The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, the President celebrated the fiftieth birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives":

The Ledes

Saturday, August 1, 2015.

USA Today: "Staggered by a $72 billion debt load, Puerto Rico was likely to miss a debt payment due Saturday, setting the stage for what could be one of the largest U.S. municipal debt restructurings. Puerto Rico's government said Friday it would not make a $58 million bond payment due over the weekend."

CNN: "Three members of Osama bin Laden's family were among four people killed in a small plane crash in southern England, British police said."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 31

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing with Energy Secretary Ernest Munoz

2:00 pm ET: Open government public meeting

Go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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

The Word Salad King. If Donald Trump's good friend & possible running mate Sarah Palin is the Word Salad Queen, it stands to reason that the Donald would be the king. Slate challenges you to diagram this "sentence." To help you out, Slate has transcribed the words in the order delivered. Not that the order delivered matters much:

Obama Slept Here

For a mere $22.5MM this Martha's Vinehard house on 10 acres can be yours. The Obamas stayed in the house for 8 days in 2013. The current owner bought the property, which has expansive views of the Atlantic & Chilmark Pond, in 2000 for about $3MM. So, hey, the price is negotiable. Slide show.

The Birth of Franklin. Washington Post: After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Glickman, a white California mother wrote to cartoonist Charles Schultz urging him to introduce a black character to his "Peanuts" cartoon strips. When Schultz demurred, saying he was afraid "it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends," Glickman got two of her "Negro friends" who backed the idea to write to Schultz. A short time later, Schultz introduced Franklin. Oh, yes, & strips showing Franklin in an integrated! classroom upset Southern editors, according to Glickman.

Jane Hamshire of Firedoglake: "... I have decided to pass the torch on to Kevin Gosztola and Brian Sonenstein, who will launch their own media organization called Shadowproof that will build on the success of FDL."

Dylan Byers: "MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs -- 'The Cycle,' 'Now with Alex Wagner' and 'The Ed Show' -- as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming.... Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a 'Cycle' co-host and MSNBC's chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of 'The Ed Show,' will leave the network, as will 'Cycle' co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure.... In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by 'Meet The Press' moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former 'Nightly News' anchor, will serve as the network's breaking news and special reports anchor."

If you can memorize & learn to use the University of New Hampshire's long list of "bias-free language," you can be the most politically-correct person in your neighborhood. Via Jonathan Chait. ...

... CW Etiquette Tip: calling out your friends for using outmoded terms like "overweight" & "rich" is not politically correct. Simply try to steer the conversation in a more "inclusive" direction. So if your friend says to you, "My rich neighbor got so overweight he has to use a wheelchair now," you say, "Oh, that person of material wealth has become a person of size who is wheelchair mobile? Wow! He's your neighbor? I remember him when he was a person experiencing homelessness who lacked advantages that others have." It sounds so natural, your friend will never realize you've corrected his biased, dated stereotypes. ...

     ... UPDATE: Turns out the university's president is biased against the bias-free language guide & he was unaware of its existence until this week. Also, a Republican state legislator is "outraged" & finds the guide a good excuse to cut funding for the state university. Naturally. Thanks to MAG for the lead.

Will Oremus of Slate likes Windows 10. CW: I haven't had the courage to try switching over yet. I'll lose EVERYTHING!

Fuck off! I’m done with you. -- Jon Stewart, to Wyatt Cenac

... Alex Jung of New York: Jon Stewart repeatedly yelled at Wyatt Cenac when Cenac questioned a "Daily Show" segment meant to be a defense against Fox "News" allegations that Stewart's Herman Cain imitation was racist. ...

... Maron's WTF podcast of his interview with Cenac is here. ...

... CW: Here's the thing, black people. When you confront white liberals with accusations of racial bias, WE WILL NEVER ADMIT IT. We will remind you that we have been fighting for black civil rights for 50 years (Bernie Sanders). We will tell you all lives matter (Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley). We will tell you that white people are responsible for expanding your rights (Hillary Clinton). We will deny your accusations (Every one of us). And all the while, we will be highly insulted, even if we don't tell you to fuck off. Because white people's feelings matter. And, after all we've done for you, we can't believe you would accuse us of racism.

Even when they're only lip-syncing, some entertainers are pretty damned talented. I'm not much of a fan of Tom Cruise's, but ...

Tech Crunch: "It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts."

Stupid Pet Tricks, Reptile Edition:

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is replacing MSNBC's Ed Schultz with -- Chuck Todd. [CW: Excellent decision! Let's change "MSNBC" to "VPN" -- "Village People's Network."] "The only programs that appeared safe from disruption were Morning Joe..., hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski; Hardball ... with Chris Matthews; and The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. Those programs have performed respectably...." ...

We live in a time when much of the corporate media regards politics as a baseball game or a soap opera. Ed Schultz has treated the American people with respect by focusing on the most important issues impacting their lives.... I am very disappointed that Comcast [the parent company of NBC & MSNBC] chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer.... At a time when a handful of large, multi-national corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda. -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

Washington Post: "The latest update from NASA's Kepler space telescope — designed to spot distant exoplanets — adds more than 500 new possible planets to the fray. That's in addition to the 4,175 planets already found by Kepler. And of those 500 new potential planets, scientists say, a dozen could be remarkably Earth-like. That means they're less than twice as large as Earth, are potentially rocky and are at the right distance from their host stars to harbor liquid water." ...

... Guardian: "Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered 'the closest twin to Earth' outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday."

Worst Person Ratings in the World. Andrew Kirell of Mediaite: Rumors are a'flyin' that MSNBC is headed for another line-up shake-up, which could include the Return of Dr. Olbermann, who is departing ESPN -- again. Because their third place in cable ratings wasn't as bad as their third place is now (sometimes 4th, behind Al Jazeera). And because the New Olbermann is now a suits-licking pussycat, unlike the Old Olbermann from way last week.

Some Would Be Heroes. Washington Post: Coast Guardsman Darren Harrity swims a mile in choppy, fuel-slicked sea to save four men in a leaky lifeboat.

New York Times: "What Pet Should I Get?" -- an aide to Dr. Suess's widow found the manuscript in a box. Dr. Suess -- Theodore Geisel -- died in 1991.

     ... Via BuzzFeed, for the fun of it.

Washington Post: "On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen." ...

... CW: What a waste. You know all they'll find is angels hovering around a pantheon of some sort & maybe, if they're lucky, their long-dead pooches floating around Pet Heaven, which is real & wonderful.

New York Times: "In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to [singer Katy] Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres [in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles] disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.... The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with [another buyer]."

NASA: "In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named 'Tombaugh Regio' (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930."

Hill: "President Obama is making a final 'Daily Show' appearance before host Jon Stewart leaves the political comedy program after 17 years. Obama will sit down for his final chat with Stewart on Tuesday, the White House confirmed Friday."

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

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-- Constant Weader

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

Monday
Jul062015

The Commentariat -- July 7, 2015

Afternoon Update:

James Kanter of the New York Times: "Greece's newly installed finance minister arrived [in Brussels] at a crucial meeting of his eurozone peers on Tuesday without the new bailout proposal the group had expected to receive." CW: So the balance of Europe depends on a guy who's been on the job for half a day. Couldn't the other ministers come up with a less draconian plan & present that? ...

... Paul Krugman: "However things play out from here -- I find it hard to see a path other than Grexit -- the troika's program for Greece represents one of history's epic policy failures."

Glass Houses. Justin Moyer of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby etched his legacy in stone with a speech in 2004 that took black parents to task. It became famous as the 'Pound Cake' speech.... The Pound Cake speech ... was cited by a U.S. district judge as a legal justification for unsealing a deposition that was deeply damaging to Cosby.... Judge Eduardo C. Robreno said the speech, and Cosby's general posture as a 'public moralist,' made the deposition a legitimate subject of public interest.... 'The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the AP -- and by extension the public -- has a significant interest,' the judge wrote."

*****

John Parkinson of ABC News: "[Monday], after meeting with his top military brass and senior administration officials in a rare visit to the Pentagon, the president outlined a strategy, step-by-step, that he believes will be a winning approach over time. The president did not call for more bombs or more troops, but instead announced a shifting focus to counter ISIL's public relations machine while training local forces to sustain progress made on the ground there":

... Michael Gordon & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Seven weeks after their frenetic retreat from Ramadi, Iraqi security forces are preparing to mount a counteroffensive in the coming weeks to try to reclaim the pivotal western Iraqi city from the Islamic State, American and Iraqi officials say.... At the Pentagon on Monday, President Obama said the fall of Ramadi was a setback that had 'galvanized' the Iraqi government and accelerated an American effort that had been 'moving too slowly' to better train and equip Iraqi forces, including Sunni fighters."

Jennifer Rankin of the Guardian: "In a coordinated press statement, the leaders of France and Germany called on Greece to come up with 'serious and credible proposals' at Tuesday's eurozone summit consistent with its wish to stay in the eurozone." ...

... Justin McCurry of the Guardian: "The US treasury secretary, Jack Lew, told Greece's prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and its new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, that Washington 'looked forward' to a swift resolution to the crisis unfolding in Europe." CW: Quit worrying, people. A finance minister named Euclid is bound to get both the numbers & all the angles right.

... Here's the Guardian's liveblog. ...

... Liz Alderman & Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Germany maintained a hard line with Athens on Monday after Greek voters rejected Europe's austerity policies in a referendum, intensifying pressure on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to restart bailout talks and opening a rift with European countries that appeared more inclined now to consider softening the push for austerity. As Mr. Tsipras changed his finance minister Monday and laid plans to restart bailout negotiations with creditors, however, it appeared the jubilation that followed the no vote in Greece could fade quickly as signs of financial collapse become more evident." This is an update of the story linked yesterday.

Edward Krudy of Reuters: "A U.S. supreme court [CW: actually, the First Circuit Appeals Court] affirmed a lower court decision to strike down Puerto Rican legislation aimed at granting local municipalities the right to enter bankruptcy, but said excluding the U.S. territory's public entities from federal bankruptcy law was unconstitutional.... 'Besides being irrational and arbitrary, the exclusion of Puerto Rico's power to authorize its municipalities to request federal bankruptcy relief should be re-examined in light of more recent rational-basis review case law,' the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said in the ruling late on Monday.... While the 75-page ruling ostensibly vindicates the bondholders' position, it also makes a forceful case that Puerto Rico should be given access to Chapter 9 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, which deals with municipal bankruptcies." ...

... Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "A looming debt crisis in Puerto Rico is setting off a fresh fight in Congress, where lawmakers are debating a statutory fix that could allow the island territory to declare bankruptcy.... A 1984 update to the nation's bankruptcy laws left Puerto Rico out of the picture, apparently by accident. Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code gives states the power to allow agencies or municipalities to declare bankruptcy, as happened most recently in Detroit."

Ed Kilgore on why Republicans won't support universal pre-K, a Democratic priority. CW: Ed should add this: Republicans don't even support universal 1-12 public education; they favor privatization.

Washington Post Editors: "It is alarming that 150 years after the Civil War's end children are learning that slavery was, as one Texas board of education member put it in 2010, 'a side issue.' No serious scholar agrees.... By distorting history, Texas tells its students a dishonest and damaging story about the United States that prevents children from understanding the country today. Also troubling, Texas's standards look likely to affect more than just Texans: The state is the second-largest in the nation, which means books designed for its students may find their way into schools elsewhere, too."

Patrick Temple-West of Politico: "Elizabeth Warren and her liberal allies appear to be on the verge of another victory in their battle to stop the White House from choosing financial regulators with ties to Wall Street. President Barack Obama was planning to nominate corporate attorney Keir Gumbs to fill a Democratic seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, according to four sources familiar with the matter. But now that's on hold at least until August after activist groups aligned with Warren raised an outcry over Gumbs' work, including his advice to companies on how to dodge scrutiny from shareholder activists."

Joanne Kenen of Politico: "Advocates for better end-of-life care expect Medicare to soon announce that it will start paying physicians for having advanced-care planning conversations with patients -- reviving the widely misunderstood provision that gave rise to 'death panel' fears and nearly sank the Affordable Care Act." ...

... Norm Ornstein in the Atlantic: "One reason for the continued resistance to the Affordable Care Act is a badly distorted narrative of how it became law.... Thanks in part to the overheated rhetoric demonizing the plan, guerrilla efforts to undermine its implementation and disrupt the delivery of its services continue apace. Perhaps they will end as it becomes clear, in the aftermath of King v. Burwell, that the law in its fundamentals is not going away. It may help a bit if more Americans, including prominent commentators, stop repeating a false political narrative about the genesis of Obamacare.

White Men Rule. Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Sixty-six percent of states that elect prosecutors have no blacks in those offices, a new study has found, highlighting the lack of diversity in the ranks of those entrusted to bring criminal charges and negotiate prison sentences. About 95 percent of the 2,437 elected state and local prosecutors across the country in 2014 were white, and 79 percent were white men, according to the study, which was to be released on Tuesday by the San-Francisco-based Women Donors Network. By comparison, white men make up 31 percent of the population of the United States.... Prosecutors decide in most criminal cases whether to bring charges."

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News: "Former Attorney General Eric Holder said today that a 'possibility exists' for the Justice Department to cut a deal with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that would allow him to return to the United States from Moscow. In an interview with Yahoo News, Holder said 'we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures' and that 'his actions spurred a necessary debate' that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies on the bulk collection of phone records of American citizens.... His remarks to Yahoo News go further than any current or former Obama administration official in suggesting that Snowden's disclosures had a positive impact and that the administration might be open to a negotiated plea that the self-described whistleblower could accept...."

Lindsay Dunsmuir of Reuters: "Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will return as a partner at the law firm he had left [-- Covington & Burling --] to become the nation's top law enforcement official, his new employer said in a statement." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Maryclaire Dale of the AP: "Bill Cosby admitted in 2005 that he secured quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with and that he gave the sedative to at least one woman and 'other people,' according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press."

     ... Via Madison Johnson of the New Republic. (Link fixed.) Also via Johnson:

Marie's Sports Report

Men Rule. Judd Legun of Think Progress: "The U.S. women's soccer team defeated Japan on Sunday to win the World Cup. For their dominant performance, the team will collect $2 million from FIFA, the international body that runs the tournament. The championship prize for women pales in comparison to the $8 million in prize money awarded to men's teams who lose in the first round. Every men's team was awarded $1.5 million just for participating.... The U.S. women's team has won the World Cup three times. The U.S. men have never won the tournament." ...

... Jill Sergeant of Reuters: "A record 25.4 million TV viewers in the United States watched the United States beat Japan 5-2 in the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup, a new high for any soccer match televised in the country, according to Nielsen ratings data on Monday." Emphasis added. ...

... CW: I do hope the ladies don't embarrass our fair sex by complaining about inequality (the way they did about that little artificial turf thing -- see Legum). In the U.S., they're more popular than the men & they're being paid far less. Seventy cents on the dollar? Hah. They wish. Nonetheless, a proper sportswoman would play for the joy & honor of the game & would not concern herself with crass trivialities.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, today ripped the committee and Politico for printing inaccurate portrayals of e-mail traffic between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in fall 2012...." Wemple goes on to show how Ken Vogel & Rachel Bade of Politico, Jonathan Karl of ABC News, & Bob Woodward all relied on Republicans to "abridge the correspondence" without seeing the e-mails themselves. Big surprise: these Republican sources deceptively elided e-mails to create false narratives, all in service of Benghaaazi! And the reporters, as Stephen Colbert famously joked, "just put 'em through a spell check and go home." ...

... Here's how it works: (1) Blumenthal to HRC: "Gaddafi was a monster." Blumenthal to HRC: "Love the blue pantsuit, Hil." HRC to Blumenthal: "de la Renta designed it. I just loved him. So sad he passed away." (2) Republican mashup, leak to Politico. (3) Politico report: "Exclusive! Secret Clinton E-Mails Revealed. Blumenthal to HRC: 'Gaddafi is a monster.' HRC to Blumenthal: 'I just loved him. So sad he passed away.'"

Presidential Race

Kevin Miller of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald: "Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont made his populist presidential pitch to an energized crowd of more than 7,500 people in Portland on Monday night, pledging to fight for universal health care, free college tuition and a 'living wage,' and against what he sees as the corruptive influence of big money on American politics.... Although exact figures weren't available Monday night, staff at Portland's Cross Insurance Arena estimated that the crowd could have exceeded 8,000 in the roughly 9,000-capacity arena for an event originally planned as more of a town hall-style forum than a rally." ...

... Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "The ample crowds and unexpectedly strong showing by Senator Bernie Sanders are setting off worry among advisers and allies of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who believe the Vermont senator could overtake her in Iowa polls by the fall and even defeat her in the nation's first nominating contest there. The enthusiasm that Mr. Sanders has generated ... has called into question Mrs. Clinton's early strategy of focusing on a listening tour of small group gatherings and wooing big donors in private settings. In May, Mrs. Clinton led with 60 percent support to Mr. Sanders' 15 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. Last week the same poll showed Mrs. Clinton at 52 percent to Mr. Sanders's 33 percent." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... New York Times: "... this afternoon, [Hillary Clinton] will sit with the CNN reporter Brianna Keilar in Iowa. The interview comes as Mrs. Clinton has faced increasing criticism for avoiding questions on policy (the trade deal supported by President Obama but opposed by many Democrats) and on personal issues (her use of a private email account at the State Department and the fund-raising practices of her family's foundation)." ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate: "Republicans have spent much of this year attacking Hillary Clinton where she appears weakest -- her trustworthiness and transparency -- without doing overwhelming damage. Starting this week, the GOP will shift its attention to where the Democratic frontrunner appears strongest in the eyes of voters: Her competency as a government executive. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Republican National Committee is launching what will be a sustained attack on Clinton's record as a manager at the State Department." ...

Desperately Seeking Debate Time. Steve Yaccino of Bloomberg: "A month from now, 10 Republican presidential candidates will walk out onto a primetime debate stage in Cleveland and confront each other face to face for the first time. If the debate were held today, Donald Trump would be one of them. Two sitting governors, a U.S. senator, the runner-up for the 2012 GOP nomination, and the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company would all be excluded.... Campaigns who are in danger of not making the cut may try everything possible to improve their chances over the next four weeks -- taking extreme, news-making positions; dumping opposition research on opponents; inundating e-mail inboxes; and blitzing the Sunday television circuit, late-night talk shows, conservative radio airwaves, and cable news programs."

Paul Waldman: "... it sure looks like Trump's particular brand of vulgar straight talk has vaulted him to the top tier of Republican candidates, with recent polls showing him competing with Jeb Bush for first place.... This controversy has accelerated the pivot [other GOP presidential candidates] probably didn't think they've have to make for at least another six or eight months. So one after another, they've been asked about Trump and (with the exception of Ted Cruz) have condemned his remarks.... Trump's remarks were so vulgar that any candidate who wants to look like a reasonable person has little choice but to reject them. And if they all do it (or almost all), then at least for a while they've sidestepped what many of us expected to see during the primaries: a competition for who could talk the toughest on immigration." ...

... Katherine Krueger of TPM: "In a lengthy written statement Monday, Donald Trump doubled down on his recent remarks about Mexican immigrants being 'rapists' and criminals, making the additional claim that 'tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border.' Accusing his critics of distorting his words, Trump's statement did nothing to appease them after a days-long mass exodus of business partners and fellow Republicans trying to distance themselves from his comments. In the three-page-long statement posted online, the billionaire reality TV star reprinted the text in question from his now-infamous presidential announcement speech, which he says 'is deliberately distorted by the media.'" ...

     ... More from Hunter Walker of Business Insider. Walker interviewed Trump shortly before Trump released the statement. ...

     ... Here's the Donald's statement, in full, via Lisa de Moraes of Deadline. AND Philip Bump's WashPo "annotated edition." "We are sensitive to the argument that parsing Trump's words is like writing a dissertation on a fourth-grade book report, but Trump is currently one of the leading Republican candidates for president." ...

... ESPN: "ESPN has moved the site of its upcoming ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic from Trump National Golf Club to Pelican Hill Golf Club in greater Los Angeles in response to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants." ...

... Carrie Dann of NBC News: "Donald Trump reportedly retweeted -- and then deleted -- a tweet suggesting that Jeb Bush 'has to like the Mexican Illegals' because he is married to a Mexican woman. On the evening of July 4, Trump's account retweeted a post by user @RobHeilbron, who wrote '#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.' That tweet appears to have been deleted from Trump's account on Sunday." ...

... ** "We're More American than Him." MEANWHILE, the construction workers building a Trump luxury hotel on the site of Washington, D.C., old Post Office Pavillion are not amused. Many of them are Central American immigrants, some without papers. Antonio Olivo of the Washington Post: "... some of the workers at the site said they are now worried about their jobs -- while others simply expressed disgust over the opinions of the man ultimately responsible for the creation of those jobs."

... Philip Bump on why Ted Cruz is backing Trump: Trump has "very quickly built up a vocal base of support on this issue — a base of support that will be looking for a home if and when Trump bails. And Cruz will greet them with arms wide open.... It doesn't take much imagination to envision a scene a few weeks from now in which Trump, for reasons ostensibly beyond his control, announces that he's not going to run after all. And shortly thereafter, throwing his arm around Cruz to offer some support. 'I respect Ted Cruz for the view he's got,' Trump said on CNN last week. 'He was really out there and strong on it.'" ...

... Rudy Giuliani says Trump is "an unbiased, unprejudiced man." Aliyah Frumin of MSNBC: "The ex-mayor argued that while Trump could have phrased his thoughts better, he's still tackling the important issue of border security." Yup, it's all about inartful phrasing.

Adam Raymond of New York: Scott "Walker’s two sons, Alex and Matt, are in favor of same-sex marriage and his wife Tonette is 'torn,' she recently told the Washington Post. She went on to mention a married gay cousin 'who I love dearly,' in what sounded like an attempt to distance herself from her husband's opposition." CW: I didn't bother to read the WashPo piece, which was prominently featured on the site all day Monday; I guess Raymond has the "news" part of it. However, don't be fooled by Tonette's tone. ...

... digby: "This was a method deployed successfully by Republicans for years when their wives would tell the press that they differed from their husbands on some thorny social issue thus allowing them to have it both ways. It's cheap." ...

... Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Gov. Scott Walker announced over the weekend that Republicans were abandoning their plan to create new exceptions to the state's open records law, but for months the all-but-certain presidential candidate has been operating as if one exemption already was in place. Two months ago, Walker declined to release records related to his proposal to rewrite the University of Wisconsin System's mission statement and erase the Wisconsin Idea from state law. He argued he didn't have to provide those records to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others because they were part of his office's internal deliberations. The Progressive magazine and the liberal Center for Media and Democracy sued Walker over those denials." ...

... Wisconsin to Return to Feudal Society. Walker won't oppose Magna Carta provisions because rights apply only to barons; wife Tonette "torn":

... Alice Ollstein of Think Progress on the other provisions Scott Walker, et al., sneaked into the Wisconsin state budget this past week. "Governor Walker and his allies in the statehouse used the 4th of July holiday weekend to insert several more controversial provisions into the massive document, which local press called 'a grab bag of pet projects.'... The other additions remain, including provisions that censor information about police shootings, scrap factory workers' right to one day off per week, and completely eliminate the state's 100-year-old definition of a 'living wage,' which now says workers deserve pay that provides 'minimum comfort, decency, physical and moral well-being.'' Read the whole post. CW BTW: I can't see where most of these pet "budget items" have anything to do with the state's budget. ...

     ... Here's the State Journal story, dated July 4. ...

... Patrick Marley, et al., of the Journal Sentinel: "Republicans who control the state Senate plan to insert a provision into the state budget Tuesday that will repeal the prevailing wage law for local governments. The law sets the minimum salaries for construction workers when they build roads, schools and other publicly funded projects.... The changes are strongly opposed by unions and Democrats, who say it amounts to a pay cut for the working class. Republicans say they would save money for taxpayers."

Transgender Huckleberry. May 2010, via Andrew Kaczynski:

Senate Races

Steven Shepard of Politico: "Democrats can take back the Senate in 2016 after a stinging, nine-seat defeat last year -- but their path is narrow, and any gains could be fleeting. The party needs to capture four or five seats -- depending on the results of the presidential election -- next November. While the 2016 map is favorable, flipping control of the Senate would require winning most of the toss-up races and defeating several well-funded GOP incumbents in pricey swing states that will also be crucial in the race for the White House."

Beyond the Beltway

Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post: "A proposal to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's statehouse grounds moved ahead Monday after state senators voted 37-to-3 to advance the bill. Final passage on the bipartisan measure, set for Tuesday, requires a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled body, the Post and Courier reported. The proposal would then go to the South Carolina House, which could happen as early as Wednesday." ...

... "The Devil Is Taking Control of This Land." David Edwards of the Raw Story: "South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R) began debate about removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds on Monday with a passionate plea for lawmakers to focus on same-sex marriage instead":

... CW: A commenter on one of the news items I read Monday wondered what "Southern pride" was all about. What, exactly, does the South have to be particularly proud of? It's a good question.

News Ledes

TPM: "Federal authorities raided Subway spokesman Jared Fogle's home early Tuesday morning, reportedly in connection with a child pornography investigation.... Anonymous FBI sources told [TV] station [WXIN, Indianapolis] that authorities were serving warrants at Fogle's home in connection with a child pornography investigation.... The raid comes a little more than two months after the then-executive director of The Jared Foundation, his childhood obesity charity, was arrested on child pornography charges. Fogle dismissed Russell Taylor in April and told WXIN in a statement at the time that he was 'shocked' by the 'disturbing' allegations against Taylor."

Washington Post: "Iran nuclear talks will push past an extended deadline set for Tuesday, a senior European diplomat said, but negotiations will continue in possible last-ditch efforts to find ways to limit Tehran’s atomic program."

Sunday
Jul052015

The Commentariat -- July 6, 2015

Afternoon Update:

AP: "President Barack Obama made a rare visit to the Pentagon Monday to get an update from military leaders on the campaign against the Islamic State. Obama's meetings with top Pentagon officials and other national security advisers follow a wave of weekend airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in eastern Syria. The coalition says it was one of the most sustained aerial operations carried out in Syria to date." ...

     ... CW: President Obama is scheduled to speak to the press at 3:55 pm ET from the Pentagon.

The New York Times is liveblogging the Greek debt story. 2:50 pm: "The European Central Bank will maintain emergency loans of about 89 billion euros, or about $98.4 billion, to Greek banks, enough to keep the banks from failing but not enough to prevent them from running out of cash that they can issue to depositors within a few days." 2:43 pm ET: "Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President François Hollande of France said on Monday that Europe was ready to negotiate with Greece." ...

... Liz Alderman & Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Germany maintained a hard line with Athens on Monday after Greek voters rejected Europe's austerity policies in a referendum, intensifying pressure on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to restart bailout talks and opening a rift with European countries that appeared more inclined now to consider softening the push for austerity. As Mr. Tsipras changed his finance minister Monday and laid plans to restart bailout negotiations with creditors, however, it appeared the jubilation that followed the no vote in Greece could fade quickly as signs of financial collapse become more evident." This is an update of the story linked below.

Amy Chozick & Patrick Healy of the New York Times: "The ample crowds and unexpectedly strong showing by Senator Bernie Sanders are setting off worry among advisers and allies of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who believe the Vermont senator could overtake her in Iowa polls by the fall and even defeat her in the nation's first nominating contest there. The enthusiasm that Mr. Sanders has generated ... has called into question Mrs. Clinton's early strategy of focusing on a listening tour of small group gatherings and wooing big donors in private settings. In May, Mrs. Clinton led with 60 percent support to Mr. Sanders' 15 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. Last week the same poll showed Mrs. Clinton at 52 percent to Mr. Sanders's 33 percent."

Lindsay Dunsmuir of Reuters: "Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will return as a partner at the law firm he had left [-- Covington & Burling --] to become the nation's top law enforcement official, his new employer said in a statement."

*****

Suzanne Daley of the New York Times: "Greeks delivered a shocking rebuff to Europe's leaders on Sunday, decisively rejecting a deal offered by the country's creditors in a historic vote that could redefine Greece's place in Europe and shake the Continent's financial stability. As people gathered to celebrate in Athens's central Syntagma Square, the Interior Ministry reported that with more than 90 percent of the vote tallied, 61 percent of the voters had said no to a deal that would have imposed greater austerity measures on the beleaguered country." ...

... Here's the Guardian's liveblog. Jill Treanor of the Guardian looks ahead to what's next. ...

... Liz Alderman & Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Greece's combative finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who took a strong stand in demanding that creditors write off some of his country's debts, abruptly resigned on Monday morning.... Mr. Varoufakis had threatened last week to resign in the event of a yes vote, and his decision to step down after he and his allies prevailed in the referendum was unexpected. His resignation appeared to be the first move at conciliation toward Greece's creditors by the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras." ...

... Daniela Deane of the Washington Post: "... Combative Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis left his government post Monday in his trademark way -- by sparing no words hitting back at the euro zone governments he accuses of trying to break the back of his economically-embattled country. In a blog post more akin to a war cry, Varoufakis, a 54-year-old Greek-Australian economist, said Sunday's referendum will go down in history as the time when a 'small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.'" ...

     ... Here's Varoufakis's post. ...

... Paul Krugman: "Tsipras and Syriza have won big in the referendum, strengthening their hand for whatever comes next. But they're not the only winners: I would argue that Europe, and the European idea, just won big -- at least in the sense of dodging a bullet.... European institutions have just been saved from their own worst instincts." ...

     ... Update. Ode on a Grecian Turn (thanks, W!): Here's Krugman's full column on the Greek crisis: "The [European Central Bank] now faces an awkward choice: if it resumes normal financing [for Greece] it will as much as admit that the previous freeze was political, but if it doesn't it will effectively force Greece into introducing a new currency."

What's going on with the austerity is really class war. -- Noam Chomsky

... Joshua Keating of Slate: "Greece called Europe's bluff.... In a confusing referendum over a potential bailout package that hasn't actually existed for several days, many voters in the 'no' camp seem to have been motivated less by specific economic concerns than by a desire to end the humiliation of having unpopular policies forced on them by foreign governments, resulting in dire economic conditions. They've won a victory today, and have been cheered on by anti-establishment figures around the world ranging from Britain's far-right UKIP leader Nigel Farage to Bernie Sanders." ...

What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up.... When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations. -- Thomas Piketty, in a Die Zeit interview, translated from German

Karen DeYoung & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Sunday tamped down growing optimism that agreement on a nuclear deal with Iran is near, saying that negotiations 'can go either way' as a Tuesday deadline approached. 'I want to be absolutely clear,' Kerry told reporters after exiting a session with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his third of the day. 'We are not yet where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues.'"

Frank Bajak & Nicolle Winfield of the AP: "Latin America's first pope returned to Spanish-speaking South America on Sunday for the first time, bringing a message of solidarity with the poor and with an ailing planet as he began an eight-day tour that will take him to some of the continent's most impoverished countries.... [Francis,] the 'pope of the poor,' will highlight in his visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay his priorities of protecting the marginalized and the planet from injustice and exploitation."

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest ever real-life experiments with long-acting birth control.... Teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years.... The birthrate for teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.... The private grant that funds the state program has started to run out, and while many young women are expected to be covered under the health care law, some plans have required payment or offered only certain methods, problems the

... CW: Just one more egregious example of how right-wing ideology trumps equal rights, economic pragmatism & common sense. As Laura Clawson of Daily Kos wrote exactly a year ago, "Colorado is saving money thanks to the drop in teen pregnancy: Medicaid costs are lowered by $5.68 for every dollar spent on the contraception program."

... Alan Blinder of the New York Times: "The South Carolina legislature is expected on Monday to take up the fate of the Confederate battle flag that flies on the State House grounds, responding to demands that it be removed after the June 17 massacre of nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. The State Senate, encouraged by Gov. Nikki R. Haley and many other elected officials, is scheduled to consider a bipartisan proposal to move the battle flag, long viewed by African-Americans as a defiant tribute to South Carolina's segregationist past, to the state's Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia." ...

... Emma Brown of the Washington Post: "If teaching history is how society shows younger generations who they are and where they came from, the Civil War presents unique challenges, especially because of the fundamental differences in the way the cause of the war is perceived 150 years after its last battle. Nowhere is the rejection of slavery's central role more apparent than in Texas, where elected members of the state board of education revised state social studies standards in 2010 to correct for what they said was a liberal slant.... Historians acknowledge that disagreements over states' rights played a role in the Civil War. But the states' rights issue was inseparable from slavery, they say: The right that states in the South were seeking to protect, after all, was the right to buy and sell people." ...

... Susan Haigh of the AP: "The massacre at a predominantly black South Carolina church has institutions from Alaska to Connecticut evaluating whether they should continue enshrining the names of historical figures linked to slavery and the Confederacy. ...

... This March 2014 story by Carol Bass in Yale Alumni Magazine has some background on Yale's Calhoun College, including the baudlerization of that stained-glass window depicting John C. Calhoun proudly standing over "a black man in shackles, in tatters, [who is] kneeling before him." ...

... Look Away, Dixieland. digby stitches together some ostensibly unrelated stories to demonstrate how "the southern cavalier never came to terms with the South's defeat and the blow to his sense of natural superiority, not just over former slaves, but over Yankees. Old times there may not be forgotten, but some things must not be mentioned." ...

... ** CW: As to those Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinners Haigh cites, read Jonathan Chait: Andrew Jackson was "the father of the modern Republican Party.... Jackson was a populist, but he directed his populism not at the local elites (of which he was one) but at the federal government. He favored the gold standard, and his opposition to a National Bank served the interests of the local banks that competed against it. He believed the Constitution prevented the government from taking an active role in managing economic affairs. He was instinctively aggressive, poorly educated, anti-intellectual, and suspicious of bureaucrats. (Jackson replaced more qualified federal staffers with partisan hacks.) He resisted any challenge to racial hierarchies."

Los Angeles Times Editors: "The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that it would release hundreds of mothers and children who are seeking political asylum, so that they can await their hearings in freedom rather than in detention facilities. That was a welcome move, but the government should go further and undertake a top-to-bottom review of the entire immigration detention system with an eye toward jailing as few people as possible."

Erwin Chermerinsky in the New Republic: "Although Senator [Ted] Cruz has the right intention, his proposed solution [-- retention elections --] would endanger the independence of the Court, rather than bolster it.... However, there is a reform that truly deserves thoughtful consideration: term limits for Supreme Court justices.... Term limits appropriately does not favor either political party or any ideology and has strong bipartisan support.... The best idea is that each justice should be appointed for an 18-year, non-renewable term, thus creating a vacancy every two years.... A system of government that allows a handful of men and women to hold great power for such an extended period of time is, by nature, more feudal than democratic.... No other country in the world gives life tenure to its judiciary. Only one state (Rhode Island) does."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Steve M. wants to know: "Why is Maureen Dowd still at The New York Times? Why hasn't she joined the likes of Dick Morris and Judy Miller and become the regular Fox contributor she's obviously qualified to be? Her fixation on the Lewinsky scandal would make her perfectly at home in Wingnuttia, where old scandals are endlessly rehashed and grievances are nurtured for decades.... Give it up, MoDo. Go over to the dark side. We're sick of you here."

Presidential Race

Jana Kasperkevic of the Guardian: "As he surges in the polls, closing the gap on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is being taken increasingly seriously as a potential presidential candidate. In a 10-minute interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, Sanders -- an independent senator from Vermont running for the Democratic nomination as a self-described 'democratic socialist' -- fended off tougher questions about that identification than he had previously been asked. Repeating a familiar line from his campaign and TV appearances so far, he said his popularity was in part due to the fact that ordinary American voters wanted a candidate who was willing to take on the establishment." ...

... Here's part of the interview. The whole interview is here, but the quality of the video sucks.

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "In the lush countryside and teeming city neighborhoods where Senator Marco Rubio's family cut sugar cane, toiled in tobacco mills and scraped by to make a better life for their children, the first Cuban-American to have a plausible chance to become president of the United States is the island's least favorite son.... [Rubio] has argued for years that normalized relations with the United States would only strengthen an oppressive Cuban government that impoverishes its people, limits access to information and violates human rights.... Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the other Cuban-American Republican running for president, hardly registers." Rubio blames state-controlled media for his unpopularity among Cubans.

Ben Gittelson of ABC News: "Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said he didn't believe that his fellow 2016 contender Donald Trump 'understands the challenge' of strengthening the U.S.-Mexico border, adding he was 'offended' when Trump labeled Mexicans 'rapists' during a speech last month." ...

... Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post (July 4): "Jeb Bush says he's 'absolutely' personally offended by Donald Trump's recent incendiary comments about Mexico and immigrants coming from the country. Bush, the former Florida governor whose wife is from Mexico, made his comments about Trump to reporters at the end of two Independence Day parades in the first-in-the-nation primary state." ...

... CW: One has to wonder why it took these profiles in courage three weeks to mention it wasn't okay to characterize Mexicans as criminals & rapists. ...

... Ali Elkin of Bloomberg: "... Ted Cruz says he won't attack primary rival Donald Trump for his comments on Mexican immigrants.... 'I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration,' the Texas senator said on NBC's Meet the Press in an interview that aired Sunday. 'The Washington cartel doesn't want to address that.'... To his 3.1 million Twitter followers, [Trump] urged Rubio to 'stand up for US'; said Romney 'lost an election against Obama that should NEVER have been lost!'; said Perry 'failed at the border' and 'needs a new pair of glasses to see the crimes committed by illegal immigrants'; and said Bush 'will never secure our border or negotiate great trade deals for American workers." ...

... AND, if you just happened to miss Chuck & Ted's excellent conversation, Driftglass reprises all the parts you need to know. Just for the record, Chuck & Ted were unable to solve some minor problems, like the 11 million-plus undocumented people living in the U.S. But as Chuck wisely noted, the segment was short, & the boyz would figure it out in a future installment of Press the Meat. Tune in next week, people, when Chuck will not solve other pressing issues: Grexit! Iranian nukes! Wealth inequality! ...

... Ali Breland of Politico: "Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday announced that he had raised more than $51 million in his first few months as a presidential candidate, split between his official campaign and the super PACs supporting his 2016 bid."

Jonathan Easley of the Hill: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday blamed the media for continuing to link him to the Bridgegate scandal that has ensnared two of his top former aides, saying he deserves an apology. 'Three different investigations have verified exactly what I said the day after this incident happened, that I have no knowledge of it and had absolutely nothing to do with it,' Christie said on 'Fox News Sunday.'" CW: I'll be looking for the fact-checkers on that one. "Couldn't find fingerprints" and "verified innocence" have quite different meanings, Mr. Former Prosecutor. And I'm awfully, awfully sorry for linking to all that liberal trash talk.

Rand Paul -- Still Making Up the Stuff He Doesn't Plagiarize. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "By a wide margin, the most popular fact check of June is a Four-Pinocchio ruling concerning an oft-told tale by Sen. Rand Paul about an elderly man imprisoned for having 'dirt on his land.' Little of Paul's account turned out to be true."

... He was convicted of a RICO conspiracy. RICO's something you're supposed to be going after gangsters for. You know what his conspiracy was? Conspiracy to put dirt on his own land. We've gone crazy. We've run amok. -- Rand Paul, June 9

Lucas was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy and environmental violations -- not of organized crime. He was convicted for his role in developing 67 lots inside federally protected wetlands, building on wetlands without approval and knowingly selling land with illegal sewage systems that were likely to fail. And he did not serve the full nine-year sentence in prison. -- Glenn Kessler

Beyond the Beltway

Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times: "In a scathing audit, state tax officials slammed nonprofit health insurer Blue Shield of California for stockpiling 'extraordinarily high surpluses' -- more than $4 billion -- and for failing to offer more affordable coverage or other public benefits. The California Franchise Tax Board cited those reasons, among others, for revoking Blue Shield's state tax exemption last year, according to documents related to the audit that were reviewed by The Times. These details have remained secret until now.... The company continues to appeal the state's revocation."

Hector Tobar, in a New York Times op-ed: "... a survey by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found an 85 percent increase in the number of people [in L.A.] living in tents and cars over the past two years.... California has both the most 'ultrarich' (people worth more than $30 million) and the worst poverty rate in America."

Sam Collins of Think Progress: "Hours after [Philadelphia Police Chief Charles] Ramsey announced the rollout of a new policy that mandates the public disclosure of officers in police-involved shootings, Lodge 5 Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union organization representing the employees of the Philadelphia Police Department, filed an unfair labor complaint against him, saying that he implemented the new policy 'without negotiating with or securing the approval of the FOP.'"

News Ledes

ABC News: "As Americans were celebrating the Fourth of July holiday, four Russian long-range bomber aircraft flew close enough to the US shores that they were intercepted by military fighter jets. The first set of two bombers flew near Alaska and just 30 minutes later a separate set flew far off the west coast of California. According to officials at NORAD the flights stayed within international airspace and at no time did any of the Russian bombers enter or get close to entering sovereign North American boundaries." CW: Sarah Palin saw them from her porch.

Los Angeles Times: About 18,000 attended a birthday celebrate for the Dalai Lama at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

New York Times: Pope Francis is in Equador.

AP: "The surviving escapee from a prison break and three-week manhunt will spend 23 hours a day in a maximum-security cell, much more confined than he and a fellow murder convict were in the prison from which they managed a getaway, officials said Sunday. David Sweat, who was shot and wounded during his June 28 capture, was taken early Sunday from Albany Medical Center to the infirmary at the Five Points Correctional Facility in the central New York town of Romulus...."

New York Times: The U.S. took the Women's World Cup in a 5-2 victory against Japan.

Saturday
Jul042015

The Commentariat -- July 5, 2015

Linda Greenhouse: "Not that any of the Republicans have asked me for advice, but I'll give them some anyway: Fomenting backlash [against the Supreme Court] is not a winning strategy.... Stoking public anger against the Supreme Court can't succeed in a vacuum. Backlash needs to be fed and sustained by fear: fear of crime; fear of a threat to 'our Southern way of life'; fear, in the case of abortion, of a revolution in women's traditional role in the family and in society. And what, exactly, are people supposed to be afraid of now? A same-sex married couple with affordable health insurance?"

Julie Bosman of the New York Times on sex offender registries. You could get on one for peeing in public or "swapping lewd texts." In the featured case, it appears the judge & prosecutor just didn't approve of young people hooking up via Websites, & they use that view as an excuse to ruin the lives of young people who aren't so prissy. CW P.S. Though the young man featured in the story is white, sex-offender statutes seem like an excellent way for racist judges to get away with criminalizing young black men.

Ben Wofford of Politico Magazine: The U.S. "has only one federally funded slave memorial -- and it's been falling apart." At least read the part about how Saint George Washington successfully finagled Pennsylvania's gradual abolition law.

John Hooper & Helena Smith of the Guardian: "Greeks have begun voting in a referendum that presents the biggest challenge to the running of the euro since its adoption and risks sending shock waves through the world's financial markets."

God News

Barbara Hoberock of the Tulsa World: "The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol must be removed. The plaintiffs said its placement at the Capitol constituted the use of public property for the benefit of a system of religion, which is banned by the Oklahoma Constitution. The monument, a gift from Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, and his family, was recently reinstalled after a man drove a vehicle into it." Outrage ensues. Via Steve Benen.

Presidential Race

Kevin Hardy of the Des Moines Register: "On the tail end of a three-day Iowa swing, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he's feeling good about his momentum here and across the country. More than 150 supporters marched with Sanders on Saturday in Waukee's Independence Day parade, the last of his eight Iowa stops this week.... Sanders drew both traditional Democrats and conservatives on Saturday. 'This will be the first time I've caucused with the Democrats,' said Michael Tallman, 25, of Des Moines... Micheal Davenport, 35, of Des Moines said he generally votes conservatively. But he marched in support of Sanders Saturday. Davenport is an anti-abortion Catholic.... But Davenport said Pope Francis' call for tolerance and more moderate rhetoric surrounding social issues has made him rethink some issues." ...

... Annie Karni & Jonathan Topaz of Politico on "Bernie & Hillary's holiday weekend." ...

... Philip Rucker & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: In New Hampshire, the candidates paraded; hecklers heckled. ...

... Jennifer Kasperkevic of the Guardian: "As 2016 presidential candidates flocked to spend Independence Day in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton found herself defending her record on policy and the size of crowds at her events." ...

... Annie Karni: "Hillary Clinton arrived in this liberal New England [-- Hanover, N.H. --] enclave with a message for anyone thinking about voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont: 'I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.'... And at the first stop of her two-day swing through the early-voting state, Clinton highlighted contrasts with her main Democratic rival without mentioning him by name." ...

... Liam Stack of the New York Times: "Hillary Rodham Clinton offered moral support to a distraught gay youth who shared his anxiety about his future in a viral photograph posted on the Humans of New York Facebook page, telling him on Friday that it would be 'amazing.'" CW: What? No comforting words from Ted Cruz?

Belatedly, Marco Thumps Trump. Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "On Friday, Rubio released a strongly worded statement which said: 'Trump's comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive.'... On Saturday, speaking on the Fox & Friends morning show, Trump attacked Rubio for being 'very weak on immigration'. He also said the former New York governor George Pataki, who has criticised his remarks, was 'a sad figure' and 'a terrible governor of New York' who had 'zero numbers in the polls'.... Trump said he 'respected' the Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has defended his remarks on immigration.... On Friday, Trump lost the support of another US institution when the chairman of Nascar said the auto-racing series would not host its season-end awards at his Trump National Doral resort in Miami." ...

... Steve M. is very excited about the Trump-Cruz ticket. ...

... Me-Too Mitt. Cassie Spodak of CNN: "Mitt Romney said Saturday that Donald Trump's comments on Mexico and undocumented immigrants have hurt the Republican Party, [link fixed] making the 2012 presidential nominee the latest Republican to slam the billionaire over his controversial remarks. Romney made his remarks during a Fourth of July parade in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, which was also attended by presidential candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Asked if Trump's comments on Mexicans have hurt the Republican Party, Romney replied, 'Yes; I think he made a severe error in saying what he did about Mexican-Americans,' Romney said...." CW: Mitt's father George was a Mexican-American.

AP: "In a sudden reversal amid a stinging backlash, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and GOP legislative leaders said they agreed Saturday to completely remove a part of the proposed state budget that would severely roll back open records laws.... The restrictions, which Republicans on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee slipped into the proposed budget late Thursday, would shield nearly everything created by state and local government officials from Wisconsin's open records law, including drafts of legislation and staff communications. The proposal drew heavy criticism from liberals and conservatives alike, and was the subject of a withering front-page editorial in Saturday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." ...

... Here's the Journal Sentinel editorial. ...

... Mary Spicuzza of the Journal Sentinel: "Walker, speaking with reporters Saturday before participating in the Wauwatosa Independence Day Parade, acknowledged that he had 'a lot of concerns about' the proposals. His comments were echoed by Republican legislative leaders early Saturday, including those who backed the changes just two days earlier. Though he holds one of the most powerful veto pens in the nation ... Walker early Saturday had stopped short of pledging to veto the open records overhaul. But by the end of the day, it became clear he wouldn't have to face that decision, because he and other lawmakers agreed to drop the proposal." CW: In other words, Scottie will get away with as much as he can. ...

... CW: Contributor Nadd2 points us to this video of Scottie's weasling out of muliple questions about his part in the scheme. I thought Scottie was no good at deflecting questions. Turns out he's a master of misdirection, dissemblng & deception. Bottom line: his dirty paws are all over the last-minute insert"

Friday
Jul032015

The Commentariat -- July 4, 2015

Afternoon Update:

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Another day on the presidential campaign trail, another crowd of eye-popping size for Bernie Sanders. The independent senator from Vermont attracted more than 2,500 people to a convention center [in Council Bluffs, Iowa] on Friday night.... Appearing Friday at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the country's first primary state, [Hillary] Clinton attracted about 850 people."

Yes, Virginia, There Is an Uncle Sam. Maybe. Sam Roberts of the New York Times: "Two centuries ago, in Troy, N.Y..., Samuel Wilson, the upstate New York butcher known locally as Uncle Sam and considered the inspiration for the national symbol..., stamped the meat he delivered to American troops poised to invade Canada during the War of 1812 with the initials 'U.S.,' earning him a permanent spot in the nation's iconography."

White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Fourth of July. He honored the individuals who, throughout the history of America, have struggled and sacrificed to make this country a better place, from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in uniform serving at home and overseas":

** Claire Moser, in Think Progress: "Just in time for the Fourth of July -- when millions of people across the country will visit America's national parks and other public lands -- the Koch brothers are rolling out their latest campaign against these treasured places: pushing for no more national parks. In an op-ed published in Tuesday's New York Times, Reed Watson, the executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), along with a research associate at the Center, call for no more national parks, citing the backlog in maintenance for existing parks.... PERC has a long history of advocating for the privatization of America's national parks and other public lands, and has significant ties to the Koch brothers and fossil fuel industries." ...

... In this regard, it is worth re-reading Tim Egan's 2010 essay on the people's parks. ...

... "These Disunited States." Colin Woodard in Politico Magazine: "Long before the Civil War, the United States had been torn between competing visions of what the American experiment was all about, with the northernmost tier of the country emphasizing collective action to build an allegedly stronger, better and more just Union while the southernmost tier championed self-government, the liberties of local rulers and the sanctity of local tradition. The other regions -- and there were well more than two -- found themselves caught in between. Strikingly little has changed." ...

... Michael Lind in Politico Magazine: "Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand -- more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy.... We'd be less violent, more mobile and in general more normal if not for Dixie." ...

... Colbert King of the Washington Post: "The political freedom resulting from the [American Revolution] was earned on battlefields at Lexington and Concord, at the Battle of Bunker Hill and beyond, with the help of black soldiers, both free and enslaved, who fought with the Continental Army. The Revolutionary War victory was every bit theirs, as well.... At the start of the war, George Washington opposed the recruitment of blacks, whether free or slave. Washington had plenty of company. Many slave owners considered the training and arming of slaves akin to inviting insurrection. But they soon found that there weren't nearly enough white men willing and able to fight the British, so Washington relented." ...

... Contra King, Dylan Matthews writes in Vox, "... Simon Schama writes in Rough Crossings, his history of black loyalism during the Revolution, the war was 'a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery.' Slaves also understood that their odds of liberation were better under British rule than independence. Over the course of the war, about 100,000 African slaves escaped, died, or were killed, and tens of thousands enlisted in the British army, far more than joined the rebels." ...

     ... Remains of the Day. CW: Matthews' post, titled "3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake," is well-worth a read. However, in my own counterfactual, I would argue that Great Britain would soon tire of the American colonies & arrange to leave us mostly to our own devices, perhaps with the sort of autonomy that most of the remains of the Empire enjoy today. Downside: no Independence Day holiday. ...

... Michael Twitty in the Guardian: "... if America is about people creating new worlds based on rebellion against oppression and slavery, then barbecue is the ideal dish: it was made by enslaved Africans with inspiration and contributions from Native Americans struggling to maintain their independence.... Barbecue is laced with the aspiration of freedom, but it was seasoned and flavored by the people who could not enjoy any freedom on Independence Day for almost a century." Thanks to safari for the link.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century."

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back."

Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Federal and local authorities have found that ... [accused mass murderer Dylann Roof] had been in contact with white supremacists online, although it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre, according to law enforcement officials.... The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported on Thursday that the investigation had widened to include others who may have helped [Dylann] Roof." ...

... Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: Amber Roof, Dylann's sister, who cancelled her wedding -- which had been planned for four days after Dylann (allegedly) massacred nine people -- decided to crowdfund a new wedding & honeymoon. After receiving -- and deleting -- negative comments, Amber took down her GoFundMe page. CW: One can hardly blame the poor dear; there is not a word of guidance in any of the wedding etiquette books on how a disappointed bride should conduct herself in such a circumstance. So she proceeded in the way she thought most tasteful (though even I would have suggested she use the spellcheck).

Dana Milbank: The ascendant populist movement appears to be leaving behind top Democrats like President Obama, Hillary Clitnon [Update: sometimes a typo is just a typo.] & New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On Facebook, actor George Takei issues an appropriate apology for a remark he made about Justice Clarence Thomas. ...

... Jonathan Turley, in a Washington Post op-ed, suggests that "the right to 'dignity,' as Justice Anthony Kennedy repeatedly expressed in his Obergefell decision, is in conflict with First Amendment rights. "Should the right to dignity trump free speech or free exercise?" CW: Worth consideration. ...

... Simon Maloy of Salon: "... support for nullification theory [link fixed] tends to rise in the context of civil rights struggles, as the opponents of equal rights claim that the Supreme Court can't tell their (usually Southern) state what to do.... The important thing to understand with the current gay rights battle is that the proponents of the 'religious freedom' argument aren't actually talking about 'protecting' religious freedom -- they're talking about expanding the definition of what can be considered an expression of religious faith. When Ted Cruz and Ken Paxton argue that county clerks can refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of the Supreme Court, they're essentially saying that the act of doing one's government job is an act of faith and should be protected as such."

... George Rede of the Oregonian: "The owners of a shuttered Gresham[, Oregon,] bakery must pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake, the state's top labor official said Thursday. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay the women for emotional and mental suffering that resulted from the denial of service. The Kleins had cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing to make the cake. Avakian's ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year...."

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "After nearly a decade of recession, Puerto Rico's government says it cannot pay its $73 billion debt much longer. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla warns that more austerity is on the way, a necessity for an island now working feverishly to rescue itself. With so many bracing for another slide toward the bottom, the sense of despair grows more palpable by the day."

Griff Witte & Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "Dueling rallies of tens of thousands of people apiece took over central Athens on Friday evening, with demonstrators making their final push before a referendum on Sunday that has passionately divided this flailing nation between those terrified Greece will lose its place in Europe and others determined to transform the continent at all costs." ...

... Suzanne Daley of the New York Times: "On Friday, a day of dueling yes and no rallies, when a top Greek court swept aside a constitutional challenge to the referendum, the role of the news media emerged as one of the most contentious issues. Ads predicting doomsday scenarios and long newspaper articles on the plight of retirees have been coming fast and furious from Greece's oligarch-dominated news organizations, which critics say are all in on the yes side. ...

... Paul Taylor of Reuters: "Euro zone countries tried in vain to stop the IMF publishing a gloomy analysis of Greece's debt burden which the leftist government says vindicates its call to voters to reject bailout terms, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday. The document released in Washington on Thursday said Greece's public finances will not be sustainable without substantial debt relief, possibly including write-offs by European partners of loans guaranteed by taxpayers." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "Greece isn't going to cut, or reform, or grow it's way to debt sustainability. Either it will default on virtually all of its loans and adopt a new currency, or it will need debt forgiveness of the sort that Germany enjoyed after the Second World War, when more than half of its loans were written off." ...

... Noah Feldman in Bloomberg: "Greece is doing democracy wrong.... In a crisis, effective democracy requires an elected leader to do what he or she thinks is right -- and take the consequences later, when elections are called. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's failure to do this isn't democratic -- it's irresponsible hedging in the hopes of maintaining popularity even after a change in the policies that elected him."

Presidential Race

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney is hosting [N.J. Gov. Chris] Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, at his waterfront compound on picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee on Friday night.... Fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and his wife, Jeanette, also joined the Romneys for Friday night's slumber party.... On Saturday morning, the Christies and Rubios will also be marching in Wolfeboro's celebrated Fourth of July parade." CW: Aw, shucks, I have to clean out my car & do some laundry, so I won't be able to make it. ...

... Steve M.: "Romney seemed to be deferring to Jeb when he decided not to run for president this year, but I'm starting to wonder whether he's looking for a way to help Jeb's rivals at Jeb's expense.... Jeb, by the way, is holding "two intimate campaign events" (a dinner and a staff briefing) in Kennebunkport this weekend, according to theNew York Post's Page Six." ...

... BUT, Philip Rucker: "Romney and his wife, Ann, plan to meet this coming week with former Florida governor Jeb Bush for lunch at Walker's Point, the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.... In past years, the Romneys have visited with the Bushes at Walker's Point." The summer residences are about a 50-mile drive from each other.

"A Lesson in Inequality." Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times: New York City, under the Bloomberg administration, paid Donald Trump $127 million (& tax breaks) to build & operate a public golf course in the Bronx. "A stretch of housing projects borders the links and so does a tightly packed cemetery, St. Raymond's...." The city was supposed to equip a free public park that is next to the grounds, but the "equipment" is nothing but a slide. ...

... Missed this, but it's worth noting. Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg (July 1): Donald Trump "was quoted as saying in an interview with the Golf Channel that he's received 'tremendous support' from those in the golf world because 'they all know I'm right' [about Mexican immigrants].... The U.S. PGA Tour, the PGA of America, the U.S. Golf Association and the LPGA Tour said Wednesday in a joint statement that Trump's remarks don't reflect the views of those organizations.... 'While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,'" they said.

... Last week Lindsay Abrams of Salon interviewed Anthony Baxter, who made a documentary, "You've Been Trumped" about Donald Trump's golf course project in Scotland. "Trump's no less loathed in Scotland. There, however, the problem is less about what Trump says, and more about what he's actually done -- run roughshod over protected dunes to build an elite golf course, attack an offshore wind energy project because it 'ruined' his view, cajole politicians into supporting his every whim. He's also run into trouble for the promises he's failed to keep...." Also, of course, his 18 golf courses for the elite -- especially the courses in deserts -- are environmental disasters. ...

... Here's the film, which has received rave reviews: