The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

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."

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 24

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

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.

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.

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:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"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.

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Wednesday
Oct152014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 16, 2014

They kind of blew me off. -- Dr. Sean Kaufman, when he warned the CDC that its Ebola control protocol was too lax

... Donald McNeil of the New York Times: "Many American hospitals have improperly trained their staffs to deal with Ebola patients because they were following federal guidelines that were too lax, infection control experts said on Wednesday. Federal health officials effectively acknowledged the problems with their procedures for protecting health care workers by abruptly changing them. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued stricter guidelines for American hospitals with Ebola patients. They are now closer to the procedures of Doctors Without Borders, which has decades of experience in fighting Ebola in Africa. Sean G. Kaufman, who oversaw infection control at Emory University Hospital while it treated Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the first two American Ebola patients, called the earlier C.D.C. guidelines 'absolutely irresponsible and dead wrong.'” ...

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama [said] Wednesday that the dangers of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States are 'extraordinarily low,' pointing to his own contact with medical personnel treating a patient infected with the virus":

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "After a two-hour meeting of cabinet-level officials who are in charge of the government's response to the virus, Mr. Obama promised that a review of the recent Ebola cases in Dallas would determine what went wrong that allowed two nurses to be infected. With a video link to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, the president said he had ordered health officials to determine, 'How we are going to make sure that something like this isn't repeated.'" ...

... Manny Fernandez & Jack Healy of the New York Times: "A second nurse at a hospital [in Dallas] tested positive for Ebola on Wednesday, the third case of disease confirmed in Dallas in the span of 15 days and the first to heighten fears far beyond the city. The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, 29, took a flight earlier this week from Ohio to Texas, a trip that federal health officials said should not have been taken.... The C.D.C. asked all 132 passengers on Frontier Flight 1143 to call a C.D.C. hotline.... Officials said Ms. Vinson ... was to be transferred Wednesday to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, one of four hospitals in the United States that have special high-containment units for isolating patients with dangerous infectious diseases." This story has been updated....

     ... Oh My. Here's an Update of Interest. Mark Berman, et al., of the Washington Post: "Before she boarded that flight..., Amber Joy Vinson, 29, informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that she was running a temperature of 99.5 degrees, a federal official told The Washington Post. That was below the 100.4-degree­ threshold in CDC guidelines for screening travelers who have been in Ebola-affected countries, and which triggers a secondary screening. The CDC did not prohibit Vinson from traveling on the plane back to Dallas, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue." ...

     ... CW: In both cases in which nurses contracted Ebola at the Dallas hospital, Dr. Thomas Friedan, director of the CDC, first played "blame the victim" before admitting the Ebola victim was not at fault. In the earlier case, he accused the nurse (or hospital??) of some unknown "breach of protocol." I do believe Dr. Friedan needs to have a check-up for Infallible God Syndrome, a psychological condition common among medical doctors. ...

... Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: Dr. Thomas Friedan "has become the face of the Obama administration's flawed response to Ebola in the United States, and on Thursday he is likely to face withering questions about his record during a congressional hearing." ...

... Katie Zavadski of New York: "Local Dallas reporter Lauren Zakalik tweeted that CDC officials told her there is a 'do not board' list that will evolve to cover potentially exposed people." ...

... Dianna Hunt of the Dallas Morning News: "Health care workers treating Thomas Eric Duncan in a hospital isolation unit didn't wear protective hazardous-material suits for two days until tests confirmed the Liberian man had Ebola -- a delay that potentially exposed perhaps dozens of hospital workers to the virus, according to medical records." ...

... Geoffrey Mohan, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "Nurses at a Texas hospital where a Liberian man died of Ebola described a confused and chaotic response to his arrival in the emergency room, alleging in a statement Tuesday that he languished for hours in a room with other patients and that hospital authorities resisted isolating him.... In addition, they said, the nurses tending him had flimsy protective gear and no proper training from hospital administrators in handling such a patient." ...

... Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times: "The nation's largest union of registered nurses Wednesday called on President Obama to mandate uniform standards at U.S. hospitals to protect healthcare workers from the Ebola virus. 'Not one more patient, nurse or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of healthcare facility preparedness,' National Nurses United wrote in a letter to the president. 'The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.'" ...

... Steve M.: "I'm amused ... to see this union and its officers being quoted favorably by outraged conservatives at Right Wing News, CNS News, Free Republic, and other sites on the right. Do these righties know anything about their new favorite whistleblowers? [The union's co-president Deborah] Burger advocates single-payer and opposes the Keystone pipeline, as does [union director RoseAnn] DeMoro. They also advocate a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial transactions. In a Washington Post op-ed published Monday, DeMoro tied our Ebola problems to the private, for-profit nature of our health care system." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... it's hard to avoid noting that Texas -- the very sovereign State of Texas, I should clarify, where the federal government is generally not welcome -- was at a loss in dealing with a single Ebola case until the feds stepped in (per a WaPo tick-tock on the Dallas situation) [linked yesterday in the Commentariat]. ...

... Benedict Carey of the New York Times: "As health officials scramble to explain how two nurses in Dallas became infected with Ebola, psychologists are increasingly concerned about another kind of contagion, whose symptoms range from heightened anxiety to avoidance of public places to full-blown hysteria." ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Fox News conscience Shepard Smith brought a rare moment of sanity to the network this afternoon when he shut down a colleague's report that there was a 'widespread panic across the country' over Ebola. 'Oh my God, Doug, I appreciate it, but I think we both know there's no widespread panic across the country,' Smith said. 'And I think we also know that if there's a widespread panic, it's not based in fact and it's not based in reason.'" ...

... Here's Smith talking sense about Ebola to Foxbots. His advice: "Get a flu shot." Flu, & associated pneumonia, killed 52,000 Americans last year:

... THEN There's Fox "News"'s Medical Expert & Obama Shrink Keith Ablow. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Dr. Keith Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, on Tuesday said that Obama won't protect Americans from Ebola because 'his affinities' are with Africa, not the U.S. 'He's their leader.' 'He has it in for us as disappointing people. People who've been a scourge on the face of the Earth," Ablow said on Fox News Radio's The John Gibson show. 'In his mind, if only unconsciously, he's thinking, "Really? We're going to prevent folks suffering with illnesses from coming across the border flying into our airports when we have visited a plague of colonialism that has devastated much of the world, on the world? What is the fairness in that?'"... He also compared Obama to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein while claiming that Americans elected Obama because he hates the U.S." ...

     ... CW: Here's my question: Would Fox "News" allow this guy go on the air while he was wearing his Klan hood? What exactly is the network's journalistic threshold? See also Akhilleus's comment/rant in yesterday's thread. ...

... Brendan Nyhan in the New York Times: "... public concerns are likely to increase about whether the United States health care system can properly respond to an outbreak [of Ebola]. Data from surveys suggest, however, that those views -- like so many others -- are being shaped by people's partisan affilations as much as by news about the outbreak itself."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "In his first major policy speech as director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey on Thursday plans to ... say that encryption technologies used on ... devices, like the new iPhone, have become so sophisticated that crimes will go unsolved because law enforcement officers will not be able to get information from them, according to a senior F.B.I. official who provided a preview of the speech."

Linda Greenhouse: "In the space of eight days, the [Supreme Court] justices managed to touch on American society's hottest of hot-button issues

... Erik Eckholm of the New York Times: "A day after the Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that had forced abortion clinics to close, some of the shuttered facilities prepared to reopen, pleased at the reprieve but mindful that the legal fight was far from over. Tuesday's order increased the chances, legal experts said, of a major face-off in the Supreme Court over a crucial question: What restrictions add up to an 'undue burden' on a woman's right to abortion?"

W. J. Hennigan of the Los Angeles Times: "The Pentagon has finally given a name to the international military effort against Islamic State militants: 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'” ...

... CW: Can we expect the same people who came up with "Operation Inherent Resolve" to defeat ISIS? Or anybody? Were they going for esoteric? Seriously, what percentage of American knows what "inherent" means? Prior to the Pentagon's settling on this brilliant handle, Paul Waldman suggested "Operation Pulverizing Power" or "Operation Glittering Justice." I myself prefer acronymical names, so something like Operation Bombs Away Motherfuckin' Assholes would be both inherently inspirational AND easy to remember. Also, it would make John McCain even crazier.

November Elections

Dana Milbank: "Republicans are so confident of anti-Obama sentiments that they aren’t making an effort to present an alternative agenda, the way they did with 1994’s 'Contract With America' or 2010’s 'Pledge to America.' The Republican National Committee drafted only vaguely worded 'principles' '“Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored')."

Greg Sargent: "... a total of six GOP Senate candidates [are] injecting Ebola into their races." ...

... Paul Waldman: "It's not your Senator's job to stop Ebola."

Alaska & South Dakota. Tim Egan: "... the fact that all the money and manipulations of the Koch brothers could be undone by a handful of native voters living in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the land is a tribute to our teetering democracy.... In Alaska and South Dakota, where the native vote could be the only thing that stands in the way of a Republican-controlled Senate."

Arkansas. Michael Winter of USA Today: "In a ruling that could affect a key U.S. Senate race, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the state's voter-identification law unconstitutional. The unanimous decision, which upheld a lower court, came just days before early balloting begins Monday for the Nov. 4 election. The justices ruled that Act 595, which required voters to show government-issued photo identification, 'imposes a requirement that falls outside' the four qualifications outlined in the state constitution: A voter must be a U.S. citizen, an Arkansas resident, 18 years old and registered to vote."

Colorado. Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post: "Ebola emerged Wednesday night as a new issue in Colorado's U.S. Senate debate with Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner, but much of their hour-long exchange focused on familiar themes. The two exchanged jabs for nearly an hour in 9News' studio as moderators Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman pushed the candidates to answer questions on everything from climate change to reproductive rights to health-care reform." ...

... Here's a lovely moment where Clark's question to Gardner on his co-sponsorship of a House "personhood" amendment begins, "A charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation would be that you’re not telling us the truth" Via Greg Sargent:

 

     ... In case you think Gardner might be right, this FactCheck.org article -- written way back in mid-August, giving Gardner literally months to come up with a better story or renounce the House bill -- debunks his ludicrous claim that the House personhood bill is merely a pro-life "statement." Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org: "... the wording of these [personhood] measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women." Also via Sargent.

Florida. "Fangate"! Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times & Mark Caputo of the Miami Herald: "In the weirdest start of a gubernatorial debate, Florida Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to take the stage Wednesday night because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted on using a fan to keep him cool. The Republican governor finally emerged at least six minutes late as flummoxed moderators struggled on live TV to figure out what to do with a bemused Crist standing solo on stage at Broward College. 'Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education and the environment and the future of our state?' Crist asked. 'I mean, really.'"

... Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "A Crist adviser posted a picture of the rules Crist signed on Twitter. They seem to indicate that a fan was allowed.... Later, the Scott campaign seemed to concede: a fan was fine by them after all." ...

... Charles Pierce: "It is now the conventional wisdom that Scott blew up his campaign with this stunt.... The visual was quite simply the most bizarre image to come out of a debate since Ned Coll waved a rubber rat at Edmund Muskie in 1972.... If you hung around and watched the rest of the debate, you fully understand now why the people of Florida are gagging on having to make a choice between either one of these jamokes." ...

... Betty Cracker of Balloon Juice posts the candidates' closing remarks. Scott's word salad is hard to watch. "You can go to C-SPAN and watch any random clip of Scott speaking last night, and it will be just as cringe-inducing." CW Note to Gov. Ricky: No voter gives a whip about your your "mom's watching from heaven."

Idaho. Jeff Singer of Daily Kos: Idaho's Gov. Butch Otter (R) is running only three points ahead of his ConservaDem opponent A. J. Balukoff, according to a PPP poll, forcing the Republican Governors Association to drop money into a race that most assumed would be an easy victory for Otter. Singer explains why there's a good chance Otter's numbers will improve.

Kentucky. Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned on Wednesday in Louisville, Ky., with Alison Lundergan Grimes, right, the Democratic candidate who is trying to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell....." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post on Mitch McConnell's pretense that Kynect is "just a Website": "If he wants to rip out Obamacare 'root and branch,' then he has to explain what he would plant in the health-insurance garden instead. Otherwise his assurances on the future have little credibility."

Maine. The bigger issue right now is whether or not this individual had the proper papers. -- Gov. Paul LePage (RTP-Maine), on a person who tested negative for Ebola at a Maine hospital ...

... Portland Press Herald Editors: "Unbelievably, the governor used a potential public health crisis to point fingers at Maine’s largely African refugee and immigrant population. He’s encouraging scapegoating of those who are different, but he hasn’t bothered to point out that while the Ebola outbreak 'is strictly in West Africa' – as a Maine Med official has told the Portland Press Herald – most of the Africans in Maine are from the eastern part of the massive continent.... By making insinuations about whether the Maine Med patient was in the U.S. legally, the governor also has blatantly overstepped ethical boundaries. What’s more, it’s bad health policy to imply that a trip to the hospital for much-needed emergency care could result in being closely questioned about one’s immigration status." ...

... Linda Kintsler of the New Republic: "... thanks to the continued split between Maine Independents and Democrats, looks like it might very well result in the re-election of Republican Paul LePage, America’s craziest governor. Recent polls have the Democratic candidate, Congressman Michael Michaud, maintaining a thin lead over LePage, 40 percent to 38 percent, with the Independent, Eliot Cutler, trailing well behind at 15 percent. (Others have Michaud and Culter polling slightly higher.)... LePage, who should never have had a second shot at the governorship, now actually has a decent shot at winning. And he knows it, because this is how he got elected the first time around." ...

... If Maine is so proud of the "independence" of its voters, but the effect is to elect the wrong guys because reasonable people split their votes between or among the better candidates, there are easy & sensible solutions. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "In Louisiana, for example, all of the candidates run together in a 'jungle primary,' and then the top two candidates compete in a run-off if neither one wins a majority. Another system, known as 'instant runoff voting,' allows voters to rank their choices. Under this system, losing candidates are eliminated and their votes are redistributed to the voter’s next choice until one candidate emerges with a majority of the votes." CW: To me, the "instant runoff" seems preferable: the state doesn't have to foot the expense of two elections, & voters don't have to go to the polls twice.

FINALLY, why can't state-level debates be more like presidential debates? Via Daily Kos:

News Ledes

New York Times: "The chief clinical officer of the Texas hospital system that treated a Liberian Ebola patient apologized for what he said were mistakes made by the hospital in Dallas in the original diagnosis of Ebola and in providing inaccurate information.The remarks, part of prepared testimony for a congressional hearing later Thursday...." ...

... Hartford Courant: "Officials say Yale-New Haven Hospital expects to receive test results in the next 24 hours on a patient who recently traveled to Liberia and was admitted Wednesday night with a fever. The patient is one of two Yale University students who returned home last week after spending a month in Liberia researching the Ebola outbreak, according to the New Haven mayor's office." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead. ...

... New York Times: "Officials at school districts in Texas and Ohio shut schools on Thursday after they learned that two students traveled on the Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse infected with Ebola, and that an employee may have later flown on the same plane."

Tuesday
Oct142014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 15, 2014

Note to Leon Panetta, John McCain & Assorted Super-Hawks. Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times: "A C.I.A. study has found that [arming & training rebel groups in other nations] rarely works. The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration's protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.... American officials said that the fact that the C.I.A. took a dim view of its own past efforts to arm rebel forces fed Mr. Obama's reluctance to begin the covert operation. 'One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?' said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate.... The C.I.A. report, he said, 'was pretty dour in its conclusions.'" ...

... MEANWHILE, former Defense Secretary & former CIA Director Leon Panetta is complaining to all who will listen (& help him sell his memoir/hatchet job) that President Obama made a huge mistake in not taking his (Panetta's) advice to arm Syrian rebels. CW: Panetta, who was Defense Secretary until February 2013, surely knew about these studies during his tenure & would have had access to their preliminary findings. Mazzetti's scoop completely undermines a big component of Panetta's Complaint. Mazzetti's report is the Obama Leak Squad giving Panetta, et al., the middle finger. ...

... Digby, in Salon, takes a look back at Panetta's career: "... Leon Panetta, for all his apparent talent at a wide variety of government jobs, is all about Leon Panetta. Where he was once a hero for resigning over an issue of principle, it's hard to escape the realization that he has parlayed that early admirable moral stand into a habit of burnishing his own reputation, at the expense of the presidents he works for. Like the other 'mavericks' of our time -- John McCain and Joe Lieberman come to mind -- he is concerned about one thing and one thing only: his own sense of righteousness." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

** C. J. Chivers of the New York Times: "From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule.... The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.... The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government's invasion rationale.... The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm's way and from military doctors. The government's secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war's most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds."

Amy Nutt, et al., of the Washington Post: "The hospital that treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had to learn on the fly how to control the deadly virus, adding new layers of protective gear for workers in what became a losing battle to keep the contagion from spreading, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.... CDC Director Thomas Frieden expressed regret Tuesday that his agency had not done more to help the hospital control the infection. He said that, from now on, 'Ebola response teams' will travel within hours to any hospital in the United States with a confirmed Ebola case." CW: Glad to see you've quit blaming the healthcare worker-victims of the disease for "breaches in protocol," Dr. Friedan. There couldn't very well have been a breach in protocol, because there was no standard protocol. ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gives four Pinocchios to the "absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research." CW: Yeah, and here's something absurd about your marionette analysis, Glenn. The Agenda Project ad you're blasting here never claims that "only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research." To pretend that Republicans have not been the drivers of across-the-board budget cuts is to wilfully ignore reality.

** Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have ... required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider. The Supreme Court's order -- five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices' reasoning -- represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over.... The Supreme Court, in an unsigned order apparently reflecting the views of six justices, blocked the surgical-center requirement entirely and the admitting-privileges requirement as it applied to clinics in McAllen, Tex., and El Paso. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have allowed the law to be enforced." CW: The dissenting justices, in a one-line, unsigned opinion, said that the Framers "originally intended women to be chattel; thus, purported concerns for their health and well-being represent nothing more substantial than unconstitutional sentimentality."

New Washington Scandal! "Obama Environmental Plan Tainted by Association With Environmentalists." Jonathan Chait: "Republicans are launching investigations in both the House and the Senate to expose the hidden hand of environmentalists in the crafting of environmental regulations. 'The E.P.A. appears to have a far cozier relationship with N.R.D.C. lobbyists on carbon emission rule-making than with any other stakeholders,' charges Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.... The accusation -- 'far cozier' -- merely charges that the administration worked more closely with the NRDC than with, say, lobbyists for oil and coal.... [The EPA plan] is surely a pluralistic one. Pluralism is an old-fashioned political science concept that described policies that incorporate compromises between competing interest groups.... In modern American politics, it describes policies within the Democratic Party, which draws support from business as well as labor, environmentalists, and consumer groups. The Republican Party's economic coalition, by contrast, has a monolithic pro-business cast.... Within the Republican Party, it has come to seem normal for environmental regulations to be crafted entirely along the lines demanded by business lobbyists. The existence of a significant lobbying role for environmentalists -- even the moderate, well-respected ones at the NRDC -- seems to them scandalous." ...

... ** I'm relinking this piece by Charles Pierce on Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis's spot against her GOP opponent Greg Abbott, which I linked early yesterday afternoon. Pierce puts the ad in the context it needs putting: as a pushback against typically egregious Republican practices & policies. He adds a shoutout to the media for promoting these policies by their silence.

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama will not nominate a candidate for attorney general until after the midterm elections, a White House official said Tuesday. The White House is pushing off the nomination at the request of Senate Democrats, who asked the White House to delay naming a successor to Eric Holder, who announced his resignation last month."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "The Democratic Party is held in worse regard than at any point in the past 30 years, according to a new poll. The poll, from the Washington Post and ABC News, shows 39 percent of Americans now have a favorable impression of the blue team, while 51 percent have an unfavorable impression. Both are new records. Through it all, of course, Democrats continue to have a better image than their GOP counterparts, whose favorable/unfavorable split with the American people is currently 33/56."

"Yes, I Am a Nut." -- Paul Ryan. Jonathan Chait: "During a debate last night for his election to the House, Paul Ryan was asked if he believes that human activity has contributed to global warming. 'I don't know the answer to that question,' he replied, 'I don't think science does, either.' In fact, science does know the answer.... This is another way of saying that Paul Ryan is a nut. His ideological fantasies prevent him from accepting even basic scientific facts. He is, to be sure, a lucid nut, rather than a raving nut who accosts passersby on street corners.... Ryan is in a party where this sort of thing barely even attracts attention."

Annie Lowrey of New York on Bill Gates v. Thomas Piketty. Gates "that we [in the U.S.] have not reached a state of old-world dynastic wealth and that philanthropy might be a powerful force for dissipating concentrated fortunes from generation to generation.... This is a weird, weird telescoping. Piketty is not arguing that the United States has a tradition of dynastic wealth that explains its inequality. Rather, he shows that wealth inequality has ballooned of late, meaning in the past few decades, driven by an increase in income inequality.... [A] Wealth-X study found that billionaires tend to give away but small slivers of their wealth. And there is no evidence that the country's 1 percent or 0.1 percent, writ large, are becoming more philanthropic." ...

... CW: Lowrey writes, "Half are entrepreneurs who made their own fortunes, Gates notes.... Put billionaires in an age bracket, and there's a big hump around 55 to 64, with fat tails on either end. The average American billionaire is in his early 60s." I would add that there's a good reason for that: the all-too-brief window of high funding of public education that began after WWII & started falling during the Vietnam War. That funding allowed hundreds of thousands of children of working- & middle-class American families access to higher education, & thus to high-paying jobs & entrepreneurial opportunities. In some cases, the generation of billionaires in their 60s built on the successes of their parents, the first generation to benefit from generous public education funding. Bill Gates is such a billionaire; his father went to college & law school on the G.I. bill, which allowed the father the wealth to provide his children with rich learning experiences in "exclusive" schools. Those "self-made" billionaires who despise Elizabeth Warren's populist message should acknowledge that they themselves are the beneficiaries of the ideal Warren for which advocates.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Dave Jamieson of the Huffington Post: "A Jimmy John's employment agreement ... includes a 'non-competition' clause that's surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business's inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John's, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.... The noncompete agreement is now part of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed this summer against Jimmy John's and one of its franchisees." CW: Jimmy John's is a sandwich chain with more than 2,000 locations. The non-competition agreement, if enforced, would severely limit low-wage workers' ability to find similar employment elsewhere, even if they left their Jimmy Johns jobs because they moved to a new city thousands of miles away. ...

... CW: If Congress cared about workers' rights, it would outlaw companies from imposing these types of agreements on management & non-management personnel who are not privy to extensive insider information. Some states, BTW, do just that, rendering these non-competition clauses unenforceable against most workers. Unfortunately, most low-wage workers don't know their rights, & are apt to "voluntarily" comply with the unlawful agreements they signed. ...

... Of course as Susie Madrak points out, "Joke's on [Jimmy John's] -- I'll bet most workers sign it without reading it."

November Elections

Nate Silver explains again why polls might be wrong or skewed in favor of one party over the other. ...

... Paul Waldman on "unscewing" the polls. Waldman argues that Democrats aren't doing what Republicans did in the 2012 presidential race. CW: I think Waldman is right. If Republicans take the Senate & pick up a few seats in the House, I'm not going to be shocked & believe the election results were rigged & my team "really won," as many Republicans did re: the 2012 presidential election. Nothing I've read -- & I've read a lot -- suggests that the polls are methodologically & purposely skewed to favor Republicans (although they were methodologically skewed before pollsters figured out how to poll mostly-younger voters who didn't have landlines).

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Since last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has essentially given up efforts to unseat Republicans in several races, pulling advertising money from a dozen campaigns in Republican-held districts to focus on protecting its embattled incumbents. Democrats need 17 Republican seats to win back the majority, but of the 25 races still on the campaign committee's battlefield, only seven currently belong to Republicans. That means they are playing defense in 18 districts and offense in seven." ...

... CW: Re: this story & several others here, see James S.'s comment at the top of today's Comments.

A Chamber in Conflict with Itself. John Stanton of BuzzFeed: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce may want the GOP to change its tune on immigration policy, but that isn't stopping the powerful business lobby from pouring more than $15 million into efforts to re-elect nearly two dozen Republicans who disagree with them. In fact, in four Senate races in North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, and Kentucky that could determine control of the Senate, the Chamber has spent nearly $7.8 million propping up Republicans against providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants."

Arkansas. James Hohmann of Politico on last night's Senate debate among the four candidates. ...

... David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times: "Rep. Tom Cotton is running for U.S. Senate, advocating root-and-branch repeal of Obamacare as the key tenet of his platform, and he refuses to be honest about the impacts that policy change would have on Arkansans. For all of his big talk of principled stands and doing "the hard right over the easy wrong," he has shown himself afraid or unwilling to level with the people of Arkansas about the policy change he is advocating for. Cotton's explicit plan would repeal the private option, ending health insurance coverage for 200,000 Arkansans. He just won't admit it." Via Paul Waldman. CW: This, obviously, is the preferred GOP strategy, especially in states where the ACA has had a highly-significant impact. See Kentucky.

Colorado. Eric Bradner of CNN: Right-wing extremist & Denver Post darling "Cory Gardner has opened up a four-point lead [against Sen. Mark Udall (D)] in a Colorado Senate race that's key in determining whether Democrats can hold onto their majority, a new CNN/ORC poll shows."

Georgia. James Hohmann of Politico: "National Democrats are reserving $1 million more for ads in Georgia, where they see the Senate race moving in their direction thanks to attacks against Republican David Perdue's record of outsourcing. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pumped in $800,000 for the ads, to start airing Wednesday for two weeks in Atlanta, the state's biggest media market, and is in the process of snapping up another $200,000...." ...

... WXIA Atlanta: "For the first time, Michelle Nunn leads the race for Georgia's Senate seat. In an exclusive 11Alive poll conducted by Survey USA, Democrat Michelle Nunn leads likely voters 48% to Republican David Perdue's 45%. Libertarian Amanda Swafford grabs 3%, just enough votes to possibly force a runoff.... The Governor's race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democrat challenger Jason Carter[, former President & Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter's grandson] is tied. Each candidate gets 46% of likely voters."

Iowa. Katie Weiderman of KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids: "The wife of Doug Butzier confirmed Tuesday morning that it was Butzier who crashed his plane near the Dubuque Regional Airport around 11 p.m. Monday." Butzier died in the crash. "Butzier worked as an emergency room physician at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque. He was also running for U.S. Senate as the Libertarian candidate."

Kentucky. Adios, Alison. Kyle Trygstad of Roll Call: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone dark in Kentucky, where the party is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After a significant investment in support of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air." ...

     ... Update. Greg Sargent: "Some claim national Dems have given up on Alison Grimes' candidacy, based on the news that the DSCC is not currently running ads in Kentucky. But the DSCC clarified last night that Dems have just put $300,000 into voter mobilization there. While that obviously isn't big money, and while it remains to be seen whether the DSCC will go back on the air, I'd caution against reading too much into the 'abandoning Kentucky' storyline."

... Sabrina Siddiqui of the Huffington Post: "Mitch McConnell Wants Kentucky To Believe Its Obamacare Exchange Is Just A Website." CW: Yesterday I pointed out that Grimes didn't effectively challenge McConnell when he repeated this, um, lie. The governor of Kentucky issued a statement that does what Grimes failed to do. You can bet few people read the governor's accurate rebuttal, but thousands saw Grimes flub it. ...

Tonight, Mitch McConnell looked into the camera and misled Kentucky about his plan to take Kynect from more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have gained health care in the last year. Mitch told Kentuckians he'd keep the website up, while pulling the plug on federal funding, tax credits, and tearing down a marketplace that has made Kentucky a model of success for the nation -- all to advance his partisan political agenda that has Washington in gridlock to the point of paralysis. -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Monday

... Brian Beutler: "... here was McConnell..., caught in a massive contradiction about the fate of hundreds of thousands of people's health benefits, and the media still yawned it off. How to explain this? The answer lies, at least in part, with the political press corps' general indifference to policy, and its aversion to speaking fluently about substantive debates." ...

... CW: Yes, Chuck Todd, if Grimes' stupid refusal to say how she voted in the last two presidential elections is "disqualifying," why isn't it "disqualifying" to lie to voters about ObamaCare/Kynect? ...

... Why, Chuck, even GOP apologist Ron Fournier, who calls you, Chuck Todd, "my friend," & who describes McConnell a "hypocrite ... playing with the health of 500,000 Kentuckians ... [and] misleading conservatives," writes, "If running away from Obama is disqualifying, playing both sides of the fence on Obamacare might be worthy of retirement." ...

... AND ya know what Chuck's big complaint is? "... no journalist likes to be used in a TV ad. It is cheap and likely useless. And McConnell has hidden himself from questions for months." That's right: Chuck Todd is pissed because Mitch McConnell is unfair to Chuck Todd. McConnell is using Chuck's public statements in a TV ad, yet he won't speak to Chuck.

Missouri Elected Official Seeks Military Junta to Oust President Obama. Not a Parody. Progress Missouri: "Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan [R] took to her Facebook page this week to ask her military friends why no one has taken action against 'our domestic enemy ... supposedly the commander in chief.' That's right, she asked why President Obama hasn't been taken care of (or something) by the military yet. Apparently, in Dunnegan's Constitution the military has 'the authority' to oust the President for unspecified misdeeds.... Dunnegan is up for reelection as Recorder of Deeds this November. Jefferson County voters deserve better." ...

     ... CW: Looks like Little Debbie there has got herself a copy of Right Wing World's Official U.S. Constitution; you know, the upside-down one, where in this case, the military controls civilian authorities rather than the other way around. ...

... Sometimes Suggesting a Violent Insurrection Is Just a "Poor Choice of Words." Leah Ithorsen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: " Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan said Tuesday that she used a poor choice of words on a post on her personal Facebook page that some are interpreting as an attack on President Barack Obama." CW: The sweet thing about it is that Debbie asks very politely why the military haven't conducted a coup.

North Carolina. David Firestone of the New York Times: "Capitalizing on fears of a looming national security threat is an old and often successful Republican tactic. For George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, it was al Qaeda; for their successors, it is the Islamic State, which is being waved like a red blanket in several other races as well. Its usefulness is one of the reasons why the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced yesterday that it would spend another $6 million on ads for [Thom] Tillis in the last three weeks of the campaign...."

Ohio. Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Ohio’s [Gov.] John Kasich [R] ... is coasting toward a second term in a state that long has been one of the nation's presidential battlegrounds, campaigning on policies he believes can put a more empathetic face on the national Republican Party. His economic philosophy is Republican orthodoxy, drawn from supply-side theory and coupled with a reformist streak. What sets Kasich apart from some others in his party, however, is his willingness to use the levers of government and the zeal with which he has embraced his own version of compassionate conservatism, with strong religious overtones." You'll enjoy reading about Kasich's Democratic opponent Ed Fitzgerald, a loser in every sense. Also, Kasich does not like to pay to park his RV, which he cites as a reason he's not running for president.

South Dakota. Larry Pressler Is No Liberal. Danny Vinik of the New Republic: Former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, now running for the Senate as an independent candidate, demonstrates how far-right the GOP has moved & why "partisan gridlock persists." CW: There is, BTW, no reason to think Pressler would caucus with Democrats if he won the Senate seat. He's said he might try to form an independent "working group" with Bernie Sanders & Angus King, the two Senate independents who do caucus with Democrats & usually vote with them.

Wisconsin. Charles Pierce thinks Cap'n. Scotty's "ship be sinking." I hope he's right.

We don't have a jobs problem in this state. We have a work problem. -- Gov. Scott Walker, during a gubernatorial debate

CW Translation: Lazy poor people are the state's biggest economic problem.

I don't think it serves a purpose. -- Scott Walker, on the minimum wage, yesterday

CW Translation: To hell with people who can't get highly-skilled, well-paying jobs.

Beyond the Beltway

Dee Hall of the (Madison,) Wisconsin State Journal: "U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ... Tuesday gave the green light to campaigns and purportedly independent groups to coordinate some political activity -- legalizing, at least temporarily, the type of activity at the heart of the now-stalled John Doe investigation.... A national campaign finance expert said he expects that order likely will be appealed -- and overturned." Thanks to Nadd2 for the link. ...

... As Ian Millhiser of Think Progress documented in May, Randa is fond of making ideologically-wingnut decisions, which the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is apt to overturn. (CW: As far as I can tell, the second matter Millhiser cites -- the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy case -- is still out on appeal.)

Mary Walsh of the New York Times: "Detroit and its last big holdout creditor said on Tuesday that they were close to a settlement, cutting short a day of planned testimony on whether the city's prized art collection should be used to help end the city's bankruptcy. Thomas F. Cullen Jr., a lawyer representing Detroit, told Judge Steven W. Rhodes, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, that 'substantial progress' had been made in talks with the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company during a weeklong break in the city's bankruptcy trial."

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Gunshot residue tests and ballistics evidence indicate that Vonderitt D. Myers Jr. fired a gun at a police officer before being fatally shot, police and union officials said Tuesday. The police department issued a statement saying that forensic scientists from the Missouri Highway Patrol crime lab found gunshot residue on Myers' hands, shirt and inside the waistband and pockets of his jeans.... Ballistics evidence also revealed three bullets that hit the ground where the officer was trying to take cover matched Myers' gun." Myers' shooting has resulted in some protests. CW: Some of Myers' relatives claimed he did not even have a gun at the scene.

Katherine Driessen of the Houston Chronicle: "Houston's embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and ... are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city." CW: I hate to stand up for bigots, but based on the little I know from this report, subpoenaing sermons certainly smacks of a First Amendment violation. Besides, the issue in the lawsuit brought by pastors (& others, I think) is whether or not the group gathered enough signatures to put the equal rights issue on the ballot. The pastors have made clear they oppose the city's equal rights ordinance; demonstrating just how anti-gay they are seems irrelevant to the subject of their suit.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Stocks plunged Wednesday in rocky trading, closing down on a fourth straight day of losses amid a stretch of volatility in international trading that routed investors to the refuge of government bonds."

Washington Post: "Kurdish fighters have turned the tide against Islamic State militants in the battle for control of the Syrian border town of Kobane after two days of relentless bombardment by U.S. warplanes, Kurdish officials and activists said Wednesday."

New York Times: "Norward Roussell, who in 1987 arrived in Selma, Ala., as the city's first black superintendent of schools with aspirations to equalize educational opportunity -- only to be fired three years later amid racial animosities, protests and a school boycott that recalled the historic Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march of 1965 -- died on Monday in Selma. He was 80."

AP: "Riot police moving against activists sparked outrage after officers were seen kicking a handcuffed protester and dragging dozens of others away Wednesday in the worst violence against the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong since they began more than two weeks ago. Clashes that erupted before dawn Wednesday continued early Thursday, as police used pepper spray to push back crowds of protesters trying to occupy a road outside the government's headquarters."

Reuters: "Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade." ...

     ... CW: This amazes me because for years I've read that nuclear fusion was a hoax. Here's a 1989 article from the NYT wherein leading physicists said they had debunked supposed nuclear fusion claims, & they mocked the scientists who said they had achieved it in lab experiment.

New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday canceled his travel to a fund-raiser and a campaign rally so he could convene a meeting of several top cabinet members to coordinate the government's response to the Ebola outbreak, officials announced." ...

... New York Times: "Health officials authorities in Texas said on Wednesday that a second health care worker involved in the treatment of a patient who died of the Ebola virus had tested positive for the disease after developing a fever. The worker ... had been 'among those who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was diagnosed with Ebola,' at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services said."

Oops, forgot to link this yesterday. Washington Post: "David Greenglass, confessed member of the infamous Rosenberg atomic spy ring, died July 1 at 92, more than a half-century after his better-known sister, Ethel Rosenberg, went to the electric chair in part for what he later claimed was his false testimony against her." The New York Times story is here.

Monday
Oct132014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 14, 2014

Manny Fernandez, et al., of the New York Times: "The transmission of the Ebola virus to a nurse [in Dallas, Texas,] forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday to reconsider its approach to containing the disease, with state and federal officials re-examining whether equipment and procedures were adequate or too loosely followed, and whether more decontamination steps are necessary when health workers leave isolation units.

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises. The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies." ...

... Joe Romm of Think Progress: "Last month was the warmest September globally since records began being kept in 1880, NASA reported Sunday. January through September data have 2014 already at the third warmest on record. Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is taking aim at hottest year on record."

Elisabetta Povoledo & Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "In a marked shift in tone..., an assembly of Roman Catholic bishops convened by Pope Francis at the Vatican released a preliminary document on Monday calling for the church to welcome and accept gay people, unmarried couples and those who have divorced, as well as the children of these less traditional families. The bishops' report, issued midway through a landmark two-week meeting, does not change church doctrine or teaching, and will now be subjected to fierce debate and revision at the assembly." The Washington Post's initial story is linked in yesterday's News Ledes.

<>Cloak, Dagger & Greed. Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence."

Thomas Ricks of the New America Foundation, in the New York Times, reviews James Risen's new book, which "sets out to portray the many seamy sides of the war on terror during the past 13 years." ...

     ... CW: If you don't have time to read the whole review, skip down to the part about Diane Rourk, who tried to warn officials about what she assumed was a rogue operation at the NSA. As someone who is not a fan of Ed Snowden's, I must eat a dainty helping of pan-seared crow here. Rourk did more or less what I would have recommended Snowden do, and the thanks she got for her efforts were not exactly heartfelt. She says "others who discussed their concerns about the N.S.A.'s constitutional transgressions received similarly harsh handling, one reason that Edward J. Snowden fled overseas when he leaked documents...."

... Lesley Stahl interviews James Risen:

     ... The transcript of the interview is here. ...

... This follow-up segment, in which Stahl interviews former NSA director Michael Hayden & former NYT executive editor Bill Kellerman, is worth watching, too. (Click on the video featuring a picture of Dubya.)...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said in an interview released Sunday that she regrets not pushing the Times to publish a story by national security reporter James Risen about a reportedly flawed CIA effort to undermine Iran's nuclear program -- an account that unleashed a nearly seven-year drive by the U.S. government to force Risen to identify his sources. Risen elected to put the story in a book he wrote, 'State of War,' which was published in 2006, several years after the Times elected not to detail the saga.... Prosecutors have suggested in court filings that Risen's decision to publish the story despite the Times's refusal to do so undercuts his grounds for defying subpoenas demanding the identities of his confidential sources." ...

     ... Video of the interview, conducted by Lesley Stahl, is on the same Webpage as the Hayden-Keller interview. (Click on the video which features a picture of Abramson.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Not a Parody. Ira Stoll of Smarter Times: "For the price of $6,995, the New York Times is offering 13-day tours of Iran guided by Times journalist Elaine Sciolino. Promotional material for the tour on the Times website promises 'luxurious hotels' and describes Tehran as a city where 'the young and fashionable adopt a new trendy joie de vivre.' Also on the itinerary: 'a pleasant evening stroll around the colorful bazaars,' along with insights into the 'accomplishments' of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.... How fair will Times journalism be toward those calling for tougher Iran sanctions if the sanctions would force the newspaper to cancel its lucrative luxury tours of Iran? Why are Times journalists lending their reputations, such as they are, to promotional material that describes Iran as a kind of paradise -- "colorful bazaars," "trendy joie de vivre" -- while skipping over the reality of other parts of Iran, like, say, Evin Prison?" Via Scott Kaufman the Raw Story. Thanks to Bonita for the link.

Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: "Police in Princeton New Jersey have been called in to enforce a mandatory quarantine imposed upon NBC Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman after she was spotted outside of her home despite agreeing to be quarantined following her exposure to the deadly Ebola virus. Snyderman's isolation came in the wake of one of her cameramen, Ashoka Mukpo, coming down with the highly infectious disease.... Mukpo is currently being treated in Omaha, Nebraska."

November Elections

Alec MacGillis of the New Republic: "Republicans need to call off the voting wars for their own good.... [Here's why:] 1. The voting wars are a costly, bureaucratic nightmare.... 2. The absence of voter fraud is becoming impossible to deny.... 3. The GOP's voter suppression efforts are motivating Democrats.... 4. Rand Paul says so." ...

... ** Ed Kilgore: "... I'd offer a counter-argument based on a simple premise: the War on Voting ... is closely integrated with contemporary conservative ideology.... The highly prominent Constitutional Conservative wing of the GOP considers democracy itself -- if it aims at or even allows erosion of the Ideal Governing Scheme ... established by the Founders -- as essentially un-American (This is a republic, not a democracy, they never tire of saying).... Anything that makes exercise of the franchise more difficult -- especially by those people who so poorly resemble the white yeoman farmer property owners of the early Republic -- is presumed to be a good idea in itself.... The kind of thinking that produced Mitt Romney's '47 percent' remarks is deeply entrenched in the GOP, and its root idea is that voting by people who benefit from an active federal government (and don't pay income taxes!) is corrupt.... For a large number of Republicans, 'voter fraud' means Democrats trading other people's money (their money) for votes...."

If you want to see what a brutal pro-Democratic ad looks like, here ya go:

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: "A new TV ad blames prominent Republicans for Ebola deaths, attacking them for championing spending cuts that have gone after emergency public health funding for containing disease outbreaks.... The spot was produced by the Agenda Project Action Fund, the same progressive group that has made controversial anti-Republican ads such as 'Granny Off the Cliff.' The group's spokeswoman, Erica Payne, said Monday the ad would air in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Dakota and Kansas -- all of which feature competitive Senate races that could swing the majority." ...

     ... CW Note: Yesterday I linked a Huffington Post story by Sam Stein that makes the same point about development of an Ebola vaccine: Dr. Francis Collins, director of the N.I.H. who does not specifically call out Republicans, say severe budget cuts are the reason the agency hasn't developed a vaccine. So, ya know, maybe that fear of Ebola Fox "News" has been fanning could hurt Republicans. ...

     ... PLUS. ABC Radio News: "Dr. Irwin Redlener, who directs the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, said..., 'You only need to see what has happened to funding of the federal Hospital Preparedness Program, which was providing $515 million a year in 2003 and 2004, now cut back to approximately $250 million this year.'... 'That is simply insufficient to make sure that U.S. hospitals are ready for a large-scale bio disaster.'" ...

     ... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "Meanwhile, John McCain and his buddies are screaming for an Ebola czar (which maybe our surgeon general could be, if we had a surgeon general which we don't because the NRA torpedoed his nomination). Think Ebola is terrifying enough to make them loosen the purse strings? Think again. They'd rather fearmonger on this issue than fix it." ...

     ... Winger Erik Erikson of Red State explains why the ad "reeks of desperation." The real reason the various federal agencies are not controlling Ebola is that they're wasting all their money studying "fat lesbians..., wives who calm down quickly..., [and] "gun violence on order of the President," etc.

Kentucky. Sam Youngman of the Lexington, Kentucky, Herald-Leader: "There were a few skirmishes, but little new ground was broken as U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes delivered their well-worn attack lines to each other's faces Monday night on statewide television." ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic highlights McConnell's claim -- the same one he's been making for months -- that he would repeal ObummerCare but keep the state's Kynect "Website." Uh-huh. Vinik calls out the media -- including that darling Luke Russert -- for comparing Grimes' stupid refusal to admit she voted for Obama to Mitt's outlandish pretense that the popular "Website" has nothing to do with the ACA: "Grimes' refusal to admit who she voted for is bad politics, and demonstrates a lack of political courage, but ultimately has little effect on how she would represent the state of Kentucky. But if McConnell got his way and repealed Obamacare while keeping Kynect as a website, it would cause 500,000 Kentuckians to lose their health insurance. That's not a gaffe[, Luke, you idiot]. It's a deceptive policy position. And the media's focus on Grimes is covering that up." ...

... CW: Here's one point on which Chuck Todd is half-right. Contra Chuck, it is the media's job to point out instances when politicians lie or mislead, as Mitch has been doing on ObamaCare & Kynect. On the other hand, politicians, when given such golden opportunities to rebut the lies & level with voters, as Grimes had in the debate forum, they have to do that effectively. She didn't. (Video here. The exchange begins at about 34:15 min. into the debate. Grimes gets to speak about 5 minutes later.) Grimes' effort to obfuscate her support for Obama & his healthcare plan is the reason she will -- and deserves to -- lose the election to Sen. Turtleman.  ...

... AND, speaking of Chuck:

New Hampshire. Kaili Joy Gray in Wonkette: "In video posted by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, as [former Massachusetts Sen. Scott] Brown walked through [a] sea of tailgaters [before a University of New Hampshire football game], there were shouts of 'F**k Jeanne Shaheen!' and 'Elizabeth Warren sucks!' referring to the Democrat from Massachusetts who unseated Brown from his Senate seat in that state in 2012. The language became even more graphic at points, with one man shouting 'F**k her right in the p***y'..., although it wasn't clear if he was referring to Shaheen or Warren. At 01:07 in the video, a man also appears to refer to Shaheen as a c**t." CW: It's not clear who the young men in the video are, but since Brown reportedly came to the event with a contingent of College Republicans, certainly some of the misogynistic Brown enthusiasts were College Republicans. Gray has posted the video. Brown looks as if he's having a swell time with his "frat bros" & doesn't object to their language, though it's possible he didn't hear it. Read Gray's whole post. ...

... Charles Pierce equates Brown's New Hampshire following with those Massachusetts Brown supporters who thought it would be fun to mock Warren (who believes she is part AmerIndian) with tomahawk chops & "Indian" war cries.

South Dakota. Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "A race that most had thought was safely Republican is suddenly the focus of national attention, thanks to the surprisingly successful candidacy of former Senator Larry Pressler, a Republican who is running as an independent. Mr. Pressler ... has a staff of one and a small budget, but has a longstanding connection to South Dakota voters."

Texas. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune. "The pollster for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis defended her controversial TV ad Sunday, saying it's working as intended despite widespread criticism that using the image of an empty wheelchair in an attack ad on a disabled candidate was mean-spirited and unfair." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "There is nothing wrong, evil, mean, or out of bounds about that commercial, despite the fierce protestations of the sweater of the month club at Morning Joe and among the rest of our failed media. It's simply the truth. A tree fell on him. He was paralyzed. He sued and got millions. He has then spent the rest of his life doing everything he could to stop anyone else from receiving the same kind of treatment he had. It's no different from Ayn Rand receiving Social Security and Medicare and Paul Ryan using benefits to propel him to where he is now...." ...

... ** You will want to read Charles Pierce on Davis's spot against Abbott. He puts it in the context where it needs putting.

Presidential Election

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: Mitt "Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and now the tacit head of the Republican Party, visited Iowa as part of a feverish nationwide tour designed to help the GOP take control of the Senate. He has insisted that he is not interested in running for president a third time. But his friends said a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity is nudging him to more seriously consider it." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "In the past year Mitt Romney has gone from repeatedly insisting that he's not running for president in 2016 to at least pretending that he might be interested, but apparently he forgot to tell his wife about this strategy shift." ...

... Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the Romneys are launching the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases, a research facility that will focus on finding cures and new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease (known as ALS), Parkinson's disease and brain tumors.... On another matter that has been the subject of much political babbling lately -- a potential third run for president by her husband -- Ann Romney was happy to wave off the possibility. 'Done,' she said. 'Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,' she said, referring to her five sons. 'Done. Done. Done.'" ...

     ... Hartmann sez, "Okay, we'll put her down as a 'maybe.'" ...

... Steve M. is a cynic: "I'd like the timing of this announcement [that the Romneys are inaugurating a research facility] to generate at least a tiny fraction of the skepticism occasioned by the timing of Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy. Because while it's true that this is an act of generosity it's also true that the Romneys are just loving this little comeback tour they're on, and bringing a veneer of high-mindedness to a lot of down-and-dirty campaigning." Read the whole post.

... CW: I'm not sure how much the Romneys are contributing to the center they're "launching." According to the L.A. Times story, "Ann Romney hopes to raise $50 million to lay the groundwork for the center's research." So the Romneys' contribution could be anywhere from (1) millions to (2) nothing but signing fundraising letters.

Beyond the Beltway

Alan Zagier & Jim Salter of the AP: "Pounding rain and tornado watches didn't deter hundreds of protesters Monday outside Ferguson police headquarters, where they stayed for almost four hours to mark how long 18-year-old Michael Brown's body was left in a street after he was fatally shot by police. Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October protests dubbed the day 'Moral Monday' and committed acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region. In addition to the initial march on Ferguson police headquarters, protesters blocked the entrance to a major employer, held a loud rally inside St. Louis City Hall, disrupted business at a Ferguson shopping center and three Wal-Mart stores and tried to crash a private fundraiser for a St. Louis County executive candidate where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was scheduled to appear." ...

... AP: "St. Louis County police say civil rights activist Cornel West was among 13 people arrested during a protest at Ferguson police headquarters.... Police said arrests were made after protesters began bumping officers' shields and forced their way through the law enforcement skirmish line."

... Allen McDuffee of the Atlantic: "Over the course of the weekend in which hundreds -- and at times thousands -- of protesters for the most part demonstrated peacefully, clergy members called on the Ferguson and St. Louis police departments to 'repent' for [Michael] Brown's killing, as well as for other acts of violence and the structural racism that many in the community feel they face.... Arrests remained relatively low over the four days [of the protests]...."

Charles Pierce: "Is it just me, or does the fact that already it's been more than a month -- and $1.4 million a week, according to some reports -- and they still haven't found alleged cop-killer and survivalist fugitive Eric Frein down in Pennsylvania indicative of something more than Frein's finely honed woodchuck skillz?" ...

... CW: This story interests me because I have a cottage not all that far from the Poconos (I used to drive thru the Poconos regularly to get there), & it seems that every other year I was up there, I'd hear on the news that some convicted murderer/alleged cop-killer or similarly vile dangerous person had broken out of jail, was on the loose & had been sighted in the vicinity of my cottage. In one such Summer Manhunt Season, where the (alleged) cop-killer was spotted in every town anywhere near my cottage, I got home to Florida to find my husband watching the Manhunt Showdown on CNN; they cornered the guy & shot him dead not far from my place. I think maybe Manhunt Season is a sort of ghoulish "feature" of an Appalachian summer vacation.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the United States and Russia had agreed to share more intelligence on the Islamic State, as he sought to lay the basis for improved cooperation with Moscow." ...

... Our Friends in Turkey. New York Times: "In the face of increasing international pressure, Turkey took decisive military action on Monday -- not against the Islamic State militants that Turkey's Western allies have urged it to fight, but rather against the Kurdish militant group that has been battling the Islamic State. Turkish warplanes struck positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the P.K.K., in southeastern Turkey late Monday. The group, long an enemy of the Turkish state, had put down its weapons last year to talk peace. But on Tuesday, Turkish officials said the Kurdish militants had attacked a military outpost, leading to the government's first airstrikes against the group in nearly two years."

Washington Post: "The Ebola virus is killing 70 percent of those infected, and there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa by Dec. 1, a top official with the World Health Organization said Tuesday."

Sunday
Oct122014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 13, 2014

Emanuella Grinberg of CNN: "For the first time this year, Seattle and Minneapolis will recognize the second Monday in October as 'Indigenous People's Day.' The cities join a growing list of jurisdictions choosing to shift the holiday's focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants." ...

... Carrie Gibson of the Daily Beast: "Honoring Columbus is an idea whose time has past. That is not to say that we don't have plenty in our history that merits a day of celebration." ...

... Christopher Wanjek of Live Science debunks (October 2011) "the top 5 misconceptions about Columbus." ...

... CW: I'll bet you're wondering what the idiots at Fox "News" think about this. Here's a quote:

Christopher Columbus brought Western ideas, brought technology, brought the future to North America. He is somebody worth celebrating. -- Jonathan Hoenig ...

... Just as accurately as the Fox "News" accounting, Flip Wilson recounts Columbus's first crossing:

** E.J. Dionne: "Outside groups empowered by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision are using mass media in ways that turn off Americans to democracy, aggravate divisions between the political parties and heighten animosities among citizens of differing views. Studies of this year's political advertising show that outside groups are blanketing the airwaves with messages far more negative than those purveyed by the candidates themselves.... There is far too much complacency about big money's role in this year's campaigns, on the grounds that both sides have plenty of it.... Citizens United is deepening our divisions and turning more citizens into bystanders." CW: Thanks again, Supremes! Read the whole column. ...

... Chisun Lee, et al., of the Brennan Center for Justice: A Brennan Center "report collects abundant evidence of state and local election practice over the last four years, and concludes that weak regulation of coordination between candidates and the type of 'independent' spending groups Citizens United unleashed has allowed those groups to serve as de-facto arms of candidate campaigns. Since independent groups are not subject to many campaign finance laws, including spending limits, this effectively allows wealthy donors to circumvent those laws altogether." ...

... CW: Let's be clear here. The conservatives on the Supreme Court -- those high-falutin "independent" justices for life -- who are supposed to protect us from the craven hustlers in the other two branches of government, have in fact facilitated, or rather ordered, candidates for elected office to be even more craven hustlers. The Roberts Court is the first Supreme Court in my lifetime that has been blatantly anti-democratic & has purposefully undermined the Constitution those originalists & their "balls-&-strikes-calling" Ump-in-Chief are sworn to uphold. This isn't my "opinion"; it is supported by factual findings in the studies Dionne cites.

Robert Pear: "Federal officials say they have repeatedly criticized, and in many cases penalized, Medicare health plans for serious deficiencies, including the improper rejection of claims for medical services and unjustified limits on coverage of prescription drugs. The findings, cataloged in dozens of federal audit reports, come as millions of older Americans prepare to sign up for private health plans and prescription drug plans in Medicare's annual open enrollment period, which will begin on Wednesday and continue through Dec. 7."

Michelle Boots of Alaska Dispatch News: "A federal judge ruled Sunday that Alaska's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for gay couples to begin marrying in the state for the first time. 'The court finds that Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,' U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess wrote in an order in the case Hamby v. Parnell, released Sunday." Burgess is a George W. Bush appointee. ...

... Greg Abbott Explains the Facts of Life in a Legal Brief. Lauren McGaughy of the Houston Chronicle: "Attorney General Greg Abbott [-- the Republican nominee for governor --] says Texas' same-sex marriage ban should remain in place because legalizing it would do little or nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to get married and have children. Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said....,

Texas's marriage laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas's marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy.

      ... CW: Yeah, I thought so. Single women get pregnant & don't marry their partners because the gays. The stupidity of this argument alone should convince judges to knock down marriage equality bans. ...

Texas's liberal gun laws are rationally related to the State's interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage via shotgun weddings, Texas's gun laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. -- Constant Weader, channeling Greg Abbott

Margaret Hartmann of New York: "A day after a Dallas nurse became the second person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, it's still unclear how she contracted the disease ... and the medical community has not taken kindly to the CDC's suggestion that she was somehow at fault. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, said she was following 'full CDC precautions,' including wearing a gown, gloves, and a mask, while caring for [Ebola victim Thomas] Duncan, who died Wednesday. However, Dr. Thomas Frieden, who leads the CDC, said on Face the Nation that the fact that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital hasn't identified what went wrong "is concerning because clearly there was a breach in protocol. The comment exacerbated concerns about whether U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle Ebola patients, and whether the problem lies with the recommended procedures, or hospital workers failing to implement them."

Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News: "According to a new national poll, the more educated you are, the less you fear an Ebola outbreak in a major U.S. city, while the less educated, the greater the fear. Well that's what the latest Reason-Rupe national poll shows anyway, along with the fact that Tea Partiers fear the coming Ebola apocalypse more than Democrats and Republicans." ...

... "The Fear Equation." Michael Specter of the New Yorker: "Our response to pandemics -- whether SARS, avian influenza, MERS, or Ebola -- has become predictable. First, there is the panic. Then, as the pandemic ebbs, we forget. We can't afford to do either. This epidemic won't be over soon, but that is even more reason to focus on what works. ...

     ... CW: Here's something I wondered about, & Specter has the answer: "Rob Carlson..., who has written widely about genetic engineering and vaccine development, says, 'We could have pushed the development of a synthetic Ebola vaccine a decade ago. We had the skills, but we chose not to pursue it. Why? Because we weren't the people getting sick.'" ...

<>Also another case of Ebola was discovered in Texas, prompting an immediate and total ban on travel to and from the Lone Star state. Kidding! We only yap about banning travel to and from places as recommended by the John Bolton foreign policy think tank wizards at Fox News. -- Driftglass

The Tea Party Economy. Paul Krugman: "The world economy appears to be stumbling.... Growth is stalling, and the specter of deflation looms.... Historically, the solution to high levels of debt has often involved writing off and forgiving much of that debt.... [But now] the policy response to a crisis of excessive debt has, in effect, been a demand that debtors pay off their debts in full.... That ... doesn't work."

... Exploding Toasters! Before the [financial] crash, one in five mortgages that were being marketed by the biggest financial institutions were exploding and costing people their homes. No one would permit toasters to be sold when one in five exploded and burned down somebody's house. But they were selling mortgages like that and every regulator knew about it. -- Elizabeth Warren, in an interview with Thomas Frank. Thanks to James S. for the link.

Krugman elaborates on his Rolling Stone column, linked in the Commentariat last week:

CW: Apropos of a discussion Akhilleus & I had in the Comments section last week ...

... Jason Easley of Politics USA: "

Sen. Bernie Sanders knocked John McCain off of his usual Sunday morning warmongering turf by following a typical McCain appearance on CNN State Of The Union with a fact laced shredding of McCain's pro-war propaganda.... It was a rare first to see CNN or any other network have a guest on to rebut McCain's constant Obama bashing and calls for military acceleration":

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "In general, people with political views similar to Bernie Sanders do not get within half a mile of a Sunday morning microphone [because the Sunday show bookers don't invite them].... Whatever the cause of this breakthrough, it was a welcome development. John McCain's views on foreign policy are radical and represent a lunatic fringe. You'd never know it if all you did is watch teevee, but Sanders' views are much more mainstream." ...

... Charles Pierce reviews what-all else you missed on the Sunday shows.

Kirk Semple & Tim Arango of the New York Times: "Kurdistan Workers' Party, or P.K.K..., commanders say their halting, nine-year-old peace process with the Turkish government and, indeed, the future of the region, will turn on the battle for Kobani and on Turkey's response. If Turkey does not help the embattled Kurdish forces in Kobani, the commanders say, they will break off peace talks and resume their guerrilla war within Turkey, plunging yet another country in the region into armed conflict.... Despite increased pressure from the United States and pleas from outgunned Kurdish fighters in Kobani, Turkey has refused to deploy its military against the Islamic State..., or to open the border to allow reinforcements, weapons and supplies to reach the town. In a shift, though, Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases...." (See link in yesterday's News Ledes on this last point.) ...

... Griff Witte of the Washington Post: Great Britain's "most prominent propagandist for the Islamic State [-- Anjem Choudary --] ... and other enablers remain free to spread their seductively messianic ideology on the streets of the United Kingdom and globally, through the Internet. They do so by taking advantage of the very rights they condemn as un-Islamic.... Counterterrorism officials and experts say Choudary and the many shadowy groups he has fronted have directly contributed to the indoctrination of dozens of people who have gone on to plan or commit attacks in the United Kingdom. His network, they say, has also become a vital facilitator in the flow of some of the thousands of Europeans who have swarmed to the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, and who could return to carry out attacks in the West...."

November Elections

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Republican allies are pumping millions of dollars into a final swarm of television ads in the run-up to Election Day.... But much of the advertising by outside groups is coming later -- and at a much steeper cost -- than many on the right had hoped, largely because top conservative donors were slow to open their checkbooks. That foot-dragging has forced super PACs and politically active nonprofit groups to pay a huge premium for last-minute ad buys, and it shows the extent to which their top financiers have dictated the timing and strategy of outside groups this year."

Jonathan Ellis of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader: "The political world outside of South Dakota learned some stunning news last week: [Republican nominee] Mike Rounds, the guy everybody assumed would be the next senator from South Dakota, actually has been running a campaign more suited for sheriff of Mayberry County than U.S. Senate.... Even last spring, national Republicans were growing increasingly alarmed by Rounds' anemic fundraising.... Rounds failed to raise the resources necessary to defend himself in the cutthroat world of U.S. Senate campaigns, where millions of dollars can be beamed into a race with the flip of a switch." ...

... Martin Longman: "What's still unclear is if the DSCC is primarily concerned with electing their candidate, Rick Weiland, or with electing independent candidate, Larry Pressler. Either way, they hope that Mike Rounds is truly roadkill because that will save them a senate seat that they had every reason to believe was lost."

Danny Vinik of the New Republic rips the Denver Post's endorsement of winger Cory Gardner: "The paper & Cory Gardner disagree on almost every issue." ...

... Luke Brinker of Salon: "Denver Post submits superb entry for most asinine endorsement of 2014 cycle. The paper bemoans Washington gridlock -- and endorses a shutdown-supporting Tea Partier to solve it!"

Jason Zengerle in the New Republic assesses Alison Grimes' (D for Dismal) campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "So preoccupied with not making mistakes, and demonizing the opponent, the modern political campaign often forgets what would seemingly be its most important task: to make an affirmative case for its candidate." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link.

James Hohmann of Politico: In the Michigan gubernatorial race, the candidates debate. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has a small lead over Democrat Mark Schauer.

The Washington Post Editors endorse Democrat Anthony Brown for governor of Maryland as the lesser of two duds.

News Ledes

Guardian: "MPs including the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, have voted to recognise Palestine as a state in a symbolic move that will unnerve Israel by suggesting that it is losing a wider battle for public opinion in Britain. The vote of 274 to 12, a majority of 262, on a backbench motion has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers were instructed not to vote.

** Huffington Post: "Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has 'slowed down' research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe. 'NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'" Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. 'Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.'" CW: Thanks, GOP!

New York Times: "A day after American officials said Turkey had agreed to allow its air bases for operations against the Islamic State, which they described as a deal that represented a breakthrough in tense negotiations, Turkish officials on Monday said there was no deal yet, and that talks were still underway."

Washington Post: "Top clergy considering whether Catholicism must change its approach to sex and marriage on Monday ... [said] the Church must 'turn respectfully' to non-traditional relationships -- including unmarried and same-gender couples -- and 'appreciate the positive values' those unions may have. The comments came in a document cardinals prepared as a sum-up of what's happened during the first half of the two-week long 'synod' Pope Francis had called."

AP: "French economist Jean Tirole won the Nobel prize for economics Monday for research on market power and regulation. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Tirole for clarifying 'how to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms.'"

Boston Globe: "A prosecution witness could testify that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew his older brother was involved in a triple homicide in Waltham in 2011, according to a defense motion filed in federal court Friday. Prosecutors made the revelation of the existence of the witness in a letter in August, according to Friday's filing, which asked for a variety of information from prosecutors, including legible copies of documents from the Russian government and information and evidence related to the Waltham killings. The case remains open, even after a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly confessed and implicated Tamerlan in the killings."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Hundreds of protesters marched to the St. Louis University campus in the heart of the city early today and announced that they planned to stay. The protest culminated at the private school's Midtown campus just west of Grand Boulevard shortly before 2 a.m. after a march that started near the site where a teenager was fatally shot five days earlier by a city police officer. Police say the teenager fired at the officer first."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Hundreds of people turned out Sunday night for an interfaith service where clergy urged a wider call for reforms in response to police violence against minorities. Generational divides became apparent during the three hours that people spoke at Chaifetz Arena, at St. Louis University. At times, the crowd chanted calls for younger speakers -- demanding instead to hear the people who've been on the streets of Ferguson since the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown."