The Ledes

Friday, October 24, 2014.

New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet, using an international meeting of Russia experts to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises, including those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports 'dubious' groups ranging from 'open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.'”

Washington Post: "The body found on an abandoned property outside of [Charlottesville, Virginia] has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing."

Seattle Times: "Two students are dead after one of them opened fire Friday morning in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, according to law-enforcement sources. Police said a girl was killed and two other girls and two boys were wounded  in the 10:45 a.m. shooting.... Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that the girl was one of the people shot.  He said he believes one of the victims was his friend since kindergarten." Marysville is near Seattle.

Guardian: "European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised."

New York Times: "American security officials said Thursday that they were looking into a new report that Islamic State militants had used chlorine gas as a weapon against Iraqi police officers last month near Balad, north of Baghdad."

Bloomberg News: "Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola, opening a new front in the international effort to prevent the outbreak of the deadly viral infection from spreading further."

New York Times: "Frank Mankiewicz, a writer and Democratic political strategist who was Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, directed Senator George S. McGovern’s losing 1972 presidential campaign and for six years was the president of National Public Radio, died Thursday at a hospital in Washington. He was 90."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams that have helped turn the once-obscure militant group into a terrorist organization unlike any previously seen, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said Thursday."

Guardian: "The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, vowed a tough and uncompromising response to a brazen gun attack on the national parliament on Wednesday that left a soldier dead and a nation in shock. As calm fell on Canada’s idyllic capital, where hours earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had forced his way into the parliament building in a hail of gunfire before being killed by a ceremonial official, Harper delivered a sombre television address declaring that the country would not be cowed by terrorism." ...

... Toronto Globe & Mail: "Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal – a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999." ...

... New York Times: "A day after a terrorist attack convulsed the heart of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, the city’s police chief said he was satisfied that it was the work of a lone gunman, who shot dead a soldier before being killed in a hail of gunfire in the Parliament building.... In the hours following the raid, police officials had said that there might be as many as three armed men."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 24

12:45 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

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

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

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Saturday
Sep272014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 28, 2014

David Sanger & Anne Barnard of the New York Times: "The Pentagon said on Saturday that it had conducted its first strikes against Islamic State targets in a besieged Kurdish area of Syria along the Turkish border, destroying two armored vehicles in an area that has been the subject of a weeklong onslaught by the Islamic State. The action around Kobani, where at least 150,000 refugees have crossed into Turkey, appeared to signify the opening of a new front for American airstrikes in Syria, and came on a day when several other strikes took place in Raqqa, the de facto headquarters of the Islamic State's forces, and other sites in the eastern part of the country." ...

... Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "As British jets took off from Cyprus to carry out strikes on Islamic State (Isis) targets in Iraq on Saturday, and US-led strikes continued in Syria and Iraq, President Barack Obama used his weekly address to say American leadership was 'the one constant in an uncertain world'.... On Saturday afternoon, the Department of Defence released a statement regarding the latest strikes, which said that Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates had participated in strikes on Syria." ...

... In a rambling column, Maureen Dowd makes one important point: "As the U.S. woos the Arab coalition, Arab leaders are not speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS against women.

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post tells the chilling story of how in 2011 a man took seven shots that hit the White House residence while Sasha Obama & Marian Robinson were inside & Malia Obama was expected shortly. The Secret Service was clueless -- saying first that the shots were car backfires & later they were from gangs shooting at each other -- until a maid found a broken window & debris on the Truman balcony days later.

Thomas Frank interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for Salon. Sanders: "... there are some great people in the Democratic Party who spend an enormous amount of time and energy fighting for working people, and I work with those guys. But I don't think anybody would say, as a whole, that the Democratic Party is the party of the American working class." ...

... CW: I don't know that this is the video to which Sanders refers in the interview, but it's great anyway. From 2003, when Sanders was in the House. Greenspan's smirk while Sanders is speaking & his nonresponsive "answer" to Sanders' question are disgusting:

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post: "The Pew Forum on Religion and Public life ... finds a growing appetite for belief in the ballot box, and politics in the pulpit. These shifts are largely happening on the Republican side of the aisle. And among Republicans, the changes are driven by white evangelical concern that the country is becoming less favorable to religion and, inexplicably, more hostile toward white evangelicals.... Fifty-nine percent of Republicans want churches to speak out on political issues, compared to 42 percent of Democrats.... Fifty percent of white evangelicals say that there is a lot of discrimination against them." Via Steve Benen.

Ian Shapira of the Washington Post: "Hours before a controversial segment of 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart' aired Thursday night, a lawyer for the four Washington Redskins fans featured in it sent one of the program's producers a letter revoking their consent to appear in the piece." Too bad, the segment aired anyway. See yesterday's Commentariat.

Midterm Elections

After reading Bernie Sanders' remarks, it's extra-disheartening to learn than Joni Ernst, a far-right Tea party loon who is Iowa's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is now leading Democrat Bruce Braley, a fairly liberal member of the House, by 6 points.

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "In an election year shaped by voter anger toward the political establishment, the outcome of an unusually large number of close Senate and governor's races could be determined by the outsize role of third-party candidates."

Election law expert Rick Hasen on the 7th Circuit's decision that allowed the Wisconsin voter suppression law to be imposed for the November election: "I expect that the plaintiffs will next try the Supreme Court. Ordinarily I've been saying that progressives need to stay out of the Supreme Court on these voting rights cases. But (a) this is a really egregious order changing the rules midstream in violation of the Supreme Court's own admonition in the Purcell v. Gonzalez case; and (b) now that the Court has before it the Ohio case, presenting a similar section 2 Voting Rights Act issue but with much worse facts for voting rights advocates, it would be better for this to be up there at the same time."

Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog: "Arguing that early voting is necessary to continue to deal with the 'unprecedented disaster' at the polls in Ohio in 2004, several civil rights advocacy groups urged the Supreme Court on Saturday to permit Ohioans to start casting their ballots next Tuesday for this year's general election. Allowing that would merely keep in place what the state has been doing for the past four elections, and would not affect any other state, the fifty-four-page brief contended."

Beyond the Beltway

DeNeed Brown & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Two days after Ferguson's police chief issued them an apology, Michael Brown's parents said they have no confidence in the justice system in Missouri, where a grand jury will decide whether to charge the officer who killed their son. The lack of trust, they said, began the day their son was shot, when they rushed to the scene but were confronted by officers who 'gave us the finger' and 'sicced dogs' on the crowd. 'We just got rudeness and disrespect,' said Lesley McSpadden, the mother of the unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot Aug. 9 by a white police officer in the small suburb outside St. Louis." ...

... Jim Salter of the AP: "A Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm Saturday night after encountering two men at a community center who ran from him and then opened fire during a foot chase, authorities said. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a media briefing early Sunday that the officer approached the men around 9:10 p.m. because the community center was closed. As the officer approached, the men ran away. When the officer gave chase, 'one of the men turned and shot,' Belmar said."

Whitney Wild of KUSA Denver: "For the fifth school day in a row, students from Jefferson County[, Colorado,] public schools walked out in protest.... [Link fixed.] At the heart of it all, changes to the teacher pay scale and conservative board member Julie Williams' proposal to create a review committee for AP US History courses. Williams says materials shouldn't condone or encourage civil disorder and social strife.... When we asked for examples of historical events she fears are misrepresented, Williams couldn't point to one."

News Ledes

New York Times: "An American drone strike in northwestern Pakistan killed at least four people suspected of being militants, Pakistani officials said Sunday."

New York Times: "On Sunday, the sixth men's [marathon] world record was achieved in Berlin in the last 11 years as Dennis Kimetto of Kenya ran 2 hours 2 minutes 57 seconds. Running the flat course, aided by a phalanx of pacesetters in cool weather, Kimetto became the first person to run 26.2 miles under 2:03 and shattered the previous record by 26 seconds. It had been set only a year ago in Berlin by a fellow Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang."

AP: Alleged cop-killer Eric Frein of Canadensis, Pennsylvania, (Poconos) continues to evade searchers after 16 days. "Frein is described by authorities as a survivalist, marksman and war re-enactment enthusiast who planned the attack for years, extensively researching how to avoid police manhunts and experimenting with explosives. Frein has held anti-law enforcement views for many years, police said."

Friday
Sep262014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 27, 2014

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "From 2001 to 2007, 98 percent of income gains accrued to the top 10 percent of earners.... In the first three years of the current expansion, incomes actually fell for the bottom 90 percent of earners, even as they rose nicely for the top 10 percent. The result: The top 10 percent captured an impossible-seeming 116 percent of income gains during that span.... One percent of the population, in the first three years of the current expansion, took home 95 percent of the income gains." ...

... CW: Voters & reporters must confront politicians of both parties at every opportunity to ask them what their plan is to reverse this 75-year trend. I look forward to hearing from John Boehner & Paul Ryan about the sanctity of the free-market economy, blah-blah. Makers & takers, my ass. Ryan has it exactly backwards. ...

... digby has an illuminating post in Salon on why the majority of Republicans still believe in the "American dream": "They don't see it as a middle-class goal at all, much of it made possible by the promise of a decent education and secure retirement, guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. No, they believe that the American dream is getting filthy rich." CW: Their dream is better than your dream. Their dream, however, is the impossible dream.

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "Data released Friday by the Energy Department show American factories and power plants putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the first six months of 2014 compared with the same period in each of the past two years. The figures confirm a reversal first seen in 2013, when the trend of steadily falling emissions abruptly halted. The higher emissions are primarily a reflection of a rebounding economy.... The shift also underscores the challenge confronting the Obama administration as it seeks to honor a pledge to sharply cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade."

Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "Britain has embarked on a renewed war in the Middle East, starting with air strikes in the next 48 hours, after MPs overwhelmingly sanctioned a UK air assault against Islamic State targets in Iraq." ...

... Griff Witte & Rebecca Collard of the Washington Post: "Three European nations [-- ... Britain, Denmark & Belgium] -- joined the widening U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq on Friday, even as the group's fighters renewed their attempt to overrun a strategic border city in Syria.... All three countries that authorized military action on Friday decided to limit their involvement to Iraq. Meanwhile, Islamic State militants demonstrated that airstrikes have failed to slow their assault on critical positions within Syria." ...

White House: "In this week's address, the President reiterated the forceful and optimistic message of American leadership that he delivered in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week":

... AP: "American warplanes and drones hit Islamic State group tanks, Humvees, checkpoints and bunkers in airstrikes Friday targeting the extremists in Syria and Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition expanded to include Britain, Denmark and Belgium." ...

... Joan Lowy of the AP: "An al-Qaida cell in Syria known as the Khorasan Group, which was targeted by U.S. airstrikes this week, represents 'a clear and present danger' to commercial flights to Europe and the United States, the Obama administration's top aviation security official said Friday. The purpose of the airstrikes was to disrupt an 'imminent attack or attack entering the last phases of execution,' said John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration. The Khorasan Group has been researching and testing improvised explosive devices designed to elude airport security.'"

Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Japan said it would change its laws in order to be able to send soldiers on United Nations peacekeeping missions. Mexico said it would revive its involvement in United Nations peacekeeping. Indonesia, Mongolia and Bangladesh promised to prepare troops for rapid deployment. The pledges were part of an unusual session led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.... There are more peacekeepers than ever before -- 130,000 troops, police officers and civilian staff members, according to the United Nations. Attacks on them are rising."

Brian Knowlton of the New York Times: "... Richard A. Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, believes the United States has no choice but to counter [ISIS social media] propaganda with a forceful online response.... Digital operators at the State Department are directly engaging young people -- and sometimes jihadis -- on websites popular in Arab countries, publishing a stream of anti-Islamic State messages, and one somewhat shocking video, on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, using the hashtag #Think Again Turn Away."

Mohammed Daraghmeh of the AP: "Facing pressure at home to come up with a new strategy for achieving Palestinian statehood, Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he would ask the U.N. Security Council to dictate the ground rules for any talks with Israel, including setting a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands. In a speech to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, the Palestinian leader also accused Israel of conducting a 'war of genocide' in Gaza, but stopped short of saying he would pursue war crimes charges against Israel."

Sahil Kapur of TPM: Michael Carvin, lawyer for the plaintiffs in Halbig v. Burwell, on why the Supreme Court will hear his case even though it is likely that the lower courts will all have consistently ruled against the plaintiff (a three-judge D.C. panel ruled in favor, but the full en banc court is likely to overturn that ruling): "I don't know that four justices, who are needed to [take the case] here, are going to give much of a damn about what a bunch of Obama appointees on the D.C. Circuit think." ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "It's not every day that an attorney states openly to a reporter that he thinks he's going to win his case because he expects the justices to behave like partisan hacks."

Missed this. Craig Timberg & Greg Miller of the Washington Post (Sept. 25): "FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices -- even when they have valid search warrants. His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide.... He said he could not understand why companies would 'market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.'" ...

... Markos Moulitsas thinks the new encryption is great!

Why the Fed Didn't Prevent the Financial Meltdown. Jake Bernstein of ProPublica writes a long piece based on secret recording & a confidential report for the Fed that shows how the big banks "captured" Federal Reserve employees supposed to oversee the banks' transactions. If the bank examiners found fault with a transaction, Fed higher-ups could be counted on to "rein in" the examiners. CW: It's no surprise that these banks operate with impunity, that every authority from the president on down kowtows to them. The ProPublica report shows how the nitty-gritty of how fix works re: Fed regulation. If a bank examiner tries too hard to curb a bank's illegal or questionable activity, she just might get fired for, um, failing to be a team player. ...

... The audio story by This American Life is here. The transcript is here. ...

... As Michael Lewis succinctly puts it in Bloomberg View: "The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them.

Steve Peoples & Ken Thomas of the AP: "Fighting to improve their brand, leading Republicans rallied behind religious liberty at a Friday gathering of evangelical conservatives, rebuking an unpopular President Barack Obama while skirting divisive social issues. Speakers did not ignore abortion and gay marriage altogether on the opening day of the annual Values Voter Summit, but a slate of prospective presidential candidates focused on the persecution of Christians and their values at home and abroad -- a message GOP officials hope will help unify a divided party and appeal to new voters ahead of November's midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest." CW: Yes, because Democrats are totally in favor of persecuting Christians. ...

... Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast: "Rand Paul and Ted Cruz's back-to-back speeches at Friday's Values Voter Summit offered a preview of what the Republican presidential primary would look like should the two senators decide to run for president in 2016.... The crowd did not seem to notice Cruz's blatant pandering -- or if the did, they didn't mind. They were up on their feet so often to applaud the Texas senator that his speech was practically an aerobics class. Paul's reception, meanwhile, was markedly less enthusiastic." Read the whole post.

... Here's the New York Times report, by Jeremy Peters. Contra Nuzzi, it turns out Paul did cite some scripture. And contra the AP report, Paul didn't exactly "skirt social issues," Peters reports: "Mr. Paul emphasized his opposition to abortion. As he was introduced to the crowd, a video of an ultrasound and the murmur of a beating heart played, accompanied by lines from Mr. Paul's speeches like, 'I will always take a stand for life.'" Creepy. ...

... Luke Brinker of Salon runs down the five craziest things Cruz said in his speech. CW: Bear in mind, Ted's misrepresentations were totally lost on the "values voters." Facts don't matter to true believers.

Quit Picking on Republicans/"Pathetic Losers"!

... Chris Moody of Yahoo! News: "A Republican adman [-- Vinny Minchillo, who worked for Mitt Romney --] unveiled a new public relations campaign this week to soften the image of the Grand Old Party using the guiding slogan 'Republicans Are People, Too.' The promotional push came complete with a highly produced video, a website and social media efforts.... [Hilariously,] in 1974, when the heavily damaged GOP brand was reeling from the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, the Republican National Committee launched its own 'Republicans Are People Too' initiative in an attempt to recast the party...." Minchillo told Moody he was unaware of the Nixon-era campaign. Craig Shirley, a political consultant & Reagan biographer, described the '74 campaign as "the wail of pathetic losers."

Gail Collins: Republican Congressional candidates want you to know their Democratic opponents are really fans of terrorism. Also, Scott Brown is an idiot. ...

... On that subject, Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe attended Scott Brown's "major speech on foreign policy" (as advertised): "As far as I can tell, Brown has been studying under the tutelage of Sean Hannity. Which is to say, he has cast his gaze about the globe, catalogued the various problems that have arisen in the last half-decade -- and blamed them all on President Obama. His foreign-policy reasoning, to the extent it can be called that, runs this way: Post Barack ergo propter Barack." When asked, foreign-policy-expert/Obama basher Brown wouldn't answer whether or not Congress should vote on authorizing Obama to fight ISIS. Read the whole column.

Here's the "Daily Show" segment in which Jason Jones interviews Washington's football team fans & Native American activists about the team's name:

Beyond the Beltway

Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Opponents of Wisconsin's voter ID law fell just short Friday of getting a full federal appeals court to reconsider their recent loss in the case before a panel of judges. On Sept. 12, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that Wisconsin could implement the law for the Nov. 4 election. The law requires voters to show a photo ID in order to vote.... The members of the court split 5-5 on whether to hold the hearing, which means that the request did not get a majority of votes and failed as a result.... All five who declined to take the case were appointed by Republicans, and three of the five sat on the panel that first decided the case.... There is a chance that the U.S. Supreme Court could yet consider the matter." Thanks to Victoria D. for the lead. ...

... Ernst-Ulrich Franzen for the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board: "The voter ID issue is settled -- at least for the Nov. 4 election: Voters will be required to bring a photo ID to the polls. We think that's an unnecessary burden to place on voters and could cause some to stay home for lack of a proper ID. And, with only a few weeks before the election, some may find it difficult to get one. But our hope is that officials and voters will rise to the occasion and not allow this attempt at voter suppression to achieve its goal. Make sure you have or obtain a proper photo ID -- and vote. If you know someone who needs a photo ID, help that person get one. It does matter."

Julie Bosman of the New York Times: "The Justice Department on Friday pressured the Ferguson Police Department to stop its officers from wearing bracelets stamped with the message 'I am Darren Wilson,' in solidarity with the police officer who is being investigated for shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old, and from covering up their name plates with tape.... In a stern letter to Chief Thomas Jackson, Christy E. Lopez, deputy chief of the special litigation section of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said that the bracelets 'upset and agitated people.'" ...

... CW: It's pretty pathetic when the Justice Department has to urge a police chief to exercise common sense. If the Ferguson mayor & city council had any sense themselves -- which clearly they don't -- they would fire Tom Jackson.

News Ledes

New York Times: Chelsea Clinton "gave birth to her first child -- with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky -- on Friday and posted the news on Twitter early Saturday." The child, a daughter, is named Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.

Washington Post: "James A. Traficant Jr., an iconoclastic nine-term Ohio populist in the U.S. House of Representatives who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002, becoming the second member of Congress to be expelled since the Civil War, died Sept. 27 at a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. He was 73."

Thursday
Sep252014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 26, 2014

It's time for a new compact among the civilized peoples of this world to eradicate war at its most fundamental source, and that is the corruption of young minds by violent ideology. -- Barack Obama, address to the U.N. General Assembly, Wednesday ...

... Tim Egan: "... look ahead, with optimism, and you can see a design for long-term peace behind the president's plan to simultaneously kill fanatics and force a religion to confront the sources of that fanaticism. With his blunt speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, Obama put on notice the Sunni Muslim nations that have allowed Sunni barbarians to spread.... Until this week, most Western leaders have been afraid to say what Obama said at the United Nations."

Diaa Haddid of the AP: "U.S.-led airstrikes targeted Syrian oil installations held by the extremist Islamic State group overnight and early Thursday, killing at least 19 people as more families of militants left their key stronghold, fearing further raids, activists said. The strikes aimed to knock out one of the militants' main revenue streams -- black market oil sales that the U.S. says earn up to $2 million a day for the group. That funding, along with a further estimated $1 million a day from other smuggling, theft and extortion, has been crucial in enabling the extremists to overrun much of Syria and neighboring Iraq."

Greg Miller of the Washington Post: "FBI Director James B. Comey said the United States has determined the identity of the Islamist militant who beheaded two American journalists in Syria, but declined to provide any additional information on the masked operative who spoke in a British accent."

Arshad Mohammed of Reuters: "Iraq has 'credible' intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States, the prime minister said on Thursday, but U.S. and French officials said they had no evidence to back up his claims."

When Congress Loves a "Lawless" President. Steve Benen: House Speaker John Boehner tells Carl Hulse of the New York Times that the House won't take up authorization of the military campaign against ISIS before the new Congress convenes in January. "Americans can take every Republican anti-Obama argument of late -- about separation of powers, about co-equal branches of government, about the importance of institutional checks and balances -- and throw them right out the window, confident in the knowledge that the GOP didn't mean a word of it. For all the chatter about the president being an out-of-control, lawless tyrant, here's an instance in which Obama really is acting without any congressional authority, only to find congressional leaders saying, 'No big deal. We'll think about doing something in a few months, maybe.'" ...

... Mike McAuliff of the Huffington Post, via Paul Waldman:

Mark Landler & Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "Seeking to speed the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Obama delivered a blunt warning on Thursday at a high-level United Nations meeting devoted to the health crisis: the world was doing too little and moving too slowly":

President Obama makes a statement about Attorney General Eric Holder:

Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder's successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced. -- Sen. Ted Cruz (RTP-Texas) ...

... Paul Kane & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama has yet to reveal his choice to succeed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but already the Senate confirmation process has begun its march toward contentiousness. With Nov. 4 midterm elections potentially tipping the balance in the Senate, some Republicans immediately called for a delay in the hearings and votes on the new attorney general until January, when the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate might give Republicans almost total control of the outcome." ...

... Steve M. "Why does Ted Cruz hate the Constitution? ... A senator who's lost a reelection bid is still a senator. The Constitution -- which you claim to hold sacred -- says so." ..

... CW: Gee, Steve, haven't you noticed by now that anything Democrats do constitutes "an abuse of power"? ...

... If Glenn Thrush's reporting is correct, Tailgunner Ted will have to figure out how to "countenance ... an abuse of power." Thrush: "It was now or never, several current and former administration officials say, and Holder -- under pressure to retire from a physician wife worried about a recent health scare, checked the 'now' box. 'It was a quit-now or never-quit moment,' one former administration official said. 'You didn't want confirmation hearings in 2015 if the Republicans control the Senate. So if he didn't do it now, there was no way he could ever do it.'" ...

... German Lopez of Vox retraces some of Holder's laudable efforts & successes, mostly in areas that relate, at least tangentially, to civil rights. ...

... Danny Vinik of the New Republic recalls Holder's multiple failures to hold banks & bank executives accountable for the frauds & other illegal schemes they conducted, many of which led to the 2008 world financial meltdown. "Holder simply never tried to use [his office] to hold Wall Street executives accountable. That is a major blemish on Holder's record. Bankers sleep easier at night thanks to his decisions. And when the next financial crisis hits -- and when we discover that financial fraud was a major cause of it -- Holder will deserve blame as well." ...

... New York Times Editors: "... Mr. Holder has continued to stake out strong and laudable legal positions on many of the most contested issues of our time. But his record is marred by the role the Justice Department played in matters of secrecy and national security under his leadership." Read the whole editorial. ...

... Oh yeah? If the Times editors find fault, then wingers must LOVE Eric Holder:

Holder is a huge racist and let's not forget that golden oldie where he called us a nation of cowards. Civil liberties hero, my ass.... He has shamed the office of Attorney General and besmirched the office he rules with an iron, hate-filled fist. Trust me when I say this evil Marxist will never go away if he has his way. --- Terresa Monroe-Hamilton of Right Wing News

He ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would. That is a fact. -- Andrea Tantaros of Fox "News"

Well, okay. But at least they see a bright future for him:

The damage he has already done to the country leaves a turbulent wake that is ill-matched to the financial reward awaiting him at a shameless and large Washington, D.C., law firm. -- Christian Adams, the PJ Tattler

Wait, wait, Holder may get another gummit job:

There may be a Supreme Court vacancy -- and I can see Barack Obama nominating Eric Holder to fill it. -- Rush Limbaugh

AND, they're looking forward to President Obama's nominating a new AG:

Help wanted: Obama admin seeks Chief Corruption Smidgenizer; Must be able to start before November. -- Doug Powers of Michelle Malkin's blog

He's just gonna be replaced with Al Sharpton or somebody like him. -- Rushbo

... No, No, Rush. Sharpton is not going to be the attorney general; he's just going to pick the attorney general. Colin Campbell of Business Insider: "Al Sharpton Says He's Helping The White House Pick The Next Attorney General." ...

... Well, that's the headline. It's bullshit. Here's an update Sharpton forced upon Campbell's scooplet: "Sharpton sent a statement to Business Insider clarifying that he is not involved in the 'decision making.'" ...

... Joshua DuBois of the Daily Beast interviews Eric Holder. ...

... AND you will enjoy reading Akhilleus' rundown in today's Comments on attorneys general past.

The "Decadent Elites." Paul Krugman: "... the lives of an earlier generation's elite were, indeed, far more restrained, more seemly if you like, than those of today's Masters of the Universe," thanks to a much more progressive tax system. "Running through much recent conservative writing is the theme that America's elite has also fallen down on the job, that it has lost the seriousness and restraint of an earlier era.... High inequality brings a perceived need to spend money in ways that signal status.... While chiding the rich for their vulgarity may not be as offensive as lecturing the poor on their moral failings, it's just as futile. Human nature being what it is, it's silly to expect humility from a highly privileged elite. So if you think our society needs more humility, you should support policies that would reduce the elite's privileges." ...

     ... CW: What inspired Krugman's column? Why, it was this brilliant piece of philosophical analysis pap by church lady & evangelical pontificator David Brooks.

** Tom Dickinson of Rolling Stone: "The volume of Koch Industries' toxic output is staggering... Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation's waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch's climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy.... The toxic history of Koch Industries ... also extends to the company's business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties."

Rob Maaddi of the AP: "The video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee inside a casino elevator was sent to NFL headquarters to the attention of league security chief Jeffrey Miller in April, a law enforcement official says. The NFL has repeatedly said no one with the league saw the violent images until TMZ Sports released the video earlier this month. Miller said Thursday through an NFL spokesman that he never received the video. The official ... said he doesn't know if Miller ever saw the DVD or opened the package. His only communication with the NFL was a 12-second voicemail on April 9 from league offices confirming receipt of the package, in which a woman says, 'You're right. It's terrible.'"

Amanda Marcotte, in Slate: "Kimberly Guilfoyle of The Five on Fox News rolled out a story on Wednesday about Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot for the United Arab Emirates. Mansouri led the UAE strikes against ISIS on Monday and will reportedly be leading future strikes.... Naturally, Guilfoyle's story about a woman doing a thing required her male co-hosts to take one of their patented principled stands against modern feminism. 'The problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn't park it,' quipped Greg Gutfeld, showing off that edgy humor style from 1955 he has finally mastered. Added Eric Bolling: 'Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?'"

Adam Gabbatt of the Guardian: "One year after the racism scandal that saw [Paula] Deen's television show dropped by the Food Network and her corporate sponsors flee..., [she is] attempt[ing] at a comeback: a subscriber-only channel posting new video recipes each week."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Alec MacGillis of the New Republic learns that the Washington Post can't handle "colorful language": a humorous Barney Frank quote, which fleetingly made it past a first edit, gave way to a meaningless reference to "colorful language." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link. ...

... CW: General-interest papers like the WashPo probably should not use "colorful language" in their original reporting & analysis. But any publication that targets adult readers should freely cite what a public figure or other newsworthy person says. If the editors are worried about offensive language appearing in "the same section as the comics and the 'Kids Post' page," as MacGillis puts it, I have some news for the news experts: any kid who is old enough to read the funny papers is also old enough to use the Internets. It's stupid, unprofessional, and to me "offensive," for a news outlet to cater to hypothetical 8-year-olds & church ladies at the expense of accurate reporting.

Beyond the Beltway

David Zahniser & Emily Reyes of the Los Angeles Times: "Big hotels in Los Angeles will soon be required to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers -- one of the highest minimum-wage requirements in the country.The City Council voted 12 to 3 on Wednesday to impose the higher wage on large hotels, delivering a huge victory to a coalition that included organized labor, more than a dozen neighborhood councils and the ACLU of Southern California."

Andy Cush of Gawker: "'I Am Darren Wilson' bracelets are Missouri cops' new fashion statement." And, yeah, they're wearing them in Ferguson. ...

... Ed Kilgore suggests, "To the extent that the duty of the police officers patrolling Ferguson is maintenance of peace and calm, visibly wearing a token of identification with an alleged murderer when dealing with people protesting the alleged murder is not a real smart tactic."...

... Andy Cush: "In a video released [Thursday], Ferguson, Mo., Police Chief Thomas Jackson says that he is 'truly sorry' to the Brown family for the death of Michael Brown and the way that his body was handled. He also apologizes to peaceful protesters 'who did not feel that I did enough to protect their constitutional right to protest,' and accepts full responsibility 'for any mistakes I have made.'" ...

... AND, No, He Won't Resign. Eliott McLaughlin & Ana Cabrera of CNN: "Even after apologizing for his department's actions following Michael Brown's shooting, the police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, insisted Thursday that he's not going anywhere -- telling CNN, this is mine, and I'm taking ownership of it.'" ...

... Charles Pierce on a spate of police shootings of innocent people doin' nothin'. CW: Weirdly, Pierce treats these incidents as if police shooting innocent people was something new. It isn't. They've been doing it since before any of us was born. These shootings are in the news now not because they are remarkable but because the public reaction to particular shootings in Sanford, Florida (yes, thank you, Al Sharpton )& Ferguson, Missouri, has been loud & uncompromising. That young man who automatically raised his hands in surrender after a cop shot him for no reason didn't just learn to do that after Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. That pose of surrender is what black mothers have been teaching their children for a long time. It's a necessary form of self-protection against a police force that is perceived as the enemy because it is the enemy.

Congressional Races

Brian Beutler on Gabby Giffords' "mean" ads calling out Congressional candidates who oppose even modest gun control legislation.

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: "Conservative activists are launching 'an unprecedented campaign' against three Republican candidates -- two of whom are out gay men -- because of their support for marriage equality and abortion. The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action, and CitizenLink 'will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots' for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon, according to a letter sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders on Thursday."

This is pretty interesting. Notice how the local TV report (WSB TV-Atlanta) supports Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Michelle Nunn's contention that her GOP opponent David Perdue is a liar:

Gubernatorial Race

** How Sam Brownback Blew up His Laboratory of Democracy. Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones details Gov. Brownback's (RTP-Kansas) disastrous policies, dirty politics, & their effects. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "Brownback has very publicly made his state a conservative 'experiment station' and sought to stamp out any dissent in his party, all in the pursuit of a sort of intellectual rogue's gallery of bad ideas, from supply-side economics to the harshest attacks in the country on reproductive rights. He not only deserve to lose, but his regime needs to be remembered with fear and trembling by Republicans everywhere." ...

... CW: It would be great if Republicans did learn from Brownback that their economic policy prescriptions were calamitous. It would be swell if voters never forgot what a mess these policies created. It would be super if Kansas became a case study in bad policy that high-school students learned in their history books. But there's no chance any of that will happen. Republicans are bought & paid for; voters are disengaged & clueless; & textbook writers are subservient to school boards populated by dimwits & evangelical ideologues. Sam Brownback, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert -- they are all evidence of the best our particular democracy can do.

Presidential Election

Run, Mitt, Run! Kevin Drum: "We still live in a 50-50 nation, after all, and for the foreseeable future I suspect that pretty much every presidential election is going to be fairly close. And Romney certainly has a decent chance of winning the Republican nomination, since he'd be competing against pretty much the same clown show as last time.So sure: Run, Mitt! I hear that Eric Cantor is available to be your vice president."

Charles Pierce on the possible presidential candidacy of former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, a nominal Democrat.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A man who had just been fired by an Oklahoma City-area food processing plant allegedly severed the head of one of his former co-workers and attacked another before being shot by the company's chief operating officer, according to police.... [Alton] Nolen was attacking a second woman at the plant ... when, Lewis said, he was shot by Mark Vaughan, a top executive at Vaughan Foods who is also a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department.... Nolen was hospitalized and police are waiting until he is conscious to arrest him.... Two federal law enforcement officials told The Post that Nolen is a recent convert to Islam." ...

... CW: I scarcely need to relay that Right Wing World is going batshit over "Bloody jihad comes to Oklahoma" (an actual headline).

AP: "A contract employee who recently was told he was being transferred to Hawaii set a fire at a suburban Chicago air traffic control center where he worked, bringing two of the nation's busiest airports to a halt Friday, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday."

Washington Post: "Bill Gross, founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. and the manager of the largest bond mutual fund in the world, is stepping down. Starting next week, Gross, who managed the $222 billion Pimco Total Return Bond fund, will run a new unconstrained bond fund at Janus Capital Group.... Gross ... has seen his reputation bruised in the past several months...."

New York Times: "European officials said they had brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine aimed at ensuring gas flows to keep factories running and homes warm over the coming six months, despite a dispute between Moscow and Kiev over the size of Ukraine's outstanding bills."

AP: "The U.S. economy's bounce-back last quarter from a dismal winter was even faster than previously thought, a sign that growth will likely remain solid for rest of the year. The economy as measured by gross domestic product grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the fastest pace in more than two years and higher than the government's previous estimate of 4.2 percent. The upward revision reflected stronger-than-expected business investment and exports last quarter."

New York Times: "With one out in the bottom of the ninth, [Derek] Jeter stroked the winning hit and ended his Yankee Stadium career the way he had ended so many games -- with both arms raised in celebration. The 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles was his 1,627th regular-season victory as a Yankee."

Wednesday
Sep242014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 25, 2014

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will resign his post, the Justice Department said Thursday. Mr. Holder will remain in office until a successor is nominated and confirmed." CW: Good luck with that. See Justice Ginsburg's remarks below. Maybe Republicans senators would be okay with returning Ed Meese to the job. ...

... Charles Pierce: "There is a decent chance ... that his successor will have to be confirmed by a Senate with a Republican majority, at least some of whom, I suspect, would be perfectly happy if the president didn't have an Attorney General for the rest of his term. Which, it appears, would leave Holder in place. In any event, they're already erecting the big top and lining up the elephants for a three-ring confirmation process that will embarrass every enlightened political leader back to Pericles. I can't wait."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday charted a muscular new course for the United States in a turbulent world, telling the United Nations General Assembly in a bluntly worded speech that the American military would work with allies to dismantle the Islamic State’s 'network of death' and warning Russia that it would pay for its bullying of Ukraine":

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "The United Nations security council agreed on Wednesday to launch a concerted effort to staunch the flow of radicalised jihadists from around the world to the cause of Islamic State and other terrorist groups. In a rare session of the security council attended by heads of state – only the sixth of its kind in the organ’s 68-year history – all 15 member states voted for a US-backed resolution that seeks to step up the battle against 'foreign terrorist fighters', as US president Barack Obama described them":

... President Obama opens the special session of the U.N. Security Council:

... AND closes it:

... Karen DeYoung, et al., of the Washington Post: "U.S. missile strikes against an obscure al-Qaeda cell [Khorasan] in Syria killed at least one of the group’s leaders, [Mushin al-Fadhli,] delivering what U.S. officials described as a significant but not decisive blow to a terrorist group accused of plotting attacks against Europe and the United States." U.S. intelligence agencies have not yet confirmed the report. ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "... in moral terms, [Obama's] war is nothing like [Bush's] war, and if this war doesn’t end up like Bush’s and somehow actually solves more problems than it creates, that will happen precisely because of the moral differences.... The first and most important difference, plainly and simply: Obama didn’t lie us into this war.... Difference number two: This war doesn’t involve 140,000 ground troops.... Difference number three: This coalition, while still in its infancy, could in the end be a far more meaningful coalition than Bush’s." ...

... CW: With Friends Like These. Here's something I learned in reading Tomasky's column. Amel Ahmed of Al Jazeera (September 11): "The beheading of Pakistani national Izzat Gul for drug trafficking was Saudi Arabia's 46th such execution for 2014, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). In August alone, Saudi Arabia decapitated 19 people, eight of them for nonviolent offenses, including sorcery, the rights group added." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: Bombing terrorists is good politics!

CW: Thanks to the commenters to yesterday's Commentariat who provided links to good stuff. I'm relinking some here in case you missed them:

Frank Rich: "In truth, we already have boots on the ground [in Iraq] in the form of 'special forces' and 'advisers.' The moment they start returning to America in body bags, or are seen being slaughtered in ISIS videos, is the moment when the recent polling uptick in support for this war will evaporate. That support is an inch deep, and Congress knows it, which is why members of both parties fled Washington for the campaign trail last week rather than debate Obama’s war plan." Thanks to MAG.

Charles Pierce on why we should vote -- "every time and in every election, no matter how apparently minor the office or how apparently insignificant the issue." Thanks to James S. ...

... "The Arrogance of Ignorance." Pierce also links to Kurt Eichenwald's excellent Newsweek piece on Texas's "Textbook Case of Bad Textbooking": "Yes, professional historians know more than you about American history. Yes, professional biologists know more than you about evolution. Yes, professional climatologists know more than you about climate science. To argue otherwise is merely a reflection of the relentless self-worship of the untrained, a rapidly spreading malady that might best be called 'the arrogance of ignorance.'” ...

... CW: One fairly humorous outgrowth of the "arrogance of ignorance" is Republican politicians' pained efforts to cater to their ignorant base: When asked if they "believe" in evolution or man-made climate change, the politicians' stock answer is, "I'm not a scientist." (Or the even more hilarious Bobby Jindal version: "I was not an evolutionary biologist.") So they are telling the same ignoramuses who think "experts" are suspicious librul propagandists that you have to be a highly-trained suspicious librul propagandist to know enough about evolution or climate change to form an opinion. Privileging the arrogance of ignorance requires a mastery of circular logical.

Here's the creepy ad that is going to make us "Democrat ladies" vote for Republicans this year. Thanks to Akhilleus:

... Joan Walsh of Salon: "Obviously [the ad's sponsors] think we’re idiots who put romance before reason, even in politics.... Maybe the worst thing about the ad is that its sponsors are utterly clueless about how demeaning it is. ...

The goal here is to communicate with women voters in a way that outside groups and campaigns haven’t. -- John Jordan, a wealthy California vintner who bankrolled the ad

CW: As several observers have pointed out, even that isn't true: "... the spot is very similar to a Web ad the Republican National Committee did in 2012 called 'The Breakup':

CW: It totally pisses me off when people like Joan Walsh suggest that John Jordan would produce a sexist ad that "demeans women." Jordan is the big blond guy in the sunglasses:

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Tom Edsall: "In developed countries like the United States, however, there are legitimate and growing doubts about the beneficence of the market and the ability of the system to distribute the rewards of growth to those who make growth possible." Thanks to Ken W. CW: Edsall would not be a good fit for the Jefferson County, Colorado, school board (see Charles Pierce's post, linked above) which "call[s] for teaching materials promoting patriotism, respect for authority and the free-market system."

Gail Collins: "Only 3 percent of current Republican members of Congress have been willing to go on record as accepting the fact that people are causing global warming.... That includes Representative Michael Grimm of New York, who while laudably open-minded on this subject, is also under indictment for perjury and tax fraud. So we may be pushing 2 percent in January." Collins prominently mentions Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who makes weekly speeches on the Senate floor about climate change. Here's one of Whitehouse's floor speeches, whacking today's Republicans, "who let pollutors cast their dark shadows over Republicans in Congress." President Reagan's views on conserving the environment, Whitehouse notes, "would make him a fringe liberal candidate in today's Republican party":

... CW: Whitehouse is my nominee for president. Has been for several years. Not a chance.

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that if she steps down now, President Obama would not be able to appoint an acceptable replacement.... 'Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court,' she said. '[Senate Republicans] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided.'" Excerpts of the Elle interview, by Jessica Weisberg, are here. ...

     ... CW: Sorry, Ruth. Thanks an excuse, not a reason to hold onto your seat. Assuming the next president is a Democrat, why would she have been luck with Senate Republicans. Because she might be white??? You blew a chance to preserve your legacy with a Democratic Supreme Court appointee. Souter & Stevens did the right thing. ...

... Liberal women disagree with me. This may be because they don't understand a basic human characteristic: even more than young people, who often think of themselves as immune from mortal danger, old people want to go on living & doing. The will to live can give them exaggerated views of their capacities. This is probably especially true of people who are extremely successful, like, say Supreme Court justices. I'm not saying Ginsburg is on death's door; I deeply hope she is not. But individuals, no matter how wise they may otherwise be, are not necessarily the best judges of their own mortality. ...

... AND Jon Walker of Firedoglake puts the Ginsburg debate in its larger context: the problem is lifetime appointments. "Ginsburg has been on the Supreme Court since 1993. That means she has already played a huge role in shaping American policy for over 20 years, but even that is not enough. Her lifetime appointment gives her the freedom to decide when to retire enabling her to play a massive role in determining who her replacement will be. This should easily extend her influence by another 30 years...."

Oops! Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) discovered secret documents revealing the names & level of contributions of corporate donors to the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, a 501(c)(4) group "which is allowed to shield its supporters from the public." The documents also reveal the remarkable level of access to GOP governors the corporations have purchased with their "membership" in the committee. “'This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it,' said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan group that advocates more transparency and controls over political money." The documents CREW obtained are here (pdf).

Jay Michaelson of the Daily Beast: "The Gathering is a conference of hard-right Christian organizations and, perhaps more important, funders. Most of them are not household names, at least if your household isn’t evangelical. But that’s the point: The Gathering is a hub of Christian Right organizing, and the people in attendance have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine 'religious liberty' (as in the Hobby Lobby case), fight same-sex marriage, fight evolution, and, well, you know the rest. They’re probably behind that, too." Among the speakers at this year's gathering of the Gathering: David Brooks of the NYT. Brooks makes a bundle on these speaking engagements, but lending the imprimatur of the New York Times to this gang is pretty unseemly. Thanks to Bonita for the link.

Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "In the largest settlement with a single American Indian tribe, the Obama administration will pay the Navajo Nation $554 million to settle claims that the U.S. government has mismanaged funds and natural resources on the Navajo reservation for decades. The settlement, to be signed in Window Rock, Ariz., on Friday, resolves a long-standing dispute between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. government, with some of the claims dating back more than 50 years."

Beyond the Beltway

Chris Caesar of the Boston Globe: "The trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will stay in [Boston], a federal judge ruled Wednesday night. Lawyers for the 21-year-old man told the court last week their client wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Boston, and requested the case be moved to a Washington, D.C. courtroom. 'The defendant has not proven that this is one of the rare and extreme cases for which a presumption of prejudice is warranted,' the decision reads."

Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Surveillance footage from an Ohio Walmart store, where police killed a young black man[, John Crawford III,] who was holding an unloaded air rifle and talking on his cellphone, shows he was was [sic.] shot from the side as he moved to run away from advancing officers.... A grand jury in Greene County declined on Wednesday to indict Sean Williams, the police officer who shot Crawford, on charges of murder, reckless homicide or negligent homicide.... An attorney for Crawford’s family described their decision as 'absolutely incomprehensible'. The US department of justice quickly announced that it would review the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the possibility of federal criminal charges." CW: The video is embedded in the Guardian story. In addition to disproving the claim that Crawford was brandishing the airgun & walking around pointing it at other customers, the video appears to me to show that officers continued shooting him after he dropped the gun. It's sickening.

CBS News: "A former state trooper faces a felony charge in the shooting of an unarmed man during a traffic stop in Columbia earlier this month." Includes video of the shooting. CW: One striking thing: the victim Lavar Jones, who is black, knew almost reflexively to raise his hands in surrender -- after trooper Sean Groubert shot him without provocation. ...

... CW: When a cop stops me for an (alleged!) traffic violation & asks me for my license & registration, I always tell him (so far, it's always been "him") I don't have a weapon in the car & that I'm going to get the docs from my purse/glove box, but if he would feel safer in getting them himself or first checking out the place I keep them, he is free to do so. This means of course that I am ceding certain rights, but I'd rather be alive than constitutionally correct. P.S. If you do like to travel with a controlled substance, or if you keep a weapon in the glove box, plan ahead & keep your documents someplace else. ...

... Yes We Cam. Josh Marshall of TPM: "Would Groubert have lost his badge and be facing charges had there not been a dashcam video revealing the reality of what happened? Let's put that down as a rhetorical question."

John Schwartz of the New York Times: "The oil giant BP cannot recoup hundreds of millions of dollars it claims to have overpaid victims of a 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. At a hearing in Federal District Court in New Orleans, Judge Carl J. Barbier rejected BP’s request that it be allowed to claw back the extra money paid out under an old accounting method."

Gubernatorial Race

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "A federal appeals court on Wednesday removed an injunction halting an investigation into whether the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker illegally coordinated with conservative groups on fund-raising and spending as he sought to overcome a recall effort two years ago. The decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit raised the prospect that prosecutors could eventually resume the investigation even as Mr. Walker, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is engaged in a tight battle for re-election."

Presidential Election

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: Jeb [Not His Real Name] Bush goes to North Carolina in support of Tea party Senatorial candidate Thom Tillis, & finds out Tillis & N.C. Republicans are not all that fond of Bush's supposed librul views on immigration & education. ...

... Ed Kilgore: "I betcha Tillis’ people were close to throttling Jebbie’s people backstage; the last thing they need right now is to have someone come into North Carolina and offend Tillis’ 'base.' One thing Bush should have learned from Mitt Romney’s travails in 2012 is that when you are stuck with an issue position at odds with the dominant sentiment in your party (as with RomneyCare), you really just have three choices: flip-flop, lie or simply don’t talk about it." ...

... Speaking of Mutt & Jeff Mitt & Jeb... Bryon York of the Washington Examiner: Mitt "Romney is talking with advisers, consulting with his family, keeping a close eye on the emerging '16 Republican field, and carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run. That doesn't mean he will decide to do it, but it does mean that Mitt 2016 is a real possibility.... Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. If Bush jumps in the race, this line of thinking goes, Romney would not run."

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