The Ledes

Friday, March 16, 2018.

New York Times: "An American military helicopter crashed Thursday near the city of Qaim in western Iraq, killing some of the seven service members aboard, United States officials said. It was unclear why the aircraft, an HH-60 Pave Hawk, went down, the officials added. They did not rule out ground fire, and they could not confirm how many people had been killed. One official said the helicopter was not on a combat operation but was ferrying troops."

The Wires
The Ledes

Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Miami Herald: "The [Florida International University] pedestrian bridge across Southwest Eighth Street [in Miami, Florida] collapsed Thursday afternoon, trapping an unknown number of people and cars underneath. The bridge was installed at Southwest 109th Avenue Saturday morning, intended eventually to provide pedestrian access across Tamiami Trail from FIU’s main campus to Sweetwater, where thousands of students live in off-campus housing or in FIU’s newer dorms. Before Saturday’s installation, FIU said the method of overall installation significantly reduced the risk to workers, walkers, drivers and minimized traffic disruptions for construction." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: This is a developing story. MSNBC tentatively reported that "mass casualties" had occurred. ...

... New York Times Update: "At least four people were killed, according to the Miami-Dade County fire chief, Dave Downey. Some reports put the number of dead at six to 10."


ObamaTV. New York Times: "Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service.... The Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media...."

Chicago Tribune: "A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to [American aviator Amelia] Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study 'Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones' by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed." Jantz's conclusion is based on measurements of the bones taken by a medical doctor in 1941.

... Michael Rosenwald of the Washington Post has the full story.

Here's the L.A. Times' main Academy Awards page. ...

... And the award for Best Acceptance Remarks goes to ...

     ... "Inclusion Rider," explained.

The Power of Art. Here's the story:

Must-Not-See TV. AP: "Columnist Michael Gerson and commentator Amy Holmes are teaming to start a conservative-oriented talk show on PBS that takes its cue from William F. Buckley’s 'Firing Line,' which aired from 1966 to 1999. The new show, 'In Principle,' will air Friday nights starting April 13. PBS will decide after an eight-week run whether to continue." Mrs. McC: I can give them some advice on that right now.

New York Times: "On Tuesday [Feb. 27], an Alabama court unsealed [novelist Harper] Lee’s will, but the mystery surrounding one of American literature’s most cherished authors only deepened. The will, signed on February 11, 2016, eight days before her death, directed that the bulk of her assets, including her literary properties, be transferred into a trust she formed in 2011. Trust documents are private, so all questions about what will become of her literary papers and who beyond her closest relatives might benefit from her assets, will remain unanswered for now."

Grub Street: "England is almost a full week into its 'chicken drought,' the result of KFC switching food distributors to save money, only to have that backfire tremendously when its new bargain-rate delivery partner, DHL, didn’t, uh, deliver.” Chicken supplies dried up, and as many as 700 of KFC’s 900 U.K. locations were forced to close by the start of this week. Initially, the marketing folks tried lightening the mood with a joke that amounted to 'Why did the chicken cross the road? We have no clue, but it wasn’t to get to a KFC restaurant.' That went over poorly. Rightfully shamed, they’ve tried again today with a full-page apology ad in the Sun and Metro papers that features an empty KFC bucket":

... Thanks to MAG for the link. Imagine the horror of the church ladies if KFC had tried this is Kentucky Fried Kentucky.

New York Times: "Margaret Brennan, the senior foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, will be the next moderator of 'Face the Nation,' the network’s prestige Sunday morning public affairs show and one of the most influential venues in American politics. Her new role, announced by CBS on Thursday, makes Ms. Brennan, 37, the only woman currently serving as a solo anchor of a major Sunday political affairs show. She succeeds John Dickerson, who left 'Face the Nation' in January after less than three years to replace Charlie Rose on 'CBS This Morning.'”



The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling


The Commentariat -- February 2, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on "Revisionist History at the New York Times -- How a Fact Becomes an Anonymous Accusation." The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here. ...

... Peter Hart of FAIR critiques the New York Times' odd coverage of President Obama's addressing a question about U.S. use of drones. Here's my favorite sentence from Hart's review: "Granting anonymity to official sources because of 'intense public interest' in a story is a little puzzling." ...

... AND economist Dean Baker explains to New York Times business writer Steven Davidoff why it's a good idea for the creators of collaterized loan obligations (CLOs) to "have skin in the game," a requirement of Dodd-Frank. Apparently, it didn't occur to Davidoff that these creative financiers occasionally might be dishonest.

... BTW, the comments section is open, comme d'habitude.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon: Susan B. Komen for the Cure "has repeatedly come under fire for its extravagant promotion of itself as an organization dedicated to a 'cure,' when only a small portion of its expenses go to, you know, curing cancer.... Komen has also ... aligned itself with more dubious product placement than a 'Jersey Shore' marathon.... Its senior vice president of public policy [is] Karen Handel. During the Sarah Palin-endorsed, Tea Party favorite’s 2010 campaign for governor of Georgia, Handel declared, 'I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,' making clear that she 'strongly supports' laws prohibiting 'the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or abortion-related services.'" ...

... "Why the Right Hates Planned Parenthood." Irin Carmon of Slate: "As long as women remember Planned Parenthood as their lifesaver in providing sexual health counseling, emergency contraception or a pap smear, it’s harder to peg abortion providers as back-alley butchers. And it’s easier for them to understand the reality that abortion services are inseparable from any truly comprehensive women’s healthcare, whether one wants to choose them or not." ...

... Sam Baker of The Hill: "The country’s leading breast-cancer charity is facing massive blowback from the left over its decision to pull funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood’s supporters rallied to its defense, pouring money into the controversial organization and threatening to walk away in droves from the Susan G. Komen foundation." ...

... Gardiner Harris & Pam Belluck of the New York Times: "... the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, is now engulfed in a controversy that threatens to undermine one of the most successful advocacy campaigns. The foundation’s decision to eliminate most of its grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening caused a cascade of criticism from prominent women’s groups, politicians and public health advocates and a similarly strong outpouring of support from conservative women and religious groups that oppose abortion. Now, leaders of both the Komen foundation and Planned Parenthood are accusing each other of bad faith and actions that undermine women." CW: She said/she said. 'Nuff said.

Steve Benen: "When making a list of what issues are likely to be important in the general election, it's probably best to put housing policy near the top of the list." President Obama took his first shot at Romney:

It is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom. I refuse to accept that, and so do the American people. -- Barack Obama, yesterday

Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. -- Mitt Romney, in October 2011

      ... Here's President Obama, speaking in Falls Church, Virginia, yesterday:

Right Wing World

Qoute of the Day:

 ... "The Safety Net Is Not a Hammock." Joan Walsh of Salon: "... not only will Romney not repair the safety net, he is likely to shred it further. Romney supports Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would cut funding for virtually all the federal programs that help the poor. In fact, Romney’s own budget proposals would make even deeper cuts.... And Romney’s tax plan raises taxes on the bottom 20 percent of families, while giving millionaires a $146,000 tax break." ...

... Here's Walsh on Chris Matthews' show with John Harris, one of the executive editors of Politico. In case anyone has bought into the right's ludicrous claim that Politico is a left-wing rag, I give you -- John Harris:

... Jamison Foser of Media Matters has an excellent post on just how much Willard cares about "the plight of the poor," and how different he is from his father George Romney, who actually did care. ...

... Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... for a campaign that has itself been accused of taking President Obama’s words out of context, the remark about the poor immediately became cataloged in a growing list of awkward comments by Mr. Romney, including a remark that his speaking fees last year of $374,327 were 'not very much' and his line that 'corporations are people.'” CW: "Been accused of"? Um, Romney's campaign did take the President's remarks out of context, used them in an ad, & Romney himself boasted about it. The ad got a Pants-on-Fire "award" from PolitiFact. How would Parker know? Gosh, she herself wrote last year that the Obama quote was "taken out of context." ...

... Like Mitt Romney and me, you may be guilty of not feeling sorry enough for billionaires. Fortunately, Ted Olsen, former Bush II solicitor general and current attorney for the Koch brothers, feels their pain. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday, Olsen complains that in a move of Nixonian & McCarthyite proportions, President Obama has placed Charles & David Koch who are, after all, merely "private citizens," on an "enemies list." Olsen writes, "it is exceedingly important for all Americans to respond with outrage to what the president and his allies are doing to demonize and stigmatize David and Charles Koch." CW: Though Olsen implies in his lede that, "the president of the United States singled [the Kochs] out by name for attack," the evidence for this enemies list of two, according to this winger report, is an ad that doesn't actually name the Kochs. Olsen himself does not name a single instance in which the president on his minions of wannabe McCarthys have defamed his upstanding, philanthropic clients. Nonetheless, please, please, let us hear your outrage. As for me, I have no earthly idea how a somewhat unflattering image of a Two-Headed Koch Monster found its way onto this page. ...

     ... Ed Kilgore: "I bow in admiration to the craftsmanship with which Olsen turns the Kochs’ vast, unprecedented empire of political agitprop, special-interest lobbying, and campaign skullduggery into a wonkish set of policy preferences."

... The Confederate States of the Newt. Steve Kornacki of Salon: "The blue counties were won by Mitt Romney, while Gingrich carried the red ones.... Given that he ran 14 points behind Romney statewide, it’s striking that Gingrich actually finished first in so many counties, and his margins in some of them were considerable; all told, he beat Romney by double-digits in 20 counties." This is why Newt will keep running at least through Super Tuesday, when a number of Southern states vote. CW: There's a reason they call the Florida Panhandle the "Redneck Riviera." ...

... Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly: "Basically, the more a county resembled GA or AL, the more likely it was that Newt would win, and that, of course, will be part of his rationale for continuing on, at least to states where Crackro-Americans dominate."

Local News

Mary Beth Schneider & Chris Sikich of the Indianapolis Star: "Gov. Mitch Daniels signed 'right to work' legislation this afternoon without a ceremony, making Indiana the 23rd state in the nation with the law." Earlier in the day, "the Senate voted 28 to 22 today to pass the controversial labor union bill, as thousands of protesters packed Statehouse hallways shouting their disapproval, with thousands more lined-up outside waiting to get in."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Senate passed a sweeping new ethics bill on Thursday that would ban insider trading by members of Congress and require prompt disclosure of stock transactions by lawmakers and by thousands of officials in the executive branch of government.... President Obama called for passage of such legislation in his State of the Union address last week. More than half of House members, including at least 100 Republicans, have signaled support for it, and House Republican leaders said Thursday that they would schedule consideration of the Senate-passed bill on the House floor next week."

New York Times: "The police in several Egyptian cities on Thursday night battled with thousands of die-hard soccer fans angry at the military-led government’s failure to prevent dozens of deaths at a soccer riot in Port Said the previous night."

Bloomberg News: "Claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell last week, a sign the labor market is improving. Applications for unemployment insurance payments dropped by 12,000 to 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington."

New York Times: "The hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers took a new turn on Thursday when a lawmaker said police investigations had spread to the flagship Times of London. The revelation came a day after lawyers said an e-mail referring to 'a nightmare scenario' of legal repercussions from widespread phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid was deleted from James Murdoch’s computer less than two weeks before the police opened investigations."

New York Times: Washington [State] appeared almost certain to become the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage after the State Senate voted late Wednesday for a measure that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry beginning this summer." Seattle Times story here.

Bloomberg News: "Facebook Inc. (FB)’s initial public offering may value Mark Zuckerberg’s stake at $28.4 billion, making him richer than >Google Inc. (GOOG)’s co-founders and almost on par with Larry Ellison, who started Oracle Corp. (ORCL) 35 years ago."

The Guardian is liveblogging the second & final day of Julian Assange's extradition appeal before the British Supreme Court.

New York Times: "Alzheimer’s disease seems to spread like an infection from brain cell to brain cell, two new studies in mice have found. But instead of viruses or bacteria, what is being spread is a distorted protein known as tau. The surprising finding answers a longstanding question and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said. And they suspect that other degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s may spread in a similar way."

ABC News: "Mitt Romney offered harsh criticism of a plan outlined by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to possibly withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in 2013, calling the administration's decision to announce its military plans to the world 'misguided' and 'naive.'"


The Commentariat -- February 1, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is titled "God, Sex and Money -- the 'Bizarre' Views of Ross Douthat." The NYTX front page is here. Make a contribution here. ...

... If you feel guilty that you're not doing enough to save the world when you read a Nicholas Kristof column, this takedown by Laura Agustín, on "the soft side of imperialism," might make you feel better.

Maureen Dowd contrasts Obama's & Romney's spines, and Romney comes out looking like a jellyfish wrapped in a mean streak.

The New York Times Editorial Board is three for three today:

     ... For one thing, they listen to their resident economist: "A leader wiser than [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel would build a stronger European Union by helping her neighbors grow their way out of debt, not squeeze them to the breaking point." ...

     ... The Board likes both the bill Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will introduce in the Senate today & the Buffett Rule which President Obama favors -- for starters. "Republicans are certain to filibuster Mr. Whitehouse’s bill in the Senate or try to ignore it in the House. But explaining a tax code that allows the wealthiest to escape their responsibility is getting much harder to do." ...

    ... AND the Board applauds Jessica Ahlquist, the "11th grader at Cranston High School West in Rhode Island, [who] has endured verbal abuse because, as an atheist, she objected to the 'School Prayer' that has been on the school’s auditorium wall since 1963."

Greg Sargent: "Senator [Sherrod] Brown [D-Ohio] ... is introducing a measure in the Senate today that would require all Senators to divest themselves of any stocks in companies that are impacted by their actions as a Senator.... This proposal is the first legislative vehicle to accomplish what Obama called for in his State of Union speech, in which he said: 'Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact.' ... This will also become an issue in the Massachusetts Senate race: Elizabeth Warren has already vowed to divest in the stock she owns if elected to the Senate. So Massachusetts Dems will likely demand that Scott Brown take a stand on this latest proposal." Scott Brown has owned stocks in companies with legislation before the Senate.

Dan Eggen & T. W. Farnam of the Washington Post: "Conservative super PACs and other outside groups are helping Republicans close a yawning fundraising gap with President Obama, giving the eventual GOP presidential nominee a better chance at winning the money race by November, according to new disclosures Tuesday. Obama’s fundraising has continued to outpace that of his Republican challengers, amassing four times as much cash on hand at the end of December as front-runner Mitt Romney, records show.... But fresh disclosures ... reveal a key advantage now available to Republicans: a constellation of conservative groups that can raise unlimited money to help make up the difference with Obama’s campaign, which must abide by federal contribution limits." ...

... Nicholas Confessore & Michael Luo of the New York Times: "Close to 60 corporations and wealthy individuals gave checks of $100,000 or more to a 'super PAC' supporting Mitt Romney in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses, according to documents released on Tuesday, underwriting a $17 million blitz of advertising that has swamped his Republican rivals in the early primary states." A related graphic of superPac donors, also linked in yesterday's Ledes is here. ...

... Reuters: "Stephen Colbert's presidential aspirations may not be serious, but his fundraising is. The late-night television comedian's Super PAC announced on Tuesday that it has raised more than $1 million. Shauna Polk, treasurer of Colbert's Super Political Action Committee 'Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,' said in a filing with the Federal Election Commission that, as of January 30, the group's donations totaled $1,023,121.24."

Ezra Klein on why the debt clock Mitt Romney carries around with him is wrong. But the right answer as to how much President Obama has contributed to the national deficit is hard to come by -- and also pretty meaningless when you try to compare it with other additions to the national debt created in different economic times.

Right Wing World

David Firestone of the New York Times does a nice job of parsing the Florida GOP primary: "Mr. Gingrich leaves the state a greatly diminished candidate, revealed as a man who would say virtually anything, no matter how absurd, to gain a slight advantage among groups of voters.... But Florida cost Mr. Romney some standing as well."

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Why did Newt Gingrich win South Carolina? According to Romneyworld, it's largely because Republican voters there are a bunch of racists who can't tell the difference between Juan Williams and President Obama."

The White House has been trying to pretend like the President just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh. In fact, he’s been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years…. We are living in the Obama economy. -- Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) on CNN Sunday ...

... Sahil Kapur of TPM: McConnell's argument is "intended as a counterpoint to the President’s re-election strategy of attacking the congressional GOP as do-nothing obstructionists. But it’s also a revisionist history of the 111th Congress, during which McConnell more than any other Republican in Washington stood athwart Obama’s agenda to great effect.... By forcing Democrats to find 60 votes to nearly every action, McConnell and his members were able to block major initiatives including climate change and immigration reform bills, various appropriations bills, myriad presidential appointments, and arguably also a Democratic effort to let the Bush tax cuts expire for high incomes. Meanwhile, big legislative items that did pass, such as health care reform and the economic stimulus package, were notably scaled back as a result of the GOP filibusters."

CW: It's sort of fun to watch conservative "deep thinkers" think up reasons why rich people should pay taxes at a lower rate than do many in the middle class. Here's Jonathan Bernstein making mincemeat of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who is one of the top economist-apologists for the right.

News Ledes

The Hill: "The House voted Wednesday to freeze federal workers' pay until the end of 2013. The 309-117 vote ... gave the GOP political momentum for the first time since the fall. The Democratic defections [72 voted with the majority] came in defiance of opposition from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Obama, who has proposed a 0.5 percent federal raise for 2012. The legislation came in a blitz of GOP fiscal bills designed to regain the upper hand Republicans lost when Obama and the Democrats handed them a heavy defeat last year on extending the payroll tax holiday."

NBC News: "Senate Democrats decried the influx of millions in unregulated dollars in the 2012 elections, announcing Wednesday that they will hold hearings looking into the impact of super PACs. New York Sen. Charles Schumer ... announced that the Rules committee will begin hearings this month on super PACs.... Schumer pointed to Mitt Romney's victory in Florida's Republican primary as evidence of the outsize influence of super PACs."

New York Times: "At least 73 people were killed in a brawl between rival groups of soccer fans after a match in the city of Port Said, [Egypt,] on Wednesday, the bloodiest outbreak of lawlessness since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak one year ago. The riot refocused attention on the failure of the transitional government to re-establish a sense of order and stability in the streets and threatened to provoke a new crisis for Egypt’s halting political transition."

New York Times: "Wislawa Szymborska, a gentle and reclusive Polish poet who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, died on Wednesday in Krakow, Poland. She was 88."

New York Times: "Facebook, the vast online social network, is poised to file for a public stock offering on Wednesday that will ultimately value the company at $75 billion to $100 billion, cashing in on the fuel that powers the engine of Internet commerce: personal data." ...

     ... Update: "Facebook ... took its first step toward becoming a publicly traded company on Wednesday as it filed to sell shares on the stock market. The service ... is on track to be the largest Internet initial public offering ever — trumping Google’s in 2004 or Netscape’s nearly a decade before that. In its filing, Facebook, which has more than 845 million users worldwide, said it was seeking to raise $5 billion, according to a figure used to calculate the registration fee."

Reuters: "The U.S. military said in a secret report that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw, raising the prospect of a major failure of Western policy after a costly war. Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, confirmed the existence of the document, reported on Wednesday by Britain's Times newspaper and the BBC." ...

     ... New York Times Update: The report, which Times reporters have seen, "abounds with accounts of cooperation between the insurgents and local government officials or security forces, as well as accounts from Taliban detainees who claim that in areas where coalition soldiers are withdrawing, the Afghan military is cooperating with the insurgents."

New York Times: "Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, went before Britain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday in the latest chapter of a long-running battle to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer accusations of sexual misconduct." The Guardian is liveblogging the proceedings.

Guardian: James Clapper, "the head of US intelligence, has warned that there is an increasing likelihood that Iran could carry out attacks in America or against US and allied targets around the world. The warning ... reflects rapidly rising tensions over Iran's nuclear programme after the US and EU announced embargoes on the Iranian oil trade in the past few weeks, Israel leaked details of its preparation for a possible conflict and both the west and Iran boosted their military readiness in the Gulf."

** NBC News: "Pfizer said on Tuesday it was recalling about a million packets of birth control pills in the United States because they may not contain enough contraceptive to prevent pregnancy." With video report. ...

Los Angeles Times: "Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leader in fundraising for breast cancer research and famous worldwide for its iconic pink ribbon, said Tuesday that it was halting all partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates because of recently adopted criteria that forbid it from funding any organization under government investigation." ...

... New York Times: "Nearly half of women who had lumpectomies for breast cancer had second operations they may not have needed because surgeons have been unable to agree on guidelines for the most common operation for breast cancer, a new study finds. It also hints that some women who might benefit from further surgery may be missing out on it."

Guardian: "A federal judge in Washington DC has ruled that the National Park Service must give Occupy protesters camped out in two of the US capital's parks 24 hours' notice before clearing out their encampments. District judge James Boasberg upheld the anti-camping regulations at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza – but ruled that park police must give the occupiers a full day's notice before any clearout." ...

... Washington Post: "Occupy D.C. protesters spent Monday night huddled under the celestial sweep of a blue tarp they had erected in McPherson Square, talking, singing and, yes, sleeping — in defiance of rules that prohibit overnight camping in the park."

New York Times: NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Börse of Germany said on Wednesday that they are in talks to call off their planned merger, after European antitrust regulators formally opposed the deal."

AFP: "Long-lost audio recordings of the aftermath of president John F. Kennedy's assassination have been made public, captivating historians and stirring fascination about that fateful day. Almost 50 years after the November 22, 1963 assassination, a two hour and 22 minute reel was found among the personal effects of JFK's senior military aide, Major General Chester Clifton, who died in 1991." You can download the MP3 files from this Government Printing Office page.


The Commentariat -- January 31, 2012

The Commentariat, as usual, is open for comments. I've brought these three links forward from yesterday, as I posted them fairly late in the day:

     ... My column, "Tom Friedman on How the 99 Percent Can Best Serve the One Percent, Corporate Edition," is now up on NYTX. That twerp is really starting to irritate me. ...

     ... Prof. William Black: "Apple overwhelmingly purchases components from Asian suppliers that are criminal enterprises." P.S. You'd never know this from reading the New York Times. ...

      ... CW: This article by Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism on Apple's use of Chinese slave labor is excellent, but then she agrees with me, so I would think so.

Zeke Emanuel & Jeffrey Liebman in the New York Times: "Here’s a bold prediction for the new year. By 2020, the American health insurance industry will be extinct. Insurance companies will be replaced by accountable care organizations — groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who come together to provide the full range of medical care for patients."

Keith Bradsher of the New York Times: "As the White House prepares for a Washington visit by the man who is expected to run China for the coming decade..., a coalition of big American labor unions, Democratic politicians and trade advocacy groups plans to start campaigning for the Obama administration to file a series of trade cases against China in the auto industry. They accuse Beijing of unfairly subsidizing Chinese auto parts makers and illegally restricting the exports of crucial raw materials that foreign parts makers need to stay competitive. The group says a 900 percent increase in auto parts imports from China over the last decade, to nearly $12 billion a year, is to blame for job losses in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — three swing states that the administration cannot easily ignore in a presidential election year."

Greg Sargent: key unions are unhappy with a Senate Democratic "compromise" with House Republicans on the FAA reauthorization bill and are demanding Democrats pull out of the deal

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Democrat Suzanne Bonamici holds a comfortable lead over Republican Rob Cornilles in public polling heading into the last day of balloting in the vote-by-mail special election to replace disgraced former Democratic Rep. David Wu [D-Oregon]. Republicans glumly acknowledge there’s little reason to expect the kind of upset the GOP scored last fall.... If Bonamici does come out on top, it will be largely thanks to a Democratic Party-led onslaught targeting Cornilles. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent more than $1.2 million on TV ads slamming the Republican as a tea-party-aligned conservative who is far out of step with the liberal-leaning, northwest Oregon-based 1st District, which has sent only Democrats to Congress since 1974."

Right Wing World

The New York Times Editors Love Those Debates: "... the [GOP presidential] debates have shown the complete lack of interest by all the Republican candidates in the issues of economic fairness. While the candidates argue over their investments and their complex tax returns and who can cut taxes for the rich the most, the contrast to Mr. Obama’s newfound voice on shared responsibility could not be more clear. The long series of debates are an open window onto the failed policies and dubious values of the Republican Party. No wonder some people want to close it."

Sam Youngman of Reuters: "A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent's attacks 'sad' and 'painfully revealing' the day before the state's crucial presidential primary." ...

... Philip Rucker & Amy Gardner of the Washington Post: "With Mitt Romney appearing poised to win a commanding victory in Florida’s GOP presidential primary on Tuesday, the candidates repositioned themselves on Monday for a series of unpredictable contests to follow, with no end in sight to the rift within the Republican Party. Romney and his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, hurled personal barbs at each other in a final burst of campaigning here, signaling that they will remain at their battle stations as the nomination fight quickly pivots to Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri...." ...

... But if this makes you think Romney is really, really popular with Florida wingnuts and Gingrich is not, consider this report from the Wesleyan Media Project: "Romney ... and [his] allies have dominated the airwaves in Florida, airing almost 13,000 ads on broadcast television across the state, as of Wednesday, the 25th (Table 3). Gingrich and his interest-group allies have aired only about 200 spots, with Paul and Santorum out of the broadcast television game." That would be 65 Romney ads running for every Gingrich ad (and zero for Paul & Santorum). Thank you, Citizens United. You guys on the Supremes are geniuses.

Greg Sargent: "... a new partisan breakdown of some numbers from the new NBC/WSJ poll ... [shows] Romney’s unfavorability rating among independents has spiked 20 points in the last two months.... Pollster Peter Hart, a Democrat, tells me Romney’s multiple gaffes and revelations about his taxes and Bain background have led independents to start making a choice between Romney and Obama, rather than merely looking at Romney as a generic opponent of the President."

Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "A year after a coterie of new Republican governors swept into the statehouses and put in place aggressive agendas to cut spending and curb union powers, sparking strong backlashes in many places, many of them are adopting decidedly more moderate tones as they begin their sophomore year in office."

Michael Gerson, former Bush II speechwriter & Washington Post columnist, writes a column which is slugged on the front page, "Obama declares war on religion." Yeah, right. The Post editorial page remains manned by radical loons. ...

     ... Update: here's Andy Rosenthal David Firestone of the New York Times ridiculing the Newt for "reaching deep into his bag of bizarre accusations" to make charge against President Obama that Gerson makes, then leveling a similar charge against Romney. And Newt didn't even accuse Obama of "war"; only a mere "attack on religion." Michael Gerson is insane. ...

     ... AND consider this: could Rosenthal Firestone be pushing back against the views his own columnist -- one Ross Douthat -- expressed just this weekend? I think maybe so.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Mitt Romney rolled to victory in the Florida primary on Tuesday evening, according to early returns and exit polls, dispatching an insurgent threat from Newt Gingrich and reclaiming his dominant position in the race for the Republican presidential nomination." Page includes updated Florida totals. The Times has live, updated coverage here. ...

... The New York Times has a page here where they are updating superPAC disclosures. The deadline for filing is midnight.

New York Times: "The battle over Syria moved to the United Nations on Tuesday as Western powers and much of the Arab world confronted Russia and its allies in the Security Council over their refusal to condemn the Syrian government for its violent suppression of popular protests."

New York Times: "In an effort to regain public trust, the Senate voted Monday to take up a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from trading stocks and other securities on the basis of confidential information they receive as lawmakers. The vote was 93 to 2.... At the same time, Democratic senators moved to tap into concerns about comparatively low tax rates paid by some of the nation’s top earners, introducing a bill that would require households with more than $1 million of adjusted gross income to pay at least 30 percent of it in taxes." Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced the bill, known as the "Buffett Rule"; for billionaire Warren Buffett. Republicans are not interested.

New York Times: "President Obama on Monday defended the use of drones to strike suspected terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere, saying the clandestine program ... enabled the United States to use 'pinpoint' targeting to avoid more intrusive military action. Mr. Obama, in an unusually candid public discussion of the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program, said the drone strikes had not inflicted huge civilian casualties. 'We are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,' he said. 'It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.' The president made the remarks in answer to questions posed by people during a live Web interview sponsored by Google Plus...." See video in yesterday's Commentariat.

New York Times: "Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday are expected to publish a report on the disputed gun trafficking investigation called Operation Fast and Furious, concluding that agents in Arizona — not Obama administration officials — were responsible for the tactics used in the inquiry and for providing misleading information relayed to Congress."

AP: "... for the first time since they started shaping this campaign in earnest, many ... 'super' political action committees are set to disclose just who is financing their pseudo-campaign operations. Many took advantage of a change in federal rules that essentially let them shield their donors' identities until after key primary elections in January. But they still must submit their financial reports to the Federal Election Commission by Tuesday."

Reuters: "A retired general who portrayed the U.S. fight against Muslim radicals as a battle with Satan has withdrawn from speaking to the West Point military academy after a veterans' advocacy group objected, the military academy said on Monday. Retired three-star general William Boykin was invited to speak at a February 8 West Point prayer breakfast."