The Ledes

Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Developing ... Washington Post: "The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday as police responded to a report of an active shooter at the facility, authorities said. The call came in about 7:40 a.m.... The U.S. Navy retweeted a message from their Washington district office saying 'no incident can be confirmed as of yet.'” ...

     ... UPDATE: New Lede: "Police flooded in to search after a report of gun shots was called in by someone inside the building. They found no gunman, no evidence that shots had been fired; nothing but shaken workers."

... The WashPo is running live video from WUSA on its front page. Apparently, you can pick up the video on the channel's mobile app. Also, the Post has live updates here. ...

... National Journal: "The Washington Navy Yard is on lockdown Thursday as police are looking into reports of an incident there. The U.S. Navy confirmed on Twitter at 7:59 a.m. that the building complex has been placed on lockdown, but not the exact nature of the incident. NBC News is reporting that shots were reported at the Yard."

AP: "U.S. employers likely hired at another strong pace in June, a sign that the job market is nearing full health and giving the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates as early as September. Economists predict that employers added 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in May, according to data firm FactSet." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The American economy is entering the summer powered by a decent head of steam, with employers adding 223,000 jobs in June."

ABC News: "A train carrying chemicals caught fire overnight in Maryville, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said. The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics."

Reuters: "The pilot flying a TransAsia Airways ...  ATR mistakenly switched off the plane's only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in its latest report on Thursday. The ASC's report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off. 'Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,' Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

U.K. Telegraph: "Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of Jewish children from the Holocaust in 1939, has died aged 106, his family said. Winton earned himself the label 'Britain's Schindler' for saving the lives of 669 children by sending them from Prague to London by train." ...

     ... UPDATE: Winton's New York Times obituary is here.

Al Jazeera: "At least 130 bodies have been found after an Indonesian air force C-130 crashed in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra, according to military officials. The plane came down on Tuesday hitting empty residential buildings after bursting into flames shortly after takeoff."

New York Times: "Record numbers of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to reach the shores of Europe in the first six months of this year, and most of them were entitled to be resettled as refugees under international law, the United Nations said Wednesday."

AP: "Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that Julie Hamp, its first female managing officer, had resigned following her arrest last month on suspicion of illegally importing the painkiller oxycodone into Japan. Hamp, a U.S. citizen, leaves Toyota about a month after she relocated to Tokyo to become the Japanese automaker's chief communications officer. Her appointment was part of a drive by the company to diversify a male-dominated, mostly Japanese executive line-up."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 2

2:00 pm ET: President Obama speaks about the economy in LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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Wednesday
Jun242015

The Commentariat -- June 24, 2015

Afternoon Update:

President Doody.Unpossible! Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "Jeb Bush, who is struggling in the polls in Iowa, may find his salvation in New Hampshire. Yet another poll of New Hampshire voters shows him leading the passel of nearly 20 Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination. Mr. Bush ... was backed by 14 percent of respondents in a Suffolk University poll released Tuesday; the surprise was that his nearest competitor was Donald J. Trump..., who captured the support of nearly 11 percent of those surveyed." ...

... CW: Also, I noticed in the photo accompanying the story that Donald doesn't have orange hair anymore. Maybe the gray makes him seem more presidential to the lumpenproletariat, although I do believe Republicans would vote for Howdy Doody if the Koch boys were the ones pulling the strings.

Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "Gov. >Bobby Jindal, who became Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction but whose popularity has plummeted as the state struggles with a $1.6 billion shortfall, announced on Wednesday that he is running for president in 2016.... The announcement was made online, and Mr. Jindal plans a late-afternoon announcement event outside New Orleans." ...

... Here's "a special announcement from Bobby Jindal."

Jeremy Borden & Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that Confederate flags be taken down from the state capitol grounds. The Birmingham News reported that workers arrived 'with no fanfare' early Wednesday to remove the flags.... At South Carolina's statehouse, workers placed a black drape over a second-floor window -- blocking the view of a Confederate battle flag at a nearby Civil War memorial -- before thousands of mourners were expected to view the body of slain state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney...."

*****

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.... On several occasions since President Obama took office, efforts by government agencies to conduct research on right-wing extremism have run into resistance from Republicans, who suspected an attempt to smear conservatives."

Our ancestors were literally fighting to keep human beings as slaves, and to continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of this heritage. -- South Carolina State Sen. Paul Thurmond (R), the son of segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond

Campbell Robertson, et al., of the New York Times: "What began as scattered calls for removing the Confederate battle flag from a single state capitol intensified with striking speed and scope on Tuesday into an emotional, nationwide movement to strip symbols of the Confederacy from public parks and buildings, license plates, Internet shopping sites and retail stores." ...

... Greg Blustein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday he wants a redesign of a state-sponsored license plate featuring the Confederate flag emblem, as a growing list of other Southern governors call for similar changes. The Republican stopped short of calling for the Sons of Confederate Veterans tags to be phased out or eliminated entirely, as the leaders in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee announced Tuesday. He said the redesign, though, would seek to eliminate the bigger visage of the flag that covers the background of the entire tag. The change, he added, wouldn't require legislative action.... Earlier Tuesday, Deal said he wouldn't support any changes to the license plate and contended that both he and his Democratic opponent Jason Carter said during the campaign they didn't have a problem with the license plate.... (Carter said during the campaign that drivers had the right to sport the emblem as an expression of free speech. He tweeted Tuesday that the plate should be replaced with one honoring the civil rights movement.)" ...

... Mike Pare of the Chattanooga Times Free Press: "Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam [(R) Tuesday] ... said that he wasn't aware that the flag is stamped on some plates, but 'I'd be in favor of discontinuing it.' Haslam signed the bill approving the Confederate license plates for motorcycles on March 14, 2012. The bill passed the state Senate and House by wide margins. The vote in the Senate was 27-3, and in the House voted 82-6 in favor, with one person voting present.... Later, in Nashville, the Republican governor said he favors removal of a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from Tennessee's state Capitol. But the governor noted that's not his decision alone to make." ...

(NNDP: "Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was (obviously) named for his father and grandfather. His grandfather was named for Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, and General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, the superintendent of West Point who quit to take command the first Confederate army at Fort Sumter, at the start of the American Civil War." People from all over the nation are suggesting he be removed from the Senate, noting it's not their decision to make alone.)

... MEANWHILE. Hilary Stout of the New York Times: "... many of the nation's largest retailers abruptly decided this week to stop selling merchandise tied to the Confederate battle flag. One by one, beginning with Walmart on Monday night, companies including Sears/Kmart, eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Google Shopping disavowed, sometimes in strong moral terms, merchandise that has been sold quietly for decades.... More than 29,000 such offerings could be found on the Amazon website Tuesday morning, including bikinis, shower curtains, ceramic coasters, cupcake toppers and even a tongue ring.... Yet even as companies were vowing to discontinue the items, sales of them were soaring. Confederate flags jumped to the top of Amazon's Patio, Lawn & Garden category, with purchases of some items spiking by more than 5,000 percent.... A number of smaller companies refused to stop selling Confederate-related merchandise, no matter how controversial." CW: Read the whole article. I especially liked the part about "Wildman's, a jumble of a shop in Kennesaw, Ga." ...

... David Goldman of CNN: "It seems like you can buy anything on Amazon. But there are actually a large number of products that the company doesn't allow in its online store. Amazon, has a list of 32 banned or restricted categories of merchandise.... Many of the products that Amazon bans are illegal in many or all states.... Notably, Amazon also bans 'offensive products,' which include 'products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.... Despite Amazon's policies, banned items continually slip through. For instance, Amazon has had something of an on-again / off-again Nazi problem over the past several years. Though the company has banned Nazi flags, swastikas and other symbols, items keep popping up on the store." ...

... Steve M.: "The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway has posted an unstructured, meandering, relentless whiny diatribe about the growing movement to take down flags and other items that honor the Confederacy. She ... compares the orderly removal of Confederate flags and statues to the destruction of ancient Buddhas by ISIS." Steve goes on to demonstrate why "No modern movement conservative has any standing whatsoever to lecture anyone else on intolerance." ...

... Travels of the Confederate Flag. Adam Taylor of the Washington Post: "... the flag is surprisingly common in southern Italy, just one of many foreign locations where the flag has been reappropriated for local purposes.... It appears some see a historical parallel at work, pointing toward their own absorption into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and the perceived economic and political problems since then.... A more direct historical link can be found in Brazil, where 10,000 Confederate supporters emigrated after the end of the Civil War. The descendents of these people still gather to celebrate their heritage at the yearly Festa Confederada..., an event that includes country music, Southern food and the proud display of Confederate flags.... European extremist political groups have been known to fly the Confederate flag, too. European skinheads and neo-Nazis have sometimes adopted the Confederate flag, especially in Germany, where the swastika and other symbols of Nazi Germany are officially banned by law." ...

... Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post does an in-depth critical analysis to winnow out the 50 worst U.S. state flags. ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called Tuesday for Congress to expand background checks for gun purchases in the wake of a shooting in Charleston, S.C., last week that left nine dead." ...

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: "In the wake of the Charleston shooting, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are considering ways to renew their failed push to pass meaningful gun-control legislation.... If the two senators team up to tackle any facet of gun control, it would mark a significant shift in the political debate nearly a week after nine people were killed at a Bible study group in downtown Charleston, S.C. President Obama noted last week that once again, someone got a gun who shouldn't have had access to it." ...

... Here's the 911 call to the Shelby, N.C. police that led to Dylann Roof's capture. And here's the police dashcam recording of the arrest. ...

... Insane America. CW: In looking for these I made the not-surprising discovery that confederate wingers are treating the mass murder as a hoax perpetrated by Jews &/or the CIA or somebody, Roof is an actor played by Macauley Culkin (Culkin is 35 years old, but never mind) or a young actor called John Christian Graas, & Dylann Roof's father specializes in faking mass murder scenes, & "Game of Thrones," & false flags and and and. And they're coming to take our guns, tra la.

NEW. The White House will release on Wednesday a presidential directive and an executive order that will allow the government to communicate and negotiate with terrorist groups holding Americans hostage, a source briefed on the matter told CNN. While the government will maintain its policy of not making 'substantive concessions' to captors or paying ransoms, the White House will announce that officials will no longer threaten with criminal prosecution the families of American hostages looking to pay ransoms to their relatives' captors, according to a senior administration official." ...

... Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker on five American families' secret efforts to rescue their relatives held hostage in the Middle East.

NEW. Ari Berman of the Nation: "Two years ago, on June 25, 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act. [Wednesday], congressional Democrats will introduce an ambitious new bill that would restore the important voting-rights protections the Supreme Court struck down. The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 would compel states with a well-documented history of recent voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with the federal government, require federal approval for voter ID laws, and outlaw new efforts to suppress the growing minority vote."

Rachel Maddow, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Whether or not you like activism from your Supreme Court justices, this court's aggressive interventionism has established these nine men and women as the dynamic, creative and disruptive center of U.S. policy.... This court has shown a voracious appetite for finding cases with the potential to disrupt settled policies.... As goes the next president, so goes the court." Maddow notes that elite political donors are far more interesting in the type of appointees the next president will make than is the general public. CW: While I'm aware that some Reality Chex readers would fall among the "elite political donor" class, it's obvious that our commenters -- Kate Madison! -- big donors or not, are far more aware of the importance of judicial appointments than is the average voter.

Reuters: "A US district judge in Wyoming has granted a request by four states and several energy industry groups to temporarily block new federal rules governing fracking on public lands. The interior department rules due to come into force on Wednesday would require companies to provide data on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells on federally owned land."

Samuel Gibbs of the Guardian: "Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer. First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser -- the open source basis for Google's Chrome -- began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users. It was designed to support Chrome's new 'OK, Google' hotword detection -- which makes the computer respond when you talk to it -- but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission."

Martyn Williams of Computerworld: "The U.S. Navy is paying Microsoft millions of dollars to keep up to 100,000 computers afloat because it has yet to transition away from Windows XP. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy's communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003. The entire contract could be worth up to $30.8 million and extend into 2017." These products are so obsolete, "Microsoft has stopped issuing free security updates but will continue to do so on a paid basis for customers like the Navy." ...

... More from Eugene Kim, et al., of Business Insider. ...

... CW: That's news to me. I thought the Navy was using the Apple I:

     ... In related news, the U.S. Navy has announced it would spend upwards of a billion dollars to raise the ironclad USS Monitor & return it to service.

Kim Willsher of the Guardian: "The French president, François Hollande, is holding an emergency meeting of his country's defence council after claims that American agents spied on three successive French presidents between 2006 and 2012. According to WikiLeaks documents published late on Tuesday, even the French leaders' mobile phone conversations were listened to and recorded." ...

... AFP: "France's president, François Hollande, has described reported spying by the US on senior French officials as unacceptable and said Paris would not tolerate actions that threaten its security. Hollande released the statement after an emergency meeting of ministers and army commanders on Wednesday, following WikiLeaks revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on the last three French presidents."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Mike Allen of Politico: "Fox News will not renew its contract with Sarah Palin, whose bombastic appearances have been a cable staple since the former Alaska governor's failed run on John McCain's ticket in the 2008 presidential election cycle." ...

... Steve M.: "Fox soured on Palin a long time ago." Read Steve's post, if only for the Palin quote. ...

     ... In his post, Steve cites Gabriel Sherman, who reported that "Fox producers called Palin and her husband 'The Bitch' and 'The Eskimo.'" So sexist and racist. What an excellent outfit young Murdoch is inheriting.

Presidential Race

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday called the flag 'a symbol of our nation's racist past.' Speaking at an African-American church just outside Ferguson, Mo..., Mrs. Clinton made a forceful plea to remove the Confederate flag wherever it flew.... 'It shouldn't fly there. It shouldn't fly anywhere,' Mrs. Clinton said of South Carolina.... 'How do we make sense of such an evil act -- an act of racist terrorism perpetrated in a house of God?'" she asked. CW: Not just the past, Hillary.

Margaret Hartmann: "2016 Republicans reveal they were against the confederate flag all along." CW: Not sure if 2016 is the year or the number of GOP presidential candidates.

Randy Got the Memo. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he believes the Confederate battle flag is 'inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery' and needs to go.... Paul added it was obviously a decision for South Carolina to make but said if he were in South Carolina he would vote to get rid of it." ...

... Wow! Even Li'l Randy's old pal, former staffer & ghostwriter Jack Hunter, the "Southern Avenger," who used to wear the confederate flag as a mask, got the memo." ...

... ** Seems those two ole boys are mighty creative. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Many of the quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers in two of Rand Paul's books are either fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context, BuzzFeed News has found." Via Charles Pierce.

Andy Borowitz: The Center for Disease Control is tracking the epidemic of GOP presidential candidacy. "While scientists disagree about how running for President spreads from person to person, most epidemiologists believe that a candidacy needs an environment rich in narcissism and delusion -- plus a host to feed on, ideally a sociopathic billionaire."

Illustration by DonkeyHotey.Reid Epstein of the Wall Street Journal: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is set to announce Wednesday that he is running for the Republican nomination for president, in a long shot bid that will rely on wooing the socially conservative voters who dominate early primary states." ...

... AP: "Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't seeking to have the Confederate battle flag stripped from a Louisiana-issued license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans." ...

... Here's what Jessica Taylor of NPR thinks you should know about Jindal.

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Chris Christie is in the final stages of preparing his 2016 presidential bid, with a formal announcement possible as soon as next week, according to several sources familiar with the discussions.... Earlier this month, Christie dropped another hint that he was nearing a run. While campaigning in New Hampshire, the governor said that his family -- one of the last major hurdles to his entering the race -- was on board. 'This is about me now,' he said." CW: Isn't it always about you, Chris?

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "As Gov. Scott Walker prepares to announce his campaign for president next month, promising to bring what he calls 'big bold leadership' to Washington, as he did in Wisconsin, he faces a cloud over that story line: Republicans back home are in revolt. Leaders of Mr. Walker's party, which controls the Legislature, are balking at his demands for the state's budget. Critics say the governor's spending blueprint is aimed more at appealing to conservatives in early-voting states like Iowa than doing what is best for Wisconsin." ...

... Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) plans to sign two new laws on Wednesday that expand the rights of gun owners by removing a 48-hour waiting period for those looking to purchase a firearm and allowing off-duty or retired police officers to carry concealed weapons at public schools. This action [which Walker will highlight at at a ceremony at the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office] will come one week after a suspected gunman shot and killed nine people in an African American church in South Carolina, yet again prompting a national discussion about gun laws in the U.S." ...

     ... We now break for a Chuck Todd Excuse Alert: "Laurel Patrick, a spokeswoman for the governor, said this bill-signing was scheduled and announced about two weeks ago, several days before the shooting occurred in South Carolina."

Justin Carissimo of the U.K. Independent: "Artist Dalton Javier Avalos Ramirez created a piñata of Donald Trump for fellow Mexicans to take their frustrations out on. Mr 'Piñateria' Ramirez told The Independent that he created Mr Trump's paper-mâché and cardboard look-a-like in one day and was inspired by his controversial presidential campaign announcement speech. 'They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime,' Mr Trump said in at Trump Tower in New York City. 'They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people....'" CW: I'm waiting for Donald to boast that Mexicans are buying Trump idols.

Beyond the Beltway

Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun: "Freddie Gray suffered a single 'high-energy injury' to his neck and spine -- most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated, according to a copy of the autopsy report.... The state medical examiner's office concluded that Gray's death could not be ruled an accident, and was instead a homicide, because officers failed to follow safety procedures 'through acts of omission.'" ...

Anita Chabria of the Guardian: "A proposed 'shoot the gays' ballot initiative in California that called for the execution of state residents on the basis of their sexuality has been quashed by a judge, sparing voters from the possibility of having to debate it during fall elections. Judge Raymond Cadei of the Sacramento superior court wrote that the measure, called the 'Sodomite Suppression Act', was 'patently unconstitutional' in a ruling filed on Monday and released on Tuesday."

Tal Alroy of CNN: "The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots and an iconic bar in the LGBT community, on Tuesday was unanimously granted landmark status by a vote of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission." CW: About time.

Odd News. Tom Jackman of the Washington Post: A Virginia man won a $500,000 defamation & malpractice suit against two doctors who made degrading & insulting comments about him during his colonoscopy. Although the patient did not hear the conversation because the anesthesiologist had sedated him, he had inadvertently recorded their remarks on his cellphone. CW: Makes you wonder what derogatory remarks doctors make about you when you're out cold. I'm sure dissing the patient is common smalltalk during routine procedures.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Breaking his long silence on Wednesday, the 21-year-old man convicted of the Boston Marathon bombing acknowledged his guilt, apologized to his victims and stood to hear a judge formally impose a penalty of death by execution." ...

... NPR: "Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has apologized to the victims and the survivors of the deadly 2013 attack. 'I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, and the damage that I've done,' he told the court today in Boston prior to the judge imposing the sentence on him." ...

... The Boston Globe reports Judge George O'Toole's sentencing remarks.

New York Times: "While nothing to brag about, the economy's performance in early 2015 was not quite as bad as the number-crunchers in Washington had thought. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, an upward revision from the 0.7 percent contraction reported last month."

Grub Street: "New York City officials have launched an investigation of [Whole Foods] because, they say, the city's Whole Foods stores 'routinely' overcharge for products. The Department of Consumer Affairs alleges the overcharging happens because of inaccurate weights marked on prepacked groceries and claims the practice dates back to at least 2010."

AP: "A former White House chef for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush drowned in a New Mexico mountain stream, and his death was ruled an accident, authorities said Tuesday. The determination followed several days of mystery about the death of Walter Scheib, who vanished during a solo hike in the mountains of northern New Mexico and was found dead Sunday night after a weeklong search. There was no sign of foul play, State Police Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said. Scheib recently moved from Florida to Taos. He was 61."

New York Times: Greek "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faced anger and resistance on Tuesday from members of his own radical left political party, complicating his efforts to strike a deal this week with Greece's creditors, as some lawmakers and party officials criticized concessions by the Greek side and expressed doubts about voting for a deal in Parliament."

New York Times: "James Horner, the prolific composer whose vaulting theme music for 'Titanic' earned him two Oscars and became the best-selling orchestral soundtrack ever, died on Monday morning when the single-turboprop plane he was flying solo crashed and burned in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. He was 61. Late Tuesday, Mr. Horner's spokesman, the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, confirmed that he was the pilot of the EMB 312 Tucano that crashed in northern Ventura County. He lived in Calabasas, near the Santa Monica Mountains."

Tuesday
Jun232015

The Commentariat -- June 23, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The Senate narrowly voted Tuesday to end debate on legislation granting President Obama enhanced negotiating powers to complete a major Pacific trade accord, virtually assuring final passage Wednesday of Mr. Obama's top legislative priority in his final years in office.The procedural vote, 60 to 37, reached the minimum threshold needed, but final passage will require only 51 votes."

Eric Yoder of the Washington Post: "The computer upgrade that federal officials tout as having detected -- although not prevented -- a massive breach of information on federal employees is itself at high risk of failure, according to a new internal audit. The independent inspector general's office within the Office of Personnel Management is conducting a thorough review of the upgrade but issued a 'flash audit alert' to top agency leaders 'to bring to your immediate attention serious concerns we have' that require 'immediate action.'" ...

... CW Suggestion: Cut a deal with Ed Snowden to get him to lead a time to design a hack-proof (or at least hack-averse) system.

*****

NEW. Charles Pierce predicts the future: "Now, of course, we will hear a lot of ahistorical braggadocio about how it was Republicans who freed the slaves, and passed the civil rights acts in the 1960s, Party Of Lincoln and all that. And we will hear about how great we are in general because we have all come together to agree that, in 2015, we decline to further glorify the symbol of a bloody insurrection launched in defense of chattel slavery. We rock. We are so very awesome. I give it a couple of weeks before the conventional wisdom congeals that we have 'moved past the controversy' and we can all get back to gutting the Fair Housing Act and undermining voting rights and performing all the rites and rituals that have come to mark the Day of Jubilee." ...

... Oliver Knox of Yahoo News: "President Barack Obama on Friday will deliver the eulogy for pastor and South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims of the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the service." ...

... The White Supremacy Party. Michael Wines & Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "The Council of Conservative Citizens opposes 'all efforts to mix the races,' and believes 'that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character.' It would severely restrict immigration, abolish affirmative action and dismantle the 'imperial judiciary' that produced, among other rulings, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that integrated American education.... Now the massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, S.C., church has propelled the organization, which in recent years seemed in decline, back onto the national stage and embroiled the Republican Party in new questions about its ties to the group." ...

... Olivia Nuzzi & Jon Avlon of the Daily Beast have more on the history of the Council of Conservative Citizens & their friends in high places.

... "The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning." Claudia Rankine in a New York Times front-page essay: "Black Lives Matter, the movement founded by the activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, began with the premise that the incommensurable experiences of systemic racism creates an unequal playing field. The American imagination has never been able to fully recover from its white-supremacist beginnings." ...

     ... CW Correction: Actually, this is a NYT Magazine piece, which the Times had on its online front page, as it often does with Magazine pieces. ...

... Wonders Never Cease. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican presidential candidate from South Carolina, will call on Monday for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state's Capitol, according to a source familiar with his decision. Mr. Graham is expected to make the announcement during a 4 p.m. news conference with Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also expected to call for the flag's removal, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported on Monday. The paper also said South Carolina's other senator, Tim Scott, a Republican, would call for the flag to come down.... Mr. Graham initially said that he would be fine with it being taken down but acknowledged that the flag was 'part of who we are.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Update: Frances Robles, et al., of the New York Times: "Gov. Nikki R. Haley called on Monday for South Carolina to do what just a week ago seemed politically impossible -- remove the Confederate battle flag from its perch in front of the State House building here. She argued that a symbol long revered by many Southerners was for some, after the church massacre in Charleston, a 'deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past.'" ...

... Calculated Rectitude. Eli Stokols & Katie Glueck of Politico: "After a weekend that proved to be a political disaster for the GOP -- Republican presidential candidates were knocked back on their heels..., top party officials and several campaigns quickly fell in line behind the decision to remove the flag. And for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and the state's new Republican Party, the wrenching debate provided an opportunity, both politically and economically.... On Saturday evening..., Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wasn't yet ready to say whether he thought the Confederate flag was a symbol of racism, saying he had been asked by 'a number of people' to hold off on expressing his views. Asked who made that request, Walker replied that he'd spoken with Haley, and suggested she was preparing to take action." ...

... Clay Chandler of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger: "Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said Monday night that the Confederate emblem in the state's official flag has to go.... It's the first time a Mississippi Republican elected official has publicly called for the removal of the emblem that served as the battle flag flown by the Confederate army during the Civil War. Later, it was adopted by anti-Civil Rights groups." ...

... NEW. Nick Gass of Politico: "A day after South Carolina's governor repudiated the Confederate battle flag, the drive to eradicate the divisive Civil War symbol is expanding to new targets. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday said he was taking steps to remove the Confederate flag from his state's license plates, saying the image sends the wrong message to the rest of the world." ...

     ... CW: Luckily, the Supremes just decided that would be cool. ...

... M. J. Lee of CNN: "Walmart and Sears, two of the country's largest retailers, will remove all Confederate flag merchandise from their stores.... As of Monday afternoon, Walmart.com carried the Confederate flag as well as attire featuring the flag's design, such as T-shirts and belt buckles.... [Sears] does not currently sell confederate flags at its stores, Sears Holdings spokesman Chris Brathwaite told CNN." ...

... ** Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic: "The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy.... Over the next few months the word 'heritage' will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.... Nikki Haley deserves credit for calling for the removal of the Confederate flag. She deserves criticism for couching that removal as matter of manners." ...

... Chico Harlan of the Washington Post: "Lee Bright, a South Carolina state senator with a Confederate flag framed above his office sofa, saw his inbox ping with hundreds of e-mails calling for the flag to come down from the statehouse grounds. He said the rebel symbol was threatened by a 'war of political correctness' run amok." ...

... Steve M. has more on Bright. ...

... See also links under Presidential Race below.

Alicia Parlapiano, et al., of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been a conservative court. But even conservative courts have liberal terms -- and the current term is leaning left as it enters its final two weeks. The court has issued liberal decisions in 54 percent of the cases in which it had announced decisions as of June 22, according to the Supreme Court Database, using a widely accepted standard developed by political scientists." CW: Don't count on it. These "liberal" decisions, including the a possible upcoming opinion upholding same-sex marriage as a Constitutional right, may be designed to provide cover for whacking the ACA. ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... many [Republicans] say they are gleeful that the court may do with a single decision what Republican lawmakers could not accomplish in five years: cripple one of [President] Obama's signature achievements. 'This is the beginning of the end of the Affordable Care Act,' Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview." ...

... Mark Blumenthal & Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post on why so many Americans dislike ObamaCare: "... people are holding the law responsible for all of the problems of the health care system -- including those like rising deductibles, narrowing hospital networks, or even long waits at the doctor's office that most experts believe have little or nothing to do with the law itself.... Many people assume the Affordable Care Act is to blame (or, in some cases, to thank) for the changes they are seeing. By enacting such sweeping legislation, Obama and his allies tied their law to everything that happens in health care -- good and bad and in between."

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a Depression-era government program that allows the government to take raisins from growers to boost market prices is an unconstitutional taking of private property. The court ruled 8 to 1 that the government could not take the raisins without adequate compensation.... Justices will issue more opinions on Thursday and Friday, and end their work for the term next week." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "President Obama scrambled for votes Monday as Democratic support trickled in for his trade agenda, despite strong pressure from unions."

CW: I couldn't agree more with Larry Wilmore. A number of media outlets -- not just Fox "News" -- led their stories on Marc Maron's interview of the President with the "big news" that Obama had used the word "nigger," which, in context, was both appropriate & unremarkable.

Scott Wong of the Hill: "A band of House conservatives is discussing whether to retaliate against GOP leaders for punishing rank-and-file lawmakers who voted against a procedural vote on trade earlier this month. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of several conservatives targeted by leadership, said members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus will discuss whether to block legislation or try once again to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) from power."

Ovetta Wiggins & Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "An emotional Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan disclosed Monday that he has been diagnosed with late stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he called 'a very advanced and very aggressive' form of cancer."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jack Mirkinson in Salon on "the racist insanity of 'Meet the Press' ... We had no right to expect better from a show that represents one of the most entrenched bastions of whiteness in the media world today. If you're looking for a symbol of why that world is in desperate, immediate need of a diversity shakeup, you would be hard-pressed to find one better than Sunday's 'Meet the Press,' because when you have more kinds of people around the table, you're more likely to avoid monumentally stupid screw-ups like the one Chuck Todd just made." CW: I can't get over Todd's idiocy. Also, too, great choice to invite David Brooks to contribute to the panel discussion. As Mirkinson notes, "If Charleston isn't enough for 'Meet The Press' to bump David Brooks, what in God's name is?"

Presidential Race

Profiles in Cowardice (and Outright Racism). Philip Rucker & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "The Republican [presidential] hopefuls mostly stammered and stumbled in response to the shootings [in Charleston, S.C.]. At first, some resisted calling the massacre racially motivated, only to reverse course when it became obvious it was. Most stopped short of calling for South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia. Some, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, declined to comment at all. Only after South Carolina's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, emotionally declared Monday that the flag should come down did most GOP candidates join the chorus. Some also lacked sensitivity. Sen. Ted Cruz joked Friday -- less than two days after the slayings -- that in his home state of Texas, gun control means 'hitting what you aim at.' The next day, he campaigned at a shooting range. Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, by contrast, has forcefully initiated a conversation about race and bigotry in recent days." ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared on Tuesday that racism had been solved.... 'I keep hearing people saying we need more conversations about race,' the former Arkansas governor opined. 'Actually we don't need more conversations. What we need is conversions because the reconciliations that changes people is not a racial reconciliation, it's a spiritual reconciliation when people are reconciled to God.... It's solved!'" ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "... Mike Huckabee once refused to give a speech to the group that inspired alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, but he did send them a videotaped message." After the Arkansas media got wind of Huckabee's planned speech to the racist organization, he begged off, saying, 'I will not share the stage or platform with someone who thinks the Holocaust didn't happen." CW: But no problem with the group's white supremacist mission.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Dick Van Patten, the genial, round-faced comic actor who premiered on Broadway as a child, starred on television in its infancy and then, in middle age, found lasting fame as the patriarch on TV's 'Eight is Enough,' has died."

New York Times: "The husband of a prison employee who is accused of aiding two convicted killers in their escape said the inmates threatened to kill him if she did not follow through with their getaway plan. In his first extensive remarks on the escape, the husband, Lyle Mitchell, told the 'Today' show on NBC in an interview televised on Tuesday that his wife, Joyce E. Mitchell, was drawn to the inmates by the 'attention' they gave her, but that she realized she was in over her head when they began threatening to hurt him." CW: This is mighty different from the first stories that came out, which suggested that Joyce Mitchell agreed to help the convicts on condition they would murder her husband. No way to know, I guess.

Washington Post: "James Horner, an Academy Award-winning composer best known for scoring the 1997 blockbuster 'Titanic,' is missing and feared dead after one of his planes crashed in Southern California on Monday." ...

... Hollywood Reporter: "James Horner, the consummate film composer known for his heart-tugging scores for Field of Dreams, Braveheart and Titanic, for which he won two Academy Awards, died Monday in a plane crash near Santa Barbara. He was 61. His death was confirmed by Sylvia Patrycja, who is identified on Horner's film music page as his assistant." (CW Note: the Hollywood Reporter piece predates the WashPo story.)

Sunday
Jun212015

The Commentariat -- June 22, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a Depression-era government program that allows the government to take raisins from growers to boost market prices is an unconstitutional taking of private property. The court ruled 8 to 1 that the government could not take the raisins without adequate compensation.... Justices will issue more opinions on Thursday and Friday, and end their work for the term next week."

Wonders Never Cease. Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican presidential candidate from South Carolina, will call on Monday for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state's Capitol.... Mr. Graham is expected to make the announcement during a 4 p.m. news conference with Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also expected to call for the flag's removal, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported on Monday. The paper also said South Carolina's other senator, Tim Scott, a Republican, would call for the flag to come down.... Mr. Graham initially said that he would be fine with it being taken down but acknowledged that the flag was 'part of who we are.'"

The Supremes will be issuing some orders & at least one opinion this morning. ScotusBlog is liveblogging the proceedings, beginning at 9 am ET. ...

... UPDATE: No huge opinions today. One important Fourth Amendment case -- Patel. Still waiting to find out when the Court will meet next.

NEW: Michael Shear & Christine Hauser of the New York Times: "... President Obama said the legacy of slavery still 'casts a long shadow' on American life, and he said that choosing not to say the word 'nigger' in public does not eliminate racism from society. In a wide-ranging conversation about race, including his own upbringing as a man born to a black father and a white woman, Mr. Obama insisted that there was no question that race relations have improved in his lifetime. But he also said that racism was still deeply embedded in the United States. 'The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow, and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on,' the president said during an interview for Marc Maron's 'WTF' podcast that was released on Monday." Maron's interview is here. His pages are very slow-loaders today, so I didn't have time to wait for the page to come up. The Website's front page is here. ...

... DeNeen Brown & Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "Emanuel AME Church swung open its doors for services Sunday, four days after a 21-year-old white man who told police he wanted 'to start a race war' allegedly killed the pastor and eight congregants attending a Bible study in the church basement. Hundreds lined up in the hot Charleston sun to climb the stairs to the sanctuary of 'Mother Emanuel,' one of the country's oldest African American churches and one with a rich history of resilience." ...

... "The Home of Racism." Paul Lewis & Oliver Laughland of the Guardian: "The prisoner in cell 1140B at Charleston County detention center is Michael Slager, 33, the North Charleston police officer who was charged with murder 10 weeks ago, after video footage surfaced showing him shooting a black man, Walter Scott, in the back as he fled, unarmed. On Thursday, Slager was joined in the Administrative Segregation Unit by Dylann Roof, less than 48 hours after the 21-year-old allegedly walked into a historically black church in the city, prayed with worshipers and then opened fire." ...

... ** Yoni Appelbaum of the Atlantic: "It was in Charleston, South Carolina that the fiery secessionist Edmund Ruffin fired the first shot of the war. And on June 17, 1865 -- exactly 150 years before the Charleston attacks -- Ruffin learned of the South's surrender, reportedly wrapped himself in a Confederate flag, and then took his own life rather than accept defeat. Those, like Roof, who now want a secessionist banner of their own can order one from the Ruffin Flag Company.... [The history of the confederate flag] is not seriously contested.... The flag was created by an army raised to kill in defense of slavery, revived by a movement that killed in defense of segregation, and now flaunted by a man who killed nine innocents in defense of white supremacy." CW: See also Presidential Race below. ...

... E. J. Dionne: "If this history is all about yesteryear, why does South Carolina continue to fly the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of its state Capitol?... And remember: The flag was put up in 1962 as the civil rights movement gained strength. White supremacy is central to the flag's heritage." ...

** ..."Original Sin." Paul Krugman: "... the racial divide is still a defining feature of our political economy, the reason America is unique among advanced nations in its harsh treatment of the less fortunate and its willingness to tolerate unnecessary suffering among its citizens.... Political scientist Larry Bartels ... showed that the working-class turn against Democrats wasn't a national phenomenon -- it was entirely restricted to the South.... Race made Reaganism possible.... [A second study, by conservative writers,] concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People.... More than 80 percent of the population in [ACA] Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War." ...

... Dylann Roof, Global Terrorist. Morris Dees & Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a New York Times op-ed: "When, according to survivors, Mr. Roof told the victims at the prayer meeting that black people were 'taking over the country,' he was expressing sentiments that unite white nationalists from the United States and Canada to Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Unlike those of the civil rights era, whose main goal was to maintain Jim Crow in the American South, today's white supremacists don't see borders; they see a white tribe under attack by people of color across the globe." ...

     ... See also yesterday's Commentariat, re: FBI Director James Comey's remarkable cluelessness. ...

... Over on Breitbart, someone called AWR Hawkins helpfully explains that the reason mass murderers target churches & schools instead of NRA meetings is that people in churches & schools aren't likely to be armed. So forget all the other links above. Hawkins has the key. Wonder if s/he has any idea that the NRA does in fact commonly restrict or ban guns at their meetings. ...

... What if you're a black person & the volunteer fireman charged with rescuing you from a burning building thinks murdering black people is a "good deed"?

Reed Abelson of the New York Times: "Their industry already upended with the passage of the federal health care law, insurance companies are facing another upheaval if the Supreme Court rules that millions of Americans are not eligible for subsidies to help defray the cost of their coverage."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama, whose cool, no-drama style has for years set him apart from the extroverted politicians so common in Washington, has been getting emotional lately. It has happened at the White House and on Capitol Hill as he makes the case for parts of his legacy that are at risk, like his health care law and trade agenda, or when he speaks about slain hostages, civilians killed by drones and racially motivated shootings."

The Enforcers. Matt Fuller of Roll Call: "After three conservative House Republicans were kicked off the whip team as a result of voting against a rule for trade legislation on June 11, a new round of punishment is being meted out: Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz has taken away the gavel of Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows."

Reuters: "People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday."

Ian Traynor & John Hooper of the Guardian: "Greece's international creditors are aiming to strike a deal to stop Athens defaulting on its debt and possibly tumbling out of the euro by extending its bailout by six months and supplying up to €18bn (£12.9bn) in rescue funds. The negotiators representing Greece's lenders are also proposing to pledge debt relief for the austerity-battered country -- but officials stressed that a breakthrough hinged on a positive response from the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras."

Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Sunday rebuffed the French idea of restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with international support and the backing of a United Nations Security Council resolution."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd., NBC Racist Edition. Samantha Page of Think Progress: "While the country -- and South Carolina, in particular -- is once again debating racism in America, NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday offered a video of men in prison expressing regret for their own gun violence. All of the men in the video are black. The segment was part of Sunday's show, which focused on the recent killing of nine black people at a bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina.... '... we simply ask you to look at this as a colorblind issue,'" host Chuck Todd said. Emphasis added. Includes video. ...

... Chuck Todd's Idea of a Mea Culpa: Um, we put this together before a white guy shot & killed nine people in church. We discussed not airing it in light of the massacre, but decided what the hell. No use wasting great footage. "I hope folks view the gun video as a part of the conversation we should all be having and not the totality of it." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "Are there no black people working in positions of authority at NBC? I mean, seriously. Just one black friend is all he needed to tell him how fucking tone deaf and stupid it would be to show this THIS weekend."

... digby: "I honestly don't know what to say.... What in the world was he thinking talking about it in the context of black murderers when we haven't even buried the 9 people who were gunned down by a white supremacist? Good lord."

Presidential Race

Party of the Confederacy. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Even after online pictures of the suspect in the massacre, Dylann Roof, holding the Confederate flag and a gun surfaced on Saturday, none of the [Republican presidential] candidates who appeared on Sunday's political television programs were willing to say flatly whether it should continue to fly at the South Carolina Capitol. The most prominent Democratic contender, Hillary Rodham Clinton, said in 2007 that the flag should be removed." ...

... Party of Avowed Racists. Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "The leader of a rightwing group that Dylann Roof allegedly credits with helping to radicalise him against black people before Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum. Earl Holt has given $65,000 to Republican campaign funds in recent years while inflammatory remarks -- including that black people were 'the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world' -- were posted online in his name." ...

... Here's a New York Times update by Eric Lichtblau: Cruz said he would return Holt's campaign donations. ...

... Steve M. has more on Earl Holt, his disgusting views, & the many GOP candidates he's backed with bucks.

News Ledes

New York Times: "DNA matching that of two escaped killers was found in a cabin in the remote resort of Mountain View, N.Y., 15 heavily wooded miles west of the state prison in Dannemora, an official briefed on the investigation said on Monday morning.... The forensic evidence indicated that the men had been there within the last 48 hours.... A pair of prison-issued underwear was also found in the cabin...."

The New York Times has a "breaking news" banner that the U.N. has found that both Israel & Palestine may be guilty of war crimes. No story as of 7:35 am ET. ...

     ... Update: "A United Nations investigation found 'serious violations of international humanitarian law' that 'may amount to war crimes' by both Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during their bloody battle last summer, according to a report released on Monday in Geneva."

Washington Post: "A key Army commander in the U.S. war against the Islamic State has been reprimanded by the Pentagon for steering a defense contract to a firm run by two of his former classmates at West Point, becoming the latest high-ranking officer to land in trouble for personal misconduct. Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, who as the Army's deputy commander for operations in the Middle East oversaw the training of Iraqi forces, was formally reprimanded in February after a three-year investigation by the Army's inspector general."

Washington Post: "Walter Scheib, the 61-year-old former White House executive chef who had been missing in New Mexico's rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains for more than a week, was discovered dead late Sunday night by a search and rescue crew."

Sunday
Jun212015

Ceasefire

CW: Kate Madison wrote this comment today. I'm repurposing it as a post for reasons that will be obvious when you read it.

 

By Kate Madison

Picking up on the gun control comment section of yesterday: I am a member of Central Coast Oregon Ceasefire--a local group of gun control activists (mostly women, ahem!), which is affiliated with the Oregon chapter, and more loosely with the national chapter. We are said to be the most active and involved local chapter in the nation, and I believe it.

First of all, Central Coast Oregon is "purple," thanks to the old hippies who live in Newport--but we are in the middle of Bright Red 2nd Amendment crazies. We sponsored a gun "buy-back" in Newport in April, but changed the title to gun "turn-in" when the local police got nervous. We held our "turn-in" at the Newport Police Station, under the direction of the Police Chief. CCCO members were not allowed to touch the guns being turned in (for vouchers at local businesses), which would be melted down to sell. So we kept track of the number of guns--an amazing 345, in a small city of 12,000--and issued the vouchers. I was one of the volunteers and I learned a lot about tragedy and crazy.

First of all, when I arrived at the Police Station on a chilly, rainy Saturday AM, there were already over 100 people waiting on the steps for the Police Dept. to open. These were the "protesters," who had come from not just Oregon--but Nevada, Idaho, Montana and even Wyoming--to meet people who had come to turn in their guns-- before they got in the doors--and to offer them a higher price. They carried posters which touted the 2nd amendment, and portrayed us as "Pussies on Crime, etc." (As I walked in, they chanted, whistled and gave obscene gestures.) I felt like an employee at an abortion clinic in Kansas.

That we actually got 345 guns is nothing short of amazing, because these protesters were quite verbal and pushy with people trying to get in the doors. I talked with all of them, and every person turning in a gun referred to personal experience with gun violence. One person had accidentally shot and killed a friend while cleaning his gun. All had become believers in the necessity of strict gun control and felt hopeless about our government ever doing the right thing.

I tell you this, because I am a believer, obviously, in the necessity of gun control and will continue my work against most odds--except in Oregon. We are lucky right now to have a Democratic governor and a totally Democratic legislature--albeit with a lot of Blue Dogs. Two weeks ago they passed a Universal Background Checks bill and this week a Domestic Violence bill (which includes banning gun possession by abusers). Our Democratic representative joined our Ceasefire celebration last Sunday and regaled us with stories about the hate mail he has received--from all over the U.S.

However.....this is a start. I am not hopeful that this legislation will be the answer to gun violence in Oregon, but it is a beginning. The sad part to me is that it has taken a completely Democratic controlled state to get ANYTHING passed.

America is to me the land of deliberately missing the point. Sad.