The Ledes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

Washington Post: "This week’s winter storm is shaping up to be a travel nightmare for Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and the busiest travel day of the year. A coating to several inches of snow could accumulate along the I-95 corridor on Wednesday. While temperatures have been unseasonably warm early this week, snow is still likely to accumulate along coastal interstates, especially during periods of heavy snowfall."

The Wires

CW: Looks as if the Google News & stock market widgets are kaput & the Reuters widget is intermittent. We'll see what happens over the next few days with these.

The Ledes

Monday, November 24, 2014.

BBC News: "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said women cannot be treated as equal to men, and has accused feminists of rejecting motherhood. 'You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,' he told a meeting in Istanbul. 'It is against nature.' He also said feminists did not grasp the importance of motherhood in Islam. His comments often seek to appeal to his pious core supporters, says the BBC's Mark Lowen in Istanbul, but they anger more liberal voters. Turks who have more secular views argue that the government's social policies are taking the country in a dangerous direction, our correspondent says."

Washington Post: "A grand jury has reached a decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked days of turbulent protests, sources close to the process said. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) and the county prosecutor’s office are expected to hold news conferences later Monday, and prosecutors have notified the family of Michael Brown — the teen who Wilson killed — that the grand jury’s decision will be announced Monday night, family attorney Benjamin Crump said."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
November 25

5:35 pm ET (maybe): President Obama speaks about immigration reform

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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The Rockefellers Are Leaving the Building. New York Times: "By this time next year, they will have vacated the 56th-floor aerie [in 30 Rock] they have occupied since 1933 and moved to somewhat less rarefied headquarters across 49th Street. One of the country’s great dynastic families is downsizing."

Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

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Monday
Nov172014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 18, 2014

Karen Tumulty & Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama's expected action lifting the threat of deportation from millions of undocumented immigrants, which could come as early as this week, will expand the authority of the executive branch into murky, uncharted territory. The path is built on the long-accepted principle, going at least as far back as the 1970s, that any administration should have wide discretion over how it deals with those who are in this country illegally. However, Obama is poised to take that leeway significantly farther than before." ...

... Andrew Taylor of the AP: "Two presidents have acted unilaterally on immigration -- and both were Republican. Ronald Reagan and his successor George H.W. Bush extended amnesty to family members who were not covered by the last major overhaul of immigration law in 1986. Neither faced the political uproar widely anticipated if and when President Barack Obama uses his executive authority to protect millions of immigrants from deportation." ...

... Steve Benen: "Congress considered expanding the [Reagan-era] law, but the effort ended up failing, prompting Reagan to act on his own. Congress, rather than throwing a tantrum and impeaching the president, codified Bush's policy into law soon after.... While the narrow, limited orders related to Nicaraguan and Chinese immigrants are different from what Obama intends to do, these other measures from Reagan and Bush are actually quite similar." ...

... One Reason Republicans Oppose Immigration Reform. Simon Miloy of Salon: "The nativists of the conservative movement ... beliieve that birthright citizenship was never intended to be U.S. policy, and that the courts and the government have been misinterpreting the 14th Amendment these past 150 years. As you might have guessed, this is a radical idea that has little to no precedent or legal theory to back it up.... To address the problem of undocumented immigration, the base of the Republican Party and its loudest megaphone -- talk radio -- want to change the Constitution, dismantle a century and a half of citizenship policy, and alter one of the fundamental notions of American identity. This, in their minds, is a practical thing to do." CW: Perhaps worth noting, Laura Ingraham, radio host & ABC News contributor, who is a leading advocate of this view, clerked for Clarence Thomas.

Andrew Nikiforuk in a New York Times op-ed describes the devastation caused by & stupidity of mining tar sands for "garbage crude": "The reclamation of ... blown-up forests remains a nightmarish challenge. Nobody really knows how to put a boreal forest back together once it has been stripped of its trees, soil, wetlands and fish-bearing rivers."

Save Me! Save Me! (Screw the Planet.) Coral Davenport & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana pushed hard on Monday to round up votes for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, part of a last-minute effort to help her survive a close runoff and one of the toughest battles of her political career. Even if the Senate supports building the pipeline in a vote on Tuesday night, President Obama is likely to veto the measure on the grounds that an environmental review of the process remains incomplete." ...

... Dana Milbank on "purity politics, Democratic style." CW: I'd love to know what readers think about this debate.

Johana Bhuiyan & Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "The CEO of Uber said Friday that Obamacare has played a crucial role for his army of drivers, an unusual, partial endorsement of the president's signature policy from a man often cast as a hero of anti-government libertarianism.... 'It's huge,' Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO and co-founder, said in response to a question about Uber and Obamacare at a dinner in Manhattan. Kalanick didn't comment on the specifics of the health care policy, but said he sees little sense in the traditional link between employment and health care; he said he believes all Americans should have access to some health care safety net, without losing the option of paying more money for private care. And he said the success of Obamacare's core goal -- creating a functioning individual market for health care -- is very much in sync with Uber's vision of a liberated work force. 'The democratization of those types of benefits allow people to have more flexible ways to make a living,' Kalanick said. 'They don't have to be working for The Man.'" ...

     ... CW: In other words, Kalanick makes mincemeat of the central GOP economic argument against ObamaCare. "Jobs killer?" Not hardly, as we say in Red State Country. ...

... Jonathan Chait elaborates: "What makes Kalanick's comments not just cutting but a knife thrust to the Republican heart is that Uber is the very model of the sort of firm the party covets. Republicans actually circulated a pro-Uber petition and sought to brand itself in general as the party of Uber."

... Related. Maya Kosoff of Business Insider (Nov. 14): "Members of Congress and their staffers use Uber to travel more than any other form of ground transportation, according to a study released this week...." ...

... CW: Maybe the most shocking part of Kalanick's remarks is that a billionaire actually suggests he gives a fuck about the health of the workers upon whom his business model depends. ...

... However, Kalanick's "interest" in ObamaCare is completely self-serving. Jason Millman of the Washington Post: "By not paying for employees' health insurance, Uber saves tons of money, just as it also cuts costs by putting the costs of car ownership onto its drivers. The whole issue of how Uber treats its drivers lies at the heart of class action lawsuits filed in California and Massachusetts courts over the summer. The suits argue that Uber improperly classifies its drivers at independent contractors, when they should be counted as full employees entitled to employer-provided benefits, including health insurance. It's pretty unclear how much money Uber's drivers actually make, but if they're on the lower end of the scale, taxpayers could be helping to cover their insurance under the health-care law.... The question is whether Uber should be providing drivers with health insurance in the first place -- and if not, whether American taxpayers should help cover the cost." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a strong supporter of health care reform. But his careless comments at academic forums last year, caught on videotapes that surfaced recently, can only harm the reform cause.... [His] comments are doubly offensive. First, they insult ordinary Americans. And they're largely wrong.... His comments should not be taken as evidence that the reform law was hatched in secrecy and foisted on the public by trickery." ...

... AND I just came across this excellent new GOP plan to kill poor working people. Congressional Republicans have rendered rhetorical the question, "Have you no sense of decency, Sir?" ...

... ALSO, Chait takes down a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Tevi Troy, a former Dubya official, who's horrified by the ObamaCare "Cadillac tax." "Gruber, something, something, Gruber." (Paraphrase of op-ed.) CW: You don't need to read all the nitty-gritty of Chait's piece (or any of Troy's) to get the idea: When Republicans propose a plan, it's innovative & sensible; when Democrats institute the same plan, it's "the evilest, sneakiest, failing-est, and most unconstitutional assault of freedom ever" (Chait). Moreover, when Republicans make these charges, it is not necessary for the Wall Street Journal to reveal the opinionators' conflicts of interests. ...

     ... Steve Lemieux: "I could do without Gruber's condescension myself, but when it comes to insulting people's intelligence he's got nothing on the parade of hacks attacking him." ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

... CW: I seldom read anything by Ron Fournier of the National Journal (& formerly the AP's top dog in Washington) because Ron Fournier is stupid. Last week, however, I linked to a column by Fournier in which he got something right, & I warned it wouldn't happen again this year. Sure enough, the next day he wrote something stupid about GruberGate. Not satisfied with standard stupid, Fournier wrote another column, the core of which Matt Yglesias argues, are "The worst two paragraphs about American politics you'll read today ... in which he explains that the big problem with Obama's approach was failing to take a page from the Massachusetts universal health care program that is in fact the model for Obamacare." You'll have to read Yglesias's full post to get how astoundingly stupid Fournier is. ...

... ** UPDATE. Better yet, Adam Weinstein of Gawker has written a masterful takedown of Fournier ("the Thomas Friedman of Helen Thomases") & a thorough but funny rebuttal to Fournier's ridiculous ObamaCare/RomneyCare column: "National Journal's editorial director and senior political columnist. Longtime AP politics guru. Author of Applebee's America. Honorable mention in a David Brooks essay contest. All of these are true statements about Ron Fournier, but none of them really captures his genius. Ron Fournier is America's palpitating heart, a folksy war addict who hates long wars, a critic of government spending who hates budget cuts, a squared circle who really gets your disgust with all these danged partisans, especially when you're voting for them en masse." ...

... Paul Krugman: "I've know for years that many political pundits don't think that understanding policy is part of their job. But this is still extreme. And I'm sorry to go after an individual here -- but for God's sake, don't you have to know something about the actual content of a policy you critique? And what's actually going on here is worse than ignorance. It's pretty clear that we're watching a rule of thumb according to which if Republicans are against a proposal, that means it must be leftist and extreme, and the burden on the White House is to find a way to make the GOP happy. Needless to say, this rewards obstructionism...." Thanks to Nisky Guy for the link. ...

... CW: There is no greater facilitator of the Republican party than the mainstream media's adherence to he-said/she said "journalism." Here's Jay Rosen (in 2011) trying to explain to NPR what he-said/she-said reporting is, and the NPR people just don't get it. They really can't (or won't) understand the difference between editorializing & facts-gathering, the latter of which is apparently too hard to do.

... BTW, Rosen wrote a good piece last week on the "Republicans have to show they can govern" wish that reporters & some pundits accept -- and write -- as fact. Read to the bottom to see who agrees with him. CW: I didn't link to any of the opinion pieces or reports (with the possible exception of Jeremy Peters' NYT report, which I might have thought included some useful info) which Rosen mentions, because I believe that Republicans, unlike Democrats, are immune from results tests.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

David Gelles of the New York Times: "Stocks are surging, corporate executives are ambitious and debt is cheap. The result is one of the biggest booms ever in mergers and acquisitions. Mergers worth $100 billion, made on Monday, put Wall Street on pace for a year of deal-making rivaling those during the dot-com bubble and the private equity upsurge just before the financial crisis."

David Dayen in Salon: "... you would be wrong to assume that anything has changed in our foreclosure courts. New evidence over the last month shows that [bank loan] servicers employ virtually the same improper techniques when foreclosing. Instead of robo-signers, they use robo-witnesses, or robo-verifiers; more on them in a moment. Regardless, they are breaking laws and degrading the integrity of the courts to kick people out of their homes, a sad and enduring legacy of the destruction of the nation's property system during the housing bubble years."

FINALLY, Another Super-Uber Plan. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: Emil Michael, "a senior executive at Uber, suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media -- and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.... Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of 'sexism and misogyny' ... after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service." One way Uber has already tracked a BuzzFeed reporter's personal activities, despite a stated policy against it: "looking at journalists' travel logs." See Nixon, Richard.

Beyond the Beltway

Mike Levine, et al., of ABC News: "As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision 'will likely' lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents. Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called 'hacktivists' like the group 'Anonymous' could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities." ...

... Virginia Young of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Citing 'the possibility of expanded unrest,' Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday declared a state of emergency and prepared to send the Missouri National Guard to help maintain order in the St. Louis region when a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case." ... CW: I had an awful time getting this page to load; it presented every kind of mess. The Reuters story, by Scott Malone, is here. ...

... Charles Pierce: "Make no mistake. This is a threat, pure and simple, and it is not aimed at people on both sides of this issue. In fact, it is a rather clear indication that Nixon feels that the grand jury is going to no-bill Wilson, and that Nixon is telling anyone who may be angered by that development that he is willing to do almost anything to keep their responses in check." Also, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, channeling Joe McCarthy, is "concerned" about "Black Panthers or communist activists."

... Adam Weinstein of Gawker: "Spurred on by a Tennessee resident who is "concerned" about the Ferguson protesters and their catchy chants, supporters of police officer Darren Wilson have donated more than enough money to post a billboard in the heart of the St. Louis suburb reading '#PantsUPDontLoot.' The phrase and hashtag, popularized by pearl-clutching National Review conservatives as a retort to the protesters' 'Hands up, don't shoot' rallying cry, apparently seeks to redirect attention from alleged excessive police force to alleged 'violence and mayhem' by demonstrators." ...

... AND Brandie Piper of KSDK-TV: "A 29-year-old Ferguson corrections officer is accused of having sex with an inmate at the city jail, whom he later allegedly allowed to escape. Jaris Hayden is charged with public servant acceding to corruption, two counts of sexual contact with an inmate, and permitting escape.... The inmate has not been identified, but filed a lawsuit against Hayden, alleging he raped her and forced her to give him oral sex after she was taken to jail for giving an officer a false name after she was pulled over for driving a vehicle with an expired license plate."

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray rejected a proposal by federal prosecutors in September that he plead guilty to a single felony count in connection with their long-running investigation of his 2010 campaign, a person with knowledge of the talks said. Prosecutors have also re-interviewed key witnesses in recent weeks, several individuals familiar with the case said -- a further indication that authorities are marching toward an indictment of the outgoing mayor."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Amy Davidson of the New Yorker on ISIS's murder of American humanitarian Peter Kassig: "Conversion [to Islam] was never protection. It was not ISIS's goal to make Kassig a Muslim, nor was it in its interest to acknowledge him as one. They wanted to murder an American, and they did."

November Elections

Chris Moody of CNN: "Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.... A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.... Groups ... [that] had access to the information posted to the accounts ... include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP." Via Paul Waldman.

Presidential Election

"The New Clinton Map." Dylan Scott of TPM writes a piece on the geniuses who are mapping out Hillary Clinton's Electoral College Path to Victory! They're planning to pick off some red states that Obama lost by appealing to working-class whites. "Clinton has already been testing a 2016 message that heavily emphasizes wage growth and expanding the middle class." CW: Mind you, neither Hillary nor these savants give a fuck about workers; they just think Clinton can "appeal" to them rubes by knocking down a few beers & repeating her "test message." You know, maybe voters aren't as stupid as Jonathan Gruber thinks & will sense that Hillary is as authentic as Mitt Romney.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Two assailants armed with a gun, knives and axes stormed a synagogue complex in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, killing at least four worshipers during morning prayers, according to the police. The attack was one of the deadliest in the city in several years."

Guardian: "American and Iranian negotiators have arrived in Vienna at the start of the last scheduled week of talks on Iran's nuclear programme with the outcome still in the balance."

New York Times: "With his once-vaunted plan for reviving Japan's economy now faltering, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on Tuesday that he would dissolve Parliament and hold national elections next month, saying he wants a new mandate from voters."

Sunday
Nov162014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 17, 2014

"A Freakout Foretold." Charles Pierce: "This may wind up being the most pivotal week of the president's administration. First, he may take the executive action on immigration that he should have taken before the election. Then, the Congress may send him a pro forma bill supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which he may then veto, even though that action may deprive the Republic of the services of Mary Landrieu, for whom some K Street lobbying firm likely already is clearing out an office, and despite the fact that it may very well occasion the launching of another Indian War in the West."

** Paul Krugman: "Conservatives want you to believe that while the goals of public programs on health, energy and more may be laudable, experience shows that such programs are doomed to failure. Don't believe them. Yes, sometimes government officials, being human, get things wrong. But we're actually surrounded by examples of government success, which they don't want you to notice." ...

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said 100,000 people submitted applications for coverage under the Affordable Care Act on Saturday, the first day of the law's second enrollment period."

Charles Blow: "Congressional Republicans have been sent to Washington with a mandate not so much to conduct business but rather to collect a bounty, to do what they promised and what their supporters expect: Stop Obama at any cost and at every turn, to erase his name or at least put an asterisk by it." ...

... No Surprise. Steve M.: "Republicans are planning to blame Democrats again for a GOP government shutdown." Surprise. Chuck Todd said to Bobby Jindal, "You're twisting my question."

E. J. Dionne: "On immigration, Boehner has lost all credibility to claim he wants to act in a bipartisan way. In his heart of hearts, might he like to pass a bill? Sure. But the speaker's heart is not what's at stake here. A willingness to take heat from the right wing of his caucus to pass a bill is what matters. And this is something he has showed, again and again, that he just won't do." CW: Another guy who mentioned the House's yearslong footdragging: Barack Obama.

Washington Post Editors: "... since the election Republican leaders have continued to indulge in hysterical 'war on coal' rhetoric, and they attacked the climate breakthrough in Beijing. They still appear determined to repeal the country's climate policies rather than replacing those policies with cheaper and more effective options, such as the market-based carbon-pricing programs that authentic conservatives would favor.... Whether out of cynicism, callousness or ignorance, Republicans over the past decade have ... indulged and encouraged shortsighted naysayers and climate conspiracists in the face of grave climate forecasts."

... Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: At the G-20 meeting, President "Obama put Australia's climate-denying Prime Minister [Tony Abbott] on the spot." ...

... Don Lee of the Los Angeles Times: "Criticized for being long on promises and short on delivery, leaders of the Group of 20 major economies set a target of lifting global economic output by at least 2% over five years -- an ambitious goal that would add $2 trillion to the world economy and millions of new jobs. To achieve that, the U.S. and other G-20 countries presented more than 800 specific projects and policy reforms that would, for instance, build more roads, improve trade and bring more women into the workforce." ...

... Here's video of the full press conference which President Obama held in Brisbane, Australia, at the close of the G-20 summit there:

Danielle Kurtzleben of Vox: "The latest jobs report showed the unemployment rate was at its lowest level in six years, 5.8 percent. But Americans aren't convinced that things are nearly that good. In a recent Ipsos-MORI poll, 1,001 Americans were asked, 'Out of every 100 people of working age, how many do you think are unemployed and looking for work?' Their average response was 32." ...

... CW: When (and if) the average American thinks one-third of potential workers are unemployed, the political party in power -- especially the party that holds the White House -- is in deep trouble. Misperceptions cause voters to make a lot of bad decisions. Ergo, Senator-Elect Joni Ernst. ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "That has an impact, for instance, on immigration policy: no one believes that undocumented immigrants are taking high-wage jobs, so you'll b likelier to oppose immigration reform if you believe that there just aren't enough even low-wage jobs...." ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic: Activists confront the Federal Reserve. And Janet Yellen listens. CW: (a) Elections matter. (b) Thanks to everyone who forced President Obama to choose Yellen to head the Fed over his preferred choice, Larry Summers. Really, would Summers have listened to "little people"? I don't think so.

Eric Segall in Slate: "Taking law seriously -- as opposed to making decisions based mostly on personal values -- is what distinguishes judges from other political officials. On that basis, Supreme Court justices are simply not judges.... We have unelected, life-tenured politicians masquerading as judges, making important decisions that affect us all. It is important to recognize the court for the purely political institution it is, and to acknowledge that it is not a court of law...." ...

... CW: I would add to that a point made some time back, I forget by which writer (Jonathan Bernstein??), that not only do these political justices have life tenure, if they aren't carried out in a coffin, they decide when to retire based entirely on strategic political considerations, so their "life" tenure can actually continue for many generations, in their like-minded replacements. Ruth Ginsburg, David Souter (although Souter said he "probably" would have retired anyway if McCain had won the 2008 election) & Sandra O'Connor all made clear that politics determined their retirement decisions.

Nicholas Kristof: "... one element of white privilege today is obliviousness to privilege, including a blithe disregard of the way past subjugation shapes present disadvantage."

Sally Jenkins & Rick Maese of the Washington Post: "Federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of National Football League team medical staffs on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league. The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act...."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: Maybe I fooled you into thinking Chuck Todd had turned over a new leaf when he objected to Bobby's Jindal's twisting his words (see above). Nah. As Driftglass documents, Press the Meat was a veritable beauty pageant for wingers. My favorite: Carly Fiorina, who deigned to allow her man Chuck to break some big news: she cannot avoid considering a presidential run because "Well, when people ask you over and over again, you have to pause and reflect. So I'll pause and reflect at the right time." Thank you, California, for not electing this harridan as your representative to the greatest deliberative body on earth (TM).

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Yes, Bill Keller Is Doing Something Useful. Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focused on the American criminal justice system and led by Bill Keller, a former executive editor of The New York Times, went live this weekend, the latest in a crop of start-ups seeking a place in an increasingly fragmented journalism landscape." ...

... Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

Here's the Marshall Project debut story, by Ken Armstrong, published in the Washington Post. Armstrong covers the failure of some lawyers to file timely petitions for habeas corpus in capital cases, "arguably the most critical safeguard in the United States' system of capital punishment.... Just last month, Mark Christeson, a Missouri inmate whose lawyers missed the habeas deadline in 2005, received a stay of execution from the Supreme Court just hours before he was set to die by lethal injection. In a court brief filed on Christeson's behalf, 15 former state and federal judges emphasized that he had not even met the appellate attorneys handling his federal case until after the filing deadline had passed. 'Cases, including this one, are falling through the cracks of the system,' they wrote. 'And when the stakes are this high, such failures unacceptably threaten the very legitimacy of the judicial process.'" ...

     ... CW: Once again, thanks, Newt Gingrich & Bill Clinton, and all you other phony "law & order" turkeys. ...

... Here's Part 2 of Anderson's report: "... an investigation by The Marshall Project has found that in at least 80 capital cases in which lawyers have missed the deadline -- sometimes through remarkable incompetence or neglect -- it is almost always the prisoner alone who suffers the consequences.... The lack of oversight or accountability has left many of the lawyers who missed the habeas deadlines free to seek appointment by the federal courts to new death-penalty appeals." ...

AND here's another death penalty horror story, courtesy of Paige Williams of the New Yorker. This one, not surprisingly, comes out of Alabama, where a judge can capriciously, it seems, override a jury's recommendation not to impose the death penalty, even as he questions whether or not the convicted man is even guilty.

Beyond the Beltway

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Video footage has emerged showing Darren Wilson -- the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri -- threatening and arresting a resident who refused to stop filming him with a cellphone. Wilson is seen standing near his Ferguson police SUV and warning Mike Arman: 'If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I'm gonna lock your ass up.' Arman, who had requested Wilson's name, replies: 'Sir, I'm not taking a picture, I'm recording this incident sir.'... Filming police officers carrying out their duties is widely considered to be legal and protected by the first amendment of the US constitution."

Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "A lawyer for Bill Cosby said on Sunday the comedian would not make any comment on 'decade-old, discredited' allegations of sexual abuse." Here's the full statement, published on BillCosby.com.

News Ledes

AP: "The cold-eyed militants lined up behind their victims in the latest Islamic State video appear to come from outside the Middle East, including one from France and possibly two from Britain, as the extremist group tries to show a global reach. The grisly video -- clearly aimed at a Western audience -- lingers as much on the faces of the camouflaged extremists as the men who are beheaded. The victims include American aid worker Peter Kassig and more than a dozen Syrian soldiers."

Reuters: "Former customers of Bernard Madoff may soon recover an additional $496.8 million as a result of a settlement with two 'feeder funds' that was announced on Monday by the trustee liquidating the swindler's firm. The settlement, with the Herald Fund SPC and Primeo Fund, both based in the Cayman Islands, is one of the largest obtained by the trustee, Irving Picard, since the failure of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in December 2008."

Washington Post: "Martin Salia, a doctor who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Sierra Leone, died on Monday while receiving treatment in Omaha. Salia was in 'extremely critical condition' after he was evacuated in a specially equipped air ambulance for treatment in the United States at the Nebraska Medical Center, which has a state-of-the-art isolation facility equipped for treating Ebola patients. A native of Sierra Leone with ties to Maryland, Salia had initially tested negative for the virus; but a subsequent test came back positive on Nov. 10."

Saturday
Nov152014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 16, 2014

Christi Parsons & Don Lee of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama said Sunday that world leaders agree Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't following the 'letter or the spirit' of his commitment to peaceful actions in Ukraine but that the sanctions currently in place against his regime are 'biting plenty good.' After a closed-door meeting with European leaders on the subject, Obama said the current level of isolation of Russia will continue as long as the country violates the principle that 'you don't invade other countries or finance proxies' who do.... Putin left the summit early, citing the long flight home." ...

... Here's a clip of President Obama's remarks at a press conference closing the G-20 meetings. I'll put up full video if one becomes available:

... Here's Obama on Ed Henry's (Fox "News"!) question about Johnathan Gruber/"stupid" comments. Thanks, Ed:

Amy Goldstein & Jason Millman of the Washington Post: "HealthCare.gov and online state insurance marketplaces in more than a dozen states opened Saturday morning for a second year of enrollment and a fresh test of whether the government can persuade millions of uninsured Americans to buy health plans. From anecdotal reports around the country, the early hours of the sign-up period appeared devoid of the computer troubles that frustrated both insurance-seekers and the Obama administration when the federal insurance exchange first debuted 13 months ago." ...

... OR ...

... Robert Pear & Amy Goodnough of the New York Times: "The health insurance marketplace opened for business on Saturday and performed much better than last year, but some consumers reported long, frustrating delays in trying to buy insurance and gain access to their own accounts at HealthCare.gov. Thousands of people attended hundreds of enrollment events around the country at public libraries, churches, shopping malls, community colleges, clinics, hospitals and other sites. Insurance counselors and federal, state and local officials said they were trying to juggle two tasks -- enrolling more of the uninsured and renewing coverage for those who already had it."

"Have You Met Joe Biden?" Cheryl Chumley of the Washington Times: "Republican bulldog Rep. Trey Gowdy put the kibosh on the idea of impeaching President Obama during a nationally television Fox News interview, telling his broadcast audience that booting the commander-in-chief from his office would open the doors to something even worse -- the ascension of Vice President Joseph R. Biden." ...

... Steve M. sees Gowdy's remark as scripted. "So GOP establishmentarians want maximum rage when Obama makes his announcement, but they don't watch impeachment. Can they hit the sweet spot? We'll see."

The Clinton Factor. Jamelle Bouie of Salon doesn't think Democrats can win the white working-class vote: "... for a new rhetoric of populism to work..., it needs to come with a commitment to universal policies that working-class whites like and support.... But the United States doesn't have a political party to support that kind of social democracy. Instead, it has the Democratic Party, a collection of disparate interests which -- at its best -- is nervous about economic liberalism and hesitant to push anything outside the mainstream. And worse, it has a presidential frontrunner who -- more than anyone else -- is connected to the kinds of elites and the kinds of policies that would push the party away from the muscular liberalism it needs."

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: Based on a study that mined data from 1997 through 2010, "Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues have ... concluded that ... more guns equal more crime. 'The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates' of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report. The evidence suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, according to Donohue. He says this number is likely a floor, and that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws." Thanks to Nisky Guy for the link. AND, as Barbarossa notes, the comments from the NRA commentariat are a blast. Not only is the study flawed (an actual possibility), but high incidence of guns deaths are the fault of blacks & Hispanics. Several comments somehow associate Jonathan Gruber of MIT with the Stanford study.(All professors are liberals; all liberal professors make up shit. Or something.)

Today in Stupid. "Socialism on the Internet." Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch gathers up a bunch of right-wing "explanations" of why net neutrality will ruin your life. Apparently, none of these geniuses understands what net neutrality is. Glenn Beck, ferinstance, "is outraged that President Obama wants to end 'the freedom of the internet' and ruin something that's 'working pretty well' because 'the government is not involved in it at all.' Apparently unaware that current FCC regulations allow his online network, The Blaze, to stream on an open internet, Beck claimed that regulations preserving net neutrality would end this supposedly government-free system in which he operates his business."

Roxane Gay, in the Washington Post on a Time magazine poll of readers asking them to choose which word, from among a list, to ban: "The list is supposed to be funny, but it is largely a policing of the vernacular of anyone who isn't a white, heterosexual man.... To include 'feminist' in this poll was irresponsible and lazy. It was a provocation without substance, designed to amuse. Women openly claiming feminism and a desire for equality? That's just silly." ...

... The poll, which is noxious with or without including the word "feminism," is here. Now, at the top, Time editor Nancy Gibbs writes, "Time apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word 'feminist' should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice." CW: Yes, because a poll about choosing words & phrases to ban is usually a work of intricate nuance. ...

... CW: What about the central assumption of the poll? Here we have a publication, whose only product is words, suggesting that it's quite okay to "ban" some words or phrases, not because they are boorish, hateful & oppressive, but because they are popular among the kids & some people find that annoying. This poll isn't just sexist; it's also ageist. I hope this is the last such poll Time finds "amusing" enough to publish. ...

... Now let's hear from an aggrieved white guy about all this silliness. Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit Tea party guy & a bonafide law professor, in a USA Today op-ed, is appalled that women were disgusted that a lead scientist on the European Space Agency's Philae project wore to a press conference a T-shirt adorned with scantily-clad women: "Yes, feminists have been telling us for years that women can wear whatever they want, and for men to comment in any way is sexism. But that's obviously a double standard, since they evidently feel no compunction whatsoever in criticizing what men wear.... With this sort of behavior in mind, it's no surprise that so many people feel that feminism has passed its sell-by date.... The [Time] poll captures a truth. Whatever feminists say, their true priorities are revealed in what they do, and what they do is, mostly, man-bashing and special pleading." Thanks, USA Today, for disseminating this garbage.

God News

Religious Freedom for Me But Not for Thee. Pamela Constable of the Washington Post: "In a corner of Washington National Cathedral, several hundred Muslim worshipers and other invited guests gathered Friday afternoon for a first-ever recitation of weekly Muslim prayers at the iconic Christian sanctuary and to hear leaders of both faiths call for religious unity in the face of extremist violence and hate.... The carefully scripted ceremony was marred once when one well-dressed, middle-age woman in the audience suddenly rose and began shouting that 'America was founded on Christian principles.... Leave our church alone!'"

AP: "A Mormon bishop in Los Angeles is under fire for his assertion that Sen. Harry Reid is unworthy to enter the faith's temples because of his support of Democratic Party positions. Mark Paredes, in a Wednesday blog titled 'Good Riddance to Harry Reid, the Mormon Senate Leader,' expressed his belief that Democrats' support of same-sex marriage, abortion rights and gambling runs contrary to church stances.... Church spokesman Dale Jones said Mormons are entitled to express their political opinions, but publishing their views while using a church title is 'entirely inappropriate.'" Via Steve Benen.

Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service: "In his latest bid to ease the suffering of the poor -- and upend the expectations of the papacy -- Pope Francis plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter's Square. Three showers are to be built into refurbished public restrooms provided for Catholic pilgrims along the marble columns leading into the historic basilica...." Also via Benen.

David Gibson of Religion News Service: "The nation's Catholic bishops have chosen a mixed slate of delegates for next year's high-level Vatican summit on the family, including outspoken culture warriors who are sometimes viewed as out of step with Pope Francis' priorities."

** Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service interviews Karen Armstrong on religion & the history of violence.

Beyond the Beltway

Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The Aug. 9 fatal shooting here that sparked three months of protests and calls for change from around the world happened in less than 90 seconds, interviews and an analysis of police and EMS records shows. The records, obtained by the Post-Dispatch via Missouri's Sunshine Law, provide the best timeline yet for the events surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown Jr., 18." ...

... Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "A call for backup that a police officer claims to have made seconds before he killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reportedly cannot be found in police recordings. The officer blames the problem on his radio." CW: Uh-huh. ...

... Jason Sickles of Yahoo! News: "The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown will be 'immediately' returned to active duty if he is not indicted, Chief Tom Jackson told Yahoo News on Friday. Officer Darren Wilson has been on paid leave since the controversial shooting in early August. He would come back to a 'not yet determined assignment,' the chief writes in an email."

Hudson Hongo of Gawker: "On Saturday, Weekend Edition host Scott Simon ended an interview with Bill and Camille Cosby by asking the comedian point-blank for comment on the accusations by more than a dozen women of sexual assault. In response, Cosby only shook his head." Audio & transcript of the interview here. ...

... The transcript of Hannibal Burgess's stand-up riff on the rape allegations (which Hongo says started renewed interest in Cosby's actions) is here. The video is here. As Burgess himself says, "It's not funny."

November Elections

Bill Clinton Is Still a Twerp. Ken Thomas of the AP: "Former President Bill Clinton said Saturday that Democrats lacked a 'national advertising campaign' in the recent midterm elections and that he's surprised many Senate races were not closer. Clinton said in an interview with Politico that Republicans were helped by a larger bloc of voters who felt more strongly about the elections than members of his party. Democrats could have benefited from a national message that reinforced the party's positions on refinancing student loans and promoting equal pay for women, he said." ...

... CW: Student loans & equal pay? Really? What about school uniforms? If this is going to be Hillary's radical message in 2016, well, hello, President Jeb/Paul/Christie. ...

... Two Twerps Talking. Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Clinton made the remarks in an interview with Politico's Mike Allen at an event held during the 10-year anniversary weekend of the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock."

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama on Sunday confirmed the death of the American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger who disappeared over a year ago at a checkpoint in northeastern Syria while delivering medical supplies. The president's midafternoon statement came hours after the Islamic State released a video showing a black-clad executioner standing over the severed head of a man it identified as Mr. Kassig." ...

... Guardian: "Islamic State (Isis) has released a video appearing to show the British terrorist known as 'Jihadi John' standing over the severed head of US aid worker Peter Kassig." The Washington Post story is here.

Friday
Nov142014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 15, 2014

Emily Clark of ABC (Australia) News: President Obama's "speech at the University of Queensland in Brisbane today, ahead of the official opening of the G20 leaders' summit, roused much applause from the capacity crowd, especially when it came to his comments on climate change and gender equality":

Juliet Eilperin & Steve Mufson of the Washington Post: "Even as the House passed legislation Friday authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline by a decisive vote of 252 to 161, President Obama is signaling he is increasingly skeptical of the project." ...

... ** Jim Avila, et al., of ABC News: "Asked about pending legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline [at a news conference in Myanmar], the president said his position on the issue has not changed and that the ongoing evaluation should be allowed to continue. In some of his strongest language yet, Obama pushed back against the Republican argument that the pipeline is a 'massive jobs bill for the United States.' 'Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on US gas prices,' he said, growing visibly frustrated. 'If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I'm happy to have that conversation,' he continued." ...

... Video of the full press conference is here.

Scott Wong, et al., of the Hill: "Conservative House Republicans say they're willing to shut down the government to prevent President Obama from carrying out what they see as unconstitutional actions on immigration. Tea Party lawmakers emboldened by the GOP's big midterm gains say they will insist on attaching a policy rider to legislation keeping the government open that would block funding for agencies carrying out Obama's promised executive actions limiting deportations. If the Democratic Senate or Obama rejects the rider, the government could shut down. A current measure funding the government expires on Dec. 12.... Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) called the plan to block the executive action through the government-funding bill 'a great idea.'" ...

     ... CW: YoHo Knows. Some of Yoho's Other Great Ideas: Drinking Yoo-Hoo through a straw in his nose. Licking the cookie off the Oreo frosting. Playing strip Yahtzee. Buying a ghost town in Ohio (or Iowa) & naming it after himself. Serenading the ladies with "Yo Ho Ho & a Bottle of Rum." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "The kooks will not be going quietly." ...

... Jonathan Bernstein explains the utility of "John Boehner's Magic Expanding Lawsuit." Both funny & true. ...

... Brian Beutler: "There are three tools Republicans can use to stop Obama [from reforming immigration], but toxic Republican politics preclude the only one -- a pledge to vote on comprehensive reform -- that would actually work. That leaves the spending and impeachment powers." CW: So why doesn't Boehner have the balls to take the easy way out? (The Senate already passed a satisfactory immigration reform bill & the House apparently has the votes to pass one, too.) ...

... Jim Avila, et al.: "Speaking to reporters alongside famous opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama was adamant that, [same story linked above] despite mounting GOP objections, he will move forward and take executive action to reform the immigration system by the end of the year because reforms are 'way overdue.' 'I gave the House over a year to go ahead and at least give a vote to the Senate bill. They failed to do so and I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better, and that's going to happen,' he said." ...

... Julia Preston of the New York Times: "When President Obama announces major changes to the nation's immigration enforcement system as early as next week, his decision will partly be a result of a yearslong campaign of pressure by immigrant rights groups, which have grown from a cluster of lobbying organizations into a national force. A vital part of that expansion has involved money: major donations from some of the nation's wealthiest liberal foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Open Society Foundations of the financier George Soros, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Over the past decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally."

Gail Collins: Congress is not going to pass a tax reform package.

Robert Pear, et al., of the New York Times: "The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year -- in some cases as much as 20 percent -- unless they switch plans. The data became available just hours before the health insurance marketplace was to open to buyers seeking insurance for 2015. An analysis of the data by The New York Times suggests that although consumers will often be able to find new health plans with prices comparable to those they now pay, the situation varies greatly from state to state and even among counties in the same state." ...

... It's Working. Frank Newport of Gallup: "Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as 'excellent' or 'good.' These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance." ...

... Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "More than half of uninsured Americans say they plan to sign up for health coverage, a promising sign as the open enrollment period for obtaining health insurance through state and federal exchanges opens. Specifically, 55% of Americans who currently lack insurance say they plan to sign up for coverage while 35% of the uninsured say they will not get insurance and instead pay the fine as required by the Affordable Care Act...." ...

... Neil Irwin of the New York Times explains what Jonathan Gruber's repeated "stupidity" remarks were all about: the Congressional Budget Office has rules which determine what types of private spending constitute a tax -- and thus go into the federal budget -- and what do not. "So the Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats who were writing the [healthcare] law had strong political incentives to ensure that the individual mandate they proposed would fit the C.B.O.'s definition of things that don't have to be counted on the federal government budget. What's slightly curious about Mr. Gruber's comments is that the versions of Obamacare that received public discussion and debate never broke from that goal. The same could not be said of the Clinton administration's failed 1993 health reform effort, which stumbled in part on just this issue. But it's also the case that this wasn't some obscure debate in which no one at the time knew what was going on. There was clear public guidance from the C.B.O. on how the individual mandate had to be devised in order to not move trillions of dollars of health care expenditures onto the federal budget...." ...

     ... Shorter Irwin: Prof. Gruber has no idea how Congressional staffers work with the CBO. ...

     ... CW: Irwin's post also explains all the hoo-hah back in 2010 on how the CBO would "score" the various proposed ACA bills. This hoo-hah was hardly secret or obscure, as Gruber claims; all the major news outlets carried stories about it, & bloggers wrote hundreds of posts discussing the scoring. If Republicans in Congress can't even read the news, the hearings the GOP is mulling to bring Gruber's "devious plot" into the light should center on their own inability to pay attention. While GOP MOCs were demagoging phony death panels, Democratic staffers were writing an actual bill, and the details of that actual bill were readily available to members of Congress, & to an unusual extent, to the public.

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "The Democrats' widespread losses last week have revived a debate inside the party about its fundamental identity, a long-running feud between center and left that has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of a disastrous election and in a time of deeply felt economic anxiety. The discussion is taking place in postelection meetings, conference calls and dueling memos from liberals and moderates. But it will soon grow louder, shaping the actions of congressional Democrats in President Obama's final two years and, more notably, defining the party's presidential primaries in 2016."

Joe Nocera has never heard of Ted Cruz: "Is there anybody out there who opposes net neutrality?" Nocera asks. He then goes into a discourse on the various laws under which the FCC could regulate ISPs like Comcast. All that explaining is unnecessary, because, as MAG points out, it turns out some people have studied up on & discovered that net neutrality is horrible:

By Clay Jones.

CW: One of the great things about being a Republican politician is that you don't have to make any sense at all. Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress: "Defending his fellow Republican governors’ decision to block Medicaid expansion in their states, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday suggested that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people 'live the American Dream' because they won't be 'dependent on the American government.'" CW: Because you spendthrifts earning $7.25/hour, which Scottie thinks is a fine minimum wage (if one must have a minimum wage at all), should be buying your own insurance in the freeeee market with all the spare cash you're wasting on beer & Cheetos. Congratulations, Cheeseheads. This guy is Your Fault.

Your History Lesson for Today. Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "... this week, Atlanta became the site of a historical marker annotating [Gen. William] Sherman folklore to reflect an expanding body of more forgiving scholarship about the general's behavior. One of the marker's sentences specifically targets some of the harsher imagery about him as 'popular myth.'... To that end, the marker in Atlanta mentions that more than 62,000 soldiers under Sherman's command devastated 'Atlanta's industrial and business (but not residential) districts' and talks of how, 'contrary to popular myth, Sherman's troops primarily destroyed only property used for waging war -- railroads, train depots, factories, cotton gins and warehouses.' Sherman’s aggressiveness, the marker concludes, 'demoralized Confederates, hastening the end of slavery and the reunification of the nation.'"

Your Greek Lesson for Today. Charles Pierce Robert Bateman of Esquire defines "Molon labe." If only the U.S. could be more like Sparta.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Seniors, Sex & Foxy "News." Paul Waldman explains why Fox "News" -- where the median age of viewers is 68.8 -- shows way more shots of mostly-naked girls than do the other "news" channels. For instance, top Fox journalist Sean Hannity did a week-long "exposé" of Fort Lauderdale Spring Break. Pretty funny. ...

... In related video, a "Daily Show" segment of unknown (to me) vintage:

Poor, Poor Pitiful Peggy. Ed Kilgore ruined his afternoon by reading Peggy Noonan's column titled "The Loneliest President Since Nixon." (Hint: the column is not about Ronald Reagan): "Best you can tell from her columns, her impressions of politics come from a rare and uncontextualized glimpse of real life (e.g., briefly seeing a lot of Romney yard signs in Florida in 2012), and talking to people who are almost exactly like her.... Data? History, other than her hoarded treasures from the Golden Age of Ronnie? Nah. Why bother? She provides all the partisan B.S. the market can bear, which turns out to be an awful lot. And so she drifts along in the isolated splendor of a public figure inhabiting a world of her own imagining, which makes her concern trolling about Obama's 'loneliness' particularly ironic."

November Election

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "The Democrats invested millions of dollars in a vaunted field operation to mobilize the young and nonwhite voters who do not usually participate in midterm elections. Yet it was not enough to save Democrats from a Republican landslide.... The Democratic field effort was probably a success.

Presidential Race

Steve M. "One GruberGate bright spot: Romney's 2016 dreams are toast.

News Ledes

Guardian: "Russia has denied reports president Vladimir Putin is leaving the G20 early, after pressure from Western nations to withdraw troops from Ukraine and forthright hostility from some leaders, including Canada's Stephen Harper. Brisbane's Courier Mail, which two days ago demanded Putin say 'sorry' for the downing of MH17 over Ukraine, reported that Putin would skip a working G20 breakfast and leave Brisbane early for meetings in Moscow."

AP: "World leaders on Sunday prepared to release details of a plan aimed at injecting life into the world's listless economy, with infrastructure investment and the lowering of trade barriers flagged as key components of the initiative."

AP: "The pioneering lander Philae completed its primary mission of explorin the comet's surface and returned plenty of data before deplete batteries forced it to go silent, the European Space Agency said Saturday."

CNN: "A surgeon diagnosed with Ebola in his native Sierra Leone arrived Saturday afternoon in the United States, where he will undergo treatment at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha."

AP: "America's top military leader arrived Saturday to Iraq, state television reported, his first visit to the country since a U.S.-led coalition began a campaign of airstrikes targeting the extremist Islamic State group. The visit by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not previously announced. It came just two days after he told Congress that the United States would consider dispatching a modest number of American forces to fight with Iraqi troops in the campaign against the Islamic State group, which controls about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria."