The Wires

 

... No, Reality Chex has not turned into a Playboy wannabe. I just thought you'd like to see how Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, thought she should pose for an Elle article about her various missteps as, you know, the wife of the Treasury Secretary. Maybe she should start asking herself, "What Would Karen Pence do?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

 

 

The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Laura Holson of the New York Times profiles Joy Reid of MSNBC. Mrs. McC: If you've never seen Joy on the teevee, she is indeed a joy.

Cheddar Man! Serious Bad News for Donald Trump & All His White Supremacist Friends. New York Times: "He had dark skin, brown curly hair and blue eyes, DNA tests suggest, upending a common assumption that Britain’s indigenous populations were all pale skinned with fair features. He is 'Cheddar Man,' Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, in southwest England. He lived about 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period, the middle part of the Stone Age. Scientists have now reconstructed his features, demonstrating that he was part of a population of ancient Western Europeans that, scientists have shown in recent years, had dark skin. Research has shown that fair skin pigmentation — long considered a defining feature of Europe — only goes back less than 6,000 years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: We all come from African ancestry, but now it turns out that those of us who appear whitey-white likely have more recent dark-skinned ancestors. Yes, Donald, you are Cheddar Man! Could you all stop being racists now?

Chrisco Gets Part-time Gig at ABC News. NJ.com: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "has been hired as an occasional contributor to ABC News, according to sources familiar with the discussions."

Finally, an Ex-White House Staffer Gets a Job for which She Might Be Qualified. Hollywood Reporter: "Omarosa Manigault, who left the White House under dramatic circumstances at the tail end of last year, is set to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house."

Los Angeles Times: "The most unpredictable Oscar season in years finally came into focus Tuesday morning [Jan. 23] as the 90th Academy Awards nominations were announced, with nine films representing a wide range of genres earning best picture nods and Guillermo del Toro's fantastical fable 'The Shape of Water' leading the field with 13 nominations." A list of nominees for the top prizes follows.

The Gossip Page

Page Six of the New York Post: "Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer has been kicked out of his home by his furious wife [Annette Roque]  after multiple women came forward with allegations of his 'inappropriate sexual behavior.' And while Lauer’s reclusive wife has not yet filed for divorce, we’re told it is likely to happen soon.... Roque had previously filed for divorce from Lauer in 2006, citing 'mental abuse, extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, torment and anxiety,' but withdrew the filing weeks later after he offered her a postnuptial agreement and millions more dollars, a source told Page Six.”

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
Jul232015

The Commentariat -- July 24, 2015

Bridie Jabour of the Guardian: "Barack Obama is 'distressed' he has been unable to strengthen gun-safety laws in America, acknowledging it will be the unfinished business of his presidency. Obama's comment went to air on the BBC a few hours before the latest shooting in America which left three people dead, including the gunman, at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana." See also today's News Ledes.

... Tim Devaney of the Hill: "Gun production has more than doubled over the course of the Obama administration, according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The manufacturing boom has come in the face of the president's push to expand background checks and place new restrictions on guns in the wake of high-profile shootings like the recent mass-killing in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. The numbers paint a picture of gun owners who are concerned about new restrictions on their Second Amendment rights, activists say. 'The ATF report confirms what we already know, that Barack Obama deserves the "Gun Salesman of the Decade' award,' said Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America. 'People have been rushing to buy firearms because they're afraid that Obama will take away their Second Amendment rights.'" CW: BTW, Pratt's group thinks the NRA is squishy on gun rights. ...

... digby comments on the Louisiana theater shooting -- and all the others. And freeedom. ...

... Here's President Obama's full BBC interview, which was conducted prior to his leaving for Kenya. He also discusses his visit to Kenya & Ethopia, the Iran nuclear agreement, the U.K.'s staying in the European Union, & race relations in the U.S. CW: Once again, I defy any of the GOP candidates for president to sit for an interview, facing a broad range of unvetted questions, & answer so ably & thoroughly. See also Jeb!'s remarks on Social Security below:

... Patrick Wintour & Andrew Sparrow of the Guardian: "Downing Street has played down the significance of Barack Obama's comments urging the UK to remain part of the European Union if it did not want to lose influence in the world, stating that the British people would have the final say. The US president made his strongest intervention yet in Britain's nascent referendum campaign in an interview with the BBC, when he said Washington had much greater confidence in the transatlantic union with the UK as part of the EU."

Helene Cooper & Ceylan Yeginsu of the New York Times: "The United States and Turkey have reached an agreement for manned and unmanned American warplanes to carry out aerial attacks on the Islamic State from two Turkish air bases, Obama administration officials said Thursday. The agreement on the bases, Incirlik and Diyarbakir..., came after months of negotiations that culminated on Wednesday with a phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and President Obama, another administration official said. The development came as Turkish forces were reported to have engaged in the first direct combat with Islamic State forces on the Syrian side of the border."

Michael Gordon & Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday told skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the recently negotiated accord with Iran is the only chance to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and that failure to enact the agreement would isolate the United States internationally.... Mr. Kerry's testimony, along with the testimony of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, came as the Iran deal architects made their first public appearance before lawmakers since the accord was announced last week." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Senate Republicans opened the first public hearing on the Iranian nuclear agreement Thursday with sharp criticism that made clear they are unlikely to be persuaded to support a deal aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a bomb." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times: "... the vast majority of Republicans appear to have made up their minds before a single classified briefing, hearing or visit with administration officials. Their view seems born of genuine distaste for the deal's details, inherent distrust of President Obama, intense loyalty to Israel and an expansive view of the role that sanctions have played beyond preventing Iran's nuclear abilities." ... CW: Being a knee-jerk reactionary naysayer, however, is an excellent timesaver & a preservative for brain cells, prudent precautions for those who must expend so much energy rattling their sabers & moving Social Security funds to defense appropriations. ...

... J. J. Goldberg of Forward: "There's a deep crack emerging in the veneer of wall-to-wall support offered by Israel's political leadership to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his war against the Iran nuclear agreement. The crack has a name you might recognize: the Israeli security establishment. You know -- the folks whose job it is to identify and address threats to Israel's safety. A small but growing group of high-power ex-commanders has been speaking out in media interviews and op-ed essays in the past few days, saying that Netanyahu has got the Iran issue wrong.... All agree that undermining Israel's alliance with America is a far greater existential threat than anything Iran does." Via Paul Waldman. ...

... Peter Beinart of the Atlantic: "To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful. Amnesia is part of the reason why. If Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Benjamin Netanyahu knew that before denouncing the Iran deal they’d be required to account for their views on Iraq, they might not show up in the green room. If they did, their television appearances would take a radically different course from the course they generally take today." CW: But they will be in the green rooms, Peter, because Tuck Chodd, John Davidson & Whoever Is Filling in for Stephanopoulos. The consequences of these little "Annals of 'Journalism,' Ctd. stories I link are not so funny.

Big Break for Billionaire Backers. Stephen Ohlemacher of the AP: "IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday the tax agency won't adopt any new regulations for the political activities of tax-exempt groups until 2017. He said the IRS doesn't want to be seen as trying to influence the outcome of the election.... Koskinen said new regulations could be unveiled next year, but they wouldn't take effect until after the election."

Congressional GOP Still in Disarray. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: The Senate & House "are headed to a showdown" on transportation funding. Mitch McConnell hopes a bill will pass in the Senate, but the House leadership wants a temporary, five-month fix. ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Two months after the high-speed derailment of an Amtrak train killed eight people and injured hundreds more in Philadelphia, a Senate transportation bill headed for debate this week calls for a three-year delay of the deadline for installing a rail safety system that experts say would have almost certainly prevented the Pennsylvania accident. Lawmakers from the Northeast and train safety experts expressed outrage over the provision...."

Turtles Can Be Slippery. Tamar Hallerman of Roll Call: "Senate appropriators folded into a draft spending bill a provision long sought by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would relax campaign finance coordination rules between candidates and the political parties. This marks the second time in less than a year that lawmakers have sought major changes to campaign finance regulations through must-pass appropriations measures.... The provision would effectively consolidate power within the national parties.... Democratic appropriators on Wednesday were quick to label the campaign finance provision as objectionable and said it would create a loophole that 'effectively overrides' current spending limits...."

Colby Bermel of the National Journal: "Congressional Republicans continued to put a spotlight on illegal immigration Thursday, as the House passed a bill meant to punish so-called sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds. The vote was 241-179, with only about a half-dozen members of each party crossing the aisle. President Obama on Thursday pledged to veto the bill, which is opposed by the Major County Sheriffs' Association and the Fraternal Order of Police." ...

... Democrats are calling the bill "The Donald Trump Act." ...

... Sarah Ferris of the Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is throwing cold water on several House Republicans' efforts to immediately defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the group's undercover video controversy.... 'Facts first,' Boehner said when asked twice about Planned Parenthood funding during his Thursday news conference. Boehner's remarks, which come several days after he ordered a congressional probe into the videos, put him at odds with the 80 House Republicans who have backed a new bill from Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that would immediately block Planned Parenthood's funding for one year while the government investigates." CW: Notice how the GOP always finds a woman to sponsor anti-woman legislation. Now women of America must rely on well-known feminist John Boehner to defend their healthcare needs. Great.

Sometimes States' Rights Are Inconveeenient. Lydia Wheeler & Cristina Marcos of the Hill: "The House on Thursday passed hotly contested legislation that would keep states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which passed 275-150, would instead create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of foods with GMO ingredients."

Paul Krugman: "... being right isn't necessarily enough to [get policymakers to listen]. But it's still better to be right than to be wrong, and M.I.T.-style economics, with its pragmatic openness to evidence, has been very right indeed." ...

... Notes from another noted economist, David Brooks: "Raising the minimum wage will produce winners among job holders from all backgrounds, but it will disproportionately punish those with the lowest skills, who are least likely to be able to justify higher employment costs." CW: Oddly, Brooks never calculates the cost savings to taxpayers, who have been subsidizing companies that pay their workers poverty wages. I'm so surprised. But three cheers for the Waltons & CEOs with multi-million-dollar annual incomes. Nor does he mention that the poor customers -- about whom Brooks is now terribly concerned -- who frequent McDonalds might just opt for homecooked meals & those traditional family dinners.

It's unbelievable to me that liberals, that President Obama, of course he sends his children to private school, as did Al Gore, and Bill Clinton and every other celebrated liberal. They just don't want to let those idiot inner city kids that they purport to be so supportive of ... they don't want to give them the same opportunity their own kids have. It's disgraceful. -- Sen. Ron Johnson, on a Milwaukee radio show

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: Johnson later told the Post," 'I was being, that quote is, I'm being very sarcastic in that's how liberals view these underprivileged kids. That is not my viewpoint in any way.' But he said he understood how 'hearing that little snippet' might make one 'go, yikes.'" CW: In fairness, you can't expect the Stupidest Man in the Senate to be articulate. I do think Johnson meant to characterize Democrats' prejudice against inner-city children, not his own.

Presidential Race

Michael Schmidt & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday. The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton's private account contained 'hundreds of potentially classified emails.'" ...

     ... CW: Around this great land of ours, wherever they may be -- in the cornfields of Iowa or in the ancient mountains of New Hampshire -- there are presidential candidates singing. Turns out "crim-i-nal in-ves-ti-ga-tion" can be set to music. ...

... Eric Tucker of the AP: "One U.S. official said it was unclear whether classified information was mishandled and the referral doesn't suggest wrongdoing by Clinton herself." CW: Oh, so what? There's a sentence out there -- writ by members of the librul media -- with "Hillary Clinton" & "criminal investigation" in it. That's enough for the Red Team. ...

... Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Whatever the endgame of this legal matter, changing the underlying laws is long overdue. Outcomes would be less uneven and capricious if being charged criminally for mishandling state secrets required a review of whether the secrets were properly classified, evidence of willful misbehavior, and plausible harm to national security. Without such reforms, these laws will continue to be abused with impunity." ...

     ... Dylan Byers: "The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's State Department email account late Thursday night.... The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation 'into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.' That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed:... 'into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.' The Times also changed the headline of the story.... One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, [said the change] 'was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them.'" ...

... Bill & Hillary's Excellent Vacation. Amy Chozick of the New York Times: "After much hand-wringing over their vacation plans, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton will return to the Hamptons this summer...." She's planning a fundraiser during the family vacation, but not "in an opulent private home, which could strike an elitist tone." CW: Should definitely help your populist creds, Hil.

... Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "... Hillary Clinton on Thursday declined to endorse legislation championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would break up big banks. Warren and other liberals -- including Clinton's 2016 primary opponents Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- are pushing to reinstate legislation that President Bill Clinton repealed in 1999 called Glass-Steagall.... 'I think this is a much more complicated issue than to just point at any one piece of legislation and say, if we just pass that, everything would be fine,' Clinton said when asked about it while campaigning South Carolina.... 'We have a too-big-to-fail problem still and we have to figure out the best way to address it, and I will be talking more about that. But I am not going to be pointing at any one change and saying, you know, "that'll solve all our problems."'" ...

... Tom Dart of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton said that the death of Sandra Bland is an example of the 'hard truths about race and justice' that America needs to face as uncertainty and anger over the circumstances of the 28-year-old's death continued on Thursday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Doofus Plan, Ctd. I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something -- because they're not going to have anything. -- Jeb Bush, Wednesday evening, on eliminating Medicare

... Steve Benen: "It says something important about Republican politics in 2015 when the most mainstream candidate is also the candidate who wants to scrap Medicare altogether.... [Bush] is convinced that 'people understand' the need to get rid of Medicare. He's mistaken.... While Republicans fight to eliminate the Medicare program, Democrats have had great success in strengthening Medicare finances and extending its fiscal health for many years to come. The secret, apparently, was passing the Affordable Care Act."

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Donald Trump's visit to the U.S.-Mexico border dominated the airwaves on Thursday -- in English and Spanish. While the national newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC covered Trump's visit to Laredo, Tex., coverage of the GOP presidential candidate dominated the national news broadcasts on Univision and Telemundo. Republicans fearful of how Trump is hurting the party's image with the nation's fast-growing Latino voting population need only play back Thursday night's broadcasts as proof." ...

... Kevin Cirilli & Bob Cusack of the Hill: "Donald Trump says the chances that he will launch a third-party White House run will 'absolutely' increase if the Republican National Committee is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season. 'The RNC has not been supportive. They were always supportive when I was a contributor. I was their fair-haired boy,' the business mogul told The Hill in a 40-minute interview from his Manhattan office at Trump Tower on Wednesday. 'The RNC has been, I think, very foolish.'... 'I'll have to see how I'm being treated by the Republicans,' Trump said. 'Absolutely, if they're not fair, that would be a factor.'"

Tim Egan: "Somewhere, we crossed a line -- from our mothers' modesty to strutting braggadocio, from dutiful decorum to smashing all the china in the room, from respecting a base set of facts to a trumpeting of willful ignorance.... [Donald] Trump is the [Republican] brand, to a sizable degree.... And now that the party can't control him, Trump threatens to destroy its chances if he doesn't get his way, running as an independent with unlimited wealth -- a political suicide bomb.... Trump has forced party leaders to decry something they have not only tolerated, but encouraged." ...

... Brian Beutler: "In years past, Republicans didn't think of Trumpism as a liability so long as Trump was outside the tent pissing further out. When Trump was busily whipping up reactionary sentiment, indulging birther conspiracies, Republicans didn't see a'jackass' -- they saw an opportunity.... They didn't call him a media creation back then -- they sought his endorsement. Trump is now inside the tent, pissing everywhere.... By condemning him so vocally, his Republican critics are reminding Trump's supporters of everything they don;t like about the Republican party." In a three-way general-election race, with Trump running as a third-party candidate, the GOP candidate would not stand a chance. ...

... Ed Kilgore: According to the latest WashPo/ABC News poll, "In a hypothetical three-way general election contest against Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would basically run even with them among non-college educated white voters (Bush: 34%; Clinton: 31%; Trump: 31%). These numbers ... show why Trump might pose an existential threat to the Republican Party if he runs as an independent candidate. Mitt Romney won 61% of the non-college educated white vote in 2012. He still lost, and the percentage in this demographic needed by a Republican is gradually going up as its comparative size continues to shrink.... The emergence of Trump as a white working class hero is the latest twist in the discussion of this demographic...." ...

... CBN winger David Brody writes that evangelicals are attracted to Trump because both think & speak in absolutes. The entire post is, well, entertaining, especially the part about their resentment at being played by a ho-mo-sex-u-al. ...

... Steve M.: "... the source of all this is the obsession with an absolute sense of right and wrong. Other Christians acknowledge Christianity's strict moral code but regard all human beings as sinners; the religious right seems to spend far more time tallying lists of the righteous and the infidels, with themselves firmly in the former category. And then they apply that vision to politics, in as self-righteous and mean-spirited a way as possible."

Dana Milbank: Scott Walker is a dangerous demagogue who is scapegoating unions the way Joe McCarthy frightened people about communist infiltrators.

Dumbest Presidential Candidate Quote of the Day, First Runner-up. We accepted 60,000 people from Iraq as refugees. What I don’t get about it is, I thought asylum would be when you lost the war. We won the Iraq War! We put in place a democratic government. Why would there be any people seeking asylum from Iraq after the war? -- Sen. Rand Paul

CW: Contributor P. D. Pepe mentioned Rachel Maddow's interview of Rick Santorum, but I just did not get to it. Arturo Garcia of the Raw Story has the short version here, along with embedded video of the exchange. It seems Santorum has a remarkable view of Constitutional balance of powers. He disagrees that the Supreme Court is the body that, as Rachel dumbed it down for him, "decide[s] what’s constitutional," because, according to Santorum, "it’s not a superior branch of government," so Congress & the president can get together & pass a law that overrides any Supreme decision. Two-to-one, I guess. Supermajority. Congress + President > Supreme Court.

Beyond the Beltway

of the Washington Post: "Waller County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam told reporters that medical examiners didn’t find marks or injuries on Sandra Bland’s neck and head that are usually consistent with a violent struggle. There were also no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands, he said. '... I have not seen any evidence to indicate that this is a homicide,' Diepraam said. Bland’s death has been classified by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office as suicide by hanging." ...

... ** Orin Kerr in the Washington Post: "The Bland video brings up an overlooked problem with the law of police-citizen encounters. The police can back up their orders with force because it’s often a crime to disobey a lawful order from a police officer. But from a citizen’s perspective, it’s often impossible to know what is a lawful order. As a result, it’s often impossible for citizens to know what they can and can’t do during a police encounter.... It’s hard to know if the officer is following the law or violating your rights." Kerr cites the Oregon Supreme Court's contradictory findings. ...

... Orin Kerr: "... in short: Bland did not have to put out her cigarette. She likely had to exit the car, although it’s possible to that she didn’t have to because the officer was ordering her out of the car for reasons of retaliation — a possibility that might have been raised later in court, but wouldn’t persuade the officer." ...

... Leon Neyfakh of Slate: "How a bail system the Justice Department has called unconstitutional may have contributed to [Sandra Bland's] death." Thanks to contributor carlyle for raising the issue of bail in today's Comments. ...

Kevin Rector of the Baltimore Sun: "A Glen Burnie venue on Wednesday abruptly canceled a planned fundraiser for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray after the scheduled entertainment — a former Baltimore officer singing in blackface — drew sharp criticism. Bobby Berger, 67, who was fired from the city police force in the 1980s after his off-duty performances in blackface drew the ire of the NAACP, had said he wanted to revive the act to help the families of the officers. He said he had sold 600 tickets at $45 each to the bull roast scheduled for Nov. 1..., where he and several singers planned to perform.... [Berger] said he organized the fundraiser because he knows how it feels to be suddenly without a paycheck from the department." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. ...

... CW: Apparently Bobby, who has has some three decades to think about why he was fired, has not figured it out yet. As you know, cops are not all that smart.

Adam Raymond of New York: "Richard Matt, one half of the duo who escaped prison last month and led police on a two-week manhunt, was more concerned with getting drunk in a secluded cabin than finding a more permanent hiding place, according to the state trooper who led the search. That's what led to his downfall. In an interview with upstate paper The Press-Republican, Major Charles Guess said Matt and fellow escapee David Sweat argued about staying in a cabin, which was well stocked with booze, after they'd already spent a few nights there.... Another successful marriage torn asunder by alcohol."

Julia Marsh & Laura Italiano of the New York Post: “'60 Minutes' correspondent Bob Simon was responsible for his own death, the limousine company being sued for the crash that killed him insists in galling new court papers. Simon ... 'assumed the risk' when he climbed into the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car last February, Skyline Credit Ride says in the Manhattan Supreme Court filing.... The driver, Abdul Reshad Fedahi, 44, had nine license suspensions and two speeding convictions on his record — and was driving with one hand because his right arm had been rendered useless due to a suicide attempt. Eyewitnesses have told The Post that Simon’s Lincoln was veering erratically as it traveled southbound on the West Side Highway near West 30th Street, just before the 7 p.m. crash on Feb. 11. The Lincoln grazed a Mercedes, then accelerated before slamming into barriers along the median, one witness said...."

Odd News. Nick Gass of Politico: "Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was seen at a Northern California marijuana farm during a raid last weekend, where the former captive of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Afghanistan was reportedly visiting friends.... Authorities from the county sheriff’s department confirmed to NBC Bay Area that Bergdahl did not face any charges and was not arrested during the raid.... Bergdahl is currently awaiting a court martial on charges of desertion, after being returned to the United States last May as part of a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "A gunman opened fire on a movie theater in Lafayette, La. Thursday night, killing at least two people and injuring nine others before killing himself, police said.... The suspect is a 58-year-old white male with a criminal history, Craft said. He seemed to be sitting alone in the theater and fired a semi-automatic handgun." ...

... ABC News: "The gunman who opened fire inside a packed movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, Thursday night, was John Russel Houser, police said at a news conference this morning.... Houser was described as a drifter by police, who said he had likely been in Lafayette since early July." ...

... New York: "The two victims who died are 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, who died at the theater, and 33-year-old Jillian Johnson, who died at a nearby hospital. One of those injured is in critical condition.... The gunman ... John Russell Houser from Alabama ... had been staying in a Motel 6 in the area for a few weeks; police found wigs and disguises inside his room, and a car with switched plates parked out front." ...

... AP: "The White House says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the shooting at a Louisiana movie theater that left three people dead, including the gunman." There are links to more stories about the shooting on the linked Times-Picayune page. ...

... CNN: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke from just outside a Lafayette movie theater after a deadly shooting took place there Thursday, saying he was 'horrified and shocked.'"

A(ustralian)BC: "A US air strike in Afghanistan has killed a senior Al Qaeda commander in charge of the group's suicide bombings, the Pentagon says."

Guardian: "Turkish fighter jets have struck Islamic State targets in Syria and the government has rounded up hundreds of suspected militants in a coordinated crackdown as the country deployed military force for the first time against the terror group."

Thursday
Jul232015

The Commentariat -- July 23, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Michael Gordon & Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday told skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the recently negotiated accord with Iran is the only chance to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and that failure to enact the agreement would isolate the United States internationally.... Mr. Kerry's testimony, along with the testimony of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, came as the Iran deal architects made their first public appearance before lawmakers since the accord was announced last week." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "Senate Republicans opened the first public hearing on the Iranian nuclear agreement Thursday with sharp criticism that made clear they are unlikely to be persuaded to support a deal aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a bomb."

Tom Dart of the Guardian: "Hillary Clinton said that the death of Sandra Bland is an example of the 'hard truths about race and justice' that America needs to face as uncertainty and anger over the circumstances of the 28-year-old's death continued on Thursday."

*****

Julia Preston of the New York Times: "Under new immigration enforcement programs the Obama administration is putting in place across the country, the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants -- up to 87 percent -- would not be the focus of deportation operations and would have 'a degree of protection' to remain in the United States, according to a report published Thursday by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. The report found that about 13 percent of an estimated 11 million immigrants without papers, or about 1.4 million people, have criminal records or recently crossed the border illegally, making them priorities for deportation under guidelines the administration announced in November and put into effect July 1. The new program is likely to result in a drop in overall deportations from inside the country by as much as 25,000 a year..., but an increase in deportations of immigrants who were convicted of serious crimes, pose national security threats or were caught crossing the border illegally."

Alexander Bolton & Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "The Senate late Wednesday voted to move forward with a six-year federal highway bill, giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a significant victory even as his legislation encounters stiff opposition from his own party in the House. In a 62-36 vote, the Senate agreed to begin debate on the legislation." CW: Sorry, I don't consider it a "significant victory" to get an agreement to debate a bill a week before funding for its programs run out, especially when "Democrats and Republicans in the lower chamber united in objecting to the Senate bill on Wednesday, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying it wouldn't fly." ...

... "Congress Can't Write A Highway Bill Without Punching Poor People In The Face." Laura Barron-Lopez & Arthur Delaney of Huffington Post: "Instead of a gas tax, senators went looking for loose change in the couch cushions and came up with the money by cobbling together 16 separate provisions, most of which are unrelated to transportation.... One proposal ... saves billion by eliminating retirement or disability benefits for certain recipients with outstanding felony warrants.... The [transportation] fund will expire on July 31" if the Senate & House can't pass, then reconcile their bills into one President Obama will sign. CW: What's the rush? In case I haven't mentioned it before, the Turtle & the Orange Man are incompetent boobs.

Stephen Ohlemacher & Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: "The trustees that oversee Social Security said the disability trust fund will run out of money in late 2016, right in the middle of a presidential campaign. That would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits. The report said the fund faces 'an urgent threat' that requires prompt action by Congress. There is an easy fix available: Congress could shift tax revenue from Social Security's much larger retirement fund, as it has done in the past. President Barack Obama supports the move. But Republicans say they want changes in the program to reduce fraud and to encourage disabled workers to re-enter the work force." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday proposed a rule aimed at ending a common and lucrative practice among private equity firms that allows them to artificially lower their partners' personal income tax bills. The practice targeted by the I.R.S. allows private equity firms to convert management fees they receive from their investors, which would normally be taxed as ordinary income, into capital contributions invested in their funds. Profits generated on such contributions are treated as capital gains or dividend income and subject to a sharply lower tax rate."

Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday her department is going to review all information surrounding the controversial videos of Planned Parenthood officials taken by an anti-abortion group.... Republican members of Congress have been calling on the DOJ to investigate whether Planned Parenthood is in violation of the law after the first video, showing members of the group discussing fetal tissue, surfaced.... Two GOP-led committees, both in the House, launched investigations into the organization after the first video was released last week."

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "The Washington Post appealed to the United Nations on Wednesday to help secure the release of jailed reporter Jason Rezaian, accusing the Iranian government of flagrant human rights violations in a year of 'arbitrary and unlawful' detention of the veteran journalist, company officials said. A petition filed before the U.N. Human Rights Council sought to increase the international pressure on the Iranian government over its treatment of Rezaian, whose 365 days in prison as of Wednesday amount to the longest incarceration by far of any Western journalist held by the Islamic republic." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

In a Washington Post op-ed, Secretaries John Kerry & Ernest Moniz make their case for the international nuclear deal with Iran. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Illustration by David Parkins for Nature.Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker: It now appears that holding global warming to the 2-degree Celsius limit brokered in the Copenhagen Accord (and which will require a "herculean effort" to achieve even if nations actually make the effort) is still too much to avoid environmental catastrophe. ...

... Here's the Nature story (which Kolbert cites) by David Victor & Charles Kennel: "Politically and scientifically, the 2 °C goal is wrong-headed. Politically, it has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. Scientifically, there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system than the growth of average global surface temperature...."

Presidential Race

Wesley Lowery & Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "The rise of Black Lives Matter has presented opportunities for [Democratic presidential candidates], who are seeking to energize black voters to build on the multiethnic coalitions that twice elected Barack Obama. But the candidates have struggled to tap into a movement that has proved unpredictable and fiercely independent. It is a largely organic web of young African American activists -- many of them unbound by partisan allegiances and largely unaffiliated with establishment groups such as the NAACP that typically forge close ties with Democrats." ...

... CW: Just like the Occupy movement, these kids are angry, rude, disorganized & naive. That may be a good way to make headlines (just ask Donald Trump), & in the long haul, their methods may work because they highlight genuine issues. In the near term, the approach is not a good way to materially influence policy. Pissing off policymakers doesn't really encourage them to cave to your demands. Worse, it emboldens the opposition: I'm sure Republicans are thrilled with Black Lives Matter because the group's tactics give them more reason to ignore the needs & rights of "those people" while further instilling fear & loathing in their racist constituency.

Official GOP Position: Science, U.S. Military Are "Absurd." New York Times: Martin O'Malley cites climate change as a contributor to Middle East unrest; the National Academy of Sciences & the U.S. military agree; Prince Rebus calls the thesis "absurd."

Marc Caputo of Politico: "In his highly touted speech on government reform this week, Jeb Bush ... [said] he would take on 'Mount Washington' in the same way he made 'Mount Tallahassee' more accountable when he was governor of Florida.... But Bush's eight-year record shows he often stood by appointees who were mired in scandal or mismanagement until long after damaging revelations emerged, and in only three reported instances clearly fired agency heads -- including one in the wake of a sexual harassment allegation and another who was implicated in a kickback scheme."

Katie Glueck of Politico: "Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has already emerged as one of the GOP presidential field's most vocal critics of Donald Trump, ratcheted up his rhetoric again Wednesday as he slammed the real estate mogul's presidential bid as a 'cancer on conservatism' and warned that, left unchecked, Trump could be the demise of the Republican Party." ...

... Frank Rich: "For all the other much-discussed factors contributing to the Trump boom -- the power of celebrity, his 'anti-politician' vibe, his freak-show outrageousness, his Don Rickles-style putdowns -- it is the substantive issue of immigration that remains the core of his appeal to his fans." CW: Why, it almost seems Rich is saying that the GOP is the party of racists. Rich also discusses the cult of Cosby & the musical "Hamilton."

Another Supplicant Bows to Lord Romney. Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who jumped into the race for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this week, will huddle with Mitt Romney on Thursday in Wolfeboro, N.H., where [the] former GOP nominee has for years been a summertime resident."

Beyond the Beltway

Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times: "A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended on Wednesday that the minimum wage be raised for employees of fast-food chain restaurants throughout the state to $15 an hour over the next few years. Wages would be raised faster in New York City than in the rest of the state to account for the higher cost of living there. The panel's recommendations, which are expected to be put into effect by an order of the state's acting commissioner of labor, represent a major triumph for the advocates who have rallied burger-flippers and fry cooks to demand pay that covers their basic needs. They argued that taxpayers were subsidizing the workforces of some multinational corporations, like McDonald's, that were not paying enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits. The $15 wage would represent a raise of more than 70 percent for workers earning the state's current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. Advocates for low-wage workers said they believed the mandate would quickly spur raises for employees in other industries across the state, and a jubilant Mr. Cuomo predicted that other states would follow his lead."

Elahe Izadi & Abby Phillip of the Washington Post: "Sandra Bland previously attempted suicide after the loss of a baby and was feeling 'very depressed' on the day of her arrest, according to a handwritten jail intake screening form Texas officials released Wednesday. Bland -- a 28 year-old African American woman -- died in a Waller County jail three days after a Texas trooper pulled her over on July 10 during a routine traffic stop. Officials classified her death as suicide by hanging, but those who knew the Illinois woman treated that classification with skepticism and as 'unfathomable.'" CW: Since the screener determined that Bland was "very depressed" & had previously attempted suicide, why didn't her jailers put her on suicide watch? ...

... Washington Post Editors: "... it's plain to us that Ms. Bland shouldn't have died in jail -- because she never should have been in that cell to begin with. A dashcam video the Texas Department of Public Safety released Tuesday shows that the encounter that led to her arrest and charging spiraled out of control, in large part because of the arresting officer's confrontational behavior.... We see no reason why Ms. Bland shouldn't have collected her traffic warning and driven on -- annoyed, but alive."

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Dylann Roof, the man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last month was indicted on Wednesday on federal hate crime and other charges, including some that carry the federal death penalty, two law enforcement officials said on Wednesday. Mr. Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officials have said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Ledes

New York Times: "Turkey scrambled fighter jets to its border with Syria on Thursday after gunmen on the Syrian side opened fire on a Turkish outpost, killing one military officer and wounding five soldiers, a senior government official said. The official said the gunmen were Islamic State militants. If the government is right, the shooting would be the first time the Islamic State and the Turkish military have engaged in a direct clash since the militant group gained large sections of territory along Turkey's 500-mile border with Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than four years."

New York Times: "The defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Thursday morning as American and Iraqi military officials finished plans for an assault meant to retake Ramadi from the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State."

Tuesday
Jul212015

The Commentariat -- July 22, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Dylann Roof, the man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last month was indicted on Wednesday on federal hate crime and other charges, including some that carry the federal death penalty, two law enforcement officials said on Wednesday. Mr. Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officials have said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it."

Stephen Ohlemacher & Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the AP: "The trustees that oversee Social Security said the disability trust fund will run out of money in late 2016, right in the middle of a presidential campaign. That would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits. The report said the fund faces 'an urgent threat' that requires prompt action by Congress. There is an easy fix available: Congress could shift tax revenue from Social Security's much larger retirement fund, as it has done in the past. President Barack Obama supports the move. But Republicans say they want changes in the program to reduce fraud and to encourage disabled workers to re-enter the work force."

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "The Washington Post appealed to the United Nations on Wednesday to help secure the release of jailed reporter Jason Rezaian, accusing the Iranian government of flagrant human rights violations in a year of 'arbitrary and unlawful' detention of the veteran journalist, company officials said. A petition filed before the U.N. Human Rights Council sought to increase the international pressure on the Iranian government over its treatment of Rezaian, whose 365 days in prison as of Wednesday amount to the longest incarceration by far of any Western journalist held by the Islamic republic."

In a Washington Post op-ed, Secretaries John Kerry & Ernest Moniz make their case for the international nuclear deal with Iran.

*****

Josh Lederman of the AP: "Brushing off his 'chest-beating' critics, President Barack Obama accused opponents of the Iran nuclear deal Tuesday of being the same people who rushed the U.S. into an ill-fated war in Iraq. As he sought support for the deal from U.S. veterans, he said the deal's foes were merely popping off soundbites that accomplish nothing.Obama assumed a confident yet combative tone at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' national convention in Pittsburgh, where he also said he was still not satisfied with the care being provided by Department of Veterans Affairs":

... Halimah Abdullah of NBC News: "Veterans ripped a sign that read 'The Emperor Benghazi Has No Clothes' from a protester's hands as a group gathered for President Barack Obama's speech on veterans' issues in Pittsburgh. The tussle occurred as the president spoke to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars about stressing the need to honor soldiers' service":

Brian Murphy of the Washington Post: "President Obama vowed Tuesday that his administration is 'not going to relent' until Iran releases three Americans held in custody, including a Washington Post journalist reaching the one-year mark of his detention. Obama also demanded clear information from Tehran to assist in finding the whereabouts of a former FBI agent and CIA contractor last seen in Iran."

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama embarks on a trip to Africa this week that includes a controversial stop in Ethiopia, where the authoritarian government has come under sharp international criticism for its handling of political dissent. The Ethiopia visit has raised hackles among human rights advocates who question the administration's level of concern about human rights...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Paul Lewis of the Guardian: "The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has used an unusually emotional interview to reveal he walked away from nuclear talks with Iran on three separate occasions, insisting that the claim that he was too eager to seal a deal was 'one of the dumbest criticisms I've ever heard in my life'":

     ... Also linked yesterday afternoon. ...

... Oren Dorell of USA Today: "As the Senate opens a two-month congressional review of the nuclear agreement with Iran on Thursday, opponents of the deal are spending tens of millions of dollars to rally the American public and U.S. lawmakers against it. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, United Against a Nuclear Iran and the Republican Jewish Coalition are among groups that will spend between $20 million and $40 million to blast the deal with TV commercials that began airing last Friday, social media ads and new websites that include alleged flaws in the agreement and contact information for members of Congress." ...

... Samuel Kleiner & Tom Zoellner in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "Munich analogies refuse to die. The habitual Munichization of conservative foreign policy thinking long ago reached the point of self-parody, but it won't go away.... The most courageous acts on the part of statesmen aren't necessarily those that concede nothing. Like Kennedy rejecting LeMay's call for airstrikes, courage can be resistance to an irrevocable hard line. The nuclear deal with Iran, like any deal, has its risks. But Obama undoubtedly exercised statesmanship in bringing it to completion. It deserves reasoned consideration, which is nothing like what these Republicans automatically hollering about Munich are offering." ...

... Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "Republicans have an Iran problem: They are politically wedding themselves to something that is, in practice, going to be very difficult or impossible for them to do. Unless something substantial changes on the ground -- maybe Iran is caught in a major violation and refuses to fix it -- American opponents of the Iran deal are probably not going to be able to kill it." But Munich!

Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "A six-year highway bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was in limbo Tuesday after lawmakers rejected a motion to move forward with the measure in a 41-56 vote. Democrats voted in unison against proceeding to the 1,030-page bill, arguing they had no time to review the complicated legislation. Eleven Republicans also voted against the motion."

Lauren Gambino of the Guardian: "An anti-abortion group has released a second undercover video of an official at a Planned Parenthood affiliate discussing the costs associated with harvesting fetal tissue for medical research. The edited video, which runs for over eight minutes, is the second surreptitious recording to be released by activist group Center for Medical Progress." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress provides background bullet points on the Center for Medical Progress. CW: Here's another one: the name of their organization is the opposite of what it is; they probably got the idea from Peacemaker missiles.

** Barney Frank Explains Marriage & Freeedom to the Easily-Outraged. (Portland Press-Herald): "In the spirit of conciliation, I want to offer reassurance to those who reacted to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision with a mix of outrage and horror: It will have no effect on how you live your lives. This is not a prediction of what will happen in the future. It is a distillation of the nearly 12 years of experience in Massachusetts since our Supreme Judicial Court issued the forerunner of this ruling in 2003. No member of the clergy has had to participate in any marriage she or he found sinful, immoral or even offensive. No house of worship has been forced to open any of its premises ... for ceremonies that contravene their religious tenets."

     ... CW: Frank's column may seem elementary, almost comical, to you, but to the Easily-Outraged, it's startling news.

American "Justice," Ctd. New York Times: A Long Island judge sets bail at $500,000 for a man charged with causing traffic fatalities while driving under the influence. In December, the same judge set bail at $250 (no more zeroes) for a friend of his who also was charged with causing a traffic fatality while intoxicated.

Presidential Race

Annie Karni of Politico: During Hillary Clinton's livechat Monday, HuffPost reporter asked Clinton, "'Senator Mitch McConnell said about you today: "The gender card alone isn't enough.... How do you respond to an attack like that?' Clinton's response -- a riposte that the gender card is being played 'every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception' -- was a forthright appeal for women's votes...." Clinton's campaign later produced this video, literally playing the gender card.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "Gov. John R. Kasich, a blunt-spoken and unorthodox Republican who bucked his party by expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care law and says politicians must 'reach out and help those who live in the shadows,' announced Tuesday that he was joining his party's long list of candidates for president. Mr. Kasich, 63, became the 16th prominent Republican to enter the 2016 field." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Get to Know Your Presidential Contenders. Digby profiles John Kasich, a candidate "even more ridiculous than Donald Trump."

** Jonathan Weisman of Slate on Jeb!'s boring, 'radically conservative" economic proposals: "... his positions seem to be GOP boilerplate mixed with a dash of hardcore conservative fantasy, all dressed up with some rhetorical gimmicks. Bush might be the grown-up in the room. But you have to consider the room."

American conservative Daniel Larison in the American Conservative: Scott "Walker may think that he is getting the upper hand in the primaries by positioning himself as the most aggressive hard-liner, but in the process he is revealing that he has extraordinarily bad judgment on these issues and confirming that his lack of foreign policy experience is a major liability for him. Why should voters trust him with the presidency when he is eager to boast about his readiness to start an illegal war against a country that just negotiated an agreement with the U.S. and its allies?... A preventive war against Iran would be entirely unjustifiable, unnecessary, and illegal under international law.... There is no difference in practice between a war that is called 'preventive' and what a previous generation condemned as a war of aggression." Thanks to Keith H. for the link. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Lincoln Caplan of the New Yorker: "Someday, a novelist with Wisconsin roots will tell the story of [Scott] Walker's engagement in squalid politics -- and whether it carried him to the White House. Now, however, it is possible to document the close ties between the national network of major conservative donors backing Walker and the conservative lobbying groups that turned the Wisconsin court into a political tool, which forfeited much of its remaining legitimacy with last week's ruling [in which the conservative justices dismissed Walker's 'criminal scheme' to flout campaign finance laws]." Confederates in other states are planning to use the decision to argue against any & all campaign finance laws.

Breaking. Donald Trump Is Still a Jerk. Nick Gass & Adam Lerner of Politico: "On Tuesday, [Donald] Trump ramped up his attacks on ... [Sen. Lindsey Graham] -- who made headlines Monday for calling the Donald a 'jackass' -- and even gave out Graham's private phone number. Trump began his rambling diatribe by calling Graham a 'lightweight' and an 'idiot.' 'He doesn't seem like a very bright guy. He actually probably seems to me not as bright as Rick Perry. I think Rick Perry probably is smarter than Lindsey Graham,' Trump added, riffing on prior insults he had lobbed at the former Texas governor." ...

Trump as Lounge Lizard. Jonathan Capehart: Al Sharpton recalls a conversation with James Brown that illustrates what Donald Trump doesn't get: "When you get on the main stage, Reverend, whatever you did to get out the lounge don't do that on the main stage." ...

... Amy Chozick & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "In the rarefied world of New York moguls, Rupert Murdoch never thought much of Donald J. Trump.... 'When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?' Mr. Murdoch wrote on Twitter on Saturday after Mr. Trump mocked [John] McCain for having been captured as a pilot during the Vietnam War. On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal, the crown jewel of Mr. Murdoch's print company, News Corporation, published a scathing editorial calling Mr. Trump a 'catastrophe.' And The Post's front page screamed, 'DON VOYAGE,' under a headline declaring, 'Trump is toast.' Mr. Trump responded by trashing The Journal on Twitter."

Beyond the Beltway

ABC 7 Chicago: "An appeals court vacated five convictions and threw out the sentence of former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday afternoon. The rest of Blagojevich's convictions were affirmed by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.... Trial Judge James Zagel could reduce the sentence, but guidelines also would permit him to leave it unchanged."

Michael Graczyk of the AP: "A police dashboard video released Tuesday shows that a Texas state trooper tried to pull a black motorist out of her car, then drew his stun gun and threatened her after she refused to follow his orders during a traffic stop. The roadside encounter swiftly escalated into a shouting confrontation as the officer attempted to drag 28-year-old Sandra Bland from her vehicle, with the officer at one point saying, "I will light you up," as he held the stun gun. Days later, Bland was found dead in a jail cell...."

Meg Wagner of the New York Daily News: "A Florida gun shop owner has banned Muslim customers from his store. Andy Hallinan declared Florida Gun Supply in Inverness a 'Muslim-free zone' Saturday in response to a Kuwait-born gunman's shooting rampage in Chattanooga that killed four Marines and a sailor." In a news video accompanying the story, the reporter says the DOJ is investigating. ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "Did he do it in front of a Confederate flag? Why yes, he did."