The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

The Wires

The Ledes

Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 30

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Saturday
Oct182014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 19, 2014

Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post: "... inequality starts in the crib.... Rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom -- 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy."

Rachel Huggins of the Hill: "President Obama on Saturday evening met with members of his national security and public health teams for an update on the administration's response to the Ebola outbreak. The White House's new Ebola czar, Ron Klain, did not take part in the meeting, according to a White House [person?]. ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "America is a narcissistic and inward-looking society at the best of the times. At the worst of times, it's something even worse; a country with utterly no understanding of the pain and struggle and banal, recurrent death that the rest of the world lives with on a daily basis.... I think we are unique in our continued capacity to be shocked that anything terrible could happen to us.... This has everything to do with the narrative we are fed and, in a continuous loop through the media ... feed and re-feed to ourselves. We are exceptional." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... CW: Whaddaya bet that are more innocent people sitting on death row than have died of Ebola while in the U.S. (that would be one). ...

... Tara Haelle in Politico Magazine catalogues some of "the craziest things people are saying about Ebola." CW: Although Haelle does mention Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) among the nut jobs, she completely missed Rand Paul in the section she devoted to transmission of the disease. We never want to miss Dr. Randy when it comes to stoking fear. (CW: In fact, I think Dr. Randy is technically correct when he says you can contract the virus from someone standing three feet away from you; for instance, the person could let go with a hearty, moist sneeze or that ever-popular Monty Python ejectile vomit. P.S. I am not a doctor.) ...

... Alan Feuer of the New York Times has more on Ebola conspiracy theories: "The outbreak began in September, when The Daily Observer, a Liberian newspaper, published an article alleging that the virus was not what it seemed -- a medical disaster -- but rather a bioweapon designed by the United States military to depopulate the planet.... In the last few weeks, conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have floated the idea that President Obama had sent aid to Africa, risking American lives, because of his guilt over slavery and colonialism." ...

... Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg News: "President Barack Obama is preparing to ask Congress for additional funds to combat Ebola, a move that could shift some political pressure from the White House to lawmakers in the last two weeks before midterm elections." ...

... Lauren French of Politico: "More than two dozen House Democrats are calling on the Senate to swiftly approve Vivek Murthy's nomination to serve as surgeon general to help combat the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the U.S." ...

... In lieu of a real, live surgeon general, Brian McFadden of the New York Times envisions "President Obama's Robo-Surgeon'General."

... Maria Cheng of the AP: "In a draft document, the World Health Organization has acknowledged that it botched attempts to stop the now-spiraling Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information. In the document obtained by The Associated Press, the agency wrote that experts should have realized that traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems." CW: Strangely, the WHO did not realize it could just blame Obama.

CW: Justice John Paul Stevens, in an NYRB review, gets a bit into the weeds, but I was interested in his explanation of how he perceives & employs legislative intent in decision-making -- and how Justices Antonin Scalia & Clarence Thomas don't give a rat's ass about it: "... the text of bills is often not self-explanatory, and it is necessary to read committee reports to understand the issues.... In the real world, legislative history has an important part in statutory construction. Indeed, on the Supreme Court seven of the nine active justices rely on legislative history in appropriate cases.... Justice Scalia refuses to join any part of a colleague's opinion that relies on legislative history." Stevens' brief discussion of "scrivener's error" certainly applies to Halbig's challenge to the ACA.

God News

Nicole Winfield of the AP: "Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.... Paul was elected in 1963 to succeed the popular Pope John XXIII, and during his 15-year reign was responsible for implementing the reforms of Vatican II and charting the church through the tumultuous years of the 1960s sexual revolution." ...

... Laurie Goodstein & Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times: "A closely watched Vatican assembly on the family ended on Saturday without consensus among the bishops in attendance on what to say about gays, and whether to give communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. The bishops' final report watered down the warm and welcoming language about gays and divorced couples that appeared in a preliminary report released on Monday.... The [watered-down] passages on gays and divorce did not receive two-thirds of the vote by the 183 bishops in attendance on Saturday.... Conservative bishops had expressed alarm that the Roman Catholic Church was sending a mixed message on marriage and homosexuality. Pope Francis addressed the bishops in the final session, issuing a double-barreled warning against 'hostile rigidity' by 'so-called traditionalists,' but also cautioning 'progressives' who would 'bandage a wound before treating it.' The bishops responded with a four-minute standing ovation...." ...

... Lester Feder & Ellie Hall of BuzzFeed: "In the interview with BuzzFeed News, [conservative U.S. Cardinal Raymond] Burke confirmed publicly for the first time the rumors that he had been told [Pope] Francis intended to demote him from the church's chief guardian of canon law to a minor post as patron to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta."

Davide Casati of the New York Times: "Before his arrest in June 2013, [Msgr. Nunzio Scarano] was a top accountant at the Vatican office that, at that time, managed the Holy See's real estate and investments. He is currently on trial, accused of money laundering -- most notably, of trying to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to Italy in a private plane, with the help of an Italian secret service agent. An Italian judge calculated Monsignor Scarano's wealth at more than $8.2 million, though the Vatican paid the priest just $41,000 a year. Italian authorities seized the 17-room, $1.7 million house in Salerno, where he is now under house arrest, along with many bank accounts; two of them, at the Vatican Bank, were seized by Vatican authorities."

Sarah Bailey of RNS: "Pope Francis stepped slightly outside of ecumenical protocol when he sent his support and congratulations to the new leader of a breakaway group of conservative Anglicans. The pope's message came during the Oct. 9 installation service for the Most Rev. Foley Beach, the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, which broke away from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over theological differences on salvation and sexuality.... The Vatican has no formal relations with ACNA; the recognized Anglican leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the churches he recognizes as part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church in the United States. Neither Welby nor the Episcopal Church formally recognizes ACNA. In an interview earlier this month, Welby said breakaway groups are not part of the communion." ...

... The ACNA is a conservative breakaway sect. Wikipedia: "The church allows dioceses to decide if they will or will not ordain women as priests, although it does not permit women to become bishops. Concerning marriage, it holds that it is between one man and one woman; therefore, it does not bless same sex unions. Concerning abortion and euthanasia, the ACNA holds a pro-life stance, proclaiming 'all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.'"

Eyder Peralta of NPR: "Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced on Friday that the city would narrow the scope of a controversial subpoena that asked five local pastors for copies of some of their sermons and communications." Peralta provides some background on the story. CW: I linked to an earlier story mid-week last week & questioned the constitutionality of the city's subpoenas. ...

... "Houston Has a Problem." Charles Pierce: "Frankly, this whole thing makes me nervous, too. (And the eagerness of liberal shebeens like Media Matters and ThinkProgress to jump in on the city's side here is very disappointing.) If there's anything the First Amendment makes perfectly clear, it is that the power of the state ends at the door of the church." Pierce also provides background. ...

... David Brody of CBN: "... Senator Ted Cruz says pastors being hauled off to jail by the government for preaching against homosexuality is a 'real risk' in the future.... 'The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.'" Via Steve Benen. ...

... Steve Benen: "In reality, that's not even close to what's 'happening now' and there is no such 'risk.' In fact, under the First Amendment, the scenario Cruz is warning against simply cannot happen.... But for the religious right, the controversy itself has become a rallying cry -- proof, they say, that supporters of gay rights will try to exploit the law to silence, and perhaps even imprison, conservative ministers." ...

It's basically, they're deciding what your views are supposed to be on certain things and they're now trying to legislate it. And they're trying to legislate speech. -- Fox "News" contributor Kirsten Powers

... Carlos Marcos of Media Matters: "Churches are exempt from HERO, and the ordinance does not regulate anti-gay speech. HERO merely prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations."

... CW: I still think the subpoenas are unconstitutional, no matter how much the city "narrows" its focus. The IRS regulates & limits political activity of non-profits, including churches, so I imagine the IRS could lawfully issue subpoenas of sermons to determine whether ministers engaged in "substantial" political activities. I seriously doubt that the IRS would bother in this instance, as clearly political activism is not the primary focus of these churches over the long haul. Moreover, Houston has not claimed any concern for the churches' tax-exempt status in this suit. So thanks, Houston, for aligning me with Ted Cruz. P.S. I am not a lawyer.

Denny Walsh of the Sacramento Bee: "A Shasta County atheist whose parole agent required him to participate in a religious-oriented drug treatment program has settled his lawsuit against the state and a rehabilitation contractor for nearly $2 million. Barry A. Hazle Jr. did a year in prison on a narcotics conviction. His release on parole was revoked -- and he was sent back to prison for more than three months -- after he complained about mandated attendance at a drug treatment program where acknowledgment of a higher power is required." Via Benen, indirectly. ...

... ON THE OTHER HAND, this is just as bad. Hemant Mehta in Patheos: "Texas Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack ... opened a recent court session with a five-minute Bible reading followed by a formal prayer." When the Freedom from Religion organization sent a letter objecting to the practice, Mack responded by sponsoring a prayer breakfast. In an e-mail, he told potential breakfasters, "... We are on strong legal ground here.... Not only is it acceptable to our community, but show them that God has a place in all aspects of our lives and public service...." Mehta states the obvious: "Mack would never be able to get away with this if he was anything other than Christian."

November Elections

Via Kate Madison. Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "White voters are more likely to support restrictive voter ID laws when they are shown photos of African American voters, according to a new study. The findings were released as courts are considering the constitutionality of voter ID laws across the country with just three weeks until the midterm elections."

Maine. Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on Maine's three-way race for governor. CW: If independent Eliot Cutler cares about Maine, he should drop out of this race to work on changing the way Maine picks its candidates, which is now rigged so the majority's third choice can win.

Massachusetts. The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Ben Schreckinger in Politico Magazine: Martha Coakley has blown another huge lead, this time over moderate Republican Charlie Baker in the race for governor. CW: The Real Clear Politics poll of polls have Baker up by 0.2; i.e., a dead heat. According to Schreckinger, "In one poll conducted in April, she led Baker by 29 points." This, however, was before she faced a tough primary opponent. "Fred Armisen, playing President Obama [in an SNL skit after her defeat by the Handsomest Man in Massachusetts New England politics]..., received standing ovations for repeatedly bashing her with lines like 'You couldn't beat Dick Cheney for mayor of Berkeley.'"

Texas. Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog on the Supreme Court's decision to reverse a lower court decision which declared unconstitutional Texas's strict voter ID/poll tax law. "This apparently was the first time since 1982 that the Court has allowed a law restricting voters' rights to be enforced after a federal court had ruled it to be unconstitutional because it intentionally discriminated against minorities.... The Justice Department has indicated that the case is likely to return to the Supreme Court after the appeals court rules." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "Republicans in Texas have managed to finagle a world in which a gun permit counts as proof of voter eligibility, but a student ID does not.... It's election rigging, plain and simple, designed to give Republican and conservative voters the opportunity to vote while denying the franchise to traditionally more Democratic and progressive demographics."

Presidential Election

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Ebola came to Texas. And Rick Perry went to Europe.... At first, Perry seemed to have everything under control.... But then he left Sunday for a long-planned 7-day trip designed to burnish his foreign policy credentials. During his absence, two more cases of Ebola were confirmed, both of them involving Texas nurses who had dealt with the first patient.The governor cut his trip short and rushed home on Thursday, only to encounter criticism for leaving in the first place." ...

     ... Steve M. "It may be silly to take Rick Perry's presidential ambitions seriously at all, but even if you do, he's not going to be judged on 'crisis management' in this situation, as the article suggests -- he's going to be judged on how much he hates Obama. That's how every Republican presidential aspirant is judged on pretty much everything." ...

... Remembrances of Romney at the London Olympics. In a speech advocating for stopping ISIS, delivered in London, England, earlier this week, Perry repeatedly reminded the Brits of American exceptionalism. Patrick Svitek of the Houston Chronicle: "Perry laced his speech with allusions to American exceptionalism...."

Beyond the Beltway

A snapshot of the live-free-or-die state, college edition. Photo by Rick DeMarco via the Boston Globe.... Chris Caesar of the Boston Globe: "Witnesses said police deployed tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a large crowd on the Keene State University campus in New Hampshire Saturday afternoon. Several people were injured by thrown bottles near the school's 1 Butler Court during a party celebrating the town's annual Pumpkin Festival.... Keene's police department was lampooned on both the Colbert Report (starts at 2:10) and Late Night with Jon Oliver (starts at 7:18) after citing the town's annual Pumpkin Fest as one reason it needed a surplus $286,000 armored vehicle from the Pentagon."

News Lede

Guardian: "A cruise ship carrying a Dallas healthcare worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port on Sunday.... A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas on 8 October, showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers the unidentified woman was tested for Ebola but the results were negative."

Friday
Oct172014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 18, 2014

** Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court's order was unsigned and contained no reasoning. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent. 'The prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,' she wrote, undermines 'public confidence in elections.' Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent." CW: Hmmm. Once again, it's the girls against the boys, & this time not on a gender-specific issue.

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "'The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,' [Federal Reserve Chair Janet] Yellen said at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 'I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation;s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.'... But ... she stays away from the aspects of the inequality puzzle that have a close tie-in to the policies of the Federal Reserve.... It seems like Ms. Yellen offered this speech as a way to use her bully pulpit to cast public attention on an issue she cares about deeply, deliberately avoiding areas where inequality intersects with the policy areas under which she has direct control." ...

     ... See also, Connecticut gubernatorial candidate, in November Elections below. ...

... David Firestone of the New York Times: "Good luck distinguishing between good oligarchs & bad oligarchs." He's right. The opinions & preferences of the wealthy may sometimes line up with the public good, but they should not be given any more weight than yours or mine. See also, Bill Gates/Common Core.

White House: "In this week's address, the President discussed what the United States is doing to respond to Ebola, both here at home and abroad, and the key facts Americans need to know":

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Beneath the calming reassurance that President Obama has repeatedly offered during the Ebola crisis, there is a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response. Those frustrations spilled over when Mr. Obama convened his top aides in the Cabinet room after canceling his schedule on Wednesday.... Officials said Mr. Obama placed much of the blame on the C.D.C...." ...

... Julie Davis & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain, a seasoned Democratic crisis-response operative and White House veteran, to manage the government's response to the deadly virus as public anxiety grows over its possible spread. Mr. Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political challenges. He was the lead Democratic lawyer for Mr. Gore during the 2000 election recount, and was later played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO drama 'Recount' about the disputed contest." ...

... CW: So Frank Underwood. Great. Maybe he can ruin the lives of some GOP loudmouths. ...

... CW: You'll be shocked, shocked, to read this. David McCabe of the Hill: "GOP blasts Obama Ebola czar pick. No sooner had the White House announced that it had selected Ron Klain to coordinate the administration's response to concerns about the Ebola virus than several congressional Republicans were expressing anger about the pick. Most highlighted Klain's past as a political operative." The lede to this story has been changed, but I prefer the original one, copied above. ...

... Joe Nocera on the CDC's "failure of competence.... When you think about it, many of the Obama administration's 'scandals' have been failures of competence. The Secret Service ... the Veterans Health Administration ... the Obamacare website.... [CW: I'd add Benghaaazi! & the IRS to that list.] The Republican right takes it as an article of faith that the national government can't do anything right.... And now comes the C.D.C. -- the most trusted agency in government -- thrust in a role for which it was designed: advising us and protecting us from a potential contagion. With every new mistake, it becomes, in the public eye, just another federal agency that can't get it right." ...

... Nate Silver looks at flight patterns coming out of West African countries to show why a travel ban wouldn't work. "... the next Ebola patient may be on a flight from London, not Liberia." ...

... Jonathan Cohn takes a more comprehensive look at why a travel ban, including one based on the nationality of the potential passenger, wouldn't work. One of his main sources: Bush administration Secretary of Health & Human Services Michael Leavitt, who studied the feasibility of a travel ban during an avian flu epidemic. Leavitt's conclusion: fageddaboudit. ...

... Your Ebola Chart of the Day is here. BUT never mind ...

... Kathleen Ronayne of the AP (Oct. 16): "U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told a group of college students Wednesday the deadly virus Ebola can spread from a person who has the disease to someone standing three feet away and said the White House should be honest about that. His comments directly conflict with statements from world health authorities who have dealt with Ebola outbreaks since 1976." ...

... Here's more from Benjy Sarlin of MSNBC. ...

... Steve Benen: "At the risk of putting too fine a point on this, it's no longer clear just how much respect Rand Paul is due.... To assume Paul knows what he's talking about, and that he has more credibility that legitimate medical experts, is a mistake." ...

... Josh Marshall of TPM digs for the roots of Li'l Randy's Ebola truther moment. He finds some in a crackpot conspiracy theorists' organization called Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, of which both Rand & Ron Paul are a card-carrying members. Sounds like an upstanding professional group, doesn't it? It isn't. "... they suggested that President Obama was not simply a gifted orator but actually 'deliberately using the techniques of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a covert form of hypnosis developed by Milton Erickson, M.D.?' The group's journal has also claimed that humans have not contributed to climate change, that HIV does not cause AIDS, that abortion causes breast cancer, that undocumented immigrants are flooding the US with leprosy, [etc.]... The year before running for senate at their annual conference. 'I use a lot of AAPS literature when I talk,' he told the group in his speech." ...

     ... CW: If you're looking for something to panic about, I suggest you freak out about the possibility that this nutjob could become president. ...

     ... Hey, maybe President Randy would make his old man the surgeon general! Ben Adler of Grist elaborates on Marshall's story: "Ron Paul, as it happens, has come out with what might be the most disturbing thing said by any conservative about Ebola." Paul thinks "liberty, not government, [is] the key to containing Ebola.... Rand Paul is shrewd enough not to say what Ron did about Ebola. But his belief system is the same. And his father's latest missive is a taste of the dangers a Rand Paul presidency would carry for the environment, public health, and public safety." ...

... MEANWHILE, more Texas crazy from Louis Gohmert, a bona fide elected representative of the people & until now, secret feminist, who tells us "... the CDC head, Frieden, is apparently the commander of the Democrats' new war on women nurses. Because, goodnight, they set them up, and then they throw them under the bus." (CW: Oddly, I think he's partly right on his main point, before he & Glenn Beck pivot deep into Right Wing World.

... Dana Milbank: "In an interview published Sunday night, [NIH Director Francis] Collins shared with the Huffington Post's Sam Stein his belief that, if not for recent federal spending cuts, 'we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this' Ebola outbreak. This should not be controversial. His conjecture was based on cold budgeting facts.... Yet conservatives pounced.... Who would say, given the economic catastrophe that an Ebola outbreak could cause, that spending tens of millions more for an Ebola vaccine is wasteful?" ...

... CW Answer: Dr. Ron Paul, for one.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for the LGBT-WMD Community":

     ... CW: If you can't figure out why your Fox "News"-watching acquaintances are so ignorant, watch the clips Colbert highlights.

From the Department of Inconsequential Matters. Did the plaintiff in this case really suffer from "intentional infliction of emotional stress" or is he just a guy who can't take a joke?

November Elections

Connecticut. Tatiana Schlossberg of the New York Times: "Thomas C. Foley, the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut, paid $673 in federal taxes in 2013, despite personal wealth that allowed him to spend $11 million of his own money in a race for the same office in 2010.... The campaign released his 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax summaries last month; 2013 was the third year in a row that Mr. Foley effectively paid no federal income tax." ...

... CW: That should make you angry.

Florida. Gov. Rick Scott pumped out flood zones caused by rising sea levels so he won't have to admit sea levels are rising.

Nebraska. It's Willie Horton All Over Again:

     ... AND the charges the Republican Congressional Committee makes against Demcorat Brad Ashford are based on mighty thin "evidence." Nebraska's Republican governor supported the same sentencing bill Ashford did. ...

     ... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted the ad on Friday afternoon, accusing the ad of 'race-baiting' and demanding that it be taken down." ...

     ... CW: One reason we may never get sensible sentencing laws: politicians are afraid if they vote for any bill that allows for any sort of early release, they will be Willie-Hortoned in their next election bid.

Nevada, I guess. Cliven Bundy's New Black Friend. CW: I do believe the real reason AG Eric Holder is resigning is he's a'skeert to face Cliven Bundy & his ranch hand candidate for Congress Kamau Bakari:

Texas. See the Supreme Court ruling linked at the top of the page.

Virginia. Washington Post Editors: GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie proposes a national healthcare plan "worse than Obamacare." CW: Hey, it will raise the deficit, has poor protection for people with pre-existing conditions, & will hurt poor people, leaving them with nothing but bare-bones catastrophic coverage. But otherwise it's great.

Presidential Election

Paul Waldman lists a few reasons why "there's no way [Rand Paul] (or any other Republican) could get a third of their votes in a presidential campaign.... No matter how much he reaches out, other people in his party are going to keep doing things like air this latter-day Willie Horton ad. Then there's the comprehensive Republican project to restrict voting rights, which African-Americans rightly interpret as an effort to keep them from voting. Then there's the fact that for the last six years, Barack Obama has been subject to an endless torrent of racist invective, not only from your uncle at Thanksgiving but from people with nationally syndicated radio shows. On his listening tour, Paul might ask a few black people how they feel about the fact that America's first black president had to show his birth certificate to prove he's a real American." ...

... CW: Yeah, & how about Li'l Randy himself "standing by" his aide & co-author, the "Southern Avenger"? Plus, as Howard Fineman pointed out in the linked post, "Paul will have to deal with myriad nettlesome issues that come from his family's political roots in the libertarian, states' rights and nativist soil deep in some reaches of American politics." When you get right down to it, Rand Paul is a Southern white boy. He has pretty much let on in recent remarks that his inerest in bridging the GOP racial divide is about garnering votes, not about giving a whup about black Americans.

Beyond the Beltway

** Michael Schmidt, et al., of the New York Times: "The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter. The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.... [Federal] officials said that while the federal investigation was continuing, the evidence so far did not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson.... The officials ... said the forensic evidence gathered in the car lent credence to Officer Wilson's version of events."

News Ledes

AP: "Searchers found human remains on Saturday that could be those of a University of Virginia sophomore who has been missing since Sept. 13, police said. Further forensic tests are needed to confirm whether the remains are those of Hannah Graham, but Graham's parents were notified of the preliminary findings, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told a news conference."

AP: "Police in the Seattle suburb of Auburn said Thursday that they believe they have found the body of missing actress Misty Upham, known for her roles in 'August: Osage County,' 'Frozen River' and 'Django Unchained.'"

Reuters: "The survivalist charged with murdering a Pennsylvania trooper and wounding another was spotted near his old high school carrying a rifle and with mud smeared on his face, police said on Saturday, five weeks after a manhunt for the suspect began. Eric Frein, 31, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list, was spotted by a woman in a 'surprise encounter' while she was taking a walk, said Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police."

New York Times: On a trip to Milan to meet with European leaders, Vladimir Putin behaves badly.

Thursday
Oct162014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 17, 2014

"Privatized Politics." Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine: "The result [of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision] was a massive power shift, from the party bosses to the rich individuals who ran the super PACs.... Almost overnight, traditional party functions -- running TV commercials, setting up field operations, maintaining voter databases, even recruiting candidates -- were being supplanted by outside groups. And the shift was partly because of one element of McCain-Feingold that remains: the ban on giving unlimited soft money to parties..... A party platform has to account for both the interests of the oil industry and those of the ethanol industry; those of the casino industry and those of the anti-gambling religious right; those of Wall Street and those of labor." ...

... Spencer Woodman of Slate: "... the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, or BIPAC, [is] a political organization ... [whose] primary aim ... is to turn as many private employers as possible into 'employee political education' machines for business interests. BIPAC urges major companies to transform their workforces into a voting bloc and provides sophisticated tools that show employers how to do it. Although BIPAC claims nonpartisanship, in the races that matter most -- such as this year's hotly contested battles that will determine control of the Senate -- BIPAC has the GOP's back.... The group has partnerships with most companies on the Fortune 100 list...."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama remained at the White House on Thursday to focus on the government's response to Ebola, canceling a second day of election-season travel as the administration concentrated on what is already turning into a political as well as a public health crisis.... The drop-everything approach is a striking change for a White House that prides itself on always maintaining its cool." ...

... Michael Shear: "President Obama said Thursday evening that he might appoint an 'Ebola czar' to manage the government's response to the deadly virus, a concession to critics who have questioned whether his administration has stayed on top of the medical crisis." ...

     ... Here's an expanded Times story by Jack Healy, et al., on the czar thing. ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "The President's problem is that he appears to be reacting to events rather than dictating them. Initially, his Administration resisted calls to screen visitors from West Africa; the day Duncan died, it announced a system of screening. Until yesterday, the White House insisted that the C.D.C. had established proper protocols and systems for hospitals dealing with Ebola victims. Now it is beefing up federal oversight and promising to fly in SWAT teams." ...

... Alan Cowell of the New York Times: "Adding a new and troubling dimension to the search for Americans possibly exposed to the Ebola virus, the State Department said Friday that an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who may have had contact with specimens of the disease had left the United States aboard a cruise ship. The employee and a traveling partner, who were not identified by name, had agreed to remain isolated in a cabin aboard the vessel, the State Department said, and 'out of an abundance of caution' efforts were underway to repatriate them. A physician aboard the cruise ship had said the employee was in good health.... 'The individual was out of the country before being notified of the C.D.C.'s updated requirements for active monitoring,' [according to a State Department] statement. 'At the time the hospital employee left the country, C.D.C. was requiring only self-monitoring.'" ...

... Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Facing sharp questioning at a Congressional hearing on Thursday about the troubled handling of Ebola cases in the United States, federal health officials said that a nurse with Ebola would be transferred to a specialized unit at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, to ease the burden of the Dallas hospital where she became infected.... Both nurses [who have contracted Ebola] worked in the hospital's intensive care unit, and Dr. [Thomas] Frieden said that investigators' 'leading hypothesis' was that the women became infected in the first few days of caring for Mr. Duncan, when, according to hospital officials, they were wearing basic protective gear but had not yet upgraded to full biohazard suits." ...

... Eun Kyung Kim of the "Today" Show: "Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Briana Aguirre, who cared for her friend and co-worker Nina Pham after she tested positive for the Ebola virus, says she can no longer defend her hospital over how she claims it responded to the disease once Thomas Eric Duncan arrived. 'I watched them violate basic principles of nursing,' Aguirre told 'Today''s Matt Lauer ... Thursday.... Administrators never discussed with staff how the hospital would handle an Ebola case prior to Duncan's arrival, Aguirre alleged.... She said there was mass confusion over procedures...." ...

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director, [argued against a travel ban] on Thursday to a lineup of Republican lawmakers who wanted to know why the government hadn't banned commercial travel from the west African countries at the center of the Ebola epidemic. Frieden said authorities preferred a system where they could screen people trying to come to the U.S. by air rather than instituting a ban that would force would-be travelers to go around checkpoints and slip into the country undetected.... Frieden, with help from Democrats on the committee, also argued that a travel ban would restrict access to the 'huge quantities' of aid and personnel that needed to get in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help stem the crisis at its source. ...

... Lena Sun, et al., of the Washington Post profile Thomas Friedan, the CDC director. ...

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: Thomas "Frieden's ... account of how [Amber] Vinson[, a nurse infected with Ebola,] got on the plane ... was at least evasive and, depending on what he knew and what exactly Vinson was told, may have been worse. He was asked three different ways if Vinson had been told not to fly, and each time dodged the question in a way that left the impression that Vinson was some sort of rogue nurse who just got it into her head that she could fly wherever she wanted. He talked about her 'self-monitoring,' and that she 'should not have travelled, should not have been allowed to travel by plane or any public transport' -- without mentioning that his agency was who allowed it." Read the whole post. ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate writes an excellent, balanced piece on the parties' Ebola vaccine blame game. ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM: "It isn't a surprise to see conservative media beating the drum of conspiracy and incompetence. But now, with all perspective and nuance being tossed aside, the more mainstream media is starting to pick it up, too." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... the story that many conservatives are telling about Ebola goes something like this: We'd love to eschew hysteria, and we'd love to believe our public health officials can break the chain of transmission within the U.S., but the Obama administration has proven itself untrustworthy.... Members of the media are enabling this opportunism. They should be anathematizing it.... That the risk is provably infinitesimal underscores the fact that the issue with Ebola isn't the virus itself so much as paranoia about it." ...

... Simon Maloy of Salon: "... 'the Doom-and-Disease Chorus' [is] ... nurturing along the perception that existing policies are failing horribly and the likelihood of outright catastrophe is increasing. The 'do something' politicking is the natural outflow from all their efforts to keep people scared. It won't solve the problem -- it could even make it worse -- but it appeals to the frightened person who's been made to feel that the situation is slipping into chaos and is just looking for something, anything, to be done." ...

... Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Federal officials have no indications that terrorists are seeking to use the Ebola virus as a biologic weapon against the United States, FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday. 'No,' Comey replied simply when asked whether there was any credible evidence that foreign terrorists were looking into using the virus to target the U.S." ...

... Michael Schmidt & Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "The director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, said Thursday that federal laws should be changed to require telecommunications companies to give law enforcement agencies access to the encrypted communications of individuals suspected of crimes. In a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Mr. Comey warned that crimes could go unsolved if law enforcement officers cannot gain access to information that technology companies like Apple and Google are protecting using increasingly sophisticated encryption technology."

Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "Four [Department of Veterans Affairs] executives were selected for termination in recent weeks, but two of them retired abruptly before they could be shown the door.... On Tuesday, Susan Taylor, the deputy chief of procurement for the Veterans Health Administration, announced her retirement by email, three weeks after the Veterans Affairs agency released a scathing report saying she had steered business toward her lover and to a favored contractor, then tried to 'assassinate' the character of a colleague who attempted to stop the practice. The other executive who retired before being fired, John Goldman, was accused of allowing employees at a V.A. hospital in Georgia to delete hundreds of appointments from records to hide wait times at the hospital. He submitted his resignation in September."

Famous Economists Who Don't Like Each Other. Paul Krugman: "... it's hard to escape the conclusion that people like [former Fed chair Alan] Greenspan knew as much about what the market wanted as medieval crusaders knew about God's plan -- that is, nothing.... In fact, if you look closely, the real message from the market seems to be that we should be running bigger deficits and printing more money. And that message has gotten a lot stronger in the past few days.... I'm talking about interest rates, which are flashing warnings, not of fiscal crisis and inflation, but of depression and deflation. Most obviously, interest rates on long-term U.S. government debt -- the rates that the usual suspects keep telling us will shoot up any day now unless we slash spending -- have fallen sharply."

Famous GOP Senators Who Hate Each Other. Judy Kurtz of the Hill: "Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) daughter [Meghan McCain] said on Wednesday that her father and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) 'hate each other.'"

Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine, according to a report. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Biden was discharged earlier this year after failing a drug test in June 2013. A lawyer and former lobbyist, Biden was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve in 2013. He applied for a commission into the reserve as a public affairs officer at age 42."

Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post: "Facing outrage from traditional Catholics, top clergy at a Vatican meeting on Thursday altered a document meant to guide future outreach to gays and lesbians, changing the goal of 'welcoming homosexual persons' to 'providing for homosexual persons.'"

November Elections

Mark Lopez, et al., of Pew Research: "A record 25.2 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2014 midterm elections, making up, for the first time, 11% of all eligible voters nationwide. But despite a growing national presence, in many states with close Senate and gubernatorial races this year, Latinos make up a smaller share of eligible voters...."

Florida "Fangate," Ctd. Jim Newell of Salon: "If this weird, petty nonsense is the sort of thing that decides the next governor of Florida, it won't be a tragedy. It will be fitting. This is a race between two notorious creeps. Rick Scott is an arch Medicare fraudster. Charlie Crist, who was a Republican vice-presidential short-lister not that long ago, is one of the purest opportunists in modern American politics. The debate that eventually happened between the two last night consisted of them flinging these very valid critiques of each other back and forth. This race, like so many others in this cycle of blanket unpopularity, is not one of profound optimism and inspiration."

I waited to be -- 'til we figured out if he was gonna show up. He said he wasn't going to come to the, uh -- he was -- he said he wasn't gonna come to the debate. So why come out until he's ready? -- Rick Scott, explaining why he missed the first six minutes of his gubernatorial debate with Charlie Crist

Makes a lot of sense. -- Constant Weader

Iowa. Greg Sargent: "Democrats have unearthed new audio of Joni Ernst [RTP] in 2013, in which she details rather stark views about the relationship of Americans with their government.... In it, Ernst claims that we have created 'a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them,' and that wrenching them away from their dependence 'is going to be very painful.'" Here's more:

We're looking at Obamacare right now.... It's exponentially harder to remove people once they've already been on those programs.... We rely on government for absolutely everything. And in the years since I was a small girl up until now into my adulthood with children of my own, we have lost a reliance on not only our own families, but so much of what our churches and private organizations used to do. They used to have wonderful food pantries. They used to provide clothing for those that really needed it. But we have gotten away from that. Now we're at a point where the government will just give away anything. ...

... Jonathan Chait: "That's the fundamental belief that motivates most, if not all, the conservative opposition [to ObamaCare]: Health care should be a privilege rather than a right. If you can't afford health insurance on your own, that is not the government's problem." ...

... Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst said she would support a federal bill that gives legal personhood rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization, effectively wiping out legal abortion in the United States." ...

... Manu Raju & John Bresnahan of Politico: Tom Harkin is a selfish cheapskate, & the result maybe that winger Joni Ernst takes his seat.

Kansas. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "... as Supreme Court rulings reignite a national debate over voter ID and fraud, no candidate more defines this moment of politicized voting rules than Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach, who has transformed an obscure office in a place far from the usual political battlegrounds, to become a lightning rod on restrictive voting and illegal immigration.... Mr. Kobach was elected by a 22-point landslide in 2010. Now he faces an unexpectedly tough re-election fight in deeply Republican Kansas, where many think the party may have gone too far. It is the same wave threatening to swamp Gov. Sam Brownback."

North Carolina. David Firestone of the New York Times: "In North Carolina, [GOP Senate candidate] Thom Tillis is the last holdout against gay marriage.... Pursuing [an] appeal [of a lower court ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban] will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars, all so that he can rally conservative opponents of gay marriage to support his election bid. Though the appeal has no chance of success, Mr. Tillis has his eye on a very different victory." CW: So consider it a taxpayer-funded campaign contribution.

Pennsylvania. E. J. Dionne: Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania's Democratic candidate for governor, who is almost certain to oust current Gov. Tom Corbett, is "a businessman who ... thinks capitalism works best when employees have a stake in their firm's success. 'I share 20 to 30 percent of my net profit with my employees,' Wolf says. 'Everybody is a stockholder in the company. My Republican father came up with the idea. And he did it because it really works. I am judged in my company by my truck drivers, not by me. They see my customers more than I do....' Thinking of workers as stakeholders is old-fashioned. But these days, it's also revolutionary."

Beyond the Beltway

Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: A grand jury witness "who said he saw the killing of [Michael] Brown from start to finish and talked to the grand jury recently -- has given the Post-Dispatch an account with some key differences from previous public statements from other witnesses.... After an initial scuffle in the car, the officer did not fire until Brown turned back toward him. Brown put his arms out to his sides but never raised his hands high. Brown staggered toward [Officer Darren] Wilson despite commands to stop. The two were about 20 to 25 feet apart when the last shots were fired."

Odd News. Patricia Wen & Martin Finucane of the Boston Globe: "An unusual witness testified Thursday in the trial of a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis said he and his wife were long-time family friends of Robel Phillipos's mother. Dukakis even took Phillipos to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he said. Dukakis testified in US District Court in Boston that several days after the Marathon bombing Phillipos's mother said she was concerned about him, so he got Phillipos's cellphone number and called him."

Presidential Election

Bro Nation. Steve M. on "The Most Interesting Man in Politics!" CW: For your amusement. Tho it won't be so funny as we watch Steve M.'s predictions come true. ...

... Most Interested Reporter at Politico Interviews Most Interesting Man in Politics. Mike Allen: "Sen. Rand Paul tells Politico that the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 could capture one-third or more of the African-American vote by pushing criminal-justice reform, school choice and economic empowerment."

News Ledes

Reuters: Alan Long, "the mayor of Murrieta, California, who led a local backlash against the arrival of undocumented Central American immigrants flooding the U.S. border, has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in an accident that injured four teenagers."

Florida Times-Union: "Twenty-three months after Michael Dunn shot and killed Jordan Davis, a judge sentenced the 47-year-old man to life in prison Friday. Dunn will serve life in prison without possibility of parole for the death of Jordan Davis and 90 years for shooting at the three other teenagers."

Washington Post: "The cruise ship carrying a Texas health-care worker who 'may have' handled lab specimens from Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan is headed back to the United States after Mexican authorities failed to grant permission for the ship to dock off the coast of Cozumel, according to a Carnival spokeswoman."

Wednesday
Oct152014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News Ledes

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

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

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