The Ledes

Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

AP: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday that an American serviceman has been killed near Irbil in Iraq. 'It is a combat death,' Carter said at the outset of a news in Stuttgart, Germany where he has been consulting with European allies this week."

New York Times (May 2): "A historic Serbian Orthodox church in Manhattan that plays an important role in New York’s Serbian community was gutted by flames on Sunday, just hours after parishioners had filled its pews for Easter services. The New York Fire Department said it received the first report of the blaze at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, on West 25th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in the Flatiron district, shortly before 7 p.m.... The church, which has served for decades as the backbone of New York’s Serbian Orthodox community, was previously known as Trinity Chapel, an Episcopal church that was sold to its current owners in 1943." ...

... CBS/AP: "Investigators in three cities are looking into large fires at Orthodox churches that occurred around the religion's Easter celebrations and caused widespread damage. The blazes in New York City, as well as Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, caused only minor injuries, according to multiple reports."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

New York Times: "Taking a stance sharply at odds with most American public health officials, a major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit. The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms." -- CW

Washington Post: "More than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment -- double the survival rate typical of the disease, according to a new study."

Zoe Schlanger of Newsweek: "If you are eating fast food, you're probably also eating phthalates,... a class of chemicals that have been linked to everything from ADHD to breast cancer, ...[which] are common in food packaging, drink containers, the tubing used to transport dairy and the equipment used to process fast food." --LT

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

New York Times: “'Hamilton,' the groundbreaking hip-hop musical about the nation’s founding fathers, has been nominated for 16 Tony Awards, the most in Broadway history." ...

... Here's the full list of Tony Award nominees.

MIT News: "For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth. The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published [Monday, May 2] in the journal Nature.... The scientists discovered the planets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60-centimeter telescope operated by the University of Liège, based in Chile."

Washington Post's Reliable Source: At an "afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner [Saturday, May 1]..., a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief.... The two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people. 'Punches were definitely thrown,' said one witness. Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including Sean Spicer, communications director at the Republican National Committee, separated the two."

New York Times: "... a nearly 47,000-word journalistic series [by Walt Whitman] called 'Manly Health and Training,' were lost for more than 150 years, buried in an obscure newspaper that survived only in a handful of libraries. The series was uncovered last summer by a graduate student, who came across a fleeting reference to it in a digitized newspaper database and then tracked down the full text on microfilm.Now, Whitman’s self-help-guide-meets-democratic-manifesto is being published online in its entirety by a scholarly journal, in what some experts are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades."

This is for safari:

... Via the New Yorker.

Washington Post: "Late last week, Comcast announced a new program that allows makers of smart TVs and other Internet-based video services to have full access to your cable programming without the need for a set-top box.  Instead, the content will flow directly to the third-party device as an app, including all the channels and program guide. The Xfinity TV Partner Program will initially be offered on new smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Roku streaming boxes.  But the program, built on open Internet-based standards including HTML5, is now open to other device manufacturers to adopt. As video services move from hardware to software, the future of the traditional set-top box looks increasingly grim. With this announcement, Comcast customers may soon eliminate the need for an extra device, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in fees."

BBC: "Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant have joined other stars at a gala marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death. Saturday's Shakespeare Live show in the playwright's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music." Then this:

New York Times: "The Pulitzers are in their centennial year, and the winners announced by Columbia University reflected in part the changes sweeping the media landscape." Here's the full list of the prize winners, via the New York Times.

CW: The AP produced this video in January 2015, but I just came across it:

New York Times: "James Levine, who transformed the Metropolitan Opera during four decades as its music director but has suffered from poor health in recent years, will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus, the company announced Thursday."

Politico: "Gabriel Snyder, editor in chief of The New Republic for the past 17 months, is leaving the magazine in the wake of its sale to Win McCormack.... The masthead change marks the first big move since McCormack, a publisher, Democratic booster and editor in chief of a literary journal called Tin House, bought TNR from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in February after Hughes was unsuccessful at turning around the money-losing magazine’s business during his four years of stewardship."

The Great Octopus Escape. Guardian: "An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea. In scenes reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Inky – a common New Zealand octopus – made his dash for freedom after the lid of his tank was accidentally left slightly ajar. Staff believe that in the middle of the night, while the aquarium was deserted, Inky clambered to the top of his glass enclosure, down the side of the tank and travelled across the floor of the aquarium."

... Charles Pierce: "One of the best biographies I've ever read was Scott Berg's brilliant, National Book Award-winning account of the life of Maxwell Perkins, the editor at Scribner's who was responsible for bringing out the best work in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... I'm going to be first in line to see [the film "Genius."] OK, so there won't be a line, but I'll be there nonetheless."

Michael Cavna of the Washington Post on the artistry in the film "All the President's Men."The real Woodward & Bernstein weigh in.

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The Commentariat -- April 10, 2016

Presidential Race

Bernie Ratchets It up Again. Jeremy Herb of Politico: "Bernie Sanders's attacks on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are shifting from qualifications for president to her judgment. 'She may have the experience to be president of the United States. No one can argue that,' Sanders said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'But in terms of her judgment, something is clearly lacking.' And on CNN's 'State of the Union,' Sanders said: 'I have my doubts about what kind of president she would make.'" -- CW

Rebecca Shebad of The Hill: "Former President Carter says ... when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry's coming into office that reinitiated all these very important and crucial issues." -- LT

This Is Sickening. Evelyn Rupert of the Hill: "A Bernie Sanders event in New York reached a tense ending Saturday as a man shouted questions about Sanders's religion over boos from the audience. 'As you know, the Zionist Jews -- and I don't mean to offend anybody -- they run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street, they run every campaign,' the man said. Sanders responded by shaking his head and saying 'Brother, brother, brother.' The man then said: 'What is your affiliation to your Jewish community? That's all I'm asking.' Sanders responded: 'That's not what your asking.'" -- CW

Jeremy Herb: "President Barack Obama insisted in an interview with Fox News aired Sunday that the FBI and Justice Department will not protect ... Hillary Clinton while investigating her private emails and server. 'I can guarantee that,' Obama said repeatedly in an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, who interviewed the president in his first appearance on 'Fox News Sunday' during his seven-year tenure." Full interview under Other News & Views below. -- CW

Yamiche Alcindor & Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Continuing a string of victories across the West, Senator Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming Democratic caucuses Saturday, chipping away at Hillary Clinton's delegate lead before a major primary in New York next week. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press declared Mr. Sanders the winner with 56 percent of the vote.... Coming after Mr. Sanders's recent big victories in Washington State, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii and Wisconsin, it was more evidence of Mrs. Clinton's weaknesses among white and liberal voters...." -- CW

Nobody can take someone's arm anymore in America? That's assault? -- Bill Maher, Friday ...

... Maher Embraces His "Politically Incorrect" Brand. Pundit Bill Maher defended Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's alleged "simple battery" on former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields -- Maher called it alleged "assault," but he's not a lawyer -- & went on to diss Fields for complaining about it. Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast reports. CW: This is a reminder that Maher thinks violence against women is funny. Maher has a long history of sexism (Google it), which is something to keep in mind, especially if Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee.

Jill Lepore of the New Yorker: "Trump will want this to be an election about popular sovereignty: the people rule. Clinton will not be able to avoid making an argument about female rule, because much in Trump's campaign, and in Cruz's, too, suggests that a woman should not have authority over a man, or over her own body, either. The candidates may not want this election to become a battle of the sexes, but the lines have been drawn, long since." -- CW

Mussolini v. Hitler. Rebecca Savransky of the Hill: "Donald Trump's convention manager, Paul Manafort, said on Sunday that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is using 'Gestapo tactics' to try to lure delegates. 'He's threatening, you go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics,' Manafort said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" -- CW ..

... BUT. Tom LoBianco of CNN: "Ted Cruz suffered a rare convention loss Saturday after delegates backing John Kasich and Donald Trump boxed him out of key positions in the Michigan delegation. The Texas senator's campaign ran eight delegates for eight committee spots and lost every one, alleging it was 'double-crossed' by Kasich supporters." -- CW

John Frank & Joey Bunch of the Denver Post: Ted Cruz "won all 34 delegates awarded in Colorado in what amounts to a stunning rebuke of Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Cruz completed the sweep by winning all 13 delegates at the state convention in Colorado Springs -- the largest in history with nearly 8,000 in the crowd -- where he gave what amounted to an victory speech earlier in the day." -- CW

Denis Slattery of the New York Daily News: On Saturday, Donald Trump made his first visit to the 9/11 Ground Zero memorial & museum. "Trump also made a $100,000 donation to the institution, another first, the Daily News has learned." Trump's charitable foundation [never made] a single substantial donation to any 9/11-related nonprofit groups that have aided survivors, rescue workers and the families of first-responders ..." tho his campaign said he made a "significant" donation to the Red Cross right after the 2001 attack. Trump "The deal-maker did accept a $150,000 federal grant that was part of a program meant to assist small businesses affected by the attacks." ...

... CW: According to this February Smoking Gun report, Trump, who funnels his charitable contributions through the Donald Trump Foundation, made no donation to the Red Cross in 2001 or 2002. But he did get that small business grant.

Kyle Cheney of Politico: "Indiana hasn't cast its ballots for president yet, but Donald Trump is already losing. Republican Party insiders in the state will select 27 delegates to the national convention on Saturday, and Trump is assured to be nearly shut out of support, according to interviews with a dozen party leaders and officials involved in the delegate selection process.... Indiana's delegates will be bound to the results of the state's May 3 primary on the first vote in Cleveland, and Trump is expected to be competitive in that contest.... But if Trump fails to clinch the nomination, they'll be free to vote their conscience -- and that means a rapid rejection of Trump." -- CW

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump still leads the Republican presidential race, but Ted Cruz continues to beat him at a trickier game -- securing convention delegates in states that don't hold caucuses or primaries. If Trump fails to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP presidential nomination before the party convention in Cleveland this July, his missteps in more obscure delegate contests could be the ones that cost him a victory." -- CW ...

... Evan Osnos of the New Yorker: "... as we approach the growing prospect of a contested convention..., it's becoming clearer that Trump may seek to shape the outcome by using his most unwieldy weapon of all: the latent power of usually peaceful people. It's easy to mock Trump for his thin-skinned fixation on the size of his audiences, but that misses a deeper point: you can't have a riot without a mob." -- CW

... Jeff Greenfield of Politico on Republicans trying to turn back the clock: "...Republican elders who are desperately trying to derail Trump are openly contemplating going back to the old ways, handing the nomination to someone who never spent a day on the campaign trail, never tried to persuade single voter, and was simply delivered the nomination by an arena full of anonymous delegates. Somehow, the establishment thinks, it can instruct all those millions of Republican voters who came out for Trump and Cruz and Kasich to fall in line behind, say, Speaker Paul Ryan." --unwashed

Hadas Gold of Politico: "The Boston Globe on Sunday will publish a satirical front page predicting headlines about a Donald Trump presidency alongside a 'Stop Trump' editorial. The fake front page will be the lead of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section and 'is a work of political satire and commentary produced by the Globe's Editorial Board, not the newsroom,' Globe Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg wrote in an email." Here's the Globe's fake front page for April 9, 2017. CW: It's a slow-loader but worth the wait. Unfortunately, the "stories" are not too farfetched, & some teases are pretty funny: "Heavy spring snow closed Trump National Park for the first time since it dropped its loser name, Yellowstone, in January." The accompanying editorial is here. ...

... Speaking of Fake News.... Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "So on Friday night, Donald Trump tweeted this: '@Cam: Reports are RNC has received +1 million postcards so far....'" Trump's tweet included a photo of the postcards, which are addressed to RNC chair Reince Priebus, & say "I will only vote for Donald Trump. Do not steal this election." Even given the unlikelihood that Trump supporters could have organized such a massive mail campaign -- and without news of it leaking -- "... the postcards are printed with the wrong address. The address printed on those alleged one million postcards would have ended up dumped in a pile at the intersection next to the Capitol South Metro stop.... We asked the Republican National Committee how many postcards they may have received. 'We have received a grand total of zero,' said spokesman Michael Short." -- CW

Driftglass provides a humorous take on David Brooks and the death of the Republican Party: "[Friday], Mr. Brooks imagineers out of thin air an entire army of public-spirited Reasonable Republicans who will infiltrate the Republican convention in July cleverly disguised as party hacks but then -- surprise! -- cast off their fake George Wallace noses and Pat Buchanan wigs just in time to rise as one!... But when I read it, in my head it sounded a lot like this..." a la Monty Python. --unwashed

Other News & Views

Chris Wallace of "Fox 'News' Sunday" interviews President Obama: (The quality isn't too good, but it's all I got. -- CW:

A Democratic Congress is good for America. President Obama, Friday

Darlene Superville of the AP: Speaking at a fundraiser at the California home of Gordon Getty, "President Barack Obama praised Democratic lawmakers for having his back through some politically tough votes and encouraged supporters to help elect more of them in November. Obama also criticized Senate Republicans for refusing to consider his Supreme Court nominee and said GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz aren't 'outliers' but are simply parroting what some congressional Republicans have said for years." -- CW

Mitch Smith & Monica Davey of the New York Times: "A lawyer for J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House who is awaiting sentencing for a federal banking violation, said Saturday that his client acknowledged committing 'transgressions' decades ago as a high school teacher and wrestling coach, but again stopped short of detailing those misdeeds." -- CW

**Josh Marshall of TPM: "...Hastert's improbable rise to the pinnacle of political power in Washington was a direct consequence of Republican party efforts to exploit and eventually criminalize Bill Clinton's extramarital sex life in order to overturn the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. The chain of events is clear and straightforward." --safari

Ed Vulliamy of the Guardian on how Teddy Roosevelt & financier J. P. Morgan made Panama a haven for the rich. -- CW ...

... Ken Silverstein in Vice (December 2014): "In 1903, the administration of Theodore Roosevelt created the country [of Panama] after bullying Colombia to hand over what was then the province of Panama. Roosevelt acted at the behest of various banking groups, among them J. P. Morgan & Co., which was appointed as the country's official 'fiscal agent,' in charge of managing $10 million in aid that the US rushed down to the new nation." CW: Silverstein pretty much had the goods on the law firm Mossack Fonseca a couple of years before the Panama Papers came out.

James Carroll in the New Yorker: "Pope Francis's emphasis on mercy toward the divorced and remarried doesn't only mean that those people will more freely partake of Communion. It also means that the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage, however much it is still held up as an ideal, will not grip the moral imagination of the Church as it once did." -- CW

NewsCorpse on DailyKos: "Sesame Street made a historic addition to its cast of lovable characters Afghan girl [who] will join the Muppets for its broadcast in the Afghanistan version of the show.... The news of Zari's debut has produced the all too predictable rash of bigotry that we've all come to expect from the conservative hate mongers who believe that all Muslims are terrorists."

Beyond the Beltway

David Warren of the AP: "A former FBI agent who later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force was identified Saturday as the man who killed his commander at an air base in San Antonio before turning the gun on himself."

Paul Bond of the Hollywood Reporter: Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) called performer Bruce Springsteen a "bully" for cancelling a concert in Greensboro -- part of Walker's district -- in protest of a North Carolina law that protects bullies.

Way Beyond

Raphael Satter of the AP: "The attackers who struck Brussels on March 22 initially planned to launch a second assault on France, Belgium's Federal Prosecution Office said Sunday. But the perpetrators were 'surprised by the speed of the progress in the ongoing investigation' and decided to rush an attack on Brussels instead, the office said in a statement." -- CW ...

... Alissa Rubin of the New York Times: "The 'man in the hat' who accompanied the two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives at Brussels Airport on March 22, and who was seen in a surveillance video walking away from the airport, has been identified as Mohamed Abrini, the Belgian prosecutor's office said in a statement on Saturday. Mr. Abrini is also suspected of providing logistical help for the men who carried out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. He was detained on Friday in Brussels after a nearly five-month manhunt and was charged on Saturday with participation in the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist murder." -- CW ...

... Erik Kirschbaum of the Los Angeles Times: "A suspected terrorist arrested Friday in Belgium has confessed to being the mysterious 'man in the hat' believed to have participated in the Brussels attacks last month that killed 32 people, prosecutors said Saturday." -- CW

Bradley Klapper of the AP: "Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday committed to pushing reforms after his picks for attorney general and interior minister won long-sought Cabinet confirmation, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded with the government's power-sharing leaders to bury their "factional divisions" for the good of the country." -- CW

Daniel Boffey of the Guardian's Observer: British Prime Minister David Cameron "took the unprecedented decision to release his personal tax records on Saturday, as growing anger over revelations in the Panama Papers threatened to derail his premiership. But the extraordinary move seems set to plunge David Cameron into further controversy, as it emerged that his mother transferred two separate payments of £100,000 to his accounts in 2011, allowing the family estate to avoid a potential £80,000 worth of inheritance tax." -- CW

Yonette Joseph of the New York Times: "The archbishop of Canterbury, who is the head of the Church of England, said on Friday that a DNA test had revealed that his biological father was not the whiskey salesman who had married his mother, but the man who had been the last private secretary for Sir Winston Churchill. In an unusually frank statement on his website, the Most Rev. Justin Welby said he had discovered the truth 'in the last month,' after taking the test." -- CW

     ... CW: If you're awfully fond of dear old Dad, you might want to think twice about getting one of those DNA tests.

Niraj Chokshi of the Washington Post: After their boat capsized, three men swam two miles to a tiny Pacific Island several hundred miles north of Papua New Guinea, from which they were rescued: "The crew aboard a Navy plane spotted the men waving life jackets, standing next to piles of palm leaves arranged to spell out four capital letters: H-E-L-P." The U.S. Coast Guard had coordinated an effort to find the men." CW: "Cast Away" would not have been a much shorter film if the Tom Hanks character had thought of that.

News Lede

New York Times: "Will Smith, a former defensive end for the New Orleans Saints who played on their Super Bowl championship team in 2009-10, was shot and killed in New Orleans late Saturday, the authorities said. Jeffrey Rouse, the Orleans Parish coroner, confirmed in a statement overnight that Smith had died of 'multiple gunshot wounds' after an exchange of words with another driver. The New Orleans Police Department said early Sunday that a suspect in the shooting, Cardell Hayes, 28, had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder."


The Commentariat -- April 9, 2016

Wyoming Democrats caucus, & Colorado Republicans hold their state convention today. ...

     ... CW Update: Oops! Guess Colorado Republican delegates met yesterday have been voting all week. Partial results linked under Presidential Race below.

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Official Voter Suppression Commission. Michael Wines of the New York Times: "The federal Election Assistance Commission was formed after the disputed 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and given an innocuous name and a seemingly inoffensive mission: to help state election officials make it easier to vote.... The election commission is in federal court this month, effectively accused of trying to suppress voter turnout in November's elections. The Justice Department, its nominal legal counsel, has declined to defend it. Its case instead is being pleaded by one of the nation's leading advocates of voting restrictions." -- CW

Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "Dozens of Transportation Security Administration employees in recent years have been reassigned, demoted, investigated or fired for reporting lapses or misconduct by senior managers, charges that were later upheld by whistle-blower protection agencies, records show.... The agency is troubled by internal problems.... Former and current T.S.A. employees said in interviews that they experienced a culture of fear and intimidation, where senior managers seemed more interested in targeting those who disclosed the agency's shortcomings rather than fixing problems." -- CW

Peter Hotez, in a New York Times op-ed: "If mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus reach the United States later this spring or summer, [Florida & Gulf Coast cities] are the major urban areas where the sickness will spread. If we don't intervene now, we could begin seeing newborns with microcephaly and stunted brain development on the obstetrics wards in one or more of these places." -- CW ...

... CW: Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans -- many of whom supposedly represent these Gulf Coast states -- refuse to fund R&D & other responses to the spread of the virus. These states' Republican leaders all have refused the Medicaid expansion under the ACA (The newly-elected Democratic governor of Louisiana has accepted it, but coverage is not yet in effect). While having health insurance obviously won't prevent mosquito bites, it would greatly increase the likelihood that pregnant women would get proper prenatal care & counseling on how to lower the risk of infection. ...

     ... CW: In what has to be the Comment of the Week, Victoria writes today that the Gulf states are "the exact areas where birth control and abortions are increasingly difficult to obtain. How will the evangelicals handle this disaster? Do chastity belts prevent mosquito bites?"

... more on the war on women - Amanda Marcotte of Salon: "The Missouri GOP wants a list of women who've had abortions in the state and is using the threat of jail to get it. While major anti-choice activists and politicians are rushing to microphones to disingenuously declare, contra Donald Trump, that they would never try to punish women for abortions, their true punitive and frankly creepy side is coming out in Missouri." -- LT

Seung Min Kim of Politico: "The GOP-led House of Representatives will be allotted 15 minutes of oral argument time to make its case against the Obama administration['s executive actions on immigration], according to a Friday order from the court. Overall, oral arguments will run 90 minutes, the order says." -- CW

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "In the next battleground in the Justice Department's fight to unlock some of Apple's well-encrypted iPhones, the department on Friday pressed ahead with its efforts to get access to a locked phone linked to a methamphetamine ring in Brooklyn. Although the F.B.I. unlocked a phone last month, ending its prominent legal battle with Apple in the case involving the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the Justice Department on Friday told a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York that it still needs the technology giant's help to unlock the phone in the Brooklyn case." -- CW

The Party of Fear. Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Vulnerable Republican incumbents are increasingly raising fears about Guantánamo Bay detainees, following a campaign strategy used by Scott Brown before his surprise victory in a Massachusetts special election for a Senate seat six years ago." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: Never mind that we learned only yesterday that "Far more convicted terrorists are being held in federal prisons in the United States than in Guantanamo Bay." Reason seldom factors in to any Republican talking point.

Guns and Ammo. Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Four years after asserting executive privilege to block Congress from obtaining documents relating to a controversial federal gun trafficking investigation, President Barack Obama relented Friday, turning over to lawmakers thousands of pages of records that led to unusual House votes holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt in 2012." -- unwashed

** Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker: "The Supreme Court Extremism of Clarence Thomas and Chuck Grassley.... The crudeness of Grassley's attack on [Chief Justice] Roberts, from a senator who claims to want to avoid a politicization of the court, is astonishing.... Thomas's blindness to the realities of American life -- and concomitant obsession with his understanding of the Framers' intent -- reflects his bizarre jurisprudential views." -- safari

Jennifer Bendery of The Huffington Post: "It sucks to be Merrick Garland right now...It's worth noting there are 46 other Merrick Garlands. That is, 46 other judicial nominees are in the same boat...who aren't getting votes ... because GOP leaders don't want to confirm judges until 2017." -- unwashed

Monica Davey & Mitch Smith of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors on Friday for the first time provided details of sexual abuse allegations against J. Dennis Hastert, the former speaker of the House, asserting that he molested at least four boys, as young as 14, when he worked as a high school wrestling coach decades ago.... In a court filing late Friday, making suggestions for a judge who will decide Mr. Hastert's sentence, the prosecutors described specific, graphic incidents that they say occurred when Mr. Hastert was a popular, championship-winning coach in a small Illinois town in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. The 'known acts,' the prosecutors said, consisted of 'intentional touching of minors' groin area and genitals or oral sex with a minor.'" Story includes the prosecutor's filing document. -- CW

Presidential Race

Rob Krilly of The Telegraph: "Laura Bush, the former first lady, has hinted she would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, saying she wants the next American president to be someone who cares about women in Afghanistan... she signalled she was among the growing band of establishment Republicans whose anyone-but-Trump stance extended to voting for Mrs Clinton in the general election." -- LT

Megan Carpentier & Laura Gambino of the Guardian: "Bernie Sanders returned to [Brooklyn] ... in a last-minute campaign rally..., in the middle of the street outside his childhood home off Kings Highway in Brooklyn to address supporters. Across the state, there was another homecoming of sorts for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who returned to western New York to once again ask the voters who helped launch her Senate career for their support." -- CW

BTW, Much Ado about Nothing. Both Bernie Sanders (here) & Hillary Clinton (here) have conceded that the other is qualified to be president. No kidding. CW: Still waiting for a Krugman apology.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "Bernie or no Bernie, 'Times' columnist Paul Krugman is wrong about the banks...The lessons of the crash era are that these megabanks have grown beyond the organic controls of capitalism. They were so big and so systemically important in '08 that the government could not let them go out of business.... This alone was an argument for breaking them up." -- LT

Gail Collins: "Have you noticed how Senator Sanders, former mayor of Burlington, Vt., is the glamour candidate while Clinton, former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state, seems to follow an itinerary fit for a county commissioner? Welcome to the New York primary."

Philip Pullella & Alana Wise of Reuters: "... Bernie Sanders was invited to speak at an April 15 Vatican event by the Vatican, a senior papal official said on Friday, denying a report that Sanders had invited himself.... 'I deny that. It was not that way,' Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo told Reuters in a telephone interview while he was traveling in New York. Sorondo, a close aide to Pope Francis, is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is hosting the event.He said it was his idea to invite Sanders." Via Kevin Drum. -- CW

Ali Gharib of the Guardian: "New Yorkers got a chuckle on Thursday morning when Hillary Clinton rode the subway.... Clinton had a little bit of trouble swiping her MetroCard: it took five goes...." However, the bigger problem was that she broke the MTA's rules against campaigning on subways. "The incident is all the more galling because there are actual, regular New Yorkers ... who are arrested for violating the same rules that Clinton disregards with impunity." -- CW

Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "Former President Bill Clinton said Friday he regretted drowning out the chants of black protesters at a rally in Philadelphia the day before, when he issued an aggressive defense of his administration's impact on black families. His reaction thrust a debate about the 1990s into the center of his wife's presidential campaign, one that has focused heavily on issues of race and criminal justice."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Senator Ted Cruz captured a majority of Colorado's delegates to the Republican National Convention on Friday, outmaneuvering Donald J. Trump, whose lack of an organized national campaign once again allowed Mr. Cruz to gain at his expense.... By Friday night, Mr. Cruz had taken 21 of the state's 37 national delegates. Mr. Trump and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio had none. Thirteen others will be decided on Saturday at the state convention." -- CW

Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe went to a Trump rally in Long Island: "There was an electricity and energy in the room that felt venomous, violent, terrifying -- like the political equivalent of parched kindling before a conflagration.... The more aggressive that Trump was in his comments, the more the crowd responded.... There's no poetry at Trump's events, no higher calling, no challenge other than to vote for Trump, no invocation of the 'better angels of our nature' -- it's just raw aggression, an animal, nationalistic spirit, us vs. them, zero sum game resentment politics." -- CW

...kind of like a frat party or hazing? Max Kutner of Newsweek: The Chalkening, a pro-Trump movement on campuses, ... "is likely a response to [college student populations being more liberal, diverse, and tolerant] especially for members of Greek life who are facing 'a crackdown on college campuses on fraternity culture' because some have said it promotes binge drinking and sexual assault." -- LT

Meet Trump's Mentor Roy Cohn. Michael Kruse in Politico Magazine: "That Roy Cohn..., the lurking legal hit man for red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy, whose reign of televised intimidation in the 1950s has become synonymous with demagoguery, fear-mongering and character assassination. In the formative years of Donald Trump's career..., Cohn was one of the most powerful influences and helpful contacts in Trump's life. Over a 13-year-period, ending shortly before Cohn's death in 1986, Cohn brought his say-anything, win-at-all-costs style to all of Trump's most notable legal and business deals."

David Graham of The Atlantic: "The breadth of Trump's controversies is truly yuge, ranging from allegations of mafia ties to unscrupulous business dealings, and from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape...This is a snapshot of some of the most interesting and largest of those scandals." --safari

...will he add bribery to the list? Philip Rucker of The Washington Post: "The swing voters of the GOP nominating contest, nearly 200 activists and elected leaders [are] beholden to nothing except their personal judgment... Campaign finance lawyers are divided over whether federal or state anti-bribery statutes would apply to delegates who are not elected officials -- and if so, what kinds of perks or inducements [like a weekend at Donald's] could be illegal." -- LT

Aaron Barlow of Salon: "Donald Trump has been a disaster for political journalists, but he has also been an incredible boon for those of us who teach journalism. Questions of ethics and practice, for instance, particularly in interview situations, are no longer simply academic."--safari

"New York Values." Katie Zezima of the Washington Post: "... with the delegate-rich New York primary looming, [Ted] Cruz must campaign in the Empire State -- a place known for its bare-knuckles approach to all things political, a propensity to hit back when slighted and residents who speak up when they disagree. "Take the F U train, Ted,' blared the cover of the New York Daily News Thursday, the day after Cruz was greeted by hecklers at a campaign stop in the Bronx. Cruz was swarmed by media as he walked into a Dominican-Chinese restaurant where he met with local and faith leaders. Two men were dragged out by police after they disrupted the gathering.... Despite the reception, Cruz refused to apologize for his 'New York values' criticism.... When asked by CNN if he regretted using the phrase, Cruz said, 'not remotely.'" -- CW

But Cruz Could Win the Big Prize. Steve M. "Hillary Clinton doesn't inspire much love; in that way she's like Gore and Kerry. She's not running on peace and prosperity. Her biggest advantage is the likely weakness of her opponent -- but Nixon, Reagan, and Poppy Bush have proved that you don't have to be loved to beat a Democrat." -- CW

Following up on Steve M.'s takedown (linked yesterday) of Time's fawning interview of Ted Cruz, Ed Kilgore patiently explains the obvious: "Ted Cruz is not an 'economic populist.'... It's hard to find a politician more inclined to get government off the backs of the very rich and the very powerful." -- CW ...

... Digby follows on, noting that the Time coverage is so Onion-esque that the Onion did indeed predict it. "... once you read the stories within, you'll have to conclude that the man whom virtually everyone with the misfortune of knowing him finds repulsive is terribly misunderstood. Where you might have thought the man was a doctrinaire rightwinger, steeped in religious fanaticism and radical free market extremism, you will find out that he's actually a good old boy, a salt of the earth populist." -- CW ...

... CW BTW: Digby describes Ted's portrait as "fetching." I find it standard-issue Cruz-creepy. If I were a crazed fundamentalist Christian who wanted to instill in my innocent children an abiding fear of the devil, I would show them photos of Ted.

Bill Maher discusses Republican electoral strategy: "Long lines are the new poll tax"--safari

Beyond the Beltway

Scott Bauer & Todd Richmond of the AP: "Wisconsin's right-to-work law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he was mounting his run for president, was struck down Friday as violating the state constitution. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, also a Republican, promised to appeal the decision and said he was confident it would not stand." -- CW

     ... The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story, by Patrick Marley & Jason Stein, is here. -- CW

Soumya Karlamangla of the Los Angeles Times: "Officials announced Friday that women in California can now drop by their neighborhood pharmacy and pick up birth control pills without a prescription from a doctor. It's not technically over-the-counter, but you can get them by talking to a pharmacist and filling out a questionnaire.... State legislators originally passed the law in 2013 but it was held up in regulatory discussions until Friday." -- CW

Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "The backlash against North Carolina's law banning anti-discrimination ordinances kept going unabated Friday, as Bruce Springsteen announced that he was canceling a weekend show in the state in solidarity with those protesting the bill." -- CW

...Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Rep. Louie Gohmert, R[nutcase]-Texas, defended North Carolina's new anti-LGBT law...Citing his own childhood, the congressman said that boys would be unable to resist the temptation to see girls while they are in the bathroom." -- unwashed

Arturo Garcia of Raw Story: "A new online campaign is targeting North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) for mockery concerning his state's new anti-trans legislation. The #PeeingForPat tag has already started circulating around Twitter, with various users posting pictures of urinals or toilets."--safari

Steve Reilly of USA Today: "A USA Today analysis ... found that both Nevada and Wyoming have become secretive havens much like Bermuda and Switzerland have long been. And at least 150 companies set up by Mossack Fonseca in those states have ties to major corruption scandals in Brazil and Argentina. The corporate records of 1,000-plus Nevada business entities linked to the Panamanian law firm reveal layers of secretive ownership, with few having humans' names behind them, and most tracing back to a tiny number of overseas addresses from Bangkok high rises to post offices on tiny island nations. Only 100 of the Nevada-born corporations have officers with addresses in this country...." -- CW

...Eric Ortiz of Truthdig: "No high-profile Americans have been implicated in the Panama Papers, but various sources are reporting a Clinton connection to the leaked documents....Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image....Tony Podesta is a super fundraiser, or bundler, for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and John Podesta is the chairman of her 2016 campaign." -- LT

Samantha Masunaga & Geoffrey Mohan of the Los Angeles Times: "SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket's reusable first-stage booster on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday. It was the Hawthorne[, California,] company's fifth attempt at a sea landing and first successful one." -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff of the Washington Post: "Robert James O'Neill, the former member of SEAL Team 6 who claimed to have shot and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden..., was charged with DUI on Friday in his home town of Butte, Mont." -- CW

Amanda Terkel of The Huffington Post: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott's [Rwhackjob-FL] political action committee has put out a new ad that goes after Cara Jennings, the woman who confronted him at a Starbucks and called him an 'asshole.'" What a guy. -- unwashed

Way Beyond

strong>Souad Mekhennet, et al., of the Washington Post: "Belgian officials have arrested a key suspect from last year's terrorist attacks in Paris, a senior official said Friday, and investigators also explored possible links to the deadly bombings in Brussels last month. The suspect, Mohamed Abrini, was the subject of a massive manhunt since November's rampage in Paris...." -- CW

Kristen Hall-Geisler of Tech Crunch: "The interest in Tesla vehicles has done the electric car market a lot of good, according to [Nick] Sampson... head of the startup electric vehicle company Faraday Future...'It opens people's minds to the possibilities.'" -- unwashed

...Paresh Dave and Charles Fleming of the LA Times: "Electric car start-up Faraday Future Inc...[is] poised to receive millions of dollars in state tax breaks over the next five years if they can hit hiring and investment goals...[FF] would get a total of $12.7 million in credit toward corporate income taxes for meeting requirements set with the state, including adding almost 2,000 workers in Gardena and elsewhere in California by 2020." -- unwashed {Disclaimer: I have a minor role in the development of this new product. From my experience it's truly a multi-cultural, muli-national endeavor. However, if I write anything more I'll need to chop off my own fingers.}


CaptRuss Says

Not Good at All. All candidates, by definition, say that they're more qualified than their opponent. Various things Clinton said can be reasonably interpreted as questioning whether Sanders is up to the job of the presidency.... But it is incumbent on both candidates to fight hard and yet not say things that can't be unsaid.... -- Josh Marshall of TPM

OH, please!! Josh Marshall’s nostalgic “simple realities of political campaigns” – that Clinton and Sanders should refrain from questioning each other’s qualifications to be president - is so 20th Century. This presidential campaign, with the Republican mudslingers leading the way, is such a free-for-all that civility gets no traction, while bombast gets all the headlines. While there are differences in policy issues, Clinton’s leanings toward Wall Street and big money vs. Sander’s focus on inequality and the little guy, neither can break through the Republican noise machine to get coverage without sharp elbows. As Les Moonves has said - appropriately in the Hollywood Reporter - "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS." Moonves and Roger Ailes at Faux News have been at the forefront of flushing our democracy down the toilet.


The Commentariat -- April 8, 2016

Afternoon Update:

The Party of Fear. Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Vulnerable Republican incumbents are increasingly raising fears about Guantánamo Bay detainees, following a campaign strategy used by Scott Brown before his surprise victory in a Massachusetts special election for a Senate seat six years ago." ...

... CW: Never mind that we learned only yesterday that "Far more convicted terrorists are being held in federal prisons in the United States than in Guantanamo Bay." Reason seldom factors in to any Republican talking point.


Juliet Eilperin & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "President Obama returned Thursday to the institution where he forged his academic expertise in constitutional law -- the University of Chicago Law School -- to make the case that confirming his current nominee for the Supreme Court is the best way for the nation to uphold its founding principles." -- CW:

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "On Tuesday, [Sen. Chuck] Grassley [RCrotchety-Iowa] gave a speech that went after the Supreme Court as a purely political institution, pantsing the entire high court, and Chief Justice John Roberts by name, on the floor of the United States Senate. In so doing, he not only damaged the Senate's relationship with the court in a way he may not be able to repair, but also exposed his own hypocrisy as chairman of a judiciary committee tasked with ensuring that the court can function.... What is really being said here is that there is only one way to interpret the Constitution and that is in the way that 'advances conservative policy.'" -- CW ...

... Pat Rynard of the Daily Beast wonders if Chuck Grassley (R-Indolence) can be shamed into doing his job. "Some of the pressure at the events [in Iowa] came from activists from NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) and Progress Iowa, the state's main progressive advocacy group. NARAL even had one of their Iowa members dress up as Ben Franklin at each event to remind Grassley about constitutional duties." -- Akhilleus ...

     ... Akhilleus: The mistake these people make is thinking that Confederates like Grassley give a hoot about the Founders or the Constitution. Just because they say they do don't make it so. When asked by a constituent about why he's not doing his job, Grassley replied "We know that over half of the Senate is going to not go along with that this year, so I'd rather spend our time on things we can do in a bipartisan way". Forget that silliness about bipartisanship. This is the answer of a follower, not a leader. And besides, if Ben Franklin can't get him to do his job, what good is he?

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "The Panama Papers' detailed revelations of a massive international tax-haven scheme have snowballed this week into a fierce debate among Democrats over President Obama's trade policies with the tiny Central American nation and again laid bare sharp divisions within the party over such agreements. Trade critics lambasted the administration as failing to heed their prior warnings and win sufficient financial reforms from Panama before signing a landmark free-trade deal in 2011, missing a chance to disrupt the elaborate financial arrangements disclosed in a massive leak of private data last weekend." -- CW

...The "Panama Butterfly Effect" - Juan Cole of Informed Comment: "The revelation in the leaked Panama Papers that Mossack Fonseca and Swiss bank HSBC serviced the companies of corrupt Syrian billionaire Rami Makhlouf (first cousin of dictator Bashar al-Assad) long after the US imposed sanctions on him is a reminder of why Syrians revolted against the regime in 2011 in the first place." -- LT note: The Butterfly Effect - the scientific theory that a single occurence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State John F. Kerry touched down in Baghdad Friday to show support for a government in political and economic turmoil even as it readies a long-awaited military campaign to wrest territory back from Islamic militants." -- CW

Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "The Senate passed several provisions to bolster security throughout the nation's transportation system Thursday, the first legislative response to the attacks on the airport and train station in Belgium last month. The measures, which are expected to pass as early as next week, are attached to a large-scale bill to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration." -- CW ...

... Mike DeBonis: "If you're seeking relief from sardine-can conditions on airline flights, don't expect any help from Congress. The Senate voted down an amendment Thursday that would have ended any further reductions of airplane seat sizes. The amendment failed on a 54-to-42 vote, with most Democrats supporting the amendment by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and most Republicans opposed." CW: Because it would be wrong to regulate business when the only beneficiaries are the little people/sardines. ...

... CW: Here's a November 2015 CBS News report on the incredible shrinking airline seat:

"Bench-Slap." Mark Stern of Slate: "In an utterly inevitable turn of events, the First Circuit Court of Appeals restored marriage equality to Puerto Rico on Thursday, reversing a bizarre district court ruling, which held that the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges did not apply to the territory. 'The district court's ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin,' the First Circuit wrote, in reference to U.S. District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez's 10-page anti-gay rant." CW: Pérez-Giménez is a Carter appointee.

Eric Kleefeld of the Raw Story: The Chicago Tribune "finds that at least four different people have made credible allegations [of sexual abuse] against ... [former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert]. And what's more, Hastert did something truly unbelievable: He asked one of his victim's family members to write him a character reference for the judge." -- CW

Laurie Goodstein & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "In what could be an important moment for his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis is scheduled to issue a major document on Friday regarding family issues.... In the document, known as an apostolic exhortation, the pope could change church practice on thorny subjects like whether divorced Catholics who remarry without having obtained annulments can receive holy communion. He might address debates over same-sex relationships, cohabitation and polygamy, an issue in Africa. Or, he could sidestep such divisive topics and stick to broader philosophical statements." -- CW

     ... Update. Jim Yardley & Laurie Goodstein: "In a broad proclamation on family life, Pope Francis on Friday called for the Roman Catholic Church to be more welcoming and less judgmental, and he seemingly signaled a pastoral path for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive holy communion." -- CW ...

... Here's Francis's proclamation.

Presidential Race

Harper Neidig of the Hill: "... Bernie Sanders on Friday morning announced a visit to the Vatican next week to attend a conference hosted by Pope Francis on social, economic and environmental issues." -- CW

Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "Bernie Sanders on Friday walked back his criticism that Hillary Clinton was not qualified to be president, saying 'of course' the former secretary of State is qualified. 'The Clinton campaign has changed its tone and I think they were pretty public about it,' Sanders told NBC's 'Today,' suggesting Clinton's campaign was being more negative as the campaign shifts to New York ahead of the April 19 primary." -- CW ...

... Alan Rappeport & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times with the latest on the Bickersons: "Tension flared in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, with the candidates questioning each other's fitness to lead and Senator Bernie Sanders pressing his attack that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president." -- CW ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post interviews Bernie Sanders on the state of the Democratic presidential race. -- CW ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "The first thing to say about these remarks is that the escalation is almost entirely semantic, rather than material. All of the attacks that Sanders leveled here ... are things he's talked about for months now.... [Clinton's attacks on Sanders have been] classic Clinton: She's cautious, careful, and stays on message. And the 'qualified' broadside is classic Sanders too. He's angry, and he's not afraid to show that. This directness -- and its contrast with the impression that Clinton is calculating -- is one of the forces that has powered Sanders's campaign. He may have overdone it in this case." -- CW ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "'Disqualify him, defeat him, unite the party later.' On Wednesday, that was how CNN characterized the Clinton campaign's plan to contain an ascendant Bernie Sanders. Shortly after the insurgent senator's 14-point win in Wisconsin, the Clinton camp sent out a fund-raising email that suggested Sanders's widely criticized interview with the New York Daily News showed that he isn't qualified for the presidency.... [Hillary] Clinton went on the offensive Wednesday, questioning the democratic socialist's party loyalty and the depth of his policy knowledge, accusing him of putting gun manufacturers' interests before those of the victims at Sandy Hook, and then refusing to say whether she believes he's qualified for the presidency when asked by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.... But by actually uttering the words 'I don't think you're qualified,' Sanders stumbled across a political redline: In a partisan primary, you're supposed to leave yourself cover for an eventual endorsement.... On Thursday..., [Clinton] appeared to have adopted a new strategy: Mollify him, unify the party, and defeat him later." -- CW ...

... Charles Pierce: "This is just dumb politics on both sides. First of all, there's no question that HRC was questioning in that interview whether Sanders was unqualified to be president. She just didn't want to use the word, because that would have been the day's headline. (As, indeed, was the case when the Post used it for her.)... And, while we're on the subject, it was pretty damn creepy for HRC to wave the bloody shirt of the Newtown massacre at Sanders.... (She's been draping herself in other people's grief for a while now, and it's distasteful as all hell.)... I'm starting to wonder seriously about both of these people. Neither campaign seems able to avoid the easiest mistakes in optics." -- CW ...

... "Not Good at All." Josh Marshall of TPM: "All candidates, by definition, say that they're more qualified than their opponent. Various things Clinton said can be reasonably interpreted as questioning whether Sanders is up to the job of the presidency. But it is an entirely different matter when an opponent, in his own voice, says flatly his challenger is 'unqualified' to serve as President of the country.... Primaries that drag on get intense. Especially in the venomous and kinetic New York media environment. The Clinton operation has plenty of sharp elbows themselves. But it is incumbent on both candidates to fight hard and yet not say things that can't be unsaid...." ... CW ...

... Krugman Goes "Over the Edge." Paul Krugman: "... the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues." CW: Which is exactly what I would say of Krugman. This is a shocking column in that it presents a serious mischaracterization of the tick-tock. Marshall's post, linked above, is a well-considered criticism of Sanders. Krugman has used his valuable NYT space to rant. Period.

Eric Levitz: In Philadelphia, Bill Clinton clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters opposed to his policies he signed into law & to Hillary Clinton's remark about "superpredators," ca. 1996. -- CW ...

... Michelle Goldberg of Slate: "I wonder if there's a part of Bill Clinton that doesn't really want Hillary Clinton to become president, particularly if she has to distance herself from his legacy to do so.... At a time when Hillary Clinton is dependent on black voters and campaigning with mothers who've lost sons to police violence, Bill Clinton yoked her to his own discredited policies.... It is somehow only when he is working on his wife's behalf that he veers into sabotage.... Hillary should shut him down. She can't divorce him, but she can fire him." -- CW

Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog seems to agree with the possibility that Bill is a problem for Hillary. In more ways than one. The crime bill is a big one: "The flaws in the bill are a huge moral issue -- but then, beyond that, failing to reckon with them fully on the verge of 2016 is political malpractice." He goes on to reference the ineptness (described in the Goldberg piece linked above) Bill has displayed, in this and in the 2008 campaign, on Hillary's behalf. -- Akhilleus

Jonathan Chait: "Donald Trump
would probably be the worst candidate any major party has ever nominated -- grossly uninformed, disorganized, personally and ideologically repellent to a majority of the public, and so unreliably attached to its core agenda he could potentially blow the party apart. Ted Cruz would be a much better choice. But ... he'd be very, very bad." Chait explains why. "Were it not for the rise of Donald Trump, the Republican Establishment and even most conservatives would be frantically working to prevent [Cruz's] nomination." -- CW

A look into the life of Trump's right hand man. I think the title itself gives you a good primer: Patricia Murphy of The Daily Beast: "Corey Lewandowski Called Coworker 'F*cking B*tch,' Yelled at Subordinate for Visiting Dying Grandma" --safari

Steve M.: Time goes all in for Cruz on its cover story. Zeke Miller's interview of Cruz "is barely an interview at all -- Miller mostly expresses his amazement at Cruz's success in the race, while the candidate regurgitates his Wisconsin victory speech, which was clearly geared to the general election.... 'Learning to Love Ted Cruz,' Michael Scherer's cover story, is a bit more skeptical -- but it's all about how Cruz is recalibrating his focus now that he's gone from purist Senate pariah to possible presidential nominee. Scherer, for instance, doesn't say a word about carpet-bombing or torture.... If Cruz really does slip into all-platitude mode for the general election, while nodding and winking to his feral base, can he beat Hillary Clinton? He's already within 3 points of Clinton. Sure he can. Watch out for this guy." -- CW

Jessie Hellmann of the Hill: "An apology from Ted Cruz for calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar 'ain't gonna happen,' the presidential hopeful said during a Thursday interview with CNN's Dana Bash. 'If the Washington lobbyists want to see that happen, they can hold their breath a long, long time,' Cruz said." -- CW

Guardian: Fox "News" host Megyn Kelly "spoke openly about her evolving relationship with [Donald] Trump during a discussion with Katie Couric at the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Wednesday night, revealing that he used to call repeatedly after shows and send her signed press clippings in an attempt to 'curry favor' ahead of his presidential run." Video. -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Trump Wrong on Lots of Things but apparently especially so on his assertions about China driving down its currency to "beat" the US. Randall Forsyth on Barron's points out that "...where [Trump's] concerned, far more pernicious than any of his much publicized foibles and faux pas is his insistence that China is systematically manipulating its currency, cheapening it to gain an unfair advantage in trade." -- Akhilleus

Beyond the Beltway

Haley Takes the High Road. Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A South Carolina lawmaker introduced a bill on Wednesday that would mandate that public restrooms and school bathrooms in the Palmetto State only be used based on the gender on a person's birth certificate. However, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said Thursday that there had been no complaints that would suggest such a bill is needed." -- CW

Tim Egan has a fine column on "a Mason-Dixon line of progress."

Charles Pierce: A lawsuit alleges that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration engaged in "racketeering activity" in its Flint water shenanigans. -- CW

Camilo José Vergara, 71, "...a photographer who has spent more than half his life obsessively documenting American cities is creating an expansive and eye-opening record of how poor, segregated neighborhoods have transformed over time. [Vergara] has systematically photographed the same set of intersections in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities over and over again since 1977." The time lapse photos demonstrate the dramatic changes in inner cities.... Once largely minority communities, these neighborhoods are now more and more gentrified. -- Akhilleus

How Big Data Harms Poor Communities: Kaveh Waddell in The Atlantic, points out the highly discriminatory outcomes that can befall Americans who don't have the wherewithal to live in upscale communities, or in one of Trump's towers. "For many poor people in the U.S., the data that's gathered about them at every turn can obstruct attempts to escape poverty. Low-income communities are among the most surveilled communities in America." -- Akhilleus

Way Beyond

Neil MacFarquhar & Stephen Castle of the New York Times: "The reverberations from a leaked trove of Panamanian documents rippled through several nations on Thursday, with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia calling the exposure of a proliferation of shell companies and tax havens an American plot, while Iceland picked a new prime minister and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain admitted that he had profited from an offshore trust." -- CW

Robert Booth, et al., of the Guardian: British Prime Minister "David Cameron has finally admitted he benefited from a Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father. After three days of stalling and four partial statements issued by Downing Street he confessed that he owned shares in the tax haven fund, which he sold for £31,500 just before becoming prime minister in 2010. In a specially arranged interview with ITV News' Robert Peston he confirmed a direct link to his father's UK-tax avoiding fund, details of which were exposed in the Panama Papers revelations in the Guardian this week." -- CW

James Kanter of the New York Times: "The European Union is stepping up pressure on the United States to add more European [-- Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania--] countries to the list of those whose citizens can travel across the Atlantic without a visa, holding out the threat of requiring Americans to get visas for trips to Europe if Washington does not agree." -- CW

Tim Hume, et al., of CNN: "A new Prime Minister took the reins in Iceland Thursday as fallout over the Panama Papers document leak continued. Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, who had been the country's agriculture minister, was sworn in as Prime Minister Thursday afternoon. That came two days after former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson announced he was stepping down amid mounting protests and calls for his resignation after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm revealed his links to an offshore company. Gunnlaugsson's resignation doesn't mean the dust has settled. He will remain head of the Progressive Party...." -- CW

Modigliani, "Man with a Cane," 1918.Holly Watt, et al., of the Guardian: "Mossack Fonseca helped a New York art gallery defend itself over a claim about a Nazi-looted artwork after the apparent original owner's descendant launched a legal battle for its return, the Panama Papers reveal. The case involves a $25m (£18m) Modigliani painting taken from Paris when the Germans marched into the city in 1940 and the role played by Mossack Fonseca, as the family who say it is theirs fought for its return.... The descendant claims the painting was owned by Oscar Stettiner, a Jewish gallery owner in Paris who fled weeks before the Nazis entered the city." -- CW

Adam Taylor of the Washington Post: "Prosecutors in Belgium have released a new video that shows a third suspect in last month's Brussels airport attack allegedly leaving the scene after the bombing. The suspect is believed to have been the only surviving participant in the attack on March 22. The two other suspects, identified as Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, are believed to have died in the airport bombing...." With video. -- CW

Max Bearak in the Washington Post: "But what's so scandalous about the Panama Papers isn't just that there's a nexus of rich people, some elected, who make profits by evading taxes. It's that so much of the money moved through tax havens would otherwise be taxed by some of the world's poorest, most revenue-hungry governments." -- CW