Billy House of the National Journal: "The House and Senate this week will take up several long-awaited legislative items, though they will do so amid the circus atmosphere surrounding the House GOP's buildup to a vote later this month on suing President Obama over his executive actions." ...
... Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama and other top administration officials will pressure Congress to strike a deal on the Highway Trust Fund in a series of events this week, looking to coerce a deal before the financing for road, bridge, and mass-transit projects is exhausted next month. The president will speak twice on the importance of funding infrastructure...."
Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Citigroup and the Justice Department have agreed to a $7 billion deal that will settle a federal investigation into the mortgage securities the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis. The settlement, announced on Monday morning, includes a $4 billion cash penalty to the Justice Department -- the largest payment of its kind -- as well as $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars earmarked for aiding struggling consumers and $500 million to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."
Massimo Calabresi of Time: "... the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other noncharitable groups from misusing the tax code.... IRS commissioner John Koskinen said the change would result in 'efficiencies [that] will translate into a faster and better review' of bigger nonprofits, while clearing a 66,000-application backlog that has resulted in yearlong waits for groups seeking to start a charity.
Pierre Thomas of ABC News interviews AG Eric Holder on a number of topics:
... Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post has a summary.
Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: On "Fox 'News' Sunday" Britt Hume grills Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on Perry's proposal to line the border with National Guardsmen:
But the question I'm trying to get at with you is this: if these children, who have undergone these harrowing journeys to escape from the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won't shoot them and can't arrest them? -- Hume to Perry
It's the visual of it.... -- Perry's best answer
... CW: Cruelly, digby likens Perry to (Commander) Neidermeyer there. Personally, I'm pretty sure Perry has already been whacked on the head by a golf ball & dragged across a field by a horse. Come to think of it, I suspect Perry is sporting those new specs because he had "a traumatic brain injury" which caused brain damage. (Where is Karl Rove when we need him to raise the issue?):
I find Governor Perry interesting in that Republicans keep saying, 'Well, we can't fix the immigration issue because we don't trust the President to enforce the law,' And then, when the president actually follows the law in 2002 and 2008, the very law that was signed by President Bush, they said, 'Well, he should do something different.' -- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on "Face the Nation" Sunday
... apparently his new glasses haven't altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly. -- Rand Paul, in a Politico Magazine opinion piece ...
Danny Vinik of the New Republic has "definitive proof that Republicans don't care about the long-term unemployed": Speaker John Boehner rejected the Senate's unemployment extensions bill because it used a gimmick called "pension smoothing" to fake-pay for it (since Republicans demanded the funds not add to the deficit); now Boehner is praising the House-crafted bill to extend the Highway Trust Fund -- a bill that uses that same gimmick to fake-pay for it. ...
... And here's proof -- also in the New Republic -- that Republicans especially don't care about working women. Bryce Covert: "A simple solution [to gender pay inequality] may still be unfeasible, at least politically: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced a handful of times, starting in 2009, but has always been blocked by Republicans. [Emphasis added.] It would, most importantly, prohibit employers from telling their workers they can't discuss pay with peers, tighten the rules for what counts as a legitimate reason for gender pay disparities, and increase the penalties for unfair pay." Women can't sue for equal pay if they don't know what their male peers are making. Covert suggests numerous other policies that also would help reduce the pay gap.
Allie Grasgreen of Politico: "The American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution [Sunday] afternoon calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign if he does not improve under a plan to be implemented by President Barack Obama. The 'improvement plan' would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission's 'Each and Every Child' report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top 'test-and-punish' accountability system to a 'support-and-improve' model; and 'promote rather than question' teachers and school staff.... The resolution comes on the heels of one earlier this month by members of the National Education Association calling for Duncan to step down."
George Packer of the New Yorker: The U.S. is leaving behind Iraqis who helped Americans during & after the Iraq War despite a Congressional mandate to grant them special visas. "... surely America has the capacity to save its Iraqi friends whose war never ended, before ISIS or the militias kill them first."
Laurel Calkins of Bloomberg News: The trial of Perez v. Perry, a fight over Texas redistricting, will begin in federal court in San Antonio today. "It will be the first voting rights trial since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year [in Shelby County v. Holder] that states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need federal approval to change their election rules.... If [the plaintiffs] succeed, Texas might be forced back under federal electoral oversight for as long as 10 years under a largely untested part of the Voting Rights Act left in place by the Supreme Court." ...
... Miriam Rozen of Salon on what she calls "the smoking gun emails" that make the plaintiffs' case.
Kathryn Pogin has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the hypocrisy of "Christian" organizations like Hobby Lobby & the University of Notre Dame that are using economic coercion to discriminate against women, a practice that she writes are at odds with Christian principles. "Hobby Lobby offered coverage for some of the contraceptives it now claims its religious faith forbids it to have any association with, until shortly after the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom asked it if it would be interested in filing suit. The company continues to profit from investments in the manufacturers of the 'objectionable' contraceptives through the 401(k) plan it offers its employees. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced legal trouble for false advertising. It has built a fortune, in large part, by selling goods manufactured in China, infamous for its poor labor conditions and related human rights violations. These are the practices of a corporation that will emphasize the Christian faith of its owners when convenient and profitable, but set that faith aside when it would be costly to do otherwise."
If you are trying to run a whorehouse in the sky, get a license. -- Former Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.), ca. 1966, on the airlines' practice of limiting jobs for flight attendants to young, single women ...
... ** Louis Menand of the New Yorker on "the sex amendment": how "sex" got added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Paul Krugman: "The usual suspects will keep crying failure, but the truth is that health reform is -- gasp! -- working." ...
... CW: Krugman focuses on the fact that "an immense policy success is improving the lives of millions of Americans, but it's largely slipping under the radar." Here I'm in limited agreement with Chuck Todd, who said it was not the media's job to correct the GOP's lies about ObamaCare. Todd is wrong on that, of course, but it isn't up to the media to cheerlead the success of ObamaCare. The Obama administration needs to do that. And they're not. Their failure to tout the program's success hurts all Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans are still pushing repeal.
Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Six weeks after being released from five years in Taliban captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to return to life as a regular Army soldier as early as Monday, Defense Department officials said late Sunday." ...
... CW: Excellent call. A guy who never should have been enlisted in the Army in the first place is being rushed back into active duty after years as a POW. SNAFU.
Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent piece last week in which he documented "7 Ways Paul Ryan Revealed His Love for Ayn Rand." In it, he also demonstrates how "Ryan defenders on the center-right like Ross Douthat, who other public figures say or imply things they don't really mean. The New York Times' official Vatican emissary should revisit Matthew 7:16: "By their fruit you will recognize them."
... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.
Elon James of Salon writes that New York Times opinion columnists really need editors. Exhibit A: David Brooks.
CW: The New Republic's top story today is headed with a screaming invitation to ignore it -- "Did We Just Watch the Last Great World Cup? by Franklin Foer. (1) Foer is TNR's editor. He decides what ledes, so his story is not necessarily the most important in today's online magazine. (2) Any headline framed in the form of a question promises you won't get much of an answer. I usually don't read 'em (& I certainly won't read this one). (3) Any story that relies on predicting the future -- especially the distant future (four years!) -- is most likely pure folly.
Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: Some mysterious [semi-literate] person leaked the entire text of a new book/hit job on the Clintons by the Weekly Standard's online editor Daniel Harper. The book, Grove writes, "is juicy and gossipy, yet scrupulously researched, drawing on numerous on-the-record conversations (as well as many not-for-attribution interviews) with prominent Democrats and Clinton insiders, past and present."
The man is a shark. -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, on President Obama's pool game. Obama beat Hickenlooper -- twice -- at his own game in his own bar last week.
Brent Johnson of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "The WMUR Granite State Poll of residents in New Hampshire -- which hosts the nation's first presidential primary -- showed [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie leading all possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Christie drew 19 percent of the vote, followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (14 percent) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11).... But if [Mitt Romney] were to declare his candidacy, Romney would lead Christie 39 to 7 percent, according to today's poll." CW: In other words, those polled aren't too sold on Christie.
Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is in Iowa "warming up" for the 2016 presidential campaign: "... he is running one of the most vigorous noncampaign campaigns of any 2016 possibility in either party -- raising money, stumping in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling abroad to boost his foreign policy credentials and honing a message that might be characterized, for brevity's sake, as compassionate competence."
Beyond the Beltway
WFTV Orlando: "Two Fruitland Park[, Florida] police officers are off the job following FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that they were members of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Deputy Police Chief David Borst resigned Thursday, and Cpl. George Hunnewell was fired Friday."
New York Times: "Both the Israeli government and leaders of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said late Monday that they would consider a plan for a cease-fire put forward by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry."
New York Times: "Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer whose literary ambitions led her into the heart of apartheid to create a body of fiction that brought her a Nobel Prize in 1991, died on Sunday in Johannesburg. She was 90."
Los Angeles Times: "A planeload of single mothers and children arrived in [the] gang-ridden Honduran city [of San Pedro Sula] on Monday, ferried back on a U.S.-chartered flight as an unprecedented surge of Central American migrants has overwhelmed U.S. border enforcement officials in recent months.... Their return to Honduras came at President Obama's direction, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security, who requested anonymity...."