The Ledes

Monday, December 22, 2014.

Weather Channel: "... we're monitoring not one, but two storms that may make a mess of your holiday travel plans, much as Winter Storm Cato did right before Thanksgiving. Already, aviation forecasters at the National Weather Service say that a 'high impact event' is likely for airports in the New York City area on Wednesday due to the combination of heavy rain and gusty winds."

BBC News: "The Spanish king's sister, Princess Cristina, is to face a tax fraud trial over alleged links to her husband's business dealings."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

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

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

ABC News: "After more than 20 years together, music icon Elton John and his partner David Furnish are married!... A law passed earlier this year in England allow[s] same-sex marriage...."

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

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Wednesday
Nov262014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

CW: I'm experiencing weather-related brief power outages. So if there's no more Commentariat, blame it on Mother Nature.

"The most talked-about executive action this month.... Some will call this amnesty":

Steve Benen: Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, told the New York Times, “If I were John Boehner, I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.” "Lowry ... isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea. Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to 'address' their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and 'GOP aides and lawmakers' are considering the idea of 'refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.' Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: 'Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his "executive amnesty" remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.'”

Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "Thanksgiving is becoming impossible for low-wage working women."

Gail Collins: "This year, in a break from tradition, I am giving thanks for the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on Benghazi."

That Bird Outside Your Window Is Not a Turkey. Nick Wingfield of the New York Times: "As the price of drones has fallen and sales have risen, the machines have emerged as central characters in stunts from the puckish to the criminal. In recent months, drone pilots have tried to smuggle contraband into prisons and disrupt sporting events at stadiums. Animal rights groups have turned to drones to stalk hunters as the hunters stalk wildlife. And in France, more than a dozen illegal flights over nuclear power plants have unnerved the authorities." ...

... Nick Wingfield: "After requests by news organizations..., the Federal Aviation Administration released a report on Wednesday that compiles data on drone incidents reported to it this year through air traffic control facilities around the country. The list isn’t comprehensive since some drone incidents are reported to local law enforcement agencies, or not at all." ...

... Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Pilots around the United States have reported a surge in near-collisions and other dangerous encounters with small drones in the past six months at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is gradually opening the nation’s skies to remotely controlled aircraft, according to FAA records."

Not Photoshopped.

** Judd Legum of Think Progress: Justice Antonin "Scalia explains what was wrong with the Ferguson grand jury.... Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented. [Emphasis added.] ...

... Leada Gore of AL.com: "The nation's largest group of African-American attorneys and judges is calling for federal charges to the filed against the police officer cleared in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager. The National Bar Association released a statement questioning the lack of an indictment against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. A 12-member grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and some groups are pressing the White House to move forward with a Civil Rights investigation." ...

... Scott Kaufman of the Raw Story: "The National Bar Association released a statement 'questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown.' 'The National Bar Association also questions the makeup of the grand jury that consisted of nine Whites and only three African-Americans in a town comprised of sixty-seven percent African-Americans,' the group wrote in a related statement." ...

... The original National Bar Association statement is here. ...

... Caroline Bankoff of New York: "In the latest installment of his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Darren Wilson revealed that his wife, fellow cop Barbara Spradling, is pregnant. (That probably explains why the couple decided to marry last month, despite the fact that Wilson was still in hiding and facing the possibility of indictment.)" That portion of the interview is here. ...

... Catherine Thompson of TPM: "Conservative media outlets were outraged that the New York Times published the name of the street where Ferguson, Mo. police Officer Darren Wilson and his new wife live outside of St. Louis. The Times revealed Monday that Wilson quietly married fellow officer Barbara Spradling last month. The story identified the town and the street where Wilson and Spradling own a home, but did not specify an exact address. A photograph of the couple's marriage certificate also appeared in the article.... The Times has not removed the street name from its article (TPM also originally republished the photo of Wilson's marriage license. It has been removed). It did remove the photograph of Wilson's marriage certificate, however, and appended the following editor's note on Tuesday: 'An earlier version of this post included a photograph that contained information that should not have been made public. The image has been removed.'"

Emma Fitzsimmons of the New York Times: "A police officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy outside a Cleveland recreation center fired within two seconds after the patrol car he was riding in pulled up next to the boy, a video released on Wednesday by the Cleveland police showed." Includes video.

Benjamin Mueller of the New York Times: New York City "police said that [in 2005] Leonel Disla, 19, had waved a long kitchen knife at two police officers before he was shot [by police]. A six-person jury in Bronx Supreme Court on Tuesday found the city and Sgt. Robert Barnett liable in Mr. Disla’s death, casting doubt on whether the teenager had wielded a knife at all."

Todd Richmond of the AP: "A man who got arrested after he posted Facebook comments calling a southwestern Wisconsin police department racist has filed a federal lawsuit alleging one of the agency's officers violated his constitutional rights." CW: Read the whole report; the reporter appears to have gleaned the facts in his story from the plaintiff's lawsuit, so you should read them in that light. However, it seems unlikely his attorney would have invented the basic events, since there must be a chain of evidence demonstrating that the guy was arrested, jailed, convicted, sentenced & later exonerated (on appeal) on First Amendment grounds. I don't know what the plaintiff actually wrote in his Facebook comment, but unless the language can be construed as threatening, surely he has a First-Amendment right to call public officials racists, whether "true or not. 

Emily Atkin of Think Progress: The usual suspects -- business groups & the GOP -- "are freaking out" over the new EPA draft proposal for ground-level ozone pollution rules. "... both industry groups and Republicans have been overestimating the cost of regulations like this since the EPA first began issuing regulation of this kind. In addition, the EPA has historically underestimated the benefits."

Tuesday
Nov252014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2014

If This Is True, It Is Horrible. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress. Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017.... The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses...." ...

... Steven Dennis of Roll Call: "President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate.... 'The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,' said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary. The emerging package of tax cuts negotiated by top Democrats and Republicans would extend an array of mostly business tax breaks -- some permanently -- while some of the president's priorities would be left on the cutting room floor.... With the backing of senior Senate Democrats, it's conceivable the Senate could have the votes to override a veto on a tax cut package. In that case, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could end up being the presidential veto backstop, if it comes to that. One of her lieutenants, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ripped the deal Tuesday." ...

     ... Update. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The deal, negotiated by House Republicans and aides to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the outgoing majority leader, showed how much power has shifted since the Republican election victories this month. The negotiations fractured Democrats, and separated the Obama administration from Mr. Reid.... [President Obama's veto] threat sent negotiators back to the table to see if Republicans could add measures that would win liberal support, especially a permanently expanded child tax credit for the working poor." ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "... Democrats in the Senate may already be adopting a minority mindset, even before they're officially in the minority." ...

... Rand Paul, in Time, writes a fairly moving & largely sensible response to the situation in Ferguson. He focuses on problems associated with poverty. CW: So I want to know this, Senator: will you vote for the McConnell-Reid tax deal? As Volsky points out, just one provision of it "would push '16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into -- or deeper into -- poverty.'" If you're going to talk the talk, Li'l Randy, you've got to walk the walk. ...

     ... Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics: "Not mentioned [in the piece linked above] ... was the subject of Paul's first Ferguson op-ed, also published in Time. 'We must demilitarize the police,' wrote Paul in August, as he listed the ways that local police departments obtained and misused surplus military equipment.... Even by Washington's amnesiac standards, the efforts to reform the 1033 program that makes military gear available to police departments faded absurdly fast." Why? The Fraternal Order of Police opposed it. "FOP members reached out to 'maybe 80 percent of senators and half the House.'" ...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Police said 44 people were arrested in the second and much calmer night of unrest Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson and they largely credited a beefed-up National Guard contingent." ...

... James Queally of the Los Angeles Times: "The worst damage of the night was at City Hall, where 'rioters' broke windows and badly damaged a police car, [St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar] said. Officers confiscated a Molotov cocktail and unleashed tear gas. 'That was the only place we deployed tear gas this evening,' Belmar said." ...

... Sadie Gurman of the AP catalogs protests that took place in other U.S. cities. ...

... Here's the New York Times' liveblog, which also covers unrest elsewhere. ...

... Joe Millitzer of Fox 2 St. Louis: "A body was found in a Ferguson neighborhood just east of the Canfield apartments in the 9400 block of Glen Owen drive. The body was found in a white Pontiac car parked in a driveway at around 9am [Tuesday]. The driver's side window is shot out. The victim is a black male in his 20's." ...

... Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called on peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., to 'isolate' and denounce people who have vandalized buildings, looted stores and started fires following the announcement that a white police officer would not face charges in the shooting death of a black teenager. 'The way in which we make progress in this country is when we have seen peaceful, nonviolent protests,' Mr. Holder said in a hastily called news conference in his office. Those protesters who prevented violence, he said, were heroes." ...

... Marc Fisher & Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "A news media obsessed with predicting the next step, a security apparatus equipped to put down almost any uprising, and a political power structure apparently seeking to head off violence by predicting it have combined to produce an unprecedented sense of inevitability, reducing what has historically been an explosion of frustration to a kind of staged performance." ...

... Chico Harlan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed to crack down Tuesday on 'criminals' he said had unleashed a night of violence [in Ferguson] on Monday, pouring in more than 2,200 National Guard troops amid criticism that he had not done enough to quell the rioting. At an afternoon news conference, a stern Nixon (D) ... lashed out at protesters over the wave of outrage Monday night that left at least two police cars and a dozen buildings torched and the entire region on edge. 'Last night, criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community,' he said. 'I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins.'" ...

... The Smoking Gun: "Michael Brown's stepfather last night repeatedly urged protesters to 'Burn this bitch down' after a prosecutor announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed the unarmed teenager. Louis Head, an ex-con who is married to Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was with McSpadden outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters Monday evening as prosecutor Robert McCulloch disclosed that a grand jury declined to vote an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting." CW: So -- assuming this report is accurate -- this is the kind of "parental influence" Brown had. Nice. ...

... Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker excuses the violence. ...

... ** Dana Milbank: "What causes the outrage, and the despair, is the joke of a grand-jury proceeding run under the auspices of [Bob] McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor. McCulloch essentially acknowledged that his team was serving as Wilson's defense lawyers, noting that prosecutors 'challenged' and 'confronted' witnesses by pointing out previous statements and evidence that discredited their accounts.... He was less troubled by inconsistencies that worked against Wilson.... McCulloch short-circuited the process -- reinforcing a sense among African Americans, and many others, that the justice system is rigged. He almost certainly could have secured an indictment on a lesser charge simply by requesting it, yet he acted as if he were a spectator...." ...

... Jeff Toobin: "How not to use a grand jury," a lesson from Bob McCullough. Of course McCullough knew exactly how to manipulate the outcome exonerating Wilson: "In making the case for Wilson's innocence [at his press conference], McCulloch cherry-picked the most exculpatory information from what was assembled before the grand jury.... Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach...." ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New Republic: "Here is the irony of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's announcement Monday night that a grand jury had declined to indict officer Darren Wilson...: The entire presentation implicitly conceded the need for a trial." ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin ripped St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for asking Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson 'softball' questions during the cross examination of his testimony, which she called 'fanciful and not credible.'" ...

... Ezra Klein: "Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally." ...

... Andale Gross & Tammy Webber of the AP: An attorney for Michael Brown's family, Anthony "Gray, questioned, for example, why prosecutors presented testimony of witnesses who clearly did not see the shootings, rather than make a case for some type of charges. He also said it was unclear how the evidence was presented." CW: Hmmm. Why examine bogus "witnesses"? Oh, I know: to imply that all witnesses against Wilson were bogus.

... Tom Hamburger & John Sullivan of the Washington Post: "When Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson left the scene of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the officer returned to the police station unescorted, washed blood off his hands and placed his recently fired service revolver into an evidence bag himself. Such seemingly unorthodox forensic practices emerged from the voluminous testimony released in the aftermath of a grand jury decision Monday night not to indict Wilson." ...

... Sandhya Somashekhar, et al., of the Washington Post: "... no clear picture of what truly transpired emerges from thousands of pages of grand jury testimony released this week by St. Louis County prosecutors. The witness accounts provide new and often conflicting details about what happened leading up to the moment when police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo." ...

... Meghan Keneally of ABC News: "In an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, police officer Darren Wilson breaks his silence about the shooting of Michael Brown." Link includes preview of interview held in "a secret location." CW: Oh, for Pete's sake -- an "exclusive" interview in a "secret location." ...

     Update. Here's a 7:23 min. segment of the Stephanopoulos interview. ...

... Kendall Breitman of Politico: "Rep. Peter King has a suggestion for the White House in dealing with the latest developments in Ferguson -- invite Officer Darren Wilson over. 'I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, "You've gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it's unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job,'" the New York Republican told Fox Business on Tuesday." CW: Another Beer Summit would be just the thing, wouldn't it? But uh, one of the attendees is dead for some reason. King, formerly an IRA bagman, reportedly lives in New York City, but one has to wonder if he actually lives on this planet. ...

     ... CW: I see Digby had the same idea I did: Peter King, Interplanetary Man.


Chuck Schumer Is Still a Jerk. Kathleen Hunter
of Bloomberg Politics: "Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama's health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more'directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today. 'Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them' in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. 'We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.'" ...

... CW: Yo, Chuck. ObamaCare does help the middle class -- and every class, by making affordable, non-revocable healthcare available to most Americans. Apparently Chuck is totally unaware that no matter what Democrats did over the past six years, Republicans would have pummeled them for something -- like, say, not passing healthcare reform. I'll be Chuck is friends with Peter King. They probably go on excellent interplanetary adventures together. ...

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "If you want to know why the Democratic brand isn't better, take a look at their message man, Chuck Schumer." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "First, [Schumer's] views in this case aren't new; and second, they are wrong -- both politically and substantively." ...

... Paul Waldman: "If only Chuck Schumer had been in the Senate back then, so he could have written [a second stimulus] bill and pushed for its passage. Oh wait -- he was, and he didn't." ...

... Steve M. more or less agrees with Schumer. ...

... Holiday Advice. Tara Culp-Ressler & Sam Collins of Think Progress: "... if your Tea Party uncle starts making wild assertions about the Affordable Care Act, here are some key points that will help keep your conversation on track." CW: If your uncle is Chuck Schumer, good luck.

** Joseph Tanfani of the Los Angeles Times: "In a decision that could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors. The Federal Election Commission overstepped when it wrote a 2007 rule that said such groups didn't have to report the source of the money for certain types of political ads that mentioned the name of federal candidates, the decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said.... Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sued the FEC over the rule, called the decision 'a victory for democracy' and said it will help give voters the information they 'deserve in determining who is trying to influence their votes.'" Thanks to James S. for the link.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Under President Obama's new program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, many of those affected will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and a wide array of other federal benefits, a White House official said Tuesday.... For those who work, that includes payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, because they are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.... Current federal law says that people who pay the taxes and are deemed 'lawfully present in the United States' can collect benefits under those programs when they become eligible. They may also receive survivors and disability benefits." ...

... CW: I don't see why this is controversial. They pay the taxes, so they should get the benefits, just as I do. One of the dirty little secrets of the anti-immigration crowd is that they are happy to have the government collect payroll taxes from undocumented workers without providing these same workers any of the benefits which their taxes are supposed to cover, thus allowing undocumented workers to underwrite our benefits. But not theirs.

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times on the phony "poisoning the well" copout. "Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio may be on one side of some big immigration questions and conservative House Republicans may be on the other, but they can come together on metaphorical well water. Which is to say that politicians generally act in their interests, even when doing so involves pretending otherwise."

Sabrina Tavernise & Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus. Health experts said the new requirements would help combat the country's obesity epidemic by showing Americans just how many calories lurk in their favorite foods. The rules will have broad implications for public health. As much as a third of the calories that Americans consume come from outside the home, and many health experts believe that increasingly large portion sizes and unhealthy ingredients have been significant contributors to obesity in the United States." ...

... Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama's administration." ...

... Infozine: "Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [R] filed a formal objection to proposed new EPA regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.... Schmidt and 16 other state attorneys general submitted a joint comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifying numerous legal defects in the proposed rule.... Separate from these comments filed with the agency today, Schmidt has joined with 11 other states in filing a lawsuit to block the new rules before they go into force." ...

... Steve Wilheim of the Puget Sound Business News: "Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is making a big investment in fighting climate change, by bankrolling a lawsuit that aims to limit coal mining on federal lands. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils against the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is being completely financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In an opinion piece entitled 'This land is our land' published by the Huffington Post Monday, Allen said he believes the BLM is not responding sufficiently to the threat of climate change."

John Hudson & Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy: "Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama's second term."

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday became the latest states to have same-sex marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals." (Via the LA Times.)

Presidential Election

Thomas Edsall of the New York Times on the presidential candidacy of Jim Webb (D), former U.S. Senator from Virginia. Edsall cites Joel Kotlin on "gentry liberals": "The great raison d'être for left-wing politics -- advocating for the middle- and working classes -- has been refocused to attend more closely to the policy imperatives and interests of small, highly affluent classes, as well as the powerful public sector." Webb, Kotlin & Edsall speculate, is an antidote to that who might "save the Democratic party from itself."

Philip Rucker & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out -- as the only woman and the only CEO. Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run." CW: for one thing, she'll make the boys look good.

News Ledes

NBC News: "A holiday storm system played havoc Wednesday with the Thanksgiving travel plans of tens of millions of people -- wiping out hundreds of flights in the Northeast, dumping rain on busy roads and threatening more than a foot of snow in some places.

Washington Post: "Police cleared the remaining barricades from one of Hong Kong's largest protest sites Wednesday and arrested two pro-democracy leaders as authorities stepped up their efforts to end the two-month-long civil disobedience campaign. Hundreds of protesters chanted for 'full democracy' as workers in red caps and 'I love Hong Kong' T-shirts began clearing the metal and wooden barricades in the shopping streets of Mong Kok, a crowded working-class neighborhood that has become a flash point between protesters and opponents during the occupation."

Monday
Nov242014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2014

This Week in American Violence

Jamelle Bouie of Slate: "The truth is that the law gives wide berth to the police's use of deadly force.... When you add this climate of legal deference to the particular circumstances of the grand jury trial -- including McCullough's reputation for supporting police officers, and his decision to avoid a recommendation for charges -- the non-indictment was almost inevitable. Barring something extraordinary, Wilson was going to walk free. The judicial system as we've constructed it just isn't equipped -- or even willing -- to hold officers accountable for shootings and other offenses. Or put differently, the simple fact is that the police can kill for almost any reason with little fear of criminal charges." (Emphasis added.) ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging protests in Ferguson & elsewhere in the U.S. ...

... Chico Harlan, et al., of the Washington Post: "A night of rage left behind the kind of scars that Ferguson has witnessed before: smoldering buildings, looted storefronts, fire-gutted cars. What marked even more difficult ground Tuesday was finding a way forward as police braced for more unrest and many African American protesters said their only recourse was the streets." ...

... John Eligon & Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "After a chaotic night of demonstrations that erupted in many fires, frequent bursts of gunshots, looting and waves of tear gas, Gov. Jay Nixon said early Tuesday that he would send additional National Guard troops to help quell the worst violence this battered St. Louis suburb has seen since a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August." ...

... James Queally, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "At least a dozen buildings were burned and 61 people arrested during a night of violence and chaos in Ferguson, Mo., that followed a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, police said early Tuesday." ...

... St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, speaking at a press conference at 1:30 a.m., said he was grateful nobody was killed but was disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area. 'What I've seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that's truly unfortunate,' he said. He said that there was basically 'nothing left' along West Florissant Avenue between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road." ...

... CW: All this violence is just as inexcusable as a policeman unnecessarily shooting dead a citizen. I find it more banal than aggravating, just a bunch of stupid people playing their expected roles. What percentage of these assholes in the streets do you suppose work to make the system better or even vote? The vandals have cancelled out any outrage I might have felt at a completely-expected outcome. Pardon me, but my liberal bona fides do not carry me into excusing violence as an acceptable form of remedial "justice." ...

... Julie Bosman, et al., of the New York Times read through thousands of pages of grand jury testimony & publish their overview here. ...

... Timothy Phelps of the Los Angeles Times: "Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., in a statement released late Monday, appeared to try to distance the ongoing federal investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of Michael Brown from that of local authorities. St. Louis County Prosecuting Atty. Robert McCullough, in announcing earlier Monday that no charges were being brought against Police Officer Darren Wilson, repeatedly said that there had been close cooperation between county and federal investigators. 'While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department's investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing,' Holder said. 'Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now," the statement said." ...

     ... Holder's full statement is here. ...

... Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Darren Wilson issued a statement. ...

... For those interested in seeing the pictures, released late Monday afternoon, of Darren Wilson taken shortly after he killed Michael Brown, NBC News has them here. ...

... Here's the transcript of Darren Wilson's grand jury testimony, via Slate. ...

     ... Update: The Washington Post (and other news outlets) now has documents & transcripts of all of the evidence online. ...

... The police are firing smoke bombs at protesters in Ferguson. The officers are wearing gas masks. MSNBC is reporting there are few protesters. Chris Hayes of MSNBC said he heard gunshots in the area of the Ferguson police HQ. Protesters broke into a store, per MSNBC. There's a building on fire on Ferguson (or Florrisant) Ave., & MSNBC is reporting about four blocks of "chaos in the streets." There's a vehicle on fire outside of central downtown Ferguson. ...

... Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch liveblog.

President Obama is speaking @ 10:09 pm ET. Update: Here are the President's remarks:

... Paul Waldman: "Seldom in Barack Obama's presidency has he looked quite so impotent as he did last night, pleading from a podium in the White House for calm while the cable news split screens showed clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. He repeated the same themes as every time he has spoken about this subject -- people have legitimate grievances but there's no excuse for violence, we've come a long way but we have a ways to go, and so on. It never rang more hollow. But ...." ...

The New York Times story on the Darren Wilson grand jury decision is here. CW: So far, seems as if everyone is performing to type. No surprises anywhere. Earlier today, the Onion (thanks to James S.) got this part of the story right: "Ahead of a grand jury's decision over whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, police in the city of Ferguson have reportedly heavily increased their presence this week to ensure residents are adequately provoked. 'We've deployed additional officers throughout Ferguson in order to make absolutely certain that residents feel sufficiently harassed and intimidated,' said St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, assuring locals that officers in full riot gear will be on hand to inflame members of the community for as long as is necessary." (Satire) ...

... As Joe Concha of Mediaite points out, McCullough's decision to make the announcement at night is "borderline reckless." CW: Yeah, but it sure fits in with the Onion "story." Moreover, the fact that McCullough & Gov. Jay Nixon "announced the announcement" hours ahead of time allowed for maximum trouble. The disinterested observer surely suspects the power structure there was going for "provocation" & "inflaming members of the community."

... The New York Times has live updates here. The Guardian has live updates here.

... McCullough is telling his version of what happened in the confrontation between Wilson & Michael Brown. He says a number of witnesses made statements inconsistent with the physical evidence; some changed their statements after news media reported the physical evidence. Wilson fired 12 rounds at Brown. ...

... Beth Ethier of Wonkette captures the essence of McCullough's presser: "St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch announced that Wilson will not face charges relating to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, as the grand jury found 'no probable cause' to charge him with anything. Social media, however, is definitely guilty. McCulloch spent 10 minutes on a laundry list of all the great things he did when he presented the case to the grand jury and how Ferguson is just a huge pit of liars, and how lucky the world was that he, Bob McCulloch, was able to guide the grand jury through the hellscape of deception to the sweet Land of Truth, where they found that physical evidence showed Officer Wilson had not committed any crimes." ...

...Alana Horowitz of the Huffington Post: "CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin called the press conference 'an extended whine' and 'entirely inappropriate and embarrassing.'" ...

... See also Charles Pierce's post on Utah police killings, linked below, for his view on Bob McCullough's performance & record. ...

... Here are McCullough's remarks at his presser:

... McCullough announces that the grand jury decided that no probable cause existed against Wilson & returned a no-true bill. So there ya go. Here's the Washington Post story. ...

... McCullough is dragging this out but so far it sounds as if the grand jury did not return an indictment. ...

... St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCullough will announce the grand jury's decision in the Darren Wilson case sometime after 9 pm ET Monday. The New York Times is carrying the announcement live on the front page. ...

... Julie Bosman & Campbell Robertson of the New York Times: "Records show that Officer [Darren] Wilson, 28, and Officer [Barbara] Spradling, 37, were married on Oct. 24. One of the two witnesses at the ceremony was Greg Kloeppel, one of Officer Wilson's lawyers. Christopher B. Graville, a municipal judge in Oakland, Mo., performed the ceremony." ...

... ** Think about This. Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune: "In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members. Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse. And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives -- 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan -- than has violence between spouses and dating partners. As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.... Nearly all of the fatal shootings by police have been deemed by county prosecutors to be justified. Only one -- the 2012 shooting of Danielle Willard by West Valley City police -- was deemed unjustified, and the subsequent criminal charge was thrown out last month by a judge." ...

... Charles Pierce: "There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we'd all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse. Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people.... Dick Cheney's one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers." Pierce also has a few unkind words to say about Bob McCullough. ...

... Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: In its first examination of the limits of free speech on social media, the Supreme Court will consider next week whether, as a jury concluded, [Anthony] Elonis's postings [on Facebook] constituted a 'true threat' to his wife and others." ...

... David Carr of the New York Times calls out the media, including himself, for enabling Bill Cosby's alleged serial assaults & rapes. ...

... Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg View: "The default response when powerful men behave badly is to say they didn't: priests, presidents, athletes, TV evangelists and movie stars." ...

... Dahlia Lithwick on the Rolling Stone article on a University of Virginia gang rape (I write "a" because there was more than one): "Our confusion about the objectives in addressing campus rape problems has led to confusion in the solutions we have forged. If the purpose of the current internal adjudication [as opposed to going through the criminal justice system] is to increase transparency and reporting, that runs against the most basic institutional incentive to hide bad news. If the object is to counsel and support survivors, it's not clear that has worked very well either. And if the object is to keep the campus safe, it has failed spectacularly." ...

... Lithwick's summary of UVA's reaction to the Rolling Stone piece is telling:

A passive statement issued by President Teresa Sullivan was full of deflection and jargon, with a promise to have the police investigate the substance of the Rolling Stone charges. Then came Rector George Martin's staggering decision to appoint as independent counsel a former federal judge named Mark Filip. Immediately after which it was revealed that Filip had once been rush chair of a different chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity at the center of the campus' gang-rape scandal. Filip was taken off the job the next day. Last week Phi Psi voluntarily suspended its operations. On Saturday, Sullivan announced in a letter to students and alumni that all the school's fraternities have been suspended effective immediately."

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Rudy 9/11 Giuliani's "insights" about black-on-black crime: "The American people have one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world. Almost all of these people are killed by other Americans. War hustlers and Bin Laden pimps love to go around screaming, but 9/11! Three thousand people died on 9/11. Nearly 15,000 Americans were killed in 2012. Americans perpetrate roughly five 9/11s against other Americans every year." ...

... CW: It's impossible to quantify, but I always wonder how many Americans have been killed because of the gun lobby & its politician-enablers. ...

... BUT. The crime rate has actually dropped dramatically over the past several decades. Dana Goldstein of the Marshall Project lays out "10 (not entirely crazy) theories explaining" the decline. Via Paul Waldman.


Mark Landler
of the New York Times: "Right after President Obama announced the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the White House on Monday, he walked over to a meeting of his entire National Security Council staff, where he told the embattled group that they were critical to an ambitious foreign policy agenda. The timing was a coincidence, but it seemed an unmistakable sign that Mr. Hagel's departure does not portend a broader internal shake-up. If anything, it may represent the final triumph of a White House-centric approach to national security.... With his core team intact, and with none of the candidates to succeed Mr. Hagel likely to show the independence of Mr. Obama's first defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, the White House seems likely to keep a tight leash on foreign policy for the remainder of Mr. Obama's presidency." ...

... Shane Harris of the Daily Beast: "... President Barack Obama's decision to replace Hagel ... doesn't come as much of a shock. But the timing is conspicuous and fuels allegations that Hagel is being made a scapegoat for the myriad foreign policy crises that the White House has bungled, from the rise of ISIS to the resurgence of a nationalist Russia to the response to an outbreak of Ebola. Hagel wasn't brought in to tackle these crises, and some defense sources say he simply wasn't up to it. The presumption at the beginning of his tenure was that he would be a drawdown defense secretary -- something that world events ultimately wouldn't allow." ...

... Dylan Scott of TPM interviews Steve Clemons on Hagel's departure. Clemons cites several factors that contributed to Hagel's uneasy fit in the Obama administration. ...

... Dana Milbank: "When Barack Obama looks in the mirror these days, he must see a terrifying visage staring back at him: that of George W. Bush. In a cruel echo of history, Obama is morphing into the president whose foreign policy he campaigned to overturn. Obama on Monday morning sacked his Pentagon secretary, Chuck Hagel, after huge midterm election losses in the sixth year of his presidency -- just as Bush did in sacking Donald Rumsfeld after midterm losses in the sixth year of his presidency. As with Bush, the ouster comes as a war in the Middle East is going badly -- then, the Iraq war, now, the bombing of the Islamic State terror group. Rumsfeld's ouster led to the surge in Iraq, and Hagel's departure comes amid signs of an expanded role for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria. And, as under Bush, this guarantees that Obama will leave his successor an ongoing U.S. war in the Mideast -- quite possibly the sort of ground war Obama vowed to undo."

Gruber v. Issa. This Should Be Amusing. Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Jonathan Gruber, the former ObamaCare adviser in hot water for his comments about the 'stupidity of the American voter,' has agreed to testify at a House panel next month, setting up a healthcare showdown in what could be the final week of this Congress. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will also hear from Obama administration official Marilyn Tavenner, who is under fire this week for using inflated enrollment figures for the healthcare law."

CW: I've covered this before, but it bears repeating. Norm Ornstein in the Atlantic on the "sweeping steps" Mitt Romney promised he would take to disable the ACA. "... Romney would have acted unilaterally to thwart the intent and specific language of the law. Compared to extending protections from deportation to family members of those already under the umbrella of protection, or making choices about deportation when Congress, by providing much less funding for that purpose than necessary to deport all undocumented people, explicitly gives the president discretion to make choices, Romney's proposed moves were more daring, more cutting edge, more of an application of executive power to the max. I have searched to find cases of conservative lawmakers like Ted Cruz, or constitutional scholars, much less columnists like Charles Krauthammer, raising alarm bells about this brazen plan to short-circuit the policy process, give the middle finger to the Senate, and thwart a duly enacted law, or raising questions about an imperial president-to-be shredding the Constitution. Strangely enough, I can't find any." ...

... CW: So, "conservative family values" look like this: allowing people to suffer & die by depriving them of healthcare coverage -- A-Okay. Keeping families intact -- un-fucking-constitutional.

Peggy McGlone of the Washington Post: "President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- to a diverse and distinguished group of activists, artists, scientists and public servants Monday afternoon, including actress Meryl Streep, Congressman John D. Dingell, physicist Mildred Dresselhaus and musician Stevie Wonder." ...

... Here's a list of the winners. CW: Sadly, Tom Brokaw was among them. The only thing I can say in Brokaw's defense is that he once reported on the capture of a guy who "assaulted" me. Maybe I'll comment on that. ...

... White House: "President Obama honors the 16 recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors":

Peter Beaumont of the Guardian: "A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country's democratic character. Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved 'national rights' for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist. The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel's basic laws, would recognise Israel's Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language." ...

... Juan Cole: "Netanyahu’s measure is much worse than that of Mississippi fundamentalists who want to declare Mississippi a principally Christian state and want to celebrate the white-supremacist Confederacy as part of the state's heritage.

Presidential Election

Arlette Saenz & Jeff Zelany of ABC News: "Sen. John McCain is prodding one of his closest allies in the Senate to consider a run for the White House -- Sen. Lindsey Graham. 'I think he is looking at it, and I am strongly encouraging him to take a look at it,' McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News. 'I know of no one who is better versed and more important on national security policy and defense than Lindsey Graham, and I don't think these challenges to our security are going away. He is eminently qualified,' McCain added." CW: Aah, McCain is just finagling for my First Lady spot.

Charles Pierce sees Rudy 9/11 Giuliani as the Republicans' 2016 law-and-order candidate, a stance Pierce reckons will find an audience "in the rural precincts of Iowa," especially if Ferguson blows up (CW: as it apparently is doing as I write).

News Lede

Washington Post: "This week's winter storm is shaping up to be a travel nightmare for Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and the busiest travel day of the year. A coating to several inches of snow could accumulate along the I-95 corridor on Wednesday. While temperatures have been unseasonably warm early this week, snow is still likely to accumulate along coastal interstates, especially during periods of heavy snowfall."

Sunday
Nov232014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 24, 2014

President Obama & Secretary Hagel both spoke this morning about Hagel's resignation. They said lots of nice things about each other:

... Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team amid an onslaught of global crises. The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said. The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ." ...

... Missy Ryan & Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submitted his resignation Monday, bowing to pressure from the White House to step down after less than two years in the job in what could portend a broader shakeup among President Obama’s national security team.... Hagel will remain as defense secretary until Obama can pick a replacement, who must also be confirmed by the Senate. Possible contenders include Michele Flournoy and Ashton Carter, former high-ranking defense officials during Obama’s first term who were passed over for the top job in favor of Hagel two years ago." ...

... David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times: "... the pattern of corruption and patronage in the Iraqi government forces threatens to undermine a new American-led effort to drive out the extremists, even as President Obama is doubling to 3,000 the number of American troops in Iraq."

Christi Parsons of the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama argued Sunday that his plan to suspend enforcement of U.S. immigration law for certain violators won't clear the path for a future Republican president to take similar executive actions regarding tax laws he or she doesn't like. In an interview on the Sunday show 'This Week,' ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the Democratic president whether one of his successors, unable to get Congress to cut taxes, could simply opt to look the other way if wealthy people decided not to pay a percentage of their capital gains tax."

... Here's a transcript of the full interview.

Sunday with Lindsay

Rebecca Shabad of the Hill: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said Republicans are partially responsible for not passing comprehensive immigration reform. 'Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that’s national security, that’s cultural, that’s economic,' Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Senate has passed an immigration bill three times, Graham said...."

Benghaaazi! Rebecca Shabad: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack. 'I think the report is full of crap,' Graham said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.'... After Graham was asked whether the report exonerates the administration, he initially ignored the question, and then eventually said 'no.'” ...

... Catherine Herridge & Pamela Browne of Fox "News": "Graham, along with his two Republican colleagues, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have been outspoken advocates of a special investigation, because they say then-acting director of the CIA Mike Morell misled them about his role in crafting the so-called media talking points that blamed an opportunistic protest gone awry for the assault." ...

... Steve M.: "The preferred Beltway narrative is that responsible establishment Republicans make up the majority of the party, and all they really want to do is 'show they can govern,' but they have to keep fending off a few pesky extremists, and they occasionally have to make extremist noises themselves to fend off primary challenges from the right. Oh, please.... The reality is that the entire Republican Party is crazy -- the differences are just in degree.... The crazies in this case are three of the most prominent establishmentarians in the Senate.... No, Benghazi isn't going away."

Rebecca Shabad: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday did not rule out a 2016 presidential bid. 'I'm thinking of trying to fix illegal immigration and replacing sequestration. I will let you know if I think about running for president. It's the hardest thing one could ever do. You go through personal hell. You have got to raise a ton of money. I'm nowhere near there,' he said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.' Asked if his response could be labeled as a 'maybe,' Graham nodded and said, 'That’s what it was.'” ...

... CW: Super! I'm running for First Lady. My competition is stiff: Kelly Ayotte, John McCain & Joe Lieberman, ferinstance. Pick me! Pick me, Lindsey, darlin'!


Lost & Found, Rachel Bade
of Politico: "An Internal Revenue Service watchdog has located an estimated 30,000 of the lost Lois Lerner emails, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told congressional staffers Friday the emails belonging to the most controversial figure in the IRS controversy were located on disaster recovery tapes." CW: Yo, Darryl Issa! We can hardly wait for some new selective leaks.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Rand Paul is calling for a declaration of war against the Islamic State, a move that promises to shake up the debate over the military campaign in Iraq and Syria as President Obama prepares to ask Congress to grant him formal authority to use force." ...

... CW: Never mind that it's mighty unusual for Congress to declare war at all -- it has only done so five times -- and the country has never declared war on a group of revolutionaries, as opposed to a nation-state (no, the war on terror, the war on drugs & the war on Christmas don't count). ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "For months, Rand Paul has been trying to shake claims that he is an isolationist like his father. His recent op-ed 'I Am Not an Isolationist' didn't do the trick, so this weekend the Kentucky senator told the New York Times that he wants to formally declare war against ISIS.... As the Congressional Research Service explains, the former [declaring war] would automatically give the president broad wartime powers, while the latter [authorization to use military force] would not." ...

... CW: So for a guy all worried about Obama's "imperial presidency," it doesn't make a lot of sense to give this President broader powers, including for instance, the authority to suspend habeas corpus. But then, as I pointed out this weekend, Rand Paul says whatever comes to his addled mind, & historical context & accuracy are immaterial. As a Senator who is unfamiliar with American history, Paul is a disgrace; as a President, he would be truly dangerous.


New York Times Editors: "Now that they will dominate both houses of Congress, Republicans are planning to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece instead of trying to repeal it entirely. They are expected to hold at least one symbolic vote for repeal in the next session so that newly elected Republicans who campaigned against the law can honor their pledges to repeal it. But Republican leaders know they don’t have the supermajorities needed to override a presidential veto, so they will try to inflict death by multiple cuts. All of the provisions they are targeting should be retained — they were put in the reform law for good reasons." ...

... Moops! A Tale of Two Laws. John Harwood of the New York Times writes a very good piece contrasting the way (1), in 1997, Congress & the President cleaned up ambiguities & other technicalities in the 1996 welfare reform act, and (2) the current Congress will not cooperate in any way to amend the ACA. This, of course, has left the Grumpy Old Men on the Supreme Court to interpret & re-legislate even obviously-mistaken language. ...

... Charles Blow: "This hostility and animosity toward this president is, in fact, larger than this president. This is about systems of power and the power of symbols. Particularly, it is about preserving traditional power and destroying emerging symbols that threaten that power. This president is simply the embodiment of the threat, as far as his detractors are concerned, whether they are willing or able to articulate it as such."

** Now Let Us Pause for some Good News. Diane Cardwell of the New York Times: "The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas." ...

... Impossible! Lewis Page of the U.K. Register: "Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible."

Paul Krugman: "... one of the most striking aspects of economic debate in recent years has been the extent to which those whose economic doctrines have failed the reality test refuse to admit error, let alone learn from it. The intellectual leaders of the new majority in Congress still insist that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel; German officials still insist that the problem is that debtors haven’t suffered enough. This bodes ill for the future. What people in power don’t know, or worse what they think they know but isn’t so, can very definitely hurt us."

CW: "60 Minutes" had a good segment last night on the U.S.'s crumbling infrastructure. I embedded it here, but it was messing up other videos, so I've removed it. You can view it here.

Chelsea Marcius, et al., of the New York Daily News: "Veteran NBC employee Frank Scotti says he helped Bill Cosby deliver thousands of dollars to eight different women in 1989-90 - including Shawn Thompson, whose daughter Autumn Jackson claimed the actor was her dad. The ex-aide also tells the Daily News he stood guard whenever Cosby invited young models to his dressing room, which eventually led him to quitting after years on the job."

Beyond the Beltway

Skinhead Ira Hansen in happier days.Hoorah! Tom Boggioni of the Raw Story "The embattled incoming speaker of the Nevada State Assembly notified his colleagues Sunday morning that he was withdrawing as Speaker Designee, saying, 'Politics of personal destruction win. I need to step down,' reports Nevada journalist Jon Ralston. Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R), who was recently elected as the legislature’s next speaker, had come under fire for a series of columns he had written over the years for the Sparks Tribune. In one of his columns, Hansen had written, 'The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.'” ...

... CW: I believe that would be the "politics of self-destruction," White Boy. Here's Hansen's full statement, via Ralston. Also, bear in mind, Hansen's history of racist, homophobic, sexist remarks wasn't a secret that just came out in theme media last. Nevada's Republican state legislators knew who this guy was, & they picked him as their leader anyway. That choice is as much or more of a stain on Nevada as is Hansen himself.

White America's Mayor. White police officers wouldn't be there if you weren't killing each other. -- Rudy Giuliani, on "Meet the Press," to Michael Dyson, who is black (video at the link)

... Danielle Paquette of the Washington Post: "Most murder in the United States is intra-racial, according to data from the Justice Department: White people are more likely to kill white people, and black people are more likely to kill black people. Nearly 84 percent of white victims from 1980 to 2008 were killed by white assailants, the department's numbers show. During the same period, 93 percent of black victims were murdered by someone of the same race."

Brian Stelter of CNN: "Practically every journalist covering the death of Michael Brown would like to interview Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown. In the pursuit of that interview, several high-profile television anchors have secretly met with Wilson, according to sources at several TV networks. All of the meetings were off the record, meaning the anchors could not describe what was said."

... Today in Responsible Gun Ownership. Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: In St. Louis, "a woman appears to have accidentally fatally shot herself in the head with a gun bought to prepare for possible Ferguson-related unrest, according to sources briefed on the police investigation.... [Her] boyfriend, who wasn't identified, told police that the couple had bought a gun because of fears of unrest related to the pending grand jury decision on the shooting of Michael Brown, the sources said.... He told investigators that as they drove late Friday night, the victim waved a gun, jokingly saying the couple were ready for Ferguson, the sources said. He ducked to get out of the way of the gun and accidentally rear-ended another car. He said the accident caused the gun to go off and she was struck by a bullet in the head."

CW: Haven't had a chance to read the story, but Deborah Sontag's piece in the New York Times on the growing opposition to big oil in North Dakota looks interesting.

Presidential Election

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker: Hillary "Clinton’s views on many crucial issues [-- Keystone XL, NSA snooping -- ] remain opaque. She seems to be repeating the same mistake that she made in 2008, when the inevitability of her candidacy overwhelmed its justification."