Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "Anticipating a takeover of Congress, Republicans have assembled an economic agenda that reflects their small-government, antiregulation philosophy.... The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.... Speaker John A. Boehner has been promoting a roster of 46 House-passed jobs bills.... But Senate Republicans -- many of whom must appeal to a broader range of voters than House Republicans ... -- chose just nine of those House measures for their own 'bipartisan jobs list.'"
Scott Higman & Steven Rich of the Washington Post: "... eight current auditors and employees ... complained about negative findings being stricken from audits [by the USAID's Office of the Inspector General (OIG)] between 2011 and 2013. In some cases, the findings were put into confidential 'management letters' and financial documents, which are sent to high-ranking USAID officials but are generally kept from public view. The auditors said the office has increasingly become a defender of the agency under acting inspector general Michael G. Carroll. Some auditors said Carroll did not want to create controversy as he awaited Senate confirmation to become the permanent inspector general. On Wednesday, Carroll withdrew his nomination, which had been pending for 16 months.... 'You don't hardly ever see this with other IGs,' [Sen.] Tom Coburn recently told The Post." CW: No, you don't hardly. Jeez!
David Beard & Julie Zauzmer of the Washington Post: "Secret Service officials apprehended a person who jumped the White House fence late Wednesday. The intruder was captured well before reaching the residence." ...
... Paula Reid of CBS News: "Alleged White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C. [Tuesday] afternoon.... At the hearing it was revealed that Gonzalez had undergone a forensic mental health screening and was found to be 'not competent' to stand trial. This was unusual because at the last hearing, his lawyer, David Bos, objected to the screening, maintaining that Gonzalez was, in fact, competent.
Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Four former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors were convicted Wednesday on charges stemming from a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq. Federal court jurors found one defendant guilty of murder and three others of manslaughter and weapons charges, roundly asserting that the shooting was criminal.... Seventeen Iraqis died when gunfire erupted on Sept. 16, 2007 in the crowded Nisour Square in Baghdad. The shooting inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad and helped solidify the notion that Blackwater, America's largest security contractor in Iraq, was reckless and unaccountable.... Nicholas A. Slatten, who the government said fired the first shots, was convicted of murder. The others -- Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough -- were convicted on manslaughter and firearms charges." ...
... New York Times Editors: "The verdict on Wednesday brings a measure of justice for the innocent victims and their families and offers some assurance that private contractors will not be allowed to operate with impunity in war zones. What it does not do is solve the problem of an American government that is still too dependent on private firms to supplement its military forces during overseas conflicts and is still unable to manage them effectively."
Fred Barbash & Justin Moyer of the Washington Post: The Canadian Parliament's "ceremonial" sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, 58, "kept cool amid the chaos as dozens of bullets flew in the corridors, went to his office, retrieved his weapon and ... shot a killer.... Vickers ... then walked away, gun-in hand, having 'taken care of business,' as one news outlet put it.... he has served the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for almost three decades, including a stint as director of security operations for the House of Commons...." Vickers has not spoken to the media about the incident.
Canada, You Had It Coming. Glenn Greenwald on a recent attack on Canadian soldiers: "It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country.... A country doesn't get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it.... If you want to be a country that spends more than a decade proclaiming itself at war and bringing violence to others, then one should expect that violence will sometimes be directed at you as well." CW Note: Greenwald makes the point in an update that he was not referring to the attack yesterday morning, but to an earlier car attack on two Canadian soldiers. The piece was published before yesterday's attack on a solider & on the Canadian Parliament. He's still the pundit I'd most like to punch in the mouth today.
Juan Cole: "Al-Manar reports that the legislature of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (a super-province of Iraq) has voted to send Kurdistan forces to the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane to help it fight off a concerted attack by ISIL. The vote opens the way for Iraqi Kurdistan to intervene in the Syrian civil war. Turkey is alleged to have agreed to let the Peshmerga cross Turkish territory which is quite remarkable.... So the states of the Middle East have substates, and these substates are semi-autonomous in their international decision-making, and are virtually autonomous in their military interventions. It would be like Montana sending National Guard units over into Canada to stop a feud there."
Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "All travelers who arrive in the United States from Ebola-stricken countries will be closely monitored for 21 days by public health officials starting Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said that anyone arriving from the three countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia -- will be actively monitored on a daily basis and will also face new rules about where they can travel within the United States."
Marie's Sports Report. Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "At the University of North Carolina, more than 3,100 students, many of whom were athletes, took phantom classes in a 'shadow curriculum,' netting high marks despite the fact that the classes never met and there wasn't any work beyond a final paper no one read. The scheme ran for years, between 1993 and 2011.... The matter of student-athletes gliding through school unencumbered by academic rigor is an issue often reported, but one that nonetheless persists at numerous institutions.... Not only are athletes forbidden from profiting from the lucrative sports in which they participate, but they're sometimes guided -- either tacitly or explicitly -- into courses that don't prepare them for a life outside sports." ...
... CW: When my husband taught in the Romance Languages department at UNC -- before this period -- student-athletes were directed to a phony Portugese language course. I assume they took other joke courses in other departments. The policy didn't start in 1993.
Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "When Politico ran an article last year titled 'What BP Owes America,' a big disclaimer was scrolled across the top of the piece: 'Opinion.' The article, written by the President of the National Audubon Society, argued that BP needed to take more responsibility for the devastating environmental effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When Politico Magazine ran an article on Wednesday titled 'No, BP Didn't Ruin The Gulf,' there was no disclaimer. The article, written by an executive of BP, argued that the Gulf of Mexico has 'inherent resilience' when it comes to oil spills and that environmentalists are overreacting about its impacts.... The article did not disclose that the article was written by BP senior vice president of communications Geoff Morrell until the bottom of the piece.... It could have to do with the fact that BP ... one of the most frequent advertisers on Politico's daily email newsletter 'Playbook.'" ...
... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "When Morrell, a former journalist and Pentagon press secretary, joined the BP PR war in 2011, the announcement was reported by Politico's chief White House correspondent and franchise player Mike Allen, complete with glowing quotes like, 'Geoff is top notch and will serve them well.' Indeed.... Mark Leibovich's book This Town ... reports that Morrell and Allen are close friends. Of course, Politico Magazine and 'Playbook' are not directly connected, except for the fact that they are published by the same company. Politico declined to comment on the record...." ...
... Charles Pierce contrasts the was the Canadian Broadcasting Company News covers breaking news & the way American cable channels cover it. CW: In other words, Charles, CBC News covers breaking news about the same way the U.S.'s NBC, ABC & CBS networks cover it. I'm not defending 10 days of wall-to-wall coverage of a Malaysian airliner crash, but I am saying that cable news has a different charter from CBC News's brief, & if the U.S. cable news networks have intelligent, knowledgeable discussions of events even when the news is way past "broke," that seems okay to me. But, yes, of course I'd like to see "Today in Alberta." There's a reason CBC News is publicly-supported -- not many viewers outside Alberta will stick around for "Today in Alberta." Capitalism is awesome, my friend.
Annals of Journalism, Ctd. David Carr of the New York Times on Ben Bradlee's charmed, charming life.
Politico Magazine publishes an excerpt of Richard Norton Smith's biography of Nelson Rockefeller, this chapter on the 1964 GOP convention.
Right Wing World
The Confederate States of Reagan. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide Douglas MacKinnon ... called for a movement of states, starting with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to establish a new country that will adhere to the Religious Right's political agenda. Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included ... because 'there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.'... MacKinnon specifically cited advances in gay rights as a reason for Southern states to leave the U.S.... MacKinnon repeated his view that a new country should be formed, and even proposed an 'interim name' for the ultraconservative breakaway nation: 'Reagan.'" CW: "Traditional family values" is just another term for treason. That's okay. Ta-ta, South Carolina, et al. But, really, please take Texas with you. See safari's comments below.
The Gohmert Gazette
I've had people say, 'Hey, you know, there's nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks.' Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it's a different kind of fighting, it's a different kind of war and if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you're not going to last very long. It's guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that's what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did ... as people have said, 'Louie, you have got to understand, you don't even know your history.' Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It's not a good idea. -- Rep. Louie Gohmert, an elected representative of the people
What Elections? Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Hadas Gold of Politico: "ABC's 'World News Tonight' hasn't mentioned the midterm elections in its broadcast since Sept. 1, a study published Wednesday by the conservative-leaning watchdog group Media Research Center found. In the same time period, 'CBS Evening News' and 'NBC Nightly News' mentioned the midterms 14 and 11 times, respectively, MRC found. It's a significant drop when compared to the same period during the 2006 midterms, when ABC mentioned the midterms 36 times, CBS mentioned them 58 times and NBC mentioned the midterms 65 times."
Gail Collins: "Women are big this election season. No group is more courted. It's great! The issues are important. Plus, we all enjoy the occasional pander."
Illinois. John Dodge of CBS Chicago: Dave McKinney, "a top political reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times, resigned on Wednesday, and pointedly accused [GOP gubernatorial nominee] Bruce Rauner's campaign aides of intimidation and interference with his reporting and called into question the newspaper's independence." ...
... McKinney's statement & account of his treatment at the Sun-Times is here.
Kentucky. Manu Raju of Politico: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to go back on the air in Kentucky after the party has been encouraged by new polls suggesting the race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is within reach. The party committee is reserving $650,000 in airtime to boost Alison Lundergan Grimes after reviewing recent internal and public polling, a DSCC official told Politico. The polling, the source says, suggested that undecided voters are moving in the Democrat's direction."
South Dakota. David Montgomery of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "A year and a half after state officials first became aware of an FBI investigation into South Dakota's EB-5 program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday confirmed that the investigation remains 'active.'... U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds has been attacked for his handling of South Dakota's EB-5 program as governor -- though Rounds has said he hasn't been questioned by law enforcement despite his willingness to do so, and doesn't believe he's a target of the investigation." ...
... In mid-September, the Democratic party of South charged that "Joop Bollen committed an act of fraud under Board of Regents Fraud policy that has earned him and his partners over $140 million managing the EB5 citizenship-for-sale program with the approval of Governor Mike Rounds, according to sources unveiled by Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)." ...
... The extremely complicated story set to music: ...
Texas. Andrew Cohen, in the Los Angeles Times: "... the Texas [voter ID] law, one of the most discriminatory voting laws in modern history, runs afoul of constitutional norms and reasonable standards of justice.... Lawmakers -- and for that matter the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court judges ... -- were shown mountains of evidence on what the law's discriminatory impact would be on minority communities.... Only three justices on the Supreme Court -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- had the courage to call the high court's ruling the sham that it is."
Christie Plans to Rig 2016 Election. Melissa Hayes & Herb Jackson of the Bergen Record: New Jersey "Governor [Chris] Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they're the ones controlling 'voting mechanisms' going into the next presidential election.... 'Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist?" CW: Yeah, great example, Chris. At least you're living up to your promise to "tell it like it is." Not many elected officials would admit they planned to fix a presidential election. ...
... Charles Pierce answers Christie's question(s).
Top-Job Killer. Brian Faler of Politico: "Jeb Bush ... has said he could accept tax increases in a hypothetical deficit-cutting deal. Never mind that he added that would come only in exchange for major federal spending cuts, or that he repeatedly cut taxes as governor. Tax hikes are still apostasy in Republican circles, and the stance could be a big problem for Bush if he decides to seek the party's presidential nomination in 2016." CW: In the Party of No, saying anything even slightly reasonable & responsible is makes you toxic.
Beyond the Beltway
More Secession! Javiar de Diego of CNN: "City of South Miami commissioners have approved a resolution that calls for splitting Florida in half. The resolution outlines a new state, made up of 24 counties in the southern part of the peninsula. The split would be along the Interstate 4 corridor. Specifically, commissioners want Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Orange and Brevard to become the border counties of the state of South Florida." Via Charles Pierce. Pierce's "Laboratories of Democracy" round-up (linked) is particularly rich today.
Kimberly Kindy & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer's gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown's body.... More than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson's account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation.... Some of the physical evidence -- including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests -- also supports Wilson's account of the shooting..., which cast Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer's life." ...
... Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times: "The U.S. Department of Justice condemned the leaks [of evidence given in the Darren Wilson grand jury investigation] Wednesday as 'irresponsible and highly troubling' and said, 'There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case.'... Chris King, managing editor of the St. Louis American, a newspaper for black audiences, said law enforcement officials had offered him the leaks, saying 'they had been briefed on the evidence and it didn't look good for Michael Brown supporters,' but he declined and decried 'third-party hearsay' in an editorial for the paper."
Scott Williams of the Green Bay, Wisconsin, Press-Gazette: "A Green Bay alderman[, Chris Wery,] has apologized to a Muslim resident for responding to her inquiry about public bus service with questions about her political beliefs and whether she condemns Islamic terrorism.... 'I phrased it wrong. It was the wrong setting,' he told Press-Gazette Media." CW: No, Chris, racist queries & other objectionable remarks are not piss-poor "phrasing" or instances of inappropriate "settings." They are what they are, no matter how or in what "setting" you "phrase" them. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.
Today in Gun Etiquette. Joe Dejka of the Omaha World-Herald: "Now graduating seniors attending a central Nebraska school district are free to pose with firearms for their school yearbook picture, as long as it's done tastefully."
Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."
Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada&'s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...
... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal -- a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...
... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."