Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes":

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014.

New York Times: "Mike Nichols, one of America’s most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday. He was 83." CW Note: as of 7:40 am ET, the Times had not yet published Nichols' obituary but will do so at this link....

 

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 21

7:30 am ET: Vice President Biden and President Poroshenko of Ukraine deliver joint statements in Kyiv, Ukraine (audio only)

8:30 am ET: Vice President Biden attends a roundtable discussion on anti-corruption & reform efforts in Kyiv (audio only)
3:55 pm ET:President Obama speaks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

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

***********************************************

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.

Washington Post: "They have spawned parodies from 'Ellen' to 'South Park' to 'Saturday Night Live,' but Lincoln is laughing all the way to the bank thanks to its commercials starring Matthew McConaughey. There was more from the Hollywood Reporter: 'Lincoln announced that its overall sales were up 25 percent last month, the strongest October for the beleaguered marque since 2007.'" ...

... Here's one of the McConaughey ads:

Jim Carrey nails it in an SNL skit:

... AND Ellen Degeneres takes the bull by the horns in another:

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Thursday
Nov132014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 14, 2014

Peter Baker & Julie Davis of the New York Times: "In the 10 days since 'we got beat,' as [President Obama] put it, by Republicans who captured the Senate and bolstered control over the House, Mr. Obama has flexed his muscles on immigration, climate change and the Internet, demonstrating that he still aspires to enact sweeping policies that could help define his legacy.... The back-to-back moves have reinforced Mr. Obama's desire to assert himself in a period when his poll numbers and political capital are at their lowest ebbs.... Advisers said that he feels liberated. He can now pursue his long-term agenda, they said, without being tethered to the short-term electoral concerns of his party's leadership in Congress." ...

... Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post: "'I've been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election,' [Mitch] McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill soon after his caucus voted to keep him as its leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker on "Obama's Unexpectedly Good Week.... Insomuch as there was any analysis of what the [election] results would mean for the next two years, it tended to dwell on when the President would recognize the error of his ways. In the narrative promulgated by the panjandrums of the Washington commentariat, this would involve publicly acknowledging his grave character flaws, disassembling the tight-knit circle of aides that surrounds him, inviting over some Capitol Hill bigwigs (and possibly some media bigwigs) for whiskey-and-poker evenings, and generally being less of an arrogant, aloof jerk.... During his first week of living in reduced circumstances after the midterms, Obama showed that he is capable of exceeding expectations, and he isn't done yet." ...

... (From yesterday's News Ledes.) Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation's immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan." ...

... Ted Barrett of CNN: Harry Reid asked President Obama to wait to announce his executive order on immigration until after December 11, by which time Congress is supposed to have approved a continuing resolution to fund the government. CW: So Feliz Navidad, I guess, although Reid may not care if Obama holds off; he may just want to appear to be nice to Mitch, who is, you know, disturbed. ...

... MEANWHILE. Mike Lillis of the Hill: "Wary that President Obama might back away from vows to ease deportations unilaterally, House Democrats on Wednesday sought to hold the president's feet to the fire. On the first day of Congress's return to Washington after the midterm elections, the lawmakers pressed Obama to act swiftly and decisively to reduce deportations, even in the face of Republican warnings that sidestepping Congress could undermine immigration reform legislation and sink the confirmation of Obama's pick for attorney general."

... If you like to think of politics as a game, with people as helpless pawns, here's Chris Cillizza's analysis of the Immigrants Game. ...

(Contributor Nancy found this piece by Brett Line & Linda Poon, published in June 2013 in National Geographic, on how some other wealthy countries approach immigration. Denmark is awful.)

... Remember the Lawsuit! Robert Costa & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is considering expanding a proposed federal lawsuit over President Obama's executive orders to include action on immigration." ...

     ... In a previous episode of the long-running sideshow "Remember the Lawsuit," it was revealed that Boehner's lawyers kept quitting. CW: I wonder why. ...

     ... NOW Look Who's on a Bumpy Ride. Update. Costa & O'Keefe: "Congressional Republicans have split into competing factions over how to respond to President Obama's expected moves to overhaul the nation's immigration system, which are likely to include protecting millions from being deported. The first, favored by the GOP leadership, would have Republicans denounce what House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has called 'executive amnesty' and use the party's new grip on Congress to contest changes to the law incrementally in the months ahead. The second, which has become the rallying cry for conservatives, would seek to block the president's decision by shutting down the government for an extended period until he relents." Read it and smirk.

Paul Kane & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Seeking ideological and regional balance, a chastened Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) expanded his leadership team Thursday, including the addition of liberal icon Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to beat back internal critics.... Reid appointed Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a second-term senator close to many of the caucus's agitated members from then upper Midwest and Plains States, as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.... This came after Reid won another term leading the Democrats, over the objection of several centrist Democrats. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Joe Manchin told reporters afterward that they didn't cast a ballot for Reid or anyone else, a protest vote that was unusual simply by being held." ...

     ... The story has been updated with a new URL & new lede: "Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid faced the first internal opposition to his grip on power Thursday as at least six Democrats rejected his bid for another leadership term during an emotional meeting following last week's drubbing in the midterm elections." ...

... Digby explains in plain English: "Red state Dems have a little hissy fit inside the Democratic Senate caucus, hoping a Tea partier will give them a hug.... From what we're hearing about this lovely group of Quislings, they couldn't be happier to be free now to vote with the Republicans and pass some noxious shit that people who will never vote for them want. Again." ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: Making Elizabeth Warren "a mere liaison" to the Democratic leadership " is not what the Democrats need right now.... If Ms. Warren is allowed to become the voice of Democratic opposition to the worst Republican policies, she may just help lead the party out of the wilderness." ...

... MEANWHILE, in the House. Billy House of the National Journal: "Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is expecting a baby in December, is being denied a request to vote by proxy in the House Democratic Caucus leadership and committee member elections next week -- even though her doctor advises she can't travel to Washington in the late stages of her pregnancy.... Democratic aides, speaking on the condition they not be identified, said they believe the decision to block Duckworth, 46, from doing so is related ... to the tight intra-party race for the party's top seat next session on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The seat is being vacated by retiring Rep. Henry Waxman." ...

... So, okay, expect a bumpy ride on the Democratic side, too. Brian Beutler: "... structural difficulties ... make it harder for Democrats than Republicans to be a united, rejectionist opposition party. Their coalition includes many moderates; isn't overwhelmed by ideological liberals; is in hock to big business; and, unlike Republicans, is invested in the idea that government should function well.... That the Democratic Party's favorables have just fallen below the Republican Party's favorables for the first time since the last Republican midterm blowout (and really for the first time in about a decade) compounds the problem -- Democrats don't want to become even more unfavorable, and they saw what obstruction did to the House GOP's approval numbers."

Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian: "Barack Obama will make a substantial pledge to a fund to help poor countries fight climate change, only days after his historic carbon pollution deal with China. In a one-two punch, America plans to pledge at least $2.5bn and as much as $3bn over the next four years to help poor countries invest in clean energy and cope with rising seas and extreme weather, according to those briefed by administration officials." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The agreement between China and the United States on carbon emissions is, in fact, a big deal. To understand why, you first have to understand the defense in depth that fossil-fuel interests and their loyal servants -- nowadays including the entire Republican Party -- have erected against any action to save the planet.... I don't expect the usual suspects to concede that a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed. But it has. This was a good week for the planet." ...

... Oh Yeah? Jim Inhofe in a USA Today op-ed: "This is a non-binding charade because as China's economy grows, so will its demand for electricity.... As Republicans take the majority in the new Congress, I will be working to ensure these rules do not become final or put at risk our economy and domestic energy expansion." CW: Again, significantly, Inhofe says nothing about climate change being a hoax. Is he giving up on that argument?

** Charles Pierce: "... there was no braver American amid the tumult of the 1960's and the 1970's than John Doar."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Eric Holder! Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal: "The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations." CW: Firewalled; copy & paste a clause or two into a search engine. ...

... Kate Knibbs of Gizmodo: "This is a huge deal. If the details in the WSJ are accurate, this program is as invasive and disturbing as the NSA surveillance programs exposed last year.... The fake phone tower signals used work even on phones with encryption, like the iPhone 6, so there's virtually no way phone makers could've prevented this from happening. The Justice Department has neither confirmed or denied the WSJ report."

CW: A number of posts I've linked in the past refer to the conservative justices' understanding of how the federal exchange is supposed to work as a substitute for state exchanges, as expressed in their dissent in the big Business v. Sebelius case of 2011, which upheld the ACA over their objections. Scott Lemieux does a fairly good job of explaining the four justices' analysis -- as it appears in their joint dissent -- & why they would have to reverse their own analysis if the ruled for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the case the Court recently agreed to hear. Lemieux adds, "... these four justices, having made one argument in service of their political goal of destroying the ACA, [would now have to] make precisely the opposite argument in service of their political goal of destroying the ACA. The fact that [this is] probably right is pretty much all I have to say about these four gentlemen." ...

... CW: Fortunately, thanks to the "stupidity of the American voters," the conservative justices will easily get away with that. If Roberts joins them, there will be high fives all around the GOP for, as Lemieux puts it, "stripping millions of people of their health insurance, consigning some of them to needless suffering and death, and others to avoidable bankruptcy. If there's a better way of describing the Republican Party in 2014, I don't know what it is." ...

... E. J. Dionne: "Here's a hypothetical for you: First, the Supreme Court issues a ruling that installs a conservative president. Then, he appoints two conservative Supreme Court justices who then join with three of their colleagues to make mincemeat of the greatest achievement of a progressive president elected by a clear majority. If such a thing happened in any other country, would we still call it a democratic republic?" ...

... Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that, not only did Jonathan Gruber not play a significant role in drafting Obamacare, but that she doesn't even 'know who he is.'... Many have pointed out since then that Pelosi's office has cited Gruber's work in the past. That's notable, but it's very unlikely Pelosi herself wrote those press releases herself or even participated in their drafting." ...

... Sarah Kliff of Vox has an interesting rundown of Gruber's "contributions to the conversation" about ObamaCare....

... CW: What's interesting to me is that, assuming Kliff's reporting is accurate (and she has followed ACA developments closely), Gruber did not formally contribute much to the ACA; he only provided models for assessing the effects of various policy options. He was an "architect" of the ACA only in that the federal law has provisions similar to those of RomneyCare, which Gruber did do significant work on. I don't see how Gruber could get into Nancy Pelosi's head or read Max Baucus's mind; he apparently had little or no direct contact with them. He seems to be (a) projecting his own prejudices & (b) showing off by implying he has "insider" information). ...

... CW: Or maybe its just penis envy. Jake Tapper of CNN catches a talk Prof. Gruber gave in 2010 about high healthcare costs. "In the 1950s surgeons are middle class guys like professors.... Now they live on the Hamptons, the Cape, they're like investment bankers."

... Jonathan Chait explains what Gruber really meant about stupid people. Thanks to MAG for the link. ...


Michael Schmidt
of the New York Times: "An intruder was able to climb a fence and enter the White House in September because of a succession of 'performance, organizational, technical' and other failures by the Secret Service, according to a damning review of the incident by the Department of Homeland Security. The review found that the Secret Service's alarm systems and radios failed to function properly, and that many of the responding officers did not see the intruder as he climbed over the fence, delaying their response.... The review has not been made public, but members of Congress were briefed on it Thursday. An executive summary was obtained by The New York Times."

Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "Russia has informed the United States that it is planning to reduce its participation next year in a joint effort to secure nuclear materials on Russian territory, a move that could seriously undermine more than two decades of cooperation aimed at ensuring that nuclear bomb components do not fall into the hands of terrorists or a rogue state."

Even conservatives peg Tailgunner Ted as a tool & an ignoramus on net neutrality. Thanks to James S. for the link. ...

... Here's Teddy the Tool, in a WashPo op-ed, explaining why those conservative techies are all wrong: see, "net neutrality" is just another way to "stifle freedom." Also, Obama has arranged for "the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping [to] dictate what can be read, written, distributed, bought and sold on the Internet." CW: So the next time you try to log on, don't be surprised if Putin rears his head, or some dancing pandas sing quotations from the Little Red Book, or the Ayatollah just shuts you down. Thanks, Ted, for keeping us all informed of the impending doom.

CW: I will not be having loofah for lunch. See "Beyond the Beltway" in yesterday's Commentariat for context. Thanks to Akhilleus for sparing me the sponge:

November December Election

Dana Milbank: "... nobody predicted that the first legislation Congress would take up would be the Mary Landrieu Preservation Act of 2014."

Beyond the Beltway

Ken Ward of the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette: "Don Blankenship, the longtime chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he violated federal mine safety laws at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine prior to an April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. A federal grand jury in Charleston charged Blankenship with conspiring to cause routine and willful violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch between Jan. 1, 2008, and April 9, 2010, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said."

News Ledes

AP: "Jane Byrne became part of Chicago history when she was elected its first female mayor. She became part of city lore because of how she won: beating an incumbent who voters thought had bungled the reaction to a blizzard that paralyzed the streets.... She died Friday at age 81 at a hospice in Chicago, said her daughter, Kathy." Her New York Times obituary is here.

Washington Post: "On separate trips to the opulent presidential palace in Naypyidaw and to the stately Rangoon villa of Burma's most famous politician, [president] Obama played the role of de facto adviser to President Thein Sein and the Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains blocked by constitutional rules from seeking the presidency."

AP: "A surgeon working in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and will be flown to Nebraska for treatment, according to a US government source. The surgeon, Dr Martin Salia, is a citizen of Sierra Leone but also a legal permanent US resident, an official with knowledge of the case told the Associated Press." Proposed Fox Headline: "Obama Ebola Epidemic Rages, Increases by 100 1,000 10,000 Incalculable Percent."

AP: "In an interview with authorities the night of his capture and in a letter to his parents, [alleged cop-killer Eric] Frein revealed himself to be deeply dissatisfied with the government and society, saying he hoped to foment a revolution to reclaim 'the liberties we once had,' said the documents, filed Thursday in support of terrorism charges against the sniper suspect."

Wednesday
Nov122014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 13, 2014

Karen Tumulty & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "When his party got walloped last week in the midterm election, an unbowed President Obama declared that he would 'squeeze every last little bit of opportunity' to push his agenda in the waning years of his presidency. In the past few days, he has shown that he meant it." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic: "The failed Obamacare presidency continued not to fail this week. Twice. The first time it happened was on Tuesday morning, when Craig Spencer left Bellevue Hospital in New York..... Obama's other non-failure came late on Tuesday night, when, while traveling in Asia, he announced that he'd secured a major agreement on climate change with the Chinese."

Manu Raju & John Bresnahan of Politico: "The incoming Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, is engaged in private talks with [Elizabeth Warren,] the Massachusetts freshman, to create a special leadership post for the former Harvard professor, according to several people familiar with the matter."

Gail Collins on the lame-duck session of Congress as reality show. It has possibilities.

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate. The two lawmakers locked in the runoff contest, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), seized control of the congressional agenda Wednesday, extracting assurances from House and Senate leaders that votes will be held to bypass President Obama's authority and authorize construction of the pipeline."

Greg Sargent: "For House Republicans, their guiding fiscal and economic lodestar remains -- and will forever remain — the hallowed Paul Ryan budget. In its various iterations, it would repeal Obamacare, radically restructure Medicare to the detriment of beneficiaries, block-grant Medicaid, and aim most of its draconian budget cuts at programs benefiting people with lower incomes. Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has said earlier versions would result in 'the largest redistribution of income from bottom to top in modern U.S. history.' So it's not surprising that House Republicans appear to be reading their big victory in the 2014 elections as a mandate to bring it back once again."

The guy's awesome. -- Eric Cantor, on Joe Biden. Read the Cantor interview by Zeke Miller of Time.

Apparently serving 36 years in "the greatest deliberative body on Earth" is fairly good prep for handling Eric Cantor. -- Constant Weader

Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post on "the best APEC summit ever." ...

... Charles Pierce writes a brief history of political opposition to U.S. international treaties. Enter McConnell, Boehner & Inhofe, stage far-right. ...

... Christopher Flavelle of Bloomberg View: "By linking the EPA rules to Chinese action, President Barack Obama has taken the most compelling case against those rules and co-opted it overnight. For a lame-duck president, that's a pretty neat trick." ...

... Rebecca Leber of the New Republic: "Remarkably, the party that’s become synonymous with climate-change denial has avoided any mention of it this time.... Even Senator James Inhofe -- Congress' most vigilant climate-change denier -- neglected to mention what he really thinks of global warming."

Ezra Klein: "In September, the Kaiser Family Foundation looked at [48 cities] ... and found that ... on average, prices [for health insurance] are falling by 0.2 percent. 'Falling' is not a word that people associate with health-insurance premiums.... But this data [sic!] ... shows that Obamacare is doing a better job holding down costs than anyone seriously predicted.... Obamacare's competitive insurance marketplaces are actually doing what they promised to do: forcing insurers to compete for customers by cutting costs." ...

... BUT NEVER MIND ALL THAT ...

... "The Stupidity of the American Voter," Ctd. Robert Costa & Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Congressional Republicans seized Wednesday on controversial comments made by [Jonathan Gruber,] a former health-care consultant to the Obama administration, with one leading House conservative suggesting that hearings could be called in response as part of the GOP effort to dismantle the law in the next Congress and turn public opinion ahead of the 2016 election.... On Tuesday evening, Fox News' Megyn Kelly aired a second video, of Gruber calling voters stupid, also from 2013." ...

... Here's Kelly's segment, which suggested to me a more consequential scandal: Is Kelly wearing hair extenders? ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM scores a White House response to Gruber: "'Transparency is a key goal of the ACA: consumers now have more access to information about their health insurance than ever before,' White House spokesperson Jessica Santillo said in a statement to TPM. 'The Affordable Care Act was publicly debated over the course of 14 months, with dozens of Congressional hearings, and countless town halls, speeches, and debates. The tax credits in the law that help millions of middle class Americans afford coverage were no secret, and in fact were central to the legislation.... Not only do we disagree with [Gruber's] comments, they're simply not true.' [Emphasis added.] An administration official also noted to TPM that -- while Gruber is often described as an 'architect' of Obamacare because he was a key consultant to the administration and was heavily involved in developing the Massachusetts health reform law that served as a starting point for the ACA -- 'he did not work in the White House or play the same role in developing the Affordable Care Act.'" ...

... Reality Chek. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "... while it's clear this is hardly Obamacare's proudest moment, the idea that Gruber's comments will suddenly swing public sentiment against Obamacare is wishful thinking. That's because, throughout the law's history, support and opposition have been pretty consistent." ...

... Brian Beutler: "The ObamaCare debate was one of the most transparent in recent memory.... The people who brought you the phony arithmetic of the Bush tax cuts and Medicare Part D and the self-financing Iraq war are upset about the ACA, which is genuinely fiscally sound. By any reasonable standard, ACA respected budgetary constraints much better than most other laws." (And, yes, Beutler typed "dupe the pubic." It happens to us all. ...

... "The Stupidity of the Republican Party." Steve M.: "Gruber is a blowhard, but no one held a gun to Republicans' heads and forced them not to read the bill, or to contradict any statement from Democrats they considered misleading. No one in the public was prevented from reading the bill. The structure of the bill was much discussed; if you wanted to know what was in it, you had every opportunity to find out. This hearing [proposed by Republicans], if it happens, is just one more GOP show trial, held only because there's an unpleasant Democrat to put in the dock, and meant, ironically, to make voters stupider, by persuading them that somehow a bill got passed the contents of which were unknowable." (Also, see Yastreblyansky's comment to Steve's post; you might label it "The Stupidity of the American Professor.") ...

... Okay, we're back to normal Ron Fournier: "... I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies."

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday wrestled with the role race may play in drawing legislative maps. The issue was an old one, but the case had a novel twist: Wednesday's challenge came from black and Democratic lawmakers in Alabama who said the State Legislature had relied too heavily on race in its 2012 state redistricting by maintaining high concentrations of black voters in some districts." Here's a transcript of the oral arguments.

Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "The Supreme Court, with two Justices dissenting, on Wednesday afternoon cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry in Kansas -- the thirty-third state on the list. In a brief order, the Court voted to leave intact a federal judge's order nullifying the state's ban on same-sex marriages.... Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas noted only that they would have granted the delay sought by the Kansas attorney general.... There was no explanation, for the order or by the dissenters.... State officials are now under a federal court requirement to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

... Richard Wolf of USA Today: "... a media campaign being unveiled Wednesday ... targets the Supreme Court.... They don't publicize their schedules. They don't state their conflicts when recusing themselves from cases. They don't put their financial disclosures online. They don't bind themselves to a code of conduct. And they don't let cameras in the courtroom. 'The Supreme Court has taken on a larger role in American life in recent years. With that increased power comes the need for increased accountability,' says Gabe Roth, former manager of the Coalition for Court Transparency.... The new effort, to be called 'Fix the Court'..., opens Wednesday with a six-figure advertising campaign aimed at politically active fans of Fox and MSNBC, as well as online sites. Funding comes from the non-partisan New Venture Fund." The group's Website is here.

** Linda Greenhouse knocks the Supremes in a way this careful journalist has never done in public remarks (that I can recall). On the Court's agreeing to hear King v. Burwell: "There was no urgency. There was no crisis of governance, not even a potential one.... This is a naked power grab by conservative justices who two years ago just missed killing the Affordable Care Act in its cradle, before it fully took effect. There is, rather, a politically manufactured argument over how to interpret several sections of the Affordable Care Act There is simply no way to describe what the court did last Friday as a neutral act." Read the whole column. ...

... Rick Hasen in the Los Angeles Times: "... it seems entirely possible that [Chief Justice John] Roberts might focus narrowly this time on the snippet of the act extending subsidies only to those insured by exchanges 'established by the state.' One argument he might make in defense of that position is that Congress has the ability to go back and fix any unclear language through a revised statute. Roberts telegraphed his willingness to take such an approach in the 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder case, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.... Roberts' opinion for the majority ordered the provision struck because ... Congress, he reasoned, could simply [fix the problematic provision] ... if it wished to." ...

... CW: Hasen makes a good point. It is not completely unreasonable to tell Congress to fix the bill, especially when the fix is so simple. Certainly Roberts fully understands Congress wont' do that, just as he knew Congress wouldn't fix the Voting Rights Act, as Hasen points out. Gutting the VRA meant that GOP legislatures could deprive minorities of the right to vote. Gutting ObamaCare could mean that some millions of Americans would lose health insurance & some of those would get sick & die because of it. So the question may come down to this: is John Roberts more righteous than Congressional Republicans? Tune in next June to find out.


Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Alan Rappeport
of the New York Times: "The biggest business lobby group in the United States is not happy that President Obama is pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to impose stricter rules on broadband providers. Hoping to ward off regulations that would prevent companies like Comcast and Verizon from giving priority to some Internet traffic over others, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that such a move would slow innovation and job creation, and that it was 'strongly opposed.'" ...

... CW: At some point, just crying "jobs" every time you want to privilege the wealthy is not going to snooker even the "stupid" American voter (see Gruber, Jonathan).

For Akhilleus & Marvin S. (see yesterday's Comments):

Gary Trudeau, ca. 2006.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

David Edwards of Raw Story: Fox "News" hosts can't understand John Fogarty lyrics; bash Springsteen, Creedence Clearwater. Springsteen, Dave Grohl & Zack Brown's performance at Tuesday's Concert for Valor is here. ...

... Charles Pierce has a nice pictorial explanation of "Fortunate Son," which the Fox people should probably look at since they can't understand words.

Dylan Byers of Politico: "Fox News is reevaluating Mike Huckabee's status with the network following a new report that he is eyeing a 2016 presidential bid." See also the WashPo report under "Presidential Election" below. ...

... ** Steve M. notes how awkward a Huckabee run would be for the press's preordained "narrative." Steve cites a few of Huck's lunatic remarks, then contrasts them with the WashPo's characterization of Huckabee in the piece linked below:

An ordained Southern Baptist preacher with an easy-going demeanor, Huckabee presents himself as both a social conservative and an economic populist.... [2008 campaign manager Chip] Saltsman ..., said Huckabee would be a formidable opponent for the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in part because he has studied her since their shared Arkansas days. He said Huckabee's 'common touch' and his ability to talk about income inequality would contrast with Clinton.

     ... Not exactly, "Crazy Old Bigot & Nullification/Impeachment Kook Makes Another Quixotic White House Run." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "As for 'income inequality....' I'd be interested in hearing what if anything Huck has to say. He's sure not in favor of more progressive taxation; he's a big 'Fair Tax' guy, devoted to flattening tax rates and moving towards a consumption-based system that would inherently be more regressive. But more to the point, how media folk treat Huck may determine whether the 'economic inequality' debate in 2016 is real or entirely symbolic."

Presidential Election

Contributer P. D. Pepe flags this piece by Noam Scheiber of the New Republic. It is indeed a good summary of the Democrats' Dilemma, as also outlined in some of the posts linked under today's "November Elections": "Long story short, there's a coalition available to Democrats that knits together working class minorities and college-educated voters and slices heavily into the GOP's margins among the white working class.... It's ... possible that Hillary's extensive ties to the one percent will strangle the populist project before it ever gets going, in which case some of those unnamed lefty challengers the Times wrote off start to look pretty attractive. However you feel about it, though, it's the question for Democrats to consider once they realize they need a lasting majority, not just control of the White House."

Tom Hamburger & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who turned his stunning victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses into a thriving talk-show career, is reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates. This week, Huckabee is leading more than 100 pastors and GOP insiders from early primary states on a 10-day overseas trip with stops in Poland and England." ...

... CW: Anyways, I want Huck to tap Santorum as his running mate & I want the National Enquirer to catch the two of them in bed together in a motel room in Laconia, New Hampshire. Photos, please. Such are the dreams of the everyday liberal. ...

... Paul Waldman also is enthusiastic about a Huckabee run. No mention of Laconia.

Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader, in a Politico Magazine piece, looks at the failed but and enthusiastic efforts -- to curb Rand Paul's political career.

November Elections

Ed Kilgore takes a look at Iowa's exit polls & sees a serious problem for Democrats, one we discussed here yesterday: "non-southern non-college-educated whites" are voting Republican in higher numbers. ...

... ** New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in the Huffington Post: "This year, too many Democratic candidates lost sight of [the party's] core principles -- opting instead to clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren't politically practical. To working people, it showed Democratic weakness -- a weak commitment to the change desperately sought by struggling families, and a weak alternative to a Republican philosophy that has held America back. Bold, progressive ideas win elections. Just ask Senator Al Franken, who has fought fearlessly to rein in Wall Street, and won by a larger margin on Tuesday than President Obama did in Minnesota in 2012." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senior members of the Democratic Party say congressional leaders need to look in the mirror after a disastrous Election Day. Several former chairmen of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) say the party waged a tepid fight this year and hasn't had enough of an internal deliberation about what went wrong."

Jay Root of the Texas Tribune: "Consultants for Democrat Wendy Davis warned her campaign months ago that the Fort Worth senator was headed for a humiliating defeat in the Texas governor's race unless she adopted a more centrist message and put a stop to staggering internal dysfunction. The warnings are contained in two internal communications obtained by The Texas Tribune and written at the beginning of the year...."

Beyond the Beltway

Donna St. George of the Washington Post: "Christmas and Easter have been stricken from next year's school calendar in Montgomery County. So have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Montgomery's Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha. In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned."

     ... CW: If Bill O'Reilly doesn't run a segment titled something like, "Maryland Muslims Win War on Christmas," I'll eat a loofah for lunch.

Elicia Dover of KATV Little Rock: "Gov. Mike Beebe [D] says he will pardon his son, Kyle, for a felony crime from his past.... Kyle Beebe, now 34, was charged in 2003 with possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, with intent to deliver, a class C felony. He was given 3 years supervised probation and fines. Gov. Beebe was serving as the state's attorney general at the time. At the time of the arrest, Gov. Beebe was quoted in a local newspaper saying, 'If he broke the law, he needs to pay for it. He needs to be treated like everybody else-no better, worse.'"

News Lede

New York Times: "President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation's immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan."

Tuesday
Nov112014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 12, 2014

Mark Landler of the AP: "China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases. The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030." The Washington Post story, by David Nakamura & Steven Mufson, is here. ...

... In a New York Times op-ed, Secretary of State John Kerry discusses the agreement. ...

     ... CW: Somebody should write an opera about this; instead, I suppose there will be claims that Obama's co-operation with Xi, against a fake environmental threat, proves he is a Communist. Climate denier Jim Inhofe, incoming chair of the Senate environment committee, should be able to get a couple of years' worth of "investigations" out of it. ...

... Let's see if Mitch McConnell is impressed with this remarkable breakthrough. Timothy Cama of the Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wasted little time Tuesday night in blasting President Obama's climate agreement with China as another costly, unpopular environmental move. 'Our economy can't take the president's ideological war on coal that will increase the squeeze on middle-class families and struggling miners,' McConnell said in a statement minutes after the White House announced the bilateral deal." ...

... James West of Mother Jones: "The shock announcement of an ambitious and wide-ranging climate deal between the United States and China is leaving one vociferous group of politicians red-faced: those that have always used China as an excuse for delaying climate action. Here's West's mashup of Republican excuse-making:

     ... CW: Don't worry, people. As noted above, Mitch McConnell already has a new line of attack: jobs! ...

... Besides, Science Is Just a Bunch of Wobbly Theories. Steve Benen: "For supporters of modern science, the prevailing political winds have to be discouraging. For example, congressional Republicans not only reject climate science en masse, but each of the incoming GOP senators are climate deniers." ...

... Here's the Michael Hilzig column, which Benen cites. Hilzig asks, in conclusion, "Do you want your scientific research conducted and supervised by scientists, or by ideologues for whom the search for truth is the least desirable thing on Earth?"

... Mark Landler: "President Obama and President Xi Jinping promoted the virtues of cooperation between China and the United States on Wednesday, drawing an unusually productive state visit to a close with a news conference that nevertheless laid bare stubborn differences over issues like the Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations and press freedom."

Reuters: "Burma's transition from military rule has not been as fast as hoped and the government is 'backsliding' on some reforms, Barack Obama said in an interview published on Wednesday, hours before he was due to visit the country.... 'Even as there has been some progress on the political and economic fronts, in other areas there has been a slowdown and backsliding in reforms,' Obama told the Irrawaddy, a website and magazine that was published in neighbouring Thailand while the generals ran Burma.

Stephen Collinson of CNN: "Republicans poised to take control of Congress are already threatening to kill what could turn out to be President Barack Obama's most significant second-term achievement: a nuclear deal with Iran. U.S. and Iranian negotiators are quickly approaching a Nov. 24 deadline to reach an agreement that would freeze Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting international sanctions on the Islamic Republic." Via Greg Sargent. CW: Anything that smacks of a "peaceful solution" or "diplomacy" is anathema to the Party of War. ...

... Michael Crowley & Burgess Everett of Politico have more on the Republican (with the help of many Senate Democrats) efforts to undermine a nuclear deal with Iran. ...

... Gee, I wonder how Hillary Clinton will come down on a pact with Iran. Oh, heres a clue. Over to you, Bernie.

Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post: "... Republicans have no mandate because they offered no agenda. Republicans reaped the rewards of McConnell's scorched-earth strategy, obstructing President Obama relentlessly, helping to create the failure that voters would pin on the party in power. But the collateral damage is that the 'party of "no"' has no agreement on what is yes.... McConnell leads into a power a party truly unfit and unready to govern." ...

... Ron Fournier of the National Journal: "Two-thirds of voters in last week's elections are dissatisfied or angry with Republican Party leaders in Congress, according to exit polls, and nearly six in 10 disapprove of the GOP altogether. While it's undeniable which party won the most campaigns this year, the Republican Party didn't win the overall election -- not with numbers like that. The winners were disgust, apathy, and a gnawing desire for a better choice -- an alternative to what the two major parties are currently offering." CW: For once, Fournier gets something right. Tune in next year; it could happen again. ...

... Manu Raju & Burgess Everett of Politico: "Republicans are about to take over the Senate, but another group is on the rise, too: red-state Democrats. Red staters and other moderates could determine whether Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid prevails on any given cliff-hanger vote, making these Democrats the new power centers in the Senate." ...

... Charles Pierce takes exception of Raju & Everett's report. Something about guzzling Prestone. ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: "... Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ... [will] need six Democrats to break filibusters and achieve the magic 60-vote threshold required to pass controversial legislation through the Senate, such as hacking away at Obamacare or approving the Keystone pipeline." Kapur names Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Angus King (I-Maine), & Jon Tester (Mont.). ...

... Republican Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Gridlock. Pew Research Center: "Within the Republican Party, only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners (32%) want to see the GOP leadership work with Obama if it disappoints some groups of Republican supporters. About twice as many (66%) say GOP leaders should stand up to Obama even if less gets done."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Nearly half of Americans will now live in states under total GOP control.... The GOP ... will now control more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country -- as in nearly seven in 10. And given Republicans also won at least 31 governorships, they are basically in control of the state government in 24 states. That could soon hit 25 if they win the still-undetermined governor's race in Alaska." ...

"The above map shows state legislative control, where Republicans control 30 states -- and 31 if you include Nebraska's technically non-partisan legislature. Twenty-three of these states also have GOP governors." -- Aaron Blake

... Paul Waldman: "If Democrats now evaluating the meaning of their loss don’t take a very hard look at their state legislative problem, they'll be ignoring one key factor that could keep them in the minority in the House -- and frustrate the prospects for attaining Democratic governing majorities -- for a long time." ...

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "As the 2016 presidential campaign begins to stir, the central question will be how both parties respond to the great wage slowdown. Neither has offered a persuasive answer so far -- let alone a solution -- which is why the public mood is so sour and American politics has been so tumultuous lately.... The challenge for the next election will be coming up with a version of the minimum-wage increase that applies to the middle class as well." ...

... CW: Leonhardt's suggestion is a middle-class tax cut & a rich people's tax hike. Unless he's envisioning a dramatic re-ordering of the tax code back to 1959 levels, this is just a band-aid with minimal effects that voters won't even notice. What is really needed is a rehaul of the tax code & other laws that force companies to reduce profits & raise wages for all workers, except top management. The notion that stockholders & CEOs should make millions while workers struggle along on pittances must be legislated out of existence. Yeah, capitalism is awesome. Over to you, Bernie.

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "President Obama will have to get his nominee for attorney general past a Republican-controlled Senate, Democratic and Republican aides say. A packed schedule after the election is almost certain to push the vetting process for Loretta Lynch into January, when Republicans are set to take power in the upper chamber.... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not yet made a decision on whether to move Lynch's nomination in the lame-duck session, according to spokesman Adam Jentleson."

The Oatmeal explains net neutrality to Ted Cruz: 'It's about freedom." Do yourself a favor & read it. With apologies ot Dr. Seuss, next time Ted filibusters ObamaCare or whatever, he can read the Oatmeal to his daughters & show them the pictures. Via Paul Waldman.

Donna Brazile of CNN is sick of the sexist hits on Valerie Jarrett: "Women in Washington -- and in positions of power anywhere -- should be subjected to the same criticisms and held to the same standards as men. That does not include the assumption that any successful woman has attained her position through flattery, feminine wiles or her ability to provide maternal comfort to a more powerful man. We can criticize a person's performance without demeaning her based on gender." ...

... Dana Milbank says Obama suffers from an "administration of affirmation," much as Jimmy Carter did. "Much of the blame for the yes-men culture around Obama has been placed on a woman.... The issue is not Jarrett per se (it's good for a president to have friends nearby) but the lack of others to offset her power."

Brian Beutler: "Here are eight reasons for the ACA's supporters to stop freaking out -- at least for now. 1. The Legal Case Is Extremely Weak.... 2. The Roberts Court Is a Business Friendly Court.... 3. The Ruling Would Be Embarrassingly Hypocritical.... 4. An Adverse Ruling Could Be Self Correcting.... 5. Executive Discretion Is at Stake.... 6. An Adverse Ruling Would Be Immoral.... 7. An Adverse Ruling Would Be Politically Damaging to Republicans.... 8. An Adverse Ruling Would Define Roberts's Legacy, for the Worse." ...

... AND contributor James S. suggests if the Court strikes down ObummerCare, it could have unintended consequences:

... Here Beutler suggests a convoluted, if plausible, way that John Roberts could have his cake & eat it, too. ...

... Steve M. isn't buying much of Beutler's argument: "There's one reason I think the Court might save the law: because it's a motivator for Republican voters going into 2016. But that didn't work in 2012 -- I'm convinced that that's the principal reason Roberts saved it the first time -- so I'm not optimistic now. But we'll see." ...

... Ditto Ed Kilgore: "... color me skeptical. The one thing we know for sure is that there would be an explosion of joy, and quite literally dancing in the streets, in conservative precincts if the news breaks in June that 'the Supreme Court has dealt a fatal blow to Obamacare.'... The idea that Obamacare subsidies are a 'bribe' to encourage people to go along with their enslavement is deeply rooted on the Right. I have a hard time imagining conservatives agreeing to save them." ...

... CW: I suppose the Worst Supreme Court Since the 19th Century will Do the Wrong Thing, although it's always possible that Nino will side with the government to show how pissed-off he is with frivolous lawsuits. Tort reform!

Click on the map below to go to Jonathan Cohn's article & interactive map, which gives state-by-state averages:

Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

Rick Hasen in Slate: "Did Alabama legislators redraw district lines to hurt Democrats or to disenfranchise black voters?" The Supreme Court will have to decide, & it represents a difference between unlawful racism & Constitutional, politically-motivated gerrymandering.

Erik Loomis of LG&M: "With civil asset forfeiture, the real organized crime in this country these days is not the Mafia, it's the police. Or certain police departments anyway that self-fund by stealing your stuff whether or not you have actually committed a drug crime.... And if you are found not guilty of these crimes, do you get your stuff back? Ha ha ha. Of course not."


Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Fire Luke Russert. CW
: While I was ironing yesterday, I turned on MSNBC for the first time since the election. I guess the show I caught was "The Cycle," which apparently features frat-boy Luke Russert as a regular panelist. If you want to know why MSNBC's ratings are in the tank, Luke Russert. What a cipher. He did not say one thing that a somewhat dimwitted junior-high-school student would not have said. He used the word "incredible" a lot. Other times, he dipped into adverbial territory, employing the word "incredibly." Here he is in a segment that aired Monday, discussing the base-energizing "silver lining" for Democrats that could result from the Supremes' gutting ObamaCare. Incredibly incredible.

AND MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, apparently recovering from his most recent foot-in-mouth flare-up, regrets he called us all stupid. Glad you're feeling better, professor. Health insurance is great isn't, it? ...

     ... Update. Dave Weigel introduces us to the "mild-mannered investment banker" who keeps outing Gruber's gaffes. CW: Personally, I'm not convinced that anybody who listens to Rush is properly characterized as "mild-mannered."

November Elections

Christopher Cadelago of the Sacramento Bee: "Democratic Rep. Ami Bera has pulled to within 530 votes of Republican challenger Doug Ose in the race for suburban Sacramento's 7th Congressional District. Ose, who finished election night with a 3,011-vote advantage over the freshman lawmaker, has seen his lead contract again nearly a week after polls closed Tuesday. The margin stood at about 2,000 votes since the last counting Thursday, when nearly 80,000 ballots were left across the county."

AND they're just getting around to counting votes in Alaska. ...

     ... Update. Becky Bohrer of the AP: "Republican Dan Sullivan won Alaska's U.S. Senate race, defeating first-term incumbent Democrat Mark Begich. Sullivan led Begich by about 8,100 votes on Election Night last week and held a comparable edge after election workers had counted about 20,000 absentee, early-voted and questioned ballots late Tuesday. Thousands more ballots remained to be counted, but the results indicated that Begich could not overcome Sullivan's lead."

Jack Healy of the New York Times: Voters ousted two Republican Colorado state legislators who were prominent gun-rights advocates. "Analysts said the whipsawing results were a lesson in how turnout can vastly change the landscape.... The dynamic seems to have empowered conservatives in the low-turnout recall vote last year, but rewarded Democrats this month in a midterm election in which mail-in ballots and a contested Senate race helped Colorado defy a nationwide pattern of sagging voter participation." Thanks to MAG for the lead.

Presidential Election

Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has spent months fishing for a strategist to guide his potential 2016 presidential campaign. On Monday, he hooked a big one: Tad Devine, one of the Democratic Party's leading consultants and a former high-level campaign aide to Al Gore, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis. 'If he runs, I'm going to help him,' Devine said in an interview." ...

... Paul Waldman: "That could mean a genuinely interesting debate about the problems America confronts and how the Democratic party should address them. Sanders says he'll center his campaign on economic inequality and the struggles of the middle class, and this is what Clinton needs to address as well.... Of course, he&'d say he isn't running to do Hillary Clinton any favors. But the reality is that he would. By critiquing her from the left, he could pull her in his direction in order to satisfy primary voters, which on many issues would wind up being to her advantage."

Maggie Haberman & Glenn Thrush, in Politico Magazine, assess Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects. Among other matters, they run down Clinton's missteps in 2008: "It all coalesced into a single devastating paragraph Obama delivered with brutal force at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, in November 2007. Hillary Clinton, he told the party activists that night, was too cautious, too calculating, too caught up in the politics of the past. Even today, two full campaign cycles later, that broadside is a kind of Rosetta Stone for anyone crafting an anti-Clinton message":

Beyond the Beltway

Congratulations, Kansas, for Re-electing Sam & His Band. Brad Cooper of the Kansas City Star: "Kansas will collect $1 billion less in revenue in 2015 and 2016 than its projected expenses following massive income tax cuts signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian of Foreign Policy: Vladimir Putin gives his coat to China's first lady Peng Liyuan; Chinese censors take down videos of Putin placing his coat around Peng's shoulders. Too "friendly," apparently.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Tanks and other military vehicles pouring over the border from Russia into eastern Ukraine. Nightly artillery battles in the region's biggest city, Donetsk, and reports of fighting around another regional capital. And now, sightings of the 'green men,' professional soldiers in green uniforms without insignia, the same type of forces that carried out the invasion of Crimea last spring."

Los Angeles Times: "U.S., British and Swiss regulators on Wednesday fined JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup and three other global banks a total of about $3.3 billion to settle investigations into attempted manipulation of foreign exchange rates. The fines, including the largest ever issued by Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, are the latest multibillion-dollar hit to the industry in the wake of alleged misconduct in the 2008 financial crisis and attempts to rig major international markets." ...

     ... The Guardian story is here.

Monday
Nov102014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 11, 2014

There's an easy-to-navigate virtual wall here.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had achieved a breakthrough in negotiations with China to eliminate tariffs on an array of information technology products, from video-game consoles and computer software to medical equipment and semiconductors. The understanding, reached during a visit to China by President Obama, opens the door to expanding a World Trade Organization treaty on these products, assuming other countries can be persuaded to accept the same terms. American officials predicted a broader deal would be reached swiftly now that it had resolved longstanding hurdles with China." ...

     ... Update. New Lede: "China and the United States vividly displayed on Tuesday why they are both rivals and partners atop the global economy, announcing an agreement to reduce tariffs for technology products even as they promoted competing free-trade blocs for the Asian region."

<>Michael Shear & Edward Wyatt of the New York Times: "President Obama on Monday put the full weight of his administration behind an open and free Internet, calling for a strict policy of so-called net neutrality and formally opposing deals in which content providers like Netflix would pay huge sums to broadband companies for faster access to their customers. The president's proposal is consistent with his longstanding support for rules that seek to prevent cable and telephone companies from providing special access to some content providers. But the statement posted online Monday, as Mr. Obama traveled to Asia, is the most direct effort by the president to influence the debate about the Internet's future."

Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government. -- Sen. Ted Cruz, on Twitter

... Eric Dolan of Raw Story: "Cruz has previously said the FCC should be completely stripped of its authority to enforce net neutrality regulations. The power to regulate the Internet should be in the hands of Congress, he claimed." CW: Because Ted Cruz should be in charge of everything. ...

... Steve M.: "Average citizens who get it will cheer the president; those who have a monetary interest in unleveling the playing field will be upset, and will push back hard against what Obama's trying to do. The GOP is on the side of the latter group, obviously, because Capitalists Can Do No Wrong. Beyond that, however, the GOP is working hard to make its millions of uncritical, unthinking followers into haters of net neutrality. If Obama's for it, they should be against it. If Obama's for it, it must be evil." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "The more Republicans extend their philosophy of absolute private property and unregulated markets into areas that affect aspects of daily life, the more they may ultimately undermine their own message that government is always the problem and big avaricious companies can do no wrong. This was a good move for Obama." ...

... See also safari's question in today's Comments. If only we had a better press, some of them would ask Cruz exactly how his Net Big Business policy helps all the mom & pops who "built this."&

GOP Vows to Destroy Environment. Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The new Republican Congress is headed for a clash with the White House over two ambitious Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are the heart of President Obama's climate change agenda. Senator Mitch McConnell, the next majority leader, has already vowed to fight the rules, which could curb planet-warming carbon pollution but ultimately shut down coal-fired power plants in his native Kentucky. Mr. McConnell and other Republicans are, in the meantime, stepping up their demands that the president approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry petroleum from Canadian oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast."

Newsflash: The number of Ebola patients in the U.S. is now officially zero. I'm sure the Republicans are all over it. Thanks, Obama! (And all the best to the brave and altruistic N.Y. doctor. May he bowl 300. ) -- Victoria D., in yesterday's Comments

David Tedrow, in a Washington Post op-ed: "The Obamacare subsidies saved my life. Now, I'm scared the Supreme Court is going to gut them." CW: Good for the Post for publishing Tedrow's story. Now let's see if the Washington Examiner will publish similar accounts. Justice Scalia has said he only reads the Right Wing News; he's probably not the only Supreme who can't handle the real news. ...

... DeNial is a River that Runs through Right Wing World. Jonathan Chait: "Last night I linked to [Tedrow's] story on Twitter, writing, 'The Republican Party is trying to kill this man.'... My tweet set off a backlash.... The fascinating thing about the response was its uniform, fervent denial of the possibility that crippling or repealing Obamacare would have the effect Tedrow describes.... The Republican health-care strategy is to flip a switch whose immediate effect will be to impoverish and kill a lot of people. Is there a single conservative who will admit this?" ...

(... If you're knocking about looking for something to read on a day off, this piece on denialism, and what to do about it, by Massimo Pigliucci, is a nice read. Via Driftglass.) ...

... Paul Waldman is a teensy bit pessimistic about the outcome of the case. And he thinks Republican governors will let ObamaCare (and people!) die if the Court rules for the plaintiffs: "... will they be punished? Don't bet on it.This is a country where people shake their fists at their members of Congress and say, 'Tell the government to keep its hands off my Medicare!', where people like their state Obamacare exchange but hate Obamacare, where people approve of almost everything this law does but disapprove of the law itself. You think the public as a whole is going to understand this lawsuit and know who to blame? Don't bet on it. They'll only know that now they can't get insurance anymore. 'Obamacare took away my subsidy!' they'll cry. And Republicans will laugh and laugh." ...

... CW: Yo, Mitch. Let's see some of that bipartisan-y thing you've been talking about since the election. Tell us you & Boehner are going to introduce a bill removing those four little words "established by the state" from the clause in question, thus averting the need for your Supreme friends to sully themselves & saving your Kynect constituents from losing their "Website." And, yes, I do believe pigs fly. ...

... Dana Milbank: "So it turns out there is an Obamacare death panel after all. It has nine members and it operates out of a marble building directly across the street from the Capitol.... The very act of taking up the challenge to the law will itself undermine the law. The justices announced their decision just a week before the open-enrollment period for 2015 begins -- and the looming possibility that the high court will strike down the law will probably deter those who are considering signing up for its coverage." ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Monday projected that up to 9.9 million people would be enrolled in ObamaCare in 2015, millions fewer than Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates." ...

... AND ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber's foot-in-mouth disease flared up again.

King Barack. Rand Paul, in the Daily Beast: The "war" against ISIS "is now illegal. It must be declared and made valid, or it must be ended.... This is, of course, not the only way in which this president is acting like a king. Conservatives have rightly decried President Obama's unconstitutional executive action on Obamacare -- and his promises to do the same with immigration. With both branches of Congress now under Republican control, we should act to halt those power grabs, too.... Conservatives who blast the president for ignoring the separation of powers on immigration display a fatal inconsistency by embracing unlimited war-making powers.... If ever there was too much bipartisanship, it would be the bipartisan acceptance of unlimited presidential war-making power." ...

... Ahiza Garcia of TPM: "Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said on Monday that impeaching President Obama 'would be a consideration' if he moves forward unilaterally on immigration." ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "Waiting for Republicans to Act on Immigration Is Pointless.... Ever since Obama became president, Republicans have been opposing his agenda militantly while periodically warning that if he pushes forward with it they'll stop being so cooperative.... Boehner's claim that Republicans are just dying to pass immigration reform, if only Obama abstains from executive action, not only contradicts his past behavior. It contradicts his past statements."

Lee Fang of the Nation: "President Barack Obama can issue an executive order today that requires government contractors to disclose their dark-money campaign contributions. Why doesn't he? And why don't campaign-finance-reform organizations push for such a fix?... After initially floating the possibility of issuing the executive order, the administration backed down."

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post on the spate of Valerie Jarrett-bashing.

Annals of "Justice," Ctd.

What a Police State Looks Like. Shaila Dewan of the New York Times: "The practice of civil forfeiture has come under fire in recent months, amid a spate of negative press reports and growing outrage among civil rights advocates, libertarians and members of Congress who have raised serious questions about the fairness of the practice, which critics say runs roughshod over due process rights.... Despite that opposition, many cities and states are moving to expand civil seizures of cars and other assets.... Much of the nuts-and-bolts how-to of civil forfeiture is passed on in continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials.... The Institute for Justice, which brought the videos [of some seminars] to the attention of The Times, says they show how cynical the practice has become and how profit motives can outweigh public safety." Read the whole report. This could happen to you. ...

... Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: After their lawyer obtained a video of a search-&-seizure stop in Iowa that showed the driver did not commit the violation for which they were stopped, "William Barton Davis, 51, and John Newmerzhycky, 43, both from Humboldt County, Calif., claim their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. They also contend the stop was part of a pattern connected to the teachings of a private police-training firm that promotes aggressive tactics." They have filed "an unusual federal civil rights lawsuit.... An earlier [Des Moines] Register analysis last year found that 86 percent of warnings and citations issued by Iowa's aggressive interdiction units between 2008 to 2012 were given to out-of-state drivers."

Via Addicting Information.The USA, Where Voting Is a Luxury. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Voter suppression efforts may have changed the outcomes of some of the closest races last week. And if the Supreme Court lets these laws stand, they will continue to distort election results going forward.... Poll-tax equivalents are newly thriving, through restrictive voter registration and ID requirements, shorter poll hours and various other restrictions and red tape that cost Americans time and money if they wish to cast a ballot." ...

... CW BTW: some of the veterans we're "honoring" today for "preserving our freedoms" are certainly among the disenfranchised. Get the hell out of this polling place & thank you for your service.

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Rush Limbaugh ... is threatening to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a series of fundraising e-mails that suggested Limbaugh was condoning campus rape in comments he made on his widely syndicated program on Sept. 15."

Caroline Bankoff of New York: "The Associated Press remains (rightfully) pissed over last week's disclosure that, in 2007, an FBI agent pretended to be an AP reporter in order to catch a 15-year-old who had threatened to bomb his high school.... FBI director James Comey brushed off complaints about the incident..., but the AP wants a promise that this kind of thing will never happen again. In a letter addressed to Comey and Attorney General Eric Holder, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt demanded to know who signed off on the impersonation, as well as whether the FBI has carried out similar operations since."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Josh Marshall of TPM: "... on Saturday Breitbart published an exclusive pointing out that President Obama's Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch was part of the team that defended President Clinton during the Whitewater investigation - not a bad little scooplet. Only it wasn't the same Loretta Lynch, which kind of takes the punch out of the story." Marshall calls their "correction" one for the ages. CW: Better correction:

... Timothy Johnson of Media Matters: "Later on November 9, Breitbart.com removed the article...." ...

... CW: Breitbart's two Greatest Hits were against Shirley Sherrod & Loretta Lynch. What does that tell you?

Charles Pierce runs down the Sunday shows to spare those of us who can't watch. Here's a teeny excerpt: George W. Bush, in a CBS "News" interview: "And no, no, I think you have to earn your way into politics. I don't think anything is ever given to you.' Pierce: "... it's ... not often that one sees the awesome majesty of a complete lack of self-awareness in a single human being.... Coming from a guy who depended on Daddy's money to bail him out of an incredible string of failed businesses and several messy scrapes with the law, on Daddy's influence to keep him out of both Vietnam and (very likely) Alabama during wartime, and on Daddy's lawyers to hand him the presidency? Jim Baker? Shoot, fellers, never heard of him. My god, he's getting worse."

Our Bad Media: "... this past Friday ... Capital New York reported that Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, had taken disciplinary action against her own journalists for covering our work on Fareed Zakaria's plagiarism. The official reason given ... was that the writer didn't reach out to Zakaria for comment. That's pretty convenient for Zakaria, who has refused to comment on the story to even his own network. Sources within HuffPo itself, however, say that 'punitive actions were only taken after Huffington received complaints from ... Zakaria'..... And so it stands that as of now, the only people to be punished for Fareed Zakaria's plagiarism are journalists who made the mistake of reporting on it...." The writer notes that Huffington frequently appears on Zakaria's CNN show "GPS." ...

... Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "The Washington Post's editorial page has found 'problematic' sourcing in five columns written by Fareed Zakaria and will likely note the lack of attribution in archived editions of the articles, the section's editor said. Fred Hiatt, The Post's editorial page editor, said he would act after the anonymously written blog Our Bad Media on Monday posted, side by side, excerpts from six Zakaria's columns and work published earlier by other writers. Zakaria used language that was identical, or strikingly similar, to what others had written." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "On Friday Newsweek removed the editor's note from all of Zakaria's work and put specific corrections on seven articles. The magazine also published an interview with the bloggers behind Our Bad Media...."

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: Glenn Beck reveals "he's been hiding a mysterious brain illness." No jokes, please. I know they write themselves, but it's possible Beck is actually ill.


God News, Tuesday Edition. Laurie Goodstein
of the New York Times: "Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church's founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old. The church's disclosures, in a series of essays online, are part of an effort to be transparent about its history at a time when church members are increasingly encountering disturbing claims about the faith on the Internet." ...

... CW: Super-good news for sculptors, who can occupy themselves for decades creating 39 new figures for the Joseph Smith & Wives statues, like the one at left in Salt Lake City.

 

 

 

 

November Elections

Alex DeMarban of the Alaska Dispatch News: "At least 53,000 ballots remain to be counted that could affect margins and possibly outcomes in two closely watched political races in Alaska. The competition in Alaska for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's U.S. Senate seat has drawn national attention, with Republican candidate Dan Sullivan holding a 8,149-vote lead over Begich -- a 3.6 percent difference -- after the first round of vote counting immediately following Tuesday's general election. The governor's race is also tight, with independent Bill Walker leading Republican Gov. Sean Parnell by 3,165 votes, or just 1.4 percent."

Presidential Race

Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed: "Sen. Rand Paul's latest knock on Hillary Clinton -- his potential rival in the next presidential race -- came in a Politico article, published on Monday, in which he appeared to take a shot at her age and health. Clinton just turned 67. In the interview, Paul questioned whether Clinton would be able to physically handle running for president. 'It's a very taxing undertaking to go through,' he said. 'It's a rigorous physical ordeal, I think, to be able to campaign for the presidency.' Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, is 51 years old. If Clinton were elected president in 2016, she would be 69 on inauguration day -- the same age as Ronald Reagan when he took office in 1981. The chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, has said he considers Clinton's age and health 'fair game' in a possible presidential race."

Charles Pierce doesn't understand why we don't hear Al "Franken's name bandied more about as a Democratic presidential possibility in 2016." CW: I would vote for Franken in a heartbeat. But to answer Pierce's question, it won't be just "The Daily Show" running pix like this:

Rick Perry Goes to College. Timothy Connor of the Dartmouth: "Arriving to the tune of 'Deep in the Heart of Texas,' Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, spoke under the Texas flag about U.S. border security, energy initiatives and foreign policy to an audience of more than 100 people ... Sunday night. Several students raised explicit questions concerning Perry's stance on homosexuality during the event."

Beyond the Beltway

Jason Kravarik & Sara Sidner of CNN: "Gun sales spike as Ferguson area braces for grand jury decision." With video.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Russia agreed on Tuesday to build two new nuclear power reactors in Iran, with a possibility of six more after that, in a deal that greatly expands nuclear cooperation between the two countries.The agreement shows that Russia is pressing ahead with its own vision for ensuring that Iran does not build nuclear weapons, by supplying civilian power technology that will operate under international monitoring."

** New York Times: "John Doar, who was a leader in the federal government's legal efforts to dismantle segregation in the South during the most volatile period of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and who returned to government service to lead the team that made the constitutional case for the possible impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 92."

Washington Post: "The captain of the doomed South Korean ferry that capsized in April, claiming more than 300 lives, was sentenced Tuesday to 36 years in prison for willful negligence and dereliction of duty."