The Wires
The Ledes

Thursday, April 19, 2018.

New York Times: "Two years after the sudden death of Prince by accidental fentanyl overdose, one of the lingering mysteries surrounding the enigmatic musician concerned how and where he obtained the powerful synthetic opioid that killed him and whether anyone would be held responsible. On Thursday, law enforcement authorities in Minnesota closed a major part of their investigation, announcing that no one would be criminally charged in the case. The Carver County attorney, Mark Metz, said in a news conference that Prince died after unknowingly taking counterfeit Vicodin that contained fentanyl, but that there was 'no reliable evidence of how Prince obtained' the fatal drug."

Especially if you're into very high-end decorative porcelain, here are some highlights of David & Peggy Rockefeller's collection that will go on auction beginning May 1. Unless you're a Rockefeller, your grandmother's curio cabinet never looked quite like this. To access the full Christie's catalog on the Rockefeller estate objets, start here.

Oh Noes! The Local: "Rome's Jewish community is embroiled in a standoff with Israel's top religious authority after it declared the Eternal City's cherished dish of 'carciofi alla giudia' (deep-fried whole artichoke) not kosher. The crisp golden delicacies are a speciality of the Roman-Jewish cuisine and a prominent feature on menus. But Israel's Chief Rabbinate said the method of cooking the artichoke whole made it impossible to clean properly and it didn't therefore adhere to kosher standards. 'The heart of the artichoke is full of worms, there's no way you can clean it,' said the head of imports of Israel's Rabbinate, Yitzhak Arazi, in an interview with national newspaper Haaretz. 'It can't be kosher. It's not our politics, this is Jewish religious law.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This would be a tragedy. I've had Jewish-style artichokes in Rome's old Jewish quarter, & I'm pretty sure god would approve.

New York Times: Turns out the reboot of "Roseanne" is the result of ABC Entertainment's plan to become the Trump Nation's go-to teevee network, a strategy that began to take shape the day after Trump's election. "The top markets for the debut [of "Roseanne"] read like a political pollster’s red-state checklist: Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla. Liberal enclaves like New York and Los Angeles did not crack the top 20." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: If, like Medlar & me, you happened to miss the premiere/reboot of the "Roseanne" show, where Roseanne Barr plays a Trump supporter (as she is in real life),

This video is dedicated to the Wives of Trump. Thanks to a friend for the link:

Here's a related story by Avi Selk of the Washington Post: "Deep-sea anglerfish sex ... is an endless horror. Every. Single. Time. A male anglerfish's first and only sexual adventure results in his becoming permanently fused — by his lips, no less — to the side of a relatively gargantuan female that resembles David Cronenberg's nightmare about the shark from 'Jaws.'”

 

An Outsider Artist Who Changed Modern Painting. New York: "In the 1940s, a 16-year-old girl captured the minds of the art world’s elite. The self-taught Algerian artist, Baya Mahieddine (1931-1988) — known as Baya — is finally being celebrated in the first North American exhibition of her work, at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, through March 31. Baya used gouache as her primary medium, depicting a world without men but full of bright images of women, nature, and animals." Baya influenced, among others, Picasso & Matisse, which is kinda obvious.

I posted this for no other reason than this is the first time I've seen it. But the "national policy" Tommy announces is more true today than ever in American history. To those of you too young to have seen a Carson monologue, I apologize:

ObamaTV. New York Times: "Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service.... The Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or Breitbart.com, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media...."

Chicago Tribune: "A new scientific study claims that bones found in 1940 on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro belong to [American aviator Amelia] Earhart, despite a forensic analysis of the remains conducted in 1941 that linked the bones to a male. The bones, revisited in the study 'Amelia Earhart and the Nikumaroro Bones' by University of Tennessee professor Richard Jantz, were discarded. For decades they have remained an enigma, as some have speculated that Earhart died a castaway on the island after her plane crashed." Jantz's conclusion is based on measurements of the bones taken by a medical doctor in 1941.

... Michael Rosenwald of the Washington Post has the full story.

Here's the L.A. Times' main Academy Awards page. ...

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Thursday
Sep242015

The Commentariat -- Sept. 25, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Marc Santora & Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times: "After standing alone and taking in the vast void where thousands of people lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, Pope Francis on Friday lamented 'a mind-set which knows only violence, hatred and revenge' and warned against the kind of 'rigid uniformity' of belief that leads to fanaticism":

Also, there are a number of links to stories (marked NEW), which I added fairly late in the morning.

*****

** Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown. Mr. Boehner made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning." CW: Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. As Victoria points out, Boehner made this announcement just as Pope Francis was at the U.N. & President Obama was welcoming China's President Xi. Maybe Boehner saw this timing as his best hope of burying a bombshell. ...

... Mike DeBonis & Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "The shocking move means there's unlikely to be a government shutdown next week. Following Boehner's announcement, House Republicans said there was agreement to pass a clean spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Several members of the Freedom Caucus, the conservative group which led the revolt against Boehner's leadership, said they will now support the spending bill without demands to defund Planned Parenthood attached to it.... [Boehner's] likely successor is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the No. 2 GOP leader who has been in office less than 10 years.... Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday he didn't want the job."

NEW. Julie Davis & Jane Perlez of the New York Times: "President Obama on Friday rolled out an elaborate White House welcome for President Xi Jinping of China, projecting a strong partnership between the world's two largest economies even as the leaders prepared to hash out a range of contentious disputes." ...

... China's Authoritarian Regime More Responsible than U.S. GOP. Julie Davis & Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "President Xi Jinping of China will make a landmark commitment on Friday to start a national program in 2017 that will limit and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, Obama administration officials said on Thursday. The move to create a so-called cap-and-trade system would be a substantial step by the world's largest polluter to reduce emissions from major industries, including steel, cement, paper and electric power. The announcement, to come during a White House summit meeting with President Obama, is part of an ambitious effort by China and the United States to use their leverage internationally to tackle climate change and to pressure other nations to do the same." ...

... Michael Greenstone of the New York Times: "Since [1970], the Clean Air Act has repeatedly been challenged as costly and unnecessary. As a fight brews over President Obama's new use of the law to address global warming, it's worth re-examining the vast difference the law has already made in the quality of the air we breathe, and in the length of our lives. Numerous studies have found that the Clean Air Act has substantially improved air quality and averted tens of thousands of premature deaths from heart and respiratory disease."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The White House plans to announce on Thursday that President Obama will meet next week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, ending a long period in which the American leader refused to meet with his counterpart from the Kremlin, a senior administration official said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

NEW. Somini Sengupta & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "A day after making history as the first pontiff to address Congress, Pope Francis on Friday morning issued a sweeping call to the United Nations for peace and environmental justice, as he placed blame for the exploitation of natural resources on 'a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity.' Standing before the General Assembly in his first speech here, Francis endorsed United Nations efforts to reach a global compact to fight poverty and climate change. He also chided world powers for putting political interests ahead of human suffering in the Middle East." ...

... Here's the English translation of Francis's speech to the U.N., as prepared for delivery. ...

... Pope Francis's schedule for today, via USA Today:

8:30 a.m. -- Pope Francis meets with the United Nations General Assembly. It's the 70th anniversary of the U.N.

11:30 a.m. -- A multireligious service is held at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

4 p.m. -- The pope visits Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem.

5 p.m. -- He will lead a procession through Central Park. About 80,000 tickets were awarded by the city in a lottery pick.

6 p.m. -- Mass is held in Madison Square Garden. The chair he will sit on was built by mostly immigrant day laborers. Young men at Lincoln Hall Boys Haven in Lincolndale built the altar.

Marc Santora & Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: "In his first visit to New York City, the center of global finance and capitalism, Pope Francis used his remarks on Thursday evening to encourage the hundreds of clergy members, brothers and nuns gathered in St. Patrick's Cathedral to live humbly and resist the temptation to treat their ministries as businesses, with success measured strictly by the bottom line.... They were pointed, if fatherly, remarks that echoed the themes he has stressed in his papacy but ones that resonated all the more in a newly renovated cathedral surrounded by the luxurious shops of Fifth Avenue." ...

... Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: "Less than an hour after Francis made the first papal address to the U.S. Congress, in which he urged some of the nation's most powerful residents to break their political paralysis and accept immigrants as their own children, Francis arrived at St. Patrick's [in downtown Washington, D.C.,] to greet some of the nation's least powerful at a ceremony involving hundreds of homeless people.... Francis grinned when the crowd of nearly 300 homeless roared their pleasure at his arrival to bless their meal...." ...

Gary Emerling of US News: "Toward the beginning of his address, Francis alluded to religious extremism, noting that 'no religion is immune' from it.... '... We must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind,' [Francis said].... The remarks echo those delivered -- albeit with more explicit historical references – by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.... Obama's comments were criticized as 'offensive,' 'wrongheaded' and detached from present-day reality." ...

     ... digby: "The idea that all religions have the capacity to be barbaric in the name of God is indisputable. Not that right wingers care. In fact, they don't even care about religion, unless it's a useful tool for their ideology. That point has become obvious over the past few days as we've seen them trashing the Pope like he was the fourth Dixie Chick." ...

... ** Lisa Miller of New York: "Pope Francis is the Barack Obama of the Papacy." ...

... ** Molly Ball of the Atlantic on "why Pope Francis sounds like a Democrat.... There are plenty of progressive priests, just as there are plenty of conservative ones.... (And unlike a rank-and-file priest, Francis is a head of state who conducts foreign policy.)... But what makes Francis different is really a matter of which Catholic beliefs he has elevated to the level of communal concerns -- public policy -- and which he has framed as individual choices. To Francis, sharing wealth and fixing global warming are matters that governments should address, while not committing homosexual acts or having abortions are individual choices he endorses. (As he famously put it: 'Who am I to judge?') This is quite different from the American Catholic church, which has poured its political energy into laws banning gay marriage and restricting abortion." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: The only members of the Supreme Court to attend Pope Francis's address to Congress were "Chief Justice John Roberts..., justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Roberts, Kennedy and Sotomayor are all Catholics, while Ginsburg is Jewish." CW: Kinda makes you think Nino, Sam & Clarence are cafeteria Catholics, even tho Francis is totally with them on denying women reproductive rights, one of their favorite things. I'd guess all that helping the poor & the immigrants Jesus stuff was too much for them. ...

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. -- Jesus (Matthew 25:35

... David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "What's fascinating, watching Xi, Obama and Putin on the same global stage with Francis, is that the political leaders seem to crave the authenticity that the religious leader commands so effortlessly.... [Francis] is teaching us about the nature of power in a world where social media can create an intimate bond with even the grandest figure. This bishop of Rome has unusual impact because he disdains the throne." ...

... ** Charles Pierce writes an excellent piece on the Pope's address to Congress.

Jakes Sherman, et al., of Politico: "House Republican leaders will move next week to approve a 'clean' government spending bill -- and avert a shutdown -- but only after they hold a vote on a measure to bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to multiple sources familiar with the GOP's plan. The move, which comes as conservatives are weighing whether to try to remove John Boehner as House speaker, was discussed at a closed GOP leadership meeting Thursday. It involves a legislative tactic called an 'enrollment correction,' which essentially changes the text of a bill that has passed the House and the Senate. But it would ultimately be a meaningless exercise: The Senate would reject the measure, and President Barack Obama has said he will veto any spending bill that tries to defund Planned Parenthood." ...

... Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "The Senate will start voting Monday to avert a government shutdown, leaving the House to either accept it or force federal agencies in Washington to shutter their doors. After a government spending bill that would also defund Planned Parenthood went down in flames on the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ... and set up votes for next week that would keep the government open through Dec. 11 without touching Planned Parenthood.... It was clear by the disastrous result for a conservative-backed plan, devised by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), that there is scant Senate support for a government spending bill that would also defund Planned Parenthood. Eight Republicans voted against the Cruz plan, including presidential rival Rand Paul..., who called the bill 'business as usual' while reiterating that he supports defunding Planned Parenthood." ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Democrats, and even some Republicans, slammed Thursday's vote, suggesting it was a waste of time with less than a week left before government funding expires and federal workers are furloughed.... Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday's vote was the latest in a line of Republican 'publicity stunts.'"

... Ted's Stunt o'the Day. Jordain Carney: "Democrats on Thursday blocked a push by Sen. Ted Cruz to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington after a Chinese dissident. The Texas Republican ... tried to get unanimous consent to pass a resolution that would name the street in front of the embassy 'Liu Xiaobo Plaza' after Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist currently imprisoned in China. It would also make the embassy's address '1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza.'... 'I can only infer it has political implications because the president of China is due to arrive here tomorrow,' [Sen. Dianne Feinstein said]. The California Democrat added, 'Maybe people don't believe diplomacy makes a difference, but I do.'"

... Ted's Stunt o'the Week. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz is gearing up for another showdown with Republican leaders in Congress.... [Cruz] is deploying arguments similar to those he used two years ago in rallying Tea Party lawmakers to block a government funding measure. Back then, the focus was on ObamaCare. Now, it's on Planned Parenthood. Cruz has invited House conservatives to meet in his Dirksen Building office while ratcheting up criticism of GOP leaders in recent days.... He published an op-ed in Politico on Wednesday calling on leaders to pass piecemeal bills funding parts of the federal government but not Planned Parenthood, similar to a strategy the GOP tried in 2013."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The Federal Reserve still intends to raise its benchmark interest rate this year, barring unpleasant surprises, the Fed chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, said on Thursday."

Jeffrey Fisher in a New York Times op-ed: "ON Monday, the Supreme Court will meet in private to perform one of its most consequential -- yet least appreciated -- functions: choosing the cases it will hear.... An explanation for the court's decision is almost never given, nor is it customary to indicate how the individual justices voted.... The justices should lift the veil of secrecy that shrouds this power.... In light of the Supreme Court's significant role in shaping so much of our national policy, it does not seem too much to ask to know which justices are putting which issues on the court's docket. Indeed, these votes are more consequential than anything said at oral argument.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Paul Krugman: "There are, it turns out, people in the corporate world who will do whatever it takes, including fraud that kills people, in order to make a buck. And we need effective regulation to police that kind of bad behavior, not least so that ethical businesspeople aren't at a disadvantage when competing with less scrupulous types.... We used to know it, thanks to the muckrakers and reformers of the Progressive Era. But Ronald Reagan insisted that government is always the problem, never the solution, and this has become dogma on the right.... This week Jeb Bush, who has an uncanny talent for bad timing, chose to publish an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal denouncing the Obama administration for issuing 'a flood of creativity-crushing and job-killing rules.' Never mind his misuse of cherry-picked statistics, or the fact that private-sector employment has grown much faster under President Obama's 'job killing' policies than it did under Mr. Bush's brother's administration." ...

... NEW. New York Times: "Government regulators said Friday that they planned to step up the testing requirements of cars in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal. The Environmental Protection Agency, which disclosed last week that it had learned that Volkswagen diesel cars had equipment to evade smog-testing standards, said it had sent a letter to manufacturers of gasoline and diesel cars saying that regulators would be looking for so-called defeat devices in all vehicles." ...

... Peter Whorisky of the Washington Post: "Volkswagen has admitted it designed cars to cheat pollution tests, but the trouble with diesel emissions probably goes beyond just one automaker, according to tests of other manufacturers. Road tests of more than a dozen popular models from several manufacturers showed that the raw nitrogen oxide emissions from the cars were on average seven times European standards, according to a little-noticed October report from the same outfit that flagged the VW problems. Most of the models in the October report have not been publicly identified. One of the cars tested is the BMW X3, which had emissions calculated at 11 times the European limit, according to the testing company."

Sophia Kishkovsky of the New York Times: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia telephoned the singer-songwriter Elton John, who had asked for a meeting with him to discuss the status of gay rights in Russia. Mr. John announced in an Instagram post last week that Mr. Putin had called him. But the story that circulated on social media turned out to be a hoax: Mr. John had been the victim of a prank call by two satirists, Vladimir Krasnov and Alexey Stolyarov, who posed as Mr. Putin and an interpreter. Evidently, the Kremlin decided it was a good idea after all.

Presidential Race

Andrew Prokop of Vox: Does "the party decide" who its presidential nominee will be? Well, yeah, usually, when there's an obvious choice.

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the lone Democratic presidential hopeful -- and the only Jewish contender -- in the House chamber for Pope Francis's speech. When he left, he was beaming, as the pope had cited an American Catholic whom Sanders had plenty of praise for." Dorothy Day, Sanders said, "was a valiant fighter for workers, was very strong in her belief for social justice, and I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history. This would be one of the very, very few times that somebody as radical as Dorothy Day was mentioned." For more on Sanders' reaction to Francis's address, see Charles Pierce's post linked above.

Reuters: "During a hearing on the NSA, Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked [NSA chief Admiral Mike] Rogers a series of questions related to [Hillary] Clinton's use of a private email server at her home for communications as secretary of state. Rogers said he did not want to be dragged into the issue, but Cotton said he wanted the NSA director's 'professional opinion.' Cotton asked whether Rogers considered the communications of top advisers to the president, even those that are unclassified, a top priority for foreign spy agencies. 'Yes,' Rogers responded." ...

... Tim Stark of Politico: "... Rogers had tried to duck the subject when Cotton asked what he would do if the U.S. secretary of state had asked him about setting up a private server. 'You really want to drag me into this?' Rogers answered. Then he said he would advise the secretary to comply with any applicable regulations."

"Empty Chairs." Artwork by Mic Smith of the AP.Trump Temper Tantrums, Ctd. Eliza Collins of Politico: "Donald Trump is not happy with the Associated Press photographer who took a picture showing a significant number of empty chairs at a South Carolina event on Wednesday -- so unhappy he called him a 'f***ing thief,' according to the Daily Mail. Trump's remarks about wire photographer Mic Smith follow a rough couple of days for his relationship with the press. On Wednesday, he said he would no longer appear on Fox News, which responded that Trump 'doesn't seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.' Later, he agreed to a meeting with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to discuss 'differences of opinion,' the network said in a statement." ...

Ironies Never Cease. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: Donald Trump wants the FCC to fine Rich Lowry for making a "politically incorrect" comment on Fox "News": "Let's be honest: Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon -- and he knows it." "Trump won't have much luck getting Lowry to pay up for his anatomical comment, as the Federal Communications Commission only polices indecent programming on terrestrial radio and broadcast television -- not cable television...." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "Marco Rubio struck back at Donald Trump on Thursday, labeling Trump as a 'touchy and insecure guy' who's not informed on the issues.... Trump singled out Rubio in two campaign stops in South Carolina this week, labeling him a 'lightweight,' sweaty, and financially unsuccessful." CW: You might want to pause to think about how Democratic presidential candidates make schoolyard personal attacks against each other. Oh, they don't.

Charles Blow: Ben "Carson says in low register what others shout in anger, and he gets a bit of a pass because of the discordant message and method of delivery. Just because a person is soft-spoken doesn't mean that he is well-spoken.... Carson knows that his outrageous antics in his role as the anti-Obama are a most profitable enterprise. He mixes political critique with Christian theological messaging to rake in quite a bit of money on the lecture circuit.... As a political figure, his stature is diminished as he reveals himself to be intolerant, bordering on soft bigotry, and also reckless and needlessly inflammatory. No one can discount what Carson accomplished professionally, but those accomplishments must now stand shoulder to shoulder with this new persona: whisper-soft purveyor of hyperbolic hucksterism."

Eli Stokols of Politico: "Carly Fiorina is doubling down on her controversial[*] claim that videos show 'babies are being butchered' by Planned Parenthood, writing off anyone who challenges her on the point as part of the 'liberal media.'... 'Interestingly, no one has denied that babies are being butchered for their body parts at Planned Parenthood clinics and elsewhere,' she said as supporters clapped. 'They're trying to have a conversation about a technicality about a video tape. The character of this nation cannot be about butchery of babies for body parts.'"

     * CW Note to Eli: Replace "controversial" with "disproved." Note to Carly: No, a "lie" is not a "technicality." And there's nothing in the record anywhere that Planned Parenthood is involved in "butchery of babies for body parts," you lying sack of shit.

My story, from secretary to CEO, is only possible in this nation, and proves that everyone of us has potential. -- Carly Fiorina, second GOP debate, Sept. 16

A free Stanford education -- her father was dean of the law school -- led to Fiorina's subsequent opportunities. That "secretary" job was a typical college-student summer job. "In telling her only-in-America story, she conveniently glosses over the only-for-Fiorina opportunities and options beyond what the proverbial mailroom worker has." -- Michelle Lee of the Washington Post

Fiorina's "Horatio Alger" story began at birth. Her father was a law school professor then, & later dean of prestigious law schools. He became friendly with Richard Nixon, who later appointed him deputy attorney general & appellate court judge. He had an undergraduate business degree, & his specialty was tax law. (He was on the three-judge panel that appointed Ken Starr as Whitewater special prosecutor.) Fiorina also benefited from timing. She came up through the business ranks at exactly the time most major businesses were making particular efforts to put women in managerial & executive positions. Fiorina was successful in her own right, but within the subset of people with unique advantages. Being a recipient of numerous breaks that eventually led to her trashing a successful tech company is not all that impressive or unique a resume.

** Jonathan Chait: "Like all of the non-Trump Republican candidates, Jeb Bush's economic strategy is built around a program of regressive, debt-financed tax cuts, just as it was under the last Republican administration. In a very clever interview, John Harwood repeatedly asks Bush why he is pursuing this course despite its repeated failure. Bush's attempts to respond reveal the tangle of denial, non-falsifiability, and cant that undergird the party's unshakable commitment to voodoo economics." CW: Harwood eats Jeb! alive, & Chait provides the relish. ...

... Jeb!, Professional Retread. Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "Jeb Bush said here Thursday night that Republicans can win more African American voters by emphasizing a positive message that does not involve promising 'free stuff,' a remark that bore echoes of comments by Mitt Romney that drew criticism in 2012." CW: Jeb! is so lacking in originality & so clueless that he copies even his predecessors' gaffes. ...

... Jaime Fuller of New York: "Jeb Bush showed that not only is he determined to defend and honor the foreign-policy record of his brother, he is also so adamant on being the 2016 Establishment presidential pick that he is willing to bring back the campaign strategies that Mitt Romney, who is not president, used in 2012. And by 'strategies' we of course mean, 'off-the-cuff remarks that were widely condemned.'"

Mark Hensch of the Hill: Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic, says Pope Francis's stated interest in combatting climate change is just a means of scoring new converts who might like that kind of stuff. "'The Vatican and the Pope are not climate scientists,' Santorum said." ...

    ... CW: Actually, Rick, you ignorant blowhard, they are. Jeff Nesbitt of US News: "A team of leading scientists and Nobel laureates at the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences provided the underpinning for [Pope Francis's climate encycical] based on the very latest research and scientific reasoning. It's world-class science and more than enough justification for any papal policy work." Francis himself has a master's degree in chemistry. And you don't.

Beyond the Beltway

Murder for Hire. AP: "A former German army sniper was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday after he was caught in a sting operation that tested whether ex-soldiers would kill a federal agent. Dennis Gogel, 29, was sentenced by US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan, who said a long prison sentence was necessary to deter other soldiers from thinking they could use specialized skills they learned in the military to commit crimes once they were civilians.... The judge ... said she doubted his claim that he did not know he was signing up to commit assassinations when he agreed to join a crew protecting a drug organization."

Tierney Sneed of TPM: "A Pennsylvania lawmaker objected to accusations that he had invited a white supremacist to testify in front of a committee by clarifying that the witness was merely a white nationalist. The witness, Robert 'Bob' Vandervoort, appeared at a hearing Monday on a bill to make English the official state language, the Patriot-News reported, prompting state Rep. Leslie Acosta (D) to allege that the committee had invited a white supremacist.... The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Vandervoort as being tied 'to white nationalist groups.' But, as the Patriot-News noted, the center characterizes white nationalist groups as espousing 'white supremacist or white separatist ideologies.'" CW: However you label Vandervoort, he's the kind of racist Republican legislators hang with.

News Ledes

USA Today: "Stocks jumped at the open Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said improving economic conditions should allow policymakers to begin raising interest rates this year."

Bloomberg News: "The world's largest economy expanded more than previously forecast in the second quarter, boosted by gains in consumer spending and construction that may help the U.S. withstand a global slowdown. Gross domestic product rose at a 3.9 percent annualized rate, compared with a prior estimate of 3.7 percent, Commerce Department figures showed Friday in Washington."

Wednesday
Sep232015

The Commentariat -- Sept. 24, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The White House plans to announce on Thursday that President Obama will meet next week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, ending a long period in which the American leader refused to meet with his counterpart from the Kremlin, a senior administration official said."

*****

Peter Baker & Jim Yardley of the New York Times: "Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, challenged Congress and by extension the mightiest nation in history on Thursday to break out of its cycle of polarization and paralysis to finally use its power to heal the 'open wounds' of a planet torn by hatred, greed, poverty and pollution. Taking a rostrum never before occupied by the bishop of Rome, the pontiff issued a vigorous call to action on issues largely favored by liberals, including a powerful defense of immigration, a critique of the excesses of capitalism, an endorsement of environmental legislation, a blistering condemnation of the arms trade and a plea to abolish the death penalty." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "... anyone looking for this Pope's support in culture wars had to be hastened by his criticism of polarization and his attack on all sorts of religious 'fundamentalism' (not a term often used in Catholicism)."

... Here's the transcript of Pope Francis's speech to Congress. ...

... USA Today: "10 a.m. -- The Senate and House welcome the pope in a joint session. He will make the first-ever address to Congress, which will broadcast live on the Capitol's West Front. This speech will be one of four he will hold in English. The remaining 14 speeches on his U.S. trip will be in his native Spanish." ...

... The Washington Post is liveblogging Pope Francis's activities. ...

... NEW. Gregory Korte of USA Today: "Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor Wednesday, a move that Vatican officials said was intended to send a message of support in the nuns' battle against Obamacare. The religious order of Catholic sisters is suing the Obama administration over a provision of the Affordable Care Act that the administration has interpreted as requiring the sisters to purchase health insurance with birth control coverage." ...

... Sarah Bailey, et al., of the Washington Post: "In his first Mass in the United States, Pope Francis on Wednesday canonized a 18th-century Spanish missionary who spread Christianity across California but who also was controversial for overseeing the mistreatment of Native Americans who joined his flock. A throng of worshipers celebrated the Rev. Junípero Serra's elevation to sainthood -- the first canonization on U.S. soil -- during a late-afternoon Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington." ...

... Sabrina Siddiqui & Lauren Gamino of the Guardian: "A group of protesters greeted Pope Francis outside St Matthew's cathedral in Washington on Wednesday with a message to ordain female priests into the Catholic church or risk treating them as second-class citizens." ...

... Abigail Ohlheiser, et al., of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis told American bishops Wednesday that the offenses of the Catholic church's sex abuse scandal must never be repeated.... Francis's somber words for the bishops came in stark contrast to the joyous popemobile circuit along some of Washington's historic avenues just minutes before, where he greeted thousands, kissed babies and blew kisses to the crowd." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's the transcript of Francis's remarks to the bishops. ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "... Pope Francis ... made it clear Wednesday that he does not intend to sidestep the deeply divisive issues that are roiling this country -- and indeed, that he plans to fully employ his voice and influence as the spiritual leader of nearly 80 million Roman Catholics in the U.S. Amid the pageantry of a welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn, the first pope from the Americas introduced himself as 'the son of an immigrant family. I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Shep Shames the Fox "News" Audience. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "As many conservatives fret over Pope Francis' views on climate change and income inequality ahead of his Thursday speech before Congress, Fox News host Shepard Smith chided those individuals who have criticized the pope for talking about "political" issues."

I don't know what we expect to hear from an organization's leader like the pope of the Catholic Church, other than protect those who need help, bring in refugees who have no place because of war and violence and terrorism. These seem like universal truths that we should be good to others who have less than we do, that we should give shelter to those who don't have it. They're the words of the pope, they're the feelings of the president. And people who find themselves on the other side of that message should consult a mirror, it seems like. Because I think that's what we're supposed to do as a people, whatever your religion.

That's Bill Hemmer speaking at the top:


... Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: "Pope Francis survived his visit to the White House this morning without anyone flashing boobs at him. That news might come as a surprise to conservatives, who for the past week have been attacking President Barack Obama for indecorously inviting LGBT activists and a liberal nun to attend the pope's speech at the White House." ...

... Gail Collins on what she learned in Catholic school. "I remember one priest who told us that when Christ was dying on the cross, he sadly envisioned us Catholic girls sinning in the back seat of a car. 'Aren't there any other sins?' I asked one day." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "The excitement about Francis is about his tone as much as his substance, and he shares many of the conservative social values of his predecessors. To me, one of the most striking shifts that go beyond tone is one that has commanded almost no notice: his calls for animal rights. 'We must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures,' he declared in his encyclical on the environment. 'The Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism.'"

David Sanger of the New York Times: "Just a day before the arrival of President Xi Jinping of China for a meeting with President Obama that will be focused heavily on limiting cyberespionage, the Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday that the hackers who stole security dossiers from the agency also got the fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees. The attack on the agency, which is the main custodian of the government's most important personnel records, has been attributed to China by American intelligence agencies, but it is unclear exactly what group or organization engineered it. Before Wednesday, the agency had said that it lost only 1.1 million sets of fingerprints among the more than 22 million individuals whose records were compromised."

Niall Stanage of the Hill: "The federal government has begun planning for the possibility of a shutdown, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. Earnest said it was 'only prudent to begin such planning,' and lamented that this was 'a process that we have unfortunately become all too familiar with.'" ...

... Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: It costs more to shut down the government than to keep it open. "The last time this happened, for 16 days in October 2013, the White House put a price on it: 6.6 million days of lost work, $2 billion in back pay for 850,000 federal employees who did no work and 120,000 private-sector jobs gone." ...

... New York Times Editors: "The Republican obsession with [Planned Parenthood] seems to come to this: denying women, especially poor women, the health care they need; pandering for primary votes among Tea Party regulars; and obstructing the budget process and the smooth functioning of government. Quite a record."

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd.

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Martin Winterkorn resigned as chief executive of Volkswagen on Wednesday, taking responsibility for an emissions cheating scandal that has gravely damaged the carmaker's reputation and may spread to the German economy." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Danny Hakim & Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "Long before Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for millions of cars worldwide, the automobile industry, Volkswagen included, had a well-known record of sidestepping regulation and even duping regulators. For decades, car companies found ways to rig mileage and emissions testing data. In Europe, some automakers have taped up test cars' doors and grilles to bolster their aerodynamics. Others have used 'superlubricants' to reduce friction in the car's engine to a degree that would be impossible in real-world driving conditions." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Nathan Pemberton of New York posts some of the VW & Audi ads falsely touting the cars' "clean diesel."

"Pharma Bro." Michael Miller of the Washington Post: "Although [Martin] Shkreli has delivered different, at times conflicting statements about why his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Daraprim, his answer has often boiled down to this: because of capitalism. It's unlikely that Shkreli set out to stir a debate about the limits of the American economic system, but that's effectively what he has done. The controversy comes at a time of broad concern over inequality in this country." ...

... Carolyn Johnson of the Washington Post: "Shkreli's actions were shocking for a simple reason: It was an unusual moment of complete transparency in health care, where motives, prices and how the system works are rarely ever talked about so nakedly.... Pharmaceutical companies that make new therapies often justify prices by saying they will recoup the investment needed to research, develop and gain approval for new drugs. With Daraprim, all that money had already been spent, so radically hiking its price seems to some more the tack of a hedge-fund manager..., analysts said. Even PhRMA, a trade group that frequently finds itself defending the industry against critics, pointed out that Shkreli's company, Turing, was not a member and slammed the door on him."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Variety: "Tribune Media's flagship TV station WGN-TV Chicago has apologized for including an offensive image in a Tuesday night report on the Yom Kippur holiday. The station's 9 p.m. newscast aired a report on the holiday ... that included an image of the star of David with 'Jude' in the center. That symbol was used as the badge that Jews in concentration camps and elsewhere in Germany were forced to wear during the Nazi regime." CW: WGN, BTW, stands for "World's Greatest Newspaper," the motto of its Chicago Tribune. parent company.

Presidential Race

Nick Gass of Politico: "Next year's general-election presidential debates will be in Ohio, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday. The first general-election debate will be held Sept. 26, 2016, at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Washington University in St. Louis will host the second general-election debate on Oct. 9, 2016.... The final presidential debate will be hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on Oct. 19, 2016, with Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, as the backup site. Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, will host the VP debate on Oct. 4, 2016."

The Candidate Who Wasn't There. Michele Richinick of Newsweek: "Vice President Joe Biden, who has not declared his intention to run for president, ranked No. 2 -- ahead of liberal firebrand Bernie Sanders -- as Democrats' first choice for the next leader of the U.S., according to a [Bloomberg Politics] poll published Wednesday."

Kevin Drum: "By all the evidence, Hillary is telling the truth. She just told her staff to delete personal emails and turn over the rest to the State Department. There was nothing more to it. But no one's reporting it that way. Peculiar, isn't it?"

The White Boys' Game. Steve M. explains the Republican party to befuddled WashPo reporters: "If you're not a white male, to attain success with the Republican Party's voter base you're expected to specifically renounce the politics of inclusion. Thus we have Cruz and Jindal, both immigrants' sons, rejecting birthright citizenship. We have Marco Rubio now saying we shouldn't even consider a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the next decade. We have Ben Carson accusing the Black Lives Matter movement of 'bullying.' We have Carly Fiorina refusing to name a woman she'd like to see on the $10 bill.... If you want to succeed in the GOP as a woman or person of color, you need to embody the message that acknowledging unequal treatment of certain groups is a liberal plot. That's why there's no contradiction between a diverse Republican presidential field and the torrent of hate and disrespect we've seen from the candidates and voters."

NEW. Greg Sargent: "Republican primary voters keep telling reporters that they feel attracted to Donald Trump's presidential candidacy because he 'tells it like it is.'... Of course, telling people that the way to 'make America great again' is to immediately deport 11 million people, which Trump will do with ease, is not 'telling it like it is,' it constitutes lying to them on multiple levels.... The Trump candidacy's Big Lie: never mind the policy details, never mind the separation of powers, never mind the profound disagreements between the parties. Everything will be easy and terrific." ...

... Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump was never exactly a happy warrior, but with some of his Republican rivals gaining on him, he is showing clear signs of discontent." ...

... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump no longer wants to be America's birther-in-chief. In a Monday interview with Fox News -- which might have been his last -- Trump said that questions about President Obama's citizenship 'began' with Hillary Clinton, 'when she was running against him.'... This was not Trump's first dabble with birther revisionism.... And more and more conservatives have settled on the Trump line -- that the questions about Obama's citizenship were so slimy that they obviously came from the Clinton camp.... The problem: This is simply not true. Clinton's campaign, one of the most thoroughly dissected in modern history, never raised questions about the future president's citizenship. The idea that it did is based largely on a series of disconnected actions by supporters of Clinton...." ...

... NEW. Trump's Sexist Comment of the Day. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump said during a campaign speech Wednesday that Hillary Rodham Clinton is 'shrill,' raising his voice several octaves to get the point across." ...

... Kira Lerner of Think Progress: "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has no idea what he would do to combat rising drug prices, but he does know how to launch a vicious personal attack. In a press conference in Columbia, South Carolina on Wednesday, Trump sharply criticized the former hedge fund manager who has become known as the 'Pharma bro,' telling ThinkProgress the man is a 'disgrace' and a 'spoiled brat.'... When pressed on what he would do to address the issue, he again avoided the question. 'Probably at some point the public is going to get him to reduce it somewhat,' he said." ...

... CW: Therein lies the difference between the Republican & Democratic parties. Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton would have the government regulate drug prices; Donald Trump would let the "free market" handle it. Trump, savvy businessman, doesn't seem to understand or acknowledge the scourge of monopolies, the raison d'être of government regulation. Like every Republican, he wants to take us back to the Gilded Age, when the U.S. had few anti-trust laws. His promise to up the taxes of hedge fund operators is, in the broad scheme, superfluous.

Snit Fit. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: "In what can only be a calamity for the folks at 'Fox & Friends,' Donald Trump today signaled via Twitter that he's not going on the network.... This back-and-forth between Trump and Fox News is entering another round -- perhaps its third or fourth. ...

     ... Tom McCarthy of the Guardian: "Fox hit right back against Trump on Wednesday, saying that it was a decision by the network to cancel a Trump appearance that led to Trump's so-called boycott -- and not the other way around." ...

... Maxed out on Pope Francis? Take a break while Donald Trump explains God to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network while they visit Trump's Los Angeles-area golf course:

Well I say God is the ultimate. You know you look at this? Here we are on the Pacific Ocean. How did I ever own this? I bought it fifteen years ago. I made one of the great deals they say ever. I have no more mortgage on it as I will certify and represent to you. And I was able to buy this and make a great deal. That's what I want to do for the country. Make great deals. We have to, we have to bring it back, but God is the ultimate. I mean God created this (points to his golf course and nature surrounding it), and here's the Pacific Ocean right behind us. So nobody, no thing, no there's nothing like God.

Biblical ref. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.... And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.'... And God saw that it was good.... And God created Trump in his image. And God said to Trump, 'Go forth and get a great deal on the land beside the sea.' And Trump saw that it was good. And he made a great deal. With no mortgage. -- The Book of Genesis According to Trump (1:1-23)

Ryan Felton of the Guardian: Ben "Carson ... told reporters that 'political correctness' bears the responsibility for the criticism he has faced since Sunday, when he said he would 'not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation'." ...

... Ben Carson v. the Scientific Method. Paul Waldman: "... what's so odd about Carson is that science is ... the thing at which he excelled. Yet his religious beliefs are apparently so powerful that they completely overwhelm his ability to look objectively at any scientific area that might give some answers to what people once thought were purely metaphysical questions. Training in science is also training in how to think.... It isn't surprising that Ben Carson knows next to nothing about Islam; what is surprising is that, despite a career immersed in a very specialized field, he would think that he could listen to a couple of Glenn Beck rants and come to a deep understanding of a 1,400-year-old religion.... Carson's entire campaign for president is built on the rejection of knowledge and experience, in that he argues that all you need to succeed as president is common sense." ...

... Charles Pierce: "Ben Carson, brain surgeon, has lost his mind." ...

... CW: For what it's worth, here's my take: pediatric brain surgery is not just complicated, it's emotionally draining. For relief from the strains of his profession, Carson wanted the rest of his life to be easy, to provide simple answers that don't require the complexities inherent in his day job. Well, fundamentalist Christianity is super-simple. It provides black-and-white/Devil-and-God answers to all of life's burning questions. No thinking, no angst required. Sort of like knitting -- once you learn a few basic stitches, you can make a sweater to keep you warm. Simple-minded Christianity is Carson's hobby. It keeps him warm.

... Something to ponder: Whose theology is sillier -- Trump's or Carson's?

CW: Nice to see that the Houston Chronicle covered Marco Rubio's "Hitler problem."

Beyond the Beltway

** Kate Zernike of the New York Times on the town where Yogi lived. At the top, a mystery solved: the deeper meaning of "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." "People here [in Montclair, New Jersey,] are quick to point out that Yogi's fork in the road really is a fork in the road: where Edgewood Road splits with Edgewood Terrace, and, as legend has him telling his old friend Joe Garagiola, you take it -- and either way ends up at the Berras' house on Highland Avenue." Not as profound a solution to a mystery as, say, uncovering the meaning of life, but, well, grounding. Read the whole story, because therein lies a clue to that sweet mystery of life.

Steve Bittenbender of Reuters: "A federal judge on Wednesday denied Kim Davis a stay of his order requiring her office to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples who want one.... Lawyers for couples suing Davis have said that since her return to work, the Rowan County clerk has interfered with the issuance of marriage licenses in violation of orders by U.S. District Judge David Bunning's in Louisville.... On Monday, lawyers for the couples suing Davis said she had made material changes to the marriage license forms after her return to work on Sept. 14 that left questions about their legality.... The lawyers asked Bunning to make the clerk use the previous format and reissue those given under the altered one, saying the office should be put in receivership and fines assessed if interference continues. He has not ruled on that request.

AP: "A US border patrol agent has been indicted in the fatal 2010 shooting of a teenage boy along the Arizona-Mexico border. On Wednesday a federal grand jury indicted agent Lonnie Swartz on a charge of second-degree murder. Swartz allegedly fired through the border fence into Nogales, Sonora and fatally wounded 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez on 10 October 2012."

Dan of TFN Insider: "The Travis County Republican Party here in Austin[, Texas,] dived into the deep end of the crazy pool Monday evening.... The tweet (which was removed late this morning) links to a blog post on the Conservative Daily News website. The hate-filled screed starts this way: 'Christianity is a religion but Islam is merely a satanic cult of rape, torture, murder, bestiality, and satan worship!!!!!'... It's all downhill from there, with the writer demonstrating (despite his protests) an almost unhinged hatred for Muslims. But he also attacks George W. Bush, calling the Republican former president a 'coward and traitor.' He even goes after other Christians, notably the Roman Catholic Church."

News Ledes

AP: "A 'duck boat' tour vehicle and a charter bus carrying foreign students to a college orientation event collided on a busy Seattle bridge Thursday, killing four students and injuring dozens of others."

Washington Post: "Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC rebel group announced a major breakthrough Wednesday in peace talks, bringing the country to the verge of ending one of the world's longest-running wars. The dramatic announcement came in Havana, where the two sides began formal negotiations in 2012 on ending the 50-year-old conflict."

Washington Post: "More than two hundred pilgrims were killed in a crush near the Saudi holy city of Mecca, where millions are gathering for the annual hajj.... Saudi Arabia's civil defense agency tweeted that it is on the scene, sorting out the injured and dead from the throngs of people. Images from the scene show rescue workers performing chest compressions on exhausted pilgrims, who apparently collapsed from the heat or press of people. Dozens more bodies lie still on stretchers, covered in white sheets or blankets." ...

     ... New Lede: "A stampede among Muslim worshipers near the Saudi holy city of Mecca left more than 700 people dead and hundreds more injured Thursday at the height of the annual hajj pilgrimage -- the backdrop for similar tragedies in past decades.

     ... The New York Times has an updated story, putting the number of dead at at least 310.

Tuesday
Sep222015

The Commentariat -- Sept. 23, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Jack Ewing of the New York Times: "Martin Winterkorn resigned as chief executive of Volkswagen on Wednesday, taking responsibility for an emissions cheating scandal that has gravely damaged the carmaker's reputation and may spread to the German economy." ...

... Danny Hakim & Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "Long before Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for millions of cars worldwide, the automobile industry, Volkswagen included, had a well-known record of sidestepping regulation and even duping regulators. For decades, car companies found ways to rig mileage and emissions testing data. In Europe, some automakers have taped up test cars' doors and grilles to bolster their aerodynamics. Others have used 'superlubricants' to reduce friction in the car's engine to a degree that would be impossible in real-world driving conditions."

Abigail Ohlheiser, et al., of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis told American bishops Wednesday that the offenses of the Catholic church's sex abuse scandal must never be repeated.... Francis's somber words for the bishops came in stark contrast to the joyous popemobile circuit along some of Washington's historic avenues just minutes before, where he greeted thousands, kissed babies and blew kisses to the crowd." ...

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "... Pope Francis ... made it clear Wednesday that he does not intend to sidestep the deeply divisive issues that are roiling this country -- and indeed, that he plans to fully employ his voice and influence as the spiritual leader of nearly 80 million Roman Catholics in the U.S. Amid the pageantry of a welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn, the first pope from the Americas introduced himself as 'the son of an immigrant family. I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.'"

*****

 

Here's the full transcript of Pope Francis's speech at the White House.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama will host an elaborate arrival ceremony at the White House for Pope Francis on Wednesday morning in a highly symbolic encounter between the political leader of the world's most powerful nation and the spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics." ...

     ... New Lede: "With the fanfare of trumpets and a show of solidarity, President Obama welcomed Pope Francis to the White House on Wednesday as the leaders of the world's most powerful nation and the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics declared common cause in tackling global poverty, conflict and environmental degradation."

The Washington Post is liveblogging the Pope's doings in Washington, D.C., today. The Post had a small video, which you can supersize, in the upper left corner of its front page & may have others later in the day covering Francis's public or quasi-public appearances.

Washington Post: 215 years of popemobiles, illustrated.

Via Time, here's Francis's public schedule for today:

9:15 a.m.: Pope Francis will appear at an official welcoming ceremony on the White House South Lawn then meet with President Obama.

11 a.m.: The Pope will parade around the Ellipse just south of the White House and the National Mall.

11:30 a.m.: Pope Francis will pray with U.S. bishops at D.C.'s St. Matthew's Cathedral.

4:30p.m.: His Holiness will canonize Junípero Serra during a mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Abby Ohlheiser & Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis descended from the plane at Joint Base Andrews to cheers under cloudy skies and a steady breeze that lifted the black robes of the awaiting bishops and kept the flags rippling on the tarmac. Waiting for him: President Obama, who rarely greets arriving foreign dignitaries on the tarmac, where a pink carpet had been rolled out just minutes before the pope's chartered Alitalia jet landed more than 10 minutes ahead of schedule." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... A Limited Menu for GOP Cafeteria Catholics. Brian Beutler: "Consider the timing of Francis's visit, which happens to coincide with an outburst of Islamophobia within the Republican Party.... Francis, by contrast, has rejected Christian intolerance of Islam. He considers the Koran to be no less a spiritual tome than the Bible, and condemns those who equate Islam with violence.... Francis is extremely adept at revealing the extent to which Republicanism is ... in many ways, an entity that exploits religion to advance secular ends.... with respect to ... [climate change,] Francis embodies the fact that Republican nostrums aren't entirely coterminous with 'Christian theology.' Francis comes to the U.S. from Cuba, months after concluding an instrumental role facilitating the normalization of relations between the two countries. He supports the anti-proliferation deal with Iran. At a time when Republicans are aggressively yanking their immigration consensus to the right, Francis preaches support for liberal immigration policy, and toleration of immigrant families.... It's possible that by the end of his visit, Francis will have complicated rather than augmented the GOP's anti-abortion strategy."

Jane Perlez of the New York Times: "President Xi Jinping pledged in a speech [in Seattle] on Tuesday night to work with the United States on fighting cybercrimes, saying that the Chinese government was a staunch defender of cybersecurity."

Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim of Politico: Mitch McConnell has a plan to avoid a government shutdown. One itty-bitty catch: "... there's no guarantee that the House will accept what the Senate sends over." CW: Isn't it ridiculous that a party "leader" has to try to finagle -- possibly without success -- a convoluted strategy to get his own caucus to cooperate when a functioning government is at stake? Thanks, winger-voters, for foisting these yahoos on the rest of us.

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "The Senate failed on Tuesday to advance a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a high-profile messaging vote held by Republican leaders ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the Capitol. The result was expected. Democrats pledged to filibuster the bill, which passed the House earlier this year, and Republicans could not garner the 60 votes necessary to block it. Te vote was 54 to 42. Two Republicans -- Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois -- voted against proceeding with the bill. Three Democrats -- Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted in favor. Four senators -- Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) -- did not vote." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico: "For the first time since he took office, President Barack Obama will skip an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative during his annual trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly next week.... The event comes as Vice President Joe Biden weighs his own entry into the presidential race against Clinton...."

Andrew Pollack & Julie Crestwell of the New York Times: "After fiercely defending the price increase in various interviews and on Twitter for two days, [Martin] Shkreli backed down a bit late Tuesday. He told television news networks that the price of the drug, Daraprim, would be lowered, though he did not specify what the new price would be." CW: Instead of $750 a pill, he'll probably run a $749.99 special. Hideous little bastard. ...

... Jeremy Stahl of Slate: "The former hedge fund manager whose pharmaceutical company has come under withering attack for allegations of egregious price-gouging on life-saving medication is the subject of a $65 million lawsuit by his former employer for alleged stock manipulation -- and it turns out he once tried a similar price hike scheme with that company. During Martin Shkreli's tenure as CEO of Retrophin -- the company that is now suing him -- the company increased prices on a decades-old kidney medication by about 20 times its original cost, a move similar to the controversial price increase by his new company reported by the New York Times on Sunday."

Sarah Ferris: "A total of 17.6 million people have gained coverage under ObamaCare, according to a revised government estimate released Tuesday. The newest figure, which is based on national survey data, shows that 1.2 million more people had signed up for healthcare over the last five years than previously thought."

Owen Bowcott of the Guardian: "European companies may have to review their widespread practice of storing digital data with US internet companies after a court accused America's intelligence services of conducting 'mass, indiscriminate surveillance'. The influential opinion by the European court of justice's advocate general Yves Bot, yet to be confirmed by the Luxembourg court as final, is a significant development in the battle over online privacy. The court normally follows the advocate general's opinion; ECJ judgments are binding on EU countries.... The opinion by Bot contains far-reaching recommendations that threaten to upend many current commercial practices and assumptions in the digital industry."

The AP Stylebook changes its nomenclature for climate-change wingnuts. Henceforth, they shall be called climate-change doubters, rather than deniers or skeptics. CW: Congrats on the promotion, doubters. You'll always be wingnuts & loons to me.

Presidential Race

Anne Gearan & Steve Mufson of the Washington Post: "... Hillary Rodham Clinton declared opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, ending a long and politically uncomfortable silence on an issue that has become a touchstone for environmentalists and liberal voters. 'I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is -- a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change,' Clinton said at a community forum [in Des Moines, Iowa]. The debate over Keystone 'interferes with our ability to move forward,' Clinton said. 'Therefore I oppose it.'... While she stayed mum, progressive challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won significant liberal support for a straightforward denunciation of the project. Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley ... and Clinton's own senior campaign adviser, John Podesta, also oppose the pipeline." ...

Heidi Przybyla of USA Today: "Hillary Clinton on Tuesday unveiled a plan to rein in prescription drug costs by forcing pharmaceutical companies to reinvest their profits into research and allowing for more generic and imported drugs. The proposal, which she outlined in a speech in Iowa on Tuesday, would also allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs and cap out-of-pocket expenses for individuals with chronic health problems. The plan seeks to address a key shortcoming of Obamacare, President Obama's signature health law, as the Democratic front-runner aims to show how she would put her imprint on it." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "The leading pharmaceutical lobbying group is lashing out against Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-released plan to combat rising drug prices. The head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released a statement Tuesday rebuking her proposals, which he warned would kill jobs, risk patient safety and halt investment in new cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer.... The leading insurance company lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), released a statement Tuesday that also slammed Clinton for supporting spending caps." CW: Big PhARMA is an enemy any candidate would be happy to have.

... Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "F.B.I. investigators have recovered work-related and personal emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton said had been deleted from the server that housed the personal account she used exclusively when she was secretary of state, according to two government officials.... It was not clear whether the entire trove of roughly 60,000 emails had been found on the server, but one official said it had not been very hard for the F.B.I. to recover the messages." ...

... Del Wilbur of Bloomberg: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's success at salvaging personal e-mails that Clinton said had been deleted raises the possibility that the Democratic presidential candidate's correspondence eventually could become public.... A group of agents has been separating personal correspondence and passing along work- related messages to agents leading the investigation.... The bureau's probe is expected to last at least several more months...." ...

... Carol Leonnig & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "Throughout the controversy over her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton has described her decision last year to turn over thousands of work-related e-mails as a response to a routine-sounding records request.... But State Department officials provided new information Tuesday that undercuts Clinton's characterization. They said the request was not simply about general record-keeping but was prompted entirely by the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private e-mail system.... The State Department also realized it was not automatically preserving internal communications, with some other senior officials' e-mails missing." They discovered her private account only when attempting to respond to a records request by a House Benghaaazi! committee.

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Senator Bernie Sanders ... is using the pope's visit to Washington to amplify his call for a wage increase for federal workers. The independent senator from Vermont joined a rally of striking government workers on Tuesday at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, and pressed Congress and President Obama to heed Pope Francis' call for social and economic justice."

... Conservocolumnist Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post: "In the spirit of charity prompted by Pope Francis's visit to the United States, let's not call them bigots. Let's just call them the clueless, the incurious, the moronic, the dull. In short, ignoramuses. I refer to those Republican wits who unconscionably demonize a swath of Americans based on their religious views.... When can we get rid of them?" CW: Whaddaya bet Ben Carson is not accustomed to be called an ignoramus, especially by conservative writers? Welcome to reality, Dr. Carson. ...

... BUT the GOP base is extremely ignoramusist. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: Donald "Trump's recent comments about President Obama waging a war on Christianity don't hurt him much with the GOP base. 69% agree with the sentiment that the President has waged a war on Christianity, with only 17% disagreeing. Trump's probably not hurting himself too much with his negativity toward Muslims either - only 49% of Republicans think the religion of Islam should even be legal in the United States with 30% saying it shouldn't be and 21% not sure." ...

... Ilan Ben-Meir of BuzzFeed: "Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Tuesday that the United States 'should take in zero' Syrian refugees.... 'If Mr. Trump were the president of the United States we would not be bringing refugees into the country under this criteria,' Lewandowski said.... In past interviews, Trump has not completely ruled out taking in refugees from Syria." ...

... Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times: "The super PAC supporting neurosurgeon Ben Carson for GOP president has seen a surge of donations since his appearance Sunday on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' where Mr. Carson said he wouldn't advocate for a Muslim to be president of the United States." Includes a clip of Dr. Ben further walking back his bigoted remarks. He has Muslim friends, too! ...

... Thomas Edsall of the New York Times delves into the Donald dynamic. CW: Edsall makes the same lazy, sexist assumption that many people do. He writes that both Jeb! & Hillary have "deep roots in political dynasties." Bull. Shit. Jeb!'s brother was president. His father was president. His ancestor Franklin Pierce was president. His grandfather was a U.S. senator. Hillary's parents were not involved in politics. Neither were the parents of Bill Clinton. They made it on their own, & tho there was a division of labor based on their differing skills, they were nearly equal partners. When Hillary invokes the Clinton name, it is a name she earned. Personally, I don't care for Hillary Clinton. But I'm sick of this depiction of her as the "little woman" who got where she is because she's Mrs. Clinton. ...

... Jason Horowitz of the New York Times asked Donald Trump "about a 1927 report in The New York Times, unearthed by the website Boing Boing, that listed Fred Trump as being among a group of people arrested, and then discharged, by the police in response to a Ku Klux Klan rally that had turned violent in Queens. The question, essentially, was, 'Did you ever hear of this?' Mr. Trump's barrage of answers -- his sudden denial of a fact he had moments before confirmed; his repeatedly noting that no charges were filed against his father in connection with the incident he had just repeatedly denied; and his denigration of the news organization that brought the incident to light as a 'little website' -- shows his pasta-against-the-wall approach to beating down inconvenient story lines." ...

... Here's a portion of Stephen Colbert's interview of Donald Trump:

     ... The full interview is here. It begins about 15 min. in. Tom McCarthy of the Guardian writes that Colbert let Trump off easy.

Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "In a speech delivered in 2012, Ben Carson said the big bang theory was part of the 'fairy tales' pushed by 'high-faluting scientists' as a story of creation. Similarly, Carson, a noted creationist, said he believed the theory of evolution was encouraged by the devil." CW: Seems to me Dr. Ben's religious beliefs would mightily interfere with his ability to fulfill the Constitutional duties of the presidency. He would probably appoint Pat Robertson director of NASA. ...

We should not have a multicultural society. -- Jeb Bush, Tuesday

Katherine Krueger of TPM: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush warned America is 'creeping toward multiculturalism' during a campaign stop Tuesday, and said he worries about areas where the assimilation process is 'retarded.' In response to a young woman's question about how to empower immigrants as Americans, Bush said at an event at a Cedar Falls, Iowa diner that multiculturalism should not be the goal." Includes video of Jeb's Trump-y remarks. CW: I cannot believe he said that, but I heard it with my own Irish-French-English-etc. ears. If you like to dance the polka or cherish your Japanese heritage, get out! ...

... CW: I've got bad news for this year's GOP candidates. It is relatively easy to pivot in the general election from primary-season dogwhistles by pretending a dogwhistle is not a dogwhistle. But you can't really pivot away from blatantly racist remarks. You can't pivot from insisting on shutting down the government if a women's healthcare provider is funded or from maligning women's looks to pretending you really like women & care about their well-being. Mitt's 47-percent remark was supposed to be an insider secret; this year's crop of bozos makes its incendiary comments right out in the open.

Slightly-less conservocolumnist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: Carly "Fiorina's dishonesty is flagrant and unapologetic. Called on her misstatements, Fiorina doesn't cede ground, she attacks critics.... Fox News's Chris Wallace asked her, 'Do you acknowledge what every fact-checker has found ... there is no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned?' Fiorina: 'No, I don't accept that at all.... I haven't found a lot of people in the mainstream media who have ever watched these things.' This dishonesty is part of a pattern. Fiorina's up-by-the-bootstraps foundational story -- from secretary to chief executive -- is similarly misleading." The column is worth a read.

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "Gov. Scott Walker went back to his regular job on Tuesday, and it sounded like just another day. The governor was at work in the Capitol, his aides said, holding private meetings and receiving briefings from his executive staff.... Some residents and lawmakers said Mr. Walker had been largely disconnected from state policy making of late and wondered whether he really intended to dig back into work here. Political operatives say Mr. Walker, who just months ago was considered a front-runner but exited the presidential field after sliding sharply in opinion polls, has relations to soothe in a state that feels a bit forgotten." ...

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times: "Old political adversaries of [Scott] Walker greeted his dour denouement as a fitting result for a politician who they say began and furthered his career [in Milwaukee] with a divisive style, a penchant for turning out conservative supporters rather than working with opponents, and tacit racial appeals in one of the nation's most segregated cities. But the irony is that Mr. Walker was eclipsed by candidates who have ignited the Republican base with more overtly nativist and, their critics argue, racist appeals." ...

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "... with Walker gone, there is one less candidate who can unite the GOP establishment. Four come to mind, though all have weaknesses: Jeb Bush, the most likely, has the money, but almost seems to be running against his will. Carly Fiorina can play the outsider card, but she is short on funds. Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeals to moderates and pundits but still hasn't broken through in New Hampshire, where he has bet his campaign. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has the political talent and enough money to survive for some time; he would be the favorite to inherit the GOP elite if Bush drops out.... With Trump hanging on and Carson rising, though, the establishment would be smart to rally around someone soon, and Walker's exit opens the door wider for the others."

I just think you've created an industry now -- a situation where very much, you've created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue -- these centers -- for purposes of making a profit off it, as you've seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates. -- Marco Rubio, this past weekend

Marco Is as Big a Liar as Carly Fiorina. Women don't get pregnant for profit or "look forward to having more abortions" because abortions are money-makers for them. Planned Parenthood is not running a fetal tissue "industry." I don't know how other abortion providers work, but at Planned Parenthood clinics women can donate their aborted fetuses (not collect cash). Planned Parenthood charges research institutions only for the costs of maintaining & transferring the tissue (from $30 to $100). -- Constant Weader

Nick Gass of Politico: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants Marco Rubio to cancel his presidential fundraiser Tuesday evening at the home of a real estate investor who has collected art from Adolf Hitler and who also owns a signed copy of 'Mein Kampf.' There is 'really no excuse,' she said in a statement released through the Democratic National Committee, calling the event 'tasteless.' The Florida lawmaker and DNC chairwoman remarked that Rubio is 'adding insult to injury' by holding the event at the home of Harlan Crow and his wife Kathy in the tony Dallas suburb of Highland Park, Texas, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Ted's Filibuster Fetish. Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says the Senate should use its short-term spending bill to force President Obama to hand over the 'side deals' between Iran and international inspectors.... The administration says it has been briefed on the side deals but does not possess the documents." CW: Ted should learn to read bedtime stories to his kids at home instead of insisting on reading them from the Senate floor.

Chris Christie orders the chubby general of New Jersey's National Guard to lose weight.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Souad Mekhennet & William Booth of the Washington Post: "Moving among the tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees passing through the train stations of Europe are many who are neither Syrian nor refugees, but hoping to blend into the mass migration and find a back door to the West.... [There] are shady characters, too, admitted criminals, ISIS sympathizers and a couple of guys from Fallujah, one with a fresh bullet wound, who when asked their occupation seemed confused.... An Austrian security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there is a thriving black market for Syrian passports in Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria, too."

James Kanter of the New York Times: "European Union ministers approved a plan on Tuesday that would compel member countries to take in 120,000 migrants seeking refuge on the Continent -- but only after overruling four countries in Central Europe. The plan to apportion the migrants, still only a small fraction of those flowing into Europe, was approved by home affairs and interior ministers of the member countries after a vigorous debate.... The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted no. Finland abstained." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Ledes

Guardian: "Egypt's president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has pardoned at least two of the three journalists working for al-Jazeera English who were convicted of airing 'false news' and biased coverage. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian national, and his Egyptian colleague Baher Mohamed were among 100 people who have been pardoned. They will be released from prison later on Wednesday, state-run news agency Mena reported. The pardons came a day before Sisi plans to head to New York for the 70th session of the UN general assembly."

New York Times: "Yogi Berra, one of baseball's greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series -- but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms -- died on Tuesday. He was 90." ...

... Washington Post: Yogi Berra's most famous quotes. Here's one: "When you come to a fork in the road ... take it."`