The Ledes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

New York Times: "The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims."

Guardian: "The US State Department says Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans being held in North Korea, has been released. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Fowle was home Tuesday after negotiators left Pyongyang. She said the US is still trying to free two other Americans, Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae."

New York Times: "Oscar de la Renta, the doyen of American fashion, whose career began in the 1950s in Franco’s Spain, sprawled across the better living rooms of Paris and New York, and who was the last survivor of that generation of bold, all-seeing tastemakers, died on Monday at his home in Kent, Conn. He was 82."

New York Times: "Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star once seen as an emblem of triumph over adversity, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp." ...

     ... The Guardian is liveblogging the sentencing.

The Wires

The Ledes

Monday, October 20, 2014.

New York Times: "At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease."

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

New York Daily News: "Tennessee state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested twice this weekend — just one month after he was arrested for public intoxication, police said. The outgoing Republican senator from Dickson, Tenn., has been charged with stalking and assault in separate incidents involving his neighbor, Lt. Todd Christian said." CW: Another fine representative of the people.

Public Service Announcement

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

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

White House Live Video
October 21

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks to the Washington Post (audio only)

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

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

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowden, The Movie:

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

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

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

 

 

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

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

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

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

Christopher Schmidt says, "On Oct 8th, I was flying my quadcopter at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] when a hawk decided he wasn't too happy with my invasion of his airspace:

... CW: Thanks to Julie L. for the link. So one way to get rid of those annoying drones that will soon be hovering in your air space is to take up falconry. (Since bringing down other people's drones may be illegal, blame the bird.)

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Wednesday
Sep242014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

... AND closes it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the Beltway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gubernatorial Race

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

Presidential Election

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

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

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

Tuesday
Sep232014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 24, 2014

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post: "U.S. military leaders said Tuesday their aerial bombardment of Syria was only the beginning of a prolonged campaign ... and will become more difficult as targeted militants seek refuge in populated areas. The United States is now attacking two sets of enemies in the region: the Islamic State..., and the Khorasan Group, a smaller network affiliated with al-Qaeda that officials say is plotting against Europe and the United States.... Whether the coalition's intervention in Syria will eventually help or hurt [Syrian President Bashar al]Assad represents one of the greatest unknowns in a military campaign filled with uncertainty." ...

... Rosie Gray & others at BuzzFeed try to explain who Khorasan is. ...

Somini Sengupta & Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "The United States said on Tuesday that the American-led airstrikes against the Islamic State -- carried out in Syria without seeking the permission of the Syrian government or the United Nations Security Council -- were legal because they were done in defense of Iraq. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, officially informed the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, of the legal justification in a letter...."

... Hey, Kids! Let's get some perspective from Glenn Greenwald: "... Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama -- after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors)." ...

... CW: Please don't bother to remind me I'm a jerk. I know that. Greenwald raises valid points here, but his overdramatization of everything makes it impossible for me to take him seriously. The imperial presidency, my ass.

President Obama made public remarks Tuesday at a meeting of Arab Coalition leaders in New York City:

Josh Lederman of the AP: "Ordinary citizens will often have a more lasting impact on their community than their presidents and prime ministers, President Barack Obama said Tuesday as he promoted civil society at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York." The video below includes President Clinton's introductory remarks:

Mark Landler & Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "President Obama, emboldened by the use of his executive powers to fight climate change at home, sought on Tuesday to marshal more than 100 world leaders behind a vast international effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and curb global warming. But Mr. Obama, in pledging that the United States would set ambitious new targets to cut emissions in advance of critical global climate talks next year, will leave much of the hard work to his successor, or even the president after that":

What Outrageous, Unpresidential Act Did Obama Commit Tuesday? Bomb Another Country? (See Greenwald.) Sign an Unconstitutional Executive Order? Nah. Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "Some are calling it the 'latte salute.' When President Obama stepped off Marine One at the Wall Street landing zone in New York City, en route the United Nations, he saluted two Marines at the bottom of the stairs as he held a coffee cup in the same hand." ..

... Steve M. "Coffee-cup-ghazi!"

Dana Milbank: "Friday's [White House] fence-jumping episode ... has the Secret Service considering extraordinary remedies.... The Secret Service is preparing to punish the public for the agency's mistakes.... A deeper problem may explain those mistakes. As The Post reported: 'Former agents said they fear the breach may be related to a severe staffing shortage the agency has struggled with in the last year in its Uniform Division.' To plug the holes, the Secret Service has been flying in agents from other locations who don't know the White House as well." ...

... CW: Yeah, this is why I especially enjoy it when Tea party Republicans like Jason Chaffetz (Utah), who proudly self-identifies as a budget-cutting phenom, turn around & blame President Obama for "perhaps failing to take security as seriously as it should." Chaffetz, BTW, is not one to learn from his egregious mistakes: Here's the little prick in 2012, post-Benghazi, self-righteously explaining why he voted to cut $300 million in funding for embassy security: "Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country." Nonetheless, Chaffetz has made so many Benghaaazi! charges against the administration that I can't possibly link them.

Available for day-time dates (if not still engaged to the young married woman he got engaged to while he was married).Nate Raymond of Reuters: "Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison on Tuesday when a U.S. judge sentenced him to serve eight months in a community confinement center after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law. D'Souza, 53, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan to live in a center, which would allow him to leave during non-residential hours for employment, for the first eight months of a five-year probationary period.... 'I'm not sure, Mr. D'Souza, that you get it,' Berman said before announcing the sentence. 'And it is still hard for me to discern any personal acceptance of responsibility in this case.'" ...

... AND, if one is to believe the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. D'Souza, D'Souza is a serial liar & a wife-beater. ...

... The Smoking Gun: "During the sentencing hearing, [Judge] Berman read from a blistering letter submitted to the court by D'Souza's estranged wife. In the missive, Dixie D'Souza alleged that her ex-spouse forged her signature on one campaign contribution form, and that he had an 'abusive nature.'"

CW: Jonathan Chait writes what looks like a good takedown of Paul Ryan's New Fuzzy Math, but I didn't have time to read it.

CW: I keep missing Charles Pierce's posts because Wendy's, the wholesome place where I do most of my Internetting, has blocked that dirty publication Esquire. However, via Driftglass, I learn that Pierce did quite a number of Chuck Todd. Driftglass wraps Pierce's prose in a nice ribbon -- and also links to the original.

Senate Race

Does Pat Roberts Think Democrats Are Nazis? Ed Kilgore: "... Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, no ideological firebrand but rather the most hackish of time-servers, casually said that under Democratic governance 'this country is heading for national socialism'.... You have to wonder what Bob Dole, who was sitting nearby Roberts when he made this incredibly offensive remark -- and who fought against actual National Socialists in World War II -- thought of it." ...

... CW: It would appear, based on Philip Rucker's tweets added as updates to Dylan Scott's TPM post, that Roberts just has no idea who the National Socialists were. Rucker's tweets suggest Roberts is clueless & doesn't understand why Rucker asked him about the National Socialism question. ...

     ... Update: Robert's campaign tried to "clarify" his remarks without indicating the candidate is a dope.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Rowena Mason of the Guardian: British PM "David Cameron has been caught on camera talking about how the Queen 'purred down the line' after he phoned her to say Scotland had voted no to independence. The prime minister's remarks suggesting the Queen was pleased with the result are a rare, albeit accidental, breach of the convention that the prime minister never speaks about his conversations with the monarch. It also jeopardises her traditional neutrality.... Cameron's exchange with Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, was accidentally picked up by Sky News as they walked through an office in the businessman's media empire."

Monday
Sep222014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 23, 2014

Valerie Volcovici of Reuters: "... the United Nations on Tuesday will zero in on climate change, giving leaders from 125 countries a platform to explain how they plan to address the issue.... The White House announced on Tuesday that Obama would issue an executive order to require federal agencies to ensure their international development programs and investments are designed to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change." ...

... Jon Stewart explains climate change to Republican deniers. Thanks to P. D. Pepe:

     ... As Victoria D. comments, Stewart should have said "Republican" more because it's House Science Committee Republicans who need third-grade visuals to understand the obvious.

President Obama made remarks late this morning about strikes on ISIS. Politico has a brief report here:

     ... Update. The New York Times report, by Mark Landler & others, is here. ...

David Kirkpatrick & Omar Al-Jawoshy of the New York Times: "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government’s forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines. Although the airstrikes appear to have stopped the extremists' march toward Baghdad, the Islamic State is still dealing humiliating blows to the Iraqi Army. On Monday, the government acknowledged that it had lost control of the small town of Sichar and lost contact with several hundred of its soldiers who had been besieged for nearly a week at a camp north of the Islamic State stronghold of Falluja, in Anbar Province." ...

... Loveday Morris of the Washington Post: An ISIS suicide attack on an Iraqi army base in Anbar Province -- the attackers arrived in bomb-rigged Humvees & hundreds of Iraqi soldiers may have died -- "has highlighted shortcomings in an army that the United States has spent billions of dollars training and equipping, and it has further undermined the force's reliability as a partner as President Obama expands airstrikes into provinces including Anbar.... 'There were no reinforcements, no food supplies, no medicine, no water, and then our ammunition began to run out,' said 1st Lt. Haider Majid, 28. 'We called our leaders so many times. We called our commanders, we called members of parliament, but they just left us there to die.'"

... Michael Hirsh in Politico Magazine on "America's new war president." Hirsh looks at the realities, including the political realities, that have led President Obama to begin what Hirsh calls a "new war" against ISIS. CW Note: Hirsh works for Politico now, but he has been a level-headed, nonpartisan reporter & opinionator for a long time. My one disagreement with Hirsh here is that he ignores conditions that invited an ISIS-type jihad, most notably Bush's Stupid War. Worth a read. ...

... Juan Cole: "Some 80% of Raqqah[, Syria]’s 240,000 inhabitants, i.e. about 190,000 people, are said to have remained after ISIL took over the city.... It is inevitable that US and allied bombing on important Raqqah military targets will kill a certain number of civilians.... The some 22 sorties flown on Monday will have killed some ISIL terrorists, blown up some weapons warehouses, and destroyed some checkpoints. But ISIL are guerrillas, and they will just fade away into Raqqah's back alleys. The US belief in air power is touching, but in fact no conflict has ever been quickly brought to an end where US planes have been involved." See also today's News Ledes.

Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Federal prosecutors alleged Monday in federal court that a man who jumped a fence and ran into the White House's unlocked front door Friday night posed a threat to President Obama and was keeping 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked blocks away.... After a 15-minute hearing, [U.S Magistrate Judge John] Facciola ordered [Omar Jose] Gonzalez held until Oct. 1, pending revocation of bond by authorities in an unrelated July 19 incident in Wythe County, Va. In that case, he was arrested while allegedly carrying a sawed-off shotgun, two sniper rifles and several other firearms, as well as a map of the Washington area with the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Va., circled and a line pointed toward the White House, a local prosecutor said. Earlier, on Aug. 25, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said, U.S. Secret Service officers saw Gonzalez carrying a hatchet in the back waistband of his pants along the south fence of the White House and questioned him." ...

... The New York Times report, by Michael Shear & Michael Schmidt, is here. "Among the items found in Mr. Gonzalez's vehicle in July was a mini-arsenal of 11 guns including two shotguns and four rifles, some equipped with scopes and bipods that a sniper would use and 'a map of Washington, D.C., with writing and a line drawn to the White House,' law enforcement officials said. He also had four pistols, three of them loaded, and a revolver." ...

... CW: Only in America could a guy get away with carrying a "mini-arsenal" & a map to the home of the head of state. The only illegal item he was carrying, according to Virginia police, was a sawed-off shotgun. Everything else was cool. Instead of investigating Secret Service policies, we should be looking at our culture of violence, one in which the police "did not regard ... as dangerous or mentally unstable" a veteran carrying a mini-arsenal who led them on a high-speech chase. Apparently they took his word that he was a veteran & that made everything fine. ...

... AND, yes, this post is related. Charles Pierce: "I would wager that, in every state where there is a close election, and where open-carry laws of one kind or another are in force, you will see armed men at precincts 'protecting' the vote. It's the logical confluence of voter-suppression and unlimited gun rights.... And then, in 2016, there will be more guns at the polls. They really don't miss a trick." ...

... CW: I was thinking of observing that most of the country is becoming Dodge City. Then I remembered that Dodge City & other Western towns actually had strict gun control laws. Luckily, the Supreme Court of the day -- not exactly a bastion of liberal ideology -- did not pretend the Second Amendment expressed an individual's right to pack heat. ...

Front Street, Dodge City, Kansas, 1878.

Gregory Korte of USA Today: "The Treasury Department will crack down on so-called tax 'inversions,' targeting companies that try to avoid taxes by moving their headquarters overseas. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new rules would help close what he called a 'glaring loophole in the U.S. tax code' in which U.S. companies acquire foreign businesses and then switch their citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the lead.

John Boehner Thinks the Jobless Are Lazy. But the House passed a "jobs" bill! Danny Vinik of the New Republic: "Last Thursday, House Republicans passed a 'jobs' bill that includes a smorgasbord of traditional conservative ideas. But it would also increase the deficit by $590 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And these aren't temporary costs, like the stimulus (which wasn't that much larger, money-wise than this new GOP 'jobs' plan anyways). After the first decade, the costs will only increase.... It would make permanent a collection of tax breaks.... It would require Congressional approval for any regulation with estimated costs over $100 million. The bill would also change Obamacare's definition of a full-time employee from 30 to 40 hours and, oh yeah, repeal the medical device tax." Read the whole post.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times: "Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Monday that his biggest mistake in the handling of the Ray Rice situation is that he didn't get an earlier look at the surveillance video from inside the elevator -- and had no interest in seeing it. '"I lacked a whole lot of interest. Zero desire to see that tape,' Bisciotti said in a news conference called to address and dispute a lengthy story by ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' that said the Ravens knew the details of Rice striking his future wife inside the casino elevator within hours of the incident." A transcript of the full rebuttal, published in the Baltimore Sun, is here.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Sen. Rand Paul's lawsuit over National Security Agency surveillance was put on hold Monday, pending an appeals court ruling on a parallel case brought before the senator's. Judge Richard Leon did not explain the rationale for his ruling but granted a Justice Department motion to halt the case while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considers the NSA surveillance issue in separate lawsuits brought by conservative activist Larry Klayman." CW Working Theory: Leon just wanted to cut the billable hours of Ken Cuccinelli, who brought the suit on behalf of Paul & Freeeedom Works.

Senate Race

Charles Pierce comments on Rep. Tom Cotton's (RTP) challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) CW: It's a great commentary, but I do wish to warn readers of the foolishness of the idea that we all would be living in the Kingdom of Heaven if only So-&-So had won/lost a particular election. I suppose this view is an offshoot of the "great man" theory of history, infused with wishful thinking/I-told-you-to-vote. Obviously, elections matter, but the dynamics that tip the balance one way or the other don't vacillate all that much. Voters are still conservative or liberal, dumb or dumber, etc. To assume that defeating Newt Gingrich -- as Pierce does -- would have radically changed history is a mistake. We'll never know but -- more than likely House Republicans, whose makeup would have remained essentially the same, would have chosen another jerk for Speaker. The show goes on no matter the players.

Presidential Election

Steve M.: "... the Washington Free Beacon wants you to realize that ... Hillary Clinton's youthful correspondence with Saul Alinsky proves that she's an unreconstructed radical leftist.... Let's see: Hillary Clinton was a top adviser to her husband, the governor of Arkansas, for twelve years; she was America's First Lady (and a top adviser to the president) for eight years; she was a U.S. senator for eight years; and she was secretary of state for four years -- and in all that time she's been a Third Way left-centrist and a relatively hawkish Democrat. But she was just fooling us! She knew that, one day, the full flower of her evil leftist scheme to communize America would bloom, because ... she knew her time would come." ...

... CW: I'll admit I ignored this shocking story; I'm grateful to Steve M. for explaining it. It isn't just that the right lives in an "intellectual closed loop," as Krugman wrote in his column yesterday, but also that within that loop, the loopy do not adhere to basic logic thinking or simple common sense. ...

... Like Every Lefty, Clinton Is a Party Animal. Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "... the Clinton Global Initiative now outshines the U.N. gathering, at least when it comes to star wattage. It also serves as an annual company picnic and convocation of the faithful for the Clintons' far-flung political and business networks." CW: I find the Clinton conglomerate extremely creepy. I suppose to some extent most of us are phony self-promoters, but the Clintons have carried vainglory to a mawkish, tawdry extreme. ...

... Molly Ball of the Atlantic, last week: "Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens."

News Ledes

Der Spiegel: "German-American journalist Michael Scott Moore has been freed two-and-a-half years after he was kidnapped in Somalia. German officials received Moore, who worked for Spiegel International years before his abduction, on Tuesday afternoon local time." Via Gawker.

New York Times: "The United States and five Arab allies launched a wide-ranging air campaign against the Islamic State and at least one other extremist group in Syria for the first time early Tuesday, targeting the groups' bases, training camps and checkpoints in at least four provinces, according to the United States military and Syrian activists. The intensity of the attacks struck a fierce opening blow against the jihadists of the Islamic State, scattering its forces and damaging the network of facilities it has built in Syria that helped fuel its seizure of a large part of Iraq this year." ...

... AP: "Syria said Tuesday that Washington informed President Bashar Assad's government of imminent U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group, hours before an American-led military coalition pounded the extremists' strongholds across northern and eastern Syria."

New York Times: "The Israeli military said Tuesday morning that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had 'infiltrated into Israeli airspace,' the first such incident in at least a quarter of a century."

New York Times: "Israeli forces early Tuesday killed the two men they suspected of abducting and murdering three Israeli teenagers from the occupied West Bank in June, according to a military spokesman, closing a crucial chapter in what became the bloodiest period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israeli military said Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Aisha, 33, 'came out shooting' around 6 a.m. as troops breached a two-story structure in Hebron where the suspects had been holed up for a week."

Sunday
Sep212014

The Commentariat -- Sept. 22, 2014

Demonstrators (on Sixth Avenue, I think) in New York City. New York Times photo.Lisa Foderaro of the New York Times: "Climates marches were held across the globe on Sunday, from Paris to Papua New Guinea, and with world leaders gathering at the United Nations on Tuesday for a climate summit meeting, marchers said the timing was right for the populist message in support of limits on carbon emissions." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots, a survey of America’s idiots reveals." CW: Unfortunately, too many of those idiots are in Congress. See, for instance, Emily Atkin's story linked in yesterday's Commentariat. ...

... Justin Gillis of the New York Times: "Global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels, scientists reported Sunday, in the latest indication that the world remains far off track in its efforts to control global warming. The emissions growth last year was a bit slower than the average growth rate of 2.5 percent over the past decade, and much of the dip was caused by an economic slowdown in China, which is the world’s single largest source of emissions." ...

... John Schwartz of the New York Times: "The [Rockefeller] family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses. The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative. In recent years, 180 institutions ... as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives."

Eric Schmitt & Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "President Obama will preside this week over an unusual meeting of the United Nations Security Council poised to adopt a binding resolution that would compel all countries to put in place domestic laws to prosecute those who travel abroad to join terrorist organizations and those who help them, including by raising funds. The resolution, proposed by the United States, would for the first time establish international standards for nations to prevent and suppress the recruiting of their citizens by terrorist organizations, and to bar the entry and transit across their territory of suspected foreign terrorists."

Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker: "Obama has spoken carefully in public, but it is plain that the Administration wants the Kurds to do two potentially incompatible things. The first is to serve as a crucial ally in the campaign to destroy ISIS.... The second is to resist seceding from the Iraqi state. Around Washington, the understanding is clear: if the long-sought country of Kurdistan becomes real, America’s twelve-year project of nation building in Iraq will be sundered.... But the Kurds’ history with the state of Iraq is one of persistent enmity and bloodshed, and they see little benefit in joining up with their old antagonists.”

Paul Waldman: The media have overblown the supposed rift between Obama & the brass over strategy to control ISIS. (CW: Pretty much what I suggested last week.) "... the fact that some in the military don’t agree with the President on strategy is not only a feature of pretty much every military conflict, it’s also an inevitable outgrowth of the American system. When we established civilian control over the military, the purpose wasn’t to make generals happy. Some of them will grumble sometimes, and that’s fine. But we shouldn’t make more out of those disagreements than they warrant."

Scott Wong of the Hill: "The U.S. is not teaming up with Iran in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said Sunday. 'Well, let me stress that we are not coordinating military operations or sharing intelligence with Iran,' Power said on CBS’s 'Face the Nation,' pointing out that Iran’s backing of Hezbollah and Syrian President Basar al-Assad’s regime has been 'very destructive.'” ...

... Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post has a very good overview of who-all said what-all on the Sunday shows. With video clips.

Here's a clip from Scott Pelley's interview of Leon Panetta where Panetta says, "President Obama should have done what I said." (Paraphrase.) This page has what appears to be the full transcript of the interview, as aired.

Jerry Markon, et al., of the Washington Post: "An exodus of top-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security is undercutting its ability to stay ahead of a range of emerging threats, including potential terrorist and cyber attacks, according to interviews with current and former officials. Over the past four years, employees have left DHS at a rate nearly twice as fast as the federal government overall, and the trend is accelerating, according to a review of a federal database. The departures are a result of what employees widely describe as a dysfunctional work environment, abysmal morale and the lure of private security companies...."

William Broad & David Sanger of the New York Times: The U.S. has launched a "wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for 'a nuclear-free world' and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy." CW: I expect the administration spoonfed this story to the Times in response to Putin's remarks last week about Russia's ability to crush former Soviet Union countries.

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "The Secret Service is considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House in response to the episode Friday in which a man with a knife managed to get through the front door of the president’s home after jumping over the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue.... As part of the screening, the Secret Service would establish several checkpoints a few blocks from the White House...."

In his column today, Paul Krugman expands on a blogpost on jobs linked here Saturday. "... the blame-the-victim crowd has gotten everything it wanted: Benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed, have been slashed or eliminated. So now we have rants against the bums on welfare when they aren’t bums — they never were — and there’s no welfare.... Strange to say, this outbreak of anti-compassionate conservatism hasn’t produced a job surge.... The right lives in its own intellectual universe, aware of neither the reality of unemployment nor what life is like for the jobless." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... this ought to be a subject at least occasionally mentioned by Democratic politicians, too. A higher minimum wage isn’t of much use to people who cannot find work."

Tami Abdollah & Eric Tucker of the AP: "A Pentagon program that distributes military surplus gear to local law enforcement allows even departments that the Justice Department has censured for civil rights violations to apply for and get lethal weaponry.... The Pentagon, which provides the free surplus military equipment, says its consultation with the Justice Department will be looked at as the government reviews how to prevent high-powered weaponry from flowing to the untrustworthy." ...

CW: Apparently St. Louis-area police think the problem in Ferguson was just a little public relations problem. Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! News: "The St. Louis Police Academy [is] ... offering a new fall course that teaches 'tactics, skills and techniques that will help you WIN WITH THE MEDIA!' According to the Oct. 24 program's description, the 'highly entertaining' class will cover lessons learned from both Ferguson and Newtown."

Not a Parody. ESPN: "One of the chief arguments that Ray Rice will make in the appeal of his indefinite suspension is that the NFL extended his punishment on the basis of an edited videotape...." ...

... Carolyn Bankoff of New York: "TMZ responded to this news by calling Rice's supposed claim 'the dumbest defense ever.' ... TMZ has always been upfront about the fact that it smoothed out the surveillance camera footage of the couple's violent argument, and the unaltered tape was put online on the same day as the better-quality one. While the raw video is jerky and blurrier than TMZ's version, it still clearly shows Rice beating Palmer."

... CW: Within professional football culture, Rice's argument makes a lot of sense. Goodell claimed the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension because they had no idea -- based on videotape showing Palmer walking into the elevator, then Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of said elevator, AND on Rice's confession he had KOed his wife -- that Rice had commited an aggressive, violent, criminal act. So a grainy, jerky surveillance cam video of the actual knockout punch would probably garner, say, another one-game suspension, not the banishment engendered by TMZ's slightly less grainy, jerky edit. Rice is playing Goodell's see-no-evil game, with heavy reliance on the popular NFL blame-somebody-else play.

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: The U.S. senator who squeezed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand & told her he liked his "girls chubby” was "the late Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, the decorated veteran and civil rights hero, according to people with knowledge of the incident.... In an all but forgotten chapter of his career, the senator had been accused of sexual misconduct: In 1992, his hairdresser said that Mr. Inouye had forced her to have sex with him. Her accusations exploded into a campaign issue that year, and one Hawaii state senator announced that she had heard from nine other women who said they had been sexually harassed by Mr. Inouye....” (CW: The Gillibrand story is way down the page.) ...

... Just below the Gillibrand item, some good news for progressives: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Hulse that he didn't have the votes to move Michael Boggs -- President Obama's nominee for a U.S. District Court in Georgia -- out of committee & said Boggs should withdraw. As Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post writes, "Boggs ... has been under attack all year from progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers over his socially conservative track record as a former Georgia state legislator. Among other things, he voted to ban same-sex marriage, to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia flag and to require doctors to post online their personal information and the annual number of abortions they performed." Obama nominated Boggs as part of a deal with Georgia's GOP senators.

Rachel Bade has a long piece in Politico about former IRS offical Lois Lerner. Lerner -- in company of her lawyer-husband & two other lawyers -- agreed to a Politico interview. If Lerner was hoping for a sympathetic write-up, she must be disappointed. It's not a hit job, but Bade assemble d enough hoo-hah for a reader to be left with the impression that Lerner didn't know her job & didn't play well with others.

Andrew Gelman of the Washington Post responds to Matt Bai's NYT Magazine assertion that before the Donna Rice expose', Gary Hart "was close to a lock for the nomination — and likely the presidency — as any challenger of the modern era." Gelman writes, "This is just wrong. Whoever won the Democratic nomination was highly unlikely to win the presidency." Gelman goes on to explain that the "fundamentals" were not there for Democrats in 1988, no matter who the nominee. So everybody can quit being all sad about what-might-have-been. Because it wasn't gonna be.

     ... CW Note: Bai is an excellent prose writer. But his work tends to be "impressionistic," & he loves the "large narrative." I've caught him in some wild, unsupported assertions before. (Can't remember what.) In this case, by making the Hart episode into The Downfall of a President-in-Waiting, Bai aggrandizes what was a National Enquirer-type story. (In fact, it was the Enquirer that published the "Monkey Business" photo -- after Hart had left the race.) In his book on the same topic, out last week, Bai turns the Hart incident into a "grand narrative" about the "tragedy" of "the politics of personal destruction." The best writers are not necessarily the most reliable. (Worth mentioning, I guess: George H.W. Bush, who of course became president, reportedly had had a decades-long affair with his personal assistant.) ...

     ... CW: What most surprised me about Bai's story (also linked in yesterday's Commentariat) was that -- contrary to what most of us who were around then remember -- Miami Herald reporters did not go after Hart because he had challenged the media to "Follow me around." The paper's reporters had been on the Donna Rice story for weeks before E. J. Dionne's story with the famous quote appeared in the WashPo. The first Herald story on Hart's personal life appeared the same day the Post published Dionne's story.

Annals of "Journalism," Alaska Edition.

And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, fuck it, I quit. -- Charlo Greene, former KTVA reporter, on-air

Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch News: At the end of a report on the Alaska Cannabis Club, KTVA reporter Charlo Greene announced, "I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska. And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, fuck it, I quit.

Mid-term Elections

Elections Matter -- Your True Horror Story for Today. Dave Weigel describes how Republicans will run the Senate if they take control. CW: Hope Weigel e-mails a copy to Chuck Todd, who suggested to President Obama that a GOP-controlled Senate wouldn't make much difference since Obama could just, ya know, veto everything.

Philip Rucker & Reid Wilson of the Washington Post: "In a midterm election year in which the political climate and map of battleground states clearly favors Republicans, many GOP candidates are nevertheless embracing some Democratic priorities in an effort to win over skeptical voters."

Rachel Maddow in the Washington Post: "This year, in two marquee races already, and eventually perhaps in three or even four, Democrats and independents have decided to stop fighting each other and instead start pulling on the same side of the tug-of-war in an effort to unseat incumbent Republicans."

E. J. Dionne: "..a [Senate] election that once looked to be a Republican slam dunk has even Karl Rove worried, because many voters seem to want to do more with their ballots than just slap the president in the face."

Ed Kilgore provides a good lesson to red-state Democrats on why "defensive voting" on hot-button issues is useless. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) "has actually been a conspicuously reliable vote against any sort of gun regulation." Still, his oppoent Dan Sullivan is running an ad (embedded in Kilgore's post) that hits Begich "since he voted to confirm 'anti-gun' Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. And even if he hadn’t voted for these Justices, he votes 'with Obama' all the time, and we all understand Obama wakes up each morning scheming to vitiate the Second Amendment so he will not have to worry about armed patriot resistance when he snatches away America’s birthright of freedom."

Forget All That! Juan Williams in the Hill: "Get ready for bombs bursting in air and this election’s October Surprise – President Obama’s air strikes to 'degrade and ultimately destroy' ISIS.... The president’s leadership role during this fight has the potential to pump up his public approval and that will benefit several Democrats locked in close senate races.... The Republican response to the ISIS threat has been to criticize the president for not immediately putting U.S. forces on the ground.... Polls show voters, both Republicans and Democrats, consider that a step too far.... The Republican House narrowly voted to give the President authority to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS in a ground war.... Are they trying to create a situation in which American soldiers are once again at war in the Middle East?"

Presidential Race

The Headline Says It All. Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Rick Perry Cites Joan Rivers’s Death to Defend Restrictive Texas Abortion Law." ...

... Elsewhere in Texas, Texans can't decide which man with Texas roots should be our next president. Among those Texans who can't decide: Jeb Bush's son George PeeWee Bush, who is running for state land commissioner, whatever that is. The good news for Jeb: PeeWee is ready to affirm that he loves the old man. Awwww. CW: My pick: None O.T. Above.

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