The Ledes

Thursday, May 5, 2016.

AP: "A massive wildfire raging in the Canadian province of Alberta has grown to 85,000 hectares (210,035 acres) in size and officials would like to move south about 25,000 evacuees who had previously fled north. More than 80,000 people have emptied Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada's oil sands." -- CW

Guardian: "The local police investigation into the death of Prince is being beefed up with staff from the US attorney’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as a California doctor who specializes in prescription drug addiction revealed the singer’s representatives reached out for urgent help the day before he died.." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 4, 2016.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Prince was found dead one day before he was scheduled to meet with a California doctor in an attempt to kick an addiction to painkillers, an attorney with knowledge of the death investigation said Tuesday." -- CW

AP: "The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials said destroyed whole neighborhoods.... The wildfire, whipped by unpredictable winds on a day of unseasonably hot temperatures, worsened dramatically in a short time and many residents were given little notice to flee." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

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Wednesday
Nov272013

The Commentariat -- Nov. 28, 2013

Freedom from Want. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers was one of the recipients of the 2013 Roosevelt Institute's 2013 Four Freedoms Awards. The Coalition received the award for Freedom from Want. "The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a farm worker organization that is spearheading the national movement for Fair Food. With its Fair Food Program, launched in 2010 in over 90 percent of Florida's $600 million tomato industry, the CIW has created a sustainable blueprint for worker-driven corporate social responsibility, winning fairer wages; work with dignity; and freedom from forced labor, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace for nearly 100,000 workers." -- Roosevelt Institute

The First European Thanksgiving Celebration in America. Kenneth Davis, in a New York Times op-ed, November 2008: "Long before the Pilgrims sailed in 1620, another group of dissident Christians sought a haven in which to worship freely. These French Calvinists, or Huguenots, hoped to escape the sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants that had bloodied France since 1560. Landing in balmy Florida in June of 1564, at what a French explorer had earlier named the River of May (now the St. Johns River near Jacksonville), the French émigrés promptly held a service of 'thanksgiving.'" Thanks to contributor P. D. Pepe for the lead.

** "A WalMart Thanksgiving." Labor Prof. John Logan, in the Hill: "The disastrous economic consequences of Walmart's bad jobs and worker intimidation are now well known. Taxpayers pick up the tab for the company's poverty-level wages. The company's employees are often so poor that they and their dependents are among the nation's biggest users of food stamps, health programs for low-income individuals and other forms of public assistance. This public subsidy of the nation's largest corporation, owned by its richest family costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. But those who suffer the most from poverty-level wages are its employees.... Walmart could immediately stop intimidating workers, improve their conditions and pay a minimum wage of $25,000 per year for full-time work. Last week, the think tank Demos reported that if Walmart stopped buying back shares of its own stock -- which adds nothing to its productivity -- it could afford to raise employee wages by almost $6 per hour without increasing retail prices. In 2012, the company spent $7.6 billion to buy backs shares." ...

Dominic Rushe of the Guardian: "Retail workers and union activists are preparing for a record day of action across the US on Friday, protesting wages and conditions on the busiest shopping day of the year. Retailers, including Macy's, are opening their doors on Thanksgiving for the first time this year, joining other store giants including Target, Sears and Kmart. But it is Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, which has attracted the focus of protests. Protests are planned at more than 1,500 of Walmart's 4,000 US stores on Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday and traditionally the start of the festive shopping season."

Thanksgiving Eve News Dump. Robert Pear of the New York Times: "The Obama administration announced Wednesday a one-year delay in the element of the new health care law that allows small businesses to go online to buy insurance for their employees through the new federal marketplace website.... The announcement of the delay, just before Thanksgiving, is reminiscent of the way the White House announced, just before the Independence Day weekend, a one-year delay in the requirement for larger employers to offer health insurance to employees." ...

... Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post: "Small businesses will still have the option to purchase SHOP health insurance plans through a broker or agent, who will assist the employer with filing a paper application. The federal government expects to process those filings for eligibility within three to five days...."

The Christology of Sex. Linda Greenhouse: "The religious-based challenges that have flooded the federal courts from coast to coast -- more than 70 of them, of which the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear two -- aren't about the day-in, day-out stuff of jurisprudence under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause: Sabbath observance, employment rights, tax exemptions. They are about sex." ...

... Steve Lemieux in the American Prospect: "... it's not just economic libertarianism -- the challenge to the mandate is rooted in misogyny and puritanism as well. Employers are free to have reactionary views about economics and gender, but these beliefs are not protected.... The idea that a secular, for-profit corporation can 'exercise' religion is a strange concept that would be inconsistent with a substantial body of precedent." ...

... An Online Magazine Is a Blog Is a, a Tabloid! Eden Foods chairman & founder Michael Potter didn't much like it when the Sixth Circuit cited his remarks to Irin Carmon of Salon when it rejected his fake religious objection to providing contraceptive care. Potter didn't claim he had been misquoted, just that it didn't count because he made the remarks to a reporters on a blog or a tabloid.

New York Times Editors: President Obama's claim during his speech Monday that "it would be illegal" for him to halt deportations was "misleading.... While the president cannot throw out whole sections of immigration law to bypass Congressional inaction, he does have discretion in choosing how to enforce it wisely.... He can undoubtedly expand administrative efforts to protect other immigrants left stranded by legislative failure."

Glenn Greenwald, et al., in the Huffington Post: "The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as 'exemplars' of how 'personal vulnerabilities' can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "With the United States sending two B-52s to reinforce its protest over China's attempt to control the airspace over the islands, it served as a timely reminder that President Obama wants to turn America's gaze eastward, away from the preoccupations of the Middle East. Mr. Obama's shift ... has always seemed more rhetorical than real. But when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. travels to China, Japan and South Korea next week, the administration will have another chance to flesh out the policy."

Maria Golovnina & John Chalmers of Reuters: "President Hamid Karzai's stubborn refusal to sign a pact that would keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is a high-risk gamble that Washington will give in to his demands, one that has left him isolated as the clock runs down on his presidency. Diplomats said he may have over-played his hand, raising the risk of a complete U.S. withdrawal.... It also risks a backlash at home by critics who believe he is playing a dangerous game with the country's future security." ...

... Tim Craig of the Washington Post: "President Hamid Karzai is facing a growing backlash from Afghan political leaders over his reluctance to sign a long-term security agreement with the United States."

What a Difference a Year Makes. Steve Benen: A year ago departing Sen. Joe Lieberman promised he would never become a lobbyist. Uh, he's a lobbyist now. CW: Hard to believe Joe would go back on his word. (Medicare for 55+.)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee Campbell Soup Chef.David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Wednesday said that Lara Logan's botched reporting on Benghazi made her a 'hero journalist' and he was shocked that CBS News would force her off the air." ...

... Huckleberry himself is losing his radio show, billed as an alternative to Rushbo. Having failed to unseat Rush, Huckleberry is thinking of running for POTUS. CW: The White House is a consolation prize, I guess.

The Pompous v. the Pontiff. ...

     ... Eric Dolan of the Raw Story: Fox Business host Stuart Varney lectures Pope Francis on capitalism & religion. With video. ...

This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. -- Rush Limbaugh

Local News

Kirk Johnson of the New York Times: Alaskan Democrats like former Half-Gov. Sarah Palin's tax on oil companies. CW: Half-Gov. Palin's tax was totally socialistic Robin Hood stuff, which -- as I recall -- just happened to especially benefit large families. It provided a per capita payout & kids were capita.


CW
: I hadn't planned to post much today, but the jerks just don't take a holiday, do they? It's hard to keep up with them.

News Ledes

New York Times: Afghanistan's "President Hamid Karzai lashed out at his American allies again on Thursday after word came that at least one, and possibly two, NATO drone strikes had killed civilians in southern Afghanistan."

New York Times: Despite "brisk winds and an occasional gust," Macy's parade went ahead as scheduled today.

AP: "A wintry blast of heavy rain, wind and snow across the eastern United States disrupted Thanksgiving travel plans on Wednesday for some of the millions of Americans hitting the roads and taking to the skies on the busiest holiday travel day of the year. While the travel delays were not as bad as many had feared, meteorologists warned that falling temperatures could create icy road conditions for those who put off travel until Wednesday night."

AP: "After keeping away inspectors for two years, Iran has invited the U.N. nuclear agency to a facility linked to a still unfinished reactor that could produce enough plutonium for up to two warheads a year, the agency's head said Thursday."

Washington Post: "Both Japan and South Korea said Thursday that they'd flown surveillance aircraft through China's newly claimed air defense identification zone, the latest challenge to an airspace that China has vowed to defend. flights drew no unusual response from Beijing, but they intensify the game of dare being played above Asia's contested maritime territory." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "China sent fighter jets on the first patrols of its new air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, the state news agency, Xinhua, said. The patrols followed announcements by Japan and South Korea that their military planes had flown through the zone unhindered by China."

Tuesday
Nov262013

The Commentariat -- Nov. 27, 2013

** Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The Obama administration on Tuesday moved to issue new rules that would curtail political activity by tax-exempt nonprofit groups, with potentially significant ramifications for one of the fastest-growing sources of campaign spending. The proposed rules, announced by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service, would expand and clarify how the I.R.S. defines political activity and then establish clearer limits for how much activity nonprofits can engage in. Such a change ... would be the first wholesale shift in a generation in the regulations governing political activity." The Washington Post story, by Matea Gold, is here. ...

... Kim Barker of ProPublica: "Experts also cautioned that the real test of oversight on the political spending by nonprofits will be how these regulations are enforced, something that the IRS has been so far reticent to do."

Norm Ornstein in the National Journal: "... if the [Senate] norms are blown up, which is what Senate Republicans under Mitch McConnell have done over the past five years -- using the rules not to build bridges but to construct dams — it becomes almost inevitable that the rules will change to adapt." Ornstein provides quite a good overview of how Republicans destroyed "the atmosphere" that so concerned Ted Cruz that I couldn't control my laughter (November 25 Commentariat). ...

... Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "Obama faces one remaining barrier to his ability to fill vacancies in the federal courts: an arcane senatorial tradition known as the blue slip." Toobin explains why President Obama hasn't even tried to fill vacancies in some districts.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider a new challenge to President Obama's Affordable Care Act and decide whether employers with religious objections may refuse to provide their workers with mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives. The cases accepted by the court offer complex questions about religious freedom and equality for female workers, along with an issue the court has not yet confronted: whether secular, for-profit corporations are excepted by the Constitution or federal statute from complying with a law because of their owners' religious beliefs. The justices accepted two cases that produced opposite results in lower courts." ...

... Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog comments on the ACA cases. ...

... Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: No, corporations are not people, my friend. ...

... NEW. CW: Amanda Marcotte & I are on the same page about the Hobby Lobby case: "... if they're allowed to withhold benefits because they disapprove of your private life, then what else will they be able to do? Refuse to hire women at all?" Includes tweets by Jill Filiovic that express some of the same concerns I did in today's Comments.

Michael Shear & Robert Pear of the New York Times: "White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users. At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile HealthCare.gov."

... Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: Don't blame ObamaCare if you lose your doctor: "... the primary reason carriers are offering so many small-network plans in the exchanges is that they believe consumers want them. Their marketing research suggests that, when forced to choose between paying higher premiums for wider networks or lower premiums for narrower networks, the majority of people will go for the cheaper insurance.... Market forces, not government, and the main reason insurers are introducing tighter networks. Yet the people objecting to the result are the same ones who say they love markets." ...

... Paul Krugman predicts, "... the whole horrors-of-Obamacare meme will be gone in weeks, not months. But the GOP echo chamber won't be able to let it go." ...

... NEW. Tom Kludt of TPM: "In an interview on Monday with the conservative Newsmax, Time's Mark Halperin said that so-called 'death panels' are enshrined in the Affordable Care Act.... 'So, you believe there will be rationing, a.k.a "death panels"?' host Steve Malzberg asked Halperin.... 'It's built into the plan. It's not like a guess or like a judgment. That's going to be part of how costs are controlled," Halperin said before arguing that it's necessary to ration care.'" Kludt points out that the ACA specifically prohibits "death panels." ...

    ... Kludt: Halperin later "clarified" his remarks. He does the same thing on MSNBC, digging the hole deeper, as far as I can tell. Video. ...

... ObamaCare Obsession. Olivia Kittel & Olivia Marshall of Media Matters: "Right-wing media are dismissing President Obama's and Congressional Democrats' work on filibuster reform, a diplomatic agreement with Iran, and immigration reform as merely attempts to distract from the Affordable Care Act." ...

... Obama Obsession. Jose Delreal of Politico: "Conservative commentator and writer Dinesh D'Souza ignited a social media backlash Tuesday, when he referred to President Barack Obama as 'Grown-Up Trayvon' on Twitter.... D'Souza followed up 45 minutes later, writing, 'Feigned outrage on the left over me calling Obama 'grown up Trayvon' except that Obama likened himself to Trayvon!'" ...

... Igor Bobic of TPM: D'Souza deleted both tweets a short time later. CW: D'Souza isn't a grown-up at all; he's an adolescent prick.

Craig Timberg, et al., of the Washington Post: "Microsoft is moving toward a major new effort to encrypt its Internet traffic amid fears that the National Security Agency may have broken into its global communications links, said people familiar with the emerging plans. Suspicions at Microsoft, while building for several months, sharpened in October when it was reported that the NSA was intercepting traffic inside the private networks of Google and Yahoo, two industry rivals with similar global infrastructures...." Slides, provided by Edward Snowden, suggest "but do not prove" the NSA would target Microsoft. CW: Here is where Snowden does something useful: demonstrating that the U.S. is targeting U.S. companies & gathering info on their customers. ...

... Dominic Rushe of the Guardian: "The United Nations moved a step closer to calling for an end to excessive surveillance on Tuesday in a resolution that reaffirms the 'human right to privacy' and calls for the UN's human rights commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the impact of mass digital snooping. A UN committee that deals with human rights issues adopted the German- and Brazilian-drafted resolution that has become an increasingly sensitive issue among UN members."

Who's Right in This Exchange -- President Obama or Heckler Ju Hong?:

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "As the likelihood for congressional action [on immigration reform] diminishes, there is pressure on President Obama to act unilaterally.... Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro [of] ... National Council of La Raza, an ally of Obama's on immigration reform, said the administration should do more to prioritize deportations to focus on national security and community safety concerns.... Pro-immigrant activists argue the president has more authority over deportations than he acknowledged Monday." ...

... CW: I said the other day that the President handled the heckler well. But his critics suggest in his "handling," he didn't tell the whole truth. However, there's this from Bolton's report: "'Contrary to popular myth, the administration has enormously scaled back deportations and now almost all the individuals deported are either convicted criminals, repeat immigration violators or national security threats,' said a GOP aide. The aide noted that Hong, the heckler, is an illegal immigrant himself who was arrested in 2011 and was not deported. Instead, he was invited to stand on stage with the president of the United States." (Emphasis added.) So you decide.

Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post: "Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of '60 Minutes,' informed staff Tuesday that Lara Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, would be taking a leave of absence following an internal report on the news magazine's discredited Oct. 27 Benghazi report.... Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices at CBS News, presented his findings in a memo to employees.... He wrote that the Benghazi story 'was deficient in several respects' ..." Calderone's report includes the full memos from Fager & Ortiz. ...

... Hatas Gold of Politico: "CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is no longer hosting the Committee to Protect Journalists' press freedom awards dinner Tuesday night in New York. In her place will be 'CBS Evening News' anchor and fellow '60 Minutes' correspondent Scott Pelley." ...

... AND, people, when it comes to dressing up for gala affairs, Scott Pelley is no Lara Logan:

... Digby: "If CBS thinks [Logan's] comments about Benghazi show a bias, her comments about Afghanistan and Pakistan show exactly the same one. She thinks that powerful 'dark forces' are trying to destroy our way of life and evidently believes they are capable of doing it. She believes that the US should be sending in 'clandestine warriors' and drones to 'take people out' to send messages and exact revenge. She has a particular hang-up about Pakistan and apparently wants the US government to 'teach them a lesson.' She identifies very closely with the military brass.... That is a pretty immature worldview.... She's a hardcore, but somewhat shallow, warhawk and her work needs to be seen through that filter." ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post wonders, among other things, "Where's Jeff Fager's leave of absence?"

Dana Milbank: "The White House has increasingly excluded news photographers from Obama's official events and is instead releasing images taken by in-house photographers, who are government employees. 'As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government,' the White House Correspondents' Association, joined by the Associated Press and other news organizations, wrote in a letter to White House press secretary Jay Carney last week. 'You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.'"

Homophobia Hoax. Brian Gingras of WNBC New York: "After a gay server at a New Jersey restaurant said a customer denied her a tip and wrote her a hateful note on the receipt, a local family contacted NBC 4 New York and said their receipt shows they paid a tip and didn't write any such note."

Local News

NEW. Luz Lazo of the Washington Post: "The Prince George’s [Maryland] County Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to raise the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $11.50 over the next four years. The action came a day after Montgomery County [Maryland] Council approved a similar measure."

Rene Stutzman & Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel: "Seminole County deputies found five guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in the home George Zimmerman shared with his girlfriend, where he was arrested last week, accused of domestic violence. A search warrant made public Tuesday shows that Zimmerman had the weapon that his then-girlfriend said he had used to threaten her: a high-capacity, high-tech 12-gauge shotgun. He also had a semi-automatic assault rifle and three handguns."

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: Gov. Tom "Corbett [of Pennsylvania] is now the most unpopular Governor anywhere in the country that we've polled, with only 24% of voters approving of him to 65% who disapprove." Corbett is running for re-election next year.

News Ledes

AP: "China acknowledged Wednesday it let two American B-52 bombers fly unhindered through its newly declared air defense zone in the East China Sea despite its earlier threat to take defensive measures against unidentified foreign aircraft." The New York Times story, which is more extensive, is here.

Guardian: "More than two months after the German general elections, Angela Merkel's CDU party has reached an agreement to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats."

Reuters: "Pakistan named a career infantry officer considered a moderate as army chief on Wednesday as the country fights a Taliban insurgency and seeks accord with the United States on how to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Lieutenant-General Raheel Sharif, brother of a war hero, would take charge of the world's sixth-largest army, with a formal handover from General Ashfaq Kayani on Friday."

Reuters: "Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has resigned after the collapse last week of a supermarket roof in the capital Riga that killed more than 50 people.... The resignation throws into political turmoil a Baltic state that is due to join the eurozone in January and is seen as an example of fiscal prudence and economic recovery after a deep financial crisis in 2008."

Guardian: "Silvio Berlusconi could suffer arguably the heaviest blow of his political career on Wednesday night when the upper house of parliament is expected to vote to oust him following a conviction for tax fraud." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Having spent months manufacturing procedural delays or conjuring political melodrama in hopes of saving himself, Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday could no longer stave off the inevitable: Italy's Senate resoundingly stripped him of his parliamentary seat, a dramatic and humiliating expulsion, even as other potential troubles await him."

Monday
Nov252013

The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2013

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The weekend ended with the first tangible sign of a nuclear deal with Iran, after more than three decades of hostility. Then on Monday came the announcement that a conference will convene in January to try to broker an end to the civil war in Syria. The success of either negotiation, both long sought by President Obama, is hardly assured -- in fact the odds may be against them. But the two nearly simultaneous developments were vivid statements that diplomacy, the venerable but often-unsatisfying art of compromise, has once again become the centerpiece of American foreign policy." CW: ... which explains why neo-cons & Bushies are reflexively against any brokered peace agreement. ...

... Matt Spetalnick of Reuters: "When push came to shove in the closing hours of marathon negotiations in Geneva on Iran's nuclear program, it was President Barack Obama, back at the White House, who approved the final language on the U.S. side before the historic deal was clinched. It was perhaps only fitting that Obama had the last say. His push for a thaw with Tehran, a longtime U.S. foe, dates back to before his presidency, and no other foreign policy issue bears his personal stamp more since he took office in early 2009." ...

... Sarah Wheaton & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "President Obama said on Monday that 'cleareyed, principled diplomacy' had produced the agreement with Iran to stall its nuclear development, pushing back against rising criticism in Congress and from allies like Israel that the pact reached in Geneva was a capitulation. Speaking at a rally in San Francisco, Mr. Obama emphasized what he described as a major achievement in the long-estranged relations with Iran. He spoke as American officials confirmed that Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped finalize the deal on Sunday, had engaged in secret communications with Iran months ago in an effort to improve relations and encourage talks." ...

... They Were Against It Before They Knew What It Was. Dana Milbank: "In the eyes of Republicans, the agreement with Iran has a fatal flaw: It was negotiated by the Obama administration. This president could negotiate a treaty promoting baseball, motherhood and apple pie, and Republicans would brand it the next Munich.... At 9:08 p.m. [Saturday] -- before any details of the pact were known -- Ari Fleischer delivered his opinion on the agreement, via Twitter. 'The Iran deal and our allies: You can't spell abandonment without OBAMA.' ... Would it be better to go to war now without exhausting diplomatic options? We've been there and done that -- when Ari Fleischer stood on the White House podium." ...

... Steve M. of NMMNB explains the rhetorical rules that govern Right Wing World: "To the right, every Democrat operating in the foreign policy sphere is Neville Chamberlain. Every Democratic policy that affects the economy came straight from The Communist Manifesto. Every liberal or moderate immigration is sovereignty-destroying amnesty.... Right-wingers aren't grown-ups. They're overgrown children who are heroes of their own political fantasy stories. It's not enough for them to oppose a policy -- they have to persuade themselves that they're the only ones preventing the destruction of civilization as we know it." ...

... Gershom Gorenberg in the American Prospect: "Instead of toasting Obama's success, Netanyahu has responded with public fury perhaps unprecedented in the Washington-Jerusalem relationship. The link between Netanyahu's reactions in September [to successful U.S. negotiations in the Syrian chemical weapons crisis] and now is what could be called Agreement Anxiety Disorder (AAD): a reflexive certainty that any time an antagonist is willing to make an agreement to end or manage a conflict, the deal is a deception." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "It doesn't really matter what the U.S. does with respect to Israel's enemies so long as Bibi is in charge: it won't be the right thing, or enough of the right thing. Everybody just needs to accept that and move along."

Alfonso Serrano of al Jazeera: "President Barack Obama invoked the spirit of Thanksgiving on Monday as he urged House Republicans to back an immigration deal, saying he accepts chopping comprehensive reform approved by the Senate into pieces if that helps pass legislation":

The system will not work perfectly on Dec. 1, but it will work much better than it did in October. -- Julie Bataille, spokesperson for the Healthcare.gov project ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Administration officials said Monday that some visitors to ObamaCare's federal enrollment site would experience outages, slow response times or messages to try again later during the month of December. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered the message in the latest attempt to downplay expectations surrounding Nov. 30, the administration's self-imposed deadline for fixing HealthCare.gov." ...

... Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Many users of the website have had their applications cast into limbo after they uploaded copies of documents like driver's licenses, Social Security cards and voter registration cards, or sent them to the office of the federal insurance marketplace in London, Ky. Administration officials said the government had established strict procedures to verify that people applying for insurance were who they said they were.... But a breakdown in the process instead is causing concern among some consumers about the handling of their personal information." ...

... Brian Beutler of Salon: "... Jeffrey Zients -- the Obama administration point person in charge of fixing Healthcare.gov -- ... told reporters on Friday that the site will be able to handle 50,000 users at a time and 800,000 users a day by the the end of next week." So what's a right-wing extremist/elected official to do? "When Healthcare.gov actually starts working, GOP will have to choose between politics or their constituents' health." ...

Art by Donkey Hotey.... Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps in an effort to defuse reports that House Speaker John Boehner is making out pretty well as a first-time insurance customer under the Affordable Care Act, Boehner's office put out the word this weekend that his family healthcare premiums will be much higher next year than now. That outstanding stenographic service, Politico.com, swallowed this story whole.... Boehner is plainly an outlier as an Obamacare client. He's way older than the average individual policy applicant, and his family income is way beyond the U.S. average.... But the real lie at the heart of Boehner's claim is that the typical Obamacare customer is someone transitioning from a good employer plan to the individual market, as he is. The truth is that two-thirds of all the users of the individual insurance exchanges nationwide are expected to be people who didn't have any insurance previously." Read the whole column. ...

... CW: This bit was reported in at least one of the posts I linked yesterday, but I don't think I highlighted it here. Josh Marshall of TPM: "According to Scott MacFarlane, a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Washington, reports that a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes [listening to "lots of patriotic hold music"], after which time the representative finally hung up." So basically Boehner's complaint about ObamaCare is, "I'm rich, old & don't like to answer the phone. Waaaaahh!" ...

... Hiltzik on the ObamaCare success stories you're not hearing: "... Americans learning that they'll be eligible for coverage perhaps for the first time, or at sharply lower cost, are far more typical of the individual insurance market [than are "victims" experiencing "sticker shock"]. Two-thirds of the 30 million Americans who will be eligible for individual coverage next year are uninsured today, whether because they can't afford it now or because they're barred by pre-existing condition limitations, which will no longer be legal. And more than three-quarters will be eligible for subsidies that will cut their premium costs and even co-pays and deductibles substantially." Hiltzik cites a few cases of people the ACA has rescued from the Bad Old Days, which are about to end. ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: According to Fox "News" hosts, ObamaCare is worse than Iraq & Katrina because "unlike other issues, Katrina or the Iraq war that we've seen in ... the past second term, this is something that touches so many people's lives across the country." CW: See? They've rejected those melodramatic false equivalencies comparing the ACA to Katrina & Iraq. ...

I believe I'm going to be a Democrat. -- Ronald Hudson, a white Kentucky Republican, upon learning he would qualify for a "medical card" under ObamaCare ...

... Markos Moulitsas: "The fight for Obamacare has become an existentialist crisis for the GOP. And Ronald Hudson in Breathitt County, Kentucky, is turning that nightmare into reality." ...

... Jason Millman of Politico: "Tea party-aligned [Gov. Rick] Scott, who was once one of Obamacare's most fervent critics, shocked the political world by endorsing [Medicaid] expansion in February. The GOP-controlled state Senate subsequently agreed, but those plans died in the House amid forceful opposition from GOP Speaker Will Weatherford.... With so many uninsured, Florida will help shape whether the Affordable Care Act can eventually be viewed as a success." ...

... Toluse Olorunnipa of Bloomberg News: "At least five public hospitals closed this year and many more are scaling back services, mostly in states where Medicaid wasn't expanded.... Hospitals have dismissed at least 5,000 employees across the country since June, mostly in states that haven't expanded the joint state-federal Medicaid health program for the poor as anticipated under ... Obamacare.... Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, said governors who chose not to expand Medicaid are to blame for the hospital closures." CW: OR ... Let's see how many people the Supreme Court can sicken or kill in a single side ruling. AND, thanks, Stephen Breyer & Elena Kagan, for concurring in this ruling.

... Ben Goad of the Hill: "The Obama administration is conceding that its decision to allow people to keep insurance policies that would otherwise be canceled under the Affordable Care Act could weaken federal health exchanges. Hundreds of pages of regulations made public Monday contain an acknowledgment that the decision, announced amid fierce criticism over canceled policies, would mean fewer healthy people would buy healthcare through the exchanges." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "With healthcare.gov lurching toward functionality, the next wave in Obamacare disaster coverage revolves around President Obama's oft-repeated promise, 'If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.' Let me spoil the suspense: Not everybody is going to keep their doctor.... Keep Your Doctor was mainly offered as a rebuttal to the ever-present accusation that Obamacare amounted to a form of socialized medicine that would dictate by fiat which doctors a patient could see." Chait explains why the coming Keep Your Doctor Outrage is nonsense. ...

... Paul Waldman of the American Prospect: "... a belief that the ACA's failure would make single-payer more likely fundamentally misreads our political history." ...

... Steve M.: "Democrats need a confluence of extraordinary circumstances in order to make big societal changes. They may not get them again for quite some time." ...

... Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News: "It's quite possible that Obamacare will be a sufficient liability to cost Obama his popularity and Democrats their Senate majority. The party and individual politicians may sink for a time. (They may also recover far faster than many suspect. We live in volatile times.) But unless Obamacare is far more troubled than it now appears, the law will not sink. It floats."

Mark Hosenball of Reuters: "British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a 'doomsday' cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud. The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said.... One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden's 'insurance policy' against arrest or physical harm. U.S. officials and other sources said only a small proportion of the classified material Snowden downloaded during stints as a contract systems administrator for NSA has been made public. Some Obama Administration officials have said privately that Snowden downloaded enough material to fuel two more years of news stories." ...

... How to Steal a Bajillion Bytes of Metadata. Nicole Perlroth & John Markoff of the New York Times: "People knowledgeable about Google and Yahoo's infrastructure say they believe that government spies bypassed the big Internet companies and hit them at a weak spot -- the fiber-optic cables that connect data centers around the world that are owned by companies like Verizon Communications, the BT Group, the Vodafone Group and Level 3 Communications. In particular, fingers have been pointed at Level 3, the world's largest so-called Internet backbone provider, whose cables are used by Google and Yahoo." ...

... Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) & Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), in a New York Times op-ed: "The bulk collection of Americans' telephone records -- so-called metadata -- by the National Security Agency is, in our view, a clear case of a general warrant that violates the spirit of the framers' intentions.... The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated.... Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans' phone calls and emails. This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want."

Adam Goldman & Matt Apuzzo of the AP: "In the early years after 9/11, the CIA turned some Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents then sent them home to help the U.S. kill terrorists, current and former U.S. officials said. The CIA promised the prisoners freedom, safety for their families and millions of dollars from the agency's secret accounts.... At the same time the government used the risk of terrorism to justify imprisoning people indefinitely, it was releasing dangerous people from prison to work for the CIA."

$11.2 Million More Reasons for Campaign Finance Reform. Kim Barker of ProPublica: "New tax return shows Karl Rove's [tax-exempt] group spent even more on politics than it [reported to the IRS] ... under penalty of perjury." CW: Yeah, that will happen when you send your "social welfare" money to Grover Norquist. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Now you know at least part of why the Republicans tried to make a meal out of the IRS dumbassery in Cincinnati. It was to defang the enforcement mechanism that might force Karl Rove to spend some of this money on an actual social-welfare issue -- namely, prison reform."

Like Jesus, the Pope Is a Socialist. Naomi O'Leary of Reuters: "Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as 'a new tyranny', urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff. The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy...." CW: Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I'm beginning to think this Pope could make a difference.

Jim Tankersley & Scott Clement of the Washington Post: "American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers.... More than six in 10 workers in a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll worry that they will lose their jobs to the economy, surpassing concerns in more than a dozen surveys dating to the 1970s. Nearly one in three, 32 percent, say they worry 'a lot' about losing their jobs, also a record high, according to the joint survey...."

Ron Fournier of the National Journal: "More than almost any president, Obama has failed to exercise ... presidential clemency. But that may be changing. The White House is considering a broad range of clemency reforms."

No More Pretty Pictures. Andrew Beaujon of Poynter: "In a memo to staff Sunday, USA Today Deputy Director of Multimedia Andrew P. Scott said the news organization will not use 'handout photos originating from the White House Press Office, except in very extraordinary circumstances.' ... USA Today owner Gannett was among the organizations that protested the White House's clampdown on photographers' access to the president No week."

November 2013 Election

Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "The State Board of Elections on Monday declared Democrat Mark R. Herring Virginia's next attorney general, capping a dramatic three-week certification process in the closest statewide race in Virginia history. Herring defeated Republican Mark D. Obenshain by a mere 165 votes out of more than 2 million cast, according to the final tally certified in Richmond on Monday, at least temporarily giving Democrats a historic sweep of statewide offices.... Yet the exceedingly narrow results also offered reason to brace for a recount. The certified tally gave Herring 1,103,777 votes to Obenshain's 1,103,612 -- a winning margin of less than one hundredth of a percent. Obenshain did not immediately call for a recount, but he has set up a transition team...."

Local News

Jake Sherman of Politico: "Three top Florida Republican leaders -- including the state party chairman -- say Rep. Trey Radel should resign, less than one week after he plead guilty to possession of cocaine. State party chair Lenny Curry, Lee County GOP chair Terry Miller and Mike Lyster, the chairman of the Collier County Republicans issued statements late Monday, saying the Florida Republican should step down.... Several candidates who lost to Radel in a competitive 2012 primary -- including Chauncey Goss, whose father served eight terms in the House -- have been publicly critical of Radel. Many are already mulling a run for his seat. Former Rep. Connie Mack, who vacated the seat to run for the U.S. Senate, also is seen as eyeing another run." CW: I have every expectation that CoMa will again be my horrible Representative.

News Ledes

Guardian: "US warplanes have directly challenged China's claims of an expanding territorial air defense zone, flying dramatically and without incident on Monday over a disputed island chain. The incursion comes on the heels of a scathing statement over the weekend by defense secretary Chuck Hagel rejecting the expansion of the Chinese air defense zone into the East China sea as a provocative threat to regional stability. But the Pentagon insisted Tuesday that the overflight was not a reaction to the Chinese declaration."

New York Times: "For the second time in a decade, Ukraine is in turmoil, with tens of thousands of protesters in recent days loudly demanding that the country shake off its post-Soviet identity and move once and for all into the orbit of a more prosperous Europe."

Los Angeles Times: "In a major legal blow to the California bullet train, a Sacramento judge ruled that state officials cannot pursue their plan to tap billions of dollars in voter-approved bond funding for construction, a decision that could cause indefinite delays in the massive $68-billion project. Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny, ruling Monday in two closely watched cases, found the state officials made key errors and failed to comply with legal requirements as they moved the project toward a long-awaited groundbreaking."

'Tis the Season. AP: "A man who played Santa Claus at a Massachusetts mall has been barred from the shopping center after he was charged with groping an 18-year-old woman playing an elf."

Sunday
Nov242013

The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2013

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The preliminary deal with Iran is a seminal moment for President Obama, presenting the chance to chart a new American course in the Middle East for the first time in more than three decades." ...

... David Sanger of the New York Times: "The interim accord struck with Iran on Sunday interrupts the country's nuclear progress for the first time in nearly a decade, but requires Iran to make only a modest down payment on the central problem. The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its 'dash time' to a bomb -- the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran's supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path." ...

... Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "The deal [Secretary of State John] Kerry was instrumental in cutting is a diplomatic coup, even if its effectiveness and durability remain in doubt. It sets new boundaries for Iran's disputed nuclear program that represent significant compromises and concessions for Iran as well as the international coalition that suspects it of seeking nuclear weapons. Perhaps more important, the agreement opens a crack in the hostility and suspicion hardened over more than 30 years of American diplomatic estrangement from Iran." ...

... Julian Borger & Saaed Dehghan of the Guardian: "A historic agreement on Iran's nuclear programme was made possible by months of unprecedented secret meetings between US and Iranian officials, in further signs of the accelerating detente between two of the world's most adversarial powers, it emerged on Sunday." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so." ...

... So naturally, John Mr. Mustache Bolton, our former recess-appointed embarrassing Ambassador to the U.N. & high-ranking war monger, calls the deal an "abject surrender by the United States." ...

... AND Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is "disappointed" with the deal. More here. ...

... PLUS. Bernie Becker of the Hill: "Top lawmakers on both side of the aisle on Sunday voiced skepticism about the newly struck agreement with Iran, and vowed to keep up the pressure with sanctions."


Amy Davidson
of the New Yorker: "Not for the first time, Obama has been slow to realize the effect, at every stage, of his knockdown fight with the Republican Party over policy.... Health-care reform is the President's signature legislative achievement, and a historic one. To preserve it, he needs to fight for it politically, state by state. This time, the Obama brand alone isn't enough." ...

... Paul Krugman: "In California we can see what health reform will look like, beyond the glitches. And it's going to work." ...

... Bad News for the Turtle. Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post: "On the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable. At the White House, President Obama was still apologizing for the botched federal Web site. But in [Kentucky,] a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county [Breathitt,] that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, [ACA "navigator"] Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up.... Although she once had to dispel a rumor that enrolling involved planting a microchip in your arm, and though she avoids calling the new law 'Obamacare' in a red state, most people need little persuading. ...

... Corporations Are People, My Friend. Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: The Supreme Court will decide on Tuesday whether or not to hear appeals in cases in which corporations have successfully claimed that have a First Amendment right to deny on religious grounds paying for employee contraceptive coverage. Experts say the Court will likely hear at least one of the cases. ...

... ObamaCare, All the Time. Elias Isquith of Salon: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted immediately after the announcement of the Iran accord that the White House cut the deal to "distract attention" from ObamaCare. ...

... Andy Borowitz: "The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told reporters today his nation agreed to a deal on its nuclear program in the hopes that it would distract attention from the trouble-plagued rollout of Obamacare." CW: Note that thanks to Sen. Cornyn, satire cannot top reality. Borowitz's "report" is no less accurate than Cornyn's tweet.

It will poison the atmosphere of the Senate. -- Sen. Ted Cruz, on filibuster reform

Help me. I can't stop laughing. -- Constant Weader ...

... Mike Lillis & Bernie Becker of the Hill: "The gradual diminishment of the filibuster is inevitable now that Democrats have set off the 'nuclear option,' experts say, and that could have much broader ramifications down the line." ...

... ** Alex Pareene of Salon does a crackerjack job of debunking the nuclear vapors of the Village People. ...

... Michael Lind, in Salon, on the good old days of bipartisanship: "The difference between 2013 and 1963 is that in the earlier period liberals and conservatives were found in both of the two parties, which still reflected the geographic realignment that had produced the Civil War. The Democrats, still based in the South, had their conservative Southern and Midwestern members, while the Republicans, still the northern party of Lincoln, had many liberal members." Liberals & conservatives were polarized then as now, but liberals & moderate Republicans often voted together as did conservative Republicans & Democrats. ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Kathleen Sebelius may become the biggest loser in the Senate's approval of filibuster reform. The Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary has kept her job despite the botched rollout of ObamaCare's insurance exchanges, but it will now be easier for Obama to replace her."

Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal: "Shortly after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed himself in June as the source of leaked National Security Agency documents, the agency's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, offered to resign, according to a senior U.S. official. The offer ... was declined by the Obama administration. But it shows the degree to which Mr. Snowden's revelations have shaken the NSA's foundations -- unlike any event in its six-decade history, including the blowback against domestic spying in the 1970s." CW Note: Firewalled; if you can't access the story via the link, cut & paste a line from the text into Google search.

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "More than 230,000 complaints have poured into the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the past two years, with mortgages and debt collection topping the list of grievances. But CFPB director Richard Cordray told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview that he wants Americans to complain more.... [The complaints] are pouring in at a good clip -- 10,000-12,000 per month through http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ and by phone at (855) 411-CFPB (2372)."

Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "President Barack Obama ... offered a rare self-assessment while criticizing congressional Republicans as an 'impediment' to governing during the start of a West Coast fundraising tour for the Democratic Party.... Obama arrived Sunday evening in Seattle. He also planned stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, raising money for House and Senate Democrats as well as the national party."

Tom Heneghan of Reuters: "Germany's Roman Catholic bishops plan to push ahead with proposed reforms to reinstate divorced and remarried parishioners despite a warning from the Vatican's top doctrinal official, according to a senior cleric."

Presidential Race 2016

How to Pick a President -- Look in the Mirror

I think it's got to be an outsider. I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor, people who have done successful things in their states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America forward. -- Gov. Scott Walker (RTP-Wis.), last week when asked to describe the "ideal Republican presidential candidate"

What I think the next president should be is someone who is leading the fight for free-market principles and the Constitution, someone who's listening to the American people, not listening to the established politicians. -- Sen. Ted Cruz [RTP-Texas]

I think they want someone outside of, you know, what's been going on. For example, someone like myself who has been promoting term limits. -- Sen. Rand Paul [RTP-Ky.], last week, on the type of presidential candidate who would appeal to voters

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Efforts by the United State and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces at the end of 2014. In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama's top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have 'no choice' but withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council...."

New York Times: The Connecticut state's attorney has issued an investigative report on Adam Lanza, the shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary mass murder. The report found no motive but reveals detailed into the bizarre behavior of Adam & the strange relationship between his mother Nancy Lanza & him. The report, via the NYT, is here.

New York Times: Michael McVey, "a school superintendent in Steubenville, Ohio, was indicted Monday for [felony] obstruction in the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two high school football stars, who were convicted in April in a case that drew national attention and outrage over the crime and the way photos and videos of the episode made their way onto social media.... Three other adults, including an elementary school principal, were indicted on lesser charges."

AFP: " Japan warned Sunday of the danger of 'unpredictable events' and South Korea voiced regret following China's unilateral declaration of an air defence zone over areas claimed by Tokyo and Seoul."

San Antonio Express-News: "A San Antonio police officer was arrested Saturday and accused of raping a 19-year-old woman on the South Side [of San Antonio, Texas,] early the day before. At a news conference Saturday, police said the officer has been accused of sexual assault before. Jackie Len Neal, 40, was arrested on a charge of felony sexual assault.... Neal was released on $20,000 bond."