The Ledes

Thursday, February 11, 2016.

AP: "Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole Wednesday for fatally shooting Robert F. Kennedy after a confidante of the slain senator who was shot in the head forgave him and repeatedly apologized for not doing more to win his release. Paul Schrade's voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony on his efforts to untangle mysteries about the events of June 5, 1968. The 91-year-old former labor leader said he believed Sirhan shot him but that a second unidentified shooter felled Kennedy."

The Wires

White House Live Video
February 11

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

Washington Post: "Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Constant Comments

Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

About Me: I have a cheap computer.
-- Constant Weader

Follow CONSTANTWEADER on Twitter... for breaking news. I update several times a day & tweet only the big deals.

Thursday
Jan142016

The Commentariat -- January 15, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "Donald Trump has rented space at an Urbandale movie theater and will give Iowans free tickets to a showing of the Benghazi movie that critics of Hillary Clinton have been eagerly awaiting.... The movie depicts the terrorist raid on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. It reportedly makes no mention of Clinton, then the U.S. Secretary of State, but has again raised the topic of the Democratic presidential candidate’s role in the tragedy...." ...

... Adam Goldman & Greg Miller of the Washington Post: The former CIA chief in Benghazi says a pivotal scene in the movie "13 Hours" is fictional: there was never a "stand-down order."

Birtherism 2.0. Laurel Calkins & Kevin Cirilli of Bloomberg: "Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz should be disqualified from the race because he isn't a 'natural-born citizen,' a fellow Texan claims in a 'birther' challenge filed against the senator in a U.S. court. The suit seeks a court definition of the term to clarify whether Cruz -- who was born in Canada to an American mother -- can or can't serve if elected. 'This 229-year question has never been pled, presented to or finally decided by or resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court,' Houston attorney Newton B. Schwartz Sr. said in his 28-page complaint. 'Only the U.S. Supreme Court can finally decide, determine judicially and settle this issue now.'... Schwartz, 85, said in a phone interview he isn't connected to any particular campaign, though he personally 'probably' supports Bernie Sanders...."

Adios, Arbusto! Anna Palmer & Ben White of Politico: "Politico talked to nearly two dozen major donors [to Jeb!'s campaign], and most say they are waiting for what one veteran Republican and former Bush 43 administration appointee described as the 'family hall pass' to jump to another campaign after the New Hampshire primary." ...

... AND Just in the Nick of Time. Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday endorsed Jeb Bush for president, a major get for the former Florida governor who has struggled to gain traction in the contest."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The harshest and most antagonistic phase of the Republican presidential race began in earnest on Friday as the candidates departed the debate hall for the campaign trail, leaving behind any pretense of good will that might have remained.... Mr. Trump, appearing on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' accused Mr. Cruz of being 'inappropriate' in raising questions about whether Mr. Trump's mother's citizenship status -- she was born in Scotland -- disqualifies him from running for president. And Mr. Trump said the Texas senator's remark about his 'New York values,' a dig at the real estate mogul's perceived liberal tendencies, was 'disgraceful.'... Though he had pledged to stay above the Republican-on-Republican attacks, Mr. Rubio on Friday was even sharper in his questioning of Mr. Cruz's devotion to conservative principles than he was during the debate." ...

... Charles Pierce has some thoughts on the debaters. For the most part, one would not describe them as positive, although he did enjoy it when "He, Trump ... squash[ed] that demagogic bug [being Cruz] in just that way and, just for a second, I began to see the sense behind He, Trump's poll numbers." CW: I object when Pierce, or anyone, describes that turd Marco as "oily" & "oleaginous"; Pierce means "greaser," whether he realizes it or not, & it's decidedly not P.C. to use such a term when referring to a person of the Hispanic persuasion. Pierce should cut that out. But he won't. ...

... Dana Milbank: "Republicans like to blame Trump for hijacking the party, but equally to blame are the others in the race for letting it happen -- and continuing to do so, now just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses. Thursday night's debate was another depressing development: Any of four men on the stage -- Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich -- could have been a viable alternative to the fear and demagoguery offered by Trump and Ted Cruz. Instead, they cluttered the stage and quarreled among themselves, offering little beyond faint echoes of Trump's rage."

Stephen Losey of the Air Force Times: "Robins Air Force Base in Georgia has taken down a flyer advertising a 'Martin Luther King Jr. Fun Shoot' scheduled for the holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. In a statement to Air Force Times, Robins apologized for the advertising tying the event to the holiday honoring King, who was shot by an assassin in Memphis in 1968." CW: As a result of criticisms lodged against the event, organizers announced they would reschedule the event to February 12 & rename it "Abe Lincoln Fun Shoot."

*****

Presidential Race

Jonathan Martin & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas sharply attacked each other on Thursday night over the Canadian-born Mr. Cruz's eligibility to be president and Mr. Trump's 'New York values,' shedding any semblance of cordiality as they dominated a Republican debate less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.... In many ways, it was the darkest debate of the campaign, as the Republicans tried to paint the grimmest possible portrait of an America in decline economically, despite rapid job growth, and militarily, though they praised service members.... Neither Mr. Rubio, who spent most of the debate delivering rehearsed lines that seemed to come out of speeches, nor the other four Republicans on the debate stage left nearly as big an impression during the night as Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz." ...

... The Washington Post story, by Karen Tumulty & Philip Rucker, is here. ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York on what you (and I!) missed by not watching the debate. ...

... Driftglass provides an excellent transcript of the debate, although it appears a few citations may be paraphrases.

... Here's the birther exchange:

Here's the Trump-Cruz exchange on "New York values." Trump's response starts at about 1:45 min. in:

... Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: "The Republican presidential candidates responded in Thursday's GOP debate by painting an even more dismal and dangerous picture than they had in the past. The president is a traitor. The military is a shell of a fighting force. The economy is a shambles. Average families are in grave danger. If Democrats win, the country is lost.... Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) 'won' the latest round of this increasingly disgusting show, with Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) coming in second. But being the most effective at exaggerating the dangers the country faces and preying on voter anger is not an achievement; it is a moral failure." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "In the end, the domination of the endless debate time by everything other than the basic economic issues you might expect from a business network showed how far into the fever swamps the GOP contest has strayed. When Donald Trump responded to the attack from host-state governor Nikki Haley on 'the angriest voices' by saying 'I will gladly welcome the mantle of anger,' he did not stand out at all. And after all the talk about the Republican field and the party Establishment conspiring to stop Trump, that's the irony: they are increasingly the party of Trumpism With or Without Trump -- plus John Kasich." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... those of us who believed Republican elites would kill Trump's candidacy out of self-preservation have to face the increasingly plausible prospect that, for whatever reason, they may lay down their arms before a shot has been fired.

Mark Murray of NBC News: "Donald Trump has more than doubled his national lead in the Republican presidential race ahead of Thursday night's GOP debate here, according to the results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Trump is the first choice of 33 percent of national Republican primary voters - his highest percentage in the poll. He's followed by Ted Cruz at 20 percent, Marco Rubio at 13 percent and Ben Carson at 12 percent. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are tied at five percent. No other Republican presidential candidate gets more than 3 percent." CW: Remember that national polls don't mean much, especially now, when most of the country isn't concentrating on the presidential race. ...

... Kevin Cirilli of Bloomberg: "... Donald Trump said he's building a movement bigger than that of former President Ronald Reagan. 'I think that the closest thing I can think of is Reagan, but I don't think it's the intensity that we have,' the billionaire told Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of Bloomberg's With All Due Respect just minutes after he finished a rousing speech to a capacity crowd of 10,000 inside a Pensacola, Florida, arena on Wednesday night. 'Now, Reagan had a little bit of this, but I don't think to the same extent -- but he also won,' Trump said."

Birtherism 3.0. Ben Kamisar of the Hill: "Marco Rubio's lawyers are defending his eligibility to run for president in a quixotic legal challenge that alleges he isn't a natural-born citizen. A Florida voter filed the suit, which claims that the senator isn't a true 'natural-born citizen' under the Constitution because his parents were not both U.S. citizens at his birth in Miami."

Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "When asked about the federal government's role in addressing tension between the police and minority communities during a meeting with the Des Moines Register editorial board on Wednesday, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush brought up black-on-black shooting rates.... 'Putting aside a police officer shooting a black man, most of the crimes are black on black in the communities. Most by far,' Bush added. 'The police shooting of unarmed black males, which is what the conversation is about as I understand it, is very small.'" CW: It's as if Jeb! & his rivals all went to the top Right Wing World Brain Surgeon to get him to implant one of his recordings in each of their tiny brains, & every time someone asks a question, the record fast-forwards to a related stereotype, & the words comes out. ...

... Oh, speaking of Right Wing World brain surgeons ...

... Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Ben Carson's national finance chairman Dean Parker resigned Thursday morning amid questions about his use of campaign fund and criticism from Carson allies and donors."

Jeffrey Sparshott of the Wall Street Journal: "The head of the nation's biggest business lobby inveighed against presidential candidates singling out immigrants, ethnic or religious groups, highlighting divisions among supporters of the Republican establishment and the party's leading candidate Donald Trump. 'There are the voices, sometimes very loud voices, who talk about walling off America from talent and trade and who are attacking whole groups of people based not on their conduct but on their ethnicity or religion,' Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a speech on Thursday. 'This is morally wrong and politically stupid.'"

... Greg Sargent: "Interestingly, the ad doesn't name Hillary Clinton.... The Sanders argument is that nothing we've seen during the Obama years -- and nothing we've heard proposed from the Hillary Clinton campaign -- comes close to the sort of far-reaching, deep structural changes to the economy that will be required to seriously combat the soaring inequality and wage stagnation of the moment." ...

... CW: Also interestingly, I just saw Clinton's campaign strategist complaining to Tuck Chodd that the Sanders spot breaks Sanders' campaign pledge not to run negative ads. Clinton, of course, takes the ad personally, but as Sargent points out, Sanders is challenging the entire Democratic approach to economic policy. And of course the Clinton campaign's complaining about negative ads is pretty hilarious after the last week or so of her and her proxies going after Sanders, both fairly & unfairly. ...

     ... Update: Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Hillary Clinton's campaign on Thursday decried what it called an attack ad from Democratic presidential rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Clinton's aides claimed Sanders had broken his pledge to never run a negative advertisement by releasing his 30-second campaign spot on 'two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street.'...Sanders's campaign insisted that the ad wasn't 'directed at Secretary Clinton exclusively.' 'It's about people in the Democratic establishment who believe you can take Wall Street's money and then somehow turn around and rein in the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior,' Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement shared with The Hill. 'Obviously she is part of the establishment that Wall Street has showered with financial support. Bernie is not,' Briggs added...." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Bernie Sanders is where he is because the positions and the policies he has been championing all his career have come back somewhat into favor ever since some grifters broke the world economy and then made off with the rubble. That is why he's different from Donald Trump and that is why Hillary Rodham Clinton is noticing that things in the rear-view window are closer than they appear." ...

... Gene Robinson: "Any Clinton supporters looking for a reason to panic should consider the way the campaign attacked Sanders on health care this week, [which began with Chelsea Clinton's charges against Sanders' proposals for single-payer insurance].... Such careful and misleading parsing of language can only be called Clintonesque and only be read as a danger sign. I can't help but recall how Bill Clinton invited a backlash in 2008 by calling the Obama candidacy a 'fairy tale.' Maybe Hillary Clinton should try leaving the family at home.... The Clinton campaign has a fight on its hands -- and anything smacking of politics-as-usual is more likely to lose votes than win them." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton's national lead is slipping faster in 2016 than it did in 2008."

Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast interviews Bill Maher on the candidates -- entertaining, & politically correct.

Real News

Okay, real-ish:

Tim Egan: "... on the mastery of changing hearts and minds, the 'ability to astonish and inspire,' [President Obama] falls short. His presidency, as of now, has not been transformational. He has 370 more days, or thereabouts, to make a dent in a hard history." ...

... CW: I disagree with Egan. I don't think anyone can blame the President for the vicious antics of Republican "leaders." Last night's debate was the 10,000th illustration of that -- two days after Obama chastised them for behaving badly, they behaved worse. I don't think any one of them, with the possible exception of Kasich, has a whit of common decency (and his ideology is counterproductive); their entire case is built on a foundation of lies, smears & scorn. One individual is not responsible for the immorality of an entire corrupt power structure. In my lifetime, the Republican party always has appealed to Americans' worst instincts. It has never done so more forcefully than now.

** Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration will announce on Friday a halt to new coal mining leases on public lands as it considers an overhaul of the program that could lead to increased costs for energy companies and a slowdown in extraction, according to an administration official. The move would represent a significant setback for the coal industry, effectively freezing new coal production on federal lands and sending a signal to energy markets that could turn investors away from an already flailing industry. President Obama telegraphed the step in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, saying, 'I'm going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.'"

Bill Vlasic of the New York Times: "With automakers and technology companies rushing to develop self-driving cars, the Obama administration on Thursday pledged to expedite regulatory guidelines for autonomous vehicles and invest in research to help bring them to market. Until now, the federal government has taken a hands-off approach to regulating new technology that allows vehicles to operate independently and without an actual driver."

Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Planned Parenthood on Thursday filed a long-awaited federal lawsuit against the anti-abortion activists who have targeted the group with undercover videos for the last year. The formal complaint marks the first time that Planned Parenthood has taken legal action against the group, the Center for Medical Progress. The national organization, along with its California affiliate, is accusing the Center for Medical Progress and its organizer David Daleiden for unlawful behavior ranging from secret taping to trespassing. The group said the Center for Medical Progress has violated the laws of three states as well as federal law." ...

... Nina Liss-Schultz of Mother Jones: "The federal lawsuit accuses CMP of racketeering, illegally creating and using fake driver's licenses, invading the privacy of and illegally recording Planned Parenthood officials and staff. The suit describes CMP as a 'complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists,' and says that 'the aim of the fake enterprise -- which stretched over years and involved fake companies, fake identifications, and large-scale illegal taping, was to demonize Planned Parenthood.'" The complaint is embedded in the story.

Paul Krugman: "... given the reality that wealth often reflects either luck or power, there's a strong case to be made for collecting some of that wealth in taxes and using it to make society as a whole stronger, as long as it doesn't destroy the incentive to keep creating more wealth. And there's no reason to believe that it would. Historically, America achieved its most rapid growth and technological progress ever during the 1950s and 1960s, despite much higher top tax rates and much lower inequality than it has today.... The rich don't have to be as rich as they are. Inequality is inevitable; the vast inequality of America today isn't."

Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times: "More than seven years after the worst of the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs is again paying a price for the role it played. The Wall Street firm said on Thursday it had agreed to a civil settlement of up to $5 billion with federal prosecutors and regulators to resolve claims stemming from the marketing and selling of faulty mortgage securities to investors.... The agreement in principle requires Goldman to pay $2.385 billion in civil penalties and $875 million in cash and provide up to $1.8 billion in relief to consumers."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. CW: I don't know why public universities don't dispense with classrooms & professors & students studying literature & physics and all when they could more easily concentrate on being excellent sports enterprises. Go, Bucks! O H I O!

W. J. Hennigan & Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times: "How U.S. sailors almost started a crisis with Iran." The vessels were a mile inside Iranian waters. "The situation became only more complicated when a U.S. aircraft carrier task force led by the Harry S. Truman, on patrol in the gulf, quickly launched search helicopters into Iranian airspace. That served to further alarm Tehran, even as U.S. officials began considering a possible rescue operation.... [The incident] also raises questions of whether Iran violated international law by using the detainees for propaganda purposes."

Hey, Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), America's Stupidest Senator is still America's stupidest senator: Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed: "Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson inaccurately described South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as an immigrant while praising her response to President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night.... '... And Governor Haley is an immigrant. She has powerful stories of being an immigrant....'" ...

... CW: Here's a clue, Ron. As even you must know, Republicans are chattering about Haley as a possible vice-presidential candidate. But, see, the vice president can't be an immigrant. S/he has to be a "natural-born citizen," something that even you also should know by now, since the topic has been in the news all week. Sheesh!

Laurie After 13 years of rancor over conflicting views on homosexuality, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion have voted to impose sanctions for three years on the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Communion, for its decision last summer to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, church officials said Thursday. News of the archbishops' decision to discipline the American church leaked out near the end of a weeklong meeting in England called by the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury. He had summoned the archbishops to Canterbury in an effort to break the bitter impasse that has divided the Anglican Communion since the Episcopal Church consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.... The Anglican Church of Canada, which has allowed some clergy members to perform same-sex marriages but has not adopted a policy for the entire province, escaped sanctions. But the archbishops' resolution fell short of the demands of conservative primates to evict the Americans and the Canadians from the Communion." ...

... CW: Oh, they're primates, all right. I believe I'll head down to St. Andrews this Sunday.

Beyond the Beltway

Daniel Bethencourt of the Detroit Free Press: "Since Flint switched its water source to the Flint River, officials have seen a spike in the number of cases of a severe form of pneumonia, called Legionnaires' disease -- but officials say they're still looking for the cause. There have been 87 cases in Genesee County from June 2014 to November 2015 -- and 10 of those cases resulted in death, said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or MDHHS.... While state officials said they couldn't make a connection between the water and the spike in disease, [Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech,] a drinking water expert who studied Flint, said the rise in cases was 'dramatic,' and added there's a 'very strong likelihood' the river's water played a role." CW: So much for killing them softly with lead poisoning.

Carol Marin & Don Moseley of NBC Chicago: "Senior members of Rahm Emanuel's administration received and sent emails about the video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald long before the mayor said he was fully briefed, emails obtained by NBC5 News show. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and show that the mayor's chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and top press aides were included in email chains." ...

... Mark Guarino, et al., of the Washington Post: Rahm Emanuel "faced renewed questions Thursday about whether he had known earlier than he had previously said that police accounts of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald conflicted with a dashboard-camera video of the 2014 incident. Early in the day, a federal judge ordered the release of video footage in another case, from 2013, that shows police fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager. The city had long opposed the release, but reversed itself this week and asked a court to make the video public. It was released hours after the ruling."

Patrick Whittle of the AP: "Critics of Maine Gov. Paul LePage failed to muster support for a vote Thursday on an independent investigation that could have led to impeachment for alleged abuse of power. LePage responded by calling the impeachment effort 'nonsense' and 'foolishness.'"

Elliot Njus of the Oregonian: "As the armed occupation of a Harney County wildlife refuge drags into its 13th day, protesters are sending mixed signals about their plans." ...

... Sam Levin of the Guardian: "Leaders of the armed militia occupying federal lands in eastern Oregon could face hefty fines and more than 10 years behind bars if government officials decide to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, legal experts say. Ammon Bundy and his crew of rightwing anti-government followers -- who have refused to leave the Malheur national wildlife refuge since they took over its headquarters on 2 January -- appear to have violated a number of laws that prohibit the unauthorized use and destruction of public property.... Tim Colahan, Harney County district attorney, said in an email that he is working with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies and is discussing the possibility of criminal prosecution." CW: I'll believe these guys might do time when I see a criminal complaint. Meanwhile, Papa Bundy is still out there grazing his cattle on our land & refusing to pay more than $1MM in fees he owes us.

News Ledes

CNN: "The Dow dropped another 391 points on Friday, leaving the index down an incredible 1,437 points in just the first two weeks of the year. The S&P 500 lost 2.3% and the Nasdaq plunged 2.7% to its lowest level since October 2014."

AP: "Two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members collided off the Hawaiian island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission, and rescuers are searching a debris field in choppy waters Friday, military officials said. There was no immediate word on what caused the crash or if any survivors have been found."

AP: "A Tennessee man pulled a folded Powerball ticket from the front pocket of his shirt and told a national television audience Friday that he held one of three winners of the world-record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot. 'Now I'll be nervous because everybody knows,' said John Robinson, who appeared in the New York studios of NBC's 'Today' show alongside his wife Lisa, their daughter and their lawyer. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the Robinsons' claim."

Los Angeles Times: "The California Public Utilities Commission agreed Thursday with a judge's recommendation to fine Uber $7.6 million for failing to meet data reporting requirements in 2014. Uber will appeal the decision, but has agreed to pay the fine to avoid a 30-day suspension of its license in its home state."

Wednesday
Jan132016

Ode to an Also-Ran

Not Ready for Big-Boy Pants.

Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is blaming the GOP for his exclusion from the main debate stage in this week's Republican presidential debate, saying the decision may cost the party the support of libertarian voters. 'They have been saying for months they're going to narrow the field, but I don't think it's the job of the establishment in the Republican Party to decide who is and who isn't [in],' he said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Wednesday morning.... Paul, who is boycotting the 'undercard' debate that will be held before the main event, said he's being pushed out because he has a 'unique voice.'"

So now we turn to the high arts (assuming doggerel qualifies) & our poet-in-residence Akhilleus for his versification of Paul the Younger:

The Children's Hour (apologies to Longfellow)

Between dark thoughts and unbecoming cupidity
Comes a trying time of immense stupidity
When scowling Confederates begin to glower
That is known cross the nation as the Children's Hour.

I see on the Tee-Vee machine and the papers
Curmudgeonly candidates and their ineffectual capers
I read in reports, and hear sour bleating
Black thoughts in their minds, hearts out they are eating

Especially the little one, a smelly rug on his head
His tiny fists pounding the floor by his bed
In such great distress, he's been kicked off the stage
So he'll pick up his ball and off home he will rage

"It just isn't fair" he whinnies and whines
His rug all askew as he pulls down the blinds
He sits in his room and refuses to breathe
"When I'm blue, they'll be sorry" and commences to grieve

His time as a bidder for high office is spent
Meantime he can still show them all his rear end
Watching the SOTU alone he espies
The man he hates so and yells out "He lies!"

This makes him feel manly, his feelings so hurt
But he takes time to go on the radio and blurt
That that black man's a phony and should just admit
That he'd rather play golf and pick up and quit.

He wonders just why no one wants him to win
The Orange head bozo's their favorite, Oh, sin!
So he grumps and he groans, between and betwixt
Life can be hard when you're just turning six.

Wednesday
Jan132016

The Commentariat -- January 14, 2016

David Hendee of the Omaha World-Herald: "In his first full-fledged visit as president to Nebraska, President Barack Obama called on America to reject the politics of doom and gloom and work together to build a stronger and better nation and world":

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "President Barack Obama threw a few more punches at Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP field on Wednesday, condemning hateful language on the campaign trail that feeds Americans' 'worst impulses.' Speaking at the University of Nebraska Omaha, Obama gave a more casual, joke-laced version of his State of the Union address from Tuesday night, warning about the dangers of offensive rhetoric." ...

... Josh Planos of KETV Omaha: "Before his speech at Baxter Arena, President Barack Obama stopped at a Papillion home to speak with a mother who wrote him a letter last year." With video.

... Greg Sargent: "Paul Ryan attacks Barack Obama for agreeing with Paul Ryan."

There's no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide [between Democrats & Republicans], and I guarantee I'll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office. -- President Obama, in his SOTU address ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "Obama's wrong. Dead wrong. There's absolutely no reason to believe that either man would have convinced the two parties to sit together around a campfire and sing 'Kumbaya.' Nor, for that matter, is there any reason to think it would have been desirable for Lincoln or Roosevelt to prioritize partisan unity. Indeed, the reason we now remember them as two of our greatest presidents is entirely because they were not afraid to push a bold agenda even though that agenda outraged many entrenched political groups."

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama will roll out a bold set of executive actions during his final year in office, his top adviser said Wednesday. 'We'll do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year, I am confident of that,' White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast."

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The United States will increase the number of refugees it admits to allow in more people fleeing violence in Central America, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday. In a speech at the National Defense University, Kerry said the expansion of the Refugee Admissions Program will be directed toward people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, to 'offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits.'... The admission of more refugees from Central American countries comes amid an immigration crackdown in which women and children from the region were rounded up and deported after they were denied asylum." ...

... Jerry Markon & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The escalating tensions between Democrats and the Obama administration over its deportation raids targeting Central American immigrants burst into public view on Tuesday, with more than 140 House members blasting the round ups and the White House dispatching a top official to Capitol Hill in a vain effort to quell the furor." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

James Downie of the Washington Post: Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.), in her response to the State of the Union address, fueled the fear she & anger she pretended to abhor: "Be afraid. That fear and the anger from the GOP establishment's apparent complacency are the reasons behind the strength of Trump, Cruz and others. Platitudes from Nikki Haley and others won't stop that fear as long as they keep feeding it." ...

... Eun Kim of NBC's "Today": "South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended her response to Tuesday's State of the Union, confirming to 'Today''s Matt Lauer she was referring to Donald Trump as one of the 'angriest voices' she mentioned. 'Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,' she told Matt in an interview Wednesday." ...

... Eliza Collins of Politico: "Nikki Haley said late Wednesday that she had misspoken when she said that Marco Rubio was for 'amnesty' and that Jeb Bush had passed Common Core, the controversial educational standards." CW: Maybe because (a) her claims weren't true, & (b) "misspeaking" about your party's presidential candidates is not going to help your veepstakes chances.

Ezra Klein: Democratic & Republican voters are different: Democrats care about personal issues which the hope the government can help solve; Republicans say they are concerned about abstract issues, like the Constitution. CW: Really? The Constitution? Let's give them a test to see if these concerned citizens know what it says. A 2014 Annenberg survey found that "While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one." I do believe "the Constitution" answer is a smokescreen for darker views.

David Sanger, et al., of the New York Times: "A crisis over the seizing of two American patrol boats in the Persian Gulf was averted Wednesday when Iran returned the craft and released their crews as Pentagon officials struggled to explain how the boats had ended up near a major Iranian naval base. Their quick release was hailed by the Obama administration as an unintended benefit of the new diplomatic relationship with Iran established by the nuclear accord negotiated between Tehran and the United States and five other nations in July. The accord is expected to go into effect next week, ending the oil and financial sanctions imposed on Iran over the past decade, and giving it access to around $100 billion in frozen funds." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Intense U.S.-Iranian diplomacy led to the release early Wednesday of 10 American sailors captured by Iran after they strayed into its territorial waters, a smooth resolution to a potentially fraught incident that the Obama administration attributed to communications channels established during negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. 'We can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago,' Secretary of State John F. Kerry said. He thanked Iranian authorities for their 'cooperation and quick response'..." ...

... CW: And think about how this would have gone down if U.S. Republicans & Bibi Netanyahu had had their way on the Iran nuke deal. Sharon Kavenaugh of Vocativ: "Republican lawmakers and presidential hopefuls quickly seized on Tuesday's incident, claiming it represented yet another humiliation of the United States by Iran. They placed the blame squarely on [President] Obama.... 'This is the latest manifestation of the weakness of Barack Obama, that every bad actor ... views Obama as a laughingstock,' said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.... Jeb Bush tweeted: 'No more bargaining. Obama's humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.' If I'm not mistaken, all the GOP presidential candidates have promised to revoke the Iran nuclear deal. Diplomacy matters. While you're looking for bad actors, Ted, get a mirror. ...

     ... Also, too, it's important to bear in mind that the Navy vessels were in Iran's territorial waters. If Iran floated its boats off the coast of Cape Cod, would the U.S. ignore them? ...

... ** Bryan Bender of Politico: "Wednesday's release of 10 American sailors from Iranian custody put a swift end to the latest confrontation between the U.S. and Tehran -- but not before a chorus of Republicans jumped in to warn that the United States was facing a new hostage crisis.... The immediate political response to the episode, even as details were still trickling in, underscored deep opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear pact with Iran and its broader diplomatic detente with Tehran -- and also cast in stark relief how much national security is imprisoned by partisanship." ...

... Paul Waldman: "Candidates can live in their fantasy world, where they're constantly causing dramatic showdowns they always win because of their steely glare. But fortunately for us (and for those 10 sailors), none of them had the chance to test their theory. At least not this time." CW: Don't miss Waldman's opening grafs. ...

... Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "So now that U.S. sailors and ships have been safely returned in a relatively prompt manner, remember who flew off the handle and who kept their cool."

Louise Story of the New York Times: "Concerned about illicit money flowing into luxury real estate, the Treasury Department said Wednesday that it would begin identifying and tracking secret buyers of high-end properties. The initiative will start in two of the nation's major destinations for global wealth: Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. It will shine a light on the darkest corner of the real estate market: all-cash purchases made by shell companies that often shield purchasers' identities." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "Faced with the prospect of definitively resolving the status of Puerto Rico, the Supreme Court on Wednesday explored ways in which to render a narrow decision. But a lawyer for the Obama administration was adamant that the court's decision should be based on the fundamental ground that the commonwealth is a territory of the United States without independent sovereignty.... The question in Wednesday's case, Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle, No. 15-108, was whether Puerto Rico was also a separate sovereign and therefore able to pursue a subsequent prosecution for the same crime after a federal conviction. Whether Puerto Rico is a separate sovereign is a deeply contested matter of politics and pride."

John Koblin of the New York Times: "The cable news channel Al Jazeera America, which debuted in 2013 to great fanfare when it promised to cover American news soberly and seriously, will be shutting down by the end of April. The move was announced at a companywide meeting on Wednesday."

Presidential Race

Gail Collins on the relatives of the candidates.

Here's the conversation between MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin & Alex Seitz-Wald, which Ezra Klein referred to in the post linked above. Sarlin & Seitz-Wald switched sides last week; Sarlin had been covering the GOP candidates & Seitz-Wald had covered the Democrats.

The Nation endorses Bernie Sanders. CW: It's a good editorial, worth reading: "Sanders alone proposes to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; to invest in public education, from universal pre-K to tuition-free public college.... He alone proposes to empower workers with a living wage. He alone stands ready to put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, and to confront climate change by making the United States a leader in renewable energy. His audacious agenda proves that money in politics doesn't widen debate; rather, it narrows the range of possibility. While Sanders understands this, we fear that his chief rival for the Democratic nomination does not." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton's new barrage against Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential primary opponent she has all but ignored through most of her campaign, is having an effect -- ... Sanders's underdog campaign said it is seeing a surge of contributions as a direct result..., with money coming in at a clip nearly four times the average daily rate reported in the last quarter of 2015.... 'Thanks, Team Clinton,' Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Wednesday afternoon." ...

... CW: There's nothing wrong with Clinton's attacking Sanders on the real differences between them -- tho I don't know how well the gun thing will go down in Iowa & rural New Hampshire -- but her claim that Sanders has proposed to turn healthcare over to the states, specifically to Republican governors, is, as far as a can tell, a baldfaced lie. The best thing that can be said for her is that she's as honest & trustworthy as any GOP presidential candidate, except maybe Kasich. ...

... Pat Garofalo of US News has more on Clinton's "bizarre" & "dishonest" attacks on Sanders' single-payer proposal: "... she's sliming Sanders with the accusation that he wants to take health insurance away from people. It's a garbage attack, and makes even less sense considering that she's going to need Sanders' supporters come November when she (as is still very likely) becomes the Democratic nominee. (Democrats, incidentally, really like single-payer, as do independents.)" ...

... Ryan Cooper of the Week: "... it's obvious what's happening here. Clinton has been flagging in the polls of late, and as usual she's turned to fighting dirty."

... Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: Sanders strikes back against Clinton's "Karl Rove tactics." ...

... Jim Newell of Slate: "Welcome to the campaign trail, Chelsea Clinton. Got anything on your mind? 'Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,' she said in New Hampshire on Tuesday. 'I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era -- before we had the Affordable Care Act -- that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.'... The arguments [Hillary Clinton's] campaign is using against single-payer health care are earning plenty of griping from progressives, who see this as proof that Clinton will only play nice with them until the precise second that turning on them becomes politically advantageous." Sanders should release his plan now. ...

... Liz Kruetz of ABC News: "Hillary Clinton [Tuesday] defended her daughter's attacks against her Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care plan, despite criticism the remark was inaccurate." With video. ...

... CW P.S. Chelsea Clinton is a chip off the old blocks. I can't stomach her, either.

Margaret Hartmann of New York previews tonight's GOP debate. ...

Jonathan Swan of the Hill: "Major GOP donors and fundraisers are wondering whether they're wasting their money on super-PACs. They say they're not ready to abandon the super-PACs, but they're starting to look for ways to make them more effective during a presidential cycle that has challenged conventions about how to spend political donations."

Nick Gass of Politico: Donald Trump "on Wednesday hit back at both [President] Obama and at South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also warned about the dangers of Trump's rhetoric during her GOP response, though also not by name.... Trump, calling in to 'Fox and Friends,' denounced Obama's speech as the words of a man 'living in a fantasy land.'... Trump, a master of the counterpunch, let loose on Haley Wednesday morning. He attacked her as being 'very weak on illegal immigration' and surmised that if he were not running for president, she would be asking him for campaign cash. 'But she's weak on illegal immigration, and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions, 'cause over the years she's asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions...,' he said on 'Fox and Friends.' As far as the prospect of a Trump-Haley ticket? Don't count on it, Trump said. 'Well considering I'm leading in the polls by a lot, I wouldn't say she's off to a good start based on what she has just said,' he said...."

Mike McIntire of the New York Times: When Ted Cruz ran for the Senate in 2012, he & his wife Heidi obtained loans for as much as $750,000 to finance the campaign. One loan came from her employer Goldman Sachs & another from Citibank. The loans are not illegal, but Ted failed to report them to the Federal Election Commission, & that is illegal. Ted has falsely claimed that he & Heidi financed the campaign by liquidating their own assets: "A review of personal financial disclosures that Mr. Cruz filed later with the Senate does not find a liquidation of assets that would have accounted for all the money he spent on his campaign.... All told, the value of their cash and securities in 2012 saw a net increase of as much as $400,000 -- even as the Cruzes were supposedly liquidating everything to finance Mr. Cruz's Senate campaign." His presidential campaign describes his failure to report the large loans as "inadvertent." Very convenient. "... a disclosure might have conveyed the wrong impression for his candidacy. Mr. Cruz ... was campaigning as a populist firebrand who criticized Wall Street bailouts and the influence of big banks in Washington. It is a theme he has carried into his bid for the Republican nomination for president." ...

... Jennifer Rubin, the WashPo's winger blogger, explains why this revelation is "a nightmare" for Cruz, especially at this point in the race. Here are some of her reasons: 1. He is still indebted to Goldman.... 2. He didn't simply 'forget' to file the disclosure; he made up a self-reverential story to go with it.... 3. He is going on stage tonight in a debate against several highly skilled candidates who don't like him to begin with.... 4. Trump is going to have a field day with this one, which is certainly a more solid reason than his birther hooey on which to disqualify Cruz. Cruz has been accusing Trump of embodying 'New York values' -- whatever those are. But if hiding a big loan from a Wall Street firm tied to the housing crisis isn't the essence of 'New York values,' I am not sure what is. 5. Cruz's campaign is built on the populist, anti-establishment narrative.... 6. It is hard to say this is an oversight.... 7. This is precisely the sort of slick, dishonest conduct he accuses professional politicians of undertaking."

... "I Forgot." Katie Zezima of the Washington Post & Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) downplayed a report late Wednesday that he had not listed personal loans he and his wife received before donating roughly the same amount to his 2012 Senate campaign, calling the matter an 'inadvertent filing question.'" ...

... Not a parody. But a classic. Also, could be the first time a presidential candidate was pictured in blackface:

Beyond the Beltway -- Elections Matter

(1) Amy Goodnough of the New York Times: "There is no longer any question that Gov. Matt Bevin [RTP] of Kentucky plans to shut down the health insurance exchange his state built to enroll residents for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Now that he has notified the Obama administration of his intention to do so, the question is, will it change the law's substantial impact there? It is hard to predict, partly because what Mr. Bevin is doing is without precedent. While a few states have been forced to largely rely on the federally run exchange after their own versions failed, Kentucky will be the first to abandon a homegrown exchange that functions well.... A far bigger threat is Mr. Bevin's plan, still vague, to overhaul Kentucky's expansion of Medicaid...."

(2) Elizabeth Cohen & Katherine Grise of CNN: "The state of Florida is putting thousands of children with heart defects at risk, a group of cardiac doctors say, because of a change in policy that came after Tenet Healthcare contributed $200,000 to Florida Republicans. In a widely publicized investigation in June, CNN revealed that a program at a Tenet hospital in Florida had failed to live up to state quality standards for children's heart surgery. Less than two months later, the state decided to get rid of those standards. That decision came after the giant for-profit hospital chain made contributions to Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his party that dwarfed those the company made to candidates or parties in other states.... Doctors from around the state say the decision came right from the governor's office."

(3) Mark Guarino of the Washington Post: "Responding to calls that his administration has not done enough to help this city and its lead-poisoned water supply, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) dispatched his state's National Guard on Tuesday to help distribute clean water. More than 30 National Guard troops are expected to be on the ground by Friday, where they will go door to door to hand out water bottles, filters and testing kits to residents in this city of nearly 100,000." (Snyder's administration is responsible for forcing the city to provide contaminated water & for covering up evidence the water contained high levels of lead & other contaminants.)

*****

Rebecca Ruiz of the New York Times: "Top officials running the sport of track and field have for years abused their positions and possibly engaged in criminal behavior, blackmailing athletes who doped and failing to discipline them in a timely fashion, according to a report released on Thursday by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The 89-page report was the result of an investigation by a task force that spent the last year examining allegations of widespread doping and corruption. It raised questions about past leaders of the sport who were already under criminal investigation as well as the sport's celebrated current leader, Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who was in charge of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London."

John Sepuvado & Amanda Peacher of Oregon Public Broadcasting: "Among the militant members who have accessed government computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, one is an Islamic State sympathizer and Adolph Hitler acolyte. While militant leader Ammon Bundy has repeatedly denied government computers were being used by militants, OPB has again confirmed that Department of Interior computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are being accessed, and in this instance, being used to make a website for the occupation. One of the militants occupying the refuge posted video of himself using the computer."

Comedians A. J. Foster & Larry O'Grady re-enact the Whitesboro, New York, town seal. I'd say it's lucky for Foster no Whitesboro cops came upon this scene. Undaunted by the photo & national notoriety, the town voted to keep the "White" in Whitesboro the seal. (The village is 97.69 percent white.) See also yesterday's Commentariat. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link:

Photo by A. J. Foster.

Amanda Holpuch of the Guardian: "A Minnesota archbishop who was forced to resign when his diocese faced criminal and civil charges related to sexual abuse by clergy has been appointed assistant priest at a church in Michigan."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Explosions and gunfire rocked the center of the Indonesian capital on Thursday in what the police called a terrorist attack. At least four people were killed, the police said, along with three of the assailants. The Indonesian National Police said in a statement on Facebook that four other attackers had been arrested." ...

     ... Washington Post Update: "Militants staged suicide bombings and opened fire in Indonesia's capital on Thursday in possible attempts by Islamic State followers to stage a Paris-style rampage through the teeming streets of Jakarta. Five attackers were among the seven dead." ...

     ... Reuters Update: "Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday, the first time the radical group has targeted the world's most populous Muslim nation."

New York Times: "At least three winning tickets were sold in Wednesday night's record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot."

Guardian: "The World Health Organisation has declared the end of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, with all known chains of transmission of the virus stopped."

New York Times: "Alan Rickman, the British actor who brought an erudite dignity to film roles like Hans Gruber, the nefarious mastermind of 'Die Hard,' and Severus Snape, the dour master of potions in the 'Harry Potter' series, died on Thursday. He was 69."

Washington Post: "For the first time since 1978, a named tropical weather system has formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January. At 4 p.m. today, the National Hurricane Center announced Subtropical Storm Alex had developed over the eastern Atlantic Ocean."

Tuesday
Jan122016

The Commentariat -- January 13, 2016

Afternoon Update:

Jerry Markon & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The escalating tensions between Democrats and the Obama administration over its deportation raids targeting Central American immigrants burst into public view on Tuesday, with more than 140 House members blasting the round ups and the White House dispatching a top official to Capitol Hill in a vain effort to quell the furor."

Louise Story of the New York Times: "Concerned about illicit money flowing into luxury real estate, the Treasury Department said Wednesday that it would begin identifying and tracking secret buyers of high-end properties. The initiative will start in two of the nation's major destinations for global wealth: Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. It will shine a light on the darkest corner of the real estate market: all-cash purchases made by shell companies that often shield purchasers' identities."

*****

... Here is the President's speech as prepared. I'll link a transcript when one becomes available. He did ad lib. Update: Here's the transcript, via the New York Times. ...

... Christi Parsons & Michael Memoli of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama launched his final year in office with a valedictory State of the Union address Tuesday night that painted a portrait of a prosperous and secure America but warned of peril ahead if the country can't break the political logjam in Washington." ...

... Julie Pace of the AP: "Eyeing the end of his presidency, Barack Obama urged Americans Tuesday night to rekindle their belief in the promise of change that first carried him to the White House, declaring that the country must not allow election-year fear and division to put economic and security progress at risk." ...

... Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post: "President Obama focused Tuesday on the pessimism coursing through an electorate now preparing to replace him, recasting the campaign-trail anger as a simple fear of change and a growing danger to the country." ...

... CW: The theme of the SOTU speech, in case you didn't notice, was a restatement of then-state senator Obama's 2004 red-state/blue-state convention speech. An agent of change need not change himself in fundamental ways. ...

... "America Is Great Again Already." Suzy Khimm of the New Republic: "Tuesday night's address was a reprise of the Obama of Hope and Change to counter the culture of fear that Trump has exploited so successfully." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: President Obama "spoke of the possibility that the great U.S. democratic experiment will turn in on itself, in an orgy of partisanship, nativism, and money politics. In delivering this jeremiad, Obama was, in part, merely returning to the platform that he ran on in 2008. But he was also speaking as a wised-up, gray-haired President who has witnessed, firsthand, the consequences of the politics of dysfunction and brutalism -- and who now sees, in the 2016 Presidential race, things going from bad to worse.... Having identified the danger -- Trumpism and all that has given rise to it -- Obama warned that American democracy itself is at stake." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "... Trump did not absorb all of Obama's jibes. The president drew clear lines of distinction against the other two leading Republicans, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.... 'American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world  -- except when we kill terrorists; [Cruz] or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling.' [Rubio]"

... David Fahrenthold & Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama used his final State of the Union address to consider himself as an ex-president -- talking in conversational, contemplative and backward-looking terms at the country he would leave behind, and warning not-very-subtly that the country shouldn't pick Donald Trump to take his place." ...

... Vice President Biden, in Medium: "Three months ago, I called for a 'moonshot' to cure cancer. Tonight, the President tasked me with leading a new, national mission to get this done. It's personal for me. But it's also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world." ...

... Scott Bixby of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has channeled John Kennedy's space race with the Russians to pledge a new 'moonshot', led by vice-president Joe Biden at 'mission control', for the United States to win a new global health race and find a cure for cancer.... Inspired and led by Biden, who lost his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer last year, the White House's bold pledge follows the path laid forward by the vice-president when he declined to run to replace Obama in the White House." ...

... Dr. Jill Biden & White House staff invite guests to sit with Michelle Obama at the SOTU:

... Oh, that's nice. Anti-gay clerk Kim Davis will be at the SOTU, too, a sort of accidental guest of Rep. Jim Jordan (RTP-Phio). I'm sure she's not the only horrible guest of Congressional Republicans. ...

... Ben Dreyfuss of Mother Jones: "Matt Lauer asked President Barack Obama if he could imagine Donald Trump giving a State of the Union address. His response: 'Well, I can imagine it in a Saturday Night [Live] skit.'... Obama also dismissed Trump's chances of winning the presidency":

... Rachel Bade of Politico: "South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, a potential 2016 vice presidential running-mate for the GOP nominee, offered a not-so-subtle rebuke of Donald Trump's fiery immigration rhetoric as part of her response to President Barack Obama's Tuesday State of the Union speech":

... David Jackson of USA Today: "Another State of the Union tradition played out Tuesday: Criticism of the president from the opposition party, particularly Republican candidates seeking his job this election year." CW: Here's my favorite: "[Rand] Paul, who did not attend speech, tweeted at one point during the president's remarks that 'I just yelled, "you lie" really loud. Good thing I'm not there.'" I guess Li'l Randy remembers how successful Joe Wilson (RTP-S.C.) was in raising funds off his classy 2009 outburst. AND, of course, this was just the kind of childish behavior President Obama admonished politicians to reject. ...

... Ah, well, the usual suspects panned Nikki Haley, too.

We Won't Have Another President Like This. Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "Vice President Biden said in an interview broadcast Monday night that President Obama offered him financial help when his son Beau Biden was suffering from cancer.... 'He said "I'll give you the money. Whatever you need, I'll give you the money. Don't, Joe. Promise me. Promise me,'" Biden told CNN":

Burgess Everett & John Bresnahan of Politico: "King Abdullah of Jordan will spurn the GOP's invitation to address House and Senate Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore on Wednesday night, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Though Abdullah was never confirmed, the optics of meeting with Republicans and not having a face-to-face with President Barack Obama may have proven to be too much. Abdullah met with Vice President Biden today but in the words of a senior administration official, Obama had 'scheduling conflicts, including the State of the Union address' that made a meeting between the two leaders impossible this week."

"The ... 50-State Solution." Thomas Edsall of the New York Times: "While the presidential race captures our attention -- and as the left has withdrawn from low-level combat -- conservatives have overseen the drawing of legislative and congressional districts that will keep Republicans in power over the next decade. In this way, through the most effective gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts in the nation's history, the right has institutionalized a dangerous power vacuum on the left." ...

... David Nasaw reviews Jane Mayer's book Dark Money for the New York Times. "When the Supreme Court in the 2010 Citizens United case permitted nonprofits to spend money on political campaigning, the Koch brothers funded their own political machine, which, in size, dollars and sophistication, rivaled that of the two major parties. Their success in the 2010 midterm election was remarkable, and, Ms. Mayer says, took the Democrats by surprise."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker: "... the American far right -- a diverse, sometimes contradictory landscape of radical ideologies -- [is flourishing].

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court found Florida's unique system of imposing a death sentence unconstitutional on Tuesday, saying it gives power to judges that is rightfully reserved for juries.... [In an 8-1 decision,] Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Florida's process reduces the jury's role to an advisory one and leaves the work of finding the special circumstances that render a murderer eligible for the death penalty up to a judge. That is the reverse of what the court in 2002 said was required, she wrote."

Marin Cogan of the New Yorker: Attorney General Loretta Lynch "may be the lowest-profile attorney general in recent memory." But that could change: ... "with just a year left in his administration, no one will be more central to the president's political ambitions and legacy than Lynch."

Richard Kahlenberg in a New York Times op-ed: "Public sector unions — representing teachers, firefighters and the like -- are the remaining bright spot in America's once-thriving trade union movement. In the case before the Supreme Court, Rebecca Friedrichs, a dissident teacher in Southern California, argues that she should be able to accept the higher wages and benefits the union negotiates, but not help pay for the costs.... During the Cold War, Republicans as well as Democrats fought for union endorsements and recognized that unions were critical civic organizations because they serve as a check on arbitrary government power; help sustain a middle-class society necessary for a stable democracy; serve to acculturate workers to democratic norms; and, in the case of teachers unions, support a public school system that helps children become thoughtful and reflective citizens." ...

... Steve M.: "Kahlenberg appears to be under the mistaken impression that modern conservatives actually want to strengthen democracy. They want no such thing. Conservatism thrives when economic inequality is increasing. The formula is simple: Take good jobs at good wages from blue-collar whites. When they express anger and anxiety, blame non-white recipients of social services provided by 'big government.' Lather. Rinse. Repeat, ad infinitum."

Thomas Gibbons-Neff & Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: "Two small U.S. Navy vessels appear to be in Iranian custody, but their crews will be released promptly, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday. Two U.S. naval craft were en route from Kuwait to Bahrain when they disappeared from the Navy's scopes. The incident marks the latest run-in between Iranian and U.S. crews." ...

     ... AP Update: "Iran accused the sailors of trespassing but American officials said Tehran has assured them that the crew and vessels would be returned safely and promptly." ...

     ... Update 2: Ali Dareini & Adam Schreck of the AP: "All 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters a day earlier have been freed, the U.S. and Iran said Wednesday. The Navy said the American crewmembers returned safely and there were no indications they had been harmed while in custody.... The sailors departed [Farsi Island] at 0843 GMT aboard the boats they were detained with, the Navy said."

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times: "Powerball fever has gripped the country, as one might expect with a jackpot of $1.5 billion at stake in Wednesday's drawing.... Powerball officials can't be surprised; they changed the rules last July precisely to produce this outcome -- a huge pot, and a stampede of buyers.... It's also well-understood that in economic terms, the people who are exploited by this mismatch of expectations tend to be disproportionately low-income and less educated. Yes, lotteries are effectively a tax on the poor."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Sydney Ember of the New York Times: "H.F. Lenfest, the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, announced on Tuesday that he had donated the publications to a newly formed nonprofit journalism institute. With the agreement, Mr. Lenfest cedes ownership of Philadelphia Media Network, which controls the three news outlets, to The Institute for Journalism in New Media. The institute was created at Mr. Lenfest's behest and will operate under the Philadelphia Foundation. The publications will run independently."

Presidential Race

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders is breaking away from Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and is edging ahead of her in Iowa, according to new polls that show him solidifying the support of Democrats ahead the first two 2016 presidential primary election contests." ...

... Philip Bump of the Washington Post analyzes the Sanders-Clinton polls. ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic suggests some of the possible reasons for Sanders' surge. ...

... Patrick Healy & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Iowa Democrats are displaying far less passion for Hillary Clinton than for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont three weeks before the presidential caucuses, creating anxiety inside the Clinton campaign as she scrambles to energize supporters and to court wavering voters. The enthusiasm gap spilled abundantly into view in recent days, from the cheering crowds and emotional outpourings that greeted Mr. Sanders, and in interviews with more than 50 Iowans at campaign stops for both candidates. Voters have mobbed Mr. Sanders at events since Friday, some jumping over chairs to shake his hand, snap a selfie or thank him for speaking about the middle class." ...

... Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "The liberal political group MoveOn.org threw its endorsement to Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential contest, backing him after its officials spent months in search of an alternative to Hillary Clinton and invested $1 million in ads to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren for the race." ...

... Ilya Sheyman of MoveOn.org: "With a record-setting 78.6 percent of 340,665 votes cast by the MoveOn membership, Senator Bernie Sanders has won MoveOn.org Political Action's endorsement for president with the largest total and widest margin in MoveOn history."

... Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union will endorse Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, giving the Democratic candidate a welcome boost as polls in Iowa and New Hampshire show Senator Bernie Sanders gaining ground." ...

... Stupid Question. Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: "... Hillary Clinton declined on Monday to say if she has been in communication with any of the women involved in the sex scandals during Bill Clinton's presidency. Asked if she has had any interactions with them, or feels empathy for any of them, Clinton told The Des Moines Register: 'No, I have nothing to say and I will leave it to voters to determine whether any of that is at all relevant to their decision.'" ...

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "Hillary Clinton on Tuesday dismissed the notion from Bernie Sanders that her campaign is in 'serious trouble.' But at the same time, she signaled she was hunkering down for a 'long, hard, challenging' primary ahead -- a marked contrast from the optimism her campaign was projecting last fall." ...

... Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "With Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont taking the lead in a new Iowa caucus poll, Hillary Clinton sharply challenged his core political message on Tuesday, saying his denunciations of big-money special interests were undercut by his 2005 congressional vote for a bill granting legal immunity for gun manufacturers -- a bill backed by the National Rifle Association." ...

... When the Going Gets Tough, Clinton Gets Nasty. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "With her lead in the Democratic presidential race in Iowa effectively vanished, Hillary Clinton tore into insurgent rival Bernie Sanders [in Ames, Iowa,] Tuesday over a litany of issues from health care to gun control.... Clinton's speech to a few hundred supporters on the campus of Iowa State University was striking in its sharp tone and the breadth of her attacks against Sanders.... Clinton appeared to relish laying into Sanders." ...

... CW: This is the Hillary Clinton you didn't vote for in the 2008 primary. ...

... AND Joe whacks Hillary:

Trump Nation. Don't Let the Kids Out. Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: "Officials in Virginia's largest jurisdiction want to close public schools during the Super Tuesday presidential primary elections, saying they fear supporters of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump could cause mayhem at the polls. The concerns stem mainly from a Republican Party of Virginia requirement that the March 1 primary voters affirm they are Republicans before voting for a presidential candidate.... Trump has blasted the pledge on social media.... Trump supporters have sued both the state and the state party, saying the pledge violates their civil rights. [Fairfax County electoral board chairman Katherine] Hanley said the potential for arguments or fights over the issue unnecessarily places schoolchildren at risk inside the 167 schools that will be used as polling stations." ...

     ... Nolan McCaskill: "Fairfax County is denying a Washington Post report that it may close its public schools during Virginia's primary voting for fear of Donald Trump supporters causing chaos at the polls." ...

... Birtherism, Ctd. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Now that he has raised questions about Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) Canadian birth and American citizenship, Donald Trump has started playing Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' before campaign rallies...." ...

... No-Information Voters. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Iowa poll continues to find a very close Republican race in the state- Donald Trump's at 28% to 26% for Ted Cruz, 13% for Marco Rubio, 8% for Ben Carson, and 6% for Jeb Bush. … The poll finds that the 'birther issue' has the potential to really hurt Ted Cruz. [pdf] Only 32% of Iowa Republicans think someone born in another country should be allowed to serve as President, to 47% who think such a person shouldn't be allowed to serve as President.... Despite all the attention to this issue in the last week, still only 46% of Iowa Republicans are aware that Cruz was not born in the United States. In fact, there are more GOP voters in the state who think Cruz (34%) was born in the United States than think Barack Obama (28%) was. Donald Trump knows what he's doing when he repeatedly brings up this issue...." ...

... Mary Brigid McManamon, a constitutional law professor, in the Washington Post: "Donald Trump is actually right about something: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is not a natural-born citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president or vice president of the United States.... The concept of 'natural born' comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept's definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are 'such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,' while aliens are 'such as are born out of it.'... Congress simply does not have the power to convert someone born outside the United States into a natural-born citizen." ...

... Laurence Tribe, in a Boston Globe op-ed: "This narrow definition reflected 18th-century fears of a tyrannical takeover of our nation by someone loyal to a foreign power -- fears that no longer make sense. But the same could be said of fears that a tyrannical federal army might overrun our state militias. Yet that doesn't lead Cruz -- or, more importantly, the conservative jurists he admires -- to discard the Second Amendment's 'right to bear arms' as a historical relic, or to limit that right to arms-bearing by members of today's 'state militias,' the national guard.... When Cruz was my constitutional law student at Harvard, he aced the course after making a big point of opposing my views in class -- arguing stridently for sticking with the 'original meaning' against the idea of a more elastic 'living Constitution' whenever such ideas came up.... At least he was consistent in those days. Now, he seems to be a fair weather originalist, abandoning that method's narrow constraints when it suits his ambition." ...

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "If some people want to be sticklers, I think they have that right. I don't feel like being a stickler.... I will laugh my ass off if the Republicans discover that after falsely accusing the current president of being born in another country they wind up having a problem electing a president because he actually was born in another country." ...

... Steve M.: "I don't like Ted Cruz, but I don't believe this decision [in the Haley case David Brooks cited in a column linked in yesterday's Commentariat] was his alone to make. Attorney General Greg Abbott was in his corner. And then so was the Supreme Court, including two liberal justices [Ginsburg & Breyer]. That's our system. There's brutalism all around." ...

... Paul Campos in LG&M: "What’s interesting about all this is that we can pretty safely assume that Brooks is carrying water for the GOP establishment (I'm pretty sure this obscure 12-year-old case didn't pop up for Brooks during some random internet surfing).... This suggests that, to some of the powers that be at least, Trump is actually preferable to Cruz." ...

... CW: There's no doubt that "Brooks is carrying water for the GOP establishment," but that doesn't mean he favors Trump over Cruz -- much more likely Kasich over Cruz.

... Amanda Marcotte in Salon: David Brooks' "latest column, titled 'The Brutalism of Ted Cruz,' [is] a piece that so hilariously misunderstands the motives of Christian conservatives that it leads one to wonder if Brooks has ever, in all his travels, met a single member of this tribe that his beloved Republican Party relies on for votes.... 'Compassionate conservatism' was never a real thing. It was always a feint, a beautiful sheep costume layered over the flea-bitten hide of the zealotry-driven wolves of Christian conservatism.... Brooks isn't wrong that Christianity is supposed to espouse 'humility, mercy, compassion and grace,' but for the Christian right, that's always just been a handy disguise to wear while working on the true mission, which is control, punishment, deprivation, and abuse." ...

... CW: Actually, I know & have known some very nice Christian conservatives. We disagree on most issues, but I don't consider them less "decent" than I am. And they do exhibit "humility, mercy, compassion & grace." (Update: ... which is sorta what President Obama said in his SOTU address.) One of the nice Christian conservatives I know is not Ben Carson, (a) because I don't know him, & (b) because he's not very nice. ...

... AP: "... Ben Carson is criticizing President Barack Obama for allowing representatives of a Muslim civic group to attend the State of the Union address, saying their actions are 'not pro-American.' Democratic lawmakers have invited two members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to attend Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday night. Speaking to CNN Tuesday morning, Carson said he has called for an investigation of the group...." ...

... As I was saying. Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: "In a rambling interview with a Catholic news network over the weekend..., Ben Carson derided marriage equality and protections for transgender people as 'extra rights' for 'a few people who perhaps are abnormal,' warning that if the next president's Supreme Court nominees protect LGBT rights, you can 'say goodbye to America.'"

Matt Arco of NJ.com: "Boasting about saving New Jersey from the brink of economic calamity, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday credited Republican principles and his bold leadership with making the state 'strong and growing stronger every day.' In a State of the State address aimed at a national audience as he campaigns for president, Christie also warned the state's gains are in jeopardy if the Democratic-controlled Legislature strays from the path he forged over the last six years."

Beyond the Beltway

Elections Matter. Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Louisiana's new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, on Tuesday signed an executive order to expand Medicaid in the state under ObamaCare.... President Obama will be touting Louisiana's move on Medicaid expansion, which the White House says will provide coverage to 193,000 uninsured people, when he visits the state on Thursday as part of his post-State of the Union travel."

Luke Hammill of the Oregonian: "The armed militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge announced Tuesday morning that they will drive into Burns at the end of the week to hold a community meeting and inform residents when they will leave." CW: Lah-de-dah. ...

... Les Zaitz of the Oregonian: Police believe militants are following local people who have some family connection to law enforcement or opposition to the militants' causes. Zaitz cites several individuals' accounts. ...

... Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian on why the feds don't try to oust the militia. CW: I'm not buying some of the "it's just protesters" excuse. I'm pretty sure if I commandeered a federal building, however remote, the "authorities" would oust me right quick. ...

... Sam Levin of the Guardian: "A local judge in Oregon has raised the prospect of making the armed militia occupying a federal wildlife refuge pay as much as $75,000 a day for the toll the standoff is costing the rural county. Harney County judge Steve Grasty, a vocal critic of the militia, estimates that the armed occupation led by cattle rancher Ammon Bundy cost the community roughly $60,000 to $75,000 each day of the first week of the occupation. Grasty, an administrative judge, proposed making Bundy and his associates pay the expenses at a community meeting on Monday night in Burns, the closest town to the ongoing occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge."

Worse Than the Washington Redskins. Elizabeth Doran of the Syracuse Post-Standard: "Whitesboro[, New York,] residents voted Monday night to keep the village's controversial seal, rather than replace it with a new image. Of 212 votes cast, 157 of them were in favor of retaining the current seal.... The controversial village seal, which dates back to 1883, shows a white settler with his hands apparently choking a Native American man." CW: It's tradition!

CW: AND NOW I must go paint the ceiling in my in-progress new solarium.

Page 1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 ... 584 Next 4 Entries »