The Ledes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Boston Globe: "The trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev" begins today.

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

The Hill: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden on Sunday [Feb. 1] warned that the U.S. could see a 'large outbreak' of measles.... There are at least 102 reported cases in 14 states, according to the CDC. Frieden said that the U.S. is 'likely to see more cases.'... The said the best way to prevent the spread of measles was vaccination.Frieden said despite the U.S.'s 92 percent vaccination rate, there is growing evidence more parents are not vaccinating their children."

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."

White House Live Video
March 4

12:00 noon ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Way Cheaper Wi-Fi? Will Oremus of Slate: "Google isn’t talking details yet, but ...what it has in mind, according to industry rumors and sources, is something like what FreedomPop and Republic Wireless are already offering: a 'Wi-Fi first' service that could deliver adequate, if slightly spotty, coverage at a fraction of the prevailing cost. And that coverage is likely to get much better over time."

Woodwording Plagiarism?? Washington Post: "There’s no doubt that the first season finale of Ellen DeGeneres’s reality competition show was bizarre. But the questions it raises are even stranger, along with the weird and frustrating way the network chose to handle a controversial situation."

Adam Goodheart of the Atlantic reviews a book by historian Eric Foner that sheds new light on the Underground Railway that helped Southern black Americans escapes slavery, even though the participants were violating federal law -- openly, too: "It is a little-known historical irony that right up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were invoked as often by Northern abolitionists as by Southern slaveholders."

CW: How I'll Spend My Weekend. Season 3 of "House of Cards" is up on Netflix now:

Deadline: ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann for engaging in an "inappropriate" "Twitter War" with some Penn State students. ...

... CW: Hard to believe something like this hasn't happened sooner.

Buzz Aldrin during a spacewalk, November 1966. Last year Aldrin described the photo as the "BEST SELFIE EVER." CW: I'd say he's right.

New York Times: "Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space — from an altitude of 65 miles by a camera on a V-2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 24, 1946. (The boundary to outer space is generally placed at 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles.) The prints are vintage — dating from that era, not modern reproductions — and come from the collection of a single European collector, said Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloomsbury Auctions in London."

** Charles Pierce comments on wingers' Twitter reactions to the Oscars.

Actor Patricia Arquette accepts her Academy Award & calls for women's wage equality:

... Which sparked outrage on the right. And dismay on the left.

#OscarsSoWhite. Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Sunday was a study in contradictions; there was overwhelming emphasis on the visibility of black people in Hollywood, yet their peers hadn’t deemed their work fit for nomination in any of the major individual categories."

Common & John Legend accept the award for the song "Glory" from the film "Selma":

The Los Angeles Times' Academy Awards page is here. The main story is here. The list of winners is here.

Los Angeles Times: "A Palm Springs home built using Joseph Eichler’s original blueprints is under contract to sell for $1.29 million. The newly built Modernist design, considered the first true Eichler home developed in 40 years, came to market on Tuesday. According to real estate brokers and developers Troy Kudlac and Ross Stout of KUD Properties Inc., which handled the listing side, it sold that day for the asking price." With slideshow.

If you just can't get enough of the Academy Awards, the L. A. Times has a guide to Oscar-related TV shows. If you want to watch the Oscars online, here's where & how.

D. R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly: "... give [Jon] Stewart his props for the positive things he has done over the years. He has inspired a new generation of commentators who will continue to call out political perversity and media mendacity. However, the man was not without his flaws — and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a gigantic one. As Olbermann, Maher and Maddow have long argued, sanity has to defeat fear, not figure out some way to get along with it."

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Monday
Feb162015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 17, 2015

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "A federal judge in Texas has ordered a halt, at least temporarily, to President Obama's executive actions on immigration, siding with Texas and 25 other states that filed a lawsuit opposing the initiatives. In an order filed on Monday, the judge, Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, prohibited the Obama administration from carrying out programs the president announced in November that would offer protection from deportation and work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants. The first of those programs was scheduled to start receiving applications on Wednesday. Judge Hanen, an outspoken critic of the administration on immigration policy,found that the states had satisfied the minimum legal requirements to bring their lawsuit.... The president's supporters have said that Texas officials, who are leading the states' lawsuit, were venue shopping when they chose to file in Brownsville.... Some legal scholars said any order by Judge Hanen to halt the president's actions would be quickly suspended by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans." Bush II appointed Hanen. ...

... The Washington Post report, by Fred Barbash, is Nicole Perlroth & David Sanger of the New York Times: "The United States has found a way to permanently embed surveillance and sabotage tools in computers and networks it has targeted in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and other countries closely watched by American intelligence agencies, according to a Russian cybersecurity firm. In a presentation of its findings at a conference in Mexico on Monday, Kaspersky Lab, the Russian firm, said that the implants had been placed by what it called the 'Equation Group,' which appears to be a veiled reference to the National Security Agency and its military counterpart, United States Cyber Command."

David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "Mistrust between the Obama administration and Benjamin Netanyahu has widened even further in recent days because of U.S. suspicion that the Israeli prime minister has authorized leaks of details about the U.S. nuclear talks with Iran." ...

... CW: If this is true, even John Boehner should have the sense to turn his back on Bibi. ...

... Luke Baker of Reuters: "The head of Israel's election commission acted on Monday to limit any pre-election boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may get from a March 3 speech to the U.S. Congress, in which he will warn of the threat from Iran's nuclear programme.... Following complaints from opposition parties, election chief Salim Joubran decided that Netanyahu's address should be broadcast with a five-minute delay in Israel, giving news editors time to cut any statements deemed partisan."

... Paul Waldman: "... on the whole, Boehner is managing to combine legislative incompetence with PR incompetence. He's already sure to be known as one of the weakest speakers in American history, for at least some reasons that are out of his control."

Tim Devaney of the Hill: "President Obama's pick to serve as the next attorney general is having a hard time finding Republican supporters. To be confirmed by the Senate, attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch only needs four Republicans to support her nomination. But it is unclear where those votes will come from. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) is the only Republican so far who has signaled his intention to vote for Lynch, though several others have spoken favorably about her. But many Republicans are expressing concerns about Lynch's stance on immigration and what they suggest is a lack of 'independence' from the White House." ...

... CW: "Independence" is almost as good a phony excuse as "freeeedom." It's true that on one occasion, John Ashcroft famously didn't let the Bush White House roll him, but generally speaking, it's a good idea for a Cabinet member to have a working relationship with the White House. (See Reno, Janet.) Also, I just can't help suspecting that Republicans' concern about Lynch's "independence" stems from their belief that black people constitute a vast left-wing conspiracy against Truth, Justice & the American Way. All other things being equal, they would probably find more acceptable a white nominee.

Steve M.: Major right-wing media seem to know that there's no separation issue involved in ministers' urging their parishioners to take advantage of government programs, but these news outlets are calling attention to churches who are promoting ObamaCare in hopes that winger audiences will be too ignorant to know that these churches & faith-based organizations are not violating the First Amendment separation-of-church-and-state requirement. And, sure enough, Steve finds a prominent dopey-winger (redundant) blogger who takes the bait. CW: Also, the whole church-ObamaCare outreach is part of that vast left-wing conspiracy thing, this time aimed at getting "free stuff" for "blah (a/k/a "urban") people."

Comes the Apocalypse. Graeme Wood of the Atlantic explains the ideology & methodology the Islamic State: "... their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of -- and headline player in -- the imminent end of the world." CW: I have no idea if Wood's take is accurate, but it makes sense given what we know. ...

... CW BTW: If you read Wood's piece & conclude the Koran must be the blood-lusty treatise your right-wing brother says it is, also read some of the OT Bible, say, Ezekiel, & the NT book of Revelations. Horrible stuff. ...

... Democracy Now! on the network of American billionaires who finance "experts" who promote Islamophobia. Video & transcript. Via karoli of Crooks & Liars.

Tom Vanden Brook of USA Today: "The decision to discharge transgender soldiers from the Army would be made by a top, senior civilian official under a plan outlined in a draft document obtained by USA Today. The move would make it more difficult to remove such troops from the service. Instead of being made by lower-level Army officers, the memorandum says, the decision to discharge transgender soldiers would be made by the assistant secretary of the Army for personnel. In all services, transgender troops can be automatically dismissed from service on medical grounds once they are identified."

Professor Quashes GOP 2016 Talking Point. David Leonhardt of the New York Times: "The notion that income inequality has continued to rise over the past decade is part of the conventional wisdom.... No question, inequality is extremely high from a historical perspective -- worrisomely so. But a new analysis, by Stephen J. Rose of George Washington University, adds an important wrinkle to the story: Income inequality has not actually risen since the financial crisis began.... The wealthy have indeed received the bulk of the gains since the recovery began, but they still haven't recovered their losses. Meanwhile, the steps that the federal government took in response to the crisis, including tax cuts and benefit increases, have mostly helped the nonwealthy." ...

... CW: Let's hope potential Democratic candidates read the Times online today. In their new pretend-interest in the middle class & the poor, the go-to line for Republicans is that income inequality has increased under President Obama. Jeb Bush is making what turns out to be falsehood a centerpiece of his campaign. Mitt Romney has had a latter-day conversion, too. So have Rand Paul & Ted Cruz. ...

... Sean McElwee of Salon: "Princeton University’s Larry Bartels has two studies on politics and income distribution, and together they encompass almost a century. His finding: under Republicans, the poor and middle class see almost no income growth, while under Democrats, they see dramatic growth (see charts). As he notes elsewhere, even after numerous controls, these partisan differences remain. 'Every Republican president in the past 60 years has presided over increasing income inequality, including Dwight Eisenhower in the midst of the "Great Compression" of the post-war decades,' Bartels writes. 'And every Democratic president except one (Jimmy Carter) has presided over decreasing or stable inequality.'" Thanks to Julie L. for the link.

David Chen of the New York Times: "... a growing number of homeowners ... suspect that their engineering reports [of property damage] were ... rewritten as part of an effort to minimize insurance payments to flood victims in New York and New Jersey after the 2012 hurricane. In November, allegations of altered reports prompted a federal judge overseeing more than 1,000 hurricane related lawsuits in the New York City area to order all drafts of the engineering reports be turned over, saying he believed such revisions could be 'widespread.'" CW: I'm shocked to learn that insurance companies are better at collecting premiums than they are at paying out claims.

YOLO! Kali Holloway of AlterNet, in Salon, picks last week's Worst Moments in Right-Wing media. ...

... Paul Krugman: "I've been behind the curve on the Vox interview with President Obama. But the reactions to that interview — not just from the right, but from centrists -- are remarkable. Jack Schafer compares it to a Scientology recruitment film; Rich Lowry compares it to Leni Riefenstahl.... Yes, the charts are generally supportive of what Obama is saying, but only because the facts he alludes to are indeed facts.... It's a generally friendly, sympathetic interview -- but that's hardly unusual, and it's nothing like the actually fawning interviews that were standard in the Bush years.... But what seems to offend the critics is the very idea of covering a politician's policies, and the facts relevant to those policies, rather than making it about personalities.

Presidential Race

Chuck Todd! "There are two big takeaways from our new NBC/Marist polls of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina that we released yesterday. First, with less than a year before the first nominating contests, the Republican presidential field is wide open -- seven different possible GOP candidates get double-digit support in at least one of the states. Second, only two potential candidates (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker) are in double digits in ALL three states. So call Bush and Walker your very early 2016 Republican frontrunners."

Texas Comes to New Hampshire:

A Rap on the Knuckles. Margaret Hartmann of New York: Scott Walker's former teacher scolds him for not answering the evolution question: "Answer the question when they ask you!" Serpe told Time. "He could have manned up a bit.... We taught the theory of evolution, and human evolution, as a prerequisite to understanding biological classification.... I do recall that Scott was very accepting of everything in science class. He had a good sense of it," said Ann Serpe, Walker's high-school science teacher.

Julie Bosman of the New York Times notices that Gov. Scott Walker "accidentally" deleted the venerated "Wisconsin Idea" from his budget -- along with a lot of state university funding. CW: I didn't know how all those years ago I managed not to stumble on the granite boulder that enshrines a version of the Wisconsin Idea on Bascom Hill. Now I see that it is most likely because the boulder & plaque were placed there in 2012. ...

... Christine Evans, a UW-Milwaukee history professor, writes an impassioned plea in the New York Times for the legislature to ignore Scott Walker's budget & continue to fund the university system at levels that make classes affordable. She tries to explain why the liberal arts are important to teach critical thinking. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link. ...

... Robert Samuels of the Washington Post: "Walker drew a direct line between his 2011 battle against his state's public-sector unions, which sparked mass protests and made him a national GOP star, and his new quest to transform higher education.... Whether or not he succeeds in transforming the universities [in to expensive trade schools], the battle itself, coming in the midst of Walker's effort to rise above a crowded field of prospective Republican presidential candidates, is likely to play well with conservative voters who see universities as elite institutions and hotbeds of left-leaning activism.

... Ed Kilgore on the anti-intellectual right: "Like an awful lot of things, educational credentials are a data point, and to that extent, conservatives touting Walker should admit not finishing college (after all, if elected Walker would be the first president born after 1884 to have no college degree) isn't some sort of positive accomplishment. If it was, then maybe Republicans should find a candidate who didn't finish high school, or who is illiterate...." ...

... Besides, a college degree or two doesn't make you smart:

Our military needs to know that they're not gonna be prosecuted when they come back, because somebody has, said 'You did something that was politically incorrect.' There is no such thing as a politically correct war. We need to grow up, we need to mature. If you're gonna have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win. Our life depends on it. -- Dr. Ben Carson, who has two college degrees, each from a major university

Senate Race?

Cameron Joseph of the Hill: "Controversial former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is talking up a Tea Party challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)." ...

... Steve M.: "The GOP deserves to have this clown running in the general election in 2016. I feel like sending him money."

Beyond the Beltway

Julie Turkewitz & Richard Oppel of the New York Times: The police shooting-death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington "has drawn condemnation from the president of Mexico and multiple investigations, including inquiries by a task force of local police agencies, by the county coroner and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." Zambrano-Montes was unarmed but was throwing rocks at cars & police officers. "In Pasco, a city of 68,000 that is 56 percent Hispanic, the public killing has pierced the immigrant enclave, spurring protests that have attracted hundreds and highlighting a division between the city's increasingly Latino populace and its power structure -- the police, the city government -- which remains largely white."

Michelle Price of the AP (Feb. 13): "A hotly contested proposal that resurrects Utah's use of firing squads to carry out executions narrowly passed a key vote Friday in the state's Legislature after three missing lawmakers were summoned to break a tie vote. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 39-34 Friday morning to approve the measure, sending it to an uncertain fate in the state's GOP-controlled Senate. Leaders in that chamber have thus far declined to say if they'll support it, and Utah's Republican Gov. Gary Herbert won't say if he'll sign it."

News Ledes

New York Times: "In what could be an important diplomatic breakthrough in the Syrian conflict, a senior United Nations envoy said Tuesday that he had persuaded President Bashar al-Assad to stop bombing and shelling as part of a proposed six-week truce."

New York Times: "Robert E. Herzstein, who successfully sued on behalf of historians and journalists to prevent former President Richard M. Nixon from removing and even destroying his White House papers and tapes after his resignation, died on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 83."

New York Times: "A battle for a railroad town in eastern Ukraine escalated sharply on Tuesday, with both the Ukrainian Army and Russian-backed militants saying that their soldiers were engaging in pitched street battles. By midday, the separatists said they had captured the town, Debaltseve, a separatist news agency reported. The Ukrainian military denied the claim, saying its soldiers were repelling the attacks."

BBC News: "Jihadist militants from Islamic State (IS) have burned to death 45 people in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, the local police chief says."

Reuters: "A French prosecutor has asked a court to acquit the former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a pimping charge for his role in what investigating magistrates argued was an organised sex ring using prostitutes."

Sunday
Feb152015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 16, 2015

George Washington, with some of his "property," a/k/a human being Billy Lee. Portrait by John Trumbull, 1780. Lee was the only one of Washington's slaves whom Washington freed outright in his will.Erica Dunbar, in a New York Times op-ed on George Washington's sordid history as slaveowner, scofflaw, slavery promoter & slave-catcher. Happy Presidents' Day! ...

... As Henry Louis Gates wrote in the Root a few years back, Ona Judge was not the only one of Washington's slaves to escape nor the only one Washington hired a slave-catcher to re-enslave. ...

... CW: It is true that Washington's views on slavery changed over the course of his lifetime, but his actions, including signing the Fugitive Slave Act, do not recommend him.

 

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Thousands of businesses could receive clearance to fly drones two years from now under proposed rules that the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled Sunday, a landmark step that will make automated flight more commonplace in the nation's skies. Meanwhile, the White House on Sunday issued a presidential directive that will require federal agencies for the first time to publicly disclose where they fly drones in the United States and what they do with the torrents of data collected from aerial surveillance." ...

... Scott Shane of the New York Times: "In an attempt to bring order to increasingly chaotic skies, the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight and keep their aircraft in sight. The rules, though less restrictive than the current ones, appear to prohibit for now the kind of drone delivery services being explored by Amazon, Google and other companies...." ...

... Dan Roberts & Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: Amazon doesn't like the proposed new rules, which "would prevent it from operating [drones to make air deliveries] in the US and could force it to develop the technology overseas instead."

Weapons of Mass Destruction. C. J. Chivers & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials. The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success.... These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.... The C.I.A. declined to comment."

The War on Terror Redux. Paul Waldman, in the Washington Post: "... the increasingly complex situation with ISIS is moving America toward a return to the days of fear and loathing, when no threat was too minimal to hype and no policy response was too ill-considered."

Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Sunday that his government was encouraging a 'mass immigration' of Jews from Europe, reopening a contentious debate about Israel's role at a challenging time for European Jews and a month before Israel's national elections.... 'Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews,' Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday in Jerusalem.... But expressing the unease felt by many Jews abroad over such comments, Jair Melchior, Denmark's chief rabbi, said he was 'disappointed' by Mr. Netanyahu's call." ...

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: When "Fox 'New'" Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked House Speaker John Boehner why he asked Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., not to tell the White House about the joint meeting with Netanyahu, Boehner said, 'Because I wanted to make sure that there was no interference. There's no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn't want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.'" CW: So sedition. Excellent. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Keith Laing of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that he is 'certainly' willing to let federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expire this month if a congressional standoff that is threatening the agency's appropriation continues."

Keith Laing: "Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald said Sunday that he is holding employees of his agency more responsible for their treatment of veterans after a scandal that engulfed the department last year. 'Nine-hundred people have been fired since I became secretary ... so we're holding people accountable,' McDonald said during an interview on NBC's 'Meet The Press.'"...

... Cristina Marcos the the Hill: "Hard-line House GOP conservatives aren't worried about a looming Department of Homeland Security shutdown as the deadline for congressional action draws near. Many of the conservative lawmakers who most want to aggressively challenge President Obama's executive actions on immigration think that if push comes to shove, a shutdown will be worth the fight. And at this point, they don't think there will be any electoral consequences if there is a shutdown."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Perhaps no other unelected Democrat has shaped his party as much over the last two decades [as has John Podesta]. As Mr. Clinton's chief of staff, as founder of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and most recently as Mr. Obama's counselor, Mr. Podesta has pushed his party toward a more aggressive approach to both policy and politics.... Mr. Podesta will need that competitive streak if he becomes chairman of Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign, as expected."

E. J. Dionne contrasts the views on race of two FBI directors: J. Edgar Hoover & James Comey.

Paul Krugman sees direct parallels between post-World War I Europe & today's economic crisis. Greece is the new Germany.

Alice Robb of the New Republic: Jon Stewart has made us more cynical. CW: I'm pretty sure this is the facts-are-bad argument. Ah, if only it were Morning in America again. ...

... Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker: "For young viewers in particular, 'The Daily Show' provided a more trustworthy daily news summary than almost any show on Fox News or CNN (a low standard, admittedly). But Stewart's series also provided a psychic salve, especially during the worst parts of the past few elections and the run-up to the Iraq War."

Presidential Race

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times: "... Republicans haven't quite worked out what their foreign policy ought to be, beyond 'not Obama.' That's partly because it's still early in the [presidential] campaign and the GOP boasts a bumper crop of potential candidates, some of them governors who never needed a foreign policy until now.... Ever since President George W. Bush's long misadventure in Iraq, his Republican successors have been struggling to refashion conservative foreign policy in a way most voters would embrace.... The potential candidate in the most intriguing position is his brother Jeb.... He hasn't spelled out his foreign policy yet, but he's scheduled to give a speech on the subject this week in Chicago. On national security, Jeb Bush is the candidate to watch."

I have a biology degree, okay? -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in remarks Feb. 12, 2015

We'd be more inclined to brush this off if Paul had not made this assertion twice in one day.... Paul studied biology (and English) at Baylor, but he didn't earn a degree. There's no excuse for resume-inflation.... -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

CW Note: Paul has a medical degree from Duke University.

Beyond the Beltway

Mississippi, Where Every Day Is Robert E. Lee Day. Kay Steiger of Think Progress: Mississippi State Rep. Gene Alday (R) "said he opposed putting more money into elementary schools because he came from a town where 'all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call "welfare crazy checks." They don't work.'... Alday stated his opposition to a push to increase funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be pointless.... Alday ... said that when he was mayor of Walls, MS, that the times he'd gone to the emergency room had taken a long time. 'I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots.'..." ...

... As I Was Saying.... Kate Royals of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger: "Nine months after a Madison County Justice Court judge was accused of striking and yelling a racial slur at a mentally challenged young man, a grand jury served an indictment for simple assault on a vulnerable adult. Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger turned himself in to the Madison County sheriff Thursday, according to a spokeswoman with the Attorney General's office. He was released on $10,000 bond. According to witnesses, Weisenberger struck 20-year-old Eric Rivers, an African American, and yelled 'Run, n-----, run' at the Canton Flea Market on May 8 of last year.... Last month, Weisenberger qualified to run for re-election for his same position."

David Edwards of the Raw Story: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told Chris Wallace that he had a First Amendment right to defy federal judges' orders were "changing our Constitution by defining words that are not even there, like marriage ..." and changing God's "organic law." CW: At least I think that's what he said. Evidently Moore has supernatural connections who have very definite ideas about marriage.

Politically Correct, South Carolina Definition. Luke Brinker of Salon (Feb.13): "A Republican state senator in South Carolina called women 'a lesser cut of meat' and suggested that they belonged barefoot and pregnant, the libertarian-leaning blog FITS News reports. Chauvinist in any context, [Tom] Corbin's remarks occurred during a legislative dinner this week to discuss domestic violence legislation. Sources present at the meeting told FITS that Corbin directed his comments at fellow GOP state senator Katrina Shealy, the sole woman in the 46-member chamber. 'I see it only took me two years to get you wearing shoes,' Corbin told Shealy, who won election in 2012. Corbin, the site explains, is said to have previously cracked that women should be 'at home baking cookies' or 'barefoot and pregnant,' not serving in the state legislature." CW: Sorry I missed this one. Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead.

Evan McMurry of Mediaite: "Paper Issues Super Important Correction on Whether Obama's the Antichrist."

Kirk Johnson & Michael Paulson of the New York Times review the elements of the scandal that led to the resignation of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. ...

... David Jarman of the Daily Kos wrote what is possibly a sensible synopsis of John Kitzhaber's Bad Week.

Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. Emily Shapiro & Clayton Sandell of ABC News: "Tammy Meyers, a nurse and mother of four, who was shot outside her house after what Las Vegas[, Nevada,] police said was a 'road range incident with another vehicle' died tonight, a family member said." After someone in the other vehicle shot Meyers, her son "came out of the house and fired back at the other vehicle."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Lesley Gore, who was a teenager in the 1960s when she recorded hit songs about heartbreak and resilience that went on to become feminist touchstones, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 68."

Houston Chronicle: "Houston arson investigators have made an arrest in the early morning fire Friday at an Islamic center on the city's southeast side, fire department officials said late Monday. Darryl Ferguson, 55, of Houston, has been charged with felony first degree arson for the fire, according to HFD investigators."

AP: "An arbitration panel ordered Lance Armstrong and Tailwind Sports Corp. to pay $10 million in a fraud dispute with a promotions company for what it called an "unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy" that covered up his use of performance-enhancing drugs."

NPR: "Just four hours after they started, talks between Greece and the European Union collapsed. The two sides were trying to hammer out an agreement that would allow Greece to continue receiving bailout help from its Eurozone partners. But both sides walked out of the talks and reiterated their hard lines...."

Guardian: "Egyptian warplanes bombed sites in Libya early on Monday, a day after Islamic State (Isis) militants released a video depicting the apparent mass beheading of 21 Egyptian hostages. Libya's air force commander, Saqr al-Joroushi, told Egyptian state TV the air strikes were coordinated with the Libyan side and had killed about 50 militants."

Reuters: "The US and its coalition partners have conducted three air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria and eight in Iraq since Saturday, according to the US military."

New York Times: "Two men suspected of helping the 22-year-old gunman responsible for killing a documentary filmmaker and a guard in Copenhagen in a rare outbreak of terrorism have been arrested, the Danish police said on Monday."

Guardian: "The fighting in east Ukraine dropped in intensity on Sunday, but the first day of a ceasefire deal still saw fighting, especially around the contested town of Debaltseve."

Saturday
Feb142015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 15, 2015

Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not. -- Marcia McNutt, Science editor & geophysicist

** Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post on why so many people are skeptical of scientific findings. CW: If you want to understand your neighbors, crazy Uncle Fred & yourself, this essay will help.

What Does a Terrorist Look Like? Steven Rosenfeld of Alternet, in the Raw Story: "A 2001-2015 'Homegrown Extremism' analysis by the New America Foundation parsed the 'ethnicity, age, gender and citizenship' of people who killed or violently attacked others, whether they were motivated by jihadist philosophies or other 'right wing, left wing or idiosyncratic beliefs.' Of 448 extremists counted, white men who were U.S. citizens outnumbered every other demographic by wide margins. 'Quite a few reports agree, that more Americans have been killed by the radical right since 9/11 than by jihadists,' said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and focuses on the radical right.

Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly: "... the spectacle voters are witnessing right now is a Democratic President who is busy getting things done while Congress is gridlocked and [Mitch] McConnell whines that Democrats in the Senate won't let him get anything done. In other words, you're blowing it McConnell ... big time!"

Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "Millions of immigrants benefiting from President Barack Obama's executive actions could get a windfall from the IRS, a reversal of fortune after years of paying taxes to help fund government programs they were banned from receiving. Armed with new Social Security numbers, many of these immigrants who were living in the U.S. illegally will now be able to claim up to four years' worth of tax credits designed to benefit the working poor. For big families, that's a maximum of nearly $24,000, as long as they can document their earnings during those years. Some Republicans are labeling the payments 'amnesty bonuses,' one more reason they oppose Obama's program shielding millions of immigrants from deportation."

Caitlin Dickson of Yahoo! News: "Outgoing senior Obama adviser John Podesta reflected on his latest White House stint Friday, listing his favorite moments and biggest regrets from the past year. Chief among them: depriving the American people of the truth about UFOs." CW: I thought this was snark, but it isn't. I would like to know "the truth."

CW: If somebody could read & report on Ross Douthat's column today, I'd appreciate it. I can't bear to read his self-righteous church-lady admonishments, but he's writing about sex today, so it must be hilarious. ...

... This is for Akhilleus. Maybe he'll want to share with Marvin S. & JJG.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Patrick Cockburn in the (U.K.) Independent: "Brian Williams's vainglorious boasting looks likes destroying his career, but those who purvey the most destructive lies in the media will seldom be identified or punished."Thanks to safari for the link. ...

Manuel Roig-Franzia, et al., of the Washington Post have a good rundown of Williams' propensity to embellish & overdramatize a story, a trait that served him well, until it didn't. ...

... CW: AND, yes, I think these on-air comments by Tom Brokaw are as egregious -- and potentially far more damaging to the country's well-being than Brian Williams' pumped-up stories. As Heather of Crooks & Liars pointed out, Brokaw was a repeat offender. Schmuck.

Ken Stone of the Times of San Diego: "In a stroke of Friday the 13th bad luck, Fox 5 San Diego briefly portrayed President Obama as a sex-assault suspect on its 10 o'clock news. At 10:04 p.m., viewers heard anchor Kathleen Bade say: 'The only suspect in a sex assault at SDSU will not be charged.' At the same time, a picture of Obama appeared with the legend 'NO CHARGES.'... Asked why there was no on-air acknowledgment or apology for the error, [assignment editor Mike] Wille said: 'They really don't do that when it's a small thing like that.'" CW: Especially since President Obama was in California that day, I'm sure a least of couple of FoxBots are spreading the news that the President beat a rape rap.

God News

AP: "The top aide to retired Pope Benedict XVI is insisting he resigned freely, amid conspiracy theories that Benedict's resignation was forced and the election of Pope Francis was thus invalid."

David Gibson of Religion News Service: "Pope Francis on Saturday (Feb. 14) added 20 new members to the College of Cardinals.... Rather than seeing themselves as a priestly elite maneuvering among themselves, Francis said, the cardinals should be models of love and humility. Above all, he said, they should avoid 'that smoldering anger which makes us brood over wrongs we have received.'" ...

... Packing the College. David Gibson: "Pope Francis' new cardinals ... represent everything the pope says he wants for the future of Catholicism: a church that reaches out to the periphery and the margins, and one that represents those frontiers more than the central administration in Rome.... The breadth and depth of the transformation in the College of Cardinals is remarkable.... Archbishop John Dew of New Zealand, one of the newly minted 'princes of the church,' argued that Francis has already shifted 'the balance of power' away from Europe by appointing leaders from 'the end of the world,' as Francis referred to himself at his election."

Rafael Minder of the New York Times: A case in Granada, Spain, "which includes allegations of a sex ring and a cover-up involving as many as 10 priests -- accusations supported by one other plaintiff as well as by several witnesses -- has become one of the most serious sexual abuse scandals to emerge under Pope Francis."

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Three women plan to name Mohammad Abdullah Saleem, a venerated imam in Elgin, Ill., in a lawsuit accusing him of decades of assault and sexual abuse, according to their lawyer."

The Sins of the Brother. Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch: Evangelical minister John Hagee, who campaigned for John McCain in 2008, is warning that God will destroy the U.S. for President Obama's decision not to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu "'I am a student of world history,' Hagee said, "and ... the nations that blessed Israel prospered and the nations that cursed Israel were destroyed by the hand of God.... 'If America turns its back on Israel, God will turn his back on America. And that's a fact. It's proven by history...." Via Steve Benen.

Presidential Race

Maureen Dowd lays into the Clinton campaign, Hillary Clinton & rainmaker David Brock: Hillary is "busy polling more than 200 policy experts on how to show that she really cares about the poor while courting the banks. Yet her shadow campaign is already in a déjà-vu-all-over-again shark fight over control of the candidate and her money. It's the same old story: The killer organization that, even with all its ruthless hired guns, can't quite shoot straight." CW: Particulars aside, I think MoDo may be on the right track. Dissing the Clintons is what MoDo cut her teeth on, & she is viciously good at it. ...

... CW: If you want a snapshot of what Hillary Clinton faces in a presidential run, take a look at this article in the New York Post by Maureen Callahan. (Speaking of snapshots, that one of Bill with the prostitutes [credit Facebook] looks Photoshopped to me.) Even if Callahan's accusations are only 10 percent true, stories like these -- whatever the media outlet -- get more attention that do, say, Hillary's education policy. Voters whose main criterion is "character" are going to think twice about letting Bill back into the White House.

** Steve Eder & Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "For the 12 years that his father held national elective office, [Jeb] Bush used his unique access to the highest reaches of government to seek favors for Republican allies, push his views and burnish his political profile in his home state, a review of presidential library records shows. In the process, Mr. Bush carefully constructed an elaborate and enduring network of relationships in Florida that helped lead to his election as governor in 1998 and, now, to his place as a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016." CW: This is what "entitlement" means to me.

Beyond the Beltway

Jonathan Cooper of the AP: "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation Friday ...on the same day the U.S. Attorney's Office issued a subpoena demanding records and electronic communications pertaining to the pair. The subpoena was the first acknowledgment of a federal investigation against Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes. It marks yet another turn in a scandal that brought down Oregon's longest-serving chief executive."

Extremely Important Workout News: Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: Montona state Rep. David Moore (R) now says he was just kidding when he told an AP reporter, "Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway." Now, however, he says, "The whole was a off-the-cuff remark in the hallway, and the whole thing just exploded." The Associated Press, however, disputes that characterization. 'Our reporter spoke to him at length,' Associated Press media director Paul Colford said about the interview, which took place on Tuesday. 'She asked him about that statement twice.'"

News Ledes

Reuters: "Philip Levine, a former poet laureate of the United States who won a Pulitzer Prize, has died at age 87...."

New York Times: "Louis Jourdan, a handsome, sad-eyed French actor who worked steadily in films and on television in Europe and the United States for better than five decades, as a romantic hero in movies like 'Gigi' and later as a suave villain in movies like 'Octopussy,' died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was'93."

New York Times: "David Carr, the New York Times media columnist who died unexpectedly Thursday night, had lung cancer, and died of complications from the disease, according to the results of an autopsy released Saturday evening.... According to the office of the chief medical examiner of New York City, which conducted an autopsy, Mr. Carr died of complications of metastatic small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung. Heart disease was a contributing factor...."

Washington Post: "An arch-conservative member of the Iranian parliament and outspoken critic of the country's centrist president has claimed that there is an 'espionage case' against imprisoned Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife."

Los Angeles Times: "With idled cargo ships piling up along the coastline, President Obama ordered his labor secretary [Tom Perez] to California to try to head off a costly shutdown of 29 West Coast ports."

Los Angeles Times: "A grisly video surfaced Sunday night on YouTube and militant social media that appeared to show the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Christians seized by Islamic extremists in Libya in the last two months. The episode may signal a determination to expand Islamic State's footprint beyond Iraq and Syria, the two countries where it has made its greatest military gains."

New York Times: "The Copenhagen police said on Sunday that they had shot and killed a man they believed carried out two attacks that left two people dead, one at a cafe and one outside a synagogue, and wounded at least five policemen. The first attack took place on Saturday, when a gunman sprayed bullets into the cafe where a Swedish cartoonist who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad was speaking, killing one man. Hours later, early Sunday, a man was shot and killed outside the city's main synagogue, according to the police." ...

     ... Los Angeles Times UPDATE: "The gunman believed to have carried out two deadly attacks in Copenhagen was on the intelligence service's radar and may have been inspired by the Islamic State, Danish officials said Sunday."

Friday
Feb132015

The Commentariat -- Feb. 14, 2015

Nicole Perlroth & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Declaring that the Internet has become the 'Wild Wild West' with consumers and industries as top targets, President Obama on Friday called for a new era of cooperation between the government and the private sector to defeat a range of fast-evolving online threats."

Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "Senate Republicans are seizing on the global tax scandal engulfing HSBC to delay the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, the Guardian can reveal. The Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, Chuck Grassley, was on Friday preparing a fresh tranche of questions for Lynch about the huge cache of leaked data showing how HSBC's subsidiary helped conceal billions of dollars from domestic tax authorities. Grassley and another Republican senator are planning to investigate whether Lynch could have done more to stand up to the world's second largest bank."

The Wasteland Cometh. Darryl Fears of the Washington Post: "The long and severe drought in the U.S. Southwest pales in comparison with what's coming: a 'megadrought' that will grip that region and the central Plains later this century and probably stay there for decades, a new study says. Thirty-five years from now, if the current pace of climate change continues unabated, those areas of the country will experience a weather shift that will linger for as long as three decades, according to the study, released Thursday [by NASA & Columbia & Cornell universities]."

CW: This week, wingers were very, very upset with Justice Ruth Ginsburg for remarking in an interview that the country's attitudes about gay marriage were changing. Some insisted she recuse herself. Ginsburg said nothing about cases coming before the Court or the legal implications of society's changing views. ...

... Lou Chibbaro of the Washington Blade: "'The issue of gay rights, on abortion, on many of the issues in which Ruth's opinions and mine differ does not pertain to the substance,' [Justice Antonin Scalia] said [at a Smithsonian forum event with Ginsburg]. 'It doesn't pertain to whether gay people ought to have those rights or whether there ought to be a constitutional right or a right to an abortion,' he said. 'That isn't the issue. The issue is who decides,' Scalia told the gathering. 'That's all. I don't have any public views on any of those things. The point is who decides? Should these decisions be made by the Supreme Court without any text in the Constitution or any history in the Constitution to support imposing on the whole country or is it a matter left to the people?' he asked. 'But don't paint me as anti-gay or anti-abortion or anything else," he added. 'All I'm doing on the Supreme Court is opining about who should decide.'" ...

... CW: Obviously, Scalia is speaking directly to what he believes is a Constitutional question -- one that the Court will address at least once this term. How many wingers do you suppose will demand Scalia recuse himself. Funny, I can't find a one.

White House: "In this week’s address, the President laid out his plan to ensure more children graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career":

Oh, Yeah? Not so fast, Mr. President:

Socrates trained Plato in on a rock and then Plato trained in Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history. -- Rep. Dave Brat (RTP-Va.), advocating for cutting funding to schools in high-poverty areas. Brat has a Ph.D., but he's no Plato. The rocks in his education are all in his head.

Dana Milbank: "Now that no further harm can come to Kayla [Mueller], it can be told what an exceptional person she was." CW: Milbank's column provides a lovely response to a tiny gaggle of American confederate writers who cheered Mueller's death.

Adam Lerner of Politico: "President Barack Obama called the slayings earlier this week of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina 'brutal and outrageous' in a statement released Friday, but he declined to say whether or not he believes the killings constitute a hate crime. The statement came ... the day after the FBI announced it would begin investigating whether any federal laws -- including those relating to hate crimes -- had been violated. The U.S. Attorney's office in North Carolina's Middle District and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department also opened preliminary inquiries to determine if any federal laws were broken." President Obama's statement is here.

CW: For most of the day yesterday, i had a bad link to a BuzzFeed video of President Obama's finding an unusual way to promote Healthcare.gov. If you missed the video because I led you astray, here's a proper link. Enjoy!

John Bresnahan & Jake Sherman of Politico: "Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold has denied most of the salacious accusations lodged against him by a former press aide who is suing him over her firing. But Farenthold did admit that he was propositioned by a woman to be part of a 'threesome.' And House lawyers acting on Farenthold's behalf acknowledged in a Thursday court filing that some of his aides 'occasionally joked that Rep. Farenthold finds redheads attractive....'... House lawyers raised the prospect that Farenthold may use the 'Speech or Debate Clause' as a defense to fend off some accusations. Under that constitutional clause, lawmakers and aides cannot face legal action for legitimate legislative activities...."

Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: This week "... Phyllis Schlafly attacked President Obama for weakening American by bringing in 'foreign ideas and diseases and people who don't believe in self-government.' Schlafly said that while she believes that the United States 'should be the biggest and the best and the strongest,' the president believes 'just the opposite,' which is why he is letting into the country 'all these people with Ebola' and immigrants who 'are not familiar with the whole concept of limited government.' 'He wants us to be one of the boys,' she said. 'He wants us to be just like everybody else. That's why he's letting all these people with Ebola in. There's no reason why we should take on the African diseases.'..." ...

     ... CW Translation: "Barack Obama is black so he doesn't share our values." You have to give Schlafly credit for manageing to make references to the President's race in three or four different ways without saying, "he's black." Impressive.

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios is upset that media commentators like George Will are mocking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for refusing to say this week whether he believes in evolution.... 'There is no scientific evidence' to substantiate evolution, she said, at least according to 'the real experts.... Evolution has become the religion of the elite,' Rios said. '... The truth of the matter is that the evolutionists like George Will, waving their evolutionary theory, have become as rabid and unreasoned as what they accuse the Scopes monkey religionists of doing to Darwin during that time.... Science has disproven so much of evolution.... These guys are wrong, Scott Walker is right.'" CW: Thanks, Prof. Rios. ...

... Jamelle Bouie of Slate argues that in most instances, its' silly to ask a politician his views on evolution. "Views on evolution don't actually tell you anything about how a politician will act or how he'll approach science-based issues. Neither do they give any insight into public attitudes toward science.... A view on evolution doesn't say much about public policy, but it can mark you as a certain kind of religious believer or give you a chance to affirm your membership in one tribe or another."

Beyond the Beltway

No Happy Valentine's Day Here. Rob Davis of the Oregonian: "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned Friday amid the growing influence-peddling scandal involving him and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, becoming the state's first governor to resign in disgrace.... Kitzhaber's historic fourth term lasted just one month and one day, starting under a cloud of allegations that he and Hayes had abused his office, possibly committing crimes and ethics violations. The scandal only grew with revelations that Hayes was taking money as a private consultant and pushing the same policies in her public role as first lady. Secretary of State Kate Brown, a fellow Democrat, will succeed Kitzhaber." ...

... Kitzhaber's full statement, via the Washington Post, is here. ...

... The Oregonian has live updates here. The one at 4:20 pm PT is intriguing: "Kitzhaber could commute sentences of all 34 death row inmates before leaving office." ...

... Hunter Schwartz of the Washington Post: "Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will become the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history when Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigns Wednesday.... Brown isn't without her own controversy. Even as Kitzhaber's personal troubles were mounting late last month, she was facing questions about having written to the FCC endorsing Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable after having received campaign contributions from Comcast -- a letter that was reportedly written in large part by a Comcast lobbyist. Comcast has given Brown $9,500 since 2009, according the National Institute of Money in State Politics."

Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune: "A federal judge in New Orleans on Friday (Feb. 13) dismissed a controversial wetlands damage lawsuit filed by the east bank levee authority against more than 80 oil, gas and pipeline companies, ruling that the authority failed to make a valid claim against the energy firms.... U.S. District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown found that the levee authority's standing as a third party to federal and state permits granted to the energy companies was not strong enough to justify a financial claim against the companies.... The ruling also was praised by the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who opposed the suit." Brown is an Obama appointee. CW: Note that Brown threw out the case largely because she found the plaintiffs did not have sufficient standing, something we've discussed over the last couple of days re: the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell.

Ha! Mary Wisniewski of Reuters: "Illinois' comptroller will not implement an anti-union executive order issued by the state's new Republican governor earlier this week.... Leslie Munger, a fellow Republican who was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner, is following current law in not enforcing Rauner's order to eliminate 'fair share' fees for about 6,500 state employees, said a spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The fees are paid by workers who are represented by a union but have chosen not to join. A spokesman for Munger said that the comptroller will defer to Madigan's guidance as it relates to actions 'within the scope of her legal authority.' In addition to his order on Monday, Rauner also filed a lawsuit seeking to have the fees declared unconstitutional and wanted them placed in an escrow account during the legal process."

Joseph Slobodzian & Angela Couloumbis of the Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania's death penalty - used just three times since 1978 but as controversial as ever - was shelved by Gov. [Tom] Wolf [D] on Friday until after he gets the report of a task force studying the future of capital punishment. Acting on concerns he first expressed during last year's campaign, the new governor cited a wave of exonerationsf nationwide and questions about the effectiveness of executions."

Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times: "A 10-year-old girl accidentally shot her 8-year-old sister with her father's service weapon Friday morning after he left it on the bed while getting ready for work, police said. The girl's injury does not appear to be life threatening, Fresno Police Lt. Joe Gomez said. The girls' father is a deputy with the Madera County Sheriff's Department.... There was one bullet in the handgun's chamber. The magazine had been removed, [Gomez] said."

Capitalism is Awesome, Ctd. Kim Holland of KQRE News Albuquerque: When 79-year-old Francis Wilson accidentally mailed her rent check with her Comcast bill, Comcast cashed it, although the check was not made out to the giant media company. "Comcast said it wouldn't give Wilson a reimbursement check. They would only credit her Comcast account even though Wilson needed the money to pay her rent.... Within an hour of KRQE News 13 calling Comcast, a fix was in the works. The company gave her a $235 reimbursement check, $235 cash and a $235 credit on her cable bill." CW: Hey, at least when Wilson complained, Comcast didn't change her name to Asshole Wilson.

Presidential Race

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Jeb Bush's money juggernaut is far eclipsing the efforts of his would-be rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, putting his two political committees on pace to amass an unprecedented sum of tens of millions of dollars by early spring."

Gail Collins discusses Scott Walker's views on education. "His view of teaching is apparently that anybody can do it. Just the way anybody can be president. As long as they don't make you talk about evolution." ...

... Scott Bauer of the AP: "Walker has frequently told the story of how 'outstanding teacher of the year' Megan Sampson lost her job in 2010.... Sampson actually won the Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award, given by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English for first-year language arts teachers. And while she was laid off in June 2010 from a job in Milwaukee, she was hired by another nearby district for a job that following fall." CW: Ergo, she was never out of work.

Voodoo Economics I. Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) wants to mimic a tax cut experiment that has already brought fiscal calamity and public service cuts to a state 600 miles west of his. Kasich describes his $696 million tax cut as a helping hand to small businesses. But the design of the cut would put the bulk of that benefit into the hands of just a few high-income business entities with a handful of employees while providing just a few hundred dollars each to the vast majority of the people who would benefit, according to an analysis by the Cleveland Plain Dealer." ...

     ... CW: Kasich, a former chair of the House Budget Committee, doesn't have just the Worst Idea in American Politics; he also has the Second World Idea in American Politics.

Voodoo Economics II. Rand Paul.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Andrew Kramer & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "As fighting erupted throughout eastern Ukraine on Friday before a cease-fire at midnight on Saturday, the United States accused Russia of joining separatist rebels in an all-out attack on Ukrainian forces around the contested town of Debaltseve. When the pact was signed with a two-day window before the truce, some last-minute jockeying for position was expected. But the intensity and scope of the violence raised concerns that the agreement signed this week, rife with ill-defined and ambiguous provisions, might prove as ineffective as the first cease-fire pact, signed in September."

News Ledes

AFP: "A gunman killed at least one person and wounded three police officers after opening fire Saturday on a cultural centre in Copenhagen as it was hosting a debate on Islam and free speech. Swedish artist Lars Vilks -- the author of controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons that sparked worldwide protests in 2007 -- was among those at the debate targeted by the gunman, who fled the scene after a shootout with police."

New York Times: "The United States released satellite images on Saturday meant to bolster its case that Russia has joined separatists in an all-out assault on the Ukrainian Army during the window before a midnight cease-fire is to take effect. When the pact was announced Thursday, some last-minute jockeying for position was expected before the cease-fire went into effect. Instead, a bloody free-for-all, alarming in its scope and intensity, ensued on the snowy steppe south of here, near the contested town of Debaltseve."