The Ledes

Sunday, January 25, 2015.

Weather Channel: "New York City is under a blizzard warning and Boston is under a blizzard watch in anticipation of Winter Storm Juno, which will be a major snowstorm for the Northeast Monday through Tuesday night, lingering into Wednesday morning. Parts of the region will see blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow."

Washington Post: "After five years of extreme austerity prescribed to treat an epidemic of debt, a battered but defiant Greece on Sunday emphatically rejected the medicine. With millions of voters turning out ... the country delivered a historic win to Syriza, a radical leftist party that could put Greece on a collision course with the rest of Europe. The expected showdown has already rattled Greek financial markets and may challenge the core principle behind Europe’s currency union."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class":

The Ledes

Saturday, January 24, 2015.

Guardian: "The Pentagon and the White House are pushing back on reports that the Obama administration is pausing drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations in Yemen, amidst the abrupt collapse of a critical partner government. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said both 'unilateral and partnered' operations conducted by the US in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 'are not suspended'."

New York Times: "The Japanese government expressed outrage at an image released Saturday that appeared to show the decapitated body of one of two Japanese hostages captured by Islamic State militants, and President Obama condemned what he called a 'brutal murder.' The kidnappers had threatened to kill the men if a Friday deadline passed for a $200 million ransom from Japan. Hours before Mr. Obama’s statement, the United States and Japanese governments said that they were working to authenticate the video containing the image."

NBC News: "President Barack Obama and the First Lady will travel to Saudi Arabia to pay respects following the death of King Abdullah, the White House said early Saturday. Obama will cut short an official trip to India and will fly to Riyadh on Tuesday to meet the new King Salman, spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. Vice President Joe Biden, who had been due to fly to Saudi Arabia, 'will remain in Washington' the statement said."

Goodbye, Mr. Cub. New York Times: "Ernie Banks, the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century and an unconquerable optimist whose sunny disposition never dimmed in 19 seasons with the perennially stumbling Chicago Cubs, died Friday. He was 83." Banks' Chicago Sun-Times obituary is here.

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 25

5:40 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi deliver statements in New Delhi, India

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

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

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times on the novels of Robert Stone. Stone died January 10.

Gawker: Apparently Malia Obama -- or someone who looks exactly like her -- has (or borrowed) a T-shirt featuring a hip-hop collective called Pro Era. A teenager into contemporary music!: this is for some reason big Internets news. CW: Old codger that I am, I thought the shirt signified Pro-ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). Now, that would be exceptionally cool.

Washington Post: "In a move that could draw a mass exodus from cable, Dish Network’s Sling TV said it will soon launch a stand-alone streaming service that includes ESPN and other network channels without being tied to a paid TV service."

Anne Karpf, in a New York Times op-ed on "the liberation of growing old": "Age resistance is a futile kind of life resistance: We can’t live outside time, we begin to age the moment we’re born. But the emerging age-acceptance movement neither decries nor denies the aging process. It recognizes that one can remain vital and present, engaged and curious, indeed continue to grow, until one’s dying breath. Then we need only echo the wish of the British psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott: 'May I be alive when I die.'”

Novelist Teddy Wayne, in a New York Times op-ed, laments the days when "we used to receive media cyclically.... Now, with just about every airing of a much greater number of shows obtainable at any moment, there is no excuse for missing one — and, therefore, a more urgent compulsion to catch up, in case you missed it." Thanks to MAG for the link. ...

... CW: This seems a rather silly complaint coming from a person whose chosen art form is available to anyone any time, thru the ages. On-demand media make film, broadcast television & other visual (& audio) events as available as are nonfiction books & novels. It is true that releasing viewers from the strictures of OTO broadcasts & limited-run films may take away some of the sharing of those events with family & friends, but that has been -- until quite recently -- a rather forced sharing, dictated by media suits. And there is nothing stopping people today from having media parties to share their favorite teevee shows or movies.

Bill Moyers announces his retirement. And he means it this time. ...

... Reality Chex contributor Kate Madison on Bill Moyers. (Third comment in the thread.) ...

... Peter Dreier in Common Dreams: "... the end of Moyers' regular presence on television will leave a huge hole in America's broadcast landscape.... No other program has journalistic breadth and depth, as well as the progressive viewpoint, that Moyers' show has provided views for over four decades. Will PBS -- which has been under increasing pressure from Congress and funders to move to the right -- even try to fill that gap?" ...

... ** Paul Farhi of the Washington Post on Moyers' career at PBS: "His work has won more than three dozen Emmys — he doesn’t know the precise number — and nine Peabody awards.... His unalloyed liberalism (“I find it very hard to have intelligent conversations with people on the right wing,” he once said) has made him, to conservatives, a living totem of the news media’s alleged leftward bias, and especially public broadcasting’s." ...

... Here's the final broadcast. If you don't watch it, you may want to read the transcript, especially Moyers' "last words":

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Monday
Jan122015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 13, 2015

Connie Cass of the AP: "A Texas congressman drew criticism Tuesday for a tweet that used the world's response to terrorist attacks in Paris as an opportunity to compare President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. Rep. Randy Weber's official account, @TXRandy14, tweeted on Tuesday night: 'Even Adolph Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris. (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn't do it for right reasons'." CW: Relax, people. He wasn't tweeting about Adolf Hitler. He was tweeting about Adolph Hitler. People like Weber are so ignorant & twisted with hate, I can't really get angry at them. The people who vote for these ignoramuses? They have no excuse.

NEW. FreakOut Nation headline: "White People Riot In Columbus After Football Game, Media Calls It A 'Celebration.'" Read the post. The author is right.

James Downie of the Washington Post: The Republicans first week of total control of Congress was mighty "scary."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday will unveil new proposals to protect businesses and the government from cyberattacks, including increasing the prosecution of crimes conducted through computer networks and toughening penalties for them. Under the steps to be outlined by Mr. Obama, companies that share information about cyberthreats with the government would be shielded from liability, according to a description of the proposals provided by the White House." ...

... This Is Embarrassing. Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "President Obama unveiled legislation to help protect consumers and students against cyberattacks Monday afternoon, as the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the U.S. Military's Central Command were apparently hacked." Here's the President's address to the FTC:

... Kim Zetter of Wired: "Twitter and YouTube accounts belonging to the military's US Central Command were hacked on Monday. Hackers supportive of the terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, took credit and issued a warning to the US military. 'AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS,' the hackers tweeted through the account for the US Central Command, which is the military command for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia."

Julie Davis of the New York Times: "The White House, facing a barrage of criticism for President Obama's decision not to attend Sunday's peace march in Paris, said on Monday that an American official with a higher profile should have been on hand for the show of solidarity.... Asked his response to critics who say a person with more prominence than the United States ambassador to France should have attended, [White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest] said: 'We agree.'... Mr. Earnest ... cited scheduling and security concerns as playing a part." ...

... Dana Milbank: "The conservatives are guilty of a bit of inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, in criticizing the Obama administration for snubbing a people they not long ago called cheese-eating surrender monkeys." ...

... ** In Paris, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu makes a complete ass of himself. Robert Tait of the Telegraph: "The most serious criticism has been levelled at his call for members of France's Jewish community -- the largest in Europe -- to move to Israel for safety reasons following last Friday's attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which four Jews were killed." Read the whole story. Bibi is the Chris Christie of Israel.

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times profiles U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, whom President Obama has nominated to replace Attorney General Eric Holder.

Jonathan Chait of New York: "... history will be very generous with Barack Obama, who has compiled a broad record of accomplishment through three-quarters of his presidency.... Whatever the source of the current disappointment with Obama, the explanation cannot be that he failed to achieve his stated goals."

History Won't Be Very Generous with This Guy. Allison Jackson of the Global Post: "Casual racism, or just a very poorly thought-out remark? Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said a 'trained ape' would have managed the US relationship with Afghanistan better than the Obama administration.... Rumsfeld also said the US-Afghan relationship had been 'first-rate' during the Bush administration, but had gone 'downhill like a toboggan' since Obama took office." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Almost 5000 Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. ISIS was born. And now Donald Rumsfeld, who couldn't manage a toy boat in a washtub, gets to say something cute about the president. Also, it's not About Race because it never is About Race."

Matt Apuzzo: "James Risen, a New York Times reporter, will not be called to testify at a leak trial scheduled to begin this week, lawyers said Monday, ending a seven-year legal fight over whether he could be forced to identify his confidential sources." CW: I thought we learned this last week.

What If the Supreme Court Does Mitch McConnell's Bidding? Linda Blumberg, et al., of the Urban Institute: "The Supreme Court will hear the King v. Burwell case, in which the plaintiff argues that the ACA prohibits payment of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to people in states without state-managed Marketplaces. We estimate that a victory for the plaintiff would increase the number of uninsured by 8.2 million people and eliminate $28.8 billion in tax credits and cost-sharing reductions in 2016 ($340 billion over 10 years) for 9.3 million people. With lower cost individuals leaving the market, average nongroup premiums in 34 states would increase by 35 percent, affecting those purchasing inside and outside those Marketplaces." Via Steve Stromberg of the Washington Post. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... politically, Republicans would have to weigh the severe damage suffered by millions of people -- many of them GOP voters -- who are suddenly facing big premium increases against the excitement of conservative activists (especially the large number who are themselves all warm and cuddly with their Medicare benefits) who will cheer any blow to the Great White Whale of the Affordable Care Act." ...

... CW: But first. There's one important person who has to "weigh the severe damage suffered by millions of people." That guy is John Roberts. The will-he or won't-he is the question for the next six months. This is not a question of law. It is a question of character. Roberts' Choice will be, in some ways, the paradigmatic manifestation of the condition of the elite conservative heart. We'll find out in June if it's dead or still beating, however faintly.

David Goodman & Al Baker of the New York Times: "After largely ignoring many minor offenses for two weeks, the [New York] Police Department's rank and file began to reverse a severe slowdown that began after two officers were killed and that raised questions about command of the department. New numbers released on Monday showed a marked increase in enforcement activity by police officers and traffic agents since the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, told police commanders and union leaders last week that he expected an end to the unsanctioned collective action by officers."

Russell Contreras of the AP: "Two Albuquerque police officers were charged with murder Monday in the shooting death of a knife-wielding homeless man that led to violent protests and brought new scrutiny to the police department amid a federal investigation."

John Schwartz of the New York Times: The West Virginia Board of Education will consider whether or not to change their climate science standard back to one that doesn't favor the fossil fuel industry.

CW: Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. If you were missing David Brooks because I always forget about him, Driftglass brought us up-to-date on Brooks' appearance on "Press the Meat" & elsewhere. Also, if you forgot what NPR stands for, Driftglass has an update there, too: "Nice, Polite Republicans." Exactly right. I think the network should make it official.

Presidential Election

Robert Costa, et al., of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign. Romney's message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he 'almost certainly will' make what would be his third bid for the White House." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Well, it will be interesting to see how Mitt handles the alleged appetite of Republicans for 'populism' going into 2016; of all his personas, I think he's ever worn that one." ...

... In keeping with the Romney news, Alex Moe of NBC News: "Paul Ryan won't run for president in 2016." Sez he can do more damage as chair of the House Ways & Means Committee (or something like that).

Santorum, that’s Latin for asshole. -- Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), ca. 1995

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times (Jan. 11): "Rick Santorum sharply criticized a group of potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in an interview that indicated he intends to reclaim conservative primary voters ahead of another White House bid in 2016. Mr. Santorum, the runner-up to the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in 2012, took direct aim Friday at Mike Huckabee, Senator Rand Paul and Senator Ted Cruz, each of whom could offer the party's right wing a fresh alternative to Mr. Santorum in conservative states with early primaries or caucuses." ...

... Charles Pierce: "I don't entirely disagree with Jonathan Martin here in his assessment that there are at the moment two distinct pre-primaries going on among the Republicans. There's the fat-wallet primary between Jeb (!) and possibly Mitt Romney, and maybe Chris Christie. And then there's the one in which Santorum is embroiled. This is a solid analysis as far as it goes, as long as we accept as an obvious given that the latter primary is being conducted exclusively on the terrain of the completely insane."

News Corpse. Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics: "Sixteen months ago, to some fanfare, Dick Morris re-entered the anti-Clinton fray with a new PAC. He launched Dick Morris's Just Say No to Hillary PAC, registering it from Tampa. From time to time, stories about the potential hurdles for a Hillary Clinton run would cite the rise of PACs like Morris's. But there is a rather glaring problem with adding Morris to this narrative: No one has been giving money to his PAC. Literally, no one.... His profile has never quite recovered from two events in 2012. First: He went further on a limb than any comparable commentator in saying Mitt Romney would win the presidency. He would take it in a 'landslide,' said Morris on Fox News.... Morris played in the 2010 midterms via his Super PAC, which ended up paying most of what it took in -- close to $1.7 million -- to Newsmax Media." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... it seems Morris has burned up all his credibility, even with people who live for his sort of jive. It is indeed an inspiring story for anyone wondering if the wicked always triumph."

Congressional/Gubernatorial Races

Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: California "Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris will announce Tuesday that she is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, according to a Harris adviser." ...

... Alex Isenstadt of Politico: California Lt. Gov. Gavin "Newsom, who had left a message with [Kamala] Harris outlining his intentions [to run for governor of California], went ahead anyway and announced on Facebook that he wouldn't be running for Senate in 2016. Newsom's withdrawal capped a furious 72 hours of discussions among the would-be candidates and their advisers over whether to jump at the state's first open Senate seat in two decades, or hold out for a shot at leading a state that is the world's eighth-largest economy. In announcing his plans, Newsom, 47, got out ahead of Harris, 50, who has told friends that she is also interested in the job of governor. Instead, on Tuesday, she will launch a campaign for Boxer's seat, knowing that if she hesitated, it would appear that she was reluctant to choose the Senate over the governorship." ...

... Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times: "Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who announced Monday that he would not run for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat next year, signaled that he would probably support state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris if she does seek the post. Newsom called Harris on Sunday night to tell her of his decision, but he denied that the two have an agreement in which he would support her for Senate and she would support him for governor -- an office in which Newsom has previously expressed interest."

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "Attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are asking a judge to suspend jury selection in his trial for at least a month because of the terror attacks in France. The filing late Tuesday says a delay would allow time for 'the extraordinary prejudice' from the attacks last week and the comparisons to the 2013 marathon bombing to diminish."

Washington Post: "A woman riding on a Metro train died Monday and 83 other passengers were taken to hospitals, at least two in critical condition, after the train abruptly stopped, went dark and filled with smoke in a tunnel in downtown Washington, authorities said." CW: Sorry about placing this story on the wrong continent yesterday.

Guardian: "The three police officers killed in last week's attacks were honoured by French president François Hollande at a sombre and emotional ceremony at the Prefecture de Police in Paris on Tuesday."

Guardian: "The front cover of Wednesday's edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the first since last week's attack on its Paris offices that left 12 people dead, is a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.... Zineb El Rhazoui, a surviving columnist at Charlie Hebdo magazine who worked on the new issue, said the cover was a call to forgive the terrorists who murdered her colleagues last week...."

Sunday
Jan112015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 12, 2015

Rip Van Dems Awake! Lori Montgomery & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party's tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an 'action plan' that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class. The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a 'paycheck bonus credit' that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year. The windfall -- about $1.2 trillion over a decade -- would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street 'high rollers' through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks. The plan also would use the tax code to prod employers to boost wages...."

Roberto Ferdman of the Washington Post: "There is little empathy at the top. Most of America's richest think poor people have it easy in this country, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center. The center surveyed a nationally representative group of people this past fall, and found that the majority of the country's most financially secure citizens (54 percent at the very top, and 57 percent just below) believe the 'poor have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.'"

Paul Krugman: "... what should be done about Keystone XL? If you believe that it would be environmentally damaging -- which I do -- then you should be against it, and you should ignore the claims about job creation. The numbers being thrown around are tiny compared with the country's overall work force. And in any case, the jobs argument for the pipeline is basically a sick joke coming from people who have done all they can to destroy American jobs -- and are now employing the very arguments they used to ridicule government job programs to justify a big giveaway to their friends in the fossil fuel industry."

Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times: "Uncle Sam could take a bigger bite at tax time for consumers who received too much government help last year with their Obamacare premiums. That may be just one of several surprises for millions of Americans in advance of the first tax deadline involving the Affordable Care Act. The majority of Americans who get their health insurance at work should see few changes when filing their taxes. Most will just need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had coverage in 2014. It stands to be more complicated for those individuals who purchased a private health plan in government-run exchanges or went without insurance at some point last year." ...

... CW: GOP Outrage Machine to run ads featuring single mom who got big promotion; formerly unemployed Midwest husband who got job, thus doubling family income. And maybe one with your typical starving Harvard professor. ...

... digby sees a real problem: "I think it's going to be a big story because people simply weren't adequately warned about it.... It could add up to some real money for middle class folks who made more than they expected. And it will feel as if they're being punished for doing better. It's unusual to have your bills increase just because you get a raise. ...

... CW: Yes, it is going to be a big story because Republicans are going to make it a big story. But it is not "unusual to have your bills increase just because you get a raise; the "bill" here is called a "tax," and your tax bill is supposed to go up just because you got a raise.

... Right now the Outrage Machine is otherwise occupied, gathering wrath because neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden attended the Paris march. CW: Gee, I wonder if their absence had anything to do with the high security threat posed by an open-air anti-terrorism march in streets surrounded by quirky six-storey buildings. Maybe the complainers would have been happy if Obama had deputized Bush & Cheney to represent the U.S. ...

... David McCabe of the Hill: "Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to France on Thursday and Friday, amid criticism that the Obama administration did not send a high-level representative to a Sunday solidarity march in Paris responding to two terrorist attacks." Kerry is in India ... Pakistan. ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the White House has scheduled an anti-extremism conference that was originally set for last October but was postponed without explanation. In a statement issued as many world leaders gathered in the French capital Sunday to express solidarity with France and to vow renewed efforts to fight violent Islamic radicalism, the White House announced that its summit on the issue of homegrown terrorism will take place next month." ...

... Elise Viebeck of the Hill: "Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday that the possibility of a Paris-style terrorist attack in the United States is very real and keeps him 'up at night.'... Holder spoke with four of the five Sunday political talk shows from Paris, where world leaders marched to honor the memory of 17 people in violence by terrorists there this week."

Annals of "Journalism," Nonpareil. Raf Sanchez of the Telegraph: Steve Emerson, "an American 'terrorism expert' on the right-wing Fox News channel, has declared that Birmingham is 'a totally Muslim' city 'where non-Muslims just simply don't go'.... 'In Britain, it's not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in,' he said.... 'Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire,' he proclaimed, without giving examples. He described Birmingham as one of a number of European cities 'where sharia courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don't go in, and where it's basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.' Mr Emerson is a regular contributor to Fox News...." Thanks to safari for the lead. ...

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, preparing to enter the Caliphate of Birmingham in 2012. It was the first visit to the city by a British royal since the mid-20th century. Birmingham was then part of Great Britain. See also, Beatles.

AP: "Attorney General Eric Holder isn't saying whether he still will be on the job when the time comes to decide whether to bring charges in the investigation of former CIA Director David Petraeus. Holder, in several television news interviews on Sunday, steered clear of commenting directly on the investigation. But he told CBS' 'Face the Nation' that he expects that 'a matter of this magnitude' would be decided 'at the highest level' of the department." ...

... Poor, Pitiful Petraeus. Eric Bradner of CNN: "A top Senate Democrat defended David Petraeus on Sunday, saying the Justice Department erred in recommending charges against the former top Army general and Central Intelligence Agency director. 'This man has suffered enough in my view,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman, told Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst on CNN's 'State of the Union.'" ...

     ... Heather of Crooks & Liars: "Someone please let me know if this woman has ever shown this much deference for ordinary citizens, or for journalists, or for Edward Snowden or anyone else who was not in her good graces that has leaked classified information?" ...

     ... Good question, Heather. ...

I don't look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it's an act of treason.... He violated the oath, he violated the law. It's treason. -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, on Edward Snowden, June 2013

... CW: The argument Petraeus's apologists have been raising is that, unlike Ed Snowden & other leakers, Petraeus did not leak secret documents for the purpose of publication. Really? He sent them to a woman who was writing a book, for Pete's sake. Most leakers are motivated by what they consider to be some high-minded moral purpose. Petraeus's high-minded moral purpose was to ensure Paula Broadwell portrayed him as a super-hero in her book, and/or to further his personal relationship with Broadwell. As for Feinstein's "suffered enough" rationale, poor Petraeus is struggling along as a public speaker & visiting professor to supplement his meager federal pension (about $230,000/year for his military service). Meanwhile, Snowden is exiled in Siberia Moscow, & some whistleblowers are wearing orange jumpsuits: Chelsea Manning, who was just a dumb kid, is behind bars for 35 years & was subjected to procedures defined as torture.

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: Barry Eichengreen's "new book, 'Hall of Mirrors' (Oxford University Press), accuses the global leaders of the 21st century of failing to heed the warning signs that a crisis might occur and then becoming too self-satisfied with the initial success they had at containing the worst effects of the banking crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. The reason the global economy is still in rough shape seven years later, in this telling, is that leaders in the United States and Europe drew the conclusions they wanted to hear from the Depression."

Shawn Cohen of the New York Post: "At precincts across [New York City], top brass are cracking the whip on summons activity and even barring many cops from taking vacation and sick days, The Post has learned." CW: Remember, this report comes from the Post, so it ain't necessarily so.

News Ledes

Washington Post: One person is dead, two are in critical condition, with 81 others taken to hospitals after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Paris in Washington.

     ... CW: Yipes! Sorry about that. The "article" was very sketchy -- bullet sentences, really -- at the time I read it; the station had a French name; I thought it was "le Métro," not "the Metro."

New York Times: "The Manhattan clinic where Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest while being treated for a voice problem has failed to correct deficiencies implicated in her death and will be barred from having its services paid for by Medicare and Medicaid funds, according to a letter released Monday from the federal agency that oversees those two programs."

Guardian: "France is deploying 10,000 troops around the country to bolster security and sending almost 5,000 police to protect Jewish sites as it steps up the search for a likely accomplice to the attackers who killed 17 people last week."

Reuters: "Cuba has released all of the 53 prisoners it had promised to free as part of a deal with the US, senior American officials have said. The release of the remaining prisoners sets a positive tone for talks next week aimed at normalising relations after decades of hostility."

New York Times: "Indonesian Navy divers on Monday retrieved one of the so-called black boxes from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month and were trying to recover the other one amid strong underwater currents and limited visibility, officials said."

Saturday
Jan102015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 11, 2015

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Thomas Frank is here to annoy us one last time. ...

... CW: What's the Matter with Thomas Frank? For one thing, he relies on the "great man" theory -- that American politics is all about Obama, as if Max Baucus (now exiled to Siberia China) & Ted Cruz didn't exist. For another: Frank makes up stuff: "... enforcing party discipline is a job for the punditry...," as if columnists never criticized President Obama or his factotums Tim Geithner & Larry Summers. For a third, he dismisses certain inconvenient factors as immaterial or rationalizations even as he acknowledges them: "the reactionary white working class," "the incorrigible South": this is a good rhetorical trick, but it's a trick. Fourth, he generalizes what's wrong with the punditry by, ferinstance, citing as an example Lanny Davis. Lanny Davis? Puh-leze. All of this hoo-hah undermines any valid points that Frank may make: about Obama's & the Democrats' coziness with Wall Street, about their failure to propose solutions to inequality, etc.

Darlene Superville of the AP: "Continuing the break with State of the Union tradition, President Barack Obama will spend most of the coming week previewing more of the proposals he will outline in the address, including on identity theft, electronic privacy and cybersecurity, the White House announced Saturday."

Scott Lemieux has an excellent post on the history of "Republican health-care plans." Lemieux argues, case by case, that there is no such thing. CW: I think he's right, and I had not figured this out before.

Orange Squish. Charles Babington of the AP: "Die-hard House conservatives bungled a coup against House Speaker John Boehner but now look like winners, pushing Republicans farther right. Rather than punish and isolate those who opposed him as leader, Boehner surprised many on Friday by embracing an immigration plan that's tougher than lawmakers had expected." ...

Sherwin-Williams color swatch "Husky Orange."... New York Times: Speaker John Boehner returned to Washington last week "showcasing a very deep winter-recess tan burnished at his new condominium in Marco Island, Fla." The Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer "found us the closest matches: 'Spicy Hue' and 'Husky Orange,' the latter of which fits nicely with Mr. Boehner's recent description of himself: 'I am not a squish.'"

In other Florida news, Gal Lotan of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel: "George Zimmerman faces charges of aggravated assault with a weapon after allegedly throwing a bottle of wine at his girlfriend earlier this week, according to his lawyer. Zimmerman, 31, was arrested Friday night in Lake Mary where he is currently living, but his attorney Don West said the fight involving his girlfriend happened four or five days ago.... Zimmerman stood before Judge John Galluzzo Saturday morning when a $5,000 bond was set. Zimmerman, who is currently unemployed, bonded out of jail at 12:25 p.m.... Galluzzo told Zimmerman that he had until Tuesday to surrender any firearms in his possession to a family member or a third party. The judge also ordered Zimmerman to stay out of Volusia County and to have no contact with the victim." Thanks to James S. for the lead. ...

... Hudson Hongo of Gawker reminds us of Zimmerman's recent brushes with the law. ...

... CW: It's worth remembering that Zimmerman, who has had numerous brushes for the law for violent offenses, long wanted to be a policeman. In 2009, he applied to be a police officer in Prince Williams County, Virginia. The county rejected him because of his bad credit history. Later, he attended a Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff's course on citizen's law enforcement. Pedro Oliveira of the New York Post: "George Zimmerman has placed at least 46 calls to 911 in the last eight years. In the last year, his calls focused on blacks in his gated community." Zimmerman never attained his career goal, but I suspect he is a "type" of police academy applicant. Some police forces probably recognize this type & cull them because of their attitudes. But many people with views similar to Zimmerman's probably have become police officers in forces throughout the country.

Brooks Hays of UPI: "On New Year's Eve, officers with the New York City Police Department failed to issue a single citation in Times Square -- one million partygoers, zero tickets.... Zero isn't just the total of minor offenses ticketed on New Years Eve, it's the total for the entirety of the holiday week, from December 28 through January 3." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "WELCOME visitors to New York City! This has been the best time ever to urinate on a street, sneak onto the subway or run a red light, for the police force has been on a virtual strike."

General BetrayUs. David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "It wasn't quite so long ago that Congress saw the need to censure MoveOn.org's childish 'Betray Us' ad in order to 'strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus.' It turns out that the honor and integrity quotient wasn't that high after all, not just in his personal life but also as matter of national security.... [Its' a mistake] to put a human being on a pedestal and insist that anyone is above attacks on their honor and integrity. General Petraeus clearly wasn't, and it's more than a little ironic that he's now in danger of felony charges for actually betraying national security secrets." ...

... It's Obama's Fault. Michael Walsh of the right-wing PJ Tattler: "There has got to be a lot more to this story of David Petraeus.... How likely is it that the man who at one point posed a possibly potent challenge to President Obama's re-election changes had he chosen to return from the Middle East and run for the GOP nomination, and then was stashed in Langley by that same Obama administration in order to get him out of the way, and then was suddenly felled by a sex scandal, could be in such trouble? Somebody in the White House plays very. very rough."

David Sirota in Salon provides an excellent examples of how Republicans redistribute wealth from the middle class to the rich -- starring Govs. Sam Brownback & Chris Christie. "The tepid response to this kind of wealth transfer suggests that for all the angry rhetoric about redistribution you might hear on talk radio, cable TV and in the halls of Congress, the political and media class is perfectly fine with redistribution -- as long as the cash flows from the 99 percent to the 1 percent, and not the other way around."

God News

Fredrick Nzwili of Religion News Service: "International rights groups, churches and activists are escalating campaigns against female genital mutilation now that a new practice has emerged in which girls are checking into hospitals to have the procedure. In what being referred to as the medicalization of FGM, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are secretly performing the procedures at the request of families." ...

... David Gibson of Religion News Service: "Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis' push for reform, is ... arguing that the Catholic Church has become too 'feminized.' Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican's highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood. 'Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural,' Burke said in an interview published on Monday (Jan. 5). 'I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.'" CW: It's unnatural for young men to do things with girls. That's what I thought.

Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service: "Archbishop Oscar Romero, the hero of the Catholic left who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in El Salvador, is inching one step closer to sainthood after his case languished in bureaucratic limbo for decades.... Romero's cause was started nearly two decades ago when St. John Paul II gave him the title of Servant of God in 1997. But his case never advanced amid lingering Vatican suspicion of Liberation Theology, an economically progressive approach to Catholicism that flourished under Romero and was suppressed by both John Paul and Benedict XVI." ...

... ** Charles Pierce on Saint Oscar Romero.

Daniel Strauss of TPM: "The Grand Synagogue of Paris did not host Shabbat services and closed Friday for security reasons, the first time that's happened since World War II. The Synagogue, the largest place of worship for those of the Jewish faith in Paris, was closed Friday amid the ongoing efforts by French authorities to hunt down the suspects involved in terrorist attacks around the city. The attacks started with shootings of staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo." Via Steve Benen.

David Gibson: "As Florida became the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage this week, Miami [Roman Catholic] Archbishop Thomas Wenski sent a memo to all church employees reiterating that any expressions of support for gay marriage -- even if it's only a tweet or Facebook post -- could cost them their jobs." ...

... BUT. David Gibson: "A Belgian bishop [Johan Bonny of Antwerp] who has been touted as a future leader of that country's Catholic hierarchy is making waves by urging the church to find ways to recognize gay relationships in which 'exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other.'"

Michelle Boorstein & Annys Shin of the Washington Post: "A top Episcopal bishop turned herself in to Baltimore police Friday after being charged in the death of a bicyclist with manslaughter, leaving the scene, driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving. Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, was driving her 2001 Subaru on Roland Avenue in Baltimore on the afternoon of Dec. 27 when she veered into the bike lane where Thomas Palermo, a father of two, was riding, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement Friday." Read the whole article. This was not Cook's first DUI.

Special Congressional Election

Rachel Shapiro of Staten Island Live: "District Attorney Daniel Donovan has been selected as the Republican Party candidate on Staten Island for the empty congressional seat. Party Chairman John Antoniello selected Donovan after interviewing him, as well as Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, on Saturday morning with executive committee members. Party bylaws allow the chairman to be the sole determiner of the party candidate in this case." It's not quite a done deal, as the Congressional district covers part of Brooklyn, too, & the party chair there has a say. But Donovan will almost certainly be the nominee. ...

... CW: It appears that on Staten Island there's a big payoff for letting a killer-copy walk. ...

... Tom Wrobleski of SI Live comments on Donovan's "sotto voce announcement," which I mentioned in yesterday's Commentariat.

Congressional Race 2016

** Welfare Queens, Revived! Jud Lounsbury of Uppity Wisconsin: "U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, you know -- the guy who got rich by finding someone to support him, has a pearl of wisdom for all the working single moms out there: If she wants to 'increase her take-home pay' instead of having yet 'another child out of wedlock' to increase her welfare windfall, she should instead 'find someone to support her.' Johnson is quick to admit that he stole this incredibly sexist riff comes from his uber-misogynist pal, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman. But some things are so awesome, that you just have to use them yourself!.... Johnson and Grothman's modern redux of the 'welfare queen' has been rated 'Mostly False' by Politifact and was given 'Two Pinocchios' by the Washington Post's fact checker." With video. Read the whole post. Via capper of Crooks & Liars, who has more to say on Johnson. CW: I would take Johnson's phony welfare-queen schtick as both sexist and racist.

Presidential Election

"Awk-ward!" Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: The battle between Jeb & Mitt (not their real names) is on. "Bush has been trying to consolidate support among establishment donors, leaders and operatives since announcing in December that he would begin laying the groundwork for a likely campaign.... But on Friday, Romney sought to slam the brakes on Bush, telling about 30 powerful donors that he, too, was seriously considering a 2016 bid. 'I want to be president,' he said, adding that his wife, Ann, was supportive. Romney has begun methodically calling donors, staff members and endorsers from his two prior campaigns to measure how deep his reservoir of support would be if he runs for a third time, his advisers said. He also has scheduled a series of public speeches...."

Dan Balz attends a focus group (of voters from across the political spectrum) in Aurora, Colorado. Jeb? Nope. Hillary? Not so much. Rand Paul? Maybe. Elizabeth Warren? Yes!

Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "The Iowa straw poll has survived. Despite calls for the Republican Party of Iowa to abandon this quirky tradition -- which, opponents say, unfairly hurts some candidates and detracts from the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses a few months later -- the group's central committee voted 16 to 0 on Saturday to begin planning a straw poll." CW: Sure hope Michele Bachmann wins again.

News Ledes

Reuters photo.... New York Times: "More than a million people joined over 40 presidents and prime ministers on the streets of Paris on Sunday in the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism since the Sept. 11 attacks. Responding to terrorist strikes that killed 17 people in France and riveted worldwide attention, Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists and people of all races, ages and political stripes swarmed central Paris beneath a bright blue sky, calling for peace and an end to violent extremism." ...

... AFP: "A German tabloid that paid tribute to those killed at Charlie Hebdo by reprinting cartoons from the French satirical paper mocking the Prophet Mohammed was firebombed Sunday, police said."

AP: "Two members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen have died in Los Angeles. Relatives say Clarence E. Huntley Jr. and Joseph Shambrey, both 91, died last Monday in their Los Angeles homes. Huntley and Shambrey were friends who enlisted together in 1942. They served as mechanics in Italy during World War II and kept the planes of the all-black squadron in the air."

New York Times: "Anita Ekberg, who became an international symbol of lush beauty and unbridled sensuality in the 1960 Federico Fellini film 'La Dolce Vita,' died on Sunday in Rocca di Papa, southeast of Rome. She was 83."

New York Times: "Robert Stone, who wrote ambitious award-winning novels about errant Americans in dangerous circumstances or on existential quests -- or both -- as a commentary on an unruly, wayward nation in the Vietnam era and beyond, died on Saturday at his winter home in Key West, Fla."

Friday
Jan092015

The Commentariat -- Jan. 10, 2015

So much for the G.O.P. not being the scary party. -- Lawrence Downes of the New York Times ...

... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "House Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would drastically roll back President Obama's executive actions on immigration, including undoing a provision that will allow five million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and one that protects young people brought to the United States illegally by a parent. The Republican plan, an effort to appease their more conservative members, would still finance most of the Department of Homeland Security.... The plan Republicans ultimately supported, after a week of private meetings and behind-the-scenes discussions, is far more expansive than what the House leadership team had originally anticipated." ...

It is outrageous and it is noteworthy that the House leadership has embraced the most extreme proposals from the most extreme members of their caucus. It is nothing short of breathtaking that this is their first move coming out of the box in 2015 when they get the reins of power. -- Frank Sharry of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy group ...

Aw, c'mon, Frank. I'll wait for the details, but news stories say nothing about alligator-filled moats. Why, this cruel, vindictive bill proposal is downright liberal by GOP standards. Besides, there's a CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE at stake here. -- Constant Weader ...

... I don’t believe that the funding of the Department [of Homeland Security] is, in fact, at risk. What is at risk is the rule of law, and the sanctity of America's Constitution. The President has taken actions that are beyond the scope of his ability, and Congress cannot just sit here and look the other way. We have to take action. This isn't about funding the Department of Homeland Security. Members of Congress support funding the Department, but we cannot continue to allow the President to go around the Congress and go around the law and take unilateral action like he has. -- Speaker of the House John Boehner, this week ...

Spoilsport 1. Just picking on the children that came here at no fault of their own, I think, is a wrong way to start. -- Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)

Spointsport 2. Only three words describe the Republican approach to immigrants: deportation, deportation, deportation. The 'deport them all' contingent in the Republican Party has the pen and the gavel in the House. I know the Republicans will stop at nothing, but I didn't think they would start with everything. -- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)

... David Rogers of Politico: "House Republicans filed a long-delayed $39.67 billion Homeland Security bill on Friday, promising new resources and flexibility for a sprawling department that has been hobbled for months by a rigid funding resolution set at last year's spending levels.... But the same bill still faces a knock-down fight over President Barack Obama's November executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from deportation.... The GOP is determined to use this measure and Congress' 'power of the purse' to block Obama from proceeding. That task is complicated by the fact that USCIS is largely self-financed from the fees it collects, not appropriations from Congress. So lawmakers can't simply cut dollars in the bill." ...

... Lawrence Downes of the New York Times: "What's striking about this early Republican move is that it is not just stray artillery fire from the party's wingnut brigade, led by Representative Steve King of Iowa, but a product of the House leadership."

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama discussed the economic gains we made in 2014, which was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s":

Lori Montgomery & Steve Mufson of the Washington Post: President "Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone bill, along with two others. Nonetheless, the House voted 266 to 153 to approve the measure, with 28 Democrats joining all but one Republican voting yes. The bill goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to stage a lengthy, high-profile debate that is likely to stretch through Obama's State of the Union address Jan. 20."

Perry Bacon of NBC News: "President Obama on Friday called for making at least two years of college education free and universal, a bold idea that reflects his desire to offer far-reaching proposals in his last two years in office, even if Congress is unlikely to adopt them":

... Andy Borowitz: "President Obama's plan to offer Americans two years of college for free has come under fire from congressional Republicans, who are calling it a blatant plot to make Americans smarter. The G.O.P., which has benefited from the support of so-called 'low-information voters' in recent years, accused Obama of cynically trying to make people smarter as a way of chipping away at the Republican base."

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in a Washington Post op-ed: "Given how far we have come, and the scars that still linger, it is hard to understand the efforts of some to undermine our ability to protect consumers and taxpayers from excessive risks taken by financial institutions. Taxpayers should never again have to step in to prevent business failures; that is why the Wall Street Reform Act ended 'too big to fail' as a matter of law.... Opponents who are fighting to repeal these reforms, or impede implementation, make no secret that they are gearing up for a multifront assault to weaken effective oversight of Wall Street and protections for Main Street. Their focus ... amounts to an agenda that would take us back to the dangerous conditions that existed before the financial crisis."

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against retired Gen. David H. Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress while he was director of the C.I.A., officials said, leaving Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison. The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Mr. Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his C.I.A. email account and other highly classified information. F.B.I. agents discovered classified documents on her computer after Mr. Petraeus resigned from the C.I.A. in 2012 when the affair became public.... [Federal investigators] recommended that Mr. Petraeus face charges, saying lower-ranking officials had been prosecuted for far less.... [Petraeus] has indicated to the Justice Department that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial." ...

... Thanks to James S. for the link. James writes, "Maybe for the wrong reasons, like getting Chaney for tax evasion... but Yea!" ...

     ... CW: Maybe this, uncovered by Guardian reporters (March 2013): "General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse." But no. Wouldn't want to open that can of worms, would we?

Steve Erlanger & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "The bloody denouement on Friday of two hostage crises at different ends of a traumatized Paris means attention will now shift to the gaping question facing the French government: How did several jihadists -- and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators -- manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country's police and intelligence services? On its own, the Wednesday morning slaughter that left 12 people dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo represented a major breakdown for French security and intelligence forces, especially after the authorities confirmed that the two suspects, the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had known links to the militant group Al Qaeda in Yemen. Then on Friday, even as the police had cornered the Kouachi brothers inside a printing factory in the northeast suburbs, another militant, Amedy Coulibaly -- who has since been linked to the Kouachis -- stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris and threatened to kill hostages if the police captured the Kouachis." ...

... Greg Miller & Adam Goldman of the Washington Post: "French security services are likely to face intense pressure to explain how known militants -- including one trained by an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen -- faced no apparent scrutiny before they launched this week's terrorist attacks in Paris.... The search for answers is likely to focus on a three-year period preceding this week's shooting during which two of the alleged gunmen, Said and Chérif Kouachi, seemingly dropped out of the view of French intelligence services as well as their U.S. counterparts." ...

... Juan Cole provides some biographical information about Sharif & Said Kouashi, the two men (now dead) identified as the Charlie Hebdo assassins. Cole blames Bush & Cheney for the young men's radicalization. This may be fair, but I would caution susceptible readers not to charge Bush & Cheney with these mass murders, as Cole's rhetoric comes close to doing. ...

... Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times: "The French authorities on Saturday were searching for the girlfriend of the man who targeted a kosher supermarket on Friday in eastern Paris, where four hostages died before he was killed by counterterrorism forces.... Law enforcement officials appealed to the public to help find Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, who seized hostages at the supermarket, Hyper Cacher, near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris."

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. -- Evelyn Beatrice Hall, often attributed to Voltaire

Jonathan Chait explains freedom of expression to Glenn Greenwald, David Brooks, et al. CW: This really is not a difficult concept, people, and should not be so hard for Greenwald & Brooks to grasp. Both let (different) ideological precepts get in the way of their understanding of a fundamental, foundational principle of "free" society. ...

... Guardian: "Rupert Murdoch has been strongly criticised after tweeting that 'most Muslims' -- even if peaceful -- must be held responsible for the religion's 'growing jihadist cancer' in the wake of the terror attacks in France." ...

... Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast: Bill Maher "hosted the 13th season premiere of his HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night and doubled (and tripled, and quadrupled) down on the comments he made on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night where, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre that saw 9 fellow satirists, two policemen, and a maintenance worker be murdered by gun and RPG-wielding jihadists, the comedian ... didn't pull any punches, saying, 'hundreds of millions of [Muslims] support an attack like [Charlie Hebdo]'":

... Nabih Bulos of the Los Angeles Times: "Although the attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has been widely condemned online, some people have praised the violence."

FBI "person of interest."Jesse Paul of the Denver Post: "Officials released a composite sketch Friday of a person of interest in the bombing of a [Colorado Springs] building that houses a chapter of the NAACP, saying their investigation is still in its early stages and very much ongoing. The FBI would not speculate about a motive in Tuesday's bombing.... The sketch is of a balding white man about 40 seen dropping something off and leaving the scene just before the device went off, officials said. Federal law enforcement is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest (call: 303-425-7787).... Officials say the person of interest, seen leaving after the explosion by neighbors, may be driving a 2000 or older model, dirty, white pickup truck with paneling, a dark-colored bed liner, open tailgate and a missing or covered license plate...." ...

... CW: Luckily, our American terrorists are often pretty incompetent: "No one was injured in the 10 a.m. blast Tuesday on the 600 block of South El Paso Street in a quiet neighborhood south of downtown Colorado Springs.... A gas can placed next to the device did not ignite...." ...

... CW: Hey, Rupert. I'm sure you agree that most Christians "must be held responsible" here.

 

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that his eye injuries remain so severe that doctors can't yet determine whether his full vision will be restored. Reid suffered at least three broken ribs and broke several bones around his right eye last week while exercising at his suburban Las Vegas home. The injuries kept him from coming to Capitol Hill this week for the start of the 114th Session of Congress."

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Federal prosecutors won't call New York Times reporter James Risen as a witness at a leak trial set to get underway next week for one of his alleged confidential sources, several people close to the situation said. The decision appears to bring to an end a six-year battle to get him to provide testimony against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is facing ten felony charges in connection with alleged disclosures to Risen about an operation aimed at undermining Iran's nuclear program."

Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "Edward Snowden would like everyone -- especially his critics -- to know that he is happy with life in Russia. Happy, and also sober.... During [an] interview [for the PBS program 'NOVA'], Snowden focused on a speech that former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden had given in which he predicted that Snowden would be depressed and drunk." The transcript of the Snowden interview is here.

Congressional Election

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The New York City prosecutor who oversaw the grand jury investigation into the death of Eric Garner officially announced his bid for Congress Friday. Dan Donovan, the Republican district attorney for Richmond County, is seeking support from party leaders to replace former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who resigned after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion. The district covers all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn." ...

... CW: Normally, a candidate for public office will want to make as big a splash as possible in the announcement of his candidacy. As Donovan is surely aware, Friday afternoon, the time at which he made his announcement, is not a news-splash moment. Friday pm is best known as the timeframe in which public figures release bad or embarrassing news in hopes the public & the media won't pay attention over the weekend & by Monday, the bad news will be old news. One suspects that Donovan is trying to avoid media attention. For some reason.

A good example of why I Love Joe:

Presidential Election

Philip Rucker & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney ... told Republican donors in New York on Friday that he is seriously considering a third presidential campaign in 2016, according to a source present at the meeting. Spencer Zwick, Romney's former national finance co-chairman who was at the New York meeting, confirmed that Romney is weighing a 2016 run." ...

... Matt Viser of the Boston Globe: "Romney told people in the room that his decision did not have anything to do with current candidates being good or bad, although other sources close to Romney have said that he is not satisfied with the current Republican primary field, even with the addition of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Josh Margolin of ABC News: "Gov. Chris Christie, a potential presidential contender, was interrogated recently by federal investigators probing the 2013 lane-closure scandal.... Christie met with federal prosecutors and FBI agents last month during a secret session at the New Jersey governor's mansion in Princeton. He agreed to sit down with investigators voluntarily after they offered him a chance to provide his side of the story. Interviewing Christie was one of the final steps in the investigation, which appears to be wrapping up, according to those briefed on it." ...

... Claude Brodesser-Akner of NJ Advance Media (Jan. 6): "The owner of the Dallas Cowboys [Jerry Jones] is a part-owner of a hospitality company recently awarded a lucrative Port Authority hospitality services contract, raising additional concerns about Gov. Christie's Sunday trip by private jet to Texas to see his favorite NFL team play...." Thanks to Marvin S. for the lead. ...

... Brodesser-Akner: "Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said today [Friday] he 'didn't know' Gov. Chris Christie during the time that a company partly owned by his team was bidding for a lucrative Port Authority hospitality services contract, according to a published report.... A Christie spokesman recently said that the governor's friendship with Jones began in the summer of 2013, although in a public television interview last month, Christie told an interviewer that the two men became friends 'over the past five years.'" ...

... CW: I can't cite the best part of Gail Collins' column on Chris the Football Mascot & Faux Populist, because it's all very fine....

... Earlier, I thought all the hoo-hah over Christie's characteristic display of pathetic immaturity was a bit overblown. Now that we find out there's a quo for the quid, & that Chistie has already been reduced to sending his minions to "correct the record," making cutting personal remarks about detractors & paying his own way to Green Bay, I think the whole incident has legs. In & of itself, like Bridgegate, it seems sorta small potatoes -- at least at this point -- but the cumulative effect of these scandalettes -- which are of a nature people understand -- is to reveal Christie as a sleazy, two-bit crook & clownish thug. Not what most people want in a POTUS. ...

... AND, as Bill Kristol predicted, Christie presidential rival Scott Walker is using the controversy over Christie's relationship with Jones to his own advantage:

News Ledes

Reuters: "Two protesters were arrested at the McLean, Virginia, home of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday after 20 demonstrators, some in orange prison jumpsuits, walked onto his property to mark the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison."

Washington Post: "French authorities on Saturday were hunting for a woman said to be 'armed and dangerous,' who they believe is connected to three days of violence that reached a bloody denouement in twin sieges Friday. Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, may have fled France ahead of the attacks and may now be in Syria, French media reports said Saturday." ...

... AP: "A Turkish intelligence official says authorities believe the common law wife of one of the gunmen behind the attacks in France came through Turkey days before and may have crossed into Syria." ...

... Yahoo News: "Hundreds of thousands continued to rally in the streets of France on Saturday to support free speech and honor the victims of this week's terrorist attacks. The rallies across the country were marked by relative quiet, out of respect for the fallen, despite the massive size of the crowds."

AP: "A tail section from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month, killing all 162 people on board, became the first major wreckage lifted off the ocean floor Saturday, but the all-important black boxes were not found inside. The red metal chunk, with the words 'AirAsia' clearly visible across it, was brought to the surface using inflatable balloons."

KMBC News: "The owner of a Shawnee, Kan. gun shop was killed and several suspects were shot during a robbery at his business on Friday afternoon."