Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President discusses the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa":

The Ledes

Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Washington Post: "The Pentagon on Friday reported the first death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq in its new mission to combat Islamic State militants who have seized large areas of Iraq and Syria. Marine Lance Corporal Sean Neal, a 19-year-old old from California, died in Baghdad on Thursday in what a Pentagon statement described as a non-combat incident. Further details about how Neal died were not immediately available."

Los Angeles Times: "A gunman suspected of fatally shooting two Northern California law officers Friday and wounding two other people was arrested after a six-hour chase with search dogs, helicopters and armored vehicles. Marcelo Marquez, 34, of Salt Lake City, was taken into custody by a SWAT team from a home in Auburn in Placer County, hours after the initial shooting occurred 30 miles away in a strip mall in Sacramento, said Placer County Sheriff's spokeswoman Dena Erwin."

Guardian: "A Palestinian-American teenager was killed during clashes with the Israeli military on Friday amid heightened tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. A relative identified the teen as 14-year-old Orwah Hammad and said he was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank when he was six. Hammad’s cousin Moath said he was among a group of Palestinians who were throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet, using an international meeting of Russia experts to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises, including those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'”

Washington Post: "The body found on an abandoned property outside of [Charlottesville, Virginia] has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing."

Seattle Times: "Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources. Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded  in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.... Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot.  He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten." Marysville is near Seattle.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

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 24

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

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.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

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

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

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

Thursday
Oct092014

The Commentariat -- Oct. 10, 2014

Alan Cowell of the New York Times: "... the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with a 60-year-old Indian veteran of campaigns on behalf of children. The awards, announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee's chairman, were in acknowledgment of their work in helping to promote universal schooling and in protecting children worldwide from abuse and exploitation."

** Rebecca Traister of the New Republic: "... if there was anything fresh and important about those ridiculous 'Say Yes to the Candidate' spots [which ran in the Commentariat last week], it was that they marked one of the first instances in which conservatives have in any way embraced the idea that women now treat government as a stand-in for husbands.... In 2012, unmarried women made up 23 percent of the electorate; they voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a whopping 67 to 31 percent.... This is the new political reality: Women without husbands decide elections. And it's not surprising that they gravitate toward Democrats, who have more reliably fought for the social supports and rights that make unmarried life possible, over Republicans, who have reliably derided them as man-hating government mooches.... What too often goes unacknowledged is that women aren't the only Americans who have relied on the government as a partner. Rather, it's a model of support and dependence that has bolstered the fortunes of American men throughout the nation's history." Read the whole post.

Joe Klein of Time listens to neighbors talking politics conspiracy theories. The people Klein visited were not drooling morons; they just believed what they read in Breitbart or heard on Fox. "These are stories that stick in the mind and rot the body politic. They are a dominant political currency, and not just in the South." CW: If those executives & producers who want to make the Sunday morning "news" shows "edgy" had the slightest interest in educating their viewers, they would run a segment at the end of every show debunking "The Week's Most Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory." Chris Wallace, I'm talking to you, too. Many of their viewers would be shocked to discover the outlandish stories they accepted as factual were instead "ridiculous conspiracy theories." ...

... Should we be surprised regular people believe wingnut conspiracy stories when they hear some of the same nonsense from Members of Congress? ...

... Steve Benen: Rep. Tom Cotton (RTP-Ark.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (RTP-Calif.), Sen. Rand Paul (RTP-Kentucky) & other "members of Congress have repeated truly bizarre ideas from the fringe about the Boston Marathon bombing, the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, the imaginary IRS 'scandal,' and a parade of related stories. In each case, there are fact-checkers who issue warnings such as, 'As lawmakers, they need to be careful about making inflammatory statements based on such flimsy evidence,' but for much of the right, it just doesn't matter." ...

... Frank Rich: "It'll be interesting to watch that number between now and Election Day as the president's political nemeses do everything they can to spread panic about Ebola and attach that panic to Obama. The right-wing Washington site Daily Caller has already dubbed him 'President Ebola.' Mike Huckabee has found a link to Benghazi. Rand Paul has accused the president of pursuing a 'politically correct' Ebola policy -- presumably because Paul believes an African-American president would rather let an epidemic destroy America than offend anyone in his ancestral continent. All this fire is coming from self-styled Reagan Republicans. Let us not forget that Reagan legacy in reacting to a spiraling health crisis. The first cases of the AIDS epidemic in America were reported in 1981; he didn't give a serious address about the disease until 1987, after thousands of Americans had died. Pat Buchanan, Reagan's communications director, called AIDS 'nature's revenge on gay men.' There's political correctness for you." ...

... Jonathan Cohn: "... you can't truly wipe out the Ebola threat, even for Americans, without controlling it overseas. As long as it's un-contained, it will continue to make its way to other countries -- carried by people over land, sea, or air -- because the world is simply too interconnected to shut down borders completely. Meanwhile, the damage to social and economic fabric of Africa could be devastating, in ways that would hurt the U.S. over the long run." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "In this country, Ebola isn't yet a huge public-health threat. But it's fast becoming a political nightmare.... As public unease mounts, the Republicans are positioning themselves as Ebola hawks, and the Democrats risk being caricatured as doves. If you turn on right-wing talk radio, you will hear Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others excoriating the White House for failing to seal America's borders -- a charge they are already linking to the debate about immigration reform. During the past few days, a number of G.O.P. presidential hopefuls have also weighed in." Read Cassidy's lede graf. I'll bet those guys are white. ...

... Tom Dart & Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "The faltering response to a Liberian's Ebola diagnosis in Texas contrasted starkly to the mobilization after the mere suspicion of the disease in a local law enforcement officer. Some wonder whether it was no coincidence."

Rolling Stone publishes "55 figures that prove President Obama has accomplished more than you may realize."

David Rohde & Warren Strobel of the Atlantic write a mostly-negative assessment of President Obama's foreign policy decisions & his decision-making process. CW: But when I read between the lines, & when I consider the probable consequences of the alternatives, Obama's strategies & processes seem pretty sound.

Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker on the imagery of terrorism. "Murder as a publicity stunt is not a new development; it is exactly what terrorism is. But these images [of masked jihadists beheading American & British men] have somehow broken new terror territory. It is hard to believe that, without them, we would now be bombing Iraq and Syria and trying to eliminate ISIS.... If there is one worst moral casualty of the past decade and a half, it surely lies there: Americans have gone from being the hardest of peoples to panic to among the most easily panicked people on the planet. In New Hampshire, the Granite State with the defiant license plate, security fears are dominating the senatorial campaign. New Hampshire voters -- including, it seems, New Hampshire mothers, for whom Islamist terrorism seems less of a danger than lightning at picnics, to say nothing of drunk drivers and proliferating guns -- are panicked enough to think of voting for a 'security' Republican."

Panetta Is "Rewriting History." Michael Hirsh in Politico: "Tommy Vietor, the former spokesman for Obama's National Security Council, says that based on 'talking to my friends back at the White House ... they are going out of their way to avoid a messy public fight' [with Leon Panetta.] But Vietor adds: 'Secretary Panetta was very clear back in 2011 that he wouldn't allow troops to remain in Iraq without the necessary protections from the Iraqi government, and I think it's reasonable for the White House to remind people of those statements.'... On Tuesday, Panetta told NBC's Andrea Mitchell that had the administration armed the fractious Free Syrian Army, as he'd advocated, then 'we would at least be in a better position to have in the rebel operation a group that we would have worked with, known, helped arm....' But several administration officials remember that Panetta was as concerned about arms falling into the hands of radical Islamists as the president was."

Jonathan Chait: "The Congressional Budget Office announced [Wednesday] that the federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2014 came in at $495 billion, almost $200 billion below the previous figure.... Within minutes, Washington's debt-scold community sprang into action to guard against complacency." Now they're focusing on projected increases in deficits several years hence. "Where were the debt scolds when the short-term deficit was high and the business and political communities were freaking out? Their belief in patience and the long view might have helped the political system avoid its disastrous turn toward austerity. Instead they fomented panic.... Their misplaced priorities helped doom millions of Americans to years of suffering." ...

... Paul Krugman is subtle, whacking the Washington Post's deficit-hawk-in-chief/editorial page editor Fred Hiatt in a link, without naming him. Sadly, this won't translate to the print edition. "Deficit scolds actually love big budget deficits, and hate it when those deficits get smaller. Why? Because fears of a fiscal crisis -- fears that they feed assiduously -- are their best hope of getting what they really want: big cuts in social programs." (CW: I linked the Hiatt column a few days ago, as an example of die-hard hawkdom.)

Aaron Kessler of the New York Times: "Ben S. Bernanke ... took the stand [Thursday] in the lawsuit over terms of the 2008 bailout of the insurance giant American International Group. Mr. Bernanke gave terse and clipped responses to questions.... Mr. Bernanke did not agree with the notion -- a central part of the lawsuit -- that A.I.G. got a raw deal from the Federal Reserve, or that it could have gotten a better deal elsewhere. 'It was evident from the fact that the board took the Fed's offer that they didn't have a better offer,' he said, referring to the vote by A.I.G.'s board approving the government's loan, and its terms." ...

... Jon Stewart explains the case. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link:

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post on one effort to help poor, working families: get businesses to buy in by providing counselling for employees in trouble -- counselling that helps them find actual solutions to their difficulties. Rampell reports both the upside -- remarkably low worker turnover -- & downside -- the companies are relying on taxpayer-funded services to help their employees. "'There has been this Wal-Mart mentality," [the program's creator Randy] Osmun says, of cutting wages, reducing taxes that fund social spending, and prioritizing profitability today without thinking about the future. 'Twenty years later we've seen a complete destruction of our school system, huge rates of incarceration and poverty, and now employers are saying, "I can't hire good people." You can't hire good people because you have devastated the community.'" ...

... CW: Of course the government could take this program a step further & force companies to alleviate some of these problems by providing workers not just with flex time to deal with some of their problems but also with, you know, a living wage that would reduce or eliminate their needs for much of the taxpayer-funded aid. Oh wait, Republicans....

     ... Decades ago, when I was a low-wage worker with a family to support, I marvelled at how executives were able to come & go to take care of routine personal business, while I had to practically pretend I didn't have children who needed my attention & sometimes created emergencies. I solved my problem by getting promoted into more flexible, better-paying salaried positions. Not every worker can make that happen. Every worker, however, should be treated with the dignity to which executives treat themselves. (Rebecca Traister's piece, linked above, is relevant here.)

John Peter of USA Today: Jerry "Angelo, who was general manager of the Chicago Bears from 2001 to 2011..., said teams did not discipline players in 'hundreds and hundreds' of domestic violence incidents during his 30 years in the league, and said he now regrets his role in the failure to take action.... The Bears released a statement later Thursday denying any knowledge of Angelo's assertions. 'We were surprised by Jerry's comments and do not know what he is referring to,' the statement read." CW: It's hard to justify watching NFL games or otherwise supporting pro-ball teams, not so much because of Angelo's statement but because of the Bears' response.

Nicholas Kristof, who was the 4th man in the "Politically Incorrect" on-air "debate" about Islam: "Let's not feed Islamophobic bigotry by highlighting only the horrors while neglecting the diversity of a religion with 1.6 billion adherents -- including many who are champions of tolerance, modernity and human rights. The great divide is not between faiths, but one between intolerant zealots of any tradition and the large numbers of decent, peaceful believers likewise found in each tradition." Kristof cites some of the poll results on Muslim beliefs by country, linked Sunday in the Commentariat. ...

... It Depends on What the Meaning of "Most" Is. Hemant Mehta in Patheos: "Yes, most Muslims around the world condemn violence in defense of their faith. But when you exclude those who didn't respond to the question, we're still talking about 21% of Muslims worldwide and 13% in the U.S. who believe suicide bombing is rarely, sometimes, or often justified. That's hundreds of millions of people who do not unequivocally condemn faith-based violence.

November Elections

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With four weeks to go before the midterm elections, Republicans have made questions of how safe we are -- from disease, terrorism or something unspoken and perhaps more ominous -- central in their attacks against Democrats. Their message is decidedly grim: PresidentObama and the Democratic Party run a government that is so fundamentally broken it cannot offer its people the most basic protection from harm."

Kansas. David McCabe of the Hill: "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said [Greg Orman,] the independent challenger to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), would not be welcome to caucus with Senate Republicans if the GOP takes over the upper chamber's majority. 'It is an impossibility. It is not possible,' Priebus told Kansas City's 41 Action News." CW: Apparently Prince Rebus is unaware he is not a U.S. senator & has nothing to say about how the Senate conducts its business. If Orman wins, Senate Republicans will court him.

North Carolina. E. J. Dionne: "In the struggle for control of the Senate, the reaction against reaction has allowed Sen. Kay Hagan, so far at least, to defy the punditocracy. Once seen as one of this year's most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, Hagan has been maintaining a small but steady lead over state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Tillis's problem is the sharp right turn in the governance of one of the South's traditionally moderate states, which he helped engineer along with Gov. Pat McCrory."

Oregon. Laura Gunderson of the Oregonian: "Less than 24 hours after news broke of a secret marriage, Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes tearfully apologized to Oregonians and to her fiancé, Gov. John Kitzhaber, for accepting $5,000 to illegally marry an 18-year-old Ethiopian in need of a green card." Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is running for re-election. The latest poll, which is several weeks old, has Kitzhaber up 12 against his Republican challenger Dennis Richardson.

South Dakota. Alexandra Jaffe of the Hill: "... while former Sen. Larry Pressler [S.D.], who served nearly a quarter century in Congress as a Republican, won't say who he'd caucus with, he told The Hill Wednesday that, if elected, he'd be a 'friend of Obama' in the Senate. 'I don't regret those votes, 'cause on that day, that's how I felt,' he said of voting for Obama twice, a detail used by Republicans as evidence Pressler is now a closet Democrat.... A poll out this week showed him surging in the race -- despite only having raised about $107,000 through the second quarter of the year, and having spent even less -- narrowing Republican Mike Rounds' lead to just three points. He's more competitive in the four-way race than Democrat Rick Weiland, and in a head-to-head matchup with Rounds, Pressler leads him by 15 points."

** Texas. Phil Helsel of NBC News: "A federal judge has struck down a Texas voter ID law, saying the requirement that all voters show photo identification before casting a ballot amounted to a 'poll tax' designed to suppress voter turnout among minorities. U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos wrote in an opinion released Thursday evening that 'There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combatting voter fraud in Texas,' and that the state hadn't demonstrated that such fraud was widespread. Gonzales said the evidence showed the proponents of the law 'were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law's detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.'... Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said it will immediately appeal Thursday's ruling." Abbott, a Republican, is running for governor. Ramos is an Obama appointee.

     ... CW: This opinion -- which is here -- makes the kind of bold statement that do a number of the pro-marriage equality opinions, written -- as some pundits have pointed out -- for the history books. In fact, Ramos writes extensive of Texas's long history of minority disenfranchisement & voter suppression. Here's a highlight: "In every redistricting cycle since 1970, Texas has been found to have violated the VRA with racially gerrymandered districts." She also recounts the high -- and costly -- hurdles some plaintiffs have had to jump to maintain or reinstate their voting rights. This is an opinion that will make you mad at the Texas GOP all over again.

** Wisconsin. Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "On a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin's voter ID law late Thursday, a month after a panel of appeals judges said it could go into place and less than four weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans approved the law in 2011, but it was quickly blocked by a series of court decisions in four lawsuits. Last month, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled the law could go into place for the upcoming election.... The panel followed that decision up with its final ruling Monday that upheld the voter ID law in its entirety. But the U.S. Supreme Court's ... hold on the law will remain in place until the nation's highest court decides whether to take the case..." ...

... The order is here. Justices Alito, Scalia & Thomas dissented, natch. ...

... In today's Comments, Nadd2 has some tips for Wisconsin voters & GOTV enthusiasts.

... Jessica VanEgeren of the (Madison) Capital Times: "Poverty-wage work is widespread in Wisconsin, particularly in food, retail, residential and in-home health care sectors, with roughly 700,000 workers earning less than a living wage in 2013, according to a report released Thursday by the Madison-based Center on Wisconsin Strategy and the Economic Policy Institute. The 'Raise the Floor' report based the number of Wisconsin workers who are not earning enough to support their families on the federal poverty benchmark for a family of four, or $11.36 an hour. Given that figure, 700,000, or one out of four, Wisconsin workers are employed but living in poverty. Wisconsin's minimum wage is much lower at $7.25 an hour." ...

     ... Scott Walker Is Fine with That. Wisconsin Gazette: "The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development determined this week that $7.25 an hour is a fair wage for minimum-wage workers. The department denied complaints from more than 100 Wisconsin workers. In a statement released this week, Wisconsin Jobs Now said, '... The law in Wisconsin is very clear: "every wage paid by any employer to any employee shall not be less than a living wage." ... The fact that Governor Walker thinks that $290 a week is what it costs to cover the basics of life in Wisconsin is beyond comprehension. This decision makes it unequivocally clear that Scott Walker is more than out of touch: he is brutally neglectful of a huge percentage of his constituents." ...

... CW: So starvation wages are against Wisconsin law? Don't worry about that, people. I'm sure Scotty & his gang in the state legislature can soon repair the situation: they'll repeal the law.

Beyond the Beltway

Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Two months after a police officer's killing of an unarmed black teenager set off weeks of racial conflict in a St. Louis suburb, tense clashes emerged [in St. Louis] late Thursday after the Wednesday shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer."

Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch News: "Prosecutors won't proceed with charges in a brawl that involved several members of the Palin family, Anchorage police said Thursday.... Five police officers wrote up police reports on the scene. More than 15 witnesses were interviewed.... Overall, the accounts in the police report seemed to confirm, in broad terms, initial witness reports that surfaced before the police report's release. At least two fights appear to have broken out during the party, according to witness statements: a fight involving Track and Todd Palin, and one involving Bristol Palin. Seven witnesses verified Klingenmeyer's account of being punched in the face repeatedly by Bristol Palin." ...

... For Your Reading Pleasure, via TPM:

Washington, D.C., attorney Jody Westby stands up for her handyman Dennis Stucky, whom D.C. police have stopped for carrying bags (of tools, probably) after a burglar alarm went off in a nearby subdivision. Now imagine how this would have played out if Westby was a young black male attorney instead of a white, upper-crusty lady:

Wednesday
Oct082014

The Commentariat -- October 9, 2014

Paul Krugman in Rolling Stone: "Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history." ...

... Contributor P. D. Pepe links Margaret Warner's interview of Aaron Miller, who argues that we should stop expecting another "great" president & be satisfied with a "good" one. CW: It is hardly surprising that all three "great" presidents Miller identifies -- Washington, Lincoln & FDR -- faced, in one capacity or other, transformational wars. One thing Miller didn't address in the interview, but perhaps does in his book on the subject, is that all three "great" presidents were subject to withering criticism during their presidencies. (Here's a summary, via the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, of press attacks on President Washington.) BTW, if you think the wars these presidents directed went swimmingly, get a history book.

Danny Volz of the National Journal: "A federal appeals court this week will review whether the government can secretly conduct electronic surveillance on Americans without first obtaining a warrant. The case, to be brought before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Wednesday, could have sweeping digital-privacy implications.... At issue is whether the FBI can use so-called national security letters, or NSLs, to compel companies to hand over communications data or financial records of certain users for the purposes of a national security investigation.... Last year..., U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ... ruled that the FBI's use of NSLs represented an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment.... But Illston allowed the government 90 days to appeal, and because of 'significant constitutional and national security issues at stake,' enforcement of her ruling was stayed. Illston's opinion ... came months before ... Edward Snowden leaked a trove of top-secret documents...."

Say What? Sahil Kapur of TPM: "Justice Anthony Kennedy issued an order to halt same-sex marriage in Idaho -- and apparently also Nevada -- on Wednesday after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the states' bans one day earlier. Kennedy, who has jurisdiction over emergency appeals to rulings at the 9th Circuit, ordered that the lawyers for the same-sex couples suing to ax the ban respond to Idaho's appeal by Thursday, Oct. 9 by 5 p.m. Although Idaho asked for the injunction, Kennedy's order also halts the 9th Circuit ruling against Nevada's gay marriage ban -- the two cases were consolidated.... Kennedy's move on Wednesday doesn't necessarily mean the Court has had ... decided to review the issue. It's possible he's merely letting the process play out by giving Idaho a chance to appeal to the Supreme Court, and the gay couples a chance to respond, before the justices decide whether to take the case."

Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday called for a wide-ranging review of police tactics and training, speaking to dozens of mayors and police chiefs who had gathered [in Little Rock, Arkansas,] to discuss race relations and policing in the United States in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Mo. 'The Justice Department is working with major police associations to conduct a broad review of policing tactics, techniques and training,' Mr. Holder said. The review is intended to 'help the field swiftly confront emerging threats, better address persistent challenges, and thoroughly examine the latest tools and technologies to enhance the safety and the effectiveness of law enforcement.'" Former President Bill Clinton also spoke at the event.

Weird Legal News. When Animal Cruelty Laws Are Not Enough. Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "Tommy, a 26-year-old privately owned chimp in Gloversville, New York, is the plaintiff in a suit brought on his behalf by Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), a group of environmental lawyers who seek nothing less than to break through the 'legal wall ... erected between humans and nonhuman animals', as Wise told the Guardian." A New York State appellate court has "agreed to hear out his petition for a writ of habeas corpus -- an order demanding that the custodian of a prisoner prove a legally justifiable reason for detainment." CW: I suppose Tommy is more of a person than is Hobby Lobby, Inc.

John Kerry in a Washington Post op-ed: "We need more nations [to provide assistance in containing the Ebola virus] -- every nation has an ability to do something on this challenge.... Frankly, there is not a moment to waste in this effort." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Turkish troops and tanks have been standing passively behind a chicken-wire border fence while a mile away in Syria, Islamic extremists are besieging the town of Kobani and its Kurdish population. This is an indictment of [Turkey's President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and his cynical political calculations. By keeping his forces on the sidelines and refusing to help in other ways -- like allowing Kurdish fighters to pass through Turkey -- he seeks not only to weaken the Kurds, but also, in a test of will with President Obama, to force the United States to help him oust President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom he detests.... Mr. Erdogan's behavior is hardly worthy of a NATO ally." ...

... MEANWHILE, in Right Wing World. Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "Appearing on "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," [Rep. Duncan] Hunter [RTP-Calif.] said, 'At least ten ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the border in Texas.' When Van Susteren asked how he knew that, Hunter replied, 'Because I've asked the border patrol, Greta.' ... 'The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,' said DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron. 'DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.'" Hunter is standing by his story & asserting that "the left hand of DHS doesn't know what the right hand is doing." ...

... Steve M. has more. Seems Hunter is backing off his story -- a little. He's now describing the "ISIS fighters" as "foreign nationals with IS associations." And he won't further describe who his "high-level source" might be. Steve thinks the source might be a former FBI agent/"conspiratorial lunatic" who earns a living making "outrageous" claims about "the dangers of Islamic jihad." ...

... Eric Bradner of CNN: "Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson blasted Rep. Duncan Hunter's suggestion that ISIS fighters have crossed the United States' southern border into Texas. 'Let's not unduly create fear and anxiety in the public by passing on speculation and rumor,' Johnson said Wednesday on CNN's 'Situation Room.'... He said public officials should 'be responsible in what we decide to share with the American public, so that the public is informed.'" With video. ...

We now know that it's a security problem. Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they're willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas. -- Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), speaking at a tele-town hall, Sept. 29, 2014 ...

At least [Rep. Duncan] Hunter made no mention of an Islamic State connection to Mexican drug cartels. As we've noted, just because something is on the Internet doesn't mean it's true. As a lawmaker, Cotton needs to be careful about making inflammatory statements based on such flimsy evidence. At the very least, he needs to expand on his sources of information. He earns Four Pinnochios for trying to turn idle speculation into hard facts. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: Images of Kim Jong-un walking with a limp & his disappearance from public view for the past five weeks "have generated endless debate among foreign officials and analysts always on the lookout for upheaval in one of the world's most dangerous police states."

Carol Leonnig & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved. But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member -- yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged." CW: You have to read the whole report, which is long, to get the gist of what happened & the cover-up -- and it does sound like a cover-up. ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York points out, "In a wonderfully ironic twist, [the White House volunteer who allegedly brought a prostitute to his hotel room] now works in the Obama administration full-time as a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women's Issues at the State Department." CW: So should we assume that prostitute (the hotel has a record of her "visit") was part of the young man's "research" on global women's issues? Hartman adds, "It's unclear why we're just hearing the details now. It's almost like members of the Secret Service are suddenly eager to embarrass the White House."

SNAFU. Timothy Cama of the Hill: "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told a federal court that it may have lost the text messages[, which it was legally required to retain,] at the center of a lawsuit by a libertarian think tank."

Tom Edsall: "Democrats today convey only minimal awareness of what they are up against: an adversary that views politics as a struggle to the death. The Republican Party has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice principle, including its historical commitments to civil rights and conservation; to bend campaign finance law to the breaking point; to abandon the interests of workers on the factory floor; and to undermine progressive tax policy -- in a scorched-earth strategy to postpone the day of demographic reckoning." Thanks to Ken W. for the link. ...

... Need another example of Republicans' "struggle to the death"? Look no further. Niels Lesniewski & Steven Dennis of Roll Call: "A group of Senate Republicans have their eye on another Obamacare showdown in the lame-duck session. The 14 Republicans, led by Marco Rubio of Florida, wrote a letter urging Speaker John A. Boehner to 'prohibit the Obama administration' from spending money on an 'Obamacare taxpayer bailout.' They point to a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office that said additional funding authority would be needed to make payments to insurance companies under the risk-corridor component of the Obamacare health care exchanges. The Republicans say taxpayers could be on the hook for bailing out insurance companies that suffer losses." ...

... CW: What makes this showdown/shutdown threat particularly ridiculous is that it's coming from the pro-business party, & explicitly nullifying a deal insurance companies (big business!) negotiated with the federal government to partially cover losses any of the companies experiences. What the GAO legal opinion says is that the Congress must expressly authorize "collecting and distributing the funds from the risk corridor" program. The opinion does not assert taxpayers are on the hook; it expresses no opinion here. We don't know -- and neither do the 14 die-hard senators -- what the final tally will be (i.e., collections vs. distributions), but the CBO projected that the government would actually make money over the course of the program (it ends in 2016) since it will ultimately collect more from insurers than it pays out. These senators don't care about the bottom line, which could favor the government; they just want another opportunity to grandstand the ACA.

Sam Harris reflects on his "conversation" with Ben Affleck & Nicholas Kristof on Bill Maher's show last Friday. CW: There were at least three outsized egos involved in that "conversation," so I don't think it was much of a way to learn anything. I did do some research as a result of watching the exchange, where I learned that (a) there is a vast difference in applications of Islamic beliefs from country to country (as of course there is within each country), & (b) most Muslim countries are majority fundamentalist. That is, instead of reading the Koran as a compelling story about a religious superhero whose teachings can be adapted to various times & places, as most Christians treat Jesus (whether they would admit it or not), the majority of Muslims have rigid, antiquated views about how Mohammed's teachings should be applied today. This will change over time, but not by much in the lifetimes of anyone living today. ...

ISIS couldn't fill a Double A ballpark in Charleston, West Virginia. -- Ben Affleck, in his argument with Harris & Maher

The minor league stadium in [Charleston] would not provide enough seating room for Islamic State fighters, even when using the U.S. government's outdated, low estimate of 10,000. The CIA now uses a much higher estimate of 20,000-31,500 fighters, and other reports indicate it could be even higher. The Islamic State is small, but not Double A-baseball park small. -- Katie Sanders of PolitiFact

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Gabriel Sherman in New York: "Before choosing [Chuck] Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks. One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually 'anything' to bring him over." CW: Must make Chuck feel good to have this story splashing around. (I first saw the news in the Washington Post.) ...

Sounds like NBC eschewed the comedian and went for the joke. -- RC Contributor James Singer

November Elections

Gail Collins reviews some of the missteps of political candidates.

Tim Egan: "... voters are poised to give Republicans control of the Senate, and increase their hold on the House, even though a majority of Americans oppose nearly everything the G.O.P. stands for.... Before buyer's remorse sets in, voters should consider exactly what Republicans believe, and what they've promised to do. It ranges from howl-at-the-moon crazy talk and half-truths to policies that will keep wages down and kill job growth."

Harry Enten of 538: Despite a new Fox "News" report showing some Senate Republican candidates taking significant leads, "FiveThirtyEight's Senate forecast has Republican chances of taking back the Senate at 56.4 percent -- basically unchanged from the 56.5 percent we showed Tuesday."

Josh Elveer of WMUR Manchester: "A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has increased her lead over Republican challenger Scott Brown, but the race remains tight. he WMUR Granite State Poll shows Shaheen leading Brown 47-41 percent among likely voters who have definitely made up their minds or are leaning toward a candidate. In August, Shaheen led Brown 46-44 percent. The poll also shows that Shaheen's favorability ratings have improved, while Brown has become increasingly unpopular." Via Greg Sargent ...

     ... CW: Maybe Scotty will have to move to yet another state to get back in the Senate. As a reader pointed out to me earlier this week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rated New Hampshire overall the most livable U.S. state; the OECD ranked Mississippi the worst. So I'd suggest Mississippi, Scott. I doubt Thad Cochran -- who will almost certainly retain his seat this year -- will run again.

Here's a video American Bridge is running against Georgia's GOP Senate nominee David Perdue. Greg Sargent: "This has not been put in ads yet, but you can be sure it will be soon enough":

James Hohmann & Manu Raju of Politico: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to drop $1 million into South Dakota in a last-minute effort to put a four-way race in play and scramble Republicans' calculus to win back the Senate. The committee hopes to be on TV by Monday with attack ads against GOP front-runner Mike Rounds that are likely to focus on his role in an immigration visa scandal. That could boost either Democrat Rick Weiland or former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, who is running as an independent and told Politico on Wednesday that he hasn't decided which party he would caucus with if elected."

Eric Bradner & Dana Bash of CNN: "Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts has galvanized enough rank-and-file Republican voters to close the gap with independent challenger Greg Orman in one of the nation's hottest races, a new CNN/ORC poll has found. Roberts leads Orman, 49% to 48%, according to the survey of 687 likely voters that was conducted October 2-6."

Bruce Alpert of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Facing the toughest battle of her political career, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is replacing her campaign manager and bringing in experienced hands from her previous three successful Senate runs to help with the final push for the Nov. 4th open primary."

CW: Andrew Cuomo wrote a memoir, which I can't imagine anyone would want to read. According to New York Times reviewers Thomas Kaplan & Susanne Craig, Cuomo repeatedly writes about his own "political courage." Also, he doesn't like "extreme liberals," & his father didn't go to his ball games like the other dads, which is what scarred him for life or something. My sympathies to Kaplan & Craig. I wonder if they both read the whole book or if they reduced their suffering by each reading/skimming one-half. The book is scheduled for release Tuesday, three weeks before the election.

Beyond the Beltway

Margaret Gillerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Another police-involved fatal shooting of a teenager, this time in south St. Louis not far from the Missouri Botanical Garden, led to hours of protests overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning as an angry crowd gathered quickly when news spread across social media. St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the officer was off-duty, working a secondary job for a private security company, when he fatally shot an 18-year-old male Wednesday night. Police say the teen had opened fire on the officer. The officer was unhurt. Relatives of the teen who came to the scene said the victim had been unarmed. They identified him as Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18." The witnesses' accounts are impossible to square with the detailed police story. ...

... Josh Marshall: "... everything here should be taken as tentative and subject to change as more becomes known. But we do appear to have the kernel of two very different accounts of what transpired."

American "Justice," Ctd. Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: Manuel Velez, "a building worker from Texas, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, was released on Wednesday after spending nine years in prison, four of them on death row.... Over the years the conviction unravelled. Tests on the victim's brain showed that Velez could not have caused the child's head injuries. Further evidence revealed that the defendant, who is intellectually disabled, had suffered from woeful legal representation at trial, and that the prosecutor had acted improperly to sway the jury against him." Read the whole story. ...

... Richard Luscombe of the Guardian: "Corrections officials in Florida have launched an investigation into the case of a female inmate who died days after she told her family that a prison guard had threatened to kill her. Latandra Ellington's body was found in her cell at Lowell correctional institution, Ocala, on 1 October, 10 days after she wrote to her aunt to tell her of being 'terrorised' by a guard known only as Sgt Q, and less than 24 hours after worried family members called the prison and were assured she was safe. A private postmortem concluded that Ellington, 36, a mother of four who was serving a 22-month sentence for grand theft, suffered 'haemorrhaging caused by blunt force trauma consistent with punches or kicks to the lower abdomen.'"

Matthew Stanmyre for NJ.com: In Sayerville (New Jersey) War Memorial High School, almost daily hazings of freshman players went like this: "In the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker-room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum. Sometimes, the same finger was then shoved into the freshman player's mouth." After police began investigating the hazings, the school superintendent cancelled the weekend games. "Then, on Friday, an attorney for assistant coach Charles Garcia said his client had resigned after details of his arrest for steroids possession surfaced. On Monday, [Superintendent Richard] Labbe announced he was canceling the rest of the season."

Presidential Election

The great thing about not being president anymore is you can say whatever you want, unless your wife might run for something. -- Former President Bill Clinton, yesterday

Peter Hamby of CNN: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is doing what presidential candidates do -- crisscrossing the country to help Democratic candidates.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Jan Hooks, an actress whose flair for comedy and ability to inhabit a character was showcased during her five years on 'Saturday Night Live,' died on Thursday. She was 57."

Market Watch: "The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits in the first week of October was basically unchanged at 287,000, reflecting a labor market that's experiencing an exceedingly low rate of layoffs and probably will continue to do so for months."

New York Times: "Patrick Modiano, the French writer whose novels center on topics like memory, identity and guilt, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday."

Reuters: "Islamic State fighters launched a renewed assault on the Syrian city of Kobani on Wednesday night, and at least 21 people were killed in riots in neighboring Turkey where Kurds rose up against the government for doing nothing to protect their kin."

Tuesday
Oct072014

The Commentariat -- October 8, 2014

Ewen MacAskhill of the Guardian: "The Obama administration is becoming increasingly frustrated over Turkey's inaction against Islamic State (Isis), in particular its failure to intervene to prevent the jihadis overrunning the Syrian border town of Kobani. The US president is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday of the national security council along with the secretary of state, John Kerry, to discuss Turkey's reluctance so far to help in the battle against Isis. The US is especially angry with Turkey because it is a Nato ally and yet it has refused to provide even basic logistical assistance to the US-led coalition, which is hitting Isis positions in Syria with air strikes."

American "Justice," Ctd. Chris Hamby of BuzzFeed: "The Justice Department is claiming, in a little-noticed court filing, that a federal agent had the right to impersonate a young woman ... Sondra Arquiett, who then went by the name Sondra Prince ... online by creating a Facebook page in her name without her knowledge. Government lawyers also are defending the agent's right to scour the woman's seized cell phone and to post photographs -- including racy pictures of her and even one of her young son and niece -- to the phony social media account, which the agent was using to communicate with suspected criminals.... Leading privacy experts told BuzzFeed News they found the case disturbing. 'It reeks of misrepresentation, fraud, and invasion of privacy,' said Anita L. Allen, a professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School." The day after BuzzFeed first published the story, the DOJ said the the practice was "under review." CW: That's comforting. Read the whole story. You don't have to be Rand Paul to find the government's actions -- and subsequent legal claims -- appalling.

Nicky Woolf of the Guardian: "Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government in which it asks to be allowed to publish information about government surveillance of users, the company announced today. In the suit, filed in the US district court of Northern California, Twitter requests 'relief from prohibitions on its speech in violation of the first amendment'."

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Prison rules governing the length of facial hair were ridiculed in the supreme court on Tuesday as justices grappled with the question of whether Muslim inmates should be allowed a religious exemption to grow beards. In often surreal exchanges between sceptical justices and lawyers, the question of whether Arkansas convict Gregory Holt should be allowed to keep his half-inch long beard proved less a test of religious freedom than of judicial patience." ...

     ... CW: The photo of the Supremes the Guardian chose to accompany the article is fairly risible, too. It's at least six years old: No Justice Sotomayor, no Kagan. But Souter & Stevens! Maybe e Guardian figures since Sotomayor & Kagan can't grow beards, they would have no idea how to adjudicate this case.

Kimberlee Kruesi & Paul Elias of the AP: "A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in 30 other states. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the two states' bans on gay marriage, ruling they violated equal protection rights." ...

... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "In response to claims by Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the Nevada Coalition to Protect Marriage that equality will make the institution of marriage "more adult-centric and less child-centric," Judge Stephen Reinhardt writes:

[Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs,and rock-and-roll.

     ... CW: Should be an occasion of joy, not only for Iowa & Nevada couples, but also for Gail Collins, who thus has been granted another excuse to write, "Butch Otter."

... Paul Waldman on the Supreme Court's marriage equality non-decision: "When the party bigwigs are saying, 'We really need to talk about something else,' the base is going to conclude that they are once again being betrayed by a bunch of elite Washington Republicans who are perfectly happy consorting with the sodomites who inhabit their metropolis of depravity. Which, to a certain degree, is true. Many of those elite Washington Republicans may still write columns in support of 'traditional marriage,' but they also regularly interact with gay people. They'll come around before long, which will only make the base angrier." ...

... Here's GOP chair Prince Rebus trying unsuccessfully to "talk about something else." CW: Igor Volsky accuses Priebus of calling marriage equality "a threat to our economy & national security," but IMO, that's not really what Priebus said; instead, he mumbled that anti-gay conservatives "are right to be concerned about what's happening here in this country," by which he meant the "something else," if you will, not the icky gay marriage thing. He immediately segued into something about "a strong economy, a strong defense and a strong society, blah-blah"; in other words, the "something else." ...

... CW: Yeah, I noticed this, too. Russell Berman of the Atlantic: "Even [Ted] Cruz's proposal is notable for its modesty. His amendment would still allow states to decide the question of marriage, a stark contrast from the constitutional amendment that President George W. Bush and other party leaders backed in 2004, which would forbid the unions altogether." ...

... Justices Are Just Opinionators, Not Deciders." It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys and judges think that a court ruling is the 'final word.' It most certainly is not. The courts are one branch of government, and equal to the other two, but not superior to either and certainly not to both. Even if the other two branches agree with the ruling, the people's representatives have to pass enabling legislation to authorize same sex marriage, and the President (or Governor in the case of the state) has to sign it. Otherwise, it remains the court's opinion. It is NOT the 'law of the land' as is often heralded. -- Former Arkansas governor & frequent GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, arguing for nullification of the Supreme Court's decision not to hear challenges to marriage equality rulings

I sure wish Al Gore had taken that position & just moved on in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. -- Constant Weader

... Brian Beutler: "When [Ted] Cruz's statement landed on Monday, I assumed it would constitute the right-most bound of the GOP presidential primary debate over same-sex marriage, with [Scott] Walker's fifth-stage of grief constituting the left bound. But thanks to Huckabee et al, we're left with the real possibility that Republican presidential hopefuls will end up debating the merits of ignoring the Supreme Court and enforcing same-sex marriage bans until the National Guard rolls into town and forces clerks to start printing up licenses."

Zachary Warmbrodt & M. J. Lee of Politico have an update on the case AIG has brought against the government for bailing them out under less generous terms than the government afforded some banks.

Andrea Jones writes a long, readable piece in Rolling Stone on mandatory minimum sentencing: "Between 1980 and 2010, state incarceration rates for drug crimes multiplied tenfold, while the federal drug prisoner population ballooned by a factor of 20. Every year, taxpayers shell out $51 billion for drug war spending. Meanwhile, 2.2 million people -- or a quarter of the world's prisoners -- crowd a system that exacts its harshest toll on the most vulnerable. Racism undermines the justice process from initial stop to sentence, and 60 percent of those incarcerated are people of color. Rates of illiteracy, addiction, and mental illness are disproportionately high." ...

... Charles Pierce: "It is hard not to conclude that, for the past 30 years, in the 'war' on drugs ... has resulted in a culture of armed impunity within police departments, and a culture within the general community that accepts this situation, as long as it doesn't break down their front doors. No-knock warrants are inherently dangerous, especially if special tactical units are encouraged to treat every raid as though they were landing on Omaha Beach. But, as long as it's Their children getting their noses blown across the room, and not Our children, that's just the way things go.... We want to feel safe. Anonymous and reckless deadly force used by law enforcement is the price we're willing to have other people pay."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Anne D'Innocenzio of the AP: "Wal-Mart ... will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees, or about 5 percent of Wal-Mart's total part-time workforce, but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. It also comes a day after Wal-Mart said it is teaming up with an online health insurance agency called DirectHealth.com to help customers shop for health insurance plans.... Wal-Mart said far more U.S. employees and their families are enrolling in its health care plans than it had expected following rollout of the Affordable Care Act.... [The ACA] also requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty." CW: What WalMart does not contribute to the health care of these part-time employees, you & I will. ...

... MEANWHILE, the Waltons are still The Richest Family in the World. ...

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "American workers have been receiving meager pay increases for so long now that it's reasonable to talk in sweeping terms about the trend. It is the great wage slowdown of the 21st century. The typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn't previously been true since the Great Depression."

Jonathan Chait: "Over the last generation and a half, American politics has been gradually reshaped as the two parties have refashioned themselves from loose coalitions into tightly knit factions.... Washington is awash in nostalgic memories of congenial dinner parties and tales of Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan knocking back drinks together, and largely blind to the cold rationalism undergirding its current circumstances. The good old days are not coming back."...

... CW: This is something the Village Idiots don't seem to get: that in "the good old days," both parties -- especially the Democratic party -- were composed of hard-line internal factions, making Southern Democrats much less likely than New England Republicans to vote with non-Southern Democrats; ergo, "bipartisanship." ...

... The Party of Lincoln. It is on this history, BTW, that modern ultraconservative (&, gee, maybe racist) Republicans routinely hang their claim that "the Democrat party is the racist party." Yeah, if you back to 1964, or 1864 -- as they will -- the Democratic party was the party of slavery & black oppression. Like the guy who wrote the linked story & Rafael Cruz, father of Ted, they are anxious to "educate" ignorant black people on these historical points. If only black people knew what the parties were like in the 1860s, they would vote Republican all the time.

Eric Dolan of the Raw Story: "Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, said Tuesday that one of the reasons that liberals defended Islam was because they shared common enemies: The United States and Jews." ...

... Steve M.: "Catholic League founder apparently forgets that he doesn't particularly like Jews." Steve goes on to cite instances in which Donahue made anti-Semitic remarks.

Epidemiologist David Dausey, in a Washington Post op-ed: "The human errors in this single case [-- Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to Dallas --] highlight why it is urgent that we ban all commercial flights from the impacted countries to all non-affected countries until the outbreak is contained." (See also L.A. Times story lined in yesterday's News Ledes.) ...

Everything Is Obama's Fault, Ctd. This from the top of the Drudge Report. Via Steve M.:

... Ben Shapiro of Truth Revolt: In Southern California, "bumper stickers began appearing on area cars featuring the word Ebola with the Obama logo replacing the letter 'o.' The scathing stickers come on the eve of President Obama's Thursday trip to LA for a fundraiser at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow and on the same day that the LATimes reports that it may be premature for Mr. Obama's government to declare that the deadly Ebola virus is not transmitted by air." Also via Steve M.

Katie Zavadski of New York: After "Madrid's government announced its decision to euthanize a dog owned by a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola out of public-health concerns..., animal-rights activists [are] keeping watch over the owners' house and nearly 200,000 [people have signed] on an online petition for the poor dog." See update in today's News Ledes.

CW: What I Said. Justin Sink & Amy Parnes of the Hill: "Leon Panetta's critique of President Obama turned scalding Tuesday as the former Pentagon and CIA chief ripped the man he once served, bolstering the Republican case against Obama for the midterm elections. In a series of rapid-fire media appearances -- including interviews with CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Yahoo News and USA Today -- Panetta has delivered blow after blow, casting Obama as too willing to 'step back and give up' when confronted by tough problems. During an appearance Tuesday night on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' Panetta doubted whether the president had the will to make tough decisions.... Panetta's broadsides couldn't come at a worse time for Democrats.... Democratic commentator Brent Budowsky, a columnist for The Hill, said it is 'despicable' that Panetta would go after the president so close to the midterm elections. 'It is outrageous and sickening he'd put it out shortly before a midterm to make money on book sales in a way that would hurt Democrats running in Congress as well as the White House,' he said." (Emphasis added.) ...

... Former Obama spokesman Bill Burton on Panetta:

... Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday defended his decision to speak out against President Barack Obama, saying he did so to help the president succeed in his last two years in office." CW: Also, what I hypocritically characterize as "loyalty to the President" is selling a truckload of my books & getting me facetime on O'Reilly. And I really don't give a shit how the midterms turn out. ...

... Piling On. Jonathan Topaz: "Former President Jimmy Carter is criticizing President Barack Obama's Middle East policy, saying he has shifting policies and waited too long to take action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In an interviewed published Tuesday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 39th president said the Obama administration, by not acting sooner, allowed ISIL to build up its strength." ...

... CW: This is just stupid. It's fine to criticize the POTUS, especially if you think your criticism could lead him to change his views. (Carter, in the interview, talks about his opposition to the military's deployment of drones.) But how the hell does it help advance your own policies to criticize a president of your own party, weeks before a national election (which people are already voting in many states), for what he didn't do in the past? (In the interview, Carter suggests he would support Hillary Clinton were she the nominee. Does he think she wouldn't use drones?)...

... Paul Waldman's Tweet of the Day. Finally someone (Farley is a professor of transnational politics) explains the Middle East policy prescription of everyone from Leon Panetta to Lindsey Graham:

Brad Richardson of the Claremont Independent: "Nationally syndicated columnist George Will was slated to speak at the ninth annual Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program [at California's Scripps College], the mission of which is to bring speakers to campus whose political views differ from the majority of students at the all-women's college, but had his invitation rescinded after he wrote a column about sexual assault on college campuses. 'It was in the works and then it wasn't in the works,' Will said in an interview with the Independent. 'They didn't say that the column was the reason, but it was the reason.'"

Beyond the Beltway

Rachel Weiner, et al., of the Washington Post: "A panel of federal judges on Tuesday declared Virginia's congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere. The decision, handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, orders the Virginia General Assembly to draw up new congressional maps by April -- potentially launching a frenzied and highly political battle for survival within Virginia's congressional delegation.... The [state] attorney general's office, in consultation with the Department of Elections, will decide whether to appeal...." CW: Virginia's attorney general, Mark Herring, who won the post by the narrowest of margins, is a Democrat. Elections matter. Your vote counts.

... Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "As Virginia currently has a Democratic governor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be able to veto any plan which is unfair to his fellow Democrats, while the GOP-controlled legislature will no doubt push for a map that serves Republican interests. Because the current maps favor Republicans so strongly, however, the likely result will be maps that are much more favorable to Democrats."

We're the ones who gave all y'all the freedoms that you have! -- Blond white lady to Ferguson protesters

Us Against Them. Catherine Thompson of TPM: "In a video that may actually merit a 'this video will destroy your faith in humanity' tagline, St. Louis Cardinals fans taunted protesters demonstrating for Ferguson teen Michael Brown Monday night outside Busch Stadium by chanting the name of the white police officer who fatally shot him.... The baseball fans first countered the protesters' 'Justice For Mike Brown' chants with a 'Let's Go Cardinals' refrain. Then the 'Let's Go Cardinals' chant morphed into shouts of 'Let's Go Darren' and 'Darren Wilson.'" ...

... CW: The gracious blond white lady betrays a central truth of today's white racists -- they fervently believe that black people should be kissing their white asses because white people so generously (also voluntarily!) "gave" black people a measure of "freeeedom," & they deeply resent the failure of blacks to properly appreciate the generosity of their kindly white benefactors. See also, Rafael Cruz. ...

Saeed Ahmed of CNN: "A federal judge has ruled that police in Ferguson, Missouri, violated the Constitution when they told protesters that they had to keep walking and that they couldn't stand still. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction Monday forbidding law enforcement from carrying out the practice because "it is likely that these agencies will again apply this unconstitutional policy. Law enforcement agencies adopted the policy on August 18...." CW: So much for the crime of Standing While Black. ...

... Never Mind. Zachary Roth of NBC News: "Local election officials said last week that 3,287 people had registered to vote in Ferguson since the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown -- a massive spike in a city with a population of 21,000. But Tuesday, the board backtracked, saying that in fact only 128 people had registered." ...

... CW: If you don't recruit qualified, articulate candidates to further your political philosophy & if you don't bother to vote for them, you're not going to get the government you want. Protests against current conditions are fine & noble & maybe cathartic, but in Ferguson, they are falling on the deaf ears of the status quo defenders of police brutality.

National Elections

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Just weeks before elections that will decide control of the Senate and crucial governors' races, a cascade of court rulings about voting rules, issued by judges with an increasingly partisan edge, are sowing confusion and changing voting procedures with the potential to affect outcomes in some states."

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: President Obama "has been reduced to ... an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him." CW Note: The irony to this is that Obama is doubtlessly a better & wiser statesman today than he was back when he was a rock star.

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Former President Bill Clinton on Monday warned Arkansans to avoid taking a 'protest vote' against national Democrats in the midterms, urging them instead to 'vote your heart' and back Democrats running at home. He also blasted the influence of outside money in the races. Drawing rousing applause in a fiery speech here at the University of Central Arkansas, the beloved former governor of this state called on the crowd to vote 'for what you are for, not for what you are against.'"

James Hohmann of Politico: "Democrat Michelle Nunn repeatedly hammered Republican David Perdue for outsourcing jobs in a Georgia Senate debate Tuesday -- even in response to unrelated questions -- a sign her campaign believes the outsourcing story line can narrow a race that favors the GOP. Perdue, meanwhile, linked Nunn with Barack Obama at every opportunity and slammed her over a leaked campaign strategy plan that he said shows she doesn't really care about agriculture. The hourlong debate at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry was broadcast live by WMAZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Macon.... Perdue said in a 2005 deposition, first reported by Politico, that he'd spent most of his career outsourcing." ...

... Charles Pierce on "Debate Night": "If you're not depressed, you're not paying attention."

GOP Cuts Its Losses in Michigan. Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee has cut the remaining television it had reserved in Michigan amid signs former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) is having trouble catching Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). The NRSC's independent expenditure arm has canceled television reservations for the last two weeks of the campaign, pulling more than $850,000 out of the state.... Peters has had a consistent lead over Land in public polling since early summer in the Democratic-leaning state, with a lead outside the margin of error in most recent polling, and Republican strategists privately concede that she's struggled."

Luke Brinker of Salon: "A construction company owned by GOP Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst's father received more than $200,000 in county contracts while she served as auditor of Montgomery County, Iowa, despite a strict conflict of interest code governing the provision of contracts to family members of county officials." Part of Ernst's job as auditor involved "working" bids for country contracts. CW: Aw, let's just put Ernst's "working" Dad's bid as a fine example of Iowa family values. Ernst (R-WayTP) is the Iowa's GOP nominee for U.S. Senate. ...

... Oh, and Joni has a little trouble -- as do many candidates -- separating her "independent" PACs from her campaign.

Greg Sargent: Arkansas Senate nominee Rep. Tom Cotton (RTP) warns Arkansans that ISIS, in collaboration with Mexican drug cartels, whose members apparently roam freely across the porous Mexican-U.S. border, are coming "to attack us right here in places like Arkansas." If anybody votes for Sen. David Pryor (D). You know it must be true because he read it in the Breitbart News. ...

... David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times picked up Sargent's story: "When it comes to rank demagoguery and fear-mongering, this is hard to top.... Cotton wants to attack Pryor on immigration (and connect him with Obama on this issue) and he wants to attack him as weak on foreign policy (again, Obama!), so might as well mix up the two."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The weekslong hunt through the Pocono Mountains for a man wanted in the ambush and killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper took another dramatic turn on Wednesday as police officials revealed chilling reflections recorded in handwritten notes found at a campsite apparently abandoned by the elusive suspect."

New York Times: "Gun battles and explosions echoed from the embattled Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on Wednesday, as Islamic State militants detonated a car bomb and new American-led airstrikes hit the northern edge of the town, close to the Turkish border. A Kurdish official in Kobani, Assi Abdullah, said that despite the bombing, Islamic State fighters had managed to enter new areas of the town and move north, closer to the border." ...

... Guardian: "The White House has admitted that military advances by the Islamic State in Syria show the limits of American policy to 'roll back' its fighters without committing US ground troops, but insisted a long-term coalition strategy will still defeat the militant group."

New York Times: "Federal officials said Wednesday that they would begin temperature screenings of passengers arriving from West Africa at five American airports, beginning with Kennedy International in New York as early as this weekend, as the United States races to respond to a deadly Ebola outbreak. Travelers at the four other airports -- Washington Dulles International, O'Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson International and Newark Liberty International -- will be screened starting next week, according to federal officials."

USA Today: "Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died Wednesday at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said." ...

     ... The New York Times story is here. ...

     ... Washington Post: "... for the first time, officials in America will take on the grim and dangerous task of handling the remains of an Ebola victim, a complicated procedure that can be a critical moment in stopping the transmission of the disease."

... New York Times: "A dog named Excalibur who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse was euthanized on Wednesday, even as protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the Madrid home of the nurse and her husband. A online petition calling for the dog's life to be spared had drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures. The furor came amid questions about whether dogs can get and transmit the disease."

Guardian: "The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday. Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary." ...

     ... UPDATE: "Three days of legal arguments concluded Wednesday in the first-ever court challenge to the controversial US practice of forcibly feeding hunger-striking detainees at Guantánamo Bay."

Washington Post: "The 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va. Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Germany), and William E. Moerner of Stanford University for their work in overcoming the limitations of the traditional light microscope."

Monday
Oct062014

The Commentariat -- October 7, 2014

New Yorker illustration.Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog analyzes the practical effects of the Supreme Court's decision not to hear any of the marriage equality cases & explains why their decision was a surprise. ...

... The Washington Post has an interactive graphic of the each state's status re: gay marriage. ...

... Rick Hasen sees a done deal: "... you may think that this could well be reversed once there is a circuit split, perhaps in a case from the 5th or 6th Circuit. But remember, there will now be all of these children from legal same sex marriages performed until the Supreme Court could decide to take a case from another circuit. The idea that Justice Kennedy would let that happen, knowing there could well be a reversal down the line seems unlikely. ...

... Garrett Epps of the Atlantic: "I don't see how [Monday's] decision doesn't signal that even within the Court, the fight is over.... The four dissenters in United States v. Windsor -- the Defense of Marriage Act case -- may have looked around the conference table last week and realized they would never get five votes to overturn the lower courts; that is, that Justice Anthony Kennedy was committed to taking his Windsor opinion to its fullest extent." ...

... Jeff Toobin: "Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land -- inevitably but not immediately." Toobin thinks the reason for the Court's deciding not to decide is that neither the four ultra-conservative justices nor the four more liberal justices trusted Justice Kennedy to be their fifth vote. Conservative justices, in Toobin's view, are hoping a Republican president will replace Justice Ginsburg, tipping the balance of the Court even further their way, while the more liberal justices are hoping the momentum gay equality rights has gained will force the Court in future years to rule with public opinion. ...

... Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) conceded that the state of Wisconsin lost its fight to ban same sex marriage on Monday when the Supreme Court declined to hear gay marriage cases in multiple states.With the Supreme Court's punt back to the appeals court that struck down the ban, county clerks in Wisconsin have started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. And Walker seems to have accepted that this is the end of the road for the state's ban." (CW Update: Yeah, but Walker had a good day, all-in-all. See links further down the page on the 7th Circuit's ruling upholding Wisconsin's voter ID law, estimated to disenfranchise some 300K likely-Democratic-leaning voters.) ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... so long as there is an opportunist or two in the [GOP] presidential field who's frantic for right-wing support (I'm looking at you, Bobby Jindal!), the odds of this issue being 'off the table' in Iowa are very low." CW: Oh, Ed, I do believe I've found us just such an opportunist. ...

The Supreme Court's decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible. By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing. This is judicial activism at its worst.... When Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas) ...

Because inaction is just another word for "activism" in upside-down Right Wing World. -- Constant Weader

MEANWHILE, Kate Nocera of BuzzFeed; "... hardly any Republicans have reacted to the news.... Sen. Mike Lee was one of the few GOP members to issue a statement. His home state of Utah was one of the states where a marriage ban was overturned by an appeals court and the state is now moving forward with allowing same-sex couples to marry. Lee called the Supreme Court decision to not review the appeals 'disappointing.'" ...

     ... NEW. Charles Pierce is not too sure of Mike Lee's powers of legal analysis. ...

... CW: I'm not a fan of Andrew Sullivan's, but today he expressed my own sense of why we have enjoyed such remarkable progress in the extension of gay rights: "The reason we persuaded so many in so short a time is that so many unknown private individuals [[ from Thanksgiving tables to church meetings to office cubicles to locker rooms -- simply told the truth about who we really are. It took immense personal courage at times -- and each moment someone came out, more light, more reality, seeped into the debate."

CW: Worth remembering: a mere two-and-a-half years ago, we had a Democratic President who was "still evolving" on gay marriage. ...

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "... while this is a massive win for gay marriage, it could surely have been done so much more bravely. For all practical purposes, it kicks the question of same-sex marriage down the road yet again. It's a big, big win but achieved in a small way, and possibly for very wrong reasons.... The court should not be in the business of gingerly surfing public opinion until it's safe enough to ride that wave into shore." ...

     ... CW: Besides, by deciding not to decide, The court has deprived us of a classic, entertaining Scalia rant. ...

... Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker: "It is a day to note and to celebrate a civil-rights revolution that is nearing a complete victory. But it is also a moment when other progressive causes are losing ground in the Supreme Court. On race and voting rights, the Roberts Court's likely direction is all too clear." ...

... CW: Something that struck me immediately about the Court's decision to, at the very least, kick the gay marriage can down the road, was this: What John Roberts cares most about is increasing the already-outsized advantages of elites, particularly moneyed elites. Preserving gay marriage bans matters very little within that framework. Voter suppression, on the other hand, aims to keep liberal-leaning voters from electing marginally reformist/inclusive Democrats. The same is true of Roberts' quest to undo anti-discrimination laws & policies. The outlier is his choice to support most of the ACA; the only way I can connect that to my supposition on his overarching philosophy is to posit that he believed a victory for the inane "broccoli argument" would undermine the institution of the Court itself. The one elitist Roberts most wants to protect is himself.

Paul Waldman reviews what the current conservative justices said during their confirmation hearings about their possible pro-choiciness. You might think they were obfuscating.

Voter Suppression, Ctd. Scott Bauer of the AP: "A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Wisconsin's requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls is constitutional, a decision that was not surprising after the court last month allowed for the law to be implemented while it considered the case. State elections officials are preparing for the photo ID law to be in effect for the Nov. 4 election.... The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to take emergency action and block the law." Thanks to Nadd2 for the link. ...

... Rick Hasen: "Regardless of where you stand on the merits of the constitutional and voter id problem, it is unconscionable to roll out voter id without adequate time for everyone who wants to get id to do so.... As a matter of substance, this is vintage Judge [Frank] Easterbrook: crisp writing but heartless and dismissive. Judge Easterbrook picks out the evidence from the record he likes, and dismisses the evidence he does not like." Do read the whole post. I probably should title this graf "Our Corrupt Judiciary." When a court has to write falsehood after falsehood to justify it's position, just maybe the position is untenable. ...

... CW: One thing to bear in mind on all these voter suppression laws is that voting is not a Constitutional right in the U.S. (as it is in many [most??] other countries). The 26th Amendment (1971) reads, "

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

     ... Now wouldn't it be nice if that phrase "on accunt of age" had been omitted? I don't know if the 26th Amendment has ever been cited to counter voter-suppression laws, where the purpose & effect is to disenfranchise college students, but it sure as hell should be.


Steve M
. "What we should worry about with regard to Ebola is not that ISIS and the Zeta drug gang will conspire to send infected bioterrorists across the Rio Grande, or whatever the hell it is Fox viewers fear. What we should worry about is that the outbreak in West Africa won't be contained soon despite the fact that we know how to contain Ebola outbreaks. If the delivery of protective gear is being delayed by petty bureaucrats [in Sierra Leone] engaged in partisan politics, those petty bureaucrats are multiple murderers."

Ben Protess & Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times: "The Justice Department is preparing a fresh round of attacks on the world's biggest banks, again questioning Wall Street's role in a broad array of financial markets. With evidence mounting that a number of foreign and American banks colluded to alter the price of foreign currencies, the largest and least regulated financial market, prosecutors are aiming to file charges against at least one bank by the end of the year, according to interviews with lawyers briefed on the matter. Ultimately, several banks are expected to plead guilty."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker profiles Larry Lessig, whose quixotic attempts to secure campaign finance reform a/k/a "corruption of the system" remains, well, quixotic. CW Hint: If you want this to work, Larry, you must bring some talented crooked politicians into the fold. They know how the system works & they know how to exploit it. There are many to choose from, although a few would have to work from jail.

Peter Baker of the New York Times reviews Panetta's Complaint. ...

... Dana Milbank: Panetta's "level of disloyalty is stunning, even though it is softened with praise for Obama's intellect."

Hadas Gold of Politico: "New York Times reporter James Risen said Sunday that none of the current leak investigations would be happening if President Barack Obama did not hate the media so much, the Morning Sentinel of Maine reports. 'I don't think any of this would be happening under the Obama administration if Obama didn't want to do it,' Risen said at Colby College in Maine after he received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy award for journalism. 'I think Obama hates the press. I think he doesn't like the press and he hates leaks.'"

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Max Fisher of Vox: "Author and former Democratic political consultant Naomi Wolf published a series of Facebook posts on Saturday in which she questioned the veracity of the ISIS videos showing the murders and beheadings of two Americans and two Britons, strongly implying that the videos had been staged by the US government and that the victims and their parents were actors. Wolf published a separate Facebook post, also on Saturday, suggesting that the US was sending troops to West Africa not to assist with Ebola treatment but to bring Ebola back to the US to justify a military takeover of American society...." ...

... Dave Weigel, now with Bloomberg Politics (thus a colleague of Mark Halperin's!), has more. ...

... CW: A while back, some readers were accusing me of being a right-wing mole since I never (or almost never) linked Wolf's stuff. I believe I responded that I thought her views were fairly batty. Well, case closed. ...

... In Wolf's defense, Rush Limbaugh has an opinion not far removed from hers on the Ebola crisis. Limbaugh's theory is that Obama has indeed arranged to bring Ebola into the U.S. in order to sicken white Americans because they enslaved Africans. (To be fair to Rush, he expresses his theory in a lot of abstruse blather.) Jonathan Chait has a nice little survey of Rush's obsession with slavery. Rush thinks whites got a bum rap; not that many people of European descent kept slaves, Rush notes, & white Americans even fought a war to free their slaves. ...

... CW: In addition, the similarities between the name of the President & the name of the virus are so striking that one can hardly assume a mere coincidence: (1) Both have five letters; (2) Both have three syllables; (3) Both begin with a vowel; (4) The 2nd letter of both is "b"; (5) Both end in the letter "a"; (6) Both are African words.

Ed Kilgore gets some more mileage out of Mark Halperin's debut "scoop" for Bloomberg Politics: "Halperin suggests ... Jeb [Not-His-Real-Name Bush] would be insane not to run, such are his vast talents and the hosts of important people (e.g., donors) 'panting' (Halperin's own word for one of them) to make him president.... The problem here is in considering Halperin a 'journalist' in the normal meaning of the term. His niche is to serve as a courtier and a vanity mirror for what Digby so aptly labeled The Village, the small group of elite beltway-centered movers and shakers who want to form the political world in their own image.... Does any of this make sense from the point of view of honest journalism? No, but that's not Halperin's gig, and I am quite confident he does not care about our mockery."

Senate Race

Out with the Old? James Carroll of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "After two polls in his favor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has slipped behind Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in his re-election bid, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll. Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, now leads the five-term senator 46 percent to 44 percent among likely voters, the survey found. Libertarian candidate David Patterson had 3 percent support in the poll, while 7 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.... Perhaps the most alarming number for McConnell is that 57 percent of registered voters surveyed said that after 30 years in office, it's time for him to be replaced. That sentiment was shared by 33 percent of conservatives and 27 percent of Republicans." CW: I'm not getting my hopes up. Much.

Beyond the Beltway

Charles Pierce details the atrocities of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (i.e., school board), which in a secret session yesterday, tossed the teachers' union contract, established work rules that will remind you of the conditions under which tenant farmers & company-town denizens lived in the bad old days, & cut benefits to retired teachers. The governor appoints three of the commission's members & the mayor appoints two. Thanks to MAG for the link.

Okra Bust. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man's garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor's Task Force for Drug Suppression spotted suspicious-looking plants on the man's property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes.... Marijuana eradication programs, like the one that sent the helicopter up above the Georgia man's house, are typically funded partly via the Drug Enforcement Agency's Cannabis Eradication Program. Many of these funds come from the controversial asset forfeiture programs, which allow law enforcement officials to seize property from citizens never even charged - much less convicted - of a crime."

Randal Archibold of the New York Times tells the horrifying story of Mexican policy likely slaughtering high school boys last month. "The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala -- the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred -- containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies. The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang.... The students were not known to have criminal ties.... The mayor and the police chief of Iguala are now on the run...."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: Some Ebola experts are concerned the current strain of the virus may spread more readily than has been assumed.

New York Times: "Warplanes from the American-led coalition fighting militants of the Islamic State were reported on Tuesday to have struck targets in Syria near the Turkish border in support of Kurdish forces locked in street fighting with the militants. If confirmed, the reports could indicate an escalation in American-led efforts to help the Kurds resist, if not repel, an onslaught by the Sunni militants whose forces control portions of Syria and Iraq."

Washington Post: "At an announcement in Stockholm on Tuesday, the Nobel Prize committee awarded this year's prize in physics to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura. The three men -- Akasaki from Meijo University, Amano from Nagoya University (both in Nagoya, Japan) and Nakamura from UC Santa Barbara -- produced blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s." The Los Angeles Times story is here.