The Ledes

Monday, April 20, 2015.

Washington Post: "An intruder climbed the White House fence late Sunday night but was quickly taken into custody, the Secret Service said."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, April 19, 2015.

AP: "Former President Bill Clinton, who was president when the attack occurred [on Oklahoma City's federal building], spoke at Sunday's service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood. Memorial officials estimated that 2,500 people attended the observance."

New York Times: "The Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appears to show fighters from affiliates in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting."

Guardian: "A major rescue operation is under way in the Mediterranean after as many as 700 migrants are feared to have drowned just outside Libyan waters, in what could prove to be the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled to Europe." ...

     ... AP Update: A survivor "said about 300 people were in the hold, locked in there by the smugglers, when the vessel set out. He said that of the 950 who set out aboard the doomed boat, some 200 were women and several dozen were children."

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
April 20

10:00 am ET: Patents for Humanity ceremony

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:40 pm ET: President Obama honors some college football team

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:


Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75MM Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

Andrew Sullivan says he quit his blog because blogging is difficult, time-consuming & dehumanizing. CW a/k/a the Blog Nazi: No kidding.

David Graham of the Atlantic: "Trevor Noah's ascent on The Daily Show has been steep — hired on as senior international correspondent four months ago, he'll take over the anchor's desk from Jon Stewart after just three appearances on the show, Comedy Central announced Monday."

If you thought a meerkat was something like a mongoose ... Global News: "Meet Meerkat, the live streaming video service that allows users to host a live broadcast from their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of this new app don’t feel too bad – it’s only been around for about two weeks. But that hasn’t stopped it from garnering an estimated 300,000 active users, US$12 million in funding and even a few controversies."

In Case You Were Wondering... Megan Garber of the Atlantic examines multiple theories on why "men’s dress shirts have their buttons on the right, while women’s have them on the left (to the wearer)."

Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "Inside the elaborate, surprisingly unglamorous world of presidential hotel stays." Or Why President Trump Would Resign Shortly after His Inauguration.

New York Times: "After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — 'Richard III, 1452-1485' — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times. With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers...." ...

... The Guardian has a full page of stories about Richard III.

Twenty percent more people trust Bill O'Reilly now than trusted O'Reilly before the press reported he was a serial liar:

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Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Friday
Apr102015

The Commentariat -- April 10, 2015

Afternoon News:

Josh Lederman of the AP: "The presidents of the United States and Cuba have spoken by phone for only the second time in more than 50 years, setting the stage for a historic encounter between the two leaders at a regional summit starting Friday in Panama. The call between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro came on Wednesday, shortly before Obama departed Washington on his trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, the White House said."

*****

Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "President Obama indicated Thursday that he is preparing to announce Cuba's removal from the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that should quickly lead to a full restoration of diplomatic ties and the opening of embassies in Havana and Washington. Speaking at a gathering of Caribbean leaders here, Obama said the State Department had finished a review of the issue. There is little doubt that it recommends he drop Cuba from the list, and the only real question is when the announcement will be made." ...

... Laurent Thomet & Andrew Beatty of AFP: "US President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro will put aside decades of Cold War-era tensions Friday, sitting at the same table with other regional leaders for a landmark summit. Obama and Castro will join some 30 other presidents at the two-day Summit of the Americas in Panama City, breaking bread at a seaside dinner in a complex of ruins from the era of the Spanish conquistadores." ...

... AP: "The U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met on Thursday evening in Panama City, where the Summit of the Americas kicks off on Friday. Officials described the meeting as lengthy. They say that Kerry and Rodriguez agreed that they had made progress and would keep working to address ongoing issues." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "The State Department has finished its review of Cuba's presence on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and forwarded its recommendation to the White House, President Obama said Thursday. Obama said he is waiting for his top aides to review the document and place it before him for a final decision." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Chuck Schumer "set off a tempest this week when he issued a statement strongly supporting a bill that could disrupt a nuclear deal with Iran. With that bill, Congress is trying to ensure it has a say in the final agreement, and the strong stand by Mr. Schumer, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, suggested that he could oppose an accord President Obama sees as a potentially legacy-defining achievement. Mr. Schumer has since largely declined to elaborate and has said only that he will wait for a classified briefing before making further comment. His position -- annoying to the White House, at odds with the majority of Senate Democrats and expressed during a congressional recess -- reflects the vigorous crosscurrents Mr. Schumer faces in his first real test since Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, announced that he would retire, placing Mr. Schumer as heir apparent."

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: Sen. Robert "Menendez [D-N.J.] has enjoyed broad support from Democratic officials in New Jersey during his moment of crisis. But few, if any, have defended him as energetically as [Sen. Cory] Booker [D-N.J.], a junior lawmaker who has leaned on Mr. Menendez for guidance since joining the Senate in 2013. If Mr. Booker relied on Mr. Menendez to help ease his arrival in Washington, Democrats say the relationship has been almost reversed: Now, it is Mr. Menendez depending on Mr. Booker to stand by him as he fights to keep his job."

David Scharfenberg of the Boston Globe: "... Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday she opposes the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev." Scharfenberg reports on the views of other Massachusetts politicians.

Paul Krugman explains to dummies the reasons the government is better than the private sector at providing retirement income. CW: It's pretty sad that Krugman has to write a column like this, but Republicans & Villagers aren't too bright.

Jim Tankersley of the New York Times Washington Post (Oops!), who appears to know nothing about economics, writes a positive piece on fantasy economist Arthur Laffer, advisor to ignorant GOP presidential candidates, the guiding force behind Sam Brownback's destruction of Kansas's economy, & the world's number-one, ever-wrong supply-sider. (See also Glenn Kessler on Rand Paul, linked below.) For "balance," Tankersley does cite Krugman:

Laffer’s theories are so far detached from mainstream economics that 'there is no point of contact,' said Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a liberal columnist for the New York Times. 'This is not a wing of professional economic thought, for what that's worth. This is not at all the same kind of enterprise as what even conservative economics professors do.' Republicans love Laffer, Krugman said, not because his message is simple but because it conforms perfectly to a preexisting limit-the-government worldview: 'The point is, he's telling them what they want to hear.'

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic has a scathing piece on the worsening budget crisis in Kansas. Not to worry. As Tankersley reported, Arthur Laffer says "Kansas is doing fine."

Arlette Saenz of ABC News reports on President Obama's activities in Jamaica. ...

... Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: Jamaicans show their love for Obama.

Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Iran's supreme leader challenged on Thursday two of the United States' bedrock principles in the nuclear negotiations, declaring that all economic sanctions would have to be lifted on the day any agreement is signed and that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors.The assertions by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be tactical...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "... although the legislative branch's constitutional prerogatives don’t depend on whether Congress reflects public opinion, it's worth noting on that on Iran, it most certainly does not. Since last Thursday's framework agreement, polls from both The Washington Post/ABC News and Reuters/Ipsos have shown that a small plurality of Republican voters actually support the Iran deal. Yet it's likely that every single Republican senator will oppose it. Democrats, the polls show, back the agreement by margins of three or five to one. Yet key Senate Democrats are skeptical of the deal, and few have endorsed it enthusiastically."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Digby explains the Daily Caller & editor Tucker Carlson: "Carlson's brother wrote a bogus story for Carlson's magazine and the magazine refused to correct it. Carlson's brother called the person who was asking for the retraction names in an email and sent it to her. When it was publicly revealed, Carlson defended him with a puerile wisecrack thus proving that this magazine not only hires puerile idiots it is being run by an overgrown 12 year old boy who has serious issues with women. (This is not surprising to anyone who has followed Carlson's career over the years.)" ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has more. I like the part where Friar Tucker portrays his brother as the victim. (Then -- apparently falsely -- claims his brother apologized to the actual victim.) ...

... CW: Seems kinda unfair of Digby & Wemple to imply the Daily Caller is a joke when their reportorial skills are so excellent: Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "Daily Caller Didn't Realize Politico Writer Was Being Sarcastic About Hillary. The Daily Caller learned the danger of basing an entire story on one tweet today when media reporter Alex Griswold posted a piece with the headline, 'Liberal Politico Reporter: Clinton Campaign "Collapsing Completely"' that focused on a tweet from Glenn Thrush that most would read as sarcasm." A Twitter flurry ensued. Thrush's last tweet: "It's funny how an organization with name 'caller' never does, at least before they press 'send'"

Presidential Race

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton is planning to officially launch her US presidential campaign on Sunday while en route to Iowa, a source familiar with the campaign has confirmed to the Guardian. The former secretary of state is scheduled to declare her second run for president on Twitter at noon eastern time on Sunday, the source told the Guardian, followed by a video and email announcement, then a series of conference calls mapping out a blitzkrieg tour beginning in Iowa and looking ahead to more early primary states." ...

... Ken Vogel of Politico: "During a private Clinton Foundation fundraiser last week in Austin, Texas, [Bill] Clinton rejected the premise of a March 29 New York Times story that described him as looking 'older than his 68 years' and detailed efforts by Hillary Clinton advisers 'to harness both the rare gifts and rash impulses' of the former president.'" ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The Clinton Foundation reportedly accepted millions of dollars from a Colombian oil company head before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to support a trade deal with Colombia despite worries of human rights violations." Here's the original report in International Business Times. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The End of the Inevitable. Again. Sabrina Saddiqui of the Guardian: "The Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is leading Hillary Clinton in a pair of key swing states, according to a poll released on Thursday. The survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, finds Paul ahead of Clinton by three percentage points in Colorado, at 44% to 41%, and by one point in Iowa, at 43% to 42%. Several recent surveys have shown that Clinton's advantage is waning in a number of such battleground states."

Scott MacKay of Rhode Island Public Radio: "Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has announced that he is considering a campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. Chafee said the launch of his exploratory committee will be made via videos posted on his website, Chafee2016.com .... Chafee said he plans to spend the next few months in Iowa, the first caucus state, New Hampshire, which holds the kickoff presidential primary and 'other key battleground states.'" ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "He says, 'I'm not naïve about the task ahead of me.' That task apparently includes letting people know he actually still exists." ...

... Annie Laurie of Balloon Juice also is less than impressed. ...

... Erik Loomis of LG&M: "I haven't felt this excited since Joe Lieberman finished in a 3-way tie for 3rd place (which was actually a pretty decisive 5th) in the 2004 New Hampshire primaries."

Michael Gerson, former and evidently current Bush flak, of the Washington Post: "In case after case, [Rand] Paul is attempting to cloak libertarian positions in Republican rhetoric. And sometimes he goes much too far. The emotional center of Paul's presidential announcement speech was the story of conducting a cataract operation on a man in Guatemala, who was then able to see his wife for the first time in years.... But Paul, of course, would eventually cut off funding for the USAID Child Blindness Program. And for vaccinations, and AIDS drugs and malaria treatments. Freeing nations from foreign aid, after all, is one reason he became a politician.... Paul is deceptive, because he can't talk frankly about his breathtakingly ambitious ideology, which is fundamentally unsuited to the strategic and moral challenges of our time." ...

The last president we had was Ronald Reagan that said we're going to dramatically cut tax rates. And guess what? More revenue came in, but tens of millions of jobs were created. -- -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, April 7

Paul falls into the trap of suggesting the Reagan tax cuts paid for themselves == and then some.... The Treasury Department in 2006 confirmed that tax cuts reduced revenue. Moreover, Reagan repeatedly boosted taxes during his term as president, in part to make up for lost revenue from his original tax cut. ... The tax cut itself was a money-loser -- and it was not the sole reason for 'tens of millions' of jobs. We cannot quite say Paul committed a Four-Pinocchio violation, but it's close. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Rand Paul is an alarmingly ignorant -- and dangerous -- ideologue who has zero understanding of macroeconomics & no connection with facts. -- Constant Weader

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign has sent a cease-and-desist letter to television stations, demanding that they stop airing an ad that attacks Paul's position on Iran. The ad was created by the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America. It ties Paul to President Obama's Iran policy.... It labels the Kentucky senator as 'wrong and dangerous.' Politifact has rated the ad 'mostly false.'" ...

Dave Weigel of Bloomberg: "As Olivia Nuzzi reported in the Daily Beast, [Rand] Paul joined New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the elite, unhappy club of Republicans snubbed by the NRA this year.... 'The interesting thing is that there's probably no greater advocate for the Second Amendment in Congress than myself,' Paul said today [in a successful effort to prove he is unfamiliar with the proper employment of reflexive pronouns]. 'To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record's pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups.'"

... Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "Presidential fund-raising, never known for its transparency, may have just become even more secretive. In announcing his candidacy for president this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky waded into new waters when he said he would accept campaign contributions in Bitcoins, a largely untraceable virtual currency, in amounts up to $100.... In a ruling last year, the Federal Election Commission agreed to allow a political action committee to accept Bitcoins with a voluntary limit of $100, but the commissioners split over how the online currency -- which can fluctuate widely in value -- should be treated on a broader scale or whether it should be capped." CW: But can I use Bitcoins to buy me a nice pair a'them Rand Paul Flip-Flops?

Tina Nguyen of Mediaite: "In an interview with CNBC, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz expressed anger towards the 'left-wing editorial writers' who liked to call him out for making 'non-factual statements.' Cruz, speaking to John Harwood during a ten-question interview, dismissed the tendency of people to do things like fact-check his claims supporting his argument that the IRS should be abolished." Nguyen fact-checks Ted's complaint.

... Why shouldn't somebody listen to you and say, 'The guy'll just say anything -- doesn't have to be true'? -- John Harwood

There is a game that is played by left-wing editorial writers. It's this new species of yellow journalism called PolitiFact. -- Ted Cruz

Ironically, even as Cruz pans PolitiFact, some of their investigations debunk not Cruz's assertions but untrue things that have been said about him. However, it is true that his Politifact "Report Card" (undated, but apparently issued in late March) gives him what looks like a solid D-minus grade. -- Constant Weader

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "'The simple reality is millions of Americans are hurting right now under the Obama economy,' [Ted] Cruz [told John Harwood]. 'Yes, some jobs are being created, but not nearly as many have been destroyed. The rich, the top 1 percent, today earn a higher share of our income than any year since 1928.'... Cruz's reply becomes even more amazing when you consider Harwood was asking, in part, why anyone should take Cruz's claims seriously.... Cruz tried to prove Harwood wrong. Instead, he proved him correct." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Cruz's interview seems dedicated to the proposition that attempting to shove him in just one of the categories of stupid, evil, or crazy is a false choice. You can be all of those things! There's also a fourth category: evasive. Cruz displays this quality in droves." ...

... Here's the full text of Harwood's interview of Cruz.

Beyond the Beltway

Matt Hamilton & Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times: "A group of San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies are seen in a video shot Thursday repeatedly kicking and punching a suspect at the end of a bizarre horseback pursuit in a scene the county's sheriff described as 'disturbing.' A KNBC Channel 4 helicopter captured the chase, which appears to show the deputies striking the man, identified as 30-year-old Francis Pusok, even after he was on the ground with his hands held behind his back."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: Dashcam "video footage showing Walter Scott fleeing a traffic stop minutes before he was shot dead by police officer Michael Slager has been released by authorities in South Carolina." Includes video. ...

... Jon Swaine: "Walter Scott and police officer Michael Slager were struggling on the ground in the seconds before Slager shot Scott dead, [Feidin Santana,] the man who recorded video footage of the killing in South Carolina, said on Wednesday evening.... Santana said that as his video indicated, Scott was trying to escape a stun gun that Slager had fired into him when the North Charleston patrolman shot him repeatedly in the back." ... Video of the interview is here. ...

... AP: "The white South Carolina police officer charged with murder for shooting an unarmed black man in the back was allowed to stay on the force despite a 2013 complaint that he used excessive force against another unarmed black man." ...

... Evan McMurry of Mediaite: "The Morning Joe roundtable wondered Thursday morning whether there would be more charges leveled in the shooting death of Walter Scott, especially against the second police officer, who appeared on video to have witnessed Officer Michael Slager plant evidence by the victim’s body."

News Ledes

AFP: "The US Justice Department said Friday it arrested an Islamic State sympathizer who was plotting to carry out a suicide bomb attack on a US military base in Kansas. John T. Booker Jr, 20, is charged with 'attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction... attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,' the Justice Department said."

New York Times: "Islamic State fighters launched a heavy attack on government-held territory in Anbar Province late on Thursday and on Friday, killing 25 Iraqi police officers and soldiers, and then executing 15 family members of local police officers, according to Iraqi officials."

Washington Post: "A security guard was killed in a shooting at the Census Bureau's headquarters in Suitland[, Maryland,] on Thursday evening in an incident that authorities said began with an abduction in the District and ended with the suspect shot on H Street NE after a dramatic chase and shootout." ...

     ... UPDATE: "The man who authorities say fatally shot a security guard at the Census Bureau and was later wounded during a gun battle with D.C. police officers on Thursday has been identified as a 48-year-old from Southeast Washington. The suspect, Ronald Anderson, had been scheduled to appear in court in Prince George's County on Friday for a preliminary hearing on an assault charge."

Wednesday
Apr082015

The Commentariat -- April 9, 2015

Afternoon News:

Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Iran’s supreme leader challenged on Thursday two of the United States’ bedrock principles in the nuclear negotiations, declaring that all economic sanctions would have to be lifted on the day any agreement is signed and that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors.The assertions by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be tactical...."

Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "The State Department has finished its review of Cuba’s presence on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and forwarded its recommendation to the White House, President Obama said Thursday. Obama said he is waiting for his top aides to review the document and place it before him for a final decision."

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The Clinton Foundation reportedly accepted millions of dollars from a Colombian oil company head before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to support a trade deal with Colombia despite worries of human rights violations." Here's the original report in International Business Times.

*****

Sahil Kapur of TPM: "President Barack Obama warned the Supreme Court in an interview Wednesday that a ruling to invalidate Obamacare subsidies would be 'a bad decision' and result in 'millions of people losing their health insurance.'... In a separate interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Obama called the lawsuit 'the last gasp' of Obamacare opponents. The remarks in the pair of interviews represent the most extensive thoughts the president has offered recently on King v. Burwell...."

President Obama on the impacts of climate change on public health:

... CW: Sometimes I imagine myself being asked the same questions President Obama is asked. And each time I realize that my responses would not be a quarter as thorough or compelling as Obama's answers. We are really fortunate to have a president who is, as Joe Biden once put it, "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." Me, I'm clean.

Michael Shear of the New York Times:"President Obama is calling for an end to ... therapies aimed at 'repairing' gay, lesbian and transgender youth. His decision on the issue is the latest example of his continuing embrace of gay rights. In a statement that was posted on Wednesday evening alongside a WhiteHouse.gov petition..., Mr. Obama condemned the practice, sometimes called 'conversion' or 'reparative' therapy, which is supported by some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors."

Michael Shear: "A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday angrily denied the federal government’s request to allow President Obama’s immigration executive actions to proceed, even as an appeals court signaled that it might disagree with the judge when it takes the issue up next week. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, refused late Tuesday night to lift the injunction he had placed in February on the president’s immigration program, saying that to do so would cause irreparable harm."

Carol Leonnig & Keith Alexander of the Washington Post: "The Secret Service has put a senior supervisor on leave and suspended his security clearance after a female employee accused him of assaulting her after-hours at agency headquarters last week, the agency said Wednesday.... The Secret Service also took away his gun and badge after agency investigators launched a preliminary review of the complaint and conducted 'subsequent corroborative interviews' Thursday afternoon...."

Nicholas Kristof: "A newly released global index finds that America falls short, along with other powerful countries, on what matters most: assuring a high quality of life for ordinary citizens.... As an American, what saddens me is also that our political system seems unable to rise to the challenges.... Our children — so our political system remains in gridlock, even as other countries pass us by."

David Sanger of the New York Times: "The C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, speaking Tuesday night at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, suggested that a key to the deal [on containment of Iran's nuclear program] was the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who had hardly been the supreme leader’s first choice. It took more than two years, he suggested, for the new president, a former nuclear negotiator himself, to persuade the far more isolated Ayatollah Khamenei that 'six years of sanctions had really hit,' and that the economic future imperiled the regime."

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: Sen. Tom "Cotton said any military action against Iran would not be like the Iraq War and would instead be similar to 1999’s Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton." ...

... Steve Benen: "Look, we’ve seen this play before, and we have a pretty good idea how it turns out. When a right-wing neoconservative tells Americans that we can launch a new military offensive in the Middle East, it won’t last long, and the whole thing will greatly improve our national security interests, there’s reason for some skepticism.... But don’t worry, America, Tom Cotton thinks this would all be easy and we could drop our bombs without consequence. What could possibly go wrong?" ...

... Yo, Bibi!

     ... Via David Knowles of Bloomberg.

Presidential Race

"Rand Paul Gets 'Testy' on Abortion and Foreign Policy Flip-Flops." Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: Rand Paul's "defensive demeanor in response to tough questions has reporters wondering if Paul is truly prepared to run for president.... in a pair of contentious interviews during his first stop in New Hampshire, Paul found himself on the defensive – on topics ranging from Iran and Israel to abortion and his confrontations with women – as political watchers raised questions about whether Paul would be too extreme for the world’s biggest campaign stage.... The testy exchange [between Paul & NBC's Savannah Guthrie] was quickly seized upon as another example of Paul being condescending toward a female reporter, following a February interview on CNBC in which he 'shushed' anchor Kelly Evans and told her to 'calm down'." ...

... Gail Collins: "Once Paul began sniffing the presidential air, position changes started coming rapid-fire, and he’s gotten quite touchy when people point that out. 'No, no, no, nonononono,' he said, accusing NBC’s Savannah Guthrie of 'editorializing' when she listed several of his recent shifts." Also, Rand has put the kibosh on asking him any questions about things he said prior to his getting into politics, which was way back in 2010. ...

... Fortunately for us all, as Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's commentary, for a mere $20 we can now purchase Rand Paul Flip-Flops from his own campaign:

Show off your support with these full color, and vibrant flip flops. -- Small print in the ad.

CW: As Akhilleus pointed out, the main text of the ad describes the flip-flops as "sandals." It appears to me Rand's crack staff did some careless editing. Probably the original description of the footwear used the term "flip-flops"; then for some completely unknown reason, somebody decided "flip-flops" were an inauspicious campaign product. Unfortunately for Senator Flip-Flop, the campaign editor missed the small print & forgot to change the title of the product photo, which includes the word "flipflop". Those little red flames on the flip-flops may signify what Randy is going down in.

... Here's Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post journosplaining why Rand's mansplaining is not good campaign strategy. CW: Cillizza doesn't mention that the Democratic nominee in all likelihood will be a woman. Should Randy be her opponent, there's a mighty good chance we'll see Rand's shushing & mansplaining in Democratic campaign ads.

... Philip Elliott of the AP: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ... is dodging a central question about abortion: What exceptions, if any, should be made if the procedure were to be banned? In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Paul would not say if his opposition to abortion rights includes an exception in cases of rape, incest or risk to the life of the mother.... In the past, Paul has supported legislation that would ban abortion with exceptions, while at other times, he's backed bills seeking a broader bar on abortion." ...

... Eric Bradner of CNN: "Rand Paul says he doesn't want to be grilled about abortion until Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz answers similarly tough questions. Wasserman Schultz hit back -- highlighting Paul's testy interviews with female television anchors, too, by saying she hopes he can 'respond without 'shushing' me.' But Paul, the Kentucky Republican senator who launched his 2016 presidential campaign this week, said her answer made it sound like she is indeed okay 'killing a seven-pound baby.'" ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... for all his natural talent, Paul can't reconcile his beliefs with his ambitions. That's a huge problem for a national politician. It will define his candidacy." ...

... Paul tells Wolf Blizter he gets "universally short-tempered & testy with both male & female reporters" & describes his hostility as "pretty much equal opportunity." Video.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times tries to figure out the sources of Ted Cruz's $31 million -- the amount his campaign claims a network of secretive SuperPACS has raised this week. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Beyond the Beltway

Kate Zernicke of the New York Times: "The federal investigation into the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge appears to be coming to a head, with an announcement of indictments as early as next week.... [Chris] Christie’s political ambitions wait on [U.S. Attorney Paul] Fishman. As [the investigation] has dragged on, he has pushed past the dates he set for a decision on whether to run for president in 2016.... Even if the investigation produces no legal problems for Mr. Christie, any indictments will almost certainly add to his political challenges. People close to the case say prosecutors are likely to bring charges based on a rarely used provision of a fraud statute...."

Wesley Lowery & Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post: "The mayor of the South Carolina town [-- North Charleston --] where a white officer was filmed fatally shooting an unarmed black man called the incident a 'horrible tragedy' as he announced that all patrol officers would be outfitted with body cameras." ...

... Lauren Williams of Think Progress: "The popular crowd-funding site GoFundMe rejected a campaign to raise money for the South Carolina officer charged with fatally shooting an unarmed black man last week." ...

... Alan Blinder & Marc Santora of the New York Times: "For many in [North Charleston, S.C.,] a city that has long had a troubled relationship between the police and black residents, [the police killing of Walter Scott] was proof not just of a possible crime but of a pattern of abuse — a concern that mirrors many of the issues over policing that have played out nationally. As in other parts of the nation, the distrust here was rooted in police tactics put in place many years ago to combat rising violence that have remained in force as crime has ebbed.... On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered outside City Hall in North Charleston to protest what they said was a persistent abuse of power by the police." ...

... CW: Jamelle Bouie looks at the traffic stop itself, which is what caught my eye immediately upon first reading the story about the video of this apparent murder. "Where traffic safety stops are mostly painless (other than tickets), investigatory stops involve searches, impromptu interrogations, and occasionally handcuffs and weapons.... In investigatory stops..., drivers are stopped for exceedingly minor violations — driving too slowly, malfunctioning lights, failure to signal — which are used as pretext for investigations of the driver and the vehicle.... In [a national] study, 60 percent of all stops for whites were for traffic safety, versus 35 percent for blacks. By contrast, 52 percent of all stops for blacks (versus 34 percent for whites) were for events in which the reasons were minor (“You didn’t signal at the stop sign”). ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "Of more than 22,000 stops in 2014 in North Charleston, 16,730 involved African Americans — almost 76 percent of stops, much higher than the city's black population. Most of those, some 10,600, involved black men, like Scott.... Two-thirds of stops that failed to produce a ticket or arrest involved black drivers.... Slager wasn't the only officer charged in South Carolina on Tuesday. Justin Gregory Craven, an officer in North Augusta, was arrested and charged in the death of Ernest Satterwhite, whom Craven shot repeatedly after a car chase that ended in Satterwhite's driveway. That shooting, too, was caught on video. " ...

... Jeff Stein of the Ithaca Voice in Salon: "South Carolina police have fired on 209 suspects over the past five years, but only a few have been charged and none have ever been convicted, according to The State, a South Carolina newspaper.... Legal documents present a stunning account of police brutality in North Charleston, where the population is 47 percent black but the police force is about 80 percent white, according to the [New York] Times." ...

... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post: "For the second time in exactly seven months, an unarmed African American man was shot by a white South Carolina police officer in broad daylight during a routine traffic stop. For the second time, the law enforcement officer fabricated events to bolster his 'felt threatened' defense. For the second time, video emerged showing the truth.... A routine traffic stop is never routine when you’re black." ...

... Matt Apuzzo & Timothy Williams of the New York Times: "While cameras frequently exonerate officers in shootings, the recent spate of videos has raised uncomfortable questions about how much the American criminal justice system can rely on the accounts of police officers when the cameras are not rolling.... Though the courts have held that people have a constitutional right to record the police, those who do are frequently challenged by officers.... Data is [sic.!] still spotty, but an early study in Rialto, Calif., suggests that when officers carry body cameras, they are less likely to use force." ...

... But for the Video. Ryan Grim & Nick Wing of the Huffington Post write a report of the police killing of Walter Scott as if the video of the actual shooting had never been shot or become public. Their story "relies entirely on local news reports, which sourced their version of events to information from police, the attorney for the officer, 'witnesses' and police statements. Many of those claims turned out to be lies. Slager has been charged with murder. Whenever possible, this article pulls verbatim from local news reports."

Ana Swanson of the Washington Post: "Kansas became the first state to sharply restrict second-trimester abortions on Tuesday, opening another front in the battle between anti-abortion and pro-choice activists at the state level. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong opponent of abortion, signed the law on Tuesday surrounded by anti-abortion activists and poster-sized images of fetuses. The law, which takes effect July 1, will ban a type of abortion called dilation and evacuation."

Hunter Schwarz of the Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Bobby "Jindal said he plans to support his state's own [marriage discrimination] bill. Judging from how Indiana's bill catapulted Gov. Mike Pence (R) to the national spotlight, Jindal could soon see the same thing happen for him — and not necessarily in a good way.... Louisiana's Marriage and Conscience Act is more focused and deals specifically with religious beliefs in relation to same-sex marriage.... The bill would allow private businesses to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage and not provide the same benefits to same-sex married couples...."

Mark Stern of Slate: "In March, Florida’s severely conservative House of Representatives did a surprisingly good thing and voted to repeal a state law barring gay couples from adopting children. The vote was entirely symbolic, since the blatantly unconstitutional statute had already been invalidated by the courts.... In response to the adoption ban repeal, Republican representatives are supporting a 'revenge' bill that would give state-funded adoption agencies the ability to refuse to adopt out children to gay couples in the name of religion.... In a recent Florida House Judiciary Committee meeting, [10-year-old] Nathaniel Gill — the son of the gay man who successfully toppled Florida’s adoption ban in the courts — ...was abruptly cut off [mid-testimony] by Republican Committee Chair Charles McBurney." ...

... CW: Stern doesn't seem to understand that being mean to kids is an integral part of the GOP platform.

Tuesday
Apr072015

The Commentariat -- April 8, 2015

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama's push for a historic opening with Cuba faces its first major test this week as he travels to a summit meeting in Latin America, where he hopes to highlight momentum toward ending a half-century of isolation from the island nation.Even before Mr. Obama was to board Air Force One on Wednesday, White House officials signaled that the administration was nearing a decision on whether to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism." ...

... Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Cuba ends more than five decades of official isolation in the Western Hemisphere this week when President Raúl Castro attends a regional summit with up to 35 heads of state and government, including President Obama. The White House said there will be 'many opportunities' for conversations between the two leaders at the two-day Summit of the Americas that begins Friday in Panama, but noted that no formal bilateral meeting had yet been planned."

Dana Milbank on "the rush to humiliate the poor": Missouri's "surf-and-turf bill is one of a flurry of new legislative proposals at the state and local level to dehumanize and even criminalize the poor as the country deals with the high-poverty hangover of the Great Recession.... Last week, the Kansas legislature passed NPR study last year found that defendants are routinely charged for public defenders, room and board in jail, parole supervision and electronic monitoring devices -- items that were once free.... In their budget plans in Congress, Republicans propose 'devolving' food stamps and other programs to state control by awarding block grants with few strings attached." ...

... The Double Standard Imposed on the Poor. Emily Badger of the Washington Post: "There's virtually no evidence that the poor actually spend their money [on luxuries].... The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.... Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits -- farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks -- don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too.... We begrudge [the poor] their housing vouchers, for instance, even though government spends about four times as much subsidizing housing for upper-income homeowners. ...

... Speaking of Double Standards.... Greg Sargent: "The debate is intensifying in Congress over what lawmakers should do to place limits on President Obama's authority to implement a deal with major world powers and Iran over the future of that country's nuclear program.... At the same time, however, the discussion among lawmakers has vanished entirely on ... whether Congress will vote to limit Obama's authority to wage war against ISIS. This double-standard was pointed out to me by Senator Chris Murphy..., who is emerging as a voice of sanity on Iran."

Judging Chuck. Ed Kilgore: "... if Schumer thinks representing New York means viewing Wall Street and Bibi Netanyahu as needy constituents, who cares if he's feeling no electoral pressure? So let's see how Schumer handles this year and next and then decide whether it's worth the trouble to stage noisy protests over this man's supposedly inevitable ascension to the leadership." ...

... Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "The White House is trying to bottle up bipartisan legislation that would give Congress 60 days to review a final Iran nuclear deal. The pushback may be having an effect": -- Senators Chris Coons & Mark Warner, who the GOP counted in their court, are now saying they're thinking about it. Also Ben "Cardin, who took over the top Democratic slot on the panel after [Robert] Menendez stepped aside in the wake of corruption charges, indicated in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that he wants to see changes to the bill to address the administration's concerns." ...

... Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Senior officials, important clerics, lawmakers and Republican Guard commanders [in Iran], who in the past have reflexively opposed any accommodation with the West, now go out of their way to laud Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team of negotiators [of the pending nuclear deal], as well as the government of President Hassan Rouhani."

AFP: "Washington deepened its involvement in the Saudi-led air war in Yemen on Wednesday as aid agencies scrambled to deliver help to civilians caught up in the campaign now heading into its third week. The Red Cross has warned of a 'catastrophic' situation in main southern city of Aden, where militia loyal to the fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi have been holding out against Houthi Shia rebels and their allies within the security forces.... The US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence-sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition."

Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: "Russian hackers behind the damaging cyber intrusion of the State Department in recent months used that perch to penetrate sensitive parts of the White House computer system, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. While the White House has said the breach only affected an unclassified system, that description belies the seriousness of the intrusion. The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president's schedule."

Presidential Race

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post fact-checks Rand Paul's announcement speech. You'll find a heavy presence of words like "misleading," "falsely," & "myth." ...

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "... libertarians remain too young and too few to present Senator [Rand] Paul with a realistic path to the nomination. He has to win over a much larger share of more reliable Republican primary voters, who will have considerable reservations about Mr. Paul's policies. The other problem he faces: Many of the voters most receptive to libertarian views tend not to vote." ...

[E]very piece of anti-discrimination legislation passed over the past few decades ignores one of the basic, inalienable rights of man -- the right to discriminate. -- Rand Paul, 1982, op-ed in Baylor U. newspaper

The arc of history bends toward the 1870s.... ** Rutherford B. Paul. Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Rand Paul would be the worst president on civil rights since the 1800s.... Paul continued to espouse the same opposition to civil rights laws that he expressed as an undergraduate until months before his election to the Senate. And, while Paul has since learned to be more careful in his rhetoric, his public statements on the Constitution are entirely inconsistent with a legal regime that protects women and minorities from businesses that engage in discrimination.... Paul lives in a world of theory untouched by the lessons of history and evidence." ...

... Our Screwed-up Liberal Democracy Has Usurped Li'l Randy's FREEEEDOM to Violate Copyright Laws. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "If you're looking for Rand Paul's presidential announcement on YouTube, bad news. As of writing, the video has been blocked by the video streaming site, thanks to a copyright claim from Warner Music Group.... Rand Paul's spirited cry against government intervention has been blocked from view because YouTube lets huge music companies preemptively apply copyright law." CW: Still down at 11 pm Tuesday. ...

     ... AND still down at 10 am Wednesday. Maybe Randy doesn't think this presidential announcement thing is important enough to get right. Or maybe he's planning to use this glitch to finger the vast left-wing conspiracy. Also, see Nisky Guy's commentary in today's thread. ...

... Here's a screenshot of Paul's presidential announcement video:

... McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: "One of the high points from Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign kickoff Tuesday came when a black local pastor named Jerry Stephenson delivered an impassioned mini-sermon on behalf of the candidate.... After the event, however..., Stephenson got on the subject of the religious freedom debate and ... began musing about why he believed President Obama wasn't backing up conservative Christians. 'In five years we'll find out what [Obama's] real religion is,' Stephenson said." ...

... Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "Don't let Rand Paul fool you on climate change. He's a not-so-secret denier posing, if briefly, as a realist.

David Gram of the Atlantic provides "a cheat sheet" on GOP presidential candidates. He begins with this note about Rand Paul's announcement: "... he marked the kickoff with a speech at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (The name seems a little on the nose.)"

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "... late last month, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders helped push the Democratic Party a little to the left.... Social Security expansion has entered the Democratic mainstream, touted by lawmakers and pushed by presidential candidates like Martin O'Malley.... But the real test of Social Security's resurgence as a liberal cause is Hillary Clinton. When Social Security solvency meant benefit cuts, she was open to benefit cuts. Now it doesn't. But we don't know where Clinton will fall.... That, after all, is what primaries are for." ...

... Digby has an excellent essay on the same subject in Salon. She assumes Hillary Clinton will have "evolved," along with most of the Democratic party, on expanding Social Security. "... the people who stand to benefit the most from this are the most hardcore members of the Republican base. Will they turn down a raise?" ...

... Kate Brower, author of the book The Residence, which is based on interviews of White House service staff, dishes on Bill & Hillary Clinton in a Politico Magazine piece. CW: Expect a lot of this type of "journalism" in the coming year-and-a-half; I hesitated to link the story, but decided WTF. You can show better taste by deciding not to read it.

Beyond the Beltway

NBC 5 Chicago "Rahm Emanuel won his re-election contest Tuesday night and bested challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia to remain in charge of Chicago for another four years, the Associated Press projects."

John Eligon of the New York Times: "... voters [in Ferguson, Missouri,] elected two black candidates to the City Council on Tuesday, increasing the number of African-Americans on the governing body to three. But in a blow to the protesters who had pushed for sweeping changes to the city's law enforcement and judicial policies after the shooting last August, voters rejected several candidates who had the direct backing of protest activists." ...

... Stephen Deere of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Perhaps the most significant aspect of the results for Ferguson City Council was that 30 percent of the city's 12,738 registered voters cast ballots -- more than double the typical turnout."

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away. The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he feared for his life because the man took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man -- Walter L. Scott, 50 -- fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening." It appears Slager planted the stun gun near Scott's body." Includes video. ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress shows how the police department initially told the story before the video surfaced. "On Saturday the police released a statement alleging that Scott had attempted to gain control of a Taser from Slager and that he was shot in a struggle over the weapon.... By Sunday, the police department had clammed up...."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "A federal jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 charges for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 260, ruining lives and limbs and a city's sense of peace. He was also found guilty in the murder of a police officer. Tsarnaev is now eligible for the death penalty." ...

... The New York Times story is here.

Guardian: "The former head of the CIA in Pakistan should be tried for murder and waging war against the country, a high court judge ruled on Tuesday. Criminal charges against Jonathan Banks, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, were ordered in relation to a December 2009 attack by a US drone which reportedly killed at least three people."

Reuters: "US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter kicked off his first Asian tour on Wednesday with a stern warning against the militarisation of territorial rows in a region where China is at odds with several nations in the East and South China Seas."

Washington Post: Stan "Freberg died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. at age 88.... Before National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, way before, there was Stan Freberg."

Monday
Apr062015

The Commentariat -- April 7, 2015

"Surrender at Appomattox," by Thomas Lovell.... ** Brian Beutler: "... April 9 is the 150th anniversary of the Union’s victory in the Civil War.... And to mark the occasion, the federal government should make two modest changes: It should make April 9 a federal holiday; and it should commit to disavowing or renaming monuments to the Confederacy, and its leaders, that receive direct federal support." ...

... CW: I'm sure everyone will jump on this idea. Let's ask Jefferson Beauregard Sessions about it, for starters. Also, I never knew who Edmund Pettus was. So I looked him up: "He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War.... After the war he was a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and a Democratic U.S. Senator.... [He was] an enthusiastic champion of the Confederate cause and of slavery...." ...

... Steve M.: "Yeah, that's all we need: another reason for right-wingers to feel put upon.... In the real America, Southern whites have persuaded themselves that the flag of the Confederacy is about 'heritage' rather than slavery or treason, and the defense of 'heritage' in the modern world is part of a noble resistance to anti-white racism, which manifests itself in affirmative action and excessive social spending on Those People."

Sarah Bailey of the Washington Post: "President Obama teased his critics in his Easter remarks as religious leaders gathered at the White House for a prayer breakfast Tuesday. Obama noted the biblical call that Christians are called to love each other. But he said he sometimes hears 'less-than-loving expressions by Christians.' He added, 'but that's a topic for another day,' to applause and some jeering and laughter, 'I was about to veer off. I'm pulling it back.'"

When Crazy No Longer Pays. Dana Milbank: "Climate-change deniers are in retreat.... They're resorting to more defensible arguments that don't make them sound like flat-earthers.... For politicians and climate-denial groups, the elixir of life is money. Now that corporations are becoming reluctant to bankroll crazy theories, the surrender of climate-change deniers will follow."

Timothy Cama of the Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday sent to the White House its controversial regulation to redefine the extent of its authority over water pollution control."

Trevor Potter & Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, in Politico Magazine: "Before [Aaron] Schock [R-Illinois] becomes a footnote in history, it's worth reflecting on how he represents everything wrong with the way Congress raises money.... The rise and fall of Schock embodies the reality of the current campaign finance system. Members are now valued by the Leadership and fellow Members because of their fundraising prowess, not their legislating abilities.... The true scandal is that he was doing what all 'successful' Members of Congress now do -- ignoring Congressional grunt work and instead raising money." Potter & McGehee suggests some at-least partial solutions -- which aren't going to happen. Because $$$.

Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Edward Snowden avoided saying whether he had read every NSA document he handed over to journalists in an interview with comedian John Oliver on Sunday, as the HBO host posed uncomfortable questions to the NSA whistleblower in Moscow." ...

... Alan Yuhas: "The New York parks department on Monday removed a large bust of Edward Snowden that was installed in a Brooklyn park, shortly after covering it up with a tarp and thwarting the artists' stated intent 'to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies'. The Snowden bust still stood at Fort Greene Park's Prison Ship Martyrs monument, atop a single Doric column."

Burgess Everett of Politico: "Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer ... is strongly endorsing passage of a law opposed by President Barack Obama that would give Congress an avenue to reject the White House-brokered framework [on Iranian nuclear capabilities] unveiled last week." ...

... Eyder Peralta of NPR: "On Friday, Netanyahu insisted that any final agreement with Iran had to include 'clear and unambiguous Iranian commitment of Israel's right to exist.' In his interview with [NPR's] Steve [Inskeep], Obama dismissed Netanyahu's demand. 'The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,' Obama said. 'And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.'" With audio. ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic on what's wrong with Netanyahu's arguments. "... if America follows Netanyahu's advice, Iran's isolation will ease and America's will grow. Perhaps it's no surprise that a leader whose policies have so isolated his own country from the world is urging the United States down a similar path." ...

... Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Whereas Israel's public diplomacy has so far focused on what many have said was an unrealistic demand for the complete dismantlement of Iran's potentially military nuclear infrastructure, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it 'more reasonable.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Amanda Holpuch & Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "The University of Virginia fraternity chapter at the center of Rolling Stone magazine's retracted article A Rape on Campus said on Monday that it planned to sue the magazine for what it called 'reckless' reporting that hurt its reputation." ...

... Brian Stelter of CNN: "No one at Rolling Stone magazine is going to be fired: How can that be?"

I don't trust the press. I think I trust Iran more than I trust the American press. I don't want the American press interpreting this for me. -- Bill O'Reilly, one of the nation's few honest journos

Presidential Race

NEW. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, aiming to upset the political order in Washington and disprove those in his own party who doubt that a fiercely libertarian conservative can be a serious contender." ...

... Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will become the second major GOP presidential candidate to officially launch a White House bid on Tuesday.... He intends to focus heavily on young voters and minority outreach, and will make the pitch to Republican primary voters that his efforts to expand the party make him the candidate with the best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election." ...

... Jeremy Peters: "On Tuesday, when Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination at a rally here, his father, Ron, the former Texas congressman, will have a silent role. The elder Mr. Paul, who is known for eagerly commenting on the crisis of the moment, has been much quieter lately. Last week, he was declining all interview requests." ...

... Josh Rogin of Bloomberg: "In the first salvo of the 2016 Republican ad wars, a conservative group is about to unleash a seven-figure ad campaign targeting Senator Rand Paul for being out of step with the party on Iran, just as he launches his presidential campaign. The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, a 501(c)(4) group led by veteran Republican operative Rick Reed, will go live with its campaign against Paul on Tuesday, while the senator is in Louisville, Kentucky, announcing his presidential candidacy.... Reed ... was the architect of the 2004 'Swiftboat Veterans for Truth' campaign that attacked John Kerry's national-security record and credentials."

Robert Samuels of the Washington Post: "... Jeb Bush boasts that an executive order he signed that ended race-based college admissions in Florida upheld conservative principles while helping minorities.... But[, as predicted,] at Florida's two premier universities, black enrollment is shrinking.... Bush ... is the only governor who has signed an order ending affirmative action.... The growth in minority enrollment that Bush now points to is primarily a result of the state's booming Hispanic population.... As the number of black students dwindles, a sense of isolation has grown among them, particularly during episodes of perceived prejudice." ...

... Juanito! Ed Kilgore: "... when Poppy caused a brief flurry of controversy by referring to Jeb's kids as 'the little brown ones,' it probably didn't occur to him that Jeb might come to think of himself as a 'little brown one' by association -- or perhaps by the projection of a pol hungry for votes. Any way you slice the cantaloupe, though, you have to wonder how this news went over with Steve King." ...

... As Unwashed remarked in yesterdays Comments, "Just to be safe, we might want to get out the tape measure to check the circumference of [Jeb's] calves to make sure he didn't sneak across the border carrying a couple bales of contraband." ...

... A Family Rejects It's Northeastern WASPy Heritage. David Frum of the Atlantic: "Just as George H.W. Bush turned his back on the Northeastern Republicanism of Prescott Bush by traveling to Texas and throwing his lot in with Goldwater conservatism; just as New Haven-born George W. Bush defined himself as the Texas-most of the Texans; so Jeb says he is not a WASP, but a bicultural man, raising a bicultural family. He emancipated himself from one identity by adopting another."

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Expressing reverence for [Ronald] Reagan has been almost a requirement for Republican presidential candidates since 1988, but [Scott] Walker has taken to it like an apostle to his creed. As he prepares a White House run, and envisions competing against candidates named Bush and Clinton, Mr. Walker is going to great lengths to claim the Reagan legacy all for himself."

Obama to Walker: "You're an Ignoramus." Domenicao Montanaro of NPR: President "Obama scoffed at Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's suggestion that he would, on Day 1, revoke any nuclear agreement with Iran if he is elected president. 'It would be a foolish approach to take,' Obama said in an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, 'and perhaps Mr. Walker -- after he's taken some time to bone up on foreign policy -- will feel the same way.'" ...

... Greg Sargent: "Walker’s attack [on the Iran deal] is a reminder that Republicans continue to frame their opposition to any Iran deal in narrow terms -- I pledge to stick it to Obama and undo his capitulation to Iran on Day One!!! -- when in fact the talks also involve major allies, meaning all sorts of consequences could result from blowing up an international deal to which they are parties. Obama's response did hint at the general idea that recklessly undermining our agreements with other countries would 'embolden our enemies.'"

Josh Rogin of Bloomberg: "Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn't yet said whether he's running for president, yet he will announce Monday that if he wins the White House he intends to trash President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran as one of his first official acts." ...

... As digby asked the other day, "Am I the only one who finds it just a little bit odd that the American officials loudly claiming Iran cannot be trusted to fulfill any deal are simultaneously pledging that they will not fulfill any deal? Is it possible they have such little self-awareness?" ...

... CW: Sorry, digby, but "Rick Perry" and "self-awareness" only appear in the same sentence when someone is pointing out he has none. ...

In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.... From the risen Lord we ask the grace not to succumb to the pride which fuels violence and war, but to have the humble courage of pardon and peace. -- Pope Francis, in his Easter Message ...

... An Easter Message from Pope Francis to Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, et. al.: David Knowles of Bloomberg: "Pope Francis wants to give peace with Iran a chance. Delivering his Easter message from St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sunday, the pope gave his backing to the nuclear deal reached between Iran, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. 'In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,' the pope told the throngs of followers gathered in the rain." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Every day, you figure the odds go up that some conservative politician like Rick Santorum or Bobby Jindal is going to come right out and claim to be more Catholic than the Pope."

The Gospel According to Ted -- Does Not Run Thru the Supreme Court. Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News: "On his first Iowa stop as a presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz warned Wednesday that a Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage nationwide would be 'fundamentally illegitimate.'... 'Because of their partisan desire to mandate gay marriage everywhere in this country, they also want to persecute anyone who has a good faith religious belief that marriage is a holy sacrament, the union of one man and one woman and ordained as a covenant by God,' he said.... He reiterated his vow to press for a constitutional amendment that would clarify the power of state legislatures to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If the high court does legalize gay marriage nationwide, he added, he would prod Congress to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, a rarely invoked legislative tool." Via Charles Pierce. ...

Andy Borowitz: "The Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz's constant references to Jesus Christ in his speeches and campaign ads are sparking a strong interest in atheism among millions of Americans, atheist leaders report."

... If you are trying to think up some sly, disingenuous ways to justify bigotry, among the fellows who are glad to oblige are Rick Santorum, who thinks he should be POTUS, & Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who thinks he should be pope. Charles Pierce reports. CW: For starters, all these old boys should take a look at the Good News in the Good Book (see my Sunday post), & quit making up shit. Next, they really need to get over their weird obsession with other people's sex lives & wedding plans. (See also "Daily Show" clip below.)

AND 90-percent-presidential-candidate Carly Fiorina blames liberals for the California drought.

Senate Race

Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic: "Veteran U.S. Sen. John McCain will announce Tuesday that he will seek a sixth term in 2016. McCain, R-Ariz., plans to officially declare his bid for re-election during a speech before the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Arizona Biltmore resort in central Phoenix." McCain will turn 80 in 2016.

Gubernatorial Race

Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: Gavin Newsom, California's leutenant governor, who is running for governor, Newsom, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking state official to support legalization [of recreational marijuana]. If an expected 2016 ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana includes safeguards that he views as crucial, Newsom will endorse it and effectively be the public face of the effort."

Beyond the Beltway

Nik DeCosta-Klipa of the Boston Globe: "On the same day closing arguments were heard in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial for the Boston Marathon bombings, Massachusetts Catholic leaders reaffirmed their opposition to the death penalty. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference released a statement Monday afternoon, signed by local bishops, including Cardinal Seán O'Malley."

Republican Men Should Not Be Allowed out at Night

The Man in the Orange Jumpsuit was once the head of the South Carolina GOP.WIS TV, Columbia, South Carolina: "The former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party was arrested Monday on a criminal domestic violence charge. James John Todd Kincannon, 33, was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center Monday evening....

Just Another GOP Mugshot.... Michael Brindley of New Hampshire Public Radio: "Senator Kelly Ayotte says she has accepted the resignation of her state director, after he was arrested Friday, charged with solicitation of prostitution. Nashua police say David Wihby was one of 10 men arrested as part of a special sting operation last week at two city hotels." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Mike Weisser in the Huffington Post: "This past week Kansas became the sixth state to align itself with something called the Constitutional Carry Movement which interprets the 2nd Amendment to mean that anyone can carry a concealed weapon without having to undergo any kind of licensing requirement at all.... The [Supreme Court's] 2008 Heller decision ... explicitly defined the 2nd Amendment as granting Americans the right to keep a gun in their homes.

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