The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, May 30, 2016.

USA Today: "Six people died and at least two others were missing Sunday after heavy rains in Texas and Kansas caused severe flooding. In one case near Austin, which received nine inches of rain this week, a vehicle with two people was swept off a flooded roadway. Threats of floods prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of prisoners near Houston, and inmates in another prison on Saturday fought with correctional officers after flooding caused a power outage." -- CW 

AP: "Mexican police have rescued kidnapped soccer player Alan Pulido, who appeared with a bandaged hand at a brief press conference Monday to declare that he was fine. Police and other officials said Pulido, a 25-year-old forward with Greek soccer club Olympiakos, was freed in a security operation Sunday shortly before midnight in the northeast border state of Tamaulipas. Pulido had been seized by gunmen as he left a party Saturday night." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (May 22): "An outbreak of a life-threatening illness that has been linked to foods packaged by a processing plant in Washington State has prompted a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names. The scale of the recall reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness, listeria, and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have “trickled down” into other products, said Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." -- CW

Washington Post: "After an epic duel of word masters, an 11-year-old Texan and a 13-year-old New Yorker tied Thursday night [May 26] in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the third year in a row two victors shared the championship trophy."

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

... Washington Post: The White House goes Scandinavian for a state dinner for the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

New York Times: "Morley Safer, the longest-serving correspondent on '60 Minutes' who was known as much for his hard-hitting reporting as the quirky stories he covered, will formally retire this week after a career in broadcast news that lasted more than 50 years, CBS said on Wednesday. Mr. Safer, 84, served on '60 Minutes' for all but two of its 48 seasons. He started scaling back his appearances on the show after he turned 80; his last segment, a profile of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, aired in March.... An hourlong program on Sunday, “Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life,” will, among other highlights, recall an investigation by Mr. Safer that resulted in the freedom of Lenell Geter, a black man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas. In an appearance on the special, Mr. Geter credited Mr. Safer with saving his life."

U.K. Telegraph: "A Canadian schoolboy appears to have discovered a lost Mayan city hidden deep in the jungles of Mexico using a new method of matching stars to the location of temples on earth....In hundreds of years of scholarship, no other scientist had ever found such a correlation.... Studying 22 different constellations, [William Gadoury] found that they matched the location of 117 Mayan cities scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. When he applied his theory to a 23rd constellation, he found that two of the stars already had cities linked to them but that the third star was unmatched. William took to Google Maps and projected that there must be another city hidden deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The Canadian Space Agency agreed to train its satellite telescopes on the spot and returned with striking pictures: what appears to be an ancient Mayan pyramid and dozens of smaller structures around it."

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

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Sunday
May222016

The Commentariat -- May 23, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a black Georgia death row inmate who claimed that prosecutors kept African Americans off the jury that convicted him of murdering an elderly white woman. The court ruled 7 to 1 that Georgia prosecutors had improperly considered race when selecting a jury to judge Timothy Tryone Foster. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. Justice Clarence Thomas, the lone African American on the court, dissented, saying that the evidence that prosecutors acted improperly was not strong enough to overturn Foster's conviction." -- CW ...

Brief Return of Sanity. Richard Wolf in USA Today: "The Supreme Court gave a black death-row prisoner new life Monday by ruling that prosecutors unconstitutionally barred all potential black jurors from his trial nearly 30 years ago. The 7-1 verdict, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, reversed Georgia courts that had refused to consider claims of racial discrimination against Timothy Foster for the murder of an elderly white woman. The ruling is likely to fuel contentions from death penalty opponents that capital punishment is racially discriminatory." ...

... AND ...

... Lydia Wheeler on The Hill: "The Supreme Court dimissmed a GOP challenge Monday to a court remedy for an unconstitutional congressional redistricting plan in Virginia. A unanimous court held that Reps. Rob Wittman and other Republicans from Virginia, including Reps. Randy Forbes and David Brat, lacked standing to pursue the appeal because none of them could show they were injured by the new court-ordered race-neutral plan."

     ... Akhilleus: Bet you can't guess the lone dissenter in the first case. There'd have been two if you know who was still around. In the Virginia case, I'm surprised the standing argument worked, even though it's one of Roberts' favorite strategems for refusing to act on a claim. Brat and the other Virginia Confederates could sustain great injury now that their power grab has been found unconstitutional. They could be voted out of office in a truly democratic election. Jeez, Johnny, c'mon ...

Joe Heim & Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "A judge found police officer Edward M. Nero not guilty of all criminal charges in the case of Freddie Gray, whose death last year in police custody sparked riots and widespread anger in the city. The acquittal by Judge Barry G. Williams, announced Monday in a packed courtroom, is the first verdict reached in the Gray case. Nero is the second officer to face trial on charges related to Gray's arrest and subsequent death. The first officer's trial ended in a hung jury." -- CW

*****

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration announced Monday that the United States would fully lift a longstanding U.S. embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, a decision that reflects growing concerns about China's military clout and illustrates the warming bilateral ties between the former enemy nations. President Obama unveiled the new arrangement at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang during the opening day of his first visit to the country. Obama emphasized that his decision reflected a maturing relationship and deepening cooperation on security and economic investment four decades after the end of the Vietnam War." -- CW ...

... Gardiner Harris of the New York Times: "President Obama arrived in the steamy capital of Vietnam ahead of schedule on Sunday night to begin three days of meetings in hopes of luring yet another Southeast Asian country away from China's tight embrace." -- CW

Mujib Mashal of the New York Times: "The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, was killed by an American drone strike, the Afghan intelligence agency said on Sunday. Some Taliban commanders vehemently denied that Mullah Mansour was present in the area of the strike, which occurred on Saturday near the Afghan border in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, but a statement from the intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, was unambiguous." -- CW ...

... Gardiner Harris: "Calling the death 'an important milestone,' President Obama said in a statement, released just as he was meeting with top officials in Vietnam, that the United States had 'removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and coalition forces.'" -- CW

E.J. Dionne: "We'll hear lots in the coming months about the rise of 'populism.' But unless this talk is harnessed to policies that provide real help for real people, it will have all the depth of a splenetic, ill-considered tweet." -- CW

Presidential Race

I do not want Americans and, you know, good-thinking Republicans, as well as Democrats and independents, to start to believe that this is a normal candidacy. -- Hillary Clinton, regarding Donald Trump, Sunday on "Meet the Press" ...

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Continuing to treat a victory over Senator Bernie Sanders as a fait accompli, Hillary Clinton on Sunday questioned Donald J. Trump's business record and assailed his ideas, warning that the coming weeks represented a critical period in which, if left unchallenged, Mr. Trump could 'normalize himself' as he seeks to broaden his support. But Mr. Sanders pointed to polls showing Mrs. Clinton with dangerously high percentages of people who have unfavorable views of her and asked whether a choice between her and Mr. Trump in the fall would force voters to pick the 'lesser of two evils.'" -- CW

     ... CW: See also SNL's cold open, embedded yesterday. Really. ...

... Jessie Hellmann of the Hill: "... Bernie Sanders said he believes front-runner Hillary Clinton could beat ... Donald Trump in November, but that his campaign brings more excitement that could help the Democratic Party gain control of the Senate. 'I'm not saying she cannot beat Donald Trump. I think she can. There's a good chance she can,' Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview Sunday on 'State of the Union.' 'I am the stronger candidate because we appeal to independents. People who are not in love with either the Democratic or Republican Party, often for very good reasons.'" -- CW ...

Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "The Clinton and Sanders camps are, in the usual schoolyard fashion, pointing fingers at each other. The truth is, both sides are to blame. But the onus is on Clinton, not Sanders, to turn down the temperature. If she intends to unify the party, now is the time to prove she can do it -- that's her burden as the frontrunner and likely nominee." CW: Shephard provides a good overview of the dynamics of the "disunity."

Remembrances of Clinton Past. Paul Krugman puts on rose-tinted glasses & recalls the economic boom that occurred during Bill Clinton's administration. "What was Mr. Clinton's role? Actually, it was fairly limited, since he didn't cause the technology takeoff. On the other hand, his policies obviously didn't get in the way of prosperity. And it's worth remembering that in 1993, when Mr. Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy, Republicans uniformly predicted disaster." ...

     ... CW: This is true enough, but it would be worth remarking on the deregulation policies Bill Clinton initiated, which didn't show their full, disastrous effects for nearly a decade. So is it wise to put Bill "in charge of revitalizing the economy," as Mrs. Bill has proposed? I don't think so. It's about time Hillary Clinton put Krugman on her payroll. ...

... Ben Casselman of 538 (May 20): "... the [Bill] Clinton boom, and even some specific Clinton policies, also helped sow the seeds for the far more severe Great Recession of the late 2000s. Mortgage-backed securities and subprime loans weren't invented in the 1990s, but they expanded greatly during the period, part of a broader 'financialization' of the U.S. economy that contributed directly to the severity of the Great Recession." CW: Read the whole post. Casselman & Krugman don't disagree, but Casselman provides a more balanced view of Bill's impact on the economy (not much).

... Elizabeth Williamson of the New York Times: Bill Clinton's appearance at a Billings, Montana, campaign event did not inspire the female voters in attendance to accept him as Hillary's "economy czar." -- CW

William Saletan of Slate, published in Business Insider: "Trump's collaborators, like the 20th-century politicians who collaborated in segregation, internment, and McCarthyism, don't want to face the full meaning of their complicity. But they ... must explain to the public, under scrutiny from the press, why they're willing to suspend the fundamental values of the United States. I've put together an indictment [of] 10 counts, each one specific to a transgression or a target group. These aren't just character flaws. They're insinuations, accusations, and threats that make Trump a menace to minorities and to the country as a whole." --safari

John Myers of the Los Angeles Times: "A federal lawsuit alleging widespread confusion over California's presidential primary rules asks that voter registration be extended past Monday's deadline until the day of the state's primary election on June 7.... At issue is whether voters understand the rules for the presidential primary, which differ from those governing other elections in California. Unlike statewide primaries -- where voters now choose any candidate, no matter the political party -- the presidential contests are controlled by the parties themselves. Democrats have opened up their primary between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to voters that have no political affiliation, known in California as having 'no party preference.' But the lawsuit alleges elections officials in some of California's 58 counties aren't making that clear to these unaffiliated voters." One of the plaintiffs is a group supporting Sen. Sanders. -- CW

David Edwards of the Raw Story: "... Donald Trump refuted ... Hillary Clinton by insisting that he was 'not advocating guns in classrooms,' but at the same time argued that 'teachers should have guns in classrooms.' On Sunday's edition of Fox & Friends, host Clayton Morris pointed out that Hillary Clinton had recently attacked Trump for his position that 'every school' in American should have guns in classroom. 'They're just words,' Trump scoffed in response." CW: And my words are always meaningless because everything I say is fake.

Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times: Donald Trump may be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but Washington state's GOP convention awarded 40 out of 41 elected delegate slots to Ted Cruz." -- CW

Ed Kilgore: "Yes, it must be fun and ego-gratifying to be Donald J. Trump right now...Maybe so, but not for long. Throughout the pre-primary and primary phases of the GOP presidential-nominating process,Trump had a bunch of advantages he will soon lose...Perhaps Trump will be luckier and more skillful than I suspect in the very different context of a general election. But anyway you cut it, he's going to have a lot of white-knuckle moments from here on out. And it just isn't going to be as much fun." --safari

The War on Women, Ctd. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "The future of the Supreme Court -- and reproductive freedom, it seems -- currently rests on the public spectacle of nothing happening. Decisions not happening aren't news...You know what's news? Donald Trump's shortlist of Supreme Court nominees. The list shows -- maybe even more effectively than the dissents in Hobby Lobby -- why women's reproductive freedom is in real peril, because it shows Trump's eagerness to seat justices who will do away with the right to choose." --safari

** Married to the Mob. David Cay Johnson in Politico Magazine: "I've covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I've encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump's unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven't. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory.... Trump's career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service." -- CW

Brian Beutler: "... to the extent that #NeverTrump captured the public imagination at all, it was thanks to a different, largely unspoken, but potentially profound reading of the term: the implicit acknowledgment that Hillary Clinton's candidacy isn't abnormal, reckless, or morally irresponsible in the way that Trump's is.... For the sizable faction of the conservative elite that recognizes Clinton is a conventional Democrat, and that the country can survive four or eight more years of Democratic rule, they owe it to the public to be crystal clear about the fact that Trump is a unique threat.... But as long they continue to approach the challenge in such a muddied, blinkered way, their efforts will be largely wasted." -- CW

Kristina Wong of the Hill: "... Marine Corps veteran [Alexander McCoy] is organizing a protest on Monday against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, demanding he apologize for overstating his donations to veterans groups. 'We just cracked $6 million, right?' Trump said at the end of [a January 2016 fundraising] event.... Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski now says, however, that the fundraiser netted about $4.5 million, and told the Post the shortfall was due to Trump's acquaintances pledging donations, but not following through.... Lewandowski later told CNN ... the $4.5 billion figure he had given the Post earlier was inaccurate. 'Donald has attempted to use the respect that American voters have for veterans to obscure the fact that he is completely unfit to be our commander in chief,' McCoy, 27, told The Hill." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. The Frankenstein Network. Simon Maloy of Salon: "It's official: Donald Trump has conquered Fox News. The last redoubt of resistance collapsed last week when Megyn Kelly, Trump's nemesis from the primary debates, served up a toothless, meatless primetime interview with Trump that served only to verify that the Murdoch network is now squarely behind the Republican presidential nominee.... Fox helped create his political career, then it tried to tear him down, and now that he's forced Fox News back into his corner it will go to the mat to try and lift him up to the presidency." -- CW

Tom Kludt of CNN Money: "Michelle Fields, the conservative reporter who had Donald Trump's campaign manager charged with battery..., is heading to the Huffington Post, where she will cover the 2016 campaign with a specific focus on Trump and the Republican Party." -- CW

Way Beyond the Beltway

Patrick Keefe has a long piece in the New Yorker on Hervé Falciani, the H.S.B.C. employee who stole data to expose much of the the Swiss bank's dirty business. "Clients were not only placing their fortunes in accounts that were 'undeclared' to tax authorities; H.S.B.C. bankers were actively assisting clients in hiding their money, by setting up shell companies and sham trusts in the British Virgin Islands and Panama.... like Edward Snowden, with whom he claims a strong affinity, Falciani was a systems guy." CW: Fascinating, in a made-for-Hollywood way.

Philip Oltermann & Kate Connolly of the Guardian: "Austria's political future is on a knife-edge, with the candidate bidding to be the European Union's first far-right president holding a wafer-thin lead over his rival. According to the public broadcaster ORF, Norbert Hofer of the rightwing populist Freedom party (FPÖ) was neck and neck on 50% with his rival Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green party leader who is running as an independent." --safari...

...BUT Simon Tisdall of the Guardian: "From Essex to Essen and from Athens to Aarhus, the scale of the vote for the far right will be seen as a death sentence for familiar post-war, centrist politics-as-usual." --safari

Trump's brethren. AFP in the Guardian: "The Philippines president-elect [Rodrigo Duterte] accused the Catholic church on Sunday of hypocrisy, saying the bishops who had condemned him during his campaign had been asking favours from the government.... About 80% of Filipinos belong to the Catholic church...'You sons of whores, aren't you ashamed? You ask so many favours, even from me,' he said, addressing Catholic bishops." --safari

Leon Neyfakh of Slate: "While academic fraud exists all over the world, the pervasiveness of the deception in Russia is unparalleled, as is the extent to which it is tolerated...It didn't used to be this way. Though it wasn't unheard of to find Communist Party bosses with ill-gotten diplomas in the Soviet era, academic fraud was not perpetrated as brazenly, or at such an enormous scale, until the 1990s." --safari...

...safari: I'm not sure which one is worse, Russians who falsify their intelligence, or Americans who openly shun it. In the article, the writer tries to give a comparison as if Paul Ryan plaigarized Paul Krugman. While that certainly would be a scandal, it'd never happen. Here in the US, American politicians have countless, well-positioned pseudo-academics and think tanks that'll produce whatever Paul Ryan wants to hear. Or, he'll just throw in some magic asterisks and earn praise for his "wonkiness". Choose your poison I guess.

News Lede

Washington Post: "A wave of bombings in Syria killed at least 65 people Monday in a coastal area where Russian troops are based, Syrian state media reported. The attacks struck at one of the key strongholds for President Bashar al-Assad outside Damascus and the hub for Russian military operations backing his government." -- CW

Saturday
May212016

The Commentariat -- May 22, 2016

Michael Crowley of Politico: "Obama's visit comes at a moment when U.S. and Asian officials fear the region is entering a newly dangerous atomic future, threatening Obama's vow to roll back the spread of nuclear arms and possibly touching off an Asian nuclear arms race...Most strikingly, Pentagon planners worry that Japan and South Korea might explore developing nuclear arms of their own for the first time." --safari...

...Gardiner Harris & David Sanger of the New York Times: "When President Obama arrives [in Vietnam] early Monday, his task ... [is] to create a partnership that seemed unlikely even three years ago. Since then, China's expansion in the South China Sea has deeply shaken a new Vietnamese government. While the leadership here has not let up on its repression of its people -- the police have beaten protesters in demonstrations over an environmental disaster -- it now appears more interested in playing one superpower off against the other, perhaps even giving the Pentagon some rotating access to key Vietnamese ports.... It could throw Beijing off balance in the daily shadowboxing over who will dominate one of the world's most strategically vital waterways." -- CW

Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "... over the course of [this] year, [President] Obama's approval numbers changed -- quickly, and a lot. In Gallup's most recent weekly average, Obama is at 51-45 -- the exact opposite of where he was on Jan. 1 and a 12-point swing since then. Among the groups that have seen the biggest increases in approval of Obama since last May are Hispanics, people under 30, women and people who identify their political ideology as 'independent.'" -- CW

David Atkins of the Washington Monthly: "[T]he most glaring and infuriating evidence of the willful failure to prosecute the gang of thieves and criminals on Wall Street comes from David Dayen's tremendous new book Chain of Title. Dayen recounts in painstaking, meticulous detail how the entire banking industry violated every precept of property law in what has become known as the robo-signing scandal or more neutrally the 'foreclosure crisis.'...Time and time again, Holder and the Obama Administration deliberately chose to stonewall investigations or to accept meager cash settlements for obvious illegal activity when criminal securities fraud prosecutions could easily have been undertaken." --safari

Kevin Sullivan of the Washington Post writes a compelling piece on the "patriot" movement, focusing on one particular loony-toon. CW: What is readily apparent is the inherent selfishness, greed & paranoia that drives the movement. This struck me: "He followed his mother's advice and stayed away from politics: She taught him young that registering to vote was just a way for the government to call you to jury duty." That's right: basic civic responsibilities -- voting & jury service -- are tools of government oppression. The "patriot" movement is a howling misnomer. And, as so often goes unsaid, it's racist.

Presidential Race

Lois Beckett & Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "For years seen as a losing battle, the push for gun control has become a central conflict of the 2016 presidential election, and part of a broader struggle between competing visions of policing, justice and racism in America." -- CW ...

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "The day after Mr. Trump received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, Mrs. Clinton assailed her probable general election rival as pandering to the group.... Speaking in a ballroom full of mothers who had lost children to gun violence, Mrs. Clinton defended her position on gun control and her promise to overhaul the criminal justice system." -- CW

Maureen Dowd: "Hillary says Sanders needs to 'do his part' to unify the party, as she did in 2008. But even on the day of the last primaries in that race, when she was the one who was mathematically eliminated unless the superdelegates turned, she came onstage to Terry McAuliffe heralding her as 'the next president of the United States.' She then touted having more votes than any primary candidate in history as her fans cheered 'Yes, she will!' and 'Denver!'" ...

     ... CW: Thanks, Ed! MoDo: Former Pennsylvania "Gov. Ed Rendell said Trump's obsession with '10s' and D-cups would 'come back to haunt him and give Democrats wins because 'there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women.'"

Jill Filipovic in a Washington Post op-ed: "... Hillary has pledged that Bill wouldn't be on traditional first lady duty -- he'd be in charge of fixing the economy, not picking out the flowers and china for state dinners. But why shouldn't he pick the china? If one goal of a Hillary Clinton presidency is to challenge traditional gender roles, then her husband should flout them, too. The best way he could do that is by taking on the domestic issues facing women and children that are too often derided as 'softer' than economic or foreign policy topics -- and, yes, doing the stereotypically feminine work of party planning and decorating, too. A first man managing the White House household would be just as groundbreaking as a female president." ...

     ... CW: Does anybody think Bill Clinton is capable of managing the household help? Maybe he could get Ed Rendell to help him weed out all the "ugly" applicants.

Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Doubling down on his feud with the Democratic Party leadership, Senator Bernie Sanders said that if elected president, he will not reappoint Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. He made the comments during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that is set to air on Sunday. Mr. Sanders also said he was supporting Tim Canova, a law professor who has begun an insurgent campaign against Ms. Wasserman Schultz for her South Florida congressional seat. They will face off in a primary this summer." -- CW

David Atkins: "Contrary to conventional wisdom, the drawn out Democratic primary and the consolidation of the Republican field behind Trump is actually helping Democrats overall by encouraging progressive voter turnout and registration in the large state contests that remain, including and especially in California...As long as Sanders stays away from personal attacks on Clinton, the ongoing primary should be a boon to Democrats in the remaining primary states." --safari

Bruenigate. Kristen East of Politico: "A progressive blogger was fired Friday for referring to a Hillary Clinton ally as a 'scumbag,' igniting a fiery social-media exchange between the two and other high-profile writers who are at odds over the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The comment from Matt Bruenig, who wrote about philosophy and political economy at liberal think tank, Demos, came after a Twitter back-and-forth between Bruenig and Joan Walsh, a writer for The Nation, on a piece Walsh wrote, which is entitled, 'Bernie Sanders is hurting himself by playing the victim.'" -- CW ...

... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "... to many, [this contretemps] reflects something larger, the latest in a series of efforts by the forces of centrist liberalism to stifle more left-wing voices in order to serve the interests of capitalism. Or, at minimum, the latest in a series of moves by allies of Hillary Clinton to keep Bernie Sanders' political revolution down." -- CW

Gideon Resnick of The Daily Beast: "After floating a series of ridiculous Vice Presidential picks, [Ben] Carson was axed from Trump's selection team, sources close to the campaign told The Daily Beast. According to sources close to Trump's campaign, Carson was demoted after Trump specifically wanted him to head up the VP selection team. He submitted names that he thought would be valuable picks and inevitably lost his top spot days later...In the absence of a person to head up the operation, embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stepped in and took over the spot." --safari

Jonathan Martin & Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "A powerful array of the Republican Party's largest financial backers remains deeply resistant to Donald J. Trump's presidential candidacy, forming a wall of opposition that could make it exceedingly difficult for him to meet his goal of raising $1 billion before the November election. Interviews and emails with more than 50 of the Republican Party's largest donors, or their representatives, revealed a measure of contempt and distrust toward their own party's nominee that is unheard of in modern presidential politics." -- CW

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "A day after Donald Trump told people at the National Rifle Association that Hillary Clinton would strip away their right to bear arms, the Republican seemed to suggest on social media that his opponent, who he thinks totes a hard line on gun control, should disarm her Secret Service team. 'Crooked Hillary wants to get rid of all guns and yet she is surrounded by bodyguards who are fully armed,' Trump tweeted Saturday morning. 'No more guns to protect Hillary!'" CW: This is the sort of ignorant absolutism Gloria discusses in today's Comments. Meanwhile, we're waiting for Drumpf to declare Mar-a-Lago a "gun-free zone." Which it ain't. Everything about the guy is fake...

...Sarah Wheaton of Politico: "With its last-minute decision to formally endorse Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association put itself out in front of the fight for Republican party unity.... But not all NRA members are eager to fall in line." Seems some members don't trust Trump's recent embrace of gun-rights absolutism. CW: As for me, I get a kick out of how Drumpf has sold himself as the only candidate who isn't beholden to "Washington lobbyists," then turns around & prostrates himself in front of the nation's most powerful lobbying firm. Everything about the guy is fake.

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker: "The American Republic stands threatened by the first overtly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history -- an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power.... If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over." -- CW

... AND the media will be complicit: Neal Gabler, Bill Moyers.com at Salon: "While Republicans have worked tirelessly to destroy the public's confidence in government -- to the point where government now barely functions -- they also have been working to destroy public confidence in the idea of an objective media...[because] they have an impossible time with fact and truth." -- LT

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. CW: I'm a bit late linking Steve M.'s critique of "Morning Joe"'s interview of the Call-in Guy. But you should read it anyway. These so-called Morning Joe "interviews" of the Call-in Guy are akin to the way you "interview" Uncle Fred during Thanksgiving dinner. You just let him say whatever crackpot ideas come forth because he's too irrational to try to correct. Fortunately, Uncle Fred is unlikely to become POTUS. The Call-in Guy? He has a real shot.

Beyond the Beltway

Cyper Punks. Olga Khazan of The Atlantic: "Through the early 2000s, skinheads and other groups would host dozens of events per year with hundreds of attendees, she says, but now there are only a handful of those rallies each year. Jessie Daniels, a sociologist who studies cyber racism, has also noticed that racist groups are now much more active online than in the streets. 'People online are talking about the same kinds of things that used to happen at the rallies, but now they're doing it completely through the web,'" --safari

Way Beyond

Eyes on Austria. Philip Oltermann of the Guardian: "A majority vote tonight for Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) would not only confront the EU with a far-right president in its midst for the first time, butcould send Austria on a journey towards becoming an autocratic, illiberal state more akin to Viktor Orbán's Hungary than Angela Merkel's Germany." --safari

Juan Cole: "What do Israel's Arab neighbors think about the political earthquake that struck PM Binyamin Netanyahu's cabinet on Thursday and Friday? ...Making the Egyptians deal with [Avigdor] Lieberman is a slap in the face to Cairo, given that he once suggested destroying the Aswan Dam and sweeping the Egyptians into the sea...The pan-Arab leftwing London daily, al-Quds al-`Arabi, reported that circles around [Egyptian President] al-Sisi were 'shocked' at the prospect of having to work with Lieberman, and that they consider his appointment a 'red line' after he threatened them with genocide." --safari

Jon Boone & Sune Engel Rasmussen of the Guardian: "The leader of the Afghan Taliban has been killed by a US drone strike in an area of Pakistan hitherto off-limits for the remote-controlled aircraft, sources confirmed on Sunday...Mullah Mansoor had been killed by an attack in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan in an operation involving multiple drones...The killing of the Taliban leader is likely to have major ramificationsboth for efforts to kickstart peace talks and for the often stormy relationship between the US and Pakistan." --safari

Friday
May202016

The Commentariat -- May 21, 2016

Peter Hermann, et al., of the Washington Post: "A uniformed Secret Service officer shot and critically wounded a man who brandished a gun outside the White House Friday afternoon, authorities said.... In [a] statement, the agency said the man refused numerous orders to drop the weapon and was shot. Two law enforcement officials said he was shot once in the chest and rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Authorities said a firearm was recovered.... The shooting ... prompted a massive police response near the executive mansion, where hundreds of tourists and bystanders were milling about. The Secret Service placed the White House on lockdown and rushed to secure Vice President Biden 'within the complex.'..." -- CW ...

... The New York Times story, by Julie Davis & Michael Schmidt, is here.

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Major changes to nutrition labels on food packages became final on Friday, with calorie counts now shown in large type and portion sizes that reflect how much Americans actually eat. It was the first significant redrawing of the nutrition information on food labels since the federal government started requiring them in the early 1990s." Michelle Obama announced the final rule. -- CW

Presidential Race

Hillary Clinton, in a Washington Post op-ed: "In every state in the country, child care for two kids now costs more than the average rent." Clinton proposes a series of measures to ease the burdens on working parents. ...

     ... CW PS: If you're interested in knowing Donald Drumpf's childcare plan, here it is in a nutshell: "It's not expensive for a company to do it. You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys."

Amie Parnes of the Hill: "In public, Hillary Clinton's aides and allies have kept their anger checked, decrying the rowdy outbursts at Nevada's state convention last weekend but saying they believe [Bernie] Sanders will ultimately do the right thing by helping to unite the Democratic Party. Behind the scenes, however, they are seething that statements by the Vermont senator are just making matters worse by further alienating his supporters from Clinton.... The continued combat on the left is also complicating Clinton's efforts to fully turn her attention to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is reveling in the Democratic feuding. 'This is the worst-case scenario and the one people feared the most,' said one Clinton ally and former Clinton aide." -- CW ...

... Here's Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg on the same topic in a post titled, "Sanders, Defiant on the Stump, Quietly Reassures Democrats on Unity." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... it is at least possible that Sanders is getting carried away in a messianic fervor that he will not walk away from readily. A recent New York Times story described numerous Sanders staffers as 'disheartened' by the campaigns 'near-obsession with perceived conspiracies on the part of Mrs. Clinton's allies.'... Sanders has a longstanding habit of attributing any disagreement with his policies as the result of corruption...." -- CW ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Bernie Sanders's supporters have secured permits for four demonstrations near July's Democratic National Convention, according to a new report. The events will rally support for Sanders's message while Democrats select their presidential nominee in Philadelphia, according to The Wall Street Journal." -- CW

Sahil Kapur: "Hillary Clinton believes a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that is the linchpin of an individual's right to own a gun was 'wrongly decided,' her policy adviser told Bloomberg Politics on Friday. 'Clinton believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe, like safe storage laws to prevent toddlers from accessing guns,' Maya Harris, a policy adviser to Clinton, said in an e-mailed statement." ...

... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump called on Friday for an end to gun-free zones in the United States and accused Hillary Clinton of seeking to let violent criminals out of prison, putting law-abiding citizens at risk, as he accepted the endorsement of the National Rifle Association at its annual convention.... 'Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office,' he said at the N.R.A.'s convention here. 'She wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She wants to take away your guns.' Although Mrs. Clinton has called for tightening restrictions on guns, she has not called for overturning the Second Amendment." -- CW ...

... Here's Trump's subtle way of reminding you that Hillary Clinton doesn't have a penis; ergo, she doesn't have the "equipment" to be president:

... Hunter of Daily Kos: "But perhaps the bigger news of the day was Trump's insistence, during the speech, that as president he would 'get rid of' gun-free zones: boom, blam, done. This always goes down very well, even at the National Rifle Association's leadership forum, which is itself a ... gun-free zone. And Trump's own properties are 'gun-free zones' as well, because even racist ex-butlers aren't stupid enough to want yahoos with loaded rifles tromping through the lobby." CW: In case you haven't noticed, it turns out there is no #RealDonaldTrump. Every fucking thing he says is phony. ...

... CW: After reading Gail Collins' column about Deadeye Donald, you may want to switch your vote to Trump. Not only is he going to Make America Great Again, he will keep us safe by personally shooting all the terrorists just as they are about to attack. Donald's system seems a lot more efficient than all that Homeland Security stuff. Also, too, why waste money on Secret Service agents when Deadeye can foil every assassination attempt with one shot? For a guy who says he doesn't drink, Donald sure sounds like the drunk at the end of the bar. ...

     ... One thing is clear: your choice in November will be between a candidate who believes in sensible gun legislation & one who thinks citizen-on-citizen shootouts are the sensible means to keep the peace. So please don't go all Ralph Nader & tell us there's no difference between the major-party candidates. (See also the candidates' competing childcare plans -- if you can call urging private companies to buy "some swings & some toys" a "plan.")

** Drew Harwell of the Washington Post: "The last time information from Donald Trump's income-tax returns was made public, the bottom line was striking: He had paid the federal government $0 in income taxes. The disclosure, in a 1981 report by New Jersey gambling regulators, revealed that the wealthy Manhattan investor had for at least two years in the late 1970s taken advantage of a tax-code provision popular with developers that allowed him to report negative income. Today ... Trump regularly denounces corporate executives for using loopholes and 'false deductions['] to 'get away with murder' when it comes to avoiding taxes.... Trump's personal taxes are a mystery. He has refused to release any recent returns, meaning the public cannot see how much money he makes, how much he gives to charity and how aggressively he uses deductions, shelters and other tactics to shrink his tax bill." -- CW

Unemployed Former High Executioner Looking for Work. Jeremy Diamond of CNN: "Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once called Donald Trump 'a cancer on conservatism,' said Friday he would be willing to serve as the presumptive Republican nominee's vice president." -- CW

Jayne Mayer of the New Yorker: "Amateurish spies like James O'Keefe III attempt to sway the 2016 campaign." CW: "Amateurish?" Your 12-year-old would be more polished spy than O'Keefe. In the LOL "sting of myself" Mayer highlights, O'Keefe "forgot to hang up the phone" & revealed in a recorded voicemail to a George Soros-funded organization a part of his inchoate, hairbrained plot to infiltrate the Soros operation. O'Keefe would be hilarious if he weren't occasionally dangerous. He provides plenty of material for budding screenwriters in the vein of "Get Smart" meets "Dumb & Dumber."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. He Was For It Before He Was Against It. Aaron Rupar of Think Progress: Joe Scarborough praises Call-in Guy D. Drumpf for being "consistent" on Libya even though Trump has done a 180 on Libya. "Later in the show, however, Scarborough attempted to correct the record...," but only after the Clinton campaign "reminded" Scarborough of Trump's urging the U.S. to "... immediately go into Libya, knock this guy [Gaddafi] out very quickly, very surgically...." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

OK. OK Governor Not Completely Stupid. Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions, saying she felt the bill was too vague and unable to withstand a legal challenge. Fallin's decision came a day after lawmakers in the state approved the unprecedented bill, well before a deadline for her to sign the measure, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature." - CW

Ultimate "Today in Responsible Gun Ownership" Story. Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian: "Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea is under state investigation for accidentally shooting a friend in the back during an eastern Oregon hunting trip last month. O'Dea was on vacation April 21 in Harney County when he fired his .22-caliber rifle, striking a friend once in the lower left side of his back, according to police and Harney County dispatch records. O'Dea on Friday called it a 'negligent discharge.' He was off-duty at the time. Retired Portland police Sgt. Steve Buchtel, a former head of firearms training at the Police Bureau, was with O'Dea and called 911 at 4:37 p.m. that day." -- CW

Michael Schmidt: Georgia sheriff's deputies repeatedly Tasered a man, handcuffed in the back seat of a car, until he died. The man's family had called 911 for medical assistance after his behavior became erratic & violent. The Times has video footage, obtained from the offiders' bodycams. -- CW

Way Beyond

William Booth of the Washington Post: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attempts to remake his governing coalition have set heads spinning -- dumping his well-regarded defense minister to possibly bring aboard a polarizing maverick with few friends in Washington. Definitely out: Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who resigned his post on Friday. On the way to the door, Yaalon blasted Netanyahu, saying he has lost confidence in the prime minister's decision-making and morals. Maybe in: Avigdor Lieberman. He's a former foreign minister and current leader of an ultranationalist political party built around the 1 million Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel." -- CW ...

... Lieberman's In. Juan Cole: "Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bolstered his majority and rid himself of a troublesome voice of conscience Thursday by appointing the extremist Avigdor Lieberman minister of defense. This move strengthened Netanyahu's hand politically, removing a critic in the form of Moshe Yaalon, the previous minister of defense. But it also sent a signal to Israel's officer corps, which has been showing distinct unease at Netanyahu's march of the country into Mussolini territory." -- CW

News Ledes

Washington Post: "The U.S. military has conducted an air strike against Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the Pentagon said on Saturday. In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the attack on Mansour took place on Saturday 'in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.' A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity..., said that President Obama had authorized the operation.... The official said that Mansour, who emerged as the Taliban leader in 2015, was 'likely killed.'"

AP: "A small fire shut down a generating tower Thursday at the world's largest solar power plant, leaving the sprawling facility on the California-Nevada border operating at only a third of its capacity, authorities said. Firefighters had to climb some 300 feet up a boiler tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California after fire was reported on an upper level around 9:30 a.m., fire officials said. The plant works by using mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers at the top of three 459-foot towers.... But some misaligned mirrors instead focused sunbeams on a different level..., causing electrical cables to catch fire, San Bernardino County, California fire Capt. Mike McClintock said."

Friday
May202016

Thank You

By Marie

As many of you noticed, safari & Akhilleus kept Reality Chex going while I was on the road. They did a fine job of it, too. I did not specifically ask them to help out; unlike me, I gather they both have real jobs and other real commitments and interests that take up a lot of real time. Nevertheless, both made significant contributions over the past week.

Here's the point where I have to wonder where the hell everybody else was. There are six other contributors who know how to do what safari & Akhilleus did. In addition, everybody who reads Reality Chex knows how to provide links to stories in the Comments section, as a few contributors did.

I'm not sure if you can call yourself a liberal -- and I know you can't describe yourself as a Sanders-style democratic socialist -- if you're happy to regularly take advantage of this site but you're unwilling to support it with a few contributions.  

 

P.S. If you comment on a news story or opinion piece that has not been linked here, for Pete's sake, provide a link. Even if you're commenting on a news event you saw on TV or heard on the radio, it's highly likely the story also made it into print. I used to accommodate "Random Reader Remarks" by trying to track down the stories the writers might have referred to. But I resent having to babysit adult commenters so I've pretty much quit doing that -- although I did it yesterday, and I'll do it again if someone comments or hints at some event that might be newsworthy.