The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, May 4, 2016.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Prince was found dead one day before he was scheduled to meet with a California doctor in an attempt to kick an addiction to painkillers, an attorney with knowledge of the death investigation said Tuesday." -- CW

AP: "The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials said destroyed whole neighborhoods.... The wildfire, whipped by unpredictable winds on a day of unseasonably hot temperatures, worsened dramatically in a short time and many residents were given little notice to flee." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

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

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

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

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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

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

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

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

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

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

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

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Saturday
Apr232016

The Commentariat -- April 23, 2016

Presidential Race

John Wagner & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... Sen. Bernie Sanders said in an interview broadcast Friday that he would wait to see what Hillary Clinton includes in her platform before deciding how actively to campaign for her in the fall if she is the party's nominee." -- CW

Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton's advisers and allies have begun extensive discussions about who should be her running mate, seeking to compile a list of 15 to 20 potential picks for her team to start vetting by late spring. Mrs. Clinton's team will grapple with complicated questions like whether the United States is ready for an all-female ticket, and whether her choice for vice president would be able to handle working in a White House in which former President Bill Clinton wields significant influence on policy." CW: So ConservaDem Bill definitely will be back. At least the campaign is admitting it to reporters. I doubt the Presidents Clinton will have Bernie Sanders on their contacts list. ...

... Alan Rappeport & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Here are some likely contenders -- according to allies and advisers of the Clintons and prominent Democrats -- and a look at their strengths and weaknesses. Sherrod Brown..., Julián Castro..., Tim Kaine..., Amy Klobuchar..., Deval Patrick..., Thomas E. Perez..., Mark Warner..., Elizabeth Warren." -- CW

Amie Parnes of the Hill: "... Hillary Clinton is doubling down on a strategy of not releasing transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.... The issue has been an effective line of attack from [Bernie] Sanders, who has closed the gap with Clinton in national polls. It also appears to have hurt Clinton, who has seen her favorability rating in polls drop below 50 percent. Just as bad, Clinton has seen her marks fall with Americans when they are asked whether they trust her or see her as honest. At the same time, Sanders is now coming under growing pressure to pull back on his attacks after Clinton's big win in New York's primary." -- CW

The Accidental Truth-Teller, Ctd. Jason Noble of the Des Moines Register: "U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley [R] suggested on Friday that the FBI might leak reports of its investigation into presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state. Grassley, Iowa's senior senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an anonymous and unauthorized release of FBI investigative materials could result if officials at the agency believed prosecution of Clinton was stymied for political reasons." -- CW

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "Joe Biden's made a decision in the Democratic primary race -- but he won&'t say whether he picked Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, voted early while back home in Wilmington on Friday, four days before the Delaware primary on April 26, when Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland will also vote." -- CW

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: Reince Priebus, "the head of the Republican National Committee, implored leaders of his sharply divided party on Friday to rally behind their eventual presidential nominee, suggesting that they ignore Donald J. Trump's assault on the nominating process." -- CW

John O'Keefe of the Washington Post: Uncommitted Pennsylvania delegates could choose the GOP nominee. "While most states award convention delegates on a winner-take-all or proportional basis, 54 of Pennsylvania's 71 delegates -- three for each of 18 congressional districts -- are officially unbound to a candidate and do not have to announce their intentions before Tuesday's vote. The winners can vote for whomever they want at the convention." -- CW

Oops, Forgot about GOP States' Rights Mantra, Bigot Vote. Daily Beast: "Less than 24 hours after saying transgender individuals should be able to 'use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,' Donald Trump backtracked from that pro-LGBT position. Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News Thursday evening, the Republican presidential frontrunner decided that while he still believes North Carolina's law overturning local anti-discrimination ordinances is 'causing a lot of problems,' he thinks 'local communities and states should make the decision. The federal government should not be involved.'" CW: Yes, people, you can count on Donald Trump to stand by you for up to 24 hours. ...

We're going to take care of those wounded warriors and we're going to take care of our vets better than anybody. -- Donald Trump, aboard the USS Wisconsin, October 2015 ...

... Tim Mak of the Daily Beast: "Three months ago Donald Trump held a fundraiser for wounded veterans and apparently raised $6 million. But most of that money has yet to be distributed and Trump's chairman for veterans issues couldn't care less." -- CW

Dana Milbank, borrowing from the Passover Seder service, assesses Donald Trump in terms of the "Ten Plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians: blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and slaying of the firstborn." -- CW

Kristina Davis of the Los Angeles Times: "An Orange County woman who wanted to back out as a class representative in a long-running lawsuit against Donald Trump has gotten her wish. Tarla Makaeff, who filed the lawsuit against Trump's now-defunct Trump University six years ago, claimed the litigation had caused her to suffer severe stress and unwanted publicity, especially in light of the combative presidential race.... Three other plaintiffs still will participate in the case...." -- CW

Other News & Views

President Obama & British PM David Cameron hold a press conference:

Britain's Prince George looks a bit wary of President & Michelle Obama, but warms up when he finds out they gave him that hobby horse. -- CW

We're Back in Iraq. Fred Kaplan of Slate: "... we are going to war in Iraq against ISIS. It's not going to be like George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq: It will involve about 5,000 U.S. troops, not 150,000; and local forces -- Iraqi soldiers, Kurdish peshmerga, and various militias -- will be in the lead. But the United States will be directly involved in the fighting and quite possibly the dying. And although [Secretary of Defense Ash] Carter and other senior officials say the U.S.'s mission isn't changing it's clear that, by any reasonable definition of 'mission' and 'changing,' it is." -- CW

Frederic Rich of Salon: "How extreme right-wing market fundamentalism captured the GOP -- and endangered the environment. Republican orthodoxy is deeply hostile to environmental goals -- along with science and basic common sense. Painting environmental protection as inconsistent with the things that people want most [jobs, wealth, and cheap gas] was an astute and successful political strategy for the foes of the Green movement." -- LT

"A good guy with a gun." Matt Drange of The Guardian: Mark Bryant, NRA member from Kentucky, "has developed what is by some measures the most comprehensive database of recent gun deaths and injuries in America... [by]collect[ing] information the government isn't capturing....Bryant isn't 'for or against' gun ownership. He's simply trying to reduce gun violence by building a better understanding of what guns are to America." -- LT

Beyond the Beltway

Sari Horwitz & Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post: "Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will make all ex-felons in Virginia eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election, part of a years-long effort to restore full voting rights to former convicts. McAuliffe's announcement in Richmond on Friday will allow an estimated 180,000 to 210,000 former felons who are not in prison or on probation or parole to register to vote this year in Virginia, a battleground state, according to a coalition of civil rights groups that had pushed for the restoration of voting rights. Advocates said McAuliffe's move was the biggest-ever single action taken to restore voting rights in this country." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Scott LeMieux in LG&M: "I'm so old that I remember extensive debates on various social media about whether or not McAuliffe was inspiring enough to be worth supporting ... against Ken Cuccinelli. The lesson, as always, is that this way of thinking about elections is really dumb." CW: Exactly. This is why you vote for the Democrat even when he's a jerk. ...

... Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "The executive order bypassed Republicans in the state, who view former felons as potential Democratic voters. Their angry response was swift." -- CW ...

... Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "... the big number of newly enfranchised voters is actually larger than Mr. Obama's 149,298-vote margin of victory there in 2012." However, ex-felons aren't all that into voting: studies "usually find that around 20 percent of ex-felons turn out, even in presidential elections." -- CW

Heide Brandes of Reuters: "An Oklahoma bill that could revoke the license of any doctor who performs an abortion has headed to the governor, with opponents saying the measure in unconstitutional and promising a legal battle against the cash-strapped state if it is approved. In the Republican-dominated legislature, the state's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a Senate bill late on Thursday. Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, has not yet indicated whether she will sign it." -- CW

News Lede

New York Times: "As law enforcement officials await the complete results of an autopsy performed [on performer Prince] Friday, they said they would be reviewing local pharmaceutical records as part of a broad effort to understand Prince's full medical history. They declined to comment on reports that Prince had been taking pain medication, saying the investigation was continuing." -- CW

Thursday
Apr212016

The Commentariat -- April 22, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Sari Horwitz & Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post: "Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will make all ex-felons in Virginia eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election, part of a years-long effort to restore full voting rights to former convicts. McAuliffe's announcement in Richmond on Friday will allow an estimated 180,000 to 210,000 former felons who are not in prison or on probation or parole to register to vote this year in Virginia, a battleground state, according to a coalition of civil rights groups that had pushed for the restoration of voting rights. Advocates said McAuliffe's move was the biggest-ever single action taken to restore voting rights in this country." -- CW

*****

CW: The Washington Post has just posted a big package of stories & opinion pieces on President Obama's legacy. It begins with this essay by biographer David Maraniss. I haven't delved into any of it yet, but thought you'd like to know.

Arlette Saenz of ABC News: "President Obama is extending birthday greetings to Queen Elizabeth over lunch today, one day after Britain's longest-serving monarch turned 90. On his first full day in London, the president and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Windsor Castle for lunch with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip." -- CW

Mark Berman & Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "FBI Director James Comey suggested Thursday that the bureau paid more than $1 million to access an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino attackers, the first time the agency has offered a possible price tag in the high-profile case. While speaking at a security forum in London hosted by the Aspen Institute, Comey would not offer a precise dollar figure, saying only that it cost 'a lot' to get into the phone." -- CW ...

     ... The Guardian story, by Danny Yadron, is here. --safari ...

     ... Update. Eric Lichtblau & Katie Benner of the New York Times do the math: "The director of the F.B.I. suggested Thursday that his agency paid at least $1.3 million to an undisclosed group to help hack into the encrypted iPhone used by an attacker in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif." -- CW

Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times: "Regulators released on Thursday long-awaited proposed rules that would restrict how big financial institutions can pay their top executives. The new rules would make bankers wait at least four years to receive portions of their bonuses and force banks to find ways to claw back bonuses from bankers if their behavior leads to big financial losses. The new rules would apply only to incentive-based compensation -- generally bonuses -- which varies according to the performance of the bank and the individual executive." -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Volkswagen agreed on Thursday to fix or buy back nearly 500,000 diesel cars in the United States that are equipped with illegal emissions software. But the measures fell short of a broader settlement that will eventually also include fines and additional compensation for owners stemming from the carmaker's admission that it rigged diesel vehicles to cheat on pollution tests." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

...Christoph Rauwald of Bloomberg: "Volkswagen AG more than doubled provisions to pay for the emissions-cheating scandal, leading to the biggest loss in the German automaker's history while giving it a path toward assessing the full financial impact of the crisis." -- unwashed

Devin Henry of the Hill: "Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican effort to prevent further spending on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule designed to establish federal regulatory control over small waterways. The measure ... failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster; the vote was 56-42." -- CW

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he thinks he's doing a better job than his predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio). 'I think I do it better,' he told CNN in an interview this week." CW: That's not really a boast. A hampster would do a better job than the Boehner.

... Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) warned Thursday that overturning North Carolina's controversial bathroom law would make it easier for sex offenders to harass young children.... Gohmert singled out Target, which this week said that it will allow transgender people to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identities. That didn't sit well with Gohmert, who declared he won't be shopping at the retail giant anymore." -- CW

Dan Keating & Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post: "The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly women, according to federal data released Friday. Last decade's severe recession, more drug addiction, 'gray divorce,' increased social isolation, and even the rise of the Internet and social media may have contributed to the growth in suicide, according to a variety of people who study the issue." -- CW

Tiq Milan of The Guardian: "Over the last few years, trans people have been visible like never before, with several television shows and reality series showcasing their lived experience... That increased cultural prominence has led to more acceptance than ever, yes, but also to an uncloaking of an ongoing strain of anti-trans prejudice and hatred." --safari

Paul Krugman reminds us of why we are in Alexander Hamilton's debt, in more senses than one. ...

Andrew Jackson had a great history. I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill. Andrew Jackson had a history of tremendous success for the country.... I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic. I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or another bill. I don't like seeing it.... Yes, I think it's pure political correctness [to replace Jackson. He's] been on the bill for many, many years and really represented somebody that was really very important to this country. -- Donald Trump, on the "Today" show yesterday

If you saw yesterday's Commentariat, you know this is exactly what Ben Carson said, & if you read Steve M.'s post linked yesterday, you also know both of these nitwits learned their "history" watching Fox "News" Three Stooges morning show. -- Constant Weader ...

... Kevin Levin of The Daily Beast: "While the announcement [of Harriet Tubman] has been received with a great deal of excitement, it is not the first time in American history that African Americans have been featured on currency. African Americans were depicted in a wide range of scenes on Confederate currency during the first year of the war. Their presence ... highlight[s] the importance that Confederate leaders placed on the preservation of slavery and white supremacy to their new nation." --safari ...

... Ana Swanson of the Washington Post speaks to Harriet Tubman biographer Catherine Clinton about Tubman. -- CW

Brianna Ehley of Politico: "The Florida mailman who piloted a gyrocopter over Washington, D.C. and landed on the West Lawn of the Capitol last year was sentenced to 120 days of prison, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips announced on Thursday. Douglas Hughes of Ruskin, Fla., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last fall for flying his gyrocopter without a license into D.C. airspace. Hughes, dressed as a mailman at the time of the incident, said he was protesting campaign finance laws and came to deliver letters to members of Congress." -- CW

Presidential Race

And This Pantsuit Comes with a Full Metal Jacket, Ma'am. Mark Landler in the New York Times Magazine: "Throughout her career [Hillary Clinton] has displayed instincts on foreign policy that are more aggressive than those of President Obama -- and most Democrats.... Clinton's foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone -- grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls 'a textbook view of American exceptionalism.'... For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... CW: To readers put off by Ben Nelson's Norton's over-the-top diatribe against the Clintons -- here's a scary dose of reality for ya.

Stephan Braun of the AP: "It's not just Wall Street banks. Most companies and groups that paid ... Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors, an Associated Press review has found. Their interests are sprawling and would follow Clinton to the White House should she win election this fall.... Clinton's two-year speaking tour, which took place after she resigned as secretary of state, 'puts her in the position of having to disavow that money is an influence on her while at the same time backing campaign reform based on the influence of money,' said [Lawrence] Noble [of the Campaign Legal Center &], a former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission. 'It ends up creating the appearance of influence.'" -- CW

John Harwood of the New York Times: Vice President Joe Biden "remains neutral in the battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but not between their campaign styles. He'll take Mr. Sanders's aspirational approach over Mrs. Clinton's caution any day. 'I like the idea of saying, "We can do much more," because we can,' Mr. Biden said in an interview on the Washington-to-Wilmington, Del., Amtrak train.... 'I don't think any Democrat's ever won saying, "We can't think that big -- we ought to really downsize here because it's not realistic,"' he said in a mocking tone. 'C'mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I'm not part of the party that says, "Well, we can't do it."'" -- CW ...

... Tim Egan, who uses his column today to slam Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump, acknowledges that Hillary Clinton lacks a big idea, & he urges her to get one.

Nicholas Confessore & Sarah Cohen of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton has burned through tens of millions of dollars to counter Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in states that are unlikely to be general election battlegrounds, delaying any pivot to the general election and shrinking her potential financial advantage over the eventual Republican nominee." -- CW

Nick Gass of Politico: "Hillary Clinton slammed the abundance of guns in the United States on Thursday, in her latest remarks stressing the need for a national movement to blunt the influence of the gun lobby and end the cycle of violence perpetuated with firearms. 'It is just too easy for people to reach for a gun to solve their problems. It makes no sense,' Clinton said in remarks preceding a panel in Hartford, Connecticut, that featured family members of gun-violence victims, including at nearby Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012." -- CW ...

... Christine Stuart of ctnewsjunkie.com: "Hillary Clinton ... focus[ed] her message on the gun issue Thursday during a campaign stop at the YMCA on Albany Avenue in Hartford's north end'... 'If anything else we're killing 33,000 people a year,' Clinton said. If that was any other epidemic 'we'd be doing everything we possibly could to save lives.'" -- unwashed

... While Hill's talking guns, Bill's getting pizza according to Randall Beach of the New Haven Register: "Bill Clinton gets a warm welcome at New Haven's Pepe's." -- unwashed

... Nick Gass: Jane Sanders ... laced into [Clinton's] approach Thursday. 'I just don't like to see it be politicized. I think that Secretary Clinton's gun record is a lot more spotty than Bernie's,' Jane Sanders ... said in an interview with CNN.... Sanders noted that her husband [Bernie] has, since 1988, 'been consistently supportive of instant background checks, opposed to assault weapons, the sale and manufacture of assault weapons, for closing the gun show loophole, ending the strawman problem. And I think that's been since 1988.." -- CW

Robert Costa & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "A contested [Republican] convention would mean that instead of focusing on a running mate that would most improve their chances of swaying voters nationwide in November, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich may first consider whether someone will help them win over delegates. -- CW

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: A Republican National Committee panel on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected an effort to make preliminary changes to the rules governing the party's convention this summer, batting away a move to make it more difficult for party leaders to draft a 'white knight' candidate into the race.... The House Rules[, which the panel let stand,] can be interpreted as allowing the chairman of the convention, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, to reopen presidential nominations...." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Martin: "The Republican National Committee is scaling back its financial commitments to some of the most hotly contested states because of flagging fund-raising, the most concrete evidence yet of how the party's divisive and protracted presidential race is threatening the entire Republican ticket in November." -- CW ...

... Jonathan Martin & Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump's newly installed campaign chief sought to assure members of the Republican National Committee on Thursday night that Mr. Trump recognized the need to reshape his persona and that his campaign would begin working with the political establishment that he has scorned to great effect. Addressing about 100 committee members at the spring meeting [in Hollywood, Florida]..., the campaign chief, Paul Manafort, bluntly suggested the candidate's incendiary style amounted to an act." ...

     ... CW: Maybe Trump is capable of toning down the obnoxious. (Or maybe not.) Maybe he can learn to use a teleprompter. Reportedly, he is practicing. But exactly how is he going to stop being ignorant? Are we to believe a guy who is "speaking mainly with myself" because "I've said a lot of things" will now master policy books compiled by the leading (Oxymoron Warning!) confederate intellectuals"? ...

     ... Best sentence in Times story: "Mr. Manafort's comments, which included a PowerPoint presentation, came during a happy-hour reception at the beachside hotel resort here." Kinda reflects the gravity of the matter, doesn't it? ...

... ** Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up? Paul Waldman comments, in the Washington Post, on Trump's upcoming "transformation": "... the truth is that Trump is the most inauthentic candidate there is.... Just try to imagine for a moment what the reaction in the media would be if Hillary Clinton -- another politician who is constantly criticized for being insufficiently 'real' -- had her campaign manager say in public that she would be transforming her personality for the general election, because it's all an act anyway." -- CW

Eli Stokols & Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Delegates face death threats from Trump supporters. At the Republican National Committee's spring meeting, delegates describe vicious missives demanding they support the GOP front-runner." -- CW

Clinton May Be a Scary Hawk, but Trump Is Scarier. Edward-Isaac Dovere & Bryan Bender of Politico: "President Barack Obama is trying but failing to reassure foreign leaders convinced that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. They're in full-boil panic.... In meetings, private dinners and phone calls, world leaders are urgently seeking explanations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Trade Representative Michael Froman on down. American ambassadors are asking for guidance from Washington about what they're supposed to say. 'They're scared and they're trying to understand how real this is,' said one American official in touch with foreign leaders." -- CW

Eric Levitz of New York: "Donald Trump says transgender people should be able to "use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.' On NBC's Today show Thursday morning, the GOP front-runner said he opposes North Carolina's 'very strong' bathroom bill, which allows businesses to prohibit transgender people from doing just that." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Eric Levitz: "Call Ted Cruz old-fashioned, but he just doesn't think we should legalize child molestation for the sake of political correctness. That was the essence of the Texas senator's rebuttal to Donald Trump on Thursday, after the GOP front-runner declared his opposition to North Carolina's 'bathroom bill.'" --safari ...

Donald Trump is no different from politically correct leftist elites. Today, he joined them in calling for grown men to be allowed to use little girls'; public restrooms. As the dad of young daughters, I dread what this will mean for our daughters -- and for our sisters and our wives. It is a reckless policy that will endanger our loved ones.... Donald stands up for this irresponsible policy while at the same time caving in on defending individual freedoms and religious liberty. -- Ted Cruz, in a thoughtful, measured response to Donald Trump's opposition to the North Carolina law -- CW

Steve Benen: Donald Trump said again Thursday morning, to applause, that he believes in raising taxes for the wealthy. "... when Trump earns applause for saying he supports raising taxes on the wealthy, he conveniently overlooks the fact that he's running on a platform that calls for massive tax breaks for the wealthy.... It's entirely possible ... that Trump has no idea what his campaign has put forward in terms of tax plans, and in turn, he may not realize the great distance between his rhetoric and reality.... But either way, there's ample evidence that Trump does not agree with his most popular policy position." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Now wouldn't it be something if some journalist asked him about the discrepancy between his rhetoric & his plan-on-paper? Nah, too much to ask when we're more concerned about the source of that thing on his head:

Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz says the party's nominating rules have been in place from the beginning. Mr. Cruz is right, and he may be losing the public argument anyway. With polls showing a strong preference for nominating the candidate with the most popular votes -- even if he fails to secure a majority of delegates before the convention in July -- Mr. Cruz has brushed up this week against an uncomfortable reality: His only road to victory is a messy one.... Mr. Cruz ... has appeared increasingly frustrated amid questions about his path." -- CW

Unsurprisingly, Ted Cruz rushes to the defense of longtime jerkwad Curt Schilling. -- Paul Waldman

ESPN fired Curt Schilling for making the rather obvious point that we shouldn't allow grown male adult strangers alone in a bathroom with little girls. That's a point anyone who is rational should understand. -- Ted Cruz, in a thoughtful, measured response to Curt Schilling's firing for forwarding & defending an obnoxious photo of his idea of a trans person -- CW

"John Kasich Reveals Secret Balanced-Budget Plan Is Stored in Undisclosed Location in Columbus, Ohio." Jonathan Chait:" John Kasich has been running for president as the candidate of sobriety and 'ideas,' the main one of which is his 'plan' to balance the budget. The trouble ... is that such a plan does not exist.... The other day, Kasich stopped by the Washington Post editorial page for an interview, where columnists Catherine Rampell and Ruth Marcus attempted to pin him down. The result was a comic masterpiece best appreciated if read in the voice of Jerry Lundegaard, William H. Macy's Fargo character." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's a transcript of the full Kasich interview. -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Kevin Miller of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Maine's "Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill Wednesday that would allow pharmacists to dispense an anti-overdose drug without a prescription, saying that allowing addicts to keep naloxone on hand 'serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.' The Legislature passed the bill 'under the hammer' -- or unanimously without a roll call -- this month as part of lawmakers' attempts to address Maine's growing opioid addiction epidemic." -- CW

David Edwards of RawStory: "Sheriff Chuck Wright of Spartanburg County, South Carolina came under fire this week after he recently argued that minorities were 'the most racist people in America' and compared the NAACP to the Ku Klux Klan." --safari

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal judge in Los Angeles has again shut down California Attorney General Kamala Harris' drive to obtain the donor list for Americans for Prosperity, an influential political group funded by Charles and David Koch. U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real issued a permanent injunction Thursday barring Harris' office from requiring AFP to submit the donor list. And AFP may not be considered deficient or delinquent in its filings because it won't turn over the form, the judge said. In his ruling, Real said the California attorney general's claims that she needed the information for investigative purposes were dubious...." -- CW

Derek Markham of Treehugger: San Francisco "just took a big step toward its goal of powering the city with 100% renewable electricity by 2025 with the passage of a bill that will require new residential and commercial buildings to include rooftop solar, either solar electric or solar water heating. This ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the city's Board of Supervisors, is essentially the extension of an existing regulation that required new building projects to designate 15% of a building's roof as being "solar ready," which means unshaded and clear of obstructions and reserved for solar." -- CW

Way Beyond

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post: "More than 13 years after an Egyptian cleric was kidnapped off the streets of Milan by CIA operatives, one former agency officer now living in Portugal faces extradition to Italy and the possibility of a four-year prison sentence for the abduction -- an outcome that a former agency historian describes as 'unprecedented.' Sabrina De Sousa, 60, was one of 26 Americans convicted in absentia by Italian courts for her alleged role in the February 2003 rendition of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic: "Among the world's rivers, the Amazon reigns with the heaviest crown. Now, researchers have added yet another jewel to the river's crown. A team of Brazilian and American scientists have discovered a new sponge and coral reef more than 600 miles long (1,000 kilometers), located at the mouth of the Amazon River." --safari

Bennish Ahmed of ThinkProgress: "A state of emergency was declared after 11 members of a single, remote community of Aboriginal Canadians tried to take their lives earlier this month. But as many indigenous and political leaders noted, the issue isn't isolated to Attawapiskat Canada -- it isn't even limited to Canada. According to a report by Survive International, interference by outside forces has effected indigenous communities around the world for the worst."--safari

News Lede

TMZ: The performer "Prince was treated for a drug overdose 6 days before his death ... multiple sources tell TMZ." CW: TMZ is not the most reliable source, but the celebrity sheet does often get stories right. Obviously, I have no idea if TMZ is right about this, but I read elsewhere that an autopsy would be performed, so sooner or later, the public should get some clarity.

Wednesday
Apr202016

The Commentariat -- April 21, 2016 

Afternoon Update:

And This Pantsuit Comes with a Full Metal Jacket. Mark Landler in the New York Times Magazine: "Throughout her career [Hillary Clinton] has displayed instincts on foreign policy that are more aggressive than those of President Obama -- and most Democrats.... Clinton's foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone -- grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls 'a textbook view of American exceptionalism.'... For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has." ...

     ... CW: To readers put off by Ben Nelson's Norton's over-the-top diatribe against the Clintons -- here's a scary dose of reality for ya.

Eric Levitz of New York: "Donald Trump says transgender people should be able to "use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.' On NBC's Today show Thursday morning, the GOP front-runner said he opposes North Carolina's 'very strong' bathroom bill, which allows businesses to prohibit transgender people from doing just that." -- CW

"John Kasich Reveals Secret Balanced-Budget Plan Is Stored in Undisclosed Location in Columbus, Ohio." Jonathan Chait:" John Kasich has been running for president as the candidate of sobriety and 'ideas,' the main one of which is his 'plan' to balance the budget. The trouble ... is that such a plan does not exist.... The other day, Kasich stopped by the Washington Post editorial page for an interview, where columnists Catherine Rampell and Ruth Marcus attempted to pin him down. The result was a comic masterpiece best appreciated if read in the voice of Jerry Lundegaard, William H. Macy's Fargo character." -- CW

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post: "More than 13 years after an Egyptian cleric was kidnapped off the streets of Milan by CIA operatives, one former agency officer now living in Portugal faces extradition to Italy and the possibility of a four-year prison sentence for the abduction -- an outcome that a former agency historian describes as 'unprecedented.' Sabrina De Sousa, 60, was one of 26 Americans convicted in absentia by Italian courts for her alleged role in the February 2003 rendition of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr...." -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Volkswagen agreed on Thursday to fix or buy back nearly 500,000 diesel cars in the United States that are equipped with illegal emissions software. But the measures fell short of a broader settlement that will eventually also include fines and additional compensation for owners stemming from the carmaker's admission that it rigged diesel vehicles to cheat on pollution tests." -- CW

*****

** Harriet Tubman Gets the Twenty. Old Hickory Gets the Boot. Ana Swanson & Abby Ohlheiser of the Washington Post: "The U.S. Treasury has decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the new $10 bill, after encountering fierce opposition to its plans to replace the founding father with a woman, Treasury officials said Tuesday. The Treasury will feature the portrait of African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, which now features former president Andrew Jackson, officials said." -- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... The New York Times story, by Jackie Calmes, is here. -- CW ...

... Elliot Hannon of Slate: "The internet -- and presumably the real world -- was abuzz Wednesday with the great news that abolitionist Harriet Tubman is headed to the $20 bill. The move, along with other planned changes to the currency, was largely a hit for those people who are not Ben Carson. And who better to get the ax than Andrew Jackson! The seventh U.S. President's record as a human being while in office was pretty despicable.... It seemed to get skipped over that Jackson's not actually getting scrubbed from the bill he will appear on the back of the new $20." -- CW ...

Doctor Ben's Fractured History. Andrew Jackson ... was a tremendous president. I mean, Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget, where we had no national debt.... I love Harriet Tubman. I love what she did, but we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill. -- Ben Carson, Wednesday

So in Ole Doc Demento's mind, the fact that Jackson didn't understand economics (and, BTW, hated the paper money on which his likeness appears) makes up for his dealings as a slave trader & engineer of mass genocide (Indian Removal Act). So glad you're still around to torture us with the stupid, Doc. -- Constant Weader

Oh. Steve M. figures out where Carson studies history. Watch the video. Not really a surprise, is it?

... Kevin Drum: "We really ought to be using $50 bills as our go-to walking-around currency these days, and that's what ATMs should be churning out. By 2020, maybe they will be. And by 2025 cash will probably have disappeared entirely. So by the time Tubman finally makes it onto the twenty, we won't be using them much anymore. Women just can't catch a break." -- CW

Nicole Gaouette, et al., of CNN: "The White House moved to tamp down suggestions that ties with Saudi Arabia are fraying, with administration officials saying that President Barack Obama 'really cleared the air' with King Salman at a meeting Wednesday. Yet even as White House officials stressed that the leaders made progress, a prominent member of the Saudi royal family told CNN 'a recalibration' of the U.S.-Saudi relationship was needed amid regional upheaval, dropping oil prices and ongoing strains between the two longtime allies." -- CW

Chris Mooney & Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "Representatives from more than 150 countries will gather at the United Nations on Friday to officially sign a global accord aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change. But in the four months since that historic pact was negotiated in Paris, a drumbeat of grim scientific findings has underscored that staving off the worst consequences of global warming may take far more aggressive actions." -- CW

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Senate on Wednesday passed the first broad energy bill since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure to better align the nation's oil, gas and electricity infrastructure with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States. The bill, approved 85 to 12, united Republicans and Democrats around a traditionally divisive issue -- energy policy -- largely by avoiding the hot-button topics of climate change and oil and gas exploration that have thwarted other measures." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.)

Any Day Now! Give us a little time, another month or so. I think we'll be pretty close to a Republican alternative [to ObamaCare]. -- Fred Upton (R-Mich.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman

... Steve Benen: "One of the best running jokes in American politics is the one about Republicans releasing their own alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Any day now, GOP leaders have been saying for many years, they're going to have a plan that rivals 'Obamacare,' and it's going to be awesome." -- CW ...

... Kevin Drum: "They know what they want, and they know how to craft it, but they still don't know how to make up a plausible set of lies about how it will do anybody any good. As soon as they figure that part out, they'll go public the next day." -- CW

House of Noes: Paul Ryan having some trouble getting things done? Isn't he a Very Serious Person? John Bresnahan in Politico writes that "Almost six months into the job, Ryan and his top lieutenants face questions about whether the Wisconsin Republican's tenure atop the House is any more effective than that of his predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Ryan has flattered the House Freedom Caucus and pursued promises to empower rank-and-file Republicans with reforms to how the House operates -- yet it's yielded little in the way of actual results."...

     ...Akhilleus: Further down in the piece you'll find that Ryan's office touts his speakership as nothing short of immensely successful, but another Republican congressperson admits that not much has been done. The fault? Obama's! Natch.

Dana Milbank on Marsha Blackburn's (RTP-Tenn.) sham "House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, commonly known as the Planned Parenthood committee." It ain't just the videos that are discredited. ...

     ... CW: I couldn't find any news stories about something Milbank wrote: "... several House Republicans on Monday [made] the extraordinary gesture of voting against a ceremonial bill honoring the first woman to be elected to Congress." I guess these guys are such notorious misogynists that one more demonstration of their antipathy to women isn't even newsworthy.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for American families whose loved ones were killed by terrorism to collect nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets, but not without a warning from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that the court was squandering its power. The justices ruled 6 to 2 that Congress had not violated the separation of powers by passing a bill that made it easier to collect the money for those whose family members were killed in the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Rick Hasen has more on the Supreme Court's unanimous decision on the Arizona election law. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: Sen. Chuck "Grassley [R-Iowa] told [anti-abortion] activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination [of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court] last week, he said that 'an update would suggest that something has changed' and that he still intends to block any nominee until the next president takes office. He said that preventing 'another liberal' from joining the Supreme Court was necessary to keep 'even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law through the democratic process' from being 'swept away.'" -- CW

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Volkswagen is close to completing a deal to resolve claims in the United States over its admission that it rigged vehicles to cheat on pollution tests, according to three people involved in the case. A deal, if completed, is expected to include fines from regulators and compensation to owners that could collectively cost Volkswagen billions of dollars." -- CW

Bryan Lowder of Slate: "On Tuesday, [Target] affirmed that, at least within Target's airy stores, transgender employees and guests are welcome to use the restrooms and fitting rooms consistent with their gender identity." -- CW ...

... So Maybe Curt Won't Be Shopping at Target. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times: "Curt Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher and one of the highest-profile baseball analysts on ESPN, was fired from the network Wednesday, a day after he drew intense criticism for promoting offensive commentary on social media." -- CW

... Nik DeCosta-Klipa of the Boston Globe has more on Schilling's FaceBook post & his defense thereof. Includes a link to the now-deleted original post. -- CW

Jesse Eisinger of The New Yorker: "Why the S.E.C. Didn't Hit Goldman Sachs Harder" - James Kidney, a longtime S.E.C. lawyer suggested that the attitude at the S.E.C. that "'[m]ost of our civil defendants are good people who have done one bad thing'... held his agency back from pursuing the people who made the decisions that led to the financial collapse." -- LT

Presidential Race

Frank Rich on the state of the presidential race. Amusing, especially when he gets to the part about the GOP convention as Trump reality show. -- CW

Patrick Healy & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont grappled with tough and narrowing choices about campaign strategy and fund-raising on Wednesday after his crushing loss in the New York primary and a series of difficult contests ahead." -- CW

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Hillary Clinton's focus on gun control will continue on Thursday when she heads to Connecticut to meet with families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting before the state's primary next week." CW: This is getting increasingly sickening.

Ben Norton of Salon makes the case against Hillary Clinton & the Democratic party. CW: Norton doesn't bother to mention liberal elected Democrats -- and there are quite a few -- but he nails the Clintons & President Obama with some inconvenient truths that should make you squirm if you reckon you're a liberal.

CW: Looks like the New Donald Trump will still let the Old Donald Trump go out on the campaign trail. Claire Landsbaum of New York: "'The campaign is evolving, and so am I,' he said. 'I'll be more effective and more disciplined. I'm not going to blow it.' But in his first post-New York rally appearance on Wednesday Trump seemed like his old belligerent self, throwing out 'Lyin' Ted's' and 'Crooked Hillary's' with abandon and taunting protestors as they were ejected. 'We're not going to be so politically correct,' he told the Indianapolis crowd." ...

... Steve M.: New "precious" media narrative notwithstanding, Trump is "never going to be 'presidential' for more than a few hours." -- CW

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Pennsylvania, which holds its primary next Tuesday, uses a nonbinding 'loophole' primary -- and that could cost Donald Trump the Republican nomination.... His chances may come down to the whims of 54 unpledged Pennsylvania delegates.No other state leaves so many of its delegates unbound -- allowed to vote for whomever they please at the convention." -- CW

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) criticized his party for a lack of ideas Wednesday in a wide-ranging and occasionally combative interview with The Washington Post's editorial board." -- CW

Creepy Ted Cruz Quote of the Day: Frances Langum in Crooks and Liars, brings the latest Cruzian pearl of wisdom to our attention. After an abysmal performance in New York (zero delegates), Cruz called up some distinctly odd (even for him) imagery. "...in this speech in Philadelphia...he just couldn't not gross out the listener with some bizarre wrestling man-on-woman surrender on the mat imagery... 'But America has always been best when she Is lying down with her back on the mat, and the crowd has given the final count.'" errrrr....what? -- Akhilleus

Beyond the Beltway

Elisha Anderson, et al., of the Detroit Free Press: "A judge in Flint authorized charges today against three officials involved in the Flint water crisis, the first time criminal charges have been brought against government officials in the public health calamity. Multiple charges were filed by Michigan's attorney general against Mike Glasgow, 40, of Flint, the city's laboratory and water quality supervisor Mike Prysby, 53, of Bath, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality official; and Stephen Busch, 40, of DeWitt, the suspended Lansing district coordinator for the DEQ's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance.... The charges include felonies of misconduct in office, conspiracy related to tampering with evidence. They carry maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and up to four years in prison, respectively." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sam Stanton & Denny Walsh of the Sacramento Bee: "A psychologist who spent seven years working inside California's correctional system filed a federal lawsuit against state prison officials Wednesday, alleging they routinely covered up how inmates died. The suit, filed in federal court in Sacramento by Dr. Eric Reininga, 63, also alleges that he was fired last year after he leaked information to The Sacramento Bee about an inmate who died after being pepper sprayed in the face and left in his cell." -- CW

Peter Holley of the Washington Post: "The British Foreign Office has released an advisory warning travelers to be aware of controversial new laws in North Carolina and Mississippi before visiting the United States. The travel advisory update -- directed to members of the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community -- was posted on the Foreign Office's website Tuesday." -- CW

Jenny Jarvie of the Los Angeles Times: "Charlotte is one of a growing number of liberal Southern cities that finds itself locked in a bitter political standoff with state governments increasingly dominated by Republicans. Throughout the nation's most conservative region, socially progressive pockets -- urban hubs such as Charlotte that seek to liberalize laws on LGBT rights and other issues -- are clashing with predominantly rural state governments that heed the traditional religious values shared by the bulk of their citizens." -- CW

Hailey Branson-Potts of the Los Angeles Times: "Linda Katehi, the chancellor of UC Davis, has apologized for the university's hiring of image consultants to bury Internet references to a pepper-spraying incident of student protesters by campus police and has promised a series of public forums to answer questions." -- CW

Way Beyond

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Russian attack submarines, the most in two decades, are prowling the coastlines of Scandinavia and Scotland, the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic in what Western military officials say is a significantly increased presence aimed at contesting American and NATO undersea dominance." -- CW

The Queen & future kings. AP photo.Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times: "On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 90th birthday, and a grateful Britain will honor a woman her biographer Douglas Hurd, a former foreign minister, has called 'The Steadfast.'... Befitting a workhorse who carried out 341 engagements last year, Elizabeth kicked off birthday celebrations on Wednesday in a dutiful display: at a Royal Mail delivery center, where she and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, watched workers sort mail.... On Friday, President Obama will offer the queen birthday wishes at Windsor Castle." -- CW

News Ledes

New York Times: "Prince, the songwriter, singer, producer, one-man studio band and consummate showman, died Thursday at his residence, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minn., according to a statement from his publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure. He was 57." ...

     ... President Obama's statement on Prince's passing is here.

New York Times: "Frederick Mayer, who as a German Jew fled Nazi Germany for Brooklyn as a teenager in 1938, only to parachute back into Nazi-controlled Austria seven years later as an American spy on an improbable secret mission, died on Friday in Charles Town, W.Va. He was 94."

Wednesday
Apr202016

A Victory for the "Me Generation"

By Marie

I listened to Clinton's victory speech last night, and my immediate reaction was, "Damn, that woman needs a better speechwriter." But this morning I read the transcript, linked below, & I didn't see anything wrong with the words. It was the delivery.

Clinton excuses herself as not being a "natural politician" like her husband & President Obama. But that claim is as false as it is a dig at Bill & Obama. She is a natural politician in the worst sense: she curries favor with those who can fill her campaign coffers, she manipulates facts to the extent that they constitute lies, she is the paradigm of the "Me generation."

The ways she is not a natural politician is in her carelessness -- her assumptions that the rules other must follow don't apply to her (private e-mails), her secrecy (her 1993 healthcare initiative), her rolling revisions when the facts don't back her up, her failure to think thru & follow thru on the outcomes when she does get the result she wants (Libya). And her carelessness is reflected in her speech deliveries -- even when she says the right words her speechwriter puts in front of her, she comes across as manipulative & selfish. There is nothing endearing or laudable about her.

The idea that Bill Clinton & Barack Obama are "naturally" better speakers is also a crock. They study their craft. You can hear it in Obama's speeches; he borrows the style of black preachers. He didn't just come to his style because of the color of his skin, for Pete's sake; he practiced.

The same with Bill: there is an anecdote in a book by David Maraniss (I think it is) where he relates how Bill Clinton practiced for hours copying Ronald Reagan's style. He got videotapes of Reagan's speeches & studied Reagan's mannerisms, right down to his gestures. According to Maraniss, Clinton came running from his practice room one day & said, "I got it, I finally got it!" What did he get? -- a particular hand gesture Reagan made.

But these talented speakers are talented because they want to connect to voters. They may not really "feel your pain," but they at least remember how the pain feels, & they want your vote enough to call up those memories of their own hard times. Hillary Clinton suppresses whatever pain she has felt (and like all of us, she has feelings); that's what makes her such a wooden speaker. Actually "feeling your pain" would mean letting down her guard, letting her seem less royal & special & better than you & me.

Describing the 2016 election as the "most important in recent history" is something of a crock. From the standpoint of court appointments & a few other matters, it is very important. But the fact is that in November, we will have a choice between two of the worst nominees in modern history. This will be the "Me generation" come to its ignoble end. I shudder to think of what kind of presidency is in the offing.