The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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.

Wednesday
Oct222014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 23, 2014

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

November Elections

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."

Presidential Election

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."

News Ledes

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."

Tuesday
Oct212014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 22, 2014

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "The Obama administration has announced America's first Ebola-related travel restrictions, forcing passengers originating from affected countries in west Africa to fly via US airports with screening procedures in place. The limited move comes after days of mounting political pressure to introduce outright travel bans on such passengers entering the US, but will instead make sure all recent travellers to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea are subject to basic tests for fever and face questioning on possible exposure to the disease." ...

     ... Here's the statement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York reports on some of "the most ignorant" Ebola panic episodes. ...

... This lady got the materials for her homemade hazmat outfit at J. C. Penney's. Luckily, no Ebola carriers spit on her exposed wrists. That we know of. ...

... Rachel Abrams of the New York Times: "Major manufacturers of personal protective equipment say they have already experienced a significant spike in demand for their products, as hospitals across the country brace for potential new cases of Ebola, which has already killed more than 4,500 people." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "The Dallas hospital that has treated three Ebola patients will no longer admit anyone who has been infected with the disease, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday. Texas health officials are creating a pair of new Ebola treatment centers to handle any additional cases. Neither of those facilities are at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which has been heavily criticized for its flawed care of the country's first Ebola patient." ...

     ... CW: Perry might have acted sooner to establish these treatment centers, but he was out of the country giving speeches about American exceptionalism. ...

... NBC News: "Ashoka Mukpo, the cameraman diagnosed with Ebola while working in Liberia as a freelancer for NBC News, has been declared free of the virus and will be allowed to leave a biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center on Wednesday, the hospital said Tuesday."

Washington Post Editors: Recent studies have found that mountaintop-removal mining not only has adverse environmental consequences for vast areas surrounding the operations but also creates killing health conditions. "The EPA is right to move more firmly to protect health and environment."

Erica Werner of the AP: "A new government investigation questions a bizarre Secret Service mission that pulled agents from their assignment near the White House and sent them to the rural Maryland home of a headquarters employee embroiled in a personal dispute with a neighbor. The report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general calls the conduct 'problematic,' and says that the employee's friendship with high-level Secret Service officials creates the appearance it was motivated by personal relations 'rather than furthering official government functions.'"

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett in the American Conservative: President "Obama has governed as a moderate conservative -- essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today." ...

     ... CW: Bartlett ticks off a list of Obama's conservative policy preferences, all of which I've pointed out over the years. In a world where Congressional Republicans weren't crazed, hateful ideologues, Obama would have overseen the enactment of a lot of fairly conservative legislation, but some of it -- educational enhancements, job training, infrastructure improvement, immigration reform, stricter across-the-board regulation, etc. -- would have benefited some lower- & middle-class people. And we all would be living in a better economy. The Party of No has proved to the greatest American shame (& sham) of the past half-century.

Annals of Journalism

Robert Kaiser of the Washington Post: "Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post's transformation into one of the world's leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93." ...

... The New York Times' obituary of Bradlee is here. ...

A letter from a WashPo reader, ca. 1977, to editor Katherine Graham:

Dear Mrs. Graham:

Messrs. Eugene Meyer and Philip L. Graham must be turning over in their graves because of the way you are dragging down what used to be a wonderful newspaper.

In my humble opinion, I think the persons really responsible for the Washington Post's decline are Benjamin C. Bradlee and Philip L. Geyelin.

Beneath it was Ben’s response:

Dear Mr. Dodderidge:

Your letter to Mrs. Graham reminded me of the story about W. C. Fields sitting with a drink in his hand in his garden one afternoon.

His secretary interrupted him repeatedly to tell him that a strange man wanted to see him and refused to say what he wanted to see him about. Finally Fields told his secretary to give the man 'an equivocal answer -- tell him to go fuck himself.'

Via Jeff Himmelman, in New York.

In a Time essay, Jill Abramson remembers Bradlee.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

The Anti-Cronkite -- The Least Trusted Man in News. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they don't trust Rush Limbaugh when it comes to news about government and politics, giving the radio personality the highest untrustworthiness rating of 36 news sources included in a recent Pew Research Center Study. Americans overall are three times more likely to say they distrust Limbaugh than to say they trust him." ...

... Amy Mitchell, et al., of Pew Research: "When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study." ...

... Paul Waldman: "One of the distinct things about the Pew results is that conservatives love, love, love Fox News, while no single news outlet has the same kind of near-universal use among liberals." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... assessing the importance of Fox News involves more than just looking at ratings. Its extraordinary central role in 'informing' the ideological 'base' of one of the country's two major political parties is unparalleled."

CW: You might like to read Driftglass on Brooks to remind yourself why you don't read David Brooks' columns. The gist of it: once again Brooks faults the breakdown of society for our most recent ill -- this time, Ebola panic -- without every acknowledging that (a) prominent members of his beloved Republican party, along with the rank-and-file wacko-birds, have been feeding the flames of fear for political advantage, or (b) that a dysfunctional society (this week Brooks is blaming "segmented society") is, in part, the result of GOP policies.

CW: I'm quite supportive of James Risen of the New York Times in his troubles with the Obama administration, which for years has been pressuring him in myriad ways -- including threats of criminal prosecution -- to reveal his sources in a chapter of his book (a story he originally wrote for the Times, which the Times decided not to publish) about a CIA plan to sabotage Iran's nuclear program. While this should not affect Risen's righteous First Amendment beef with the DOJ, it's worth noting that Risen isn't as concerned about other people's rights as he is his own. Risen -- along with Jeff Gerth, who "broke" the Whitewater story & whose reporting on that has since been largely discredited -- fingered Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee as a Chinese spy based on "slim evidence, quick conclusions and loyalty to sources with an ax to grind," as Eric Boehlert wrote in Salon in 2000: "... the entire premise of the New York Times' early news reports and strident editorials -- proclaiming that a Chinese-American scientist inside Los Alamos had given away nuclear secrets that had dramatically helped China improve its arsenal, and that the Clinton administration could have stopped it but chose not to -- had turned out to be flat wrong." Eric Holder was a top DOJ guy in the Clinton administration. I wonder if the grief the government is giving Risen now is payback for the embarrassing -- & expensive -- rabbit hole down which Risen's reporting led federal law enforcement agencies.

** Fred Kaplan of Slate: "If all I knew about Edward Snowden were his portrait in Laura Poitras' documentary, Citizenfour, I'd probably regard him as a conscientious, brave young man, maybe an American hero. But Poitras, a very talented filmmaker who flipped from journalist to collaborator in this story long ago, has chosen to leave a lot out."


Greg Miller
of the Washington Post: "Former CIA director Leon E. Panetta clashed with the agency over the contents of his recently published memoir and allowed his publisher to begin editing and making copies of the book before he had received final approval from the CIA.... Panetta's decision appears to have put him in violation of the secrecy agreement that all CIA employees are required to sign and came amid a showdown with agency reviewers that could have derailed the release of the book...." CW: Evidently Panetta was in a hurry to get the book out before the midterms.

November Elections

Vote Early. The POTUS might give you a smooch:

... P.S. No matter who you are, you will be asked for ID:

Worse than the Poll Tax. Jonathan Chait: "... the costs of contemporary voter I.D. requirements, even in inflation-adjusted terms, is many times the level of the poll taxes that existed before they were outlawed in 1964." CW: Read the whole post. Chait has a lot more to say about voter suppression, but this factoid jumped out at me. ...

... Matthew McKnight of the New Yorker on the Supreme Court's decision to allow Texas to impose a discriminatory voter suppression law: "... this moment, of threatened voting rights and judicial obscurity, presents a paradox: the strongest tool that citizens possess is being made impotent by the government officials who are most immune to the power of the vote."

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch profiles "five Republican Congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled 'establishment,' some 'Tea Party,' but all are emblematic of the party's strong turn to the right." One is worse than the next.

Florida. Nah-ne-na-nah-ni. You're too rich. No, you're too privileged. Charlie Crist & Rick Scott "debate." Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Scott's net worth was more than $132 million last year Crist's was $1.2 million." Steve Bousquet & Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald & Tampa Bay Times: "For a live hour on CNN and in TV stations across Florida, Scott and Crist disagreed, distorted each others' records and exchanged insults."

Georgia. Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post: "Republican David Perdue, the Georgia businessman running for U.S. Senate, has as much as $1 million invested in an exclusive fund managed by a Swiss private bank -- a rarefied investment strategy that has earned him between $100,000 and $1 million since 2012." Via Greg Sargent. CW: Please, Georgia media, pick up this story. Nobody likes a tax cheat.

Iowa. Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: At a campaign event with Donald Trump, Rep. Steve King (RTP-Iowa) "went on a long tirade claiming that America is becoming 'a third-world country' because of 'the things that are coming at us from across the border,' including illegal drugs, Central American children of 'prime gang recruitment age,' ISIS, a childhood respiratory illness that has spread in recent weeks, and the Ebola virus. The ISIS and respiratory disease claims are based on unsubstantiated reports in the right-wing media, while there is absolutely no link between border enforcement and Ebola or the Oklahoma beheading incident."

New Hampshire. Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe: "... incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown engaged in a fiery debate. Shaheen attacked Brown ... as someone driven by his own ambition rather than a desire to serve New Hampshire residents.... Brown painted Shaheen as a lockstep partisan, tying her to President Obama, who has grown unpopular in New Hampshire." OR, as Greg Sargent puts it, "Brown robotically repeat[ed] Obummer-Obummer-Obummer talking points."

North Carolina. Greg Sargent: GOP Senate nominee Thom "Tillis is now suggesting that North Carolina should consider opting in to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Which is funny, because during the GOP primary, he ran an ad boasting that as state House speaker, he had 'stopped Obamacare's Medicaid expansion cold.'"

Wisconsin. I don't want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife. -- RNC co-chair Sharon Day, who might not be as sharp as a knife

Presidential Election

Another Potential GOP Presidential Candidate Is "Tired of Hearing about the Minimum Wage." This week, it's Chris Christie (who told it to the fat cats at a Chamber of Commerce event.) Last week it was Scott Walker. (And of course Walker's sidekick, the state's GOP attorney general nominee Brad Schimel, reflecting Scottie's "values," thinks minimum wage jobs are not "real jobs.") CW: It all makes sense, see? If you don't have a "real job," you don't merit a "real living wage." You have to be satisfied with the fake one the Walker administration came up with: $7.25/hour. Never mind that researchers have calculated that a minimum living wage in Madison is $21/hour, or almost three times the Walker claim. It's all fake, see -- your job, their calculation. That's the way it is in Right Wing World, where their perception is your reality. ...

... Tim Alberta of the National Journal: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched a preemptive strike Tuesday against some potential Republican rivals for the White House, saying the 'experiment' of promoting a lawmaker to president has failed -- and arguing that Republicans must nominate a governor in 2016.... The remarks may well represent Christie's most forceful intra-party offensive to date, a preemptive and unprompted attack against unnamed 'legislators' -- including Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz -- who almost certainly will be competing with him in 2016." ...

... CW: Christie, like Joni Ernst, says, "Pain will be involved. Some people will be unhappy" under his governance. It's hard not to notice a decided sadistic strain running through Republican political philosophy. Both Ernst & Christie describe the pain they intend to inflict upon their constituents as a demonstration of strength: Ernst uses the term "intestinal fortitude"; Christie sees hurting people as a measure of "leadership": "It's time to start offending people," he boasts. "I don't care if I'm loved; I want to be respected."

Ron Paul, Still Marching to His Own Drummer. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Ron Paul on Monday said that calls for a ban on travel from West African countries affected by Ebola are primarily 'politically motivated' -- just days after his son Sen. Rand Paul announced his support for one."

Beyond the Beltway

Preying on the Poor. Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Over the last two years, lawmakers in at least eight states have voted to increase the fees or the interest rates that lenders can charge on certain personal loans used by millions of borrowers with subpar credit. The overhaul of the state lending laws comes after a lobbying push by the consumer loan industry and a wave of campaign donations to state lawmakers." CW: No, these legislators have no shame. They're just as bad as the usurers themselves.

Charles Pierce adds some historical context to the (Allegedly) Felonious Mike story out of Alabama, with more than a cameo appearance of Karl Rove. One thing that unites the GOP establishment in these red states -- they are all dirty rotten scoundrels. ...

... Ferinstance. Lauren McGaughy of the Houston Chronicle: "Former David Dewhurst [R] campaign manager Kenneth 'Buddy' Barfield is facing up to 28 years in prison and millions in fines and restitution payments after pleading guilty Tuesday to embezzling nearly $1.8 million from the outgoing lieutenant governor's failed 2012 bid for U.S. Senate. Appearing before a federal judge, Barfield pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, filing a false tax return and embezzlement. While he faces a maximum of 28 years in prison, seven years supervised release and fines, his ultimate sentence will be determined by a district court judge at a later date." Barfield now lives in Alabama.

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The St. Louis medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, who is not part of the official investigation [into Michael Brown's death], reviewed the autopsy report for the newspaper. He said Tuesday that it 'does support that there was a significant altercation at the car.'... Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said the autopsy 'supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.' She added, 'If he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he's going for the officer's gun.' Sources told the Post-Dispatch that Brown's blood had been found on [Officer Darren] Wilson's gun. Melinek also said the autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up."

This is the Palin family explaining to the cops what-all happened in the Palin family's Saturday night brawl. Also illustrates that cops do earn their pay. The accounts -- if you can make them out -- differ radically from what other witnesses said, no doubt because the truth is what you will in Right Wing World. Also, describing a fist fight requires a whole lotta swearing & yelling & interrupting everybody else:

... Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch News has a lot more. "Real America" turns out to be a horrible place.

News Ledes

Hill: "The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters took possession of a stray bundle of U.S.-airdropped weapons and other supplies in the Syrian border town of Kobani earlier this week."

New York Times: "The heart of the Canadian capital [Ottawa] was traumatized and placed in emergency police lockdown on Wednesday after a gunman fatally wounded a soldier guarding the National War Memorial, entered the nearby Parliament building and fired multiple times before he was shot and killed. It was the second deadly assault on a uniformed member of Canada's armed forces in three days. While the motive was unclear, the Ottawa attack heightened fears that Canada, a strong ally of the United States, had been targeted in an organized terrorist plot." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities. Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a 'high-risk traveller' by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized -- the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car." The page includes links to related stories. ...

... Here's the Guardian's live feed.

Guardian: "A three-month old baby was killed and eight other people wounded in Jerusalem -- one seriously -- in what Israel police are describing as a 'terrorist attack' in which a speeding car drove onto a pavement crowded with pedestrians alighting from the city's light railway. Video footage posted on social media appears to show a car on the main road slowing slightly before crossing to the train tracks and climbing on to the station pavement and ploughing through the people standing on it."

Monday
Oct202014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 21, 2014

Frank Rich on "Why the Future We Imagined in 1964 Was Wrong in Pretty Much Every Way" -- Thanks to MAG for the link.

** Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker interviews President Obama on the subject of his judicial legacy. A consequential essay & a pleasure to read.

Jamie Dettmer of the Daily Beast: "While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists.... The aid -- mainly food and medical equipment -- is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European [sic.]. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship."

Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "Indiana will cut tens of thousands of its poorest people off of the food stamps roles beginning next spring, the state announced. Gov. Mike Pence (R) has decided to join seven other states in reinstating work requirements for food stamps despite being eligible for a federal waiver from those rules for the coming fiscal year.... Gov. John Kasich ...(R-Ohio) retained the SNAP work waivers for 16 of the state's 88 counties but reinstated work rules in the counties that house the majority of the state's minority population. Food stamps recipients in the counties that continue to enjoy waivers are 94 percent white...." Read the whole post. ...

... CW Note: Kasich has reinvented himself as a "compassionate conservati[ve], with strong religious overtones." Apparently strongly-religious conservatives have compassion only for white people. BTW, when Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote about Kasich's compassionate conservatism, in a highly favorable article published last week, he neglected to mention anything about Kasich's racially-biased food-stamp move even though news of Kasich's controversial food-stamp maneuver -- which he pulled more than a year ago -- has been well-publicized & is the subject of a civil rights lawsuit. Kasich is a shoo-in for re-election in November. His Democratic challenger Ed Fitzgerald is the Worst Democratic Candidate Ever. ...

... Gaffe. Greg Sargent highlights Kasich's accidental endorsement of ObamaCare:

The opposition to it [ObamaCare] was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives. -- Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio)...

     ... Sargent: "Now, perhaps recognizing how lethal this is to his hopes in upcoming GOP presidential primaries, Kasich has rushed to clean up the mess.... The truly revealing thing about Kasich's comments was ... that he admitted the law has made 'real improvements in people's lives.' And even in his effort to clean up his comments, he again implicitly admitted this to be the case, claiming he supports Obamacare's general goals but not the ACA itself."

Digby notes that Jim Crow will be returning to the Supreme Court this term, in the form of a challenge to the Fair Housing Act. There's a good chance Jim will win an important round in his never-ending quest to subjugate black Americans. ...

... ** Read Jamelle Bouie's full column on "the next assault on civil rights," which digby cites. Bouie really nails the conservative Supremes. ...

... CW: George W. Bush usually gets a pass on race -- including from me -- because he isn't a Jeff Sessions kind of racist. I believe Bush has actual black friends, not the Tom Corbett-Photoshopped kind. But Bush put two nasty boys on the Supreme Court -- and the same type of fellows on many lower-courts, too -- which, even as the ideological balance of the courts tip left, will put the stamp of racial discrimination on our judicial system for decades to come. Conservatism itself has turned out to be a petulant, subversive form of racism & promoter of economic inequality, whose "free-market values" are a pretense for prejudice & oppression. Conservatives may dress their shibboleth respectably, but it is wearing filthy underwear.

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Republican leaders, conceding the futility of a flight ban from Ebola-afflicted West Africa, are refining their response to the outbreak, pressing to suspend visas for travelers and create 'no boarding' lists." ...

... But What about Marco? Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) plans to introduce legislation banning travel between the U.S. and three West African countries hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus, his office announced Monday." CW: If there's a bad idea out there, if there's a knee-jerk crazy reaction to a crisis, if there's a chance to knock the president, if there's an opportunity to capitalize on Americans' fears -- count on Marco to milk it for all it's worth. ...

     ... The Times' Weisman sort of implies Marco's folly is a feint: "In reality, Republicans are not planning a legislative response, at least for now, Republican leadership aides said Monday. They merely want their voices heard." ...

... Our elected Republican representatives explain why you should expect to contract Ebola. The already-disembodied guy warning of "liquified internal organs" is Rep. Mike Kelly (RTP-Pa.), & the zombie fella there is Rep. Blake "Pajama Boy" Farenthold (RTP-Texas):

Anna Palmer & Rachel Bade of Politico: "Federal law enforcement officials are taking an ISIL threat against Michele Bachmann so seriously that Capitol Police have given the Minnesota Republican her own security detail. An online threat against Bachmann emerged recently, according to multiple law enforcement officials...."

Reuters: "Monica Lewinsky, the one-time White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton in the 1990s nearly brought down his presidency, has described herself as one of the first victims of cyberbullying and vowed to help others survive the 'shame game' of public humiliation. In a rare public appearance Lewinsky spoke at Forbes' inaugural 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia, saying her depiction in the media -- as a constant punchline for late-night comedians and fuel for internet gossip -- destroyed her sense of self." CW: Affair? I don't think the honor of giving the prez a few blow jobs constitutes an "affair."

Dana Milbank: On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases at the NIH, offered a big wet kiss to deficit hawks & contradicted his boss Francis Collins when he did. Fauci said, contra Collins, that if the NIH had all the funding it wanted they still might not have an Ebola vaccine today....

     ... CW: One would think these big shots, who may not be polished polticians, would at least know how to be a bit more diplomatic when they go on national teevee. It's not that Chuck Todd is a tough questioner who backed Fauci into a corner. ...

     ... Much of the right has claimed that the "real reason" the NIH hasn't worked harder on developing an Ebola vaccine is that it wastes your taxpayer dollars studying bike paths & other more frivolous concerns. But that's bull. A significant reason the NIH did not prioritize work on an Ebola vaccine is that until last month, Ebola was an illness mostly confined to West Africa. The representatives of the people would rather the NIH & other government-funded health agencies prioritize issues here at home. This is not necessarily foolish. However, this inward-looking orientation can sometimes have unintended consequences -- like a localized epidemic elsewhere spreading worldwide. As Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's thread, the spread of Ebola -- and the failure of the U.S. government to fully address it -- is a riff on the spread of AIDS, which also started on the African continent, probably in the 1960s.

CW: Should you be inclined to fault me for almost never watching the Sunday talk shows, I shall allow Charles Pierce to defend me. His report on this week's goings-on is all I need. Had I watched any of them, I would have smashed a perfectly good teevee.

November Elections

CW: The next couple of weeks will be gruesome for progressives. So I'll be ignoring some of the bad-news polls -- there will be plenty -- and concentrating on less depressing stuff.

Alex Roarty of the National Journal: "... in several key races, a national political climate driven by the president's unpopularity has been eclipsed locally by a less-Republican friendly attitude. It's turning once-predicable contests into some of the country's most competitive battles, and it's a key difference between this midterm election and many of its recent predecessors."

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post knocks his fellow Republicans' hubris: "Republicans are susceptible to the myth of the midterm mandate. Midterm elections generally express unhappiness, not aspiration. But some conservatives took the 2010 result as an ideological turning point. They concluded that Obama's 2008 victory was an anomaly -- that the country, deep down, was really on the Republican side. It was a false dawn.... At the presidential level, the GOP brand is offensive to many rising demographic groups. Republicans are often perceived as indifferent to working-class struggles (because they sometimes are). The GOP appeal seems designed for a vanishing electorate."

Florida. Mark Caputo of the Miami Herald: "Rick Scott ad: Obama backs Crist. Next Scott ad: water is wet."

Georgia. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: Former President George H. W. Bush, who supports David Perdue (R) in Georgia's Senate race, doesn't like this rebuttal ad by the former CEO of Bush's Points of Light Foundation, Michelle Nunn:

     ... CW: Ya know, Mr. President, if you're going to support a scummy candidate who runs scummy ads, you have to expect his opponent to push back with this perfectly respectable, respectful -- and truthful -- rebuttal.

** Iowa. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "Iowa ... is undergoing an economic transformation that is challenging its rural character -- and, inevitably, its political order. As Iowans prepare to elect a new United States senator for the first time in three decades, the scale at which people and power have shifted from its rural towns to its urban areas is emerging as a potent but unpredictable undercurrent in the excruciatingly close race, offering opportunity and risk for both sides."

Maryland. Dana Milbank offers an explanation for why some people left an Obama rally while the President was still speaking: "This exodus wasn’t intended as a protest. Long lines for shuttles taking attendees to remote parking sites induced participants to leave early so they could beat the rush.... [But] Even among the faithful, Obama's magic can't match the urge to get a jump on traffic." This jibes with a remark made by one commenter to the OFA site who attended the rally. See yesterday's Commentariat for context.

** Massachusetts. Walter Robinson of the Boston Globe: "... Seth W. Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District, a former Marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq..., chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe." ...

... "The Best Candidate Anywhere." Charles Pierce, who has known Walter Robinson for a long time: "... Moulton got on Robinson's radar because Moulton treated his service in Iraq very obliquely in his campaign. Because he [Robinson] had run down so many people who'd phonied up their war records, Robinson got intrigued, so he went to work combing through Moulton's service record.... What Robinson found was enough to warm even the most cynical heart. Including his own. Including mine." ...

... Here's Rachel Maddow on Robinson & Moulton:

South Carolina. Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "Rep. James Clyburn's (D-S.C.) Republican challenger [Anthony Culler] referred to same-sex couples as 'gremlins' and 'bullies' in a Facebook post urging supporters to oppose gay marriage at the polls this fall.... Culler ... wrote a Facebook post on Oct. 14 decrying same-sex marriage as 'a pestilence that has descended on our society, against our will, by those in the courts and government that do not value the traditional family. Same sex couples that seek to destroy our way of life and the institution of marriage are NOT cute and cuddly but rather (for those of you that are old enough to remember the movie), Gremlins that will only destroy our way of life...." ...

... CW: South Carolina's 6th Congressional district has a majority-black population. Luckily, Republicans were able to find a white guy who is a confirmed bigot to challenge Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership.

Wisconsin. "Get a Real Job." Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "Brad Schimel, the Republican candidate for Attorney General [of Wisconsin], told supporters at a Milwaukee County Republicans party that he's tired of the contentious statewide debate over the minimum wage. 'I want every one of our neighbors to have a job again, a well-paid job, so we don't have to argue about minimum wage for someone working at Burger King,' he said. 'Let's get them a real job.'"

Presidential Election

Sam Levine of the Huffington Post: "In the November issue of Harper's magazine, Doug Henwood argues that Hillary Clinton, if elected president, would do little to assuage liberals' disappointment in President Barack Obama. This is how Henwood sums up the case for Hillary's candidacy in 2016: 'She has experience, she's a woman, and it's her turn.' But, he says, 'it's hard to find any political substance in her favor.'" Harper's has firewalled Henwood's piece, so Levine summarizes his arguments.

David Corn: "Rand Paul [is] the most interesting conspiracy theorist in Washington. Bilderbergers, the Iraq invasion, Alex Jones -- the GOP senator has routinely flirted with America's paranoid fringe." ...

... CW: Corn concentrates on Paul's conspiracy theories past. But we would be remiss in failing to include his Ebola truther movement connections. ...

... Brian Beutler: "Dr. Rand Paul Should Be Held Accountable for Whipping Up a Frenzy About 'Incredibly Contagious' Ebola."

Beyond the Beltway

Mike Cason of AL.com: "Mike Hubbard, speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives and a powerful leader in the state Republican Party, has been indicted by a grand jury and charged with 23 counts, including using his office for personal gain and soliciting things of value. Late Monday afternoon, Hubbard reported to the Lee County Jail where he was booked.... According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited favors from some of Alabama's rich and powerful. They include former Alabama Governor Bob Riley.... Earlier this year, the [grand jury] investigation resulted in charges against two other [Republican] state lawmakers."

Home-Grown "Terrorists": Chris Hayes has a nice follow-up of the Pumpkin Festival riots in Keene, New Hampshire.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims."

Guardian: "The US State Department says Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans being held in North Korea, has been released. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Fowle was home Tuesday after negotiators left Pyongyang. She said the US is still trying to free two other Americans, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae."

New York Times: "Oscar de la Renta, the doyen of American fashion, whose career began in the 1950s in Franco's Spain, sprawled across the better living rooms of Paris and New York, and who was the last survivor of that generation of bold, all-seeing tastemakers, died on Monday at his home in Kent, Conn. He was 82."

New York Times: "Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star once seen as an emblem of triumph over adversity, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp." ...

     ... The Guardian is liveblogging the sentencing.

Sunday
Oct192014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 20, 2014

Laura Barron-Lopez of the Hill: "The U.S. military is readying a 30-person team for Ebola response inside the U.S., the Defense Department said on Sunday. The team, which will be ready to 'respond quickly, effectively, and safely' in the event of more Ebola cases, is in response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services." ...

... Richard Preston writes a fascinating -- and heartbreaking -- story for the New Yorker on scientists who are racing to map the Ebola genome. "Since there is no vaccine against or cure for the disease caused by Ebola virus, the only way to stop it is to break the chains of infection." The Ebola virus is mutating, but Preston cites an expert who says it is very unlikely to mutate to a form that could survive in dry air & dust motes. "There are many ways by which Ebola could become more contagious even without becoming airborne." ...

... Laura Barron-Lopez: "A top official at the National Institutes of Health on Sunday said a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa would only make things worse in the fight against Ebola, pushing back against calls from lawmakers to institute one. 'The fact is it would be very, very difficult if we lost control of easily tracking people,' Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN's 'State of the Union.'" ...

... Wait, Let's Hear from Famed Epidemiologist Dr. Ted Cruz. Laura Barron-Lopez: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday slammed President Obama for not instituting a travel ban on flights to and from West Africa. During an interview on CNN's 'State of Union' show, Cruz said the 'biggest mistake that continues to be made is that we continue to allow open commercial air flights.'... Cruz also accused the administration of treating Ebola as 'another political' situation rather 'than a public health crisis.'" ...

     ... CW: Worth noting: Ted Cruz is the same "expert" who thinks he has the knowledge to contradict actual experts, yet in the same breath complains that Ron Klain is not a medical genius & Ebola expert so he shouldn't be coordinating efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Cruz thinks his own epidemiological knowledge is greater than that of trained epidemiologists, but he doesn't think anyone else is capable of listening to these experts & acting on their advice -- which is what Klain's new job is.* If you were looking for a picture of a sociopathic megalomaniac, look no further. People like Cruz & Rand Paul, who think their own prejudices & self-serving poses are superior to the best expert knowledge (which, admittedly, is not 100 percent accurate), are the most dangerous people in the world to entrust with any power & responsibility. ...

     * As Jonathan Cohn explained in the New Republic last week, "... the primary tasks of a czar are to coordinate action and advice among the different agencies -- and to serve as a reassuring public spokesman. Klain has done that.... He has a reputation for knowing the ins and outs of government and how to make things happen...." ...

... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "It has been nearly a year since Vivek Murthy was nominated by President Obama to serve as the next Surgeon General.... Earlier this year, the NRA launched a campaign to derail Murthy's nomination because he voiced support for expanding background checks for gun purchases. His comments that gun violence was a public health concern raised the ire of the gun lobby and conservative lawmakers despite the fact that every major medical association -- and several former Surgeons General under Republican presidents -- shared the same view.... After the NRA began publicly opposing Murthy's nomination, several of Blunt's Republican colleagues including Rand Paul, John Cornyn and John Barrasso said they too would move to block Murthy's nomination, and Paul placed a hold on the nomination." However, according to Sen. Roy Blunt, we have no surgeon general because Democrats:

... Frances Robles & Manny Fernandez of the New York Times: "The head of the group that runs the Texas hospital under scrutiny for mishandling Ebola cases apologized Sunday in full-page ads in local Dallas newspapers, saying the hospital 'made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.'" ...

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the N.I.H.'s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the hospital had been following guidelines on protection gear from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which were prepared by the World Health Organization for treating people in rustic conditions in Africa. The protocols have been refined to be used in a setting where complicated procedures such as dialysis and incubation take place, Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Sunday on the NBC morning news show 'Meet the Press.'

... Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal has a bit more on the new guidelines for protective wear. ...

... CW: To prove how seldom I watch the Sunday shows, I just learned that a year ago George Will moved from ABC News to Fox "News." ...

... Driftglass, however, is on it & is not surprised to hear George Will, the Anti-Science Shill, is over there on Fox "News" quoting "some [unspecified] scientists" that Ebola may be an air-borne virus. ...

... Even Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial page editor, can be right occasionally: "... in a climate that is so unforgiving, so quick to pounce, so unwilling to accept that mistakes will be made and should be learned from, it's understandable that leaders trap themselves into promising more than they can deliver. A desire for accountability does not have to preclude a certain generosity of spirit, or some empathy for those who are performing public service. We seem to have forgotten that."

Paul Krugman: "Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.... Can we trust Amazon not to abuse that power? The Hachette dispute has settled that question: no, we can't."

Simone Sebastian & Ines Bebea of the Washington Post: The NFL promotes a culture that encourages players' partners to keep quiet when the players physically abuse them.

November Elections

Florida. Jake Sherman of Politico: "It should've been an easy year for Rep. Steve Southerland, but instead of waltzing to reelection, the two-term congressman has served up a case study in how to blow a relatively safe Republican seat. He started campaigning late, got crosswise with women by holding a men-only fundraiser, warred behind the scenes with his party over strategy and fretted over anonymous quotes criticizing his reelection effort. In the meantime, a threat emerged in the hard-charging Gwen Graham, who put 36,000 miles on her Chevy Equinox traversing this district and drumming up support among rural Republicans and Democrats alike, appearing with her popular father [Bob Graham], a former governor and senator." CW: Southerland can pull this out. he's cooperating with the NRCC now, & President Obama has about a 30 percent approval rating in the district, according to Sherman.

Maryland. There's Something Wrong Here. Jeff Mason of Reuters: "President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support [Anthony Brown,] the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.... A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke..., and a heckler interrupted his remarks." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Before Mr. Obama's speech ended, a steady trickle of people had departed, leaving some empty seats. And an immigration activist interrupted the speech, holding a sign demanding that '#Not1more' immigrant be deported. As the crowd bellowed the protester away, Mr. Obama suggested that he 'should have been protesting the folks that are blocking' an immigration overhaul." ...

... Here's the Washington Post report, by Jenna Johnson & Arelis Hernandez: "The president told the largely African American, and wildly enthusiastic, crowd that Republicans want voters to become so cynical that they don't vote.... At times, the crowd punctuated each of his sentences with cheers. It also defended him with boos when a heckler challenged Obama on immigration. It was a level of enthusiasm that Brown has yet to see as he campaigns to become the state's first African American governor and the nation's third to be popularly elected. Some in the crowd said they waited in line for hours to see Obama, not Brown." ...

... According to this Obama for America site, Obama & Brown also spoke to a crowd in an overflow room. (Not sure if this was before or after the speech to 8,000.) Someone who attended the rally wrote in the comments, "The older people were dropping like flies. One person after the next was fainting and most of the people who were leaving early were Seniors. This happens at all his rallies."

... CW: I couldn't find video of the full speech, but here's an AP clip:

     ... Of course wingers are eating up the Reuters story. I do not find it credible that a "largely African American, and wildly enthusiastic, crowd" of people who "waited in line for hours to see Obama, not Brown" got up & walked out en masse when the President spoke. Were the people who left Republicans? Latinos? Going to a ball game? Or, as the commenter says, overcome by the close crowd? This is just odd.

Pennsylvania. Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed. All of Gov. Tom Corbett's black friends are Photoshopped. In fact, everyone on Tom Corbett's Website who isn't Tom Corbett is a stock image, Photoshopped in. A stock image of black lady is Photoshopped into one photo facing one way, in another photo, the same image is facing the other way. But wait! Somebody bothered to change the color of her shirt! CW: I guess the governor was too busy messing up the Keystone State to make friends. ...

     ... Driftglass: "I guess Ben Carson was unavailable."

Texas. A "5 am Wake-up Call on Voting Rights." Rick Hasen in Slate: "... why did Justice Ginsburg keep the court and court-watchers up all night for a relatively lengthy dissent from an order issued with no majority opinion?... My guess is that she wanted to make an important statement about how the Supreme Court should handle these voting cases going forward and to publicly flag where she believes the court is going wrong....This middle-of-the-night dissent calls attention to what Justice Ginsburg likely sees as a grave injustice.

Wisconsin. Alice Olstein of Think Progress: It turns out, at least according to Dan Sebring, the GOP nominee for Congress in Wisconsin's 4th district, that the real reason the Supremes blocked implementation of Wisconsin's voter ID law for this election is that they don't want Scott Walker to be president. In Right Wing World, everything is a conspiracy. And it doesn't have to make a lick of sense. ...

... CW: Here's another dirty trick, this one coming from the librul media cabal. At the top of today's online Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is this headline: "Obamacare plan rates in Wisconsin to keep pace or decline next year." This would never have happened, BTW, if Chief Justice John Roberts had not decided that most of the ACA was constitutional. It's a plot, all right.

News Ledes

New York Times: "At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease."

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

New York Daily News: "Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested twice this weekend -- just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication, police said. The outgoing Republican senator from Dickson, Tenn., has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor, Lt. Todd Christian said.