The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, May 23, 2016.

Washington Post: "A wave of bombings in Syria killed at least 65 people Monday in a coastal area where Russian troops are based, Syrian state media reported. The attacks struck at one of the key strongholds for President Bashar al-Assad outside Damascus and the hub for Russian military operations backing his government." -- CW

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (May 22): "An outbreak of a life-threatening illness that has been linked to foods packaged by a processing plant in Washington State has prompted a large-scale voluntary recall of frozen fruits and vegetables marketed under 42 brand names. The scale of the recall reflects the severity of the outbreak of the illness, listeria, and of concerns about how the contaminated food might have “trickled down” into other products, said Brittany Behm, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

... Washington Post: The White House goes Scandinavian for a state dinner for the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

New York Times: "Morley Safer, the longest-serving correspondent on '60 Minutes' who was known as much for his hard-hitting reporting as the quirky stories he covered, will formally retire this week after a career in broadcast news that lasted more than 50 years, CBS said on Wednesday. Mr. Safer, 84, served on '60 Minutes' for all but two of its 48 seasons. He started scaling back his appearances on the show after he turned 80; his last segment, a profile of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, aired in March.... An hourlong program on Sunday, “Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life,” will, among other highlights, recall an investigation by Mr. Safer that resulted in the freedom of Lenell Geter, a black man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas. In an appearance on the special, Mr. Geter credited Mr. Safer with saving his life."

U.K. Telegraph: "A Canadian schoolboy appears to have discovered a lost Mayan city hidden deep in the jungles of Mexico using a new method of matching stars to the location of temples on earth....In hundreds of years of scholarship, no other scientist had ever found such a correlation.... Studying 22 different constellations, [William Gadoury] found that they matched the location of 117 Mayan cities scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. When he applied his theory to a 23rd constellation, he found that two of the stars already had cities linked to them but that the third star was unmatched. William took to Google Maps and projected that there must be another city hidden deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The Canadian Space Agency agreed to train its satellite telescopes on the spot and returned with striking pictures: what appears to be an ancient Mayan pyramid and dozens of smaller structures around it."

Politico: "Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry will not be appearing on the channel for the time being, following a report in In Touch Weekly that he cheated on his wife with a Las Vegas hostess. 'We recently became aware of Ed’s personal issues and he’s taking some time off to work things out,' a Fox News spokesperson told Politico in a statement."

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

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Tuesday
Apr262016

The Commentariat -- April 27, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Ted Cruz will announce Wednesday that Carly Fiorina will be his vice presidential nominee if he's the Republican Party's pick for president, according to two sources with knowledge of the announcement." -- CW ...

... "That Face!" Nick Gass of Politico: "Picking Carly Fiorina to be his running mate would be a bad choice on the part of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump opined Wednesday, remarking that the former Republican presidential candidate 'did not resonate' and that it would further hurt the Texas senator's case." -- CW

Nick Gass: "Donald Trump laid out his broad vision for what American foreign policy would look like with him in the White House, vowing to chart a different course than the post-Cold War order that has 'lacked a coherent policy.' Trump's speech on Wednesday offered little in the way of policy details, instead riffing on a series of his past comments about temporarily banning Muslim refugees, vowing to wipe out the Islamic State and make allies pay their fair share. He also rebuked President Barack Obama and laced into Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly becoming the target of his barbs as he starts to focus on the general election." -- CW

Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: "J. Dennis Hastert, once among this nation's most powerful politicians, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team he coached decades ago. Mr. Hastert, 74, who made an unlikely rise from beloved small-town wrestling coach in Illinois to speaker of the House in Washington, sat in a wheelchair in a federal courtroom here as a judge announced his fate." -- CW ...

New Rules for Hastert. Matt Ford in the Atlantic: "Describing the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House as a 'serial child molester,' a federal judge in Chicago sentenced Dennis Hastert to 15 months in prison on Wednesday for lying to investigators and evading federal banking regulations as part of a scheme to cover up decades-old sexual abuse. Judge Thomas Durkin also imposed two years' supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and attendance in a sex-offender treatment program." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Old Hastert Rule: Democracy is only for Republicans. New Hastert Rule: Orange jump suits are for lying pederasts.

Robert Barnes & Laura Vozzella of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed highly skeptical of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell's 2014 corruption conviction for actions he took on behalf of a businessman who provided his family with more than $175,000 in benefits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the law used to convict McDonnell might be unconstitutionally vague. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he worried about prosecutors having too much power in deciding when politicians cross the line from political favors to criminal acts, even if it 'will leave some corrupt behavior unprosecuted.'" -- CW

Doug Stanglin of USA Today: "Robert Durst, the one-time fugitive New York real estate heir who faces a murder charge in California, was sentenced Wednesday in New Orleans to seven years and one month in prison under a plea deal on a firearms charge." -- CW

*****

Presidential Race

Feelin' the Heroicism of the Bern. Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed Tuesday night to go all the way to the Democratic National Convention this summer despite losing four of five contests in the April 26 primaries. But he signaled that his focus would shift from winning the nomination -- an all-but-impossible task given Hillary Clinton's nearly insurmountable delegate lead -- to influencing the platform of the Democratic Party. In a statement issued after Clinton sealed wins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania while losing Rhode Island, Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victories and said he looked forward to 'issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come.'" -- CW

Jose DelReal & Dan Gearan of the Washington Post: "While celebrating sweeping victories in five primaries Tuesday night, Donald Trump mocked the qualifications of ... Hillary Clinton and suggested she was playing 'the women's card' to her advantage in the presidential race. 'Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the women's card,' Trump said during a press conference at Trump Tower. 'And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her.' New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's wife, Mary Pat, who was standing behind Trump, appeared to react negatively as he made the comments." CW: I dunno; Mary Pat looks as happy as her husband. Looking forward to a sexist general election.

... Libby Nelson of Vox: "But among women, Clinton is still much more popular than Trump." -- CW ...

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: No, Donald, it won't be "easy" to "beat Hillary." -- CW ...

... Greg Sargent: "If there is one thing that should alarm Republicans the most, it's that Trump has already 'pivoted,' to use the well-worn cliche -- that is, from trying to appear restrained and presidential (as his aides suggested he was doing) to renewing his determination to do everything possible to alienate female voters in the showdown against Clinton." CW: Well, at least that's the Real Donald Trump. ...

Real Donald Trump Identity Crisis. Tara Golshan of Vox: Donald "Trump ... fielded multiple questions Tuesday on how he will act after winning the Republican nomination. First he said he would never change.... Then he said change is good and necessary for leading the country." But for sure, for sure, he's going to make America great again, says He, Whoever He Is. -- CW

Primary Results

Patrick Healy & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump crushed his Republican opponents in Pennsylvania, Maryland and three other states on Tuesday, a sweep that put him considerably closer to capturing the party's presidential nomination outright, while Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware and was battling to amass enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination as early as mid-May. Though Mr. Trump was widely expected to dominate the primaries, his margins of victory represented a breakthrough: He received 55 percent to 60 percent of the vote in some states, after months of winning many primaries with less than a majority." -- CW

The New York Times liveblog is here. Occasionally humorous.

Democrats:

Connecticut: With 71 percent of the vote counted, the state is too close to call. Hillary Clinton has 50 percent of the vote, Bernie Sanders 49 percent. With 85 percent counted, the AP has called the state for Clinton; current count: Clinton 51 percent, Sanders 47.

Delaware: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Clinton won with 60 percent of the vote. Sanders received 39 percent.


Maryland
: With 46 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is prevailing with 63 percent of the vote. Sanders has 33 percent.


Pennsylvania
: With 65 percent of the vote counted, Clinton is winning with 56 percent of precincts reporting. Sanders has 43 percent.

Rhode Island: With 99 percent of the vote counted, Sanders won with 55 percent of the vote. Clinton garnered 43 percent.


Republicans:

I consider myself the presumptive nominee. -- Donald Trump

Connecticut: Donald Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 62 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 59 percent of the vote, followed by John Kasich with 27 percent & Ted Cruz with 12.

Delaware: Allow me to repeat myself: Trump won by a wide majority. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 61 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 20 percent & Cruz with 16.

Maryland: Ditto. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 37 percent of the vote counted, the AP has called the race for Trump, who now has with 56 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 22 percent & Cruz with 19.

Pennsylvania: Ted's on top. Of the losers, that is. Trump is headed for a wide majority win. With 68 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 58 percent of the vote, followed by Cruz with 22 percent & Kasich with 18.

Rhode Island: What I said. Trump won by a wide majority. With 97 percent of the vote counted, Trump won with 64 percent of the vote, followed by Kasich with 24 percent & Cruz with 10.


And You Thought Bernie Bros were Bad? Neetzan Zimmerman
of the Hill: "Multiple Facebook pages supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were abruptly removed from the social media network late [Monday] night following a cyberattack. The pro-Sanders pages ... were collectively followed by over a quarter-million supporters of the Vermont senator, and many had been operating continuously since Sanders launched his campaign last year.... According to eyewitness reports, the pages were flooded with pornographic images in what appeared to be coordinated fashion and then flagged for obscene content, prompting Facebook to remove them.... At least one Facebook user linked to the pro-Hillary Clinton group Bros 4 Hillary was reported to have participated in the attacks.... The attack began around 9 p.m. EDT and lasted until just after midnight, when most of the pages recovered their accounts." CW: Good thing the pseudo-hackers didn't load Clinton's e-mail account with porn. ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "The attack came days after a Hillary Clinton super-pac announced that it had spent $1 million on a digital task force called Barrier Breakers 2016, a group of elite Twitter users who plan to fight the patriarchy by spamming 'BernieBros' with pro-Clinton memes." But maybe Trump/Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone was behind the attack! Or a plain ole bug. CW: Add your conspiracy theory below.

Jayne Mayer of the New Yorker: No, the Koch brothers are not going to support Hillary Clinton. -- CW

Anh Do & Matt Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times: "Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump clashed at Anaheim City Hall on Tuesday as the City Council considers a resolution denouncing the GOP presidential candidate. The skirmish started outside before the meeting, when witnesses said both sides were screaming obscenities at each other. At some point, protesters on either side fired pepper spray at each other, and an ambulance arrived to provide care for two young girls as well as a woman who were hit by pepper spray." No word on the vote results. -- CW

Conor Skelding of Politico: "A state judge said she won't grant summary judgment to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office as it pursues its fraud case against Donald Trump. Both sides quickly claimed victory: Trump's lawyer said a trial in front of a jury would work in his favor, while Schneiderman subsequently issued a statement indicating that his office would call on Trump to testify, saying that the businessman would be an 'essential witness.'" -- CW

"Trump's Biggest Con." When Whining Pays. Ed Kilgore: "... Donald Trump's campaign has relied on a lot of small 'cons' -- transparently cynical efforts to exploit a lack of public knowledge about the details of issues, compounded by mistrust of Establishment fact-checkers and naysayers.... Still, Trump's most important con is his biggest and best: the claim that anything that stands between him and the presidential nomination is itself a con job and the product of a 'rigged system.' And the con has boosted his standing as the final primaries approach, while giving him an excellent backup plan if he falls short of the 1,237 bound delegates needed to guarantee him the nomination. What makes Trump's ploy devilishly clever is that he's turning a campaign failure -- the inability to keep up with Ted Cruz in the delegate-selection process that runs parallel to the primaries -- into a grievance and then a strength...." -- CW

... CW: If you missed Andy Kroll's investigative piece on Trump & the military, which LT linked yesterday, take the time to read it today.

Saul Hubbard of the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard: "John Kasich ... isn't featured in Oregon's voters' pamphlet for the May primary election -- an embarrassing blunder for any major campaign. The state said the Kasich campaign failed to submit information by the March 10 deadline. It's up to candidates to get their photos and statements into the pamphlet, which is one of the most cost-effective political advertising tools in the state." The campaigns of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders all managed to get candidates' info into the pamphlet. -- CW

Other Primary Races

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen won a hard-fought Senate primary that exposed racial and gender divisions within the Maryland Democratic Party, defeating Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the nomination. He will compete in November for a rare open Senate seat -- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) is retiring after serving 30 years. African American turnout reached record levels, exceeding 2008 when President Obama first ran and outnumbering white voters, according to exit polls. Yet the candidate who would have been Maryland's first black senator and the second black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate fell short.... Van Hollen ultimately won a third of the black electorate, which, combined with his strength among white, wealthier, older and more-educated voters catapulted him to the lead." -- CW

Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown made a comeback Tuesday night, winning the Democratic primary to replace outgoing Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Brown disappointed national Democrats when he lost the 2014 gubernatorial race in the deeply Democratic state to Republican Larry Hogan, a contest many had expected to be an easy win in an otherwise GOP wave year." -- CW

Bill Turque of the Washington Post: "State Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (Montgomery), outspent 6-to-1 by a wealthy Potomac wine retailer who poured more than $12 million of his own into his candidacy, won Maryland's 8th Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday. Raskin, 53, a constitutional law professor, led with slightly more than one-third of the vote. He ran ahead of David Trone, who became the biggest self-funding House candidate ever." CW: See Patrick's commentary in today's thread.

Jonathan Tamari, et al., of philly.com: "Katie McGinty won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday night, beating Joe Sestak with a late surge fueled by millions of dollars and high profile party support from Washington.... McGinty's win was a victory for the Democratic establishment, whose endorsements and spending elevated a candidate with deep party roots but who had never won an election and lagged in polls until the final stretch. The results set up a matchup with the incumbent Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, in a race with national implications - both parties see it as one of a handful that will decide control of the Senate." -- CW

Chris Brennan of philly.com: "Chaka Fattah, a fixture in Philadelphia politics for three decades, was ousted by State Rep. Dwight Evans from the Second Congressional District seat in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Fattah's fall came 20 days before the start of his federal criminal trial, an impending peril Fattah tried to push off as he campaigned for a 12th term." -- CW

Laura McCrystal of philly.com: "Republican John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro easily won their respective primaries late Tuesday, according to unofficial results. The men are vying to replace Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who chose not to seek reelection as she prepares for a criminal trial this year....Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County board of commissioners, faced attacks for his lack of prosecutorial experience. But he gathered big-name endorsements, from President Obama, Gov. [Tom] Wolf, and U.S. Sen.Bob Casey Jr." -- CW

Other News & Views

Rich, Powerful & Selectively Liberal. Thomas Edsall of the New York Times: "This self-segregation of a privileged fifth of the population is changing the American social order and the American political system, creating a self-perpetuating class at the top, which is ever more difficult to break into." -- CW

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: Supreme Court "justices, in a 6-to-2 decision, said it was unconstitutional to demote a police officer based on the mistaken assumption that he had engaged in political activity." Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the decision. CW: I'll let you guess who the two dissenters were. Let's just say that neither they, nor the lower court, which ruled for the employer, make any sense at all. The decision & dissent are here.

New York Times Editors: "Republicans have admitted that they do better when fewer people vote, and that voter-identification laws and other restrictions are intended to deter Democratic-leaning voters from getting to the polls. That's the reality, and Judge [Thomas] Schroeder ... a George W. Bush appointee ... was wrong to disregard it [in letting stand the North Carolina voter suppression law]. His decision will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which should waste no time in knocking down this latest obstacle so that all North Carolinians can exercise their voting rights in November." -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has dropped from roughly 2,000 a month down to 200 within the past year, according to the Pentagon, which says the waning numbers are further proof of the Islamic State's declining stature. The declining number of fighters is a direct result of strikes that have targeted the terror group's infrastructure, Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, said Tuesday." -- CW

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that religious communities can play a role in achieving foreign policy goals around the world. Invoking religion in an unusually direct manner, Kerry said understanding the importance of faith is essential in diplomacy and working with religious leaders can help solve complex problems in foreign countries." -- CW

... Peter Schroeder of the Hill: House Speaker "Paul Ryan ... is pressing his conference to back legislation providing debt relief for Puerto Rico, but it's not clear the Wisconsin Republican can muster a majority of his members. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sidestepped a question Tuesday on whether a bill would come to the floor only if a majority of Republicans back it.... [CW: That would be the so-called "Hastert rule," & by gum, this is a great time to defer to the legacy of that scumbag.] Conservatives are grumbling about helping the territory rework a massive debt burden built over decades, while rank-and-file members were spooked by outside ads lambasting the package as a 'bailout' for the island. The Center for Individual Freedom is behind the ads and not required to disclose its donors. But many believe hedge funds that stand to gain from not passing the bill are involved in the ads...."

... CW: Thanks, Stephen. Now I have to apologize for completely skipping all of the stories about the "Lemonade," because I erroneously assumed it was just some substance-free pop culture thing. Wrong. So here's one, by Hilton Als of the New Yorker, who places the work in its artistic & cultural context.

Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post: "Just Not Sports videotaped [sportswriters Sarah] Spain and [Julie] DiCaro sitting across from sports fans who were asked to read some of the online messages the women get every day. First of all, these poor guys. They didn't know what they were in for. -- CW ...

Dahlia Lithwick: "Brigham Young University made national headlines this month when it was revealed that female students who reported being raped could be suspended or expelled for violating the school's onerous honor code. The details of the case are infuriating. Whether or not the school is technically in violation of Title IX remains to be seen, but the school is clearly violating the spirit of the law in a way that does untold damage to rape survivors and makes future rapes more likely." -- CW

Capitalism Is Occasionally Awesome. Make Mine Chobani. Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The 2,000 full-time employees of the yogurt company Chobani were handed quite the surprise on Tuesday: an ownership stake that could make some of them millionaires. Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, told workers at the company's plant here in upstate New York that he would be giving them shares worth up to 10 percent of the company when it goes public or is sold. The goal, he said, is to pass along the wealth they have helped build in the decade since the company started. Chobani is now widely considered to be worth several billion dollars.... The number of shares given to each person is based on tenure, so the longer an employee has been at the company, the bigger the stake." P.S. Screw TPG Capital, a private equity firm. -- CW

How Nice. Claire Landsbaum of New York: Valeant Pharmaceutical's ex-CEO Michael Pearson will tell a Senate panel "He’s Really, Really Sorry for Raising the Price of Life-Saving Heart Drugs 700 Percent.... His testimony comes as Valeant is facing multiple investigations into its drug pricing and accounting practices by U.S. prosecutors. The company is also about $30 billion in debt, its stock is down 90 percent, and its earnings releases have been delayed as it struggles to factor in just how much money it lost in 2016." -- CW

Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post: "Apple reported its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003 in what investors worry is the end of a remarkable period of growth that had catapulted the computer maker into the most valuable company in the world. Shares fell sharply, as the Cupertino company said sales of its flagship iPhones dropped for the first time since their debut in 2007. That, more than any other statistic, likely drove the stock down 8 percent in after-hours trading." -- CW

Bundy Agonistes. Maxine Berstein of the Oregonian: "Ammon Bundy's lawyers intend to argue that the federal government doesn't have the authority to prosecute protesters who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, claiming that the federal government lacks control of the land." The essence of their argument is that once Oregon became a state, it lost the right to own or control anything in that state, despite a 1935 Supreme Court ruling very much to the contrary. ...

     ... Akhilleus: Bundy's lawyers who seem to have gone to the same school as he did (the one where students make up their own history and law) demanded more time from the judge for Bundy to prepare for his assault on legal issues settled since Bruno Hauptmann was on trial for the Lindbergh baby murder. The judge said fuggedaboutit. Maybe Hauptmann should have had lawyers like Bundy's. They would have told the court it had no right to try him because Constitution, something, something, founders, something, something...

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

** "Anger Is a Business." Jeffrey M. Berry & Sarah Sobieraj in Vox: Many news outlets' business models now depend on stoking anger. This exacerbates the political system's polarization and dysfunction.... At the core of the business model is telling the audience that no one in government or politics can be trusted. The subtext, of course, is that you need to tune into outrage networks and programs if you're to hear the truth." -- CW ...

     ... CW P.S.: If you don't like Fox "News" & Rush Limbaugh, you can thank Bill Clinton & Newt Gingrich for their dominance of the airwaves. One of the few Members of Congress to vote against the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which Bill Clinton signed "with great fanfare": Rep. Bernie Sanders. Not surprisingly, "... of all the presidential candidates running in 2016, the Big Media lobby has chosen to back Hillary Clinton."

CW: It's super-great to win a Pulitzer Prize -- just ask Maureen Dowd -- but before you start judging people by the medals on their mantles, read this Gawker post by Brian Burghart on how the Washington Post got its Pultizer "for its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be." Actually, no, it was two tiny news outfits, whose previous data collection the Post used (and has credited in its news stories but not in its Pulitzer application). Also, too, the Guardian's database, which also relied on data from one of the small outlets -- Fatal Encounters -- is more comprehensive than the Post's.

Peter Sterne of Politico: "Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith resigned from the paper on Tuesday, after the paper prevented him from writing about casino owners Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, whose family owns the Review-Journal.... Smith was first told not to write about Adelson on Jan. 28, a person with knowledge of the situation told Politico. That's the same day that Craig Moon was named publisher of the paper and that the R-J eliminated its standing disclosure about Adelson's ownership." -- CW

     ... Here's Las Vegas institution Jon Ralston's take. -- CW

Charles Pierce: "At 6:41 p.m. Monday night, a column appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website. It was written by Jim VandeHei, one of the founding geniuses of Tiger Beat On The Potomac. The column was about how the good real white Americans of the author's hometown in the Midwest are hungering for a third-party presidential disruption, possibly by Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg. It took less than an hour for political Twitter to eat VandeHei's column, bones and all. You rarely see a single piece disemboweled so completely and so immediately, and from so many directions.... And, not for nothing, but the scorn blizzard was richly deserved." ...

     ... CW: My question: does VanderHei now know what a complete ass he is? Almost certain answer: nah. Also too, does presumptive-Politico-party-nominee & boy billionaire Zuckerberg need Bloomberg's money? ...

... Steve Benen: "... VandeHei seems to consider 'Normal America' small, rural towns that are overwhelmingly white. Given that most Americans live in cities, it's unclear why we should perceive urban areas any less 'normal.'... So what 'Normal America' longs for -- and desperately needs -- are billionaires capable of 'disruption' and a willingness to 'exploit the fear factor.'... What's striking is VandeHei's lack of self-awareness. His thesis is warmed over No Labels pabulum peddled by Joe Lieberman in D.C. ballrooms.... While his argument claims to take aim at Establishment America, it ends up reflecting Establishment America's worst instincts. He's not disrupting a stagnant inside-the-Beltway worldview so much as he's reinforcing it."

Way Beyond the Beltway

James McAuley of the Washington Post: "Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, was handed over to French authorities Wednesday, where he is slated to stand trial in the coming months, Belgium's federal prosecutor said." -- CW

Monday
Apr252016

The Commentariat -- April 26, 2016

Presidential Race

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania & Rhode Island hold presidential primaries today. See also Down-Ballot Races below.

Lisa Hagen of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton said Monday said if she's elected president, women would make up half of her Cabinet."

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), at a Hillary Clinton campaign rally in Delaware, demonstrates how to sign off-key in every way:

... CW: So how hard did Clinton work for those big corporate speaking fees, which she then deposited in one of her tax-evasion Delaware corporations? (See yesterday's Commentariat.)

Get Over It, People. Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "... the level of fretting over Sanders's swipes at Clinton has been completely out of proportion to the actual damage done.... Compared to the 2008 Democratic primary -- and, more proximately, to the ongoing Republican primary -- Democratic infighting this year has been beanbag.... Clinton was far harder on Obama than Sanders is being on Clinton.... Even so, held up against the way Donald Trump is ingesting the writhing Republican Party in 2016, the 2008 Democratic primary was a model of civility." -- CW

Steve M. on the Koch announcement: "... they believe that if they can push a lot of economic and regulatory decisions down to the state and local levels, they'll win, because Kochite Republicans have done extraordinarily well in gubernatorial and legislative elections in the Obama years. The Kochs have accepted that they're not going to get a favorite into the White House in 2016, and yes, they might not be sad if they have Hillary Clinton as president -- because they intend to use her as a foil. If you want to know how they expect that to work, read the news from 2009." -- safari ...

... Andy Borowitz: "Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spent decades acquiring a world-class collection of Republicans, revealed over the weekend that they are considering purchasing their first Democrat.... 'It can't be worse than Scott Walker,' [Charles Koch] said." CW: See Sunday's Commentariat for context.

Teddy's & Johnny's Report Cards Revealed -- "Plays Well with Others: F." Alexander Burns, et al., of the New York Times: "The temporary alliance between Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, formed to deny Donald J. Trump the Republican presidential nomination, was already in danger of fraying to the point of irrelevance on Monday, only hours after it was announced to great fanfare." -- CW ...

Gail Collins & Arthur Brooks have a "Conversation." Collins explains the Cruz-Kasich "alliance": "Yeah, the barbarian hordes are galloping down the mountain and the two towns at the bottom agree to work together on improved streetlights." -- CW

Lauren Fox of TPM: "Ted Cruz has no way to win the Republican nomination without a contested convention, but he's already busy scouting out his running mate. According to a report from the Weekly Standard, the Cruz campaign is vetting former Republican presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for vice president." -- CW

Alice Ollstein of ThinkProgress: "At a rally Monday in Rhode Island..., Donald Trump went after the governor of Virginia for signing an executive order that restores the voting rights of more than 200,000 ex-felons. 'That's crooked politics,' he told the booing crowd. 'They're giving 200,000 people that have been convicted of heinous crimes, horrible crimes, the worst crimes, the right to vote because, you know what? They know they're gonna vote Democrat. They're gonna vote Democrat and that could be the swing. That's how disgusting and dishonest our political system is.'" -- safari

Kenneth Vogel and Eli Stokols of Politico: "Donald Trump is bristling at efforts to implement a more conventional presidential campaign strategy, and has expressed misgivings about the political guru behind them, Paul Manafort, for overstepping his bounds...Now Trump is taking steps to return some authority to Manafort's chief internal rival, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski." --safari

Andy Kroll of Huffington Post: "Trump at War: Trump's pronouncements on foreign policy, combined with his years of broadsides, have set off a very real fear within military circles about what might happen were he to become president.... Never before, they say, has a candidate gotten so close to the White House with such little respect for the military." -- LT

Wherein Donald Trump Complains that John Kasich Has "Disgusting" Table Manners. Did you see him? He has the news conference all the time when he's eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion. This guy takes a pancake and he shoves it in his mouth. It is disgusting. Did you want that for your president? I don't think so. -- Donald Trump, in Rhode Island Monday

Wherein Trump Demonstrates the Meaning of "Projection." Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Donald Trump on Monday evening likened ... John Kasich to a 'spoiled brat' for staying in the GOP race on the eve of voting in five states." -- CW

Brad DeLong drunkblogs Jim Vandehei's wail for a third-party candidate -- like Mark Zuckerberg. There's a typo in the title, but that's what you get for drunkblogging. It is hard to be more shallow than Vandehei, who is about to leave Politico because it isn't fulfilling enough or something. To be fair to Vandehei, we should consider the possibility that he was drunkopinionating. -- CW

Down-Ballot Races

Burgess Everett & Rachel Bade of Politico: Democratic Senate primaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania are hotly-contested. -- CW

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: President "Obama has presided over a greater loss of electoral power for his party than any two-term president since World War II. And 2016 represents one last opportunity for him to reverse that trend.... The first big tests of the rebuilding efforts comes Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where Obama is taking the unusual step of wading into two ontested Democratic primaries, endorsing Senate hopeful Katie McGinty and Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County official and early supporter of his who is hoping to become state attorney general." -- CW

The REDMAP ratfuck. David Daley of New York: "As written in the Constitution, every state redraws all of its lines every ten years. That means elections in 'zero years' matter more than others. Jankowski [a GOP tactician] realized it would be possible to target states where the legislature is in charge of redistricting, flip as many chambers as possible, take control of the process, and redraw the lines. Boom. Just like that -- if Republicans could pull it off -- the GOP would go from demographically challenged to the catbird seat for a decade. At least." Read on. --safari

Other News & Views

Michael Shear of the New York Times: During his European visit, President Obama, "recognizing the limitations [of foreign policy] aspirations, spoke in ... measured tones as he gently urged allies to do more to defend themselves and solve their own problems." -- CW

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder ... Monday upheld North Carolina's controversial new voting law, dealing a blow to critics who said the state's rules will discourage minorities from casting ballots during this fall's presidential election. The voting law, passed by North Carolina's legislature in 2013, is among the strictest in the country.... Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine, said Monday night that the case will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit...." CW: Schroeder is a Bush II appointee.

... Nelson Schwartz & Quoctrung Bui of the New York Times: "... research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation's bitter political divide.... The researchers found that areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.... Voters in congressional districts hardest hit by Chinese imports tended to choose more ideologically extreme lawmakers." -- CW

No Bribes Required. Rick Hasen, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, on how politicians' dialing-for-dollars affects their policies. "When you spend hours every day interacting with those wealthy enough to make four-, five-, six- and even seven-figure donations, you can't but help to have your priorities influenced by their concerns.... Money has influence even before it is donated.... Every senator from New York, including [Hillary] Clinton from 2001 to 2009, knows that staking out positions against Wall Street can close wallets or send money streaming to their opponents. This is a deeply troubling campaign finance system, one which is slipping dangerously toward plutocracy. But it doesn't take a bribe for money to matter, a lot." -- CW

Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-Az.] in The Nation: '"Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention' [by the ACLU] analyzes previously unpublished death reviews and demonstrates how egregious violations of medical standards by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) played a significant role in nearly half of the deaths for which the organizations were able to review documents. In three-quarters of deaths attributed to substandard medical care, the victims were held in for-profit prisons. Their deaths are tragic proof that profit motives have perverse and harmful effects on our judicial system."--safari

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "As the [U.S. Supreme Court] justices are set to review ... former Virginia governor [Bob McDonnell]'s [R] conviction this week, other politicians will be watching for a decision on when a favor crosses the line into an 'official act,' an area that has become increasingly blurry in the world of campaign contributions." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "A man who says J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House, molested him decades ago when the man was 14 filed a lawsuit against Mr. Hastert on Monday, saying he was owed $1.8 million of the money he had been promised as compensation for the abuse." -- CW ...

... Digby in Salon: "Dennis Hastert has one man to thank for his career as speaker: former Texas congressman Tom DeLay, the Republican hatchet man who rammed the impeachment of Bill Clinton through the House and out-lasted Newt Gingrich in the GOP leadership...DeLay was the power behind Hastert's throne, the whip known as 'the Hammer' who preached and perfected the brand of take-no-prisoners politics currently practiced by the Tea Party and House Freedom Caucus. He was the man who made Ted Cruz possible." --safari

Sam Thielman of the Guardian: "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is letting the third-largest cable company in the US buy the second-largest: chairman Tom Wheeler has recommended that the body approve TV and internet distribution giant Charter's plan to purchase Time Warner as well as the smaller Bright House Networks, so long as the new company abides by several conditions." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

American "Justice," Ctd. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: Muskogee County, "Oklahoma police took $53,000 from a Christian band raising money for an orphanage. A Texas man who is a refugee from Burma was carrying the cash -- most of it from ticket sales for the band he managed -- in his car when officers stopped him and seized the money under the state's forfeiture law.... Oklahoma has some of the most permissive forfeiture laws in the nation, according to a 2015 report by the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Update. Sometimes Shaming Works. Samantha Vicent of the Tulsa World: "More than $50,000 seized by Muskogee County deputies in a traffic stop will be returned to a Dallas man and others who said the money was intended for a Thai orphanage and a Christian school in Myanmar. Eh Wah, who lives in Dallas and is originally from Myanmar, was pulled over on U.S. 69 for having a broken brake light about 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27. Authorities seized $53,000 they found in his car and indicated that it would not be returned. The Washington Post reported on the issue ahead of a press release issued by the man's attorneys Monday." CW: Hey, I wonder what would have happened if the money was collected for Muslim orphans.

Richard Fausset of the New York Times: North Carolina's "bathroom" "law, and the backlash against it, have introduced a ... volatile energy to state politics here, roiling a governor's race that could be the nation's most competitive. It is also affecting other crucial contests, including that of Senator Richard Burr, who hopes to fend off a vigorous Democratic challenge from Deborah K. Ross, a former State House member and former state director of the American Civil Liberties Union." -- CW

Roxana Hegemon of TPM: "Voting rolls in Kansas are in "chaos" because of the state's proof-of-citizenship requirements, the American Civil Liberties Union has argued in a court document, noting that about two-thirds of new voter registration applications submitted during a three-week period in February are on hold." --safari ...

... Alan Pyke of Think Progress: "... Gov. Sam Brownback (R[-Kansas]) came to Washington on Wednesday to discuss his poverty policies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. At one point, the embattled governor justified his policy of forcing people off of food stamps if they can't find a job by likening low-income and jobless people to lazy college students.... Brownback was the first of several governors to decide to reinstate a hard and fast 20-hours-per-week work requirement for able-bodied adults with no dependents." -- CW

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Joey Meek, a friend of the man accused of killing nine parishioners in Charleston, S.C., last year, intends to plead guilty to two charges related to the massacre, according to a court document filed Monday. Meek was indicted in September on counts of making false statements to the FBI and 'misprision of a felony,' which meant that he allegedly concealed his knowledge of the crimes. He had pleaded not guilty to these counts, which carry up to eight years in prison." -- CW

Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whose fatal shooting by the Cleveland police in 2014 prompted national outrage, is set to receive $6 million from the city in a settlement announced Monday in federal court records." -- CW (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jeremy Stahl of Slate: "The head of Cleveland's police union used the occasion of the city's $6 million settlement with the family of Tamir Rice to blame the 12-year-old for his shooting death at the hands of police and to tell the victim's loved ones how to spend the money." -- CW

Larry Neumeister of the Boston Globe: "New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game 'Deflategate' suspension imposed by the NFL, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AP: "A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Bill Cosby's attempt to throw out his criminal case because of what he called a decade-old deal not to prosecute him. The mid-level state superior court ruled Monday that the criminal sex assault case against Cosby can proceed, prompting the district attorney to press for a preliminary hearing date." -- CW

Way Beyond

Kirk Semple of the New York Times: "... an international panel of investigators ... ha[s] been examining the ... [disappearance of] 43 students ... in the city of Iguala[, Mexico] one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances.... The reason for the students' abduction remains a mystery. Despite apparent stonewalling by the Mexican government in recent months, the panel's two reports on the case, the most recent of which was released on Sunday, provide the fullest accounting of the events surrounding the students' disappearance, which also left six other people dead, including three students, and scores wounded." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sunday
Apr242016

The Commentariat -- April 25, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whose fatal shooting by the Cleveland police in 2014 prompted national outrage, is set to receive $6 million from the city in a settlement announced Monday in federal court records." -- CW

Kirk Semple of the New York Times: "... an international panel of investigators ... ha[s] been examining the ... [disappearance of] 43 students ... in the city of Iguala[, Mexico] one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances.... The reason for the students' abduction remains a mystery. Despite apparent stonewalling by the Mexican government in recent months, the panel's two reports on the case, the most recent of which was released on Sunday, provide the fullest accounting of the events surrounding the students' disappearance, which also left six other people dead, including three students, and scores wounded." -- CW

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "As the [U.S. Supreme Court] justices are set to review ... former Virginia governor [Bob McDonnell]'s [R] conviction this week, other politicians will be watching for a decision on when a favor crosses the line into an 'official act,' an area that has become increasingly blurry in the world of campaign contributions." -- CW

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: Muskogee County, "Oklahoma police took $53,000 from a Christian band raising money for an orphanage. A Texas man who is a refugee from Burma was carrying the cash -- most of it from ticket sales for the band he managed -- in his car when officers stopped him and seized the money under the state's forfeiture law.... Oklahoma has some of the most permissive forfeiture laws in the nation, according to a 2015 report by the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm." -- CW

Larry Neumeister of the Boston Globe: "New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game 'Deflategate' suspension imposed by the NFL, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union." -- CW

*****

Staff writers of the BBC: "US President Barack Obama has dismissed North Korea's proposal to suspend nuclear tests if the US ends its annual military exercises with the South. On Sunday Mr Obama told reporters that the US did not take such a proposal seriously and that Pyongyang would "have to do better than that". The North's foreign minister Ri Su-yong made the offer in a rare interview. Mr Ri's comments came as the North said it fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast." --safari

Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Obama will announce the addition of 250 Special Operations troops to the American advisory force in Syria, U.S. officials said Sunday, the administration's latest move seeking to intensify pressure on the Islamic State." ...

... Juan Cole calls this announcement the "ISIL Endgame." --safari

Alison Smale & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama said on Sunday that he was confident the United States and the European Union would succeed in negotiating a new trans-Atlantic trade deal by the end of the year, saying the benefits of such an agreement were 'indisputable.'... Mr. Obama spoke while standing next to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at a news conference in Hanover as they prepared to preside over the opening here of the world's largest industrial trade fair. In the evening, Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel hosted a dinner for 29 chief executives of major American and German companies." CW ...

... She Is Not Amused. Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "Asked Sunday how she viewed the prospect of working with a President Trump, given his harsh criticism of her refugee policy, Merkel first stared icily at the reporter who posed the question -- and then quickly dismissed it." -- CW

David Sanger of the New York Times: "The United States has opened a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing the military's six-year-old Cyber Command for the first time to mount computer-network attacks that are now being used alongside more traditional weapons. The effort reflects President Obama's desire to bring many of the secret American cyberweapons that have been aimed elsewhere, notably at Iran, into the fight against the Islamic State -- which has proved effective in using modern communications and encryption to recruit and carry out operations." -- CW

Deb Reichmann of the AP: "The Obama administration will likely soon release at least part of a 28-page secret chapter from a congressional inquiry into 9/11 that may shed light on possible Saudi connections to the attackers. The documents, kept in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol, contain information from the joint congressional inquiry into 'specific sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.'" -- CW

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "There are only two countries on the planet that currently jail people for being too poor to pay the government for getting arrested: The United States and the Philippines.... In any given year, city and county jails across this country lock up between 11 and 13 million people just because they aren't rich enough to write a check for a few hundred dollars.... Jason Flom..., CEO of Lava Records..., wants to get rid of cash bail. Boom." Lithwick interviews Flom. -- CW

Jesse Eisinger of the New Yorker on why the S.E.C. didn't bring criminal charges against Goldman Sachs' top bankers. CW: Sounds an awful lot like Wall Street has "captured" the regulatory agency, which will come as little shock to Reality Chex readers.

David Daley, in New York, writes a long piece on the "REDMAP ratfuck." -- CW

Whistling Dixie. Jim Webb, who claims to be a Democrat who should be president, in a WashPo op-ed: "One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a 'monster,' as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being 'known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,' as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness." -- CW ...

... Eric Loomis of LG&$: "This is classic Webb. Downplay genocide, not even discuss slavery, totally avoid Jackson's utterly disastrous economic policies, play up the violence and manliness." -- CW

Eyal Press of The New Yorker has a very long read on systemic torture and abuse of mentally-ill inmates within our prison system. The lede: "In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards." --safari ...

    ... CW: Had just read this myself. Depressing but compelling. And, sadly, not limited to Florida.

Presidential Race

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Even as his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination slip away, Senator Bernie Sanders and his allies are trying to use his popularity to expand his political influence, setting up an ideological struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party in the post-Obama era. Aides to Mr. Sanders have been pressing party officials for a significant role in drafting the platform for the Democratic convention in July, aiming to lock in strong planks on issues like a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, breaking up Wall Street banks and banning natural gas 'fracking.'" -- CW ...

Steven Dennis of Bloomberg: Bernie Sanders, "whose insurgent campaign has energized millions on the left and challenged the prohibitive favorite, said Sunday on ABC's 'This Week' that he would work to defeat the Republican candidate if [Hillary Clinton is] the Democratic nominee. Still, he urged her to adopt many of his agenda items." -- CW

Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont did his best on Sunday to avoid talking about comments made by one of his supporters, the actress Rosario Dawson, who invoked Monica Lewinsky at a rally for Mr. Sanders this weekend." -- CW

Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton unveiled a major new attempt to use Donald Trump's words against him at the weekend, as both she and rival Bernie Sanders adjusted course near the end of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. While Clinton turned toward an anticipated general election showdown with Trump, Sanders invited Democrats to take a broader view of his role in the race than just as a contender, telling CNN he was out to 'revitalize American democracy'." -- CW

... ** Tax-Dodgers-in-Chief. Rupert Neate of the Guardian: "... Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ... share an affinity for the same nondescript two-storey office building in Wilmington[, Delaware]. A building that has become famous for helping tens of thousands of companies avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in tax through the so-called 'Delaware loophole'.... Both ... Clinton and ... Trump -- have companies registered at 1209 North Orange, and have refused to explain why.... This squat, yellow brick office building just north of Wilmington's rundown downtown is the registered address of more than 285,000 companies. That's more than any other known address in the world, and 15 times more than the 18,000 registered in Ugland House, a five-storey building in the Cayman Islands that President Obama called 'either the biggest building in the world, or the biggest tax scam on record'." -- CW Read on. ...

... "Crooked Hillary." Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: Hillary "Clinton needs to find her voice on the question of campaign finance -- to talk more about money, not less -- because valid doubts about the integrity of the system are fuelling Trump's campaign, too. That won't change if Bernie is gone.... There are legitimate concerns about the role of money in politics that go well beyond quid-pro-quo bribery, such as the effect that being in a closed conversational circle with wealthy donors can have on a politician's world view and priorities. Sanders, though he might do so less derisively, has a right to raise them." -- CW ...

... John Amato of Crooks & Liars: "... Republicans have let out one of their big strategies they'll use against a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run - Swiftboating Benghazi." -- CW ...

... digby: "I have a sneaking suspicion that Trump's going to get a lot more down and dirty than that, however. He's shown he's not afraid to sink as low as it gets. Benghazi ain't it." -- CW

Sidney Blumenthal in The Atlantic: "One hundred and sixty years after the founding of the Republican Party, Donald Trump has evoked Abraham Lincoln as a standard for his branding.... But Lincoln became 'presidential' by resisting not only slavery but also isolating nativism.... The Republicans are now going the way of the Whigs by embracing the politics that helped destroy them." --safari

Too Little, Too Late. Matt Flegenheimer & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio have agreed to coordinate in future primary contests in a last-ditch effort to deny Donald J. Trump the Republican presidential nomination, with each candidate standing aside in certain states amid growing concerns that Mr. Trump cannot otherwise be stopped. In a statement late Sunday night, Mr. Cruz's campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said that the campaign would 'focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Governor Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico.' Minutes after Mr. Roe's statement, the Kasich campaign put out a similar message." -- CW ...

... The Washington Post story, by Sean Sullivan & Dave Weigel of is here. -- CW

Simon Maloy of Salon: "Large segments of the Republican Party and the conservative movement have arrayed themselves in opposition to Trump to ward off the political reckoning his candidacy threatens, but there are some people who want Trump to win precisely because his nomination would inflict much-needed violence upon the Republican Party as it currently exists. Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and a longtime critic of the GOP's increasingly conservative politics, sees Trump as both a product of the Republican Party's decline and a potential catalyst for its eventual reclamation." --safari

AP: "A 20-year-old Connecticut man is facing charges after authorities say he tweeted out a bomb threat during a Donald Trump rally Saturday. Connecticut State Police say the U.S. Secret Service contacted them Saturday afternoon after they say Sean Morkys posted on Twitter, 'Is someone going to bomb the trump rally or am I going to have to?'" CW: Thanks, kid, for making the Trump opposition look insane AND giving Donald a legitimate grievance. Idiot.

Beyond the Beltway

Staff writers of The Seattle Times: "Vandals have tagged a Seattle church with racist graffiti that includes swastikas and a message telling its congregation to 'go back' to Africa. The Seattle Police Department is now investigating the messages...The church believes the vandalism occurred at some point between Friday and Sunday morning." Via The Daily Beast --safari

Guardian: "Eight family members found shot dead at four homes in rural Ohio were targeted for execution in a planned 'sophisticated operation', authorities have said as their investigation entered a third day. They said that remaining members of the tight-knit Rhoden family and other residents of Pike county should arm themselves if they feared further attacks from the killers, who were still at large. Charles Reader, Pike county sheriff, and Mike DeWine, Ohio attorney general, said on Sunday it was clear the victims, ranging in age from 16 to 44, were deliberately singled out for attack, most of them while they slept, rather than killed at random or in a crime of passion. Several marijuana-growing operations were found at the crime scenes, they added, although it was unclear what, if any, role the operations had played in the killings." CW: Arm yourselves? Really?

Christian McPhate of the Dallas Observer: "Tracy Murphree, the GOP candidate for Denton County sheriff, posted on Facebook that he'd beat the hell out of a transgender person who tried to piss in a bathroom where Murphree's daughter was peeing." -- CW ...

... Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story: Murphree is expected to win the election. -- CW

Sarah Burris of RawStory: "A preacher in Alabama wants you to know that sex will kill your brain cells, make you homeless and was brought by God as a means of punishing people...Many right-wing religious have deep and profound problems with sex. They want to regulate when you can have it, how you can have it and who you can have it with. But, this guy has taken the anti-sex philosophy to a whole new level of hostility." --safari

The racist origins of tipping. Maddie Oatman of Mother Jones: "On the surface, tipping seems little more than a reward for astute recommendations and polite, speedy service. But the practice has unsavory roots.... European aristocrats popularized the habit of slipping gratuities to their hosts' servants, and by the mid-1800s rich Americans, hoping to flaunt their European sophistication, had brought the practice home." --safari

Way Beyond

Ali al-Mujahed & Hugh Naylor of the Washington Post: "Signaling a major shift in Yemen's grinding civil war, Saudi-backed forces Sunday appeared to mount a large-scale offensive to drive militants aligned with al-Qaeda out of their strongholds in the country's south." -- CW

S. Nakhoul, et al., of Reuters: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, overseeing Saudi Arabia's economy, unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom's 'addiction' to oil and transforming it into a global investment power, including changes that would alter the social structure of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom by pushing for women to have a bigger economic role and by offering improved status to resident expatriates." -- LT

The AFP in the Guardian: "Austria's government was licking its wounds after the anti-immigration far-right triumphed in presidential elections, dealing a major blow to a political establishment seen by voters as out of touch and ineffectual. According to preliminary results, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom party came a clear first with 36% of the vote in the first round of elections.... Candidates from the two ruling centrist parties, which have effectively run Austria since the end of the second world war, failed to even make it into a runoff on 22 May, coming fourth and fifth each with 11% of the vote." --safari

Saturday
Apr232016

The Commentariat -- April 24, 2016

Presidential Race

Nick Gass of Politico: "Bernie Sanders says the Democratic Party hasn't been fair to him -- but he has mixed feelings on the nominating process overall. 'Do you think this process has been fair to you? The Democratic nomination process?' moderator Chuck Todd asked the Vermont senator in an interview filmed Saturday in Baltimore and aired Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'Yes and no,' Sanders said, going on to criticize the role of the media for neglecting to focus on 'real issues facing America.' The media, he said, emphasizes 'political gossip' rather than 'issues that affect working people.'" CW: If you're looking for shallow media that "emphasizes political gossip," Chuck, you do have a mirror, don't you? ...

... John Wagner & Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... Bernie Sanders said Saturday that many of his losses to Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries were because 'poor people don't vote.'" -- CW

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "... Bernie Sanders called for criminal justice reform during a rally in Baltimore on Saturday, promising to 'bring justice back to the criminal justice system.'" -- CW

Harper Neidig: "... Bernie Sanders's top adviser [Tad Devine] said on Saturday that the campaign would consider dialing down its criticism of front-runner Hillary Clinton depending on the outcome of the primaries on Tuesday." -- CW

Real Donald Trump? Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "If Donald J. Trump starts to soften his image, Hillary Clinton has a warning for voters. Don't believe it. 'Trump,' she said at a rally [in Rhode Island] on Saturday, 'keeps saying things like, "Well, you know, uh, I didn't really mean it. It was all part of my reality TV show."'... 'If we buy that, shame on us. Because he's already showed us what he believes and he's already said what he wants to do, and he wants to go after every one of the rights we have.' On Saturday, the Clinton campaign also released a video that amounted to a highlight reel of Mr. Trump's incendiary comments. The video said that Mr. Trump 'is getting ready for an extreme makeover.'" -- CW

Kristen East of Politico: "Billionaire businessman Charles Koch said in an interview airing Sunday that 'it's possible' another Clinton in the White House could be better than having a Republican president. Koch, the CEO of Koch industries, made the comment to ABC News' Jonathan Karl for an interview airing on ABC's This Week." -- CW ...

... When two wingers get together to talk on the teevee:

Not Only Trump. Nick Gass of Politico: State Department spokesman John Kirby suggested Friday that "Ted Cruz has also raised eyebrows abroad with his vows to 'make the sand glow' in the Middle East and his comments about Muslim immigrants, though Kirby did not explicitly mention the Texas senator by name." -- CW

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Ted Cruz notched another delegate landslide Saturday, stretching his advantage in a competition that might never occur: the second ballot of a contested Republican National Convention in July. Cruz won at least 65 of the 94 delegates up for grabs Saturday (and he may have won more, but Kentucky's 25 delegates haven't revealed their leanings). The Texas senator has so thoroughly dominated the fight ... that if front-runner Donald Trump fails to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, Cruz is well-positioned to surpass him -- and perhaps even snag the nomination for himself -- when delegates are free in subsequent convention rounds to vote for whomever they want." -- CW ...

... David Wright of CNN: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz collected the overwhelming majority of Maine's Republican delegates during the state's GOP convention Saturday.... Ahead of the vote, [Gov. Paul] LePage accused the Cruz campaign of going back on a promise to back a 'unity slate' of the state's delegates, a move he portrayed as 'stabbing us in the back.'" -- CW ...

... BUT Trump Is Trying! Kyle Cheney: Deleware "State GOP insiders say [Trump aide Joe] Uddo ripped their long-standing process from his very first phone call and hinted he might refer it to Trump's high-powered law firm, Jones Day. Then, he suggested that continued resistance could lead to a nasty Trump campaign tweet about 'backroom deals in Delaware,' according to three sources familiar with Uddo's interactions.... The spat created bitter feelings between Delaware GOP insiders and the Trump campaign." -- CW ...

... Brianna Gurciullo of Politico: "Donald Trump ... on Friday, prais[ed Delaware's] ... status as a tax shelter and at one point sharing a story about calling his credit-card company to find out whether it employed people in India." In recounting the phone call, Trump spoke mockingly in what he apparently thought was "Indian"-sounding English. "Trump said he had 378 corporate entities registered in the state, 'meaning I pay you a lot of money, folks. I don't feel guilty.'" -- CW ...

... The Pain in Maine Falls Mainly on the Sane. AP: "Maine's Republican governor says it's hard to understand workers 'from Bulgaria' and workers from India are 'the worst ones.' Gov. Paul LePage said Saturday that foreign workers are being used in restaurants after he criticized a referendum proposal to raise Maine's minimum wage to $12. He says he's disappointed his alternative proposal to hike the wage to $10 didn't get traction. He described Indians as 'lovely people but you've got to have an interpreter.'" -- CW ...

... Nate Silver: "... if the framing of the question matters, Trump has a big advantage: The media is [sic.!] mostly echoing and validating his side of the argument. That's partly because Trump continues to dominate news coverage of the Republican race and therefore has a lot more opportunities to get his message out. It also helps that Trump's system-is-rigged message is relatively simple and plays into the media's master narrative of the Republican race as a conflict between the Republican base and the GOP 'establishment.' The Republicans' delegate selection rules, by contrast, require an attention to detail that narrative-driven stories about the Republican race can misconstrue." Read on. -- CW

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "As Donald J. Trump ... begins preparing his campaign for a general election, he told voters in Connecticut on Saturday that they should not expect him to start 'toning it down.' Mr. Trump's message at two stops in Connecticut -- first in Waterbury, and later in Bridgeport -- seemed to contradict the closed-door pitch his newly installed campaign chief, Paul Manafort, brought to the Republican National Committee's spring meeting in Florida on Thursday." -- CW ...

... Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ... has used [Paul Manafort's leaked] comments [to the RNC] to attack Trump's authenticity. He said in interviews Thursday that Trump has been 'lying to us' and is 'pretending' to be a conservative to fool voters. Trump blasted Cruz on Saturday during campaign stops in Connecticut..., accusing him of twisting Manafort's words for political gain. The billionaire showman insisted that Manafort's comments ... merely showcased the reality of adjusting stylistically to different audiences." -- CW ...

... digby: "This notion that Trump is putting on an act is idiotic. Of course he's a showman. But that doesn't mean he isn't a neo-fascist xenophobe and he's been remarkably consistent about it for 30 years or more. He has always railed against foreigners, worshiped the police, and celebrated state violence. That he has different personas in different circumstances is irrelevant to that. I think if you want to see the 'authentic' Trump, just read the Washington Post and New York Times editorial board interviews. He wasn't playing to the crowd, he was among fellow elites. And he relied on a whole bag of tricks to hide the fact that he doesn't know what he's talking about. What comes through is the bravado, the violence, the deviance, the guile." -- CW

Kristen Salaky of TPM: "Following a tense exchange with Fox New host Sean Hannity this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took another swipe at the network's coverage of Donald Trump and accusations that he's wrangling delegates. 'They know it's not true,' Cruz said, when asked if his strategy was unethical, according to BuzzFeed. 'Donald doesn't handle losing well and when we loses he cries and he screams and he whines and he curses and he insults everybody.' Cruz went on to criticize the editorial decisions of Fox News and who they are 'rooting for.'" -- safari

Frances Sellers of the Washington Post visits the Drumpf family ancestral town of Kallstadt, Germany. "Kallstadt lies in the lush landscape of southern Germany along the Weinstrasse, or wine route, that the Nazis created in 1935 to market the wines as Hitler surged to power and drove out Jewish merchants." -- CW

Other News & Views

Steve Erlanger & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama will meet with Western European leaders on Sunday and Monday amid a growing sense in his administration that Europe is faltering in the face of multiple challenges, undercutting the trans-Atlantic alliance at a critical time." -- CW ...

... Darlene Superville of the AP: "President Barack Obama, beginning a visit Sunday to Germany, hoped to build momentum for a U.S.-Europe trade deal that has become a tough sell, particularly in Germany. Other issues were on the agenda for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, including efforts to counter the Islamic State group, improve cooperation on counterterrorism, and encourage countries to share law enforcement information. IS says it was responsible for attacks that killed 30 people in Brussels last month." -- CW

Michael Shear & Liam Stack of the New York Times: "At a meeting with young people on the second day of his visit to Europe..., [President Obama] praised the [Black Lives Matter] movement as 'really effective in bringing attention to problems,' but said young activists should be more willing to work with political leaders to craft solutions instead of criticizing from outside the political process. '... you can't just keep on yelling at them,' Mr. Obama said." -- CW: Welcome to Protesters' World, Mr. President. Most protesters think yelling & whining is the point. The most successful freedom movements -- like the remarkable gay rights groups -- knew how to organize & cajole. ...

... Former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), in a New York Times op-ed: After Clare, his wife of 50 years, died, Wofford found love again with a young man named Matthew Charlton. "On April 30, at ages 90 and 40, we will join hands, vowing to be bound together: to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part." -- CW

Sabrina Tavernise & Robert Gebeloff of the New York Times: "The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds -- including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens -- had the sharpest rise in coverage rates. Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases." -- CW

She Danced with the President, but in 30 States She Couldn't Vote. Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post: "Virginia McLaurin, who recently turned 107, was still basking in the glow of her dance with President Obama in February. A White House video of the meeting has been viewed nearly 66 million times. The attention has resulted in invitations to New York and Los Angeles for media interviews. To board an airplane, however, McLaurin needs to replace a long-lost government-issued photo ID" which she has been unable to obtain. "On the bright side..., at least the District didn't require a photo ID to vote.... But roughly 30 states have adopted an array of restrictive voter ID laws, and elderly citizens who live in those states seemed particularly at risk of having their rights denied." ...

AND here are some nice letters in support of child molester & former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Protests surrounding a rally at Stone Mountain[, Georgia,] erupted in violence Saturday as demonstrators trying to confront a white power group set a barricade on fire and hurled rocks and fireworks at police attempting to block them. By midday, park officials worried about the safety of visitors, shut down attractions such as the cable car and amusement center and also canceled the popular laser show. The park remained open. Nine counter-protesters were arrested, most for refusing to take their masks.... In Rome, Ga., about 80 supporters of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement also held a rally Saturday. That event has largely avoided the violence seen at Stone Mountain, although police said two counter-protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct. There were several hundred counter-protesters on hand." -- CW

AP: "A solar-powered airplane landed in California on Saturday, completing a risky, three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean as part of its journey around the world." -- CW ...

Rebecca Piccardo of the Los Angeles Times: "A week after a Palm Beach Zoo animal keeper was killed during a tiger attack, the zoo's president said the keeper had knowingly entered a part of the tiger enclosure with one of the big cats in it -- which is not allowed." -- CW ...

... John Pacenti of the Palm Beach Post: "But in a reflection of how the zoo handled this crisis, some of the public appeared skeptical of the explanation. The Post received anonymous calls immediately casting doubt, but these calls have been ongoing since the mauling and were attributed as 'rumors circulating from disgruntled staff members' by zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter.... And there are no fewer than five ongoing independent investigations into [Stacey] Konwiser's death...." -- CW

Way Beyond

Azam Ahmed & Paulina Villegas of the New York Times: "An international panel of experts brought to Mexico to investigate the haunting disappearance of 43 students that ignited a global outcry say they cannot solve the case because of a sustained campaign of harassment, stonewalling and intimidation against them. The investigators say they have endured carefully orchestrated attacks in the Mexican news media, a refusal by the government to turn over documents or grant interviews with essential figures, and even a retaliatory criminal investigation into one of the officials who appointed them." -- CW

Give peace a chance? Guardian: "North Korea will halt its nuclear tests if the US ceases its annual military exercises with South Korea, Kim Jong-un's foreign minister has said in a rare interview with western media. A North Korean submarine launched missile on Saturday in breach of UN bans, and anticipation is building that the North is also preparing to conduct a nuclear explosion." --safari

Press release for MAPS: "The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has formally approved the first-ever randomized controlled trial of whole plant medical marijuana (cannabis) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. veterans. The DEA's approval marks the first time a clinical trial intended to develop smoked botanical marijuana into a legal prescription drug has received full approval from U.S. regulatory agencies, including the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."" --safari