Jonathan Stempel & Jon Herskovitz of Reuters: "A federal appeals court upheld the use of race by University of Texas at Austin in undergraduate admissions, a victory for affirmative action proponents, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered closer scrutiny of the school's practices. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday said the state's flagship university had justified its limited use of race to achieve diversity, given a lack of workable alternatives.... Opponents pledged to appeal, which could give the Supreme Court a chance to again review the case in its next term. In June 2013, the Supreme Court did not directly rule on the program's constitutionality but ordered the 5th Circuit ... to scrutinize it more closely."
Do-Nothing House Does as Little as Possible. Fawn Johnson & Billy House of the National Journal: "Nearly as many House Republicans as Democrats voted on Tuesday to pass a bill to keep federal highway projects temporarily running into the next Congress, despite pressure from two influential outside conservative groups to oppose the measure. Approved in an overwhelming 367 to 55 vote, the bill would provide $10.8 billion more for the federal Highway Trust Fund. The bill is likely to become law only because the Senate and the White House are out of other options. No one is particularly happy about it. It doesn't solve any long-term problems, and in less than a year it will put lawmakers right back where they have been."
Burgess Everett of Politico: Harry Reid "will oppose a proposal from [Sen. John] Cornyn (R-Texas) and [Rep. Henry] Cuellar (D-Texas) to treat unaccompanied minors from Central America the same as those from Mexico and expedite immigration hearings for children with asylum claims or children who may have been victims of human trafficking.... Reid clearly believes that President Barack Obama's supplemental request of $3.7 billion for border funding is superior to Cuellar and Cornyn's border plan -- and he said the White House has sufficient authority to make policy changes to adjust the flow of migrants through the border through the executive office."
Jason Buch of the Houston Chronicle: Jose Antonio Vargas, "the Pulitzer-winner turned activist detained at the McAllen airport this morning, has been released.... After about eight hours in custody, agents released Vargas, according to a spokesperson for his Define American advocacy group.... Vargas made public he did not have permission to be in the country in 2011 and has since advocated for immigration reform. Last week, he reported in Politico Magazine that he had traveled to McAllen to write about the plight of the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied children crossing the border into South Texas."
Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they've got some pie chart or graph behind them and they're talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.... We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life -- that's the way to go. -- Rep. Rene Ellmers (RTP-N.C.) at a meeting of women in the conservative House Republican Study Committee to discuss ways to "message" to "female" voters ...
... Dave Weigel: "Reading that, I thought of this week's Republican message, read by Senate candidate Joni Ernst..., and how she focused on the promise of the Balanced Budget Amendment (a dead idea that polls well) because government should run its affairs like 'you' run the household. No pesky charts there!" ...
... CW: C'mon, Dave, Ellmers is onto something. I now realize the reason I can't understand Louie Gohmert is that he speaks on a higher level that is way above what my weak, female mind can grasp. Hell, I'd probably have voted for Marco I-Am-Not-a-Scientist Rubio if I'd only been smart enough to comprehend his higher-level message. Republican men really need to learn to talk down to us nitwits when they explain why they must make decisions for us. ...
... Ha Ha Ha. Steve Benen has an update. Ellmers issued a statement claiming "... the quote in question was taken completely out of context.... Some writers are cherry-picking words and using predetermined agendas to attack Republicans...." In the statement, she calls the reporter who wrote the story "a liberal woman reporter." Benen writes, "I'm not sure how a multi-paragraph, multi-sentence quote can be taken 'completely' out of context. It's also unclear how this can be fairly labeled 'cherry-picking words.'" CW: I'd add that the "liberal woman reporter" with her "predetermined agenda to attack Republicans" is Ashe Schow, who writes for the right-wing Washington Examiner. Schow, according to Jackie Kucinich of the Washington Post, is "a former editor and writer for the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America (not exactly bastions of liberalism)." Just remember, being a Republican means never having to take responsibility for your own words. ...
... Update: Schow has published (& provided audio of) Ellmers' full remarks. The "context" was this: women are too dumb to understand big concepts like "trillions of dollars" or complicated pie charts because -- unlike men who talk "on a higher level" -- women can only understand things in simplistic terms that relate to their own family's day-to-day experiences.
Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on a rare bill in support of abortion rights that would block states from passing laws that chip away at women's access to abortion services. Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) bill, the Women's Health Protection Act, prohibits restrictions on abortion 'that are more burdensome than those imposed on medically comparable procedures.'" The legislation would nullify mandatory waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds and counseling before abortion;... and other state laws that abortion-rights supporters believe are designed to make it impossible for women to access a safe and legal medical procedure." ...
... Carrie Beusman of Jezebel: "... there's basically no chance that the bill will pass the GOP-controlled House -- however..., it serves the valuable purpose of asking Republicans to explain the disingenuous, unsupported reasoning behind the scores of excessive regulations they've imposed in the past few years. As Blumenthal notes, this may effectively remove the 'patina of respectability' from the whole ridiculous charade." ...
... The folks a Fox "News" are please to note that this bill will doom Democrats as mass murderers. Charles Pierce has a go at one Fox "News" essay on the subject.
The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse. And here is the nutshell version of today's opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad. -- Justice Elena Kagan, dissent in American Express v. Italian Colors, 2013 ...
... Lina Khan, in the Washington Monthly, provides a history lesson on how the Supreme Court has taken away Americans' fundamental right to seek legal redress against corporations. The only way to reverse the Supremes' radical decisions is for Congress to act to restore the rights, which won't happen "given the level of opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests." Via Charles Pierce. ...
... CW: This series of cases shows that for the winger Supremes, ideology trumps even their own personal interests. AT&T is just as happy to cheat Sam Alito as it was to defraud the Concepcions (AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion). But Alito the other four ConservoSupremes still ruled that companies could ban class action suits in the fine print of their "contracts" with consumers. Maybe Mrs. Sam could explain to Justice Sam from down there at the woman's level that their monthly bills are so high because the phone company, et al., ignore her complaints.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd thinks President Obama should quit traveling the country & send a hologram of himself instead. Or something.
Dick Cheney Keeps Boosting Democratics. Hayes Brown of Think Progress: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CNN on Tuesday, once more claiming that the Iraq his administration left behind was a 'very stable' one. In actuality, on the waning days of the Bush administration, Iraq was still a highly violent place, with car bombs exploding and government officials targeted."
Todd Akin Tag-teams the Big Dick. Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "Failed Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) has recently re-emerged in the public sphere to defend his claim in 2012 that women who were victims of 'legitimate rape' could not get pregnant. In a phone interview with St. Louis Dispatch, the former congressman compared himself sympathetically to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who spearheaded an infamous Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. Akin argued that McCarthy was another victim 'assassinated by the media.'"
Jennifer Epstein & Lauren French of Politico: "David Simas, the director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, will not comply with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's subpoena for him to testify, counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter Tuesday to panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).... Issa rejected the White House's assertion of immunity, citing a 2008 federal court case that found that senior advisors to presidents are 'not absolutely immune from congressional process.'"
Rebecca Ruiz & Danielle Ivor of the New York Times find via FOIA requests, that GM hid internal evidence & opinions that ignition switch defects had caused fatal accidents.
You might find yourself more tolerant of the TSA after you read this piece by Nina Strochlic of the Daily Beast: "About a year ago, the [TSA]'s social media team ... launched an Instagram feed. Over its run so far, the filtered, captioned, and heavily hashtagged feed has morphed into an incredible trove of photos documenting the most absurd things people try to bring on planes.... TSA airport inspectors have found cannonballs and eels and rocket launchers." Strochlic includes a few photos.
Ed Kilgore on recent Senate polls: "Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call, who has been known to put the occasional thumb on the scales for the GOP, has a new assessment that concludes party control of the Senate remains 'up in the air.' The Cook Political Report still rates eight races as toss-ups. FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten, while calling Democrats' position 'perilous,' still notes that current polling would suggest Democrats holding onto 51 seats. There's new Marist polling out of Michigan and Colorado providing Democrats good news in those states, and the close and nasty GOP runoff in Georgia is doing nothing to lower Michelle Nunn's prospects.... It's entirely possible the current GOP triumphalism over the Senate is fundamentally no different from the effort by conservative media to spin Mitt Romney right into the White House in 2012."
Manu Raju of Politico: "In a rare and surprising act of political defiance on Tuesday, more than 100 [Kansas] Republicans, including current and former officeholders, endorsed [Gov. Sam] Brownback's opponent, statehouse Democratic leader Paul Davis. Polls show the challenger with a surprisingly strong shot at taking out Brownback in November.
Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "A group trying to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016 launched a website Tuesday, with plans to use a national gathering of influential liberal activists later this week to gain more publicity and recruit additional members.... Warren's spokeswoman, Lacey Rose, said that the Massachusetts Democrat is not working with the group, ready4warren.com, nor endorsing its plans."
Beyond the Beltway
Pat Reavy & Dennis Romboy of the Deseret News: "Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow [R] and Mark Shurtleff [R] were arrested and charged Tuesday on allegations ranging from accepting bribes to destroying evidence.... The state's former top law enforcement officials were charged in 3rd District Court with pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony; and three counts of receiving or soliciting bribes by a public official, a second-degree felony. In addition, Shurtleff was charged with two counts of illegally accepting gifts or loans, a second-degree felony; accepting employment that would impair judgment, a second-degree felony; witness tampering, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony."
Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper will submit signatures Tuesday to put what could be one of the most dramatic startups ever on the ballot - a plan to divide California into six states.... A Field Poll in February showed 59 percent of Californians surveyed opposed the idea. Even if Draper can turn that around, there would be another major hurdle: The U.S. Constitution requires the approval of both Congress and the state Legislature, which is now firmly controlled by Democrats."
CNN: "The Texas actress who admitted sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday, the U.S. attorney's office said. Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, also was ordered to pay $367,000 in restitution."
Washington Post: "On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a 'very high possibility.'" ...
... New York: "Israel Says It Might Invade the Gaza Strip to Save Its Summer Vacation."
New York Times: "The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed."