An Inconvenient Protest. Mark Landler of the New York Times: "could force itself onto the agenda between the United States and the Chinese in a way not seen in many years."is scheduled to visit China next month, and with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, human rights
Steve Benen: In his speech at Northwestern Thursday, President Obama veered from his prepared text to marvel that a "top Republican in Congress said that tax cuts for those at the top are -- and I'm quoting here -- 'even more pressing now' than they were 30 years ago. More pressing. When nearly all the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent, when income inequality is at as high a rate as we've seen in decades, I find that a little hard to swallow that they really desperately need a tax cut right now, it's 'urgent.'" That "top Republican"? -- Paul Ryan, currently chief House budget guru/writer & soon-to-be chair of the Ways & Means Committee. Read the whole post. CW: Is there anyone on the right who understands that Ryan is a dunce?
Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast: "In a forthcoming book, obtained by The Daily Beast, former spy director and Pentagon leader Leon Panetta blames the White House for screwups from Syria to Afghanistan." CW: It's pretty nice of Panetta to time his rant to election season. What a dick. ...
... Luckily for Panetta, he has some dickish friends to back him up. Alexandrea Boguhn of Media Matters: "During an October 2 interview on Fox Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade ... asked [former President George W.] Bush whether he agreed with Gen. Martin Dempsey's assessment that [President] Obama should have left a residual military force in Iraq. And though Bush acknowledged that having a former president 'second guessing' is not 'good for the presidency or the country,' he said that he agreed with Dempsey's assessment." ...
... CW: Bush is saying here that Obama should not have honored the "Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which provided that U.S. troops pull out of Iraq by 2011." Bush himself signed the SOFA, an agreement/treaty which his own administration negotiated with Iraq. Maybe SOFA was a mistake, & maybe it wasn't, but it most certainly was an international agreement which both countries were bound to honor. Let's be clear: Bush says Obama should have broken the treaty Bush signed. Now let's ask ourselves if breaking the agreement would have prevented radical groups from challenging the U.S-imposed Iraqi government. And let's try to figure out how many Iraqis would have been thrilled to have a continued American military presence forced upon their country. Perhaps I should ask some AmerIndians what they think about the U.S.'s failure to honor its treaties with their forebears. ...
... CW: A more charitable reading of Bush's remarks is that he is admitting a mistake, something he is rather infamous for being unable to do. Maybe he's saying in the interview that he made a bad deal with Iraq. But you can't honestly read his remarks that way. He says, "I'm not gonna second-guess our President." That is, it was Obama, not he, who made the "choice" to withdraw troops in 2011. ...
... I tell people all the time -- off the record, by the way -- that, ah, you know, Condi Rice's relatives were enslaved in the greatest democracy ever for a hundred years. Democracy takes time to take hold. And yet there's an impatience with that process. -- Former President George W. Bush, October 2, in a Fox "News" interview
... So, black Americans -- don't be so impatient??? -- Constant Weader
Drip, Drip, Drip. Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg News: "An unidentified man posing as a member of Congress made it into a secure area backstage at President Barack Obama's appearance at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards dinner in Washington Sept. 27, according to a White House official.... The unidentified man said he was Representative Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, the official said. One member of the White House staff determined that the man wasn't Payne, and another asked him to leave, the official said. He did so without incident and wasn't detained." The Secret Service says they screened the man -- and everyone allowed in the area -- for weapons.
Joe Nocera: "In truth, most [corporate] tax subsidies don't make much sense -- not for countries and certainly not for states. 'There is a lot of work that shows that tax subsidies vastly overpay for the jobs they create,' said Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California.... It's a good thing that the E.U. is trying to curb unjustified tax breaks. Maybe it's time to do the same here." CW: Once in awhile, Nocera shares a good idea. This is one of those times.
Ian Millhiser of Think Progress on the 5th Circuit's decision against Texas abortion rights, which conflicts with many other Appeals Courts' decisions. "By calling attention to disagreement among circuit court judges regarding the proper way to resolve abortion cases, [5th Circuit Judge Jennifer] Elrod[, who wrote the opinion,] sent a blood-red howler to the Supreme Court telling them to 'TAKE THIS CASE!' Elrod, it should be noted, is not wrong to be confident her decision will be affirmed if it is heard by the justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the closest thing the Supreme Court has to a swing vote on abortion, hasn't cast a pro-choice vote since 1992. As a justice, Kennedy's considered 21 different abortion restrictions and upheld 20 of them." ...
... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post writes a good column on "undue burden." ...
... Charles Pierce: "... we now know what percentage of an affected population can have its constitutionally protected rights curtailed before that percentage can be considered 'significant' enough to have those rights protected from meddling by the government. The percentage is one-in-six:
The three-judge panel agreed with the state's lawyers that there was insufficient evidence that a 'large fraction' of women seeking abortions would face an unconstitutional burden because of the surgical-center requirements and clinic closings. They wrote that the data provided by one of the plaintiffs' experts, Dr. Daniel Grossman, suggested that about one out of six Texas women seeking an abortion would live more than 150 miles from the nearest clinic if the surgical-center rules went into effect. 'This is nowhere near a "large fraction,"' the panel wrote. -- New York Times
... CW: Well, no, according to the court, many more than one-in-six can face an "undue burden" before the undue burden becomes unconstitutional. One-sixth is "nowhere near a 'large fraction,'" say the judges. So what is it: 1/5, or 2/7 or 5/8? We don't know yet what constitutes "a large fraction." By this logic, as Pierce suggests, any time you are subjected to an "undue burden," it's okay as long as a "large fraction" of other people are not. Note: as Marcus points out, the right to an abortion is not a constitutionally-guaranteed right (as Pierce claims), as a result of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Rather what the decision guarantees is "a woman's right to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State." (Emphasis added.)
An undue burden exists, and therefore a provision of law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability. -- Planned Parenthood v. Casey, plurality opinion
... CW: Oddly enough, the Planned Parenthood v. Casey plurality opinion (which governed the decision) repeatedly refers to "a woman," rather than "most women" or "a large fraction of women." A novice such as I would interpret that to mean "any woman," or at least "any woman, within reason." Justice Kennedy was one of the three justices joining in the plurality opinion. The 5th Circuit would like him to rethink that opinion. There is every reason to think he will oblige.
Gail Collins: "You'd think that the people in charge of the states where climate change was wreaking the most havoc would be in the forefront of the battle to push it back. But no." Includes an extensive cast of Republican characters, with a juicy role for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, seemingly the only one of the lot who has not proclaimed, "I am not a scientist," possibly because he has a degree in biology. ...
... The lyrics to "I Am the Walrus" are purposely nonsensical. As such, they are ironically prescient of Republican pronouncements re: climate change, one incidental result of which is the dramatic shrinking of walrus habitat. As Collins writes, "We are the walrus."
Brian Beutler: "The GOP's 2014 midterms strategy is a lot like "Seinfeld." It's a campaign about nothing -- but way less funny."
Maggie Haberman of Politico: Hillary Clinton is coming to a Senate race near you. "Hillary Clinton has mapped out much of her political schedule through Election Day, an itinerary that focuses on helping Senate candidates and includes trips to a half-dozen states, including Kentucky and presidential early states Iowa and New Hampshire...."
Daniel Strauss of TPM: "State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow 'local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement' Obamacare. Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would 'nullify' Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul's libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. It can be viewed here." CW: Never mind that both of those brilliant proposals obviously would violate federal law. Naw, Joni isn't an extremist. ...
... As Paul Waldman remarks, "... okay, so Ernst is advocating something that sounds a lot like insurrection against the federal government. But at least if your chickens crap on her lawn, she'll be totally cool with it." ...
... Waldman strikes a more serious tone here, but it boils down to the same thing: "You can put words like 'liberty' in the name of your organization all you want, but what Ernst was agreeing to here isn't liberty, it's insurrection against the Constitution of the United States."
A few weeks ago, Monica Wehby, a medical doctor & Oregon's GOP nominee for Senate, scrubbed her published health care plan when Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed revealed that she had cribbed her own "plan" from the plan of former GOP candidates & of famed healthcare expert Karl Rove. Now, Wehby has a new plan. Kaczynski: "In a weird twist, Monica Wehby's new health care is also plagiarized -- but even stranger, it's plagiarized from her primary opponent Oregon Rep. Jason Conger, whom she criticized repeatedly during the primary on health care." Oh, and she's kept some of the language from Dr. StrangeRove's plan, too. ...
... Sen. Jeff Merkley (D), whom Wehby is challenging, put out this Webvid late last month in response to Kackzynski's original revelation:
... Merkley also ran this ad, which leads with the earlier plagiarism report. Jeff Mapes of the Oregonian (Sept. 30): "The new ad comes as Freedom Partners, a group connected with conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, is halting its advertised attacks against Merkley in Oregon. The group said three weeks ago that it had canceled its October advertising campaign against Merkley and the group on Tuesday confirmed that it has not bought any additional time at this point." As Mapes reported in early August, the Koch boys had planned to spend $3.6 million to oust Merkeley. ...
... CW: Glad to see Mapes also picked up Kaczynski's latest scoop. ...
... According to Real Clear Politics' most recent survey of surveys, Merkley is up by more than 13 points.
Beyond the Beltway
Bill Draper of the AP: "A judge struck down part of Missouri's gay marriage ban for the first time on Friday by ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, saying state laws banning the unions single out gay couples 'for no logical reason.' The order means such couples will be eligible to sign up for a wide range of tax, health insurance, veterans and other benefits now afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who has defended the state's ban on gay marriage, said his office was reviewing the ruling."
Rachel Kleinman of NBC News: Citing a lack of police resources in Ferguson, "beginning Friday and until further notice, the St. Louis County Police Department will take over control from the Ferguson P.D. for security detail related to ongoing protests in the city in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death, the county said in a release issued late Friday. Additionally, the St. Louis County Police Department's media relations staff will assume responsibility for relaying all pertinent information to the press."
I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn't our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. -- Colorado State School Board Member Pam Mazanec
When Only an Argumentum ad Hitlerum Will Do. I note Germany's World War II history. Yes, Hitler slaughtered millions of innocent men, women & children. But he also committed suicide, the ultimate sacrifice, thus voluntarily ending the Holocaust AND the European war, while ethnic cleansing & the waging of wars continue among many countries still today! Shouldn't students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that Germany is exceptional. -- Hialeah High School Graduate Marie Burns, with apologies to Mr. Koos, her 11th-grade history teacher
CW: Here's something I missed but Charles Pierce caught: Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times: "Economists said the August [jobs] figure appeared to be an aberration driven by a New England grocery store strike and a shift in when automakers shut their factories for annual summer retooling.... Part of the reason for September's stronger job growth was ... an increase of 20,000 jobs in food and beverage stores, largely reflecting the return of workers at the Market Basket grocery store chain in New England, the Labor Department said." ... CW: I shopped at my local Market Basket yesterday, & it was packed with customers.
The President's Weekly Address
White House: "In this week's address, the President highlighted that six years after the Great Recession, thanks to the hard work of the American people and the President's policies, our economy has come back further and faster than any other nation on Earth":
Washington Post: "Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation 'president for life' who plunged one of the world's poorest countries [-- Haiti --] into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63. He had a heart attack, his lawyer, Reynold George, told the Associated Press." ...
... here's the New York Times obit.
Guardian: "US-led war planes attacked Islamic State (Isis) targets around the Syrian border town of Kobani overnight as the insurgents pressed their assault against its Kurdish defenders, a monitoring group and witnesses said.... In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded an apology from the US vice-president, Joe Biden, and warned he would become 'history for me' over comments in which Biden said the Turkish leader had admitted Turkey had made mistakes by allowing foreign fighters to cross into Syria."
Washington Post: "North and South Korea have agreed to hold another round of high-level talks after a top-level Northern delegation, including the men thought to be second and third in command behind Kim Jong Un, paid a surprise visit to the South on Saturday."
New York Times: "The huge cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase that touched more than 83 million households and businesses was one of the most serious computer intrusions into an American corporation.... Also troubling is that about nine other financial institutions -- a number that has not been previously reported -- were also infiltrated by the same group of overseas hackers...."
Guardian: "Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong must be cleared by Monday morning, its chief executive has announced following further violent clashes. Hours after he spoke, however, tens of thousands of people flooded into the Admiralty area of the city centre in the biggest gathering for days. The Saturday night rally was called to oppose attacks on protesters by opponents of the movement on Friday, and came six days after police used pepper spray and teargas in failed attempts to disperse the crowds."
New York Times: Hospital changes its story. "Health officials' handling of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States continued to raise questions Friday, after the hospital that is treating the patient and that mistakenly sent him home when he first came to its emergency room acknowledged that both the nurses and the doctors in that initial visit had access to the fact that he had arrived from Liberia."