The Ledes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

Al Jazeera: "At least 130 bodies have been found after an Indonesian air force C-130 crashed in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra, according to military officials. The plane came down on Tuesday hitting empty residential buildings after bursting into flames shortly after takeoff."

New York Times: "Record numbers of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to reach the shores of Europe in the first six months of this year, and most of them were entitled to be resettled as refugees under international law, the United Nations said Wednesday."

AP: "Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that Julie Hamp, its first female managing officer, had resigned following her arrest last month on suspicion of illegally importing the painkiller oxycodone into Japan. Hamp, a U.S. citizen, leaves Toyota about a month after she relocated to Tokyo to become the Japanese automaker's chief communications officer. Her appointment was part of a drive by the company to diversify a male-dominated, mostly Japanese executive line-up."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

New York Times: "With just hours to go before Greece hits a deadline for a debt payment it cannot afford, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday asked the other nations that use the euro to extend another bailout and buy Athens time to renegotiate its crippling debt load." ...

     ... New Lede: "The International Monetary Fund said shortly after midnight Wednesday that Greece had missed a crucial debt payment to the fund."

New York Times: "The Iranian foreign minister rejoined the nuclear talks [in Vienna, Austria,] Tuesday morning as the United States looked for signs that he had arrived with more flexible negotiating instructions."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Greek financial crisis.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
June 30

12:05 pm ET: President Obama & President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil hold a joint press conference

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."

 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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Sunday
Jun142015

The Commentariat -- June 15, 2015

Michelle Boorstein, et al., of the Washington Post: "A draft of a major environmental document by Pope Francis says 'the bulk of global warming' is caused by human activity -- a perspective aligned with most climate scientists but still highly controversial to some Americans. In the draft, portions of which were translated by The Washington Post, the pope takes climate change deniers to task and calls on 'humanity' to take steps -- including changing manufacturing and consumption trends -- to turn back the clock on global warming. He backs the science behind climate change, citing 'a very considerable consensus that points out we are now facing a worrisome warming of the climate.'" ...

... CW: This is bad news for "I Am Not A Scientist" Roman Catholic GOPers. Should be fun to watch Marco finesse this one.

Good News for Women & Families. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from North Carolina officials seeking to revive a state law that had required doctors to perform ultrasounds, display the resulting sonograms and describe the fetuses to women seeking abortions. The Supreme Court's one-sentence order, as is the custom, gave no reasons. Justice Antonin Scalia noted a dissent, also without saying why. 'The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,' Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in December for a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. 'This compelled speech, even though it is a regulation of the medical profession, is ideological in intent and in kind.'"

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that a business can fire an employee for using medical marijuana even if the employee is off-duty at the time, a decision that could have far-reaching ramifications in a state that has decriminalized most marijuana use."

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: Rachel Dolezal, "the head of the N.A.A.C.P. chapter in Spokane, subjected to national scrutiny and ridicule after it appeared she lied about her own racial background, announced Monday that she was quitting that post."

Mark Gethfred & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and a deputy bishop resigned on Monday after prosecutors recently charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect youths from abuse by pedophile priests. In statements released Monday morning, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, and an auxiliary bishop, Lee A. Piché, said they were resigning to help the archdiocese heal."

Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "The feud between Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the news media escalated on Monday, when the reporter designated by the traveling press to cover Clinton's events [in New Hampshire] was denied access. David Martosko, the US political editor at The Daily Mail, was scheduled as the so-called 'pool' reporter for Clinton's visit through New Hampshire. But when he arrived at the gathering spot for the traveling press corps on Monday morning, Martosko was turned away by a Clinton staffer who said the reporter was no longer the approved pooler for the day's events."

*****

** Our Long National Nightmare Is Over. Paul Krugman: Democratic politicians have returned to being Democrats. Krugman suggests several factors that explain why. "... you can describe all of this as a move to the left, but there's more to it than that.... Democrats are adopting ideas that work and rejecting ideas that don't, whereas Republicans are doing the opposite.... Something important is happening, and in the long run it will matter a great deal." ...

... Krugman's old pal Larry Summers didn't get the memo. (In fact, Krugman takes a dig at Summers, tho of course Krugman is too polite to name him.) In a Washington Post op-ed, Summers tells us the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is absolutely fabulous, & the Congress's failure to send a clean bill to the President is almost as bad as 100 years ago when the Senate rejected the League of Nations. Can World War III be far behind?

Odd News. Brad Meltzer in the New York Daily News: The Secret Service told me that when "Reagan was President, he carried his own gun.... A .38. Reagan used to hide it in his briefcase and take it on Air Force One." CW: Which should serve to demonstrate how safe packing heat keeps you.

Presidential Race

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Hillary Clinton, facing criticism from rivals for her silence on a stalled international trade agreement, spoke out Sunday during a campaign stop in Iowa, urging President Barack Obama to collaborate with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and craft a deal more palatable to Democrats":

The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers to make sure we get the best strongest deal possible. And if we don't get it, there should be no deal.

Hooray! There's a New Maureen Dowd! Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast was so miffed at not being able to go where she wanted to go during Clinton's Roosevelt Island speech that she wrote a whole column about it titled "Welcome to Hillary Island, a Pleasant Little Police State." (If you don't recognize Nuzzi's column as classic MoDo, let me take you back in time -- to like three weeks ago -- when MoDo wrote about her troubles with Uber.)

Dylan Stableford of Yahoo News: "A day after Hillary Clinton formally kicked off her 2016 presidential campaign with a speech at a rally on New York's Roosevelt Island, current and would-be rivals on both sides of the political aisle took aim at the former secretary of state on Sunday morning talk shows." ...

... Adam Desiderio of ABC News: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a swipe at Hillary Clinton today, saying he doubts whether the Democratic presidential candidate knows the concerns of 'real Americans.' Christie ... said Clinton's speech during her campaign rally Saturday in New York City sounded like it was put together by 'liberal political consultants.' 'I thought Elizabeth Warren wasn't running for president,' Christie said in an exclusive interview on ABC's 'This Week.'" With video. ...

... Mark Hensch of the Hill: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is the only 2016 GOP presidential candidate with foreign policy stances that are worse than Hillary Clinton's." ...

... Mark Hensch: "Barely hours after Hillary Clinton's campaign launch in New York on Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) used footage from the event for an ad that mocks Clinton as a politician of the past":

Michael Barbaro & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: Jeb Bush will announce his candidacy today at 3 pm ET at a public college in the Miami area. " ... he will offer himself as a messenger of optimistic conservatism, uninterested in the politics of grievance, obstructionism and partisanship that, in his eyes and those of his allies, have catapulted less accomplished rivals, like Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, to national prominence." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post profiles Bush's political metemorphosis from "head-banging conservative" to less-obnoxious conservative. It was a change of style, not a change of ideology. ...

... Favorite Son? Maybe Not. Joshua Green of Politico: "Jeb Bush's big political credential, and his presumed strength in the presidential campaign he'll launch on Monday, is the broad appeal he demonstrated over two terms as Florida governor -- doubly important given the critical role Florida's primary will play in winnowing the GOP field.... But he may not be nearly as strong in Florida as his reputation suggests. A Bloomberg Politics study conducted with University of Florida political scientist Daniel A. Smith found that nearly three-quarters of Florida's 12.9 million currently registered voters have never even seen Bush's name on a ballot.... By contrast, 92 percent of Floridians who voted when Marco Rubio was last on the ballot, in 2010, are still registered." ...

... Ha Ha. Brad DeLong catches Team Jeb comparing his revamped campaign to Pickett's charge. As DeLong puts it: "Jeb Bush: I want to send a message that my campaign is like a disastrous and profoundly stupid attack that costs three casualties for every one inflicted.... As George Pickett said of Robert E. Lee -- the general who ordered the charge -- 'That man destroyed my division!'" CW: Aw, maybe they meant the charge of the Light Brigade."

Mark Hensch: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the defeat of President Obama's trade legislation in the House on Friday was the right outcome for average Americans. 'The House has put a kibosh on the Trans-Pacific [Partnership],' he said at a rally at Drake University in Des Moines late Friday, according to The Des Moines Register. 'Our trade policies over the last 40 years .. have been a disaster,' Sanders said. 'TPP is a continuation of these disastrous trade policies.' 'Today, the good side won,' he added."

Beyond the Beltway

** Surprise! Gun Control Works. Jeff Guo of the Washington Post: "... researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, say that Connecticut's [1994] 'permit-to-purchase' law was actually a huge success for public safety. In a study released Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, they estimate that the law reduced gun homicides by 40 percent between 1996 and 2005. That's 296 lives saved in 10 years.... There is a 40 percent gap ... between the expected number of gun-related homicides and the actual number of gun-related homicides."

Robert Roldan of the Louisville Courier-Journal: "Community members and activists are questioning a Louisville Metro Police officer's use of deadly force against an African man in Old Louisville on Saturday afternoon. But Police Chief Steve Conrad said the man, who he said was thought to be an African man in his mid-30s, was shot twice in self-defense after he allegedly picked up a metal flag pole and swung at the officer outside a convenience store." The video is here.

Thanks to contributor MAG, we now can answer the burning question, Whatever happen to Scott Brown, short-time senator? He is working as an unpaid intern in a bike shop. Really. Also, too, he's giving advice to GOP presidential candidates on how to win in New Hampshire. I hope they're listening. I do want to warn MAG & other Mainers that Scottie is still living very, very close to Maine, the state of his birth.

ELSEWHERE in New Hampshire. WGME: "A New Hampshire man wants to defy an Islamic prohibition on depicting the prophet Muhammad in pictures and plans to host a 'Draw Muhammad' art contest in August. Jerry Delemus, a 60-year-old former Marine, says the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment trumps any religion's limitations on such expression." ...

... CW: WGME might have said a little more about Delemus: He ran for "Constitutional sheriff" of Strafford County, New Hampshire (and lost), he is/was planning to form "a militia as a bulwark to protect the general population from despotism or tyranny," & was "the founder of Rochester's Glenn Beck-inspired 9/12 Project." In 2014, "Jerry DeLemus grabbed his Gadsden flag and raced to Bunkerville, Nevada to support [Cliven Bundy] in his confrontation with federal officials. When he arrived, the former Marine sergeant was appointed commander of the growing armed militia and was featured in numerous news reports and videos." His wife Susan, a former state representative, is a notorious birther.

Saturday
Jun132015

The Commentariat -- June 14, 2015

Greg Jaffe & Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "As President Obama was weighing how to halt Islamic State advances in Iraq, some of the strongest resistance to boosting U.S. involvement came from a surprising place: a war-weary military that has grown increasingly skeptical that force can prevail in a conflict fueled by political and religious grievances. Top military officials, who have typically argued for more combat power to overcome battlefield setbacks over the past decade, emerged in recent White House debates as consistent voices of caution in Iraq. Their shift reflects the paucity of good options and a reluctance to suffer more combat deaths in a war in which America's political leaders are far from committed and Iraqis have shown limited will to fight." ...

... CW: Obviously, there are many in the military who join up because they want to go forth & conquer people, especially people who don't look like them. But today there are also a lot of military members who are there because they needed jobs. These members may not see as desirable the kind of warmongering "support" they get from nearly every GOP candidate. Maybe we'll see the Democratization of the military in the coming election.

Eric Schmitt & Steven Myers of the New York Times: "In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say. The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia's annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals."

Maureen Dowd: Everything President Obama does is wrong, Also, he does it the wrong way. Also, nobody likes him except maybe a couple of racists in the Congressional Black Caucus. Also, all the world's problems are his fault. CW BTW: For further proof of Obama's culpability in every single thing that has happened in the world since 2008, see Steve Benen's post about Jeb Bush under Presidential Race. ...

... For an ever-so-slightly more balanced take on the defeat in the House of bill that was a prerequisite to passing TPP, we turn now to Charles Pierce: "This is not a failure of presidential leadership. It's the assertion of political power from another direction. If that unnerves the Green Room consensus, that's too bad. The president got a bad beat, not because he is a bad president, but because, on this issue, on this Friday afternoon, he found himself trying to sell something to a constituency that has changed. I think he has the good sense to realize this and to adjust his strategy accordingly. At the very least, he will realize that what happened to him and to his agenda today was a long time coming." CW: If Pierce is right, what happened in the House is a good omen.

Jill Filipovic in a Washington Post op-ed: A new generation of abortion activists in not afraid of the "A" word. At first via social media, these young women have brought discussions of abortion into the mainstream. Likely as a result, "Today, the percentage of Americans who say they're pro-choice is at a seven-year high."

Jamelle Bouie: "We don't know the entirety of [Rachel] Dolezal's story, and we will likely learn more. If it's troubling, it's at least partly because it feels like Dolezal is adopting the culture without carrying the burdens. And with the fake father and the fake children, it seems like she's deceiving people for the sake of an à la carte blackness, in which you take the best parts, and leave the pain aside."

Ewen MacAskill & James Tapper of the Guardian: "Downing Street and the Home Office are being challenged to answer in public claims that Russia and China have broken into the secret cache of Edward Snowden files and that British agents have to be withdrawn from live operations as a consequence." Privacy advocates say those no substance to the story. ...

... Tom Harper, et al., of the Sunday Times: "RUSSIA and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services. Western intelligence agencies say they have been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, after mounting one of the largest leaks in US history." ...

... CW: Snowden has long said that he gave up all his files to journalists. Therefore, if Snowden is telling the truth, the only way Russian & Chinese hackers could have accessed Snowden's files was through journalists. This is certainly possible, but absent any "evidence" other than the claims of unnamed sources inside the British government, who obviously aren't fans of Snowden's, I wouldn't put much store in the claims at this point.

Daniel Politi: "Polar bears have made dolphins part of their diet. For the first time, scientists have observed polar bears devouring white-beaked dolphins in the Arctic and are crediting global warming for introducing these two species to each other. 'This is the first record of this species as polar bear prey,' wrote the authors of a study that was published in the Polar Research Journal."

God News

Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope's widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science." ...

... Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "Never before, church leaders say, has a papal encyclical been anticipated so eagerly by so many.... But the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States may be harder to win over." CW: Read on. It's hard to sum up what dunderheads the U.S. Catholic bishops are.

Steve Benen: Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress says treatment of U.S. Christians (no word on who the perps are) is just like Nazi treatment of Jews in pre-Holocaust days. CW: I find this extremely disrespectful to real victims of the Holocaust. And Sean Hannity is encouraging this garbage. Take that SOB off the air, Rupert.

How to console your friend on the loss of a child: tell her it was God's idea because the poor little tyke was probably going to grow up to be Hitler or Stalin or a serial killer. Via Benen. CW: In 1984, four states picked Pat Robertson to be the GOP presidential nominee.

Presidential Race

Roosevelt Island, Saturday morning.... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a speech that was at times sweeping and at times policy laden, delivered on Saturday a pointed repudiation of Republican economic policies and a populist promise to reverse the gaping gulf between the rich and poor at her biggest campaign event to date. Under sunny skies and surrounded by flag-waving supporters on Roosevelt Island in New York, Mrs. Clinton pledged to run an inclusive campaign and to create a more inclusive economy, saying that even the new voices in the Republican Party continued to push the top-down economic policies that failed us before.'" The campaign estimated attendance at 5,500:

... Here's the transcript of Clinton's speech. ...

... Jonathan Allen of Vox: "... what [Clinton] did Saturday is appeal to voters on the core policy issues that they care about and thread them together under an overarching vision of making American more fair for everyone. And she was willing to get more specific on how to do it. So, anyone who argues Clinton came up short in articulating a vision for a different version of America wasn't paying attention.... Compared to Clinton, her Republican rivals haven't been as forthcoming on how they would try to use the power of the presidency." ...

... John Cole of Balloon Juice cites Dave Weigel's tweet on reporters' snarky reactions. Some complained that "the overflow area (the overflow area!) was not that full." ...

The crowd who showed up to see Rick Santorum last week at a diner in Hamlin, Iowa. The one person who showed up to meet him said she wasn't committed to Santorum. "Santorum said he saw one person as a good crowd." The other three happened in for something to eat & agreed to sit with Santorum. Des Moines Register photo.

... Nick Gass of Politico: "No one has ever asked him for anything, [Bill] Clinton said [last week], adding that he does not know if those companies were seeking favor from his wife's position as secretary of state. Political partisans and investigative journalists have not found anything particularly odious, apart from what 'Clinton Cash' author Peter Schweizer deemed as a 'smoking gun' in the pattern of behavior."

Steve M. "Mitt Romney is hosting a little shindig in Utah this weekend featuring Sheldon Adelson and half a dozen Republican presidential aspirants. Politico's Alex Isenstadt describes the gathering in non-specific terms, as an attempt to impose order on the Republican presidential race.... So, to sum up: While Romney does want to send the message that the invitees -- Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina -- could all potentially have access to Adelson's millions and his own donor network, his main goal is to prevent a primary victory by 'someone ... who I find not as attractive from a policy standpoint or another standpoint.' Rand Paul, in other words."

CW: A number of media outlets have given Jeb Bush high marks for his performance during his European Vacation. Of course, any time Scott Walker sets the bar, it's going to be low. But still, what about "Waitergaite"? Steve Benen has all the details, & they're just odd. The only part that's not surprising: Jeb blames Obama. GOP Rule No. 1: When You Screw Up, blame Obama.

Beyond the Beltway

Ron Kuznia of the Washington Post: Wealthy Californians think they should get all the water they can afford. To hell with everybody else. "In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent."

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Cleveland prosecutors have released the results of an investigation into the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by a police officer.... One of the most significant appears to be that the investigators could not find a single witness who heard police officer Timothy Loehmann issue a warning before opening fire, reports the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Loehmann has said he ordered Rice to show his hands three times before opening fire." The report is here.

CW: I'd love to read this New York Times story about NYPD victim Eric Garner, but a loud Hulu ad not only plays every 30 seconds, when it starts, it throws the page back to the top. Nice job, NYT. So I quit. Update: That intrusive ad is everywhere, so no more NYT today.

Sofia Tesfaye of Salon (June 11): "Karen Fitzgibbons, a fourth grade teacher at Bennet Elementary in Wolforth, Texas, took to Facebook on Tuesday to express her frustration with the outrage in McKinney, Texas.... Fitzgibbons wrote that the she was 'ANGRY' the cop had resigned and blamed 'the blacks' for causing 'racial tension,' complaining that all the commotion had pushed her 'almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone.'" ...

... Jason Silverstein of the New York Daily News (June 12): "Fitzgibbons was 'relieved of her duties' due to her 'offensive, insensitive and disrespectful' post, the Frenship Independent School District announced Thursday." CW: Now she can sit home & reflect on how "the blacks" ruined her career. ...

... Andrew O'Hehir of Salon: "It is whites far more than blacks who cannot break free of the poisonous attitudes of the past.... Yet it is African-Americans who are constantly accused of fixating on ancient history, a charge presented in various ways, many of them subtler than the white-centric paranoia delivered by Fox."

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: John "Carroll, a courageous editor whose instinct for the big story and unrelenting focus on the craft of journalism guided the Los Angeles Times to new heights, including a record 13 Pulitzer Prizes in five years, died Sunday in Lexington, Ky., of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a degenerative brain disease. He was 73."

Daily Beast: "According to a report in the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag, embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter may try to stay on as president of FIFA, despite promising to step down."

AP: "The man linked to a violent assault on Dallas police headquarters on Saturday was accused two years earlier of choking his mother, then fleeing to an east Texas town where schools were locked down out of fear he would attack them as 'soft target', according to accounts from police and family members."

NBC News: "The prison worker charged with aiding in the escape of two convicted killers from a maximum-security correctional facility planned to meet the pair at midnight on the night of the escape and then leave with the escapees -- even giving them digging tools -- the district attorney said."

New York Times: "The United States carried out an airstrike in Libya early Sunday against the mastermind of the 2013 terrorist seizure of an Algerian gas plant that left 38 foreign hostages dead, American and Libyan officials said on Sunday. The Libyan government issued a statement Sunday night saying that the airstrikes killed the terrorist leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and 'a number' of other Libyan terrorists in the eastern part of the country."

Friday
Jun122015

The Commentariat -- June 13, 2015

Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times: "A second major intrusion into U.S. government employee records, this one designed to root out names of those who might be willing to spy for a foreign government, was uncovered during the investigation into the first such breach announced this month, two officials said Friday. The newly discovered breach compromised financial histories and information on family members and foreign trips for up to 4.1 million federal employees, according to a senior administration official and an FBI official."

Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Key lawmakers have moved to slash funding of a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria, a move that U.S. officials said reflects rising skepticism of the effectiveness of the agency program and the Obama administration's strategy in the Middle East. The House Intelligence Committee recently voted unanimously to cut as much as 20 percent of the classified funds flowing into a CIA program that U.S. officials said has become one the agency's largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year."

Reuters: "The Obama administration is expected to announce an agreement with Cuba in early July to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations severed more than five decades ago, US sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. The two sides hope to conclude the deal by the first week of next month, clearing the way for secretary of state John Kerry to visit Havana soon afterwards for a flag-raising ceremony to upgrade the US interests section to a full-scale embassy...."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power -- and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean. In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority -- the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress -- before it could even come to a final vote." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... David Nakamura & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "The House voted 302 to 126 to sink a measure to grant financial aid to displaced workers, fracturing hopes at the White House that Congress would grant Obama fast-track trade authority to complete an accord with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. 'I will be voting to slow down fast-track,' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the floor moments before the vote, after keeping her intentions private for months. 'Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers.'... Fast-track authority ... was later approved with overwhelming Republican support in what amounted to a symbolic vote because it could not move forward into law without the related worker assistance package." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... See also the President's weekly address. He isn't giving up:

... David Dayen in Salon: "What [President] Obama was proposing was a trick, one used repeatedly to advance distasteful policies, by getting each side to vote only on the parts they like. And House progressives responded by saying they wouldn't play that game anymore.... While this is definitely not over, if Democrats do hang tough and kill the President's trade agenda by not playing along on TAA, it will be a victory for good government. This insanity of getting to pass the parts of a bill you like and having them smushed together Frankenstein-monster style makes it impossible to hold anyone responsible for the ultimate outcome. Democrats should be proud of opting out of that charade."

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg: Republican "falsehoods nurtured blind fury against Obamacare. Fury required new falsehoods to keep it ratcheted. After five years of this, there's simply no way to reconcile the law's continued existence with Republicans' flamboyantly apocalyptic rhetoric.... In recent weeks, we've seen Republican presidential candidates stumble on a topic that their party spent more than a decade doctoring for public consumption.... A Supreme Court decision in King's favor would eclipse even Bush v. Gore as a monument to naked partisanship." ...

... Scott Keyes of Think Progress: "In an interview with the Trussville Tribune earlier this week, freshman Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) declared that, on net, no additional people have gained insurance since the passage of Obamacare.... Discussing climate change during the interview, the Alabama GOPer also erroneously declared that temperatures hadn't increased in the last two decades and may even be decreasing." ...

     ... CW: Obviously, Palmer is an undeclared candidate for president of Right Wing World, where everything is upside-down, lying -- especially for political convenience -- is a virtue, & beliefs always trump facts, & stupid is a presidential qualifier. So if I could get the franchise in Right Wing World (I'm a girl, so no chance), Gary there would be my main man. This week anyway.

Matt Zapotowsky & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: Tyler Harber, "a former Republican political operative convicted in a first-ever federal criminal case of illegal coordination between a campaign and a purportedly independent ally, was sentenced Friday to two years in prison -- a lighter punishment than prosecutors sought but one that still served as a sharp warning."

American "Justice," Ctd. Alan Yuhas of the Guardian: "The last imprisoned member of the so-called Angola Three will remain in prison at least until Louisiana can argue that he should face a third trial, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. The judges of the fifth circuit court of appeals extended the stay that blocks the release of Albert Woodfox, 68, who has spent most of 43 years in solitary confinement despite having convictions for murder twice thrown out of court." ...

... Cristian Farias of New York: "... everything [Kalief] Browder endured -- from the moment he was wrongly accused for stealing a backpack to his slow death at Rikers Island -- was sanctioned by laws, customs, and policies duly enacted or tolerated by New York, its policymakers, and the citizens who pay for it all."

Brian Fung of the Washington Post: "As of Friday morning, the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules became the law of the land when a federal court rebuffed a plea by Internet providers to block the regulation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gail Collins: "We've moved from the right to bear arms to the right to flaunt arms."

NAACP Statement on Rachel Dolezal: "One's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal's advocacy record." ...

... Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, who is black, is very put off by Rachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP and a professor of African American studies at Eastern Washington University, who was outed as not actually being African American." Capehart equated Dolezal's adoption of black identity with blackface. ...

... CW: No doubt because I'm white, I think Capehart's objections are over-the-top, and I don't find Dolezal's ruse too troubling. The U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, allows everyone to self-identify her race. It appears Dolezal identified as black early in life (she has four black siblings) & treated her self-identification, among other things, as a career enhancer. Many black people publicly identify as white for similar reasons, & I find no fault whatsoever with that. That said, I wouldn't do it myself, & I did find it fairly sleazy when a whitey-white cousin of mine identified herself as Hispanic for the purpose of furthering her own career. ...

... Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon, who is white-like-me, disagrees with me: "... this isn't about being an ally, or making the family of your choosing, or even how one feels on the inside. It's about, apparently, flat out deception. It's about how one person chose to obtain a college education and jobs and credibility in her community. It about allegedly pretending to speak from a racial experience you simply don't have." ...

... Dolezal does invent a lot of stuff related to race. ...

... Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times addresses the controversy over Dolezal's race.

Presidential Race

NEW. Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "Anticipating a Republican presidential bid by Scott Walker, the two-term governor of Wisconsin, both The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Monthly recently published lengthy articles about him.... Both articles focus on Walker's successful battles with labor. As they should: If he runs for president, his record of union-busting will be at the very center of his campaign."

Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "When [Jeb] Bush's brother George first ran for president, he erroneously referred to Greeks as 'Grecians,' flubbed the name of India's president and confused Slovenia with Slovakia, offering the world an unabashed portrait of provinciality. But across Europe this week, Jeb Bush revealed himself to be a very different kind of Bush: well traveled, almost encyclopedically knowledgeable about foreign countries, and possessing the genuine inquisitiveness that his brother had so notably lacked."

Dana Milbank: Sen Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has introduced "legislation banning all abortions after five months.... The procedures Graham seeks to ban account for less than 1.5 percent of all abortions in the United States, and those are often the most difficult cases.... Opposing late-term abortions does next to nothing to reduce abortions, but it works well with Republican presidential primary voters.... Broadening the use of contraceptives would seriously reduce abortions, but it would be poisonous to the GOP primary electorate. The paradox -- antiabortion advocates' antipathy to the policy that would do the most to achieve their goal -- was highlighted in an Associated Press survey this week of state-by-state changes in abortions since 2010."

San Stein of Huffington Post (June 11): "Sen. Mark Kirk said in an interview that he regrets referring to Sen. Lindsey Graham as a 'bro with no ho' but declined to clarify or further explain his controversial remark. One of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2016, Kirk (R-Ill.) made the remark about Graham during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup session on Thursday. The Huffington Post, which first reported on the comment, posted audio of the hot mic incident.... 'I've been joking with Lindsey,' Kirk can be heard saying. 'Did you see that? He's going to have a rotating first lady. He's a bro with no ho.'" ...

... Daniella Diaz of CNN: "While [Kirk's] remarks were perhaps less than diplomatic, however, they were no big deal to one of Graham's presidential primary opponents. Speaking on CNN's 'Out Front' Thursday night, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dismissed it as a 'locker-room conversation' that people today aren't afforded the 'privilege' of having because of ubiquitous recording devices. 'You can't say anything off-mic, off-camera -- and you know, guys'll be guys when they're sitting there up on a platform,' he said. Santorum ... [called] the comments a 'sort of funny remark.'" CW: Yes, Rick, it's always "sort of funny" when a white guy demeans both women & African Americans in one short phrase. Even more rib-tickling when a U.S. senator does so during a public Senate hearing.

Beyond the Beltway

"How Kansas Keeps Making Life Harder for the Poor." Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post: "... a bill the state House passed Friday ... would raise the sales tax rate from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. Since the poor spend more of their money on basic goods and services, they are likely to be affected disproportionately by the sales tax increase.... Earlier this year, the Republican majority codified controversial restrictions on how welfare recipients can spend their money.... Those changes followed a decision several years ago to overhaul taxes in a way that, over several years, boosted the incomes of the middle class and wealthy but reduced the incomes of poor families, by raising sales taxes and by limiting a provision that exempted food purchases from sales taxes.... Kansas has one of the most regressive tax codes, according to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy." CW: Yeah but, intelligent poor people don't vote Republican. So who cares?

Real America. Michael Miller of the Washington Post: Country singer Randy Howard "died Tuesday evening in a scene worthy of a country music song, complete with an outstanding warrant, a standoff with a seasoned bounty hunter, and a shootout in a log cabin on a quiet country lane. According to authorities, Howard was fatally shot after opening fire on a bail bondsman who showed up to his Lynchburg, Tenn., cabin to arrest the country singer. The bondsman was also struck by a bullet but expected to live. The gunfight was a fitting end to a life full of raunchy lyrics and reckless living.... The shooting has raised questions about the rights of bail bondsmen, who are not licensed in Tennessee. Shell ... had a warrant to arrest Howard. But under Tennessee law, the country singer also had a right to defend himself if threatened in his home."

News Ledes

Dallas Morning News: "Police were continuing to negotiate with a man in an armored vehicle after he opened fire on Dallas police headquarters and led dozens of squad cars on a chase that ended in Hutchins. No injuries had been confirmed, though the gunman told police negotiators that he had been wounded. The man has identified himself as James Boulware, 50, who has a history of family violence and blames authorities for his losing custody of his son, Dallas police Chief David Brown said." ...

     ... Update: "The suspect in an attack on Dallas police headquarters is believed to be dead after a police sniper shot at him early Saturday. So far, though, authorities had not been able to approach the vehicle safely to confirm that he had been killed. They were working to make their way into the vehicle with the assistance of a robot, and they alerted the public that some planned detonations might be heard as they tried to gain entry." ...

     ... New Lede: "Police confirmed the suspect in an attack on Dallas police headquarters is dead after a police sniper shot at him early Saturday, but they are unable to confirm his identification pending a medical examination."

... The Guardian is liveblogging the standoff.

Friday
Jun122015

The Commentariat -- June 12, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power — and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean. In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote.” ...

... David Nakamura & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: “The House voted 302 to 126 to sink a measure to grant financial aid to displaced workers, fracturing hopes at the White House that Congress would grant Obama fast-track trade authority to complete an accord with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. 'I will be voting to slow down fast-track,' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the floor moments before the vote, after keeping her intentions private for months. 'Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers.'... Fast-track authority ... was later approved with overwhelming Republican support in what amounted to a symbolic vote because it could not move forward into law without the related worker assistance package.”

Brian Fung of the Washington Post: "As of Friday morning, the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules became the law of the land when a federal court rebuffed a plea by Internet providers to block the regulation."

*****

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama’s campaign for congressional approval to complete a sweeping Pacific Rim free trade accord comes to a head Friday, capping a months-long lobbying blitz and setting up one of the biggest tests of his presidency. The House has scheduled a vote on fast-track trade legislation..., which Obama has called central to his economic agenda at home and his foreign policy strategy in Asia. In a sign of how high the stakes are, House Democrats called an emergency caucus meeting for 9:30 a.m. Friday.... Obama will attend the meeting to make a last ditch attempt to save his trade agenda." ...

... William Finnegan of the New Yorker can't figure out President Obama's motives.

David Jones & Nicholas Bagley, in a Washington Post op-ed: "... the states are almost completely underprepared for the Supreme Court’s decision in King.... Republicans, who control at least one house in the legislature in all but three of the 34 states that use the federal exchange, told us that while they fear being blamed if people lose insurance, they also worry about the political repercussions of supporting any element of Obamacare, including the creation of a state exchange…. The states aren’t prepared for King, and any debates over whether to create state exchanges will be turbulent and difficult.

Washington Post Editors: "IF A federal appeals court ruling issued Tuesday stands, states will be able to all but deny access to abortion on a phony pretext of concern for women’s health. The impact on poor women will be particularly severe. The Supreme Court cannot allow this to be the last word on a constitutional guarantee.

The problem is not that I don't understand the global banking system. The problem for these guys is that I fully understand the system and I understand how they make their money. And that's what they don't like about me. -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Jamie Dimon's 'mansplaining' banking to her

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "The United States is considering establishing additional military bases in Iraq to combat the Islamic State, the top American general said on Thursday, a move that would require at least hundreds more American military advisers to help Iraqi forces retake cities lost to the militant Sunni extremist group. President Obama’s decision this week to send 450 trainers to establish a new military base to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, could signal the beginning of similar efforts in other parts of the country, said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Michael Isikoff the Yahoo News: "A watchdog group today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the National Rifle Association for failing to disclose $33.5 million in political expenditures on its tax returns over a six-year period. In a letter to the IRS and a separate one to the Federal Election Commission, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) cited a recent story in Yahoo News as evidence of what it believes are multiple violations of campaign finance and tax laws by the country’s premier gun-rights group." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Frank Rich: "Writing about the [Mark Foley] case in Vanity Fair in 2007, Gail Sheehy quoted a source who accused [then-Speaker Dennis] Hastert of having 'attempted a cover-up' of his dereliction of duty in the Foley case — a cover-up that involved coordination with John Boehner (then the majority leader), Roy Blunt (then majority whip, now a senator), and Thomas Reynolds (a New York congressman who also slinked away into retirement in the scandal’s aftermath). If the church and Penn State could finally clean house, surely the House of Representatives must do the same.' Also, too. Rich enters the rotating First Lady game: "... given that he’s proposed only one woman for this role, his sister, maybe he means 'rotating' like on a rotisserie." ...

... The only victim here is Denny Hastert. -- Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on the Hastert indictment

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Charles Pierce gives an excellent account of one reason I almost never link to any post by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post.

Annals of Fake Journalism. Emily Steel & Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times: "Rupert Murdoch, the 84-year-old chief executive of 21st Century Fox, is planning to hand over the reins of the media conglomerate to his son James, two people briefed on the plans said Thursday. The elder Mr. Murdoch will remain at the company as executive chairman, and his son Lachlan is moving from Australia to Los Angeles to become co-executive chairman, the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. The exact timing for the changes is unclear...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Annals of Fake Economics. Jonathan Chait: "For Niall Ferguson, the commission of error is ... a cherished way of life. Ferguson’s distinct contribution to the contemporary political debate is the fascinating juxtaposition of his prestige — author, Harvard professor, resident faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, omnipresent talking head, and all-around handsome authority figure — with an inability to get his facts straight.... Apparently aware that his habits require a broader defense than 'whoops,' his latest Spectator column assails his many fact-checkers for their literalness, and gestures toward a novel theory of truth." Thanks to Haley Simon for the link.

Presidential Race

Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "... the [Bernie] Sanders campaign has hired Blair Lawton, who served as field director in Iowa for the Run Warren Run effort, which announced it was shutting down last week." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ken Thomas of the AP: "Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday to say exactly where she stands on President Barack Obama's trade agenda now that Congress is considering it." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a major outdoor rally planned for Saturday, will directly address concerns that have emerged in the early weeks of her candidacy, telling voters they can trust her to fight for the middle class and stressing that she cares about their problems, several people briefed on her plans say. The speech, at an event shaping up to be the most ambitious public gathering undertaken by the campaign..., will be shaped by symbolism as she seeks to make the case for why she should be president. It will be held in New York City on an island named for Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the shadow of diverse middle-class neighborhoods, as Mrs. Clinton tries to evoke the legacy of the New Deal...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Josh Marshall of TPM Explains College Stuff to a Prominent Dropout: "As he readies to run for president and grabs whatever low hanging fruit on the conservative agenda tree he can find, Scott Walker is now planning to strip tenure from professors in the University of Wisconsin higher education system.... The crown jewel of the Wisconsin university system is the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It is one of the top research universities in the country and the world. With this move, you will basically kiss that jewel goodbye. To me this is the more salient reality than whether you think academic tenure is a good thing or not in itself. If this happens, over time, the professors who can will leave. And as the top flight scholars and researchers depart, so will the reputation of the institution. So will graduate students who want to study with them, the best undergrads, money that flows to prestigious scholarship."

Charles Pierce: Ben Carson brings East Germany to Iowa. And the crowd loves it.

Bonita sends along this video of Rick Perry's Greatest Hits:

... CW: I'd add this one:

Charles Pierce: "... the Republican primary process already is spinning out of control. A television network and a local newspaper are calling the shots. And where, you might ask, is the stern, guiding hand of obvious anagram Reince Priebus, the emptiest suit in American politics? He's ducking behind a spokesman is where he is.... So I have a modest proposal before everything gets completely out of hand and we find Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson pitching blenders against each other on QVC. Why is it necessary at this point to have a formal Republican party structure at all?... This is now the second consecutive election cycle in which the Republican primary field is essentially made up of independent bodies orbiting their own private suns."

Jaime Fuller of New York: "Mitt Romney is hosting his third annual retreat in Utah, and 2016 candidates are rushing to the Deer Valley Ski Resort today like it's a Pizza Ranch in Iowa. Romney, who is not running, appears to have used his free time to plan an election-themed version of the Romney Olympics, a family sporting tournament involving events like 'Who Can Hammer the Most Nails into a Board in Two Minutes?' in the state where he planned an actual Olympics." ...

... Yo, Mitt, here's a fun sport for your Political Olympics shebang: "Arm-Wrestling for the Top Job." Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says supporters have suggested to him that he should team up with Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) on a GOP presidential ticket.... Asked by Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin if he would be open to announcing in December that the two of them would run as a ticket, and settle who would be the nominee for president and vice president later, Walker replied that some supporters had pitched that idea.... He added that he and Rubio have joked that people mention the two possibly pairing up and said they would likely 'have to arm wrestle over who would be top of the ticket.'" CW: I'd pick Halperin as the ref.

Beyond the Beltway

Richard Oppel of the New York Times: "A month and a half after six officers were charged in [Freddie] Gray’s death, policing has dwindled in some of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods, and murders have risen to levels not seen in four decades.... At the time of her announcement, [state's attorney Marilyn] Mosby’s charges were seen as calming the city. But they enraged the police rank and file, who pulled back. The number of arrests plunged, and the murder rate doubled.... The speed and severity of the police pullback here appear unlike anything that has happened in other major cities."

Richard Perez-Pena & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "A judge in Cleveland ruled Thursday that probable cause existed to charge two Cleveland police officers in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, but the judge also said he did not have the power to order arrests without a complaint being filed by a prosecutor. In his ruling, Judge Ronald B. Adrine, presiding judge of the Municipal Court, found probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and dereliction of duty. He also found probable cause to charge Officer Loehmann’s partner, Officer Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty."

Respect for Life. Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "... in a country where the vast majority of police officers patrol with batons and pepper spray, the elite cadre of British cops who are entrusted with guns almost never use them. Police in Britain have fatally shot two people in the past three years.... That’s less than the average number of people shot and killed by police every day in the United States over the first five months of 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis.... Of course, British and U.S. police are patrolling different societies. The United States has some of the world’s loosest gun laws and some of the highest rates of gun ownership. Britain is the opposite, with handguns and assault rifles effectively banned."

Craig Jarvin & Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News & Observer: "In a matter of minutes, the state House on Thursday morning overrode the governor’s veto of the same-sex marriage bill that allows magistrates to decline to perform marriages. The Senate overrode the veto earlier this month, and now it is law. As a result, magistrates and employees of registers of deeds can opt out of performing marriage duties if they cite a religious objection. County offices in North Carolina must have established hours for performing weddings, as well." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review: "Controversy is swirling around one of the Inland Northwest’s most prominent civil rights activists, with family members of Rachel Dolezal saying the local leader of the NAACP has been falsely portraying herself as black for years. Dolezal, 37, avoided answering questions directly about her race and ethnicity Thursday, saying, 'I feel like I owe my executive committee a conversation' before engaging in a broader discussion with the community about what she described as a 'multi-layered' issue."

Way Beyond

Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian: "Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, has been cleared by a French court of 'aggravated pimping' charges. The one-time French presidential hopeful, who has described seeking 'recreation' from the stress of world politics by having rough sex with strangers at orgies in Europe> and the US, was found not to have promoted or profited from the prostitution of seven women."

Paul Krugman: "... the ultimate example of a seriously bad idea is the determination, in the teeth of all the evidence, to declare government spending that helps the less fortunate a crucial cause of our economic problems. In the United States, I’m happy to say, this idea seems to be on the ropes, at least for now. Here in Britain, however, it still reigns supreme. In particular, one important factor in the recent Conservative election triumph was the way Britain’s news media told voters, again and again, that excessive government spending under Labour caused the financial crisis. It takes almost no homework to show that this claim is absurd on multiple levels."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A prison worker who befriended two killers before they escaped from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York was arrested on Friday for providing them with 'material assistance,' the authorities said. The worker, Joyce Mitchell, 51, of Dickinson Center, N.Y., was charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor."

Los Angeles Times: Jack Warner, "the former FIFA vice president, who was among 14 people indicted as part of the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into bribery and corruption within the world soccer organization, said Wednesday he planned to fight his extradition to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago at a hearing July 9."