The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, April 26, 2015.

New York Times: "A powerful earthquake shook Nepal on Saturday near its capital, Katmandu, killing more than 1,900 people, flattening sections of the city’s historic center, and trapping dozens of sightseers in a 200-foot watchtower that came crashing down into a pile of bricks." ...

     ... Update: "By Monday afternoon, Nepalese authorities had sharply raised the death toll to more than 3,400, but the full extent of the devastation and death was still unclear."

New York Times: "A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos [in Baltimore] on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 arrests near Camden Yards. Shortly before 10 p.m., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake convened a news conference at City Hall, where she appeared with several others — including Mr. Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka; a prominent pastor, Jamal Bryant; and City Councilman Brandon Scott — to appeal for calm. By that time the disturbances had largely settled.

Public Service Announcement

Reuters: "Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze."

White House Live Video
April 24

Sorry. This is yesterday's livefeed. Since the White House doesn't date their schedule (despite my repeated requests) I just can't tell. I probably won't have time to republish today's schedule, should the White House ever get around to publishing it.

10:00 am ET: President Obama makes a statement

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus (audio only)

2:15 pm ET: President Obama honors the Super Bowl champs

4:55 pm ET: President Obama speaks at the Organizing for Action summit

7:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at an Israel Independence Day ceremony (audio only)

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

White House: "For a new state china service, First Lady Michelle Obama wanted it to have modern elements, but also for it to be practical, in the sense that it would be complementary to the preceding historic state services. The Obama State China Service consists of eleven-piece place settings for 320":

Timothy Simon of "Veep" gets ready to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is Saturday, April 25:

... Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live will headline the event.

MOOCS! Washington Post: For $45, anyone can become a freshman at Arizona State University. "Students can take classes online for a fee, then decide whether to pay reduced tuition for the credits."

The Sex Life of David Brooks is apparently intensely interesting to Villagers who do not participate in it.

Washington Post: "Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental." During a competition in Dubai, the Georgian grandmaster allegedly hid an iPhone in the bathroom, then consulted a chess app during play.

CBS News: "'Face the Nation' Host Bob Schieffer announced Sunday that CBS News political director John Dickerson will become the new host of 'Face the Nation' this summer when he retires." CW: So "Face the Nation" is going to become even worse. Follows the well-established pattern of Sunday morning "news" shows.

New York Times: "Bob Schieffer, a television anchor who has worked at CBS for nearly half a century and interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon, announced Wednesday night that he was retiring this summer. Mr. Schieffer, 78, made the announcement while giving an address at Texas Christian University, his alma mater." CW: This will be a great disappointment to Charles Pierce, as regular readers of Pierce's posts will recognize.

I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years.... We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.... We are not talking about little green men, Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes. -- Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA

It's definitely not an if, it's a when. -- Jeffery Newmark of NASA

... The L.A. Times story, from which the above citations come, is fascinating.

Washington Post: "The quote on the stamp originated with [Joan Walsh] Anglund.... 'Yes, that’s my quote,' Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems 'A Cup of Sun,' published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from 'he' in Anglund’s original to 'it' on the stamp." CW: These are forever stamps. Maybe you should rush to the Post Office & buy a pane.

Guardian: "Allegations that a 17-year-old was forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew, which prompted a crisis at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, have been removed from a federal court case by a judge in the US. Judge Kenneth Marra ordered Virginia Roberts’s accusations about Andrew, the Duke of York, to be struck from the record and denied her attempt to join a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the prince and a convicted sex offender. 'At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary,' Marra wrote in his order, issued at the US district court in southern Florida on Tuesday morning.... Andrew and Buckingham Palace vehemently deny Roberts’s allegations."

Washington Monthly: "Today [April 7] marks the centennial of Billie Holliday’s birth."

Wild Things Interrupt President Obama's reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House's Easter Egg Roll:

... Don't Worry, Bee Happy. Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "The pint-sized guests Monday might not have listened to him, but the president’s National Pollinator Initiative will forge ahead. Last June Obama launched an inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which help sustain crops ranging from almonds to blueberries and broccoli, and it should be unveiling a detailed plan in a matter of months."

The Coolest First Lady in the History of the Nation:


Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "For her forthcoming book, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House,” Kate Andersen Brower managed to elicit stories from domestic staff who witnessed up close the loneliness of President Nixon as he faced impeachment, the weariness of Hillary Clinton as her husband’s sex scandal exploded and other surprisingly intimate moments involving the first families. Most of these stories — from Nancy Reagan’s tirade over three broken tchotchkes to the tearful hug Jackie and Bobby Kennedy shared with a favorite doorman in an elevator — are attributed to staffers by name, not wrapped in the cloud of anonymous sourcing that usually cloaks reporting about the inner workings of the White House." ...

Here's What $75MM Buys:

... Orange County Register: "President Richard Nixon's Western White House, an oceanfront San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert, is for sale at $75 million. Herbert, 83, is selling the 5.45-acre estate after owning the property for 35 years." Includes slideshow.

New York: "Here's a spoiler for people who haven't finished House of Cards season three yet: Frank Underwood doesn't die, because Netflix [April 2] announced that it had renewed Cards for a fourth season."

Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday afternoon, just about lunch time, a 'flying saucer' was undergoing a spin test in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The saucer is technically a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle. It is designed to help engineers try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars."

Guardian: "Comedy Central is standing by its new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, after the 31-year-old South African comedian set to replace Jon Stewart was criticized for a series of controversial jokes he tweeted before his appointment." ...

... Jessica Winter of Salon: "Not since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate have the vetting capacities of a powerful political force been cast into such doubt." Besides being a misogynist pig & an anti-Semite, Noah isn't even funny."

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Sunday
Apr122015

The Commentariat -- April 13, 2015

** Reality Chek. Paul Krugman: Pay no attention to the personalities of the presidential candidates. "The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins." CW: Read the whole column, especially the part near the end on how the media will treat the nominees of each party.

Second Most Annoying Campaign Launch Ever

Honestly, this beats Ted Cruz by a long shot & loses only to Ronald Reagan's outreach to racists:

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Ending two years of speculation and coy denials, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee. 'I'm running for president,' she said with a smile near the end of a two-minute video released just after 3 p.m." CW: I don't know what Juanito will do, but it couldn't be dumber unless he just held up a sign that read, "Yes, I'm a total phony. Send money." ...

... CW: For the first 30 seconds of the vid, I thought I was watching an ad for an unspecified something -- mortgage loans, home insurance maybe -- & was annoyed there was no Skip Ad arrow. Hillary must be using the same Mad Men as Goldman Sachs or CitiBank. ...

... Maggie Haberman & Patrick Healy of the New York Times discuss the video, making Krugman's point, & a few minor ones of mine.

Jaime Fuller of New York: "Her campaign's Facebook page is live too.... However, the news first broke -- the news of her announcement, not the obvious fact that she was going to run -- via emails that John Podesta, the chair of Clinton's campaign, sent to former Hillary '08 campaigners and potential donors." ... Which inspired James Poniewozik of Time to tweet, "Possibly the most stirring piece of American political rhetoric since Lincoln's Second Inaugural Message to Top Donors Through an Aide." Clinton's Facebook page is here.

Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "While Clinton sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 primarily on her record as a lawmaker, early moves indicate her campaign will work this time to reintroduce her by embracing her earlier history. Clinton's biography posted to her campaign website is written in an unusually personal tone, describing her father, Hugh, as a 'rock-ribbed Republican' and highlighting her own position on a girls softball team."

Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico: "When Hillary Clinton said she was going to hit the road, she meant it. The newly declared presidential candidate is on her way to Iowa, from New York, in a van after announcing her candidacy online Sunday afternoon." ...

... CW: She should have asked me. I would have suggested a used blue GM Silverado pick-up pulling a dented Airstream, with a couple of Hillary-for-America "Hospital This Way" signs slapped on the sides. And she definitely should do the driving. (For folks along the road actually looking for a hospital, Hillary's roadshow could be fatal, what with the sign on the left side of the vehicle facing north & the sign on the right facing left.) ...

(... BTW, the logo wasn't something some over-the-hill staffer knocked out at the last minute on MSPaint. Philip Rucker & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post, February 21, 2015: "In their mission to present voters with a winning picture of the likely candidate, no detail is too big or too small -- from her economic opportunity agenda to the design of the 'H' in her future campaign logo.")

Here's Amy Davidson's take on Hillary's rollout.

** Bill Curry, Salon, writing before the actual "launch": "For months Clinton has run a front-porch campaign -- if by porch you mean Boo Radley's. Getting her outdoors is hard enough; when she does get out it's often to give paid speeches to people who look just like her: educated, prosperous and privileged. Needing desperately to connect with the broader public, she opts for the virtual reality of a pre-taped video delivered via social media." Read the whole post.

Jonathan Chait: "Unless the economy goes into a recession over the next year and a half, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the presidential election. The United States has polarized into stable voting blocs, and the Democratic bloc is a bit larger and growing at a faster rate."

Nate Silver: "The truth is that a general election win by Clinton -- she's very likely to become the Democratic nominee -- is roughly a 50/50 proposition. And we're not likely to learn a lot over the rest of 2015 to change that."

Jamelle Bouie sees Clinton as the Democrats' last hope. "The simple fact is that even if everything goes well for Democrats in 2016, even if they hold the presidency and pick up the Senate as well, their long-term prospects are dire. After eight years in the White House, the party has atrophied, and given the partisan and demographic trends that are driving American politics -- in particular, the demographic divergence in midterm and presidential elections -- it's not clear what Democrats can do to fix the problem. Here's where we are: Far more than its competitor, the Democratic Party is at a crossroads. At the moment, it's being held together by its president and his potential successor, Hillary Clinton. But this obscures intraparty conflict and the extent to which the party is in desperate need of rebuilding for the second and third decades of the 21st century."

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: The economic issues are monumental now. Hillary should throw caution to the wind & go big, something she is not accustomed to doing.

Elmo! Rebecca Traister of the New Republic: No, Hillary is not a dynastic heir.

Mark Hensch of the Hill: GOP candidates spent Sunday knocking Hillary Clinton.

Marco Rubio will announce something today. Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Hours after Hillary posted her elaborate campaign video, featuring a montage of almost every type of American who could conceivably vote Democrat, Rubio shared [a] ... grainy 9-second video shot on a windswept street behind the Freedom Tower does not scream 'professional campaign operation.' On the other hand, if the backdrop for tomorrow's speech is anything other than 'Miami traffic,' it will look great by comparison." Post includes grainy video with hurricane-like audio. CW: Sorry I couldn't get hold of the actual video, but this one is close enough: ...

(... Remember that Marco, who is not a scientist, man, is not qualified to be a local weatherman. ...)

... Tim Mak of the Daily Beast: Tea partiers "helped propel Marco Rubio into the Senate -- but many say they feel betrayed by him, and they won't support his presidential bid, expected to launch Monday." ...

... Here's one reason Marco doesn't know squat about foreign policy even though he's served on the Senate Foreign Relations & Intelligence Committees. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "In 2011, just months after joining the Senate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) missed three hearings called in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to a review of attendance records. Rubio has kept a busy political travel schedule since arriving in Washington -- and his activities off the Hill have made him the most-absent senator, according to a review of records by GovTrack, a nonpartisan group that catalogs government activity."

... AND in Other News

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "The White House this week will make a messaging push on two key Democratic economic issues, income inequality and equal pay for women, as Hillary Clinton ramps up her presidential campaign. President Obama will travel to Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday to meet with working women and plug his budget proposal, which would increase taxes on the wealthy while upping tax credits for middle-class and low-income families...."

Seung Min Kim & Burgess Everett of Politico: "Senators return this week to a familiar fight over abortion and Loretta Lynch's long-stalled confirmation to be attorney general -- and the partisan gridlock shows no signs of easing. Both sides are confident they have the upper hand politically, and neither party wants to relent in a fight over abortion ahead of the 2016 election."

Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "A cadre of wealthy liberal donors aims to pour tens of millions of dollars into rebuilding the left's political might in the states, racing to catch up with a decades-old conservative effort that has reshaped statehouses across the country."

Beyond the Beltway

Melissa Chan of the New York Daily News: "It was a mistake. That's the blasé explanation Oklahoma officials gave after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white deputy who accidentally pulled his gun when he meant to use his Taser. The botched encounter was captured on a disturbing video released by police on Friday -- nine days after the fatal Tulsa shooting." ...

... See also this post by Judd Legum of Think Progress. ...

... "'Pay to Play' Cop. Kate Briquelet of the Daily Beast: "The volunteer cop in Tulsa, Okla., who killed an unarmed black man was forking over thousands in donations and equipment after becoming an unpaid sheriff's deputy. Robert Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive-turned-deputy, accidentally fired his gun instead of a Taser -- costing Eric Harris, 44, his life and adding to the tally of deadly police shootings against minorities nationwide.... [Bates] also chaired Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz's reelection campaign in 2012."

News Lede

New York Times: "Günter Grass, the German novelist, social critic and Nobel Prize winner whom many called his country's moral conscience but who stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II, died on Monday. He was 87."

Saturday
Apr112015

The Commentariat -- April 12, 2015

Wherein President Obama decisively whacks John McCain & most U.S. Senators & urges them to STFU (about 13:45 min. in):

... Nahal Toosi of Politico on remarks McCain has made about Kerry. ...

... McCain's Twitter response to President Obama's remarks: "So Pres Obama goes to #Panama, meets with Castro and attacks me -- I'm sure Raúl is pleased" in a statement which Toosi cites, McCain made a more measured response.

... Julie Davis & Randal Archibold of the New York Times: "President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba met [in Panama] Saturday, in the first face-to-face discussion between the leaders of the two countries in a half century. Seated beside Mr. Castro in a small room in the convention center downtown where the summit was being held, Mr. Obama called the event 'an historic meeting.' The president cast his decision to seek normalized relations with Cuba after 50 years of estrangement in a bid to reverse a failed policy":

... The Washington Post story, by Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff, is here. ...

... Joshua Goodman & Josh Lederman of the AP: "President Barack Obama met privately with his Venezuelan counterpart Saturday amid a bitter dispute between the two nations over recent U.S. sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials. The meeting between Obama and President Nicolas Maduro took place on the sidelines of the Summit of Americas and lasted only a few minutes, according to a White House official, who wasn't authorized to comment by name. The encounter comes after the Obama administration declared the economic and political crisis in Venezuela a national security threat for the U.S. and froze the U.S. assets of seven officials accused of human rights abuses tied to anti-government protests last year in Venezuela."

** The New York Times editors condemn Republican attacks on President Obama: "If this insurrection is driven by something other than a blend of ideological extremism and personal animosity, it is not clear what that might be. But it is ugly, it deepens mistrust of government and it harms the office of the president, not just Mr. Obama."

Annals of "Justice," Ctd. Kimberly Kindy & Kimbriell Kelly of the Washington Post: "Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved." This is a long piece. ...

... Here's a breakdown of the 54 cases. "In three-quarters of the reviewed cases, the race of the charged officer was white. Of those, two-thirds shot and killed a black person. In none of the cases did a black officer fatally shoot a white person."

... Frank Serpico in Politico: "I've been saying this for a long time, ever since I spoke before the Knapp Commission investigating corruption in the NYPD more than 40 years ago: Unless we create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around, the system will never change. Unless honesty is rewarded more often than corruption, the police will lose credibility altogether."

AG Eric Holder has to remind DOJ personnel "that they are prohibited from soliciting, procuring, or accepting commercial sex. This rule applies at all times during an individual's employment, including while off duty or on personal leave, and applies regardless of whether the activity is legal or tolerated in a particular jurisdiction, foreign or domestic." ...

... Jaime Fuller of New York: "This may seem like an obvious rule, but the DOJ also had to release a report last month detailing the cartel-funded sex parties Drug Enforcement Administration agents were hosting."

... ** Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Garry Trudeau, in the Atlantic, on "The Abuse of Satire."

God News. Henry Samuel of the Telegraph: "Pope Francis has reportedly barred the nomination of a close aide of President Francois Hollande as new French ambassador to the Vatican because he is gay. The apparent rejection calls into question the pope's reputation as holding more liberal views on homosexuality. Laurent Stefanini, 54, a senior diplomat and Mr Hollande's chief of protocol, was nominated in early January but the Vatican has maintained a stony silence over whether it accepts his credentials, officials in Paris said."

Presidential Race

Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian: "The political world's worst-kept secret will officially escape out into the wild shortly before noon Eastern time with the launch of Clinton's campaign website." ...

... CW Update: It's after noon ET, and if Hillary Clinton's team has launched her Website, I'll be darned if I can find it. ...

... UPDATE 2: The Guardian is actually liveblogging Clinton's activities: "Clinton has now delayed her announcement; the plan changed over the weekend after the Guardian reported on it and multiple news outlets began detailed preparations for the announcement." CW: Please, Democrats, find another candidate. ...

... UPDATE 3, via the Guardian: Looks like Hillary left it to John Podesta to make the announcement. This is downright silly.

Annie Karni of Politico: "Hillary Clinton's campaign-in-waiting held its final pre-game briefing Saturday at its Brooklyn Heights headquarters, just ahead of her expected official entry into the race on Sunday. During an hour-long meeting..., Robby Mook, who will serve as campaign manager, distributed a mission statement to all aides in which he detailed the core values the campaign organization will be based on: diversity, discipline and humbleness, according to a Democratic operative who attended the meeting."

Grandma Hillary. Maureen Dowd: "Instead of a chilly, scripted, entitled policy wonk, as in 2008, Hillary plans to be a warm, spontaneous, scrappy fighter for average Americans. Instead of a woman campaigning like a man, as in 2008, she will try to stir crowds with the idea of being the first woman president. Instead of haughtily blowing off the press, as in 2008, she will make an effort to play nice."

Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "The deluge of derision this weekend from Republicans responding to Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential launch is the start of a highly coordinated effort by national GOP leaders and conservative groups to effectively begin the general-election campaign against the likely Democratic nominee."

Benghaaazi! Secretary Clinton's decision to seek the presidency of the United States does not and will not impact the work of the committee. The Committee needs to and expects to talk with Secretary Clinton twice, as ensuring the committee has all relevant material is a condition precedent to asking specifically about Libya and Benghazi. -- Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi

Ari Melber of MSNBC: "Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley says if he runs for president, he will try to pull the Democratic Party back to its populist roots."

Not Satire. Andy Borowitz: "The two major political parties' unconscionable waste of money officially commences this weekend, as Democrats and Republicans will soon begin spending an estimated five billion dollars of their corporate puppet masters' assets in an unquenchable pursuit of power."

Other Candidates

Maximum Crazy. Joanna Walters of the Guardian: "The National Rifle Association's Annual Meetings and Exhibits continued in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend.... Most of the leading Republican hopefuls were scheduled to speak, and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, was a particular target, 24 hours before she was scheduled to officially launch her bid for the White House.... [Ted] Cruz called Clinton a 'gun-grabber' for her support for gun control legislation, while [Bobby] Jindal said she was part of a 'vast leftwing conspiracy' and called the NRA 'the most effective civil rights organisation' in the US."

Juanito Arbusto Now Claiming to Be Plain Ole White Guy. Andrew Kaczynski & Megan Apper of BuzzFeed: "Florida Gov. Jeb Bush updated his voter registration the day a New York Times story revealed he listed himself as Hispanic on the form in 2009."

When Randy was Doogie. Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post: "When he was a surgical resident in Atlanta, his friends called him 'Doogie Howser' because he still looked like a teenager. Unlike his four siblings, he made a life for himself far from Texas. Rand and his wife, Kelley -- who originally became interested in him at a party in 1989 when she overheard him discussing Dostoevsky...."

... Here's Li'l Randy, ca. 2010, on Ayn Rand & Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

Beyond the Beltway

I feel Walter's death was motivated by racial prejudice. -- The Rev. George Hamilton, at the funeral of Walter Scott

Frances Robles & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter L. Scott, the black man whose killing by a white police officer was captured on video.... The pastor at WORD Ministries Christian Center, where Mr. Scott worshiped, minced no words, telling the standing-room-only crowd that Mr. Scott had died because he was black. The pastor, the Rev. George D. Hamilton, stressed that most law enforcement officers serve honorably, but he urged the members of South Carolina's congressional delegation who attended the funeral to take up the issue of police killings in Washington so that African-Americans 'don't have to be scared every time they get pulled over.'" ...

Melissa Boughton of the Charleston Post & Courier: "The National Bar Association, made up of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges, is calling for the immediate arrest and indictment of North Charleston police officer Clarence Habersham, the second officer shown in the Walter Scott shooting video. According to a statement the organization released Friday, members are also demanding Habersham and any other North Charleston police officer who allegedly filed a false police report be terminated. The organization claims Habersham 'deliberately left material facts out of his report' after officer Michael Slager shot and killed Scott, and made false statements about the incident."

Peter Holley of the Washington Post: "A California sheriff has suspended 10 deputies involved in a brutal beating of a suspect on Thursday that was caught on camera by a news helicopter.... [The suspect Francis] Pusok was treated at a local hospital for abrasions and bruises, then booked on multiple criminal charges, including felony evasion, theft of a horse, possession of stolen property. He also has an active warrant for reckless driving."

News Lede

New York Times: "Stanley I. Kutler, a historian who fought for the release of President Richard M. Nixon's White House tapes and concluded that they proved Nixon was 'deeply and intimately involved in sometimes criminal abuses of power, both before and after the Watergate break-in,' died on Tuesday in Fitchburg, Wis., a suburb of Madison. He was 80." CW: Prof. Kutler also had the distinct privilege of teaching me.

Friday
Apr102015

The Commentariat -- April 11, 2015

** Tim Egan: "The great, nation-shaping accomplishments of Lincoln's day happened only because the South, always with an eye on protecting slavery and an estate-owning aristocracy, had left the union -- ridding Congress of the naysayers.... What unites the Republican Party, on this 150th anniversary of the murder of Lincoln, is that they are against the type of progressive legislation that gave rise to their party." ...

... CW: Wars are always mistakes, albeit sometimes unavoidable. The American Civil War was avoidable. It was Lincoln's Big Mistake. He should have let those people go.

"Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro will hold a bilateral meeting Saturday on the margins of the Summit of the Americas here, the first such encounter between leaders of the two nations in more than 50 years, White House officials said. Planning for an Obama-Castro meeting has been a slow diplomatic choreography since December, when the two leaders announced that Cuba and the United States would restore diplomatic relations, including three rounds of lower-level negotiations over the mechanics of normalization." ...

     ... The New York Times story, by Julie Davis & Randal Archibold, is here. ...

... Josh Lederman of the AP: "The presidents of the United States and Cuba have spoken by phone for only the second time in more than 50 years, setting the stage for a historic encounter between the two leaders at a regional summit starting Friday in Panama. The call between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro came on Wednesday, shortly before Obama departed Washington on his trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, the White House said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration is planning to impose a major new regulation on offshore oil and gas drilling to try to prevent the kind of explosions that caused the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, administration officials said Friday. The announcement of the Interior Department regulation, which could be made as soon as Monday, is timed to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the disaster, which killed 11 men and sent millions of barrels of oil spewing into the gulf. The regulation is being introduced as the Obama administration is taking steps to open up vast new areas of federal waters off the southeast Atlantic Coast to drilling, a decision that has infuriated environmentalists."

** Tim Egan: "The great, nation-shaping accomplishments of Lincoln's day happened only because the South, always with an eye on protecting slavery and an estate-owning aristocracy, had left the union -- ridding Congress of the naysayers.... What unites the Republican Party, on this 150th anniversary of the murder of Lincoln, is that they are against the type of progressive legislation that gave rise to their party." ...

... CW: Wars are always mistakes, albeit sometimes unavoidable. The American Civil War was avoidable. It was Lincoln's Big Mistake. He should have let those people go.

Emily Badger & Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "In case you are still skeptical that many of the non-poor -- and, in fact, a lot of the rich -- receive benefits from government, too (for which we don't make them pee in a cup or promise not to buy luxuries), we've rounded up some more examples below." CW: Tax week is upon us. Don't forget to take your yacht deduction. ...

... CW: Finally, a "welfare" benefit that I, too, find outrageous. Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: "Hundreds of Puerto Rico's residents qualified for federal disability benefits in recent years because they lacked fluency in English, according to government auditors. The Social Security Administration's inspector general questioned the policy this month in light of the fact that Spanish is the predominant language in the U.S. territory." ...

     ... Update: See today's Comments.

White House: "In this week's address, the Vice President laid out his and the President's plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students":

"The Laffer Swerve." Paul Krugman: "The question you should ask ... is why [Arthur Laffer's] always-wrong economic doctrine now has a stronger grip on the GOP than ever before.... And of course it's not just economic policy. What do we do in the face of a major party gone mad?" ...

... Steve Benen: "... the economic plan Laffer created for Kansas has resulted in debt downgrades, weak growth, and state finances in shambles.... Many Republican presidential hopefuls -- including the entire current top tier -- are eager to bring their economic plans in line with Laffer's discredited thinking. Or put another way, a wide variety of national GOP candidates are looking at recent developments in Kansas and thinking, 'How can I impose this model on the entire United States?'"

Manny Otiko of Salon: Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican & former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff on GOP warmongering & racism.

Keith Alexander & Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: 'An off-duty member of the Secret Service's uniformed division was arrested Friday morning and charged with trying to kick in the front door of his ex-girlfriend's apartment. Arthur E. Baldwin, 29, was charged with first-degree burglary and destruction of property."

Charles Pierce on how police racism makes us all less safe.

Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate: "The White House released the Obamas' 2014 tax returns Friday.... The Obamas paid an effective federal tax rate of 18.8 percent ($93,362 on total income of $495,964). That's around normal for a household at their income level, per this chart, and is lower than the effective rates paid in many developed countries. It's also more than the 14.1 percent Mitt Romney famously paid in 2011." The President's & Vice President's tax returns are here.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Hadas Gold of Politico: "Bloomberg Politics published a report about Nancy Reagan based off of fake news site NationalReport.net . The piece, headlined 'Nancy Reagan gives her endorsement to... Hillary Clinton,' quoted a supposed 'Drudge Report' saying that the former first lady told the History Channel series 'First Ladies In Their Own Words' that it's time for a female president.... The piece, which was published just before 5 p.m. on Friday, was deleted within minutes.... Bloomberg has reposted the article with a note that the piece has been retracted. 'This story has been retracted. We fell for a hoax. Apologies,' the note states." ...

     ... CW: Not anymore. The page has been 404'd as of 8:45 pm ET Friday.

Presidential Race
All Hillary, All Weekend!

Anne Gearan & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Instead of a splashy launch event, Clinton's plan is a calculated understatement. She is scheduling a series of small roundtables and other give-and-take sessions with voters, first in Iowa and later in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- the states holding the first presidential primaries and caucuses early next year. The idea is to showcase Clinton's abilities as a problem-solver and crusader for the rights of those struggling to climb into or stay in the middle class.... Clinton's human-scale approach is modeled on the listening tour she conducted across New York state at the start of her successful 2000 Senate race." ...

... CW: The approach also is a concession to two factors: (1) Clinton can't give the stem-winding, ideologically-winger types of speeches that Ted Cruz & Rand Paul did. (2) She might find it tough to fill a hall with wildly-cheering enthusiasts (even going the Cruz route of assembling a crowd of the conscripted wouldn't work for her, as the detractors wouldn't just be a few fellows in Rand Paul T-shirts).

Brian Beutler of the National Journal: Hillary Clinton's run for the Democratic nomination, which may go virtually unchallenged, is "the source of genuine anxiety among liberals, who worry she'll enter the general election rusty and untested unless someone formidable dares to challenge her in the primary.... It may even be the case that some of these Democrats with rattled nerves are less anxious about Clinton's prowess against Republicans than about the fact that all of the party's hopes now rest on her shoulders. Her campaign has become a single point of failure for Democratic politics.... If she loses, it will be absolutely devastating for liberalism."

John McCormick of Bloomberg: "... nearly three-quarters of Democrats and independents in [a Bloomberg] survey said it would be a good thing for the Democratic Party if she were to face a 'serious' challenger for the nomination. Democrats and independents hold the same view, with 72 percent of both groups saying her party would be best served by a robust primary."

David Freedlander of the Daily Beast: "After [announcing her presidential run, Hillary Clinton's] nascent campaign will embark on a fundraising push that the Clinton camp says will dwarf anything seen in the history of presidential politics. 'They are going to raise in one week what some Republican presidential candidates are going to raise the entire cycle,' said one Clinton aide." CW: Great! I feel much better about the future of democracy now.

Stephen Koff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Wasting no time, the Republican Party says it will launch Web ads critical of Hillary Clinton on Sunday, when she is expected to announce what the world has long expected: She is, in fact, running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016."

CW: As the news of Hillary's campaign washed me in a bath of ennui, I began wishing for a third Obama term. Now I learn there is hope! (Not that I'm all that thrilled about the "nuclear destruction" part, mind you.) ...

... Apocalypse Soon! Hitler! Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "In a WorldNetDaily column titled 'Is Iran Deal Part Of Obama-3rd-Term Scheme?,' conservative activist Alan Keyes writes today that President Obama has made a secret deal with Iran that allows the country to 'unleash nuclear destruction' since it would give him the justification to launch a Nazi-style 'coup d’état' here at home. Keyes, who was Obama's GOP challenger in the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois, alleges that Obama is aiding both ISIS and Iran in order to create an excuse to illegally remain in power after his second term in office." CW: Thank you, Alan Keyes; I'm feeling better already.

Some Other Candidates

Li'l Randy Walks out on Guardian Reporter. Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "The Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul walked out of a live interview with the Guardian on Friday, in his third testy exchange with a journalist since launching his campaign for president three days ago. The Kentucky senator abruptly ended the interview when he was pressed over whether his campaign focus on the racial imbalances of criminal justice reform would win him support among Republicans." CW: Again, Randy lectured the reporter, in this instance Paul Lewis. With video. Maybe reporters will now quit writing Hillary-hates-the-press stories. So far, she hasn't shushed any reporters or talked over them to lecture them on talking over her. ...

... Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "... it's the boring details of the organization that Paul is building that provide the best reason to take him seriously. If Paul's views are unusually idealistic, the ground game that his team is planning is pure realpolitik."

Charles Pierce on Scott Walker's serial mendacity & Politico's penchant for sugar-coating it.

New York Times Editors: "The use of [tax-exempt,] nonprofit groups for partisan politics has been growing in recent elections as the Internal Revenue Service has failed to draw firm lines against blatant politicking. The creation of a pro-Bush group floated by secret donors can only advance the nonprofit guise further, and rivals can be expected to match the deviousness with little to fear from the I.R.S. or the F.E.C."

Beyond the Beltway

Paloma Esquivel of the Los Angeles Times: "Ten San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies were placed on paid administrative leave Friday after TV news video showed them beating and kicking a suspect.... Also on Friday, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the incident....."

News Ledes

Reuters: "A man shot himself dead in front of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, police said, sparking a temporary security lockdown at the complex on one of the busiest days for tourists in Washington."

Washington Post: "An Egyptian American citizen has been sentenced to life in prison for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of a military coup that ousted the group from power in 2013. A Cairo criminal court issued the verdict against Ohio native Mohamed Soltan, 27, and 37 other defendants in a televised session Saturday. The judge also confirmed death sentences previously handed down to Soltan's father, Salah Soltan, and 13 others for 'inciting chaos' and planning anti-government demonstrations after the military takeover in July 2013."

Friday
Apr102015

The Commentariat -- April 10, 2015

Afternoon News:

Josh Lederman of the AP: "The presidents of the United States and Cuba have spoken by phone for only the second time in more than 50 years, setting the stage for a historic encounter between the two leaders at a regional summit starting Friday in Panama. The call between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro came on Wednesday, shortly before Obama departed Washington on his trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, the White House said."

*****

Karen DeYoung & Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "President Obama indicated Thursday that he is preparing to announce Cuba's removal from the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that should quickly lead to a full restoration of diplomatic ties and the opening of embassies in Havana and Washington. Speaking at a gathering of Caribbean leaders here, Obama said the State Department had finished a review of the issue. There is little doubt that it recommends he drop Cuba from the list, and the only real question is when the announcement will be made." ...

... Laurent Thomet & Andrew Beatty of AFP: "US President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro will put aside decades of Cold War-era tensions Friday, sitting at the same table with other regional leaders for a landmark summit. Obama and Castro will join some 30 other presidents at the two-day Summit of the Americas in Panama City, breaking bread at a seaside dinner in a complex of ruins from the era of the Spanish conquistadores." ...

... AP: "The U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met on Thursday evening in Panama City, where the Summit of the Americas kicks off on Friday. Officials described the meeting as lengthy. They say that Kerry and Rodriguez agreed that they had made progress and would keep working to address ongoing issues." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "The State Department has finished its review of Cuba's presence on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and forwarded its recommendation to the White House, President Obama said Thursday. Obama said he is waiting for his top aides to review the document and place it before him for a final decision." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: Chuck Schumer "set off a tempest this week when he issued a statement strongly supporting a bill that could disrupt a nuclear deal with Iran. With that bill, Congress is trying to ensure it has a say in the final agreement, and the strong stand by Mr. Schumer, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, suggested that he could oppose an accord President Obama sees as a potentially legacy-defining achievement. Mr. Schumer has since largely declined to elaborate and has said only that he will wait for a classified briefing before making further comment. His position -- annoying to the White House, at odds with the majority of Senate Democrats and expressed during a congressional recess -- reflects the vigorous crosscurrents Mr. Schumer faces in his first real test since Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, announced that he would retire, placing Mr. Schumer as heir apparent."

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: Sen. Robert "Menendez [D-N.J.] has enjoyed broad support from Democratic officials in New Jersey during his moment of crisis. But few, if any, have defended him as energetically as [Sen. Cory] Booker [D-N.J.], a junior lawmaker who has leaned on Mr. Menendez for guidance since joining the Senate in 2013. If Mr. Booker relied on Mr. Menendez to help ease his arrival in Washington, Democrats say the relationship has been almost reversed: Now, it is Mr. Menendez depending on Mr. Booker to stand by him as he fights to keep his job."

David Scharfenberg of the Boston Globe: "... Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday she opposes the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev." Scharfenberg reports on the views of other Massachusetts politicians.

Paul Krugman explains to dummies the reasons the government is better than the private sector at providing retirement income. CW: It's pretty sad that Krugman has to write a column like this, but Republicans & Villagers aren't too bright.

Jim Tankersley of the New York Times Washington Post (Oops!), who appears to know nothing about economics, writes a positive piece on fantasy economist Arthur Laffer, advisor to ignorant GOP presidential candidates, the guiding force behind Sam Brownback's destruction of Kansas's economy, & the world's number-one, ever-wrong supply-sider. (See also Glenn Kessler on Rand Paul, linked below.) For "balance," Tankersley does cite Krugman:

Laffer’s theories are so far detached from mainstream economics that 'there is no point of contact,' said Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a liberal columnist for the New York Times. 'This is not a wing of professional economic thought, for what that's worth. This is not at all the same kind of enterprise as what even conservative economics professors do.' Republicans love Laffer, Krugman said, not because his message is simple but because it conforms perfectly to a preexisting limit-the-government worldview: 'The point is, he's telling them what they want to hear.'

... Russell Berman of the Atlantic has a scathing piece on the worsening budget crisis in Kansas. Not to worry. As Tankersley reported, Arthur Laffer says "Kansas is doing fine."

Arlette Saenz of ABC News reports on President Obama's activities in Jamaica. ...

... Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: Jamaicans show their love for Obama.

Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times: "Iran's supreme leader challenged on Thursday two of the United States' bedrock principles in the nuclear negotiations, declaring that all economic sanctions would have to be lifted on the day any agreement is signed and that military sites would be strictly off limits to foreign inspectors.The assertions by the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, could be tactical...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "... although the legislative branch's constitutional prerogatives don’t depend on whether Congress reflects public opinion, it's worth noting on that on Iran, it most certainly does not. Since last Thursday's framework agreement, polls from both The Washington Post/ABC News and Reuters/Ipsos have shown that a small plurality of Republican voters actually support the Iran deal. Yet it's likely that every single Republican senator will oppose it. Democrats, the polls show, back the agreement by margins of three or five to one. Yet key Senate Democrats are skeptical of the deal, and few have endorsed it enthusiastically."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Digby explains the Daily Caller & editor Tucker Carlson: "Carlson's brother wrote a bogus story for Carlson's magazine and the magazine refused to correct it. Carlson's brother called the person who was asking for the retraction names in an email and sent it to her. When it was publicly revealed, Carlson defended him with a puerile wisecrack thus proving that this magazine not only hires puerile idiots it is being run by an overgrown 12 year old boy who has serious issues with women. (This is not surprising to anyone who has followed Carlson's career over the years.)" ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post has more. I like the part where Friar Tucker portrays his brother as the victim. (Then -- apparently falsely -- claims his brother apologized to the actual victim.) ...

... CW: Seems kinda unfair of Digby & Wemple to imply the Daily Caller is a joke when their reportorial skills are so excellent: Matt Wilstein of Mediaite: "Daily Caller Didn't Realize Politico Writer Was Being Sarcastic About Hillary. The Daily Caller learned the danger of basing an entire story on one tweet today when media reporter Alex Griswold posted a piece with the headline, 'Liberal Politico Reporter: Clinton Campaign "Collapsing Completely"' that focused on a tweet from Glenn Thrush that most would read as sarcasm." A Twitter flurry ensued. Thrush's last tweet: "It's funny how an organization with name 'caller' never does, at least before they press 'send'"

Presidential Race

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton is planning to officially launch her US presidential campaign on Sunday while en route to Iowa, a source familiar with the campaign has confirmed to the Guardian. The former secretary of state is scheduled to declare her second run for president on Twitter at noon eastern time on Sunday, the source told the Guardian, followed by a video and email announcement, then a series of conference calls mapping out a blitzkrieg tour beginning in Iowa and looking ahead to more early primary states." ...

... Ken Vogel of Politico: "During a private Clinton Foundation fundraiser last week in Austin, Texas, [Bill] Clinton rejected the premise of a March 29 New York Times story that described him as looking 'older than his 68 years' and detailed efforts by Hillary Clinton advisers 'to harness both the rare gifts and rash impulses' of the former president.'" ...

... Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "The Clinton Foundation reportedly accepted millions of dollars from a Colombian oil company head before then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to support a trade deal with Colombia despite worries of human rights violations." Here's the original report in International Business Times. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The End of the Inevitable. Again. Sabrina Saddiqui of the Guardian: "The Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is leading Hillary Clinton in a pair of key swing states, according to a poll released on Thursday. The survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University, finds Paul ahead of Clinton by three percentage points in Colorado, at 44% to 41%, and by one point in Iowa, at 43% to 42%. Several recent surveys have shown that Clinton's advantage is waning in a number of such battleground states."

Scott MacKay of Rhode Island Public Radio: "Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has announced that he is considering a campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. Chafee said the launch of his exploratory committee will be made via videos posted on his website, Chafee2016.com .... Chafee said he plans to spend the next few months in Iowa, the first caucus state, New Hampshire, which holds the kickoff presidential primary and 'other key battleground states.'" ...

... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos: "He says, 'I'm not naïve about the task ahead of me.' That task apparently includes letting people know he actually still exists." ...

... Annie Laurie of Balloon Juice also is less than impressed. ...

... Erik Loomis of LG&M: "I haven't felt this excited since Joe Lieberman finished in a 3-way tie for 3rd place (which was actually a pretty decisive 5th) in the 2004 New Hampshire primaries."

Michael Gerson, former and evidently current Bush flak, of the Washington Post: "In case after case, [Rand] Paul is attempting to cloak libertarian positions in Republican rhetoric. And sometimes he goes much too far. The emotional center of Paul's presidential announcement speech was the story of conducting a cataract operation on a man in Guatemala, who was then able to see his wife for the first time in years.... But Paul, of course, would eventually cut off funding for the USAID Child Blindness Program. And for vaccinations, and AIDS drugs and malaria treatments. Freeing nations from foreign aid, after all, is one reason he became a politician.... Paul is deceptive, because he can't talk frankly about his breathtakingly ambitious ideology, which is fundamentally unsuited to the strategic and moral challenges of our time." ...

The last president we had was Ronald Reagan that said we're going to dramatically cut tax rates. And guess what? More revenue came in, but tens of millions of jobs were created. -- -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, April 7

Paul falls into the trap of suggesting the Reagan tax cuts paid for themselves == and then some.... The Treasury Department in 2006 confirmed that tax cuts reduced revenue. Moreover, Reagan repeatedly boosted taxes during his term as president, in part to make up for lost revenue from his original tax cut. ... The tax cut itself was a money-loser -- and it was not the sole reason for 'tens of millions' of jobs. We cannot quite say Paul committed a Four-Pinocchio violation, but it's close. -- Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post

Rand Paul is an alarmingly ignorant -- and dangerous -- ideologue who has zero understanding of macroeconomics & no connection with facts. -- Constant Weader

... Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign has sent a cease-and-desist letter to television stations, demanding that they stop airing an ad that attacks Paul's position on Iran. The ad was created by the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America. It ties Paul to President Obama's Iran policy.... It labels the Kentucky senator as 'wrong and dangerous.' Politifact has rated the ad 'mostly false.'" ...

Dave Weigel of Bloomberg: "As Olivia Nuzzi reported in the Daily Beast, [Rand] Paul joined New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the elite, unhappy club of Republicans snubbed by the NRA this year.... 'The interesting thing is that there's probably no greater advocate for the Second Amendment in Congress than myself,' Paul said today [in a successful effort to prove he is unfamiliar with the proper employment of reflexive pronouns]. 'To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record's pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups.'"

... Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "Presidential fund-raising, never known for its transparency, may have just become even more secretive. In announcing his candidacy for president this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky waded into new waters when he said he would accept campaign contributions in Bitcoins, a largely untraceable virtual currency, in amounts up to $100.... In a ruling last year, the Federal Election Commission agreed to allow a political action committee to accept Bitcoins with a voluntary limit of $100, but the commissioners split over how the online currency -- which can fluctuate widely in value -- should be treated on a broader scale or whether it should be capped." CW: But can I use Bitcoins to buy me a nice pair a'them Rand Paul Flip-Flops?

Tina Nguyen of Mediaite: "In an interview with CNBC, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz expressed anger towards the 'left-wing editorial writers' who liked to call him out for making 'non-factual statements.' Cruz, speaking to John Harwood during a ten-question interview, dismissed the tendency of people to do things like fact-check his claims supporting his argument that the IRS should be abolished." Nguyen fact-checks Ted's complaint.

... Why shouldn't somebody listen to you and say, 'The guy'll just say anything -- doesn't have to be true'? -- John Harwood

There is a game that is played by left-wing editorial writers. It's this new species of yellow journalism called PolitiFact. -- Ted Cruz

Ironically, even as Cruz pans PolitiFact, some of their investigations debunk not Cruz's assertions but untrue things that have been said about him. However, it is true that his Politifact "Report Card" (undated, but apparently issued in late March) gives him what looks like a solid D-minus grade. -- Constant Weader

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "'The simple reality is millions of Americans are hurting right now under the Obama economy,' [Ted] Cruz [told John Harwood]. 'Yes, some jobs are being created, but not nearly as many have been destroyed. The rich, the top 1 percent, today earn a higher share of our income than any year since 1928.'... Cruz's reply becomes even more amazing when you consider Harwood was asking, in part, why anyone should take Cruz's claims seriously.... Cruz tried to prove Harwood wrong. Instead, he proved him correct." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Cruz's interview seems dedicated to the proposition that attempting to shove him in just one of the categories of stupid, evil, or crazy is a false choice. You can be all of those things! There's also a fourth category: evasive. Cruz displays this quality in droves." ...

... Here's the full text of Harwood's interview of Cruz.

Beyond the Beltway

Matt Hamilton & Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times: "A group of San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies are seen in a video shot Thursday repeatedly kicking and punching a suspect at the end of a bizarre horseback pursuit in a scene the county's sheriff described as 'disturbing.' A KNBC Channel 4 helicopter captured the chase, which appears to show the deputies striking the man, identified as 30-year-old Francis Pusok, even after he was on the ground with his hands held behind his back."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: Dashcam "video footage showing Walter Scott fleeing a traffic stop minutes before he was shot dead by police officer Michael Slager has been released by authorities in South Carolina." Includes video. ...

... Jon Swaine: "Walter Scott and police officer Michael Slager were struggling on the ground in the seconds before Slager shot Scott dead, [Feidin Santana,] the man who recorded video footage of the killing in South Carolina, said on Wednesday evening.... Santana said that as his video indicated, Scott was trying to escape a stun gun that Slager had fired into him when the North Charleston patrolman shot him repeatedly in the back." ... Video of the interview is here. ...

... AP: "The white South Carolina police officer charged with murder for shooting an unarmed black man in the back was allowed to stay on the force despite a 2013 complaint that he used excessive force against another unarmed black man." ...

... Evan McMurry of Mediaite: "The Morning Joe roundtable wondered Thursday morning whether there would be more charges leveled in the shooting death of Walter Scott, especially against the second police officer, who appeared on video to have witnessed Officer Michael Slager plant evidence by the victim’s body."

News Ledes

AFP: "The US Justice Department said Friday it arrested an Islamic State sympathizer who was plotting to carry out a suicide bomb attack on a US military base in Kansas. John T. Booker Jr, 20, is charged with 'attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction... attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,' the Justice Department said."

New York Times: "Islamic State fighters launched a heavy attack on government-held territory in Anbar Province late on Thursday and on Friday, killing 25 Iraqi police officers and soldiers, and then executing 15 family members of local police officers, according to Iraqi officials."

Washington Post: "A security guard was killed in a shooting at the Census Bureau's headquarters in Suitland[, Maryland,] on Thursday evening in an incident that authorities said began with an abduction in the District and ended with the suspect shot on H Street NE after a dramatic chase and shootout." ...

     ... UPDATE: "The man who authorities say fatally shot a security guard at the Census Bureau and was later wounded during a gun battle with D.C. police officers on Thursday has been identified as a 48-year-old from Southeast Washington. The suspect, Ronald Anderson, had been scheduled to appear in court in Prince George's County on Friday for a preliminary hearing on an assault charge."