod called the press conference to hammer home the Obama campaign's critique of Romney's time as governor, and brought along officials from around the state to reinforce the message." With video.
Washington Post: "Former President Bill Clinton has decided to go to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker...."
New York Times: "Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan< of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee. Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a 'payoff' to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was 'false, preposterous and unjust.'" CW: I just checked with Dante Alighieri. Dolan is slated for the 8th circle of hell, which has a special liars ditch.
AP: "A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. In its unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it doesn't give them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples." Boston Globe report here. You can read the court's opinion here.
New York Times: "President Barack Obama is putting increasing pressure on European officials to resolve crisis, talking with the leaders of Germany, France and Italy to help lay the groundwork for action before a Group of 20 summit meeting to be held in June in Mexico. Mr. Obama discussed the recent developments in Europe in video conference calls with the European leaders on Wednesday." ...
... New York Times: "Greece's four largest banks have regained access to normal credit lines from the European Central Bank after they received fresh capital from the European Union, Mario Draghi, the E.C.B. president, said Thursday." ...
Washington Post: "... the Irish go to the polls Thursday in a referendum on a regionwide fiscal treaty inked in January that would impose strict limits on budget deficits and debt. European governments that ratify the treaty will effectively surrender a measure of sovereignty over two of their most sacred economic rights -- how much they can borrow and how much they can spend -- to the bureaucrats in the region's administrative capital of Brussels. The referendum, in many ways, is shaping up as a litmus test of the willingness of Europeans to more deeply link their economic fortunes."
New York Times: "With his career in the balance, Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt told a judicial inquiry into the British media on Thursday that he had been personally sympathetic to a bid by Rupert Murdoch to take over Britain's most lucrative pay-television network but that he did not act with any favorable bias." The Guardian has a liveblog here, which includes a livefeed of the testimony.
Washington Post: "On Wednesday, Judge Catherine Eagles sent home the alternate jurors in the John Edwards case. Among them, the "Lady in Red" who had been flirting with Edwards. "They could still be recalled to replace a regular juror."
Reuters: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and biggest seller of firearms in the United States, is dropping out of a conservative advocacy group in the United States that has been criticized for promoting 'Stand Your Ground' gun laws. Wal-Mart was suspending its membership in the American Legislative Council (ALEC), which the retailer joined in 1993, the company said late on Wednesday."
ABC News: "Eagle Scout Zach Wahls challenged the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy today when he delivered three boxes of petitions demanding change, signed by more than 275,000 people. Wahls, 20, presented the petitions during the Boy Scouts' National Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was removed as the den leader of her 7-year-old son's Cub Scout troop in April because of her sexual orientation.... Wahls is the author of 'My Two Moms' and a video of his three-minute speech before Iowa legislators urging them not to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions went viral in February." CW: if you've never seen Wahls' statement before the Iowa legislators, do watch it. Send it to your friends who may oppose gay marriage. It could change their minds.
Reuters: "Bruce Springsteen touched on a nerve of widespread discontent with the financiers and bankers at a Berlin concert on Wednesday, railing against them as 'greedy thieves' and 'robber barons.'"
ABC News: "The 43rd president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, will be back at their former home for the official unveiling of their portraits, an often uncomfortable presidential tradition.... This time, the gathering will be a family affair. In addition to his wife, Bush will also be joined by his father, former President George H.W. Bush and his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush."
AP: "The SpaceX Dragon capsule left the International Space Station on Thursday and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end its historic flight."
New York Times: "New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity."