The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, June 17, 2018.

NJ.com: "Gunfire blasted through a celebrated community event in Trenton early Sunday morning leaving one person dead and 22 injured, police said. The 24-hour Art All Night event is meant to honor local artists and held at the historic Roebling Wire Works building on South Clinton Avenue. The shooting erupted shortly before 3 a.m. Authorities said the shooting did not appear to be a targeted incident but a dispute between individuals that eventually led to an exchange of gunfire with police.... One of the suspected shooters is dead, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri. The 33-year-old man is believed to be shot and killed by police, Onofri said. A second suspect is in police custody. Neither has been identified."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/doral/article211406689.html#storylink=cpy

NAFTA No, NAFSA . North American Free Soccer Agreement. Washington Post: "The World Cup is returning to the United States, and this time, Mexico and Canada are along for the wild ride. A North American joint bid won the rights Wednesday to host the 2026 edition of the celebrated soccer tournament, defeating Morocco and bouncing back from an unfathomable U.S. defeat to Qatar in voting for the 2022 event eight years ago. The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65."

... Washington Post: "It was Justify’s moment, after all. In a dazzling display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn’t race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn’t be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport’s 13th Triple Crown champion. After a 37-year drought in which the feat seemed impossible, Justify became the second horse in four years to achieve it, tutored, like 2015 predecessor American Pharoah, by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on "The Americans." Mrs. McC Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the show's finale, & you plan to, see it before reading Gessen's post.

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.

New York Times: "A thousand-year-old English castle echoed with the exhortations of an African-American bishop and a gospel choir on Saturday, as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American actress, nudging the British royal family into a new era. Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, her future father-in-law and presumably the future king of Britain. Prince Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, has long called on Britain’s monarchy to draw closer to the daily life of its people. But the most extraordinary thing he has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her views. Their choices at Saturday’s wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made it clear that they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy.” ...

Serena Williams, at the When Harry Wed Meghan rites.... Anthony Lane of the New Yorker attended the nuptials & reports back: "Love, as warmly recommended by the preacher, held sway. The sole unpleasantness that crossed my path took the form of a burly fellow wearing a fascinator, with ripped jeans and mirrored shades: not an outfit that I will soon forget." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are wondering what a "fascinator" is, so was I. There were hundreds of them worn to Windsor Saturday. It's a ridiculous thing that otherwise sensible women attach to their heads. We are not fascinated.

Shorter Wedding:

This is the WashPo's live coverage of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. You can supersize it:

The Guardian is posting updates re: the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. "The Queen has announced the titles given to the married couple. Prince Harry, or to give him his formal title, Prince Henry of Wales, has been made Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.So he will be His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and, once married, Meghan Markle will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex."

Josephine Livingstone of the New Republic reviews The President is Missing: "... there’s an ickiness to this book, and it lies in gender politics. It’s just not possible to engage with Bill Clinton as a public figure without thinking about his relationship with the 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. America is undergoing a revision of its original interpretation of that incident, one in which people newly recognize her youth and her vulnerability. Wrong was done by her, and that is more widely understood. Clinton can’t expect readers not to think about that. And yet during the publicity tour for the book, he has responded to questions about Lewinsky with great churlishness. To boot, the book ends with the revelation that the villain all along was feminism." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This novel needed a woman's review. As for Livingstone's note about #MeToo revisionism, I was horrified by Bill's abuse of Lewinsky in real time. And I was equally horrified by Hillary's attempts to get her husband out of the jam of his own making. I didn't understand why I was nearly alone among liberals in what I found to be obvious abuses of power, but I now see it was blind partisanship, of a quality & quantity not different from stupid Trumpbot loyalty. I never thought Clinton should have been impeached; I thought he should have resigned.

Ha Ha. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reviews the newly-published novel The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson. "Writing, like dying, is one of those things that should be done alone or not at all.... Bill Clinton, who can write, has hooked up with James Patterson, who can’t, but whose works have sold more than three hundred and seventy-five million copies, most of them to happy and contented customers for whom good writing would only get in the way." Lane runs down the plotline of this thriller, & he says the story includes "no sex'" even tho there as sexy female assassin (of course there is) who is after the fictional president. Lane goes out of his way to diss Patterson's writing. "Somehow, 'The President Is Missing' rises above its blithely forgivable faults. It’s a go-to read." Mrs. McC: Tho not by me.

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

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
Nov262015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 27, 2015

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "A man climbed over a fence in front of the White House on Thursday as President Obama and his family were inside celebrating Thanksgiving, the Secret Service said. The breach exposed how vulnerable the White House grounds remain.... The service identified the man who climbed over the fence on Thursday as Joseph Caputo. Agents apprehended him on the North Lawn around 2:45 p.m., moments after he cleared the fence, said Robert Hoback, a spokesman for the Secret Service. Mr. Caputo is facing criminal charges.... He was draped in an American flag and was carrying a binder in his mouth as he scaled the fence. Once inside the perimeter, Mr. Caputo raised his arms and dropped to his knees, before lying on the ground. The White House was placed on lockdown for about three hours...." ...

     ... The Washington Post story, by Lynh Bui & Ashley Halsey, is here. ...

Cheryl Thompson & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "... at least 48 people ... have died in the United States since January -- about one death a week -- in incidents in which police used Tasers, according to a Washington Post examination of scores of police, court and autopsy records.... More than half of the 48 suffered from mental illness or had illegal drugs in their system at the time. At least 10 were Tasered while handcuffed or shackled. Only one was female. Nearly 55 percent of the people who died were minorities."

Ken Vogel & Seung Min Kim of Politico: "Senate Republicans plan to insert a provision into a must-pass government funding bill that would vastly expand the amount of cash that political parties could spend on candidates, multiple sources tell Politico. The provision ... would eliminate caps on the amount of cash that parties may spend in coordination with their candidates.... Campaign finance watchdogs argue that it would allow wealthy donors to exercise even more influence with members of Congress."

Brianna Ehley of Politico: "The spate of mass killings over the past year reignited mental health reform efforts in both chambers of Congress.... But the Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, has been working behind the scenes to drum up support for his own mental health legislation, which includes language endorsed by the National Rifle Association.... His critics say the legislation actually loosens restrictions on gun purchases, under the umbrella of mental health reform.... His push ... is creating a wedge in the bipartisan coalition that had been trying to keep mental health clearly separate from any legislation touching on the politically volatile issue of guns."

Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: "Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) "is siding with [seafood industry] employers [and against labor advocates & the Obama administration,], spurred by a desire to protect her state's seafood companies at a time when pollution, warming water and competition from companies in Southeast Asia have taken a toll."

Glenn Greenwald in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden." CW: Greenwald cites two former CIA directors, but no active CIA officials or spokespeople. Do ex-directors qualify as "CIA operatives"?

Paul Rosenberg, in Salon, psyches out the pathology of the "Daddy party": "Nothing made them feel more like helpless infants than seeing Obama act presidential -- especially when he reached out to them, inviting a mature response, which they were utterly incapable of, boxed in by their own intricate structure of lies about him, prisoners of their own dark projections.... They couldn't govern their way out of a paper bag. In fact, they're really the baby party. All they can do is finger-point and fear-monger. That's it."

Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "The river of ice that hugs Mount Grinnell's high ridges ... may be the most accessible glacier in all of North America.... But if you want to see it, you'd better hurry. Grinnell Glacier is disappearing -- fast. This crescent-shaped glacier in Montana's northern Rockies had been contracting for decades because of warming temperatures. Lately it has been shrinking at a breathtaking clip, losing as much as a 10th of its mass in a single year. As early as 2030, scientists say, it may no longer exist."

Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times: "The holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start Thursday as consumers gobbled their turkey dinners then gorged on Thanksgiving shopping.... Several chains opened Thursday afternoon or evening Many retailers in hopes of luring shoppers with doorbuster deals ahead of Black Friday...." ...

... BUT. Vauhini Vara of the New Yorker: "In the past couple of years..., retailers have tended to take a determinedly pro-frenzied-consumerism approach to Black Friday, beginning their sales earlier and earlier, so that they have eventually impinged on Thanksgiving Day. The phenomenon became so pervasive that it even got a name, Black Friday Creep.... But R.E.I.'s statement this year [video below] is actually part of what appears to be a slowdown in the creep.... This year, it seems, some brick-and-mortar retailers have begun to feel that whatever benefit they get from early openings isn't worth the trouble.... The widespread availability of good deals on the Internet has diminished the appeal of all that sales-bin arm wrestling -- and, in fact, has made it seem a bit unsavory."

Helaine Olen in Slate: "Whether they appealed to lower-, middle-, or upper-income shoppers, department stores once epitomized our seemingly limitless consumer economy. Now they're experiencing what economists call a long-term cyclical decline. According to market researcher IBISWorld, sales across the entire department-store category, which includes everything from high-end retailers like Bergdorf Goodman to lower-end establishments such as Walmart (a place few of us think of as a department store at all) fell by a 4.5-percent annual rate between 2010 and 2015."

Bob Cesca in Salon: "It’s difficult to think of another annual occasion that combines American excess with American indignity more than the day after Thanksgiving.... Rather than building stronger middle- and working-class incomes to keep up, our politics and our corporate culture have collaborated on a humiliating work-around: cheaper crap that you might have to fight for.... Adding insult to injury, The Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger.com discovered that Black Friday deals aren't very good ones."

Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones: "The people who organized the largest-ever Black Friday demonstrations against Walmart last year are leaving their protest signs at home this year. Instead, they're launching a campaign to support 1,000 food drives around the country to help struggling Walmart workers. Making Change at Walmart's 'Give Back Friday' campaign kicked off on Tuesday with the launch of a national TV ad campaign urging people 'to help feed underpaid workers'..."

Adam Chandler of the Atlantic: "Football has never been more popular, but public interest in the concussion epidemic is only growing.... According to a ongoing PBS Frontline project, NFL players have already suffered 108 concussions through 11 weeks of play this season. While the league has instituted new protocols, just this week they were criticized as insufficient after Case Keenum, the quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, failed to be removed from the game after suffering a concussion on Sunday.

Today's History Lesson. Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "The Statue of Liberty was originally designed to be a Muslim woman, the Smithsonian Institution's magazine says. An article on the government-administered museum's blog, Smart News, claims one of the designers of Lady Liberty drew inspiration from monuments in Egypt and originally intended to construct a veiled female peasant on the Suez Canal....The design of the project was eventually altered to the Roman colossus...." ...

... This history lesson should allay Stephen Colbert's concerns. Thanks to Colbert for helping ICE identify terrorists hiding among the refugee applicants (& GOP presidential candidates). Also, thanks to D. C. Clark for the link:

Presidential Race

Jose DelReal of the Washington Post: "A day after he was widely rebuked for mocking a reporter with a physical disability..., Donald Trump on Thursday denied that he had done so and accused the reporter of 'using his disability to grandstand.' Trump also demanded an apology from the New York Times, the reporter's employer, which earlier in the week issued a statement condemning Trump for ridiculing 'the appearance of one of our reporters.'" See yesterday's Commentariat for more on this story, including a link to a Guardian video which shows Trump clearly mocking the reporter's disability. Scum. ...

... Judd Legum of Think Progress: To "prove" his claim that "thousands & thousands" of New Jersey "Arabs" were cheering as the Twin Towers fells, Donald Trump linked in a tweet to a page in "Infowars.com, a conspiracy website that pushes the idea that 9/11 was an inside job.... Even Infowars' article doesn't support Trump's claim that thousands of Muslims were celebrating on 9/11. It's simply a woman who claims she saw a 'pocket' of Muslims celebrating." ...

... Tim Egan: "Donald Trump's reign would be a police state. He has now outlined a series of measures that would make the United States an authoritarian nightmare. Trump is no longer entertaining, or diversionary. He's a billionaire brute, his bluster getting more ominous by the day." ...

... Jamelle Bouie: "In the past week..., 'Donald Trump as fascist' has gone from hyperbolic to mainstream.... Alone and disconnected, [Trump's] rhetoric isn't necessarily fascist. Some of it, in fact, is even anodyne. But together and in the person of Donald Trump, it's clear: The rhetoric of fascism is here. And increasingly, the policies are too. The only thing left is the violence." ...

... In seeking to define fascism, Bouie relies on this 1995 New York Review of Books article by Umberto Eco. Eco was a decades-long friend of my husband's, & among those partisani Eco describes in the first grafs of his essay was my husband Aldo Scaglione. And, yes, one can definitely see Trump in many of the elements of "ur-fascism" Eco describes. ...

... Molly Ball of the Atlantic: "Four months into his crazed foray into presidential politics, Trump is still winning this thing. And what could once be dismissed as a larkish piece of political performance art has seemingly turned into something darker. Pundits, even conservative ones, say that Trump resembles a fascist. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, which some hoped would expose Trump's shallowness, have instead strengthened him by intensifying people's anger and fear.... This is the thing Trump knows: You can stand around fretting about truth and propriety and the danger of pandering to baser instincts. Or you can give the people what they want." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "As much as they've awakened to the threat that Trumpism poses to their party, Republicans and the conservative intelligentsia lack the self-awareness -- or perhaps the temerity -- to acknowledge that though they now resent it, they've been courting it all along."

Trip Gabriel of the New York Times: "Ben Carson, who is facing increasing scrutiny over his grasp of foreign policy, is traveling to Jordan on Friday to visit Syrian refugees, in order to gain an understanding of the pressing issue and to polish his candidacy.

Beyond the Beltway

Elizabeth Bruenig of the New Republic: The state of "Texas is demanding that Christian groups stop taking in Syrian refugees. The groups say that's a violation of the Constitution." CW: Huh. Turns out freeedom of religion (or freeedom of Christianity) is important to Texas's Christianist officials only when conveeenient.

Tom Jackman of the Washington Post: "While the trend in much of the United States is moving toward decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, Virginia is heading in the opposite direction: sharply rising arrest totals for possession of pot, and a disproportionate number of black people arrested in the commonwealth, according to a new study based on state data reported to the FBI."

Way Beyond

Nicole Winfield & Tom Odula of the AP: "Visiting one of Nairobi's many shantytowns on Friday, Pope Francis denounced conditions slum-dwellers are forced to live in, saying access to safe water is a basic human right and that everyone should have dignified, adequate housing."

Andrew Roth of the Washington Post: "Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Francois Hollande in the Kremlin on Thursday that Russia is 'prepared to work with you' in combatting the Islamist militants who have inflicted devastating attacks on both countries. Hollande flew to Moscow to enlist Putin in a joint campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, but the prospects for close coordination between wary nations are problematic." ...

... Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times: "The downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey threatened to lead to a wholesale breach in the countries' relations on Thursday, with the Kremlin preparing to sever economic ties and Turkish officials saying they had no reason to apologize."

Annie Gowen of the Washington Post: "... life in Bangladesh’s crowded capital has changed significantly since a string of terrorist attacks this year, including shootings claimed by the Islamic State that left two foreigners dead and a third, an Italian missionary, seriously wounded. Many have stopped walking or bicycling to work in favor of company cars. An international AIDS conference was postponed and other events canceled."

Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post: "In his first full day in Africa, Pope Francis spoke to the many millions reeling from a string of terrorist attacks, condemning the way young people have been 'radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear.' That message -- like the rest of his comments [in Nairobi, Kenya.] on Thursday -- spoke to both global and local concerns, shifting between lamentations for a perilous time, globally, in history and the threats facing Kenya as its economic and geopolitical strength grows."

Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times: "Miss Canada, otherwise known as Anastasia Lin, a 25-year-old actress and classically trained pianist ... has been denied a Chinese visa to attend the monthlong [Missi World] pageant, presumably because of her outspoken advocacy for human rights and religious freedom in China."

AP: "The French national anthem played by a military band has closed the ceremony honoring those killed in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.... The tightly secured ceremony paid homage to the 130 people, overwhelmingly young adults, killed when Islamic extremists struck the national stadium, bars, restaurants and a concert hall."

"Europe the Unready." Paul Krugman: There is a "slow-motion disaster now overtaking the European project on multiple fronts."

News Ledes

BBC News: "The Democratic Action party [of Venezuela] says Luis Manuel Diaz[, a regional leader of the party.] was killed by a man who approached the stage after a public meeting in central Guarico state. Opposition leaders blamed militias supporting the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). President Nicolas Maduro denied this and said an inquiry had been launched."

AP: "Malian special forces have arrested two men over last week's attack on a luxury hotel in the capital that killed 19 people, according to a statement distributed Friday morning. The statement identified the two Malians, both arrested in Bamako, but provided no other details on their background or their potential roles in the attack."

Wednesday
Nov252015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2015

Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims -- men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families, What makes America America is that we offer that chance. -- President Obama

White House: "In this week's address, the President wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and reflected on America's history of welcoming men and women seeking a safer, better future for themselves and their families":


Afternoon Update:

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Linda Johnson of the AP: "After weeks of criticism from patients, doctors and other drugmakers for hiking a life-saving medicine to more than 50 times its former price, Turing Pharmaceuticals is reneging on its pledge to cut the $750-per-pill price. Instead, the small biotech company is reducing what it charges hospitals, by up to 50 percent, for its parasitic infection treatment Daraprim. Most patients' co-payments will be capped at $10 or less a month. But insurers will be stuck with the bulk of the $750 tab. That drives up future treatment and insurance costs."

*****

** Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "Thanksgiving is our holiday of refugee commemoration.... For today's Republicans -- including [Donald] Trump's rival candidates afraid to call him out for what he is -- celebrating Thanksgiving is an act of high hypocrisy.... To find Trump's antecedents, you have to go back to the Southern segregationist demagogues who whooped up their crowds by affirming the rightness and necessity not merely of their racism but of racist violence as well.... Trump, the Republicans' Southern Strategy -- pioneered by Barry Goldwater and perfected by strong> Ronald Reagan -- has hit bottom.... Trump's distinctive contribution to this decades-long process has been the rawness of his racism, the thuggish tone of his speech and the huge growth of anti-minority police powers that he has championed." Thanks to Janice for the link.

The First Thanksgiving:

... Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg: "Thanksgiving is a political holiday. It honors and mythologizes the comity -- based on a formal treaty -- between two peoples who needed what the other had to offer at a particular point in time. Delighted not to be starving, the Puritans of what is now Massachusetts feasted for three days in 1621, and entertained the local Wampanoags as their guests.... What brought them together was not shared identity but shared interests: Trade. Protection from common enemies. Mutually valued exchanges of technology and skills."

Just Another Brooklyn Thanksgiving:

Thanks, Adele:

"As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly":

... The turkey drop was actually a real incident. It was at a shopping center in Atlanta; I think it was Broadview Plaza, which no longer exists. It was a Thanksgiving promotion. We thought that we could throw these live turkeys out into the crowd for their Thanksgiving dinners. All of us, naïve and uneducated, thought that turkeys could fly. Of course, they went just fuckin' splat. -- Clarke Brown of WQZI Atlanta (CW: You may want to read the linked group interview, conducted in 2012.)

President Obama pardons two turkeys. Unlike WKRP station manager Arthur Carlson (and real-person Clarke Brown), Obama is aware turkeys can't fly:

As you may have heard, for months there has been a fierce competition between a bunch of turkeys trying to win their way into the White House. -- President Obama, at the turkey-pardoning ceremony, clearly alluding to a different flock of turkeys

The First Family serves Thanksgiving dinner (Wednesday) at Friendship Place, a Washington, D.C., organization that helps homeless people:

Hiroko Tabuchi & Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times: "In 1939, the nation's largest retailers sent Franklin D. Roosevelt an urgent plea. Thanksgiving fell on the last day of November that year, giving merchants too few days before Christmas to unleash the season's sales.... Wouldn't Mr. Roosevelt consider moving the day up by a week? The president's acquiescence to retailers helped cement the pre-eminence of the post-Thanksgiving sales rush, now known as Black Friday.... Seven decades later, Black Friday has lost its distinctive edge.... The relentless race for holiday dollars has blunted the day's oomph, as stores offer deep discounts weeks before Thanksgiving and year-round deals in stores and online are breeding sales fatigue.... The history of Black Friday tracks the history of modern American retailing, and of personal consumption in the United States, which makes up a bigger part of the economy than in almost any other industrialized country."

Real News

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama reassured Americans on Wednesday that there was no known terrorist plot against the United States at the moment and urged them to go about their Thanksgiving holiday weekend activities without undue fear":

Rod Nordland of the New York Times: "The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, said Wednesday that several service members had been suspended from duty after an internal military investigation of the American airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last month. Calling the airstrike a 'tragic mistake,' General Campbell read a statement announcing the findings of the investigation, which he said concluded that 'avoidable human error' was to blame, compounded by technical, mechanical and procedural failures. He said that another contributing factor was that the Special Forces members in Kunduz had been fighting continuously for days and were fatigued."

Cindy Boren of the Washington Post: "Frank Gifford, the Hall of Fame NFL player turned broadcaster, was suffering from 'the debilitating effects of head trauma' from playing football when he died last summer at the age of 84, his family said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.... 'While Frank passed away from natural causes..., our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition as that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) -- a progressive degenerative brain disease.' [his family said.]"

The Palinization of the GOP. Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "... something broke on the right when they were forced to spend September and October of 2008 pretending that it would be okay if Sarah Palin were elected vice-president. The only way to maintain that stance was to jettison all the normal standards we have for holding such a high office. But it also entailed simply insisting that the truth doesn't matter. And so, now..., it's gotten to the point that Republicans have realized that they can say anything they want and just blame media bias if anyone calls them on their lies. Palin basically invented this is a survival strategy after she fell on her face in her first big interview with Katie Couric. It's now more than a survival strategy. It's the Republican Party's modus operandi."

Linda Greenhouse: The Supreme Court will take up two cases this year where sex & religion collide (CW: as they so often do). Greenhouse cites a 1989 opinion by John Paul Stevens: "Our jurisprudence ... has consistently required a secular basis for valid legislation." Greenhouse: "... what the Supreme Court may or may not grasp is that it has on its hands something deeper yet: a struggle over modernity, a battle for the secular state in which women can make their choices and design what Justice Ginsburg calls their life course, free of obstacles erected by those who would impose their religious views on others and who find in recent Supreme Court decisions encouragement that this time they might get their way."

In today's commentary, Marvin S. puts his finger on the real motivation behind the GOP's overweaned "fear of terrorism."

Wes Enzinna, in the New York Times Magazine, on the Kurdish quasi-state of Rojava, in which "women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets." Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Clueless Press Corps Stars in Futile Search for Clue. Citations (from Sunday's "Meet the Press") & identifiers by Driftglass:

There's no consequence for them to say anything that they want to. They can make things up, they can go out and say flat out untruths and nobody's challenging them.... -- Helene Cooper, actual, grown-up professional American journalist

... And Donald Trump says that he saw in Jersey City thousands of people cheering when the Twin Trade Towers came down, it's completely wrong. It did not happen. He did not see it. But who's there to challenge him on that? -- Tom Brokaw, famous teevee person, dean of NBC network news and, ironically, the revered, rose-colored-glasses chronicler of America's battle against fascism during World War II

Who, yes, who? If only there were some kind of job where the workers were tasked with confronting the lying liars, then telling all the rest of us the lying liars were lying. -- Constant Weader

P. S. Leave us not forget these gems:

We all sit there because we know the first time we bark, it's the last time we do the show.... All the sudden nobody will come on your show. -- Chuck Todd, "Meet the Press" star, explaining why the media don't challenge politicians' lies, November 2014. Chuck goes on to suggest that political satirists are responsible for "creating a more cynical public citizen."

What I always love is people say, 'Well, it's you folks' fault in the media.' No, it's the President of the United States' fault for not selling it. -- Chuck Todd, then-NBC White House correspondent, explaining why the media are not responsible to call out Republican lies about ObamaCare, September 2013

Matt Taiibi of Rolling Stone: "America is now too dumb for TV news. It's our fault. We in the media have spent decades turning the news into a consumer business that's basically indistinguishable from selling cheeseburgers or video games.... What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism. The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist.... What this 9/11 celebrations story shows is that American news audiences have had their fantasies stroked for so long that they can't even remember stuff that happened not that long ago."

Presidential Race

New York Times Editors: "Senator Bernie Sanders released his immigration plan on Tuesday.... Since the immigration reform bill was killed, in 2013, the party that killed it -- the Republicans -- has dragged the immigration debate to grotesque depths that go well beyond the usual nativist bigotry.... Mr. Sanders ... starts with the right premise: that immigrants should be welcomed and assimilated.... His proposals seek to uphold American values, bolster the rule of law, bolster the economy and protect and honor families.... Mr. Sanders's immigration plan is ... reality-based, moderate, practical and hopeful." ...

... Sanders' immigration plan is here. As the Times editors write, every citizen should read it. ...

** Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "As Mayor, Bernie Sanders Was More Pragmatist Than Socialist."

Paul Krugman: With many GOP leaders espousing ridiculous conspiracy theories, "how are base voters supposed to know that Trump's claims that the media suppressed films of Muslims cheering on 9/11 mark him as crazy, while all the other conspiracy theories on the right are OK?... Sorry, guys, you created this monster, and now he's coming for you." ...

Possible Photoshop, by Driftglass.Let the National Witch Hunt Begin. Mark Hensch of the Hill: "... Donald Trump said late Tuesday that everyday Americans should monitor their neighbors for questionable behavior. 'The real greatest resource is all of you, because you have all those eyes and you see what's happening,' he told listeners in Myrtle Beach, S.C. 'People move into a house a block down the road, you know who's going in,' Trump continued. 'You can see and you report them to the local police. You're pretty smart, right?' he asked his audience. 'We know if there's something going on, report them. Most likely you'll be wrong, but that's OK.'" ...

"The New Colussus" -- Emma Lazarus

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

"The Newer Colussus" -- Donald Trump, for the Republican Party

"Turn in your tired, your poor,
You may be wrong, but that's okay.
They're wretched refuse, that's for sure.
Turn in the neighbors down the way,
Lift up your lamp to peek inside their door!"

... Greg Sargent: "Trump and his campaign are actively charging the liberal media with covering up evidence that American Muslims did in fact celebrate the 9/11 attacks in great numbers." ...

... In that context, Donald Trump mocks a New York Times reporter's physical disability. CW: There is no low where Trump won't go. The Guardian has video. ...

     ... The Politico story, by Ben Schreckinger, is here. ...

... MJ Lee of CNN: "Conservative warnings about Donald Trump have grown increasingly somber. At first he was just an entertainer; then he became a worrisome distraction, and soon, there was fear that he would permanently scar the reputation of the Republican Party. But it was after Trump started calling for stronger surveillance of Muslim-Americans ... that a handful of conservatives ventured to call Trump's rhetoric something much more dangerous: fascism.... Conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace ... [tweeted] last week: 'If Obama proposed the same religion registry as Trump every conservative in the country would call it what it is -- creeping fascism.'... Historians say they see other characteristics of fascism in Trump in addition to his propensity for racial and ethnic stereotyping. Among them: nativist undertones, attempts to control the media; and even condoning violence against his critics." ...

... CW: Bearing in mind that Trump's penthouse is four miles from the site of the World Trade Center, see Ophelia M.'s comment in yesterday's thread. If you still believe Trump saw with his own eyes people jumping from the World Trade Towers on 9/11, you'll have to conclude that Ophelia is, like, Mrs. Magoo. We all have horrible memories of that day & its aftermath, but Trump, like many people, exaggerates his own "participation" in this terrible event. ...

... Paul Campos in Lawyers, Guns & Money: "For a generation now, America has been bombarded by the message that the market is the proper measure of all things, and that pretty much everything ought to be sold to the highest bidder. The result is the disgusting spectacle of Trump campaign, which probably started out as a shameless publicity stunt, but is now getting such great ratings that there's a non-trivial chance he could become president of the United States." ...

... Matea Gold & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Plan A for GOP donors: Wait for Trump to fall. (There is no Plan B.)... The absence of a big-money response to Trump is especially striking, given the mounting anxiety among GOP leaders about his lasting dominance in the race and his accumulation of incendiary statements." ...

... Driftglass: "It turns out that however often the donor and brain caste of the GOP meet in quiet rooms and strategize about assembling an acceptable Establishment Candidate out of snips from old Jerry Ford speeches and dollops of Ronald Reagan's hair dye and Third Way/No Labels Both Siderist soft-core pornspeak, it turns out the Base of their party doesn't really give a shit about their schemes anymore.... The Base wants torch-lit rallies full of spellbinding speeches about their surpassing awesomeness and moral superiority. They want to make a bonfire of the Enlightenment and dance around the flames, armed to the teeth, braying about Freedumb and Murrica. And EstaBushment Fix It Man Jeb! ain't that guy."

In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin -- violate God's law and sin -- if we're ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we're ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. So when those two come into conflict, God's rules always win. -- Marco Rubio, in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview, vowing to violate the Constitution & the law, if God says so

Marco should become a professional conscientious objector, not POTUS. He cannot agree to the terms of his oath of office. It is notable that he has taken similar oaths more than once. -- Constant Weader

Looks as if the end of Carly Fiorina's campaign is in sight. The New York Times just dumped a pile of research in the form of a story.

Beyond the Beltway

Jesse Wegman of the New York Times: "Gov. Steven L. Beshear [D] of Kentucky did a good thing on Tuesday when he issued an executive order making about 140,000 residents of his state with a nonviolent felony conviction immediately eligible to register to vote.... Nationwide, nearly six million Americans are unable to take part in the defining feature of a democracy. Naturally, the effects of these laws are as racially discriminatory as the criminal justice system from which they spring. In Kentucky, an estimated one in five African-Americans is barred from voting."

Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times: "Pennsylvania lawmakers took a significant step Wednesday toward removing from office the state attorney general, Kathleen G. Kane, who faces criminal charges. And Ms. Kane vowed a wide-ranging investigation into embarrassing emails from state officials, raising the stakes in a drama that has transfixed the state government for months. A bipartisan special committee of the State Senate found 'a sufficient basis for the Senate to move forward' with hearings on whether to force out Ms. Kane, a Democrat, because her law license has been suspended, limiting her ability to do her job."

Julie Fancher & Avi Selk of the Dallas Morning News: "The organizer of a recent armed anti-Muslim protest at an Irving mosque published the names and addresses of dozens of Muslims and 'Muslim sympathizers' online Wednesday. David Wright III copied an Irving city document that included the personal information of people who signed up to speak before the City Council voted in March to support a state bill aimed at blocking Muslim influence. Wright, who organized Saturday's armed protest against the 'Islamization of America' outside the Irving Islamic Center, posted on Facebook the name and address of every Muslim and Muslim sympathizer that stood up for .. Sharia tribunals in Irving.'... Shortly before Wright posted the list online, he wrote on Facebook: '...We like to have guns designed to kill people that pose a threat in a very efficient manner.'" CW: In the accompanying photo three of the six "protesters" are wearing masks. ...

... Yo, Marco. You want a "clash of civilizations"? Go to Irving, Texas, where it's in full view. Here is a photo of a member of Wright's group stalking a Muslim woman this past Sunday. No cops around, I guess, because this is a town where the idiotic mayor & council endorsed a proposal for a state law barring (nonexistent) Sharia courts of law. Would you fear for your life if you were this woman? I would. Apparently masked gunmen menacing women is all nice & legal in Texas. Via Raw Story:

The Assholes of Irvine are not the only ones troubled by people wearing exotic outfits. We turn now to Lowndes County, Georgia:

Juanita Jean sez, "I think this is the deal: You can be wildly racist or you can spell. Apparently you cannot do both." ...

... CW: That's one way of looking at it, Juanita Jean, but I think the Georgia Concerned Citizens are right -- if we assume the Muslin Invasion is where all the KKK freaks turn up of an evening in their specially-tailored white sheets. Maybe it will turn out that all of our outrage has been over a yuuuuge Emily Litella sort of misunderstanding -- perhaps the GOP is not a national hate organization but a vast support group for oddballs with a peculiar cotton phobia. Maybe we should be helping them out by supporting flax farm subsidies & public sheep-grazing lands.

AFP: "Multiple arrests were made overnight in Chicago and New York during protests over police shootings of two black males."

** American "Justice," Ctd. Curtis Black of the Chicago Reporter on "how Chicago tried to cover up a police execution. It was just about a year ago that a city whistleblower came to journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman out of concern that Laquan McDonald's shooting a few weeks earlier 'wasn't being vigorously investigated,' as Kalven recalls. The source told them 'that there was a video and that it was horrific,' he said. Without that whistleblower -- and without that video -- it's highly unlikely that Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke would be facing first-degree murder charges today.'" ...

... Paul Campos: Chicago Mayor Rahm "Emanuel's attempt to cover up the city's cover up by turning a story of systemic legal and political corruption into a banal tale of one trigger-happy cop is just a continuation of an ongoing crime." ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: The Chicago protests are about more than just one vicious killer-cop. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn't get it. (CW: Or doesn't care.)

... Chris Thompson of Gawker contrasts the police version of the killing of McDonald (all lies) & civilian accounts of the McDonald's murder (consistent with forensic & videotape evidence). ...

... Bradford Richardson of the Hill: "President Obama was 'deeply disturbed' by the footage showing the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, he said Wednesday evening." Here's President Obama's full statement on his Facebook account.

Peter Holley of the Washington Post interviews a man named Tim Foley who leads an armed vigilante group that patrols the U.S.-Mexican border looking for ISIS terrorists & drug-runners. Foley is a bitter out-of-work former construction foreman who says he has given up on the American dream. "His goal, he noted, is to eventually buy a dude ranch where military veterans with PTSD can heal their minds by patrolling the border, getting outside and enjoying the company of people they can relate to." CW: That sounds safe. There are many ways to volunteer ones services to make the U.S. a safer, more hospitable nation. Suiting up in camo, guns & ammo & going hunting for terrorists & drug mules is not one of them.

More News from Georgia's Finest: Y'all (well, some of y'all) Come on Down. Thanks to Unwashed for the link:

... Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: "Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley put up the sign because, he said, over the years he has seen 'the silent majority' grow even 'more silent.'" CW: Would that "silent majority" include, say, folks at Donald Trump rallies, reproductive-rights foes & Christianist "religious freeedom" champions? Yeah, they're all cowering in their hovels, afraid to speak their minds lest Obama's politically-correct enforcers whisk them away & cart them off to re-education camps where they implant a liberal chip in everybody's brain.

Way Beyond

Andrew Roth of the Washington Post: "Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday called for tough sanctions against Turkey that could bite into more than $30 billion in trade ties between the two countries, as police here began seizing Turkish products and deporting Turkish businessmen."

News Ledes

Guardian: "Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John's Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse."

Reuters: "A 23-year-old Indiana man has pleaded guilty to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains that he then sold online. David Charles, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to six charges including receiving stolen property and burglary in a Marion county court. Magistrate Amy Barbar sentenced him to one year of home detention and two years of probation, county prosecutor spokesman Anthony Deer said."

Tuesday
Nov242015

The Commentariat -- Nov. 25, 2015

Hugh Naylor & Andrew Roth of the Washington Post: "NATO faced being thrust into a new Middle Eastern crisis on Tuesday after warplanes from member state Turkey shot down a Russian jet that Turkish officials said had violated their country's airspace on the border with Syria. The incident marked a serious escalation in the Syrian conflict that is likely to further strain relations between Russia and the NATO alliance.... Russia's Defense Ministry said one of at least two pilots probably died during the incident, and a marine also was killed by apparent Syrian insurgent fire during a helicopter rescue operation to retrieve the downed airmen.... Turkey called for an emergency NATO session to discuss the incident but has not invoked alliance provisions that would involve other members in its defense." ...

(CW P.S. If you can't access WashPo (or other) stories because you're not a subscriber, open Reality Chex in a private window. That will allow you to link to up to ten stories (or whatever the site's free-access limit is). If you hit the limit, close the private window & open a new one. That puts your count back at zero. I don't know if the WashPo will work around this system, but it works for now.)

... Andrew Roth, et al.: "The Kremlin sharpened its accusations Wednesday in the wake of Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane, as Moscow's top diplomat called the incident a 'planned provocation' that has dealt a major blow to already fragile relations with NATO. But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also tamped down speculation of a military response by Russia after the jet broke apart in flames along the Turkish-Syrian border. 'We're not going to war against Turkey,' he said after talks with his Turkish counterpart." ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on the need to reduce tensions after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane flying near the country's border with Syria, the White House said Tuesday. Obama voiced support "for Turkey's right to defend its sovereignty" during a phone call with Erdogan, according to a White House statement." ...

... Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "The immediate reactions by Turkey and Russia suggest the potential for escalation [after Turkey downed a Russian jet].... So will this business get out of control? Obviously, it could -- but I don't believe it will.... Russia and Turkey are sufficiently interdependent that a serious heightening of tensions would severely impair both countries.... As strategically reckless as Vladimir Putin has been, I suspect he would not want to escalate this conflict. Doing so would involve NATO...." ...

... ** Max Fisher of Vox: "This is not the start of World War III. And I say that as someone who has voiced real concern about other ways in which Russia and the US could be dragged into an unintended escalation to war. But those conditions are not present here.... The stakes are just too low. The things at issue here are Russia's bombing of anti-Assad rebels in Syria, the sanctity of Turkish airspace, and the life of one (or possibly two) Russian pilot.... Because the Syria-Turkish border is so far from Russia or from central Europe, there is just zero risk that either side could misperceive this as the start of something bigger.... Neither Russia nor NATO could possibly believe that the other side is about to launch an invasion." ...

... Joshua Keating of Slate: "Whatever post-Paris unity there might have been in the fractious coalition of nations fighting ISIS in Syria crashed and burned on the Syria-Turkey border on Tuesday as Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian SU-24 fighter.... After Tuesday, Russia is unlikely to build on cooperation with NATO forces in Syria.... All in all, this was a good day for the Assad regime and for ISIS." ...

... Steve M.: "I'm not the one you want to turn to for expert geopolitical analysis of all this. But I'm recalling that American conservatives regard Vladimir Putin as an omnipotent demigod, a strongman able to walk into any situation and enforce his will against lesser, weaker men.... If those shot-down aircraft were American, right-wing pundits would be proclaiming (triumphantly) that Barack Obama looks fatally weak at this moment. But they won't say it about Putin -- because love is blind."

... Juliet Eilperin & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama called Tuesday for the West and its allies to stay united to destroy Islamic State and not allow fear of terrorism to undermine freedoms and values. After meeting with French President François Hollande at the White House, Obama declared 'total solidarity' with France, saying his planned trip next week to Paris for a climate change summit is a 'powerful rebuke' to terrorism. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "Crises bring out the best and worst in people, as has been demonstrated vividly this past week by the behavior of President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Obama showed his best face in Tuesday's news conference with visiting French President François Hollande.... [Trump] appears to be inflaming the situation deliberately, to advance his presidential campaign. It's rare that we see this level of demagoguery in U.S. politics, but it's frightening. His divisive comments play so directly into the polarizing strategies of our terrorist adversaries -- who want to foment Western-Muslim hatred -- that a case can be made that he has put the country at greater risk.... It's hard to imagine that someone would put the country at greater risk for personal political benefit. But that's exactly what Trump has been doing. It's outrageous behavior, and responsible Republicans must insist that it stop." ...

... Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly sees a parallel between the leadership styles of President Obama & Martin Luther King, Jr. ...

... MEANWHILE, Dana Milbank thinks President Obama should sound more like a warmonger to motivate the nation. CW: Really, Dana? ...

... Washington Post Editors: "Bigotry has a long history in the United States, and it may come as only a mild surprise that it showed its snarling face in Fredericksburg[, Virginia,] last week, just four days after the Nov. 13 slaughter in Paris. But even mild surprise is unwarranted given the toxic rhetoric of presidential candidates and governors, mainly Republicans, who have vilified Muslims since that terrorist attack. When Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others suggest it is all right to discriminate against Muslims or Muslim refugees, the signal is widely received." ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post responds to anonymous attacks directed at her because she is Jewish. CW: Good for her. These are precisely the sort of attacks that Donald Trump & Ben Carson provoke for personal political gain. First they came for the Muslims; then they came for the Jews. ...

     ... Update: See also John Kasich's ad embedded under Presidential Race below. ...

... The Entertainer. Jamelle Bouie: "... while Trump has been explicit with his nativist, and now racist, rhetoric, he's not an innovator. If large numbers of Republicans are responsive to Trump's vitriol, it's because he echoes -- in less coded terms -- the discourse of much of right-wing media. In conservative entertainment, race panic sells.... Of course Trump would sound off on immigrant crime and disloyal Muslims and criminal blacks. He is fundamentally an entertainer, and in conservative entertainment, those are the money shots: The stories that capture attention and drive ratings." Bouie cites examples of right-wing race-baiting. ...

... Sergio Pecanha & Rebecca Lai in the New York Times: "All of the Sept. 11 attackers entered the United States using tourist, business or student visas. Since then, most of the attackers in the United States claiming or appearing to be motivated by extremist Islam were born in this country or were naturalized citizens. None were refugees." Just another fact to irritate (& be rejected by) the Super-White Republican party. ...

... Oh yeah? So what? Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: "Nearly one-third of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed a letter calling on party leaders to ensure that a must-pass spending bill block any use of federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria and nearby countries, the bill's sponsor said on Tuesday. Seventy-four of the 246 House Republicans signed the letter, which was circulated by Republican Representative Brian Babin." ...

... digby: "So it appears that [Speaker Paul] Ryan is already being 'Boehnered' by the right wing, fueled by talk radio xenophobes who are working themselves into the same anti-immigrant frenzy over Muslims in our midst at their ongoing froth about undocumented migrant workers from Mexico and Central America. Let's see if he can deal with them any better than Boehner did. I doubt it."

Matt Apuzzo & Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "For more than a year, a rare coalition of liberal groups and libertarian-minded conservatives has joined the Obama administration in pushing for the most significant liberalization of America's criminal justice laws since the beginning of the drug war. That effort has had perhaps no ally more important than Koch Industries.... Now, as Congress works to turn those goals into legislation, that joint effort is facing its most significant test -- over a House bill that Koch Industries says would make the criminal justice system fairer, but that the Justice Department says would make it significantly harder to prosecute corporate polluters, producers of tainted food and other white-collar criminals." CW: Looks as if the Koch boyz want to be sure they can't be prosecuted for their various dodgy stunts.

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "A top House lawmaker’s confrontation with government researchers over a groundbreaking climate change study is provoking a national backlash from scientists, who say his campaign represents the most serious threat Congress has posed to scientific freedom. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science." CW: Calling Smith a "climate change skeptic" is like describing yourself as a "unicorn skeptic." ...

... David Roberts of Vox (Nov. 22): "Republican chair Lamar Smith has escalated his war with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists; he is now openly accusing them of scientific fraud.... The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) has called Smith's investigation a 'partisan witch hunt.'"

Joseph Goldstein & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "The American airstrike that destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz last month was the result of human errors, failures in procedure and technical malfunctions, according to military officials who have been briefed on the military's internal investigation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday not to allow a monthlong delay that could jeopardize the justices' issuing a ruling this term on whether to lift an injunction blocking a key part of President Barack Obama's immigration legacy: his plan to offer quasi-legal status and work permits to millions more illegal immigrants. In a letter to the high court's clerk, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. urged the court to reject a request Monday from Texas and 25 other states for a 30-day filing extension. Such extensions are routinely granted by the court, but doing so in this case would push arguments in the case from this year to next under normal procedures -- leaving a major part of Obama's immigration policy in limbo until around the time he is set to leave office."

"Fool me once..., shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!" Charles Pierce: The right conned conservative federal Judge Richard Posner once (on voter IDs). Apparently, Posner will not be had again. He ruled unconstitutional a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges. ...

     ... More on the ruling from Becca Andrews of Mother Jones.

David Sanger & Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times: "Four months after a historic accord with Tehran to limit its atomic ambitions, American officials and private security groups say they see a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Hey, here's a surprise. After exhaustive research & analysis of decades of polling data, National Bureau of Economic Research scientists confirm that Southern white Republicans are & were racists. Who knew?

Juliet Eilperin: "President Obama on Tuesday awarded the nation's highest civilian honor to 17 Americans, including Hollywood stars, a prominent Republican environmentalist, two baseball legends and several civil rights pioneers":

... Juliet Eilperin & Philip Bump of the Washington Post: How President Obama's awards of the Medal of Freedom differ from President George W. Bush's.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Kevin Drum on the media's euphemisms for Donald Trump's lies: "You can call Trump's statements lies or fabrications or even falsehoods if you insist on being delicate about it. But you can't call them questionable or controversial or salesmanlike or disputed or even faulty. The man is a serial, pathological liar. Isn't it about time for the journalistic community to work up the courage to report this with clear eyes?"

Presidential Race

The Thanksgiving Poll. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "Donald Trump leads PPP's newest poll by a wide margin...on which candidate Americans think would be the most likely to say something inappropriate at the table and ruin Thanksgiving Dinner.... When it comes to which Presidential candidate people would actually like to have over for Thanksgiving Dinner Clinton wins out with 24% to 18% for Carson, 17% for Trump, 11% for Sanders, 8% for Cruz, and 6% each for Bush and Rubio.... By a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President's executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one."

     ... CW: Last year, the New York Times story on the pardon of Macaroni & Cheese ran with the headline "An Executive Action Unlikely to Be Faulted." Obviously, the "liberal East Coast elite" paper doesn't know Republicans.

AP: "Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that her use of the term 'illegal immigrants' was a 'poor choice of words' and she pledged not to use it anymore, responding to criticism from immigration activists. The Democratic presidential frontrunner was asked about her use of the term to describe people who are in the US illegally during a question-and-answer session on Facebook held by Telemundo. The question came from Jose Antonio Vargas, a filmmaker and journalist whose organisation, Define American, has said the terminology is offensive and asked all presidential candidates to stop using it.... During a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire earlier this month, Clinton said she voted 'numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.'"

Ben Jacobs of the Guardian: "Democratic presidential contender Martin O'Malley unveiled a healthcare plan on Tuesday that emphasized strengthening Obamacare but avoided any mention of the single-payer healthcare plan championed by rival Bernie Sanders."

A Noun, a Verb & 9/11. Also, Trump Has SuperVision. Brendan O'Connor of Gawker: "On Monday, Donald Trump claimed to have watched people jump to their deaths from the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001: 'Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view -- a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center.'... Trump Tower is just over four miles away from the World Trade Center." ...

... More from Jeremy Diamond of CNN. Includes video report. ...

... Reality Is a Massive Conspiracy. Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "In an interview today with Breitbart News, Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended his candidate's bogus claim that he saw on TV 'thousands and thousands' of Muslim Americans in New Jersey holding celebrations on 9/11 to applaud the attacks. No footage or reports of such an event exist, and initial press reports about small 'rooftop celebrations' were later declared to be 'unfounded.' However, Lewandowski said that reports of the (nonexistent) celebration do in fact exist and that the Trump campaign provided that material to media outlets which, according to Lewandowski, have refused to air it as part of a massive anti-Trump conspiracy." ...

... Jim Dwyer of the New York Times turns to John Farmer, then attorney general of New Jersey & later a member of senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, to "definitively debunk" Trump's claim of Muslims dancing in New Jersey streets on 9/11/2001: "'We followed up on that report [of 9/11 celebrations] instantly because of its implications,' he [said]. 'The word came back quickly from Jersey City, later from Paterson. False report. Never happened.'" ...

... Here's Farmer in a New Jersey Star-Ledger op-ed. Thanks to Marvin S. for the link:

We in America have had fewer foreign fighters than Europe precisely because we have not isolated and stigmatized the Muslim community. To begin to do so now is a serious mistake. In the short term, it may, by playing on voters' apprehensions, be appealing politically. In the long-term, it will, by isolating an entire community, play into the hands of ISIS recruiters, who seek out the alienated and dispossessed among Muslim youth. Whatever the message, it is just plain wrong to cite thousands of Muslims dancing in Jersey City or Paterson on 9/11 as support. That simply never happened.

... Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Welcome to the most combustible presidential campaign in recent memory. [Donald Trump's] angry rhetoric -- on subjects like undocumented Mexican immigrants, political correctness and 'thugs' in Baltimore -- has made his run a magnet for disaffected supporters and for identity politics protesters determined to steal the spotlight and disrupt his events. Trump's relish for confrontation, where other politicians would seek to minimize it, has only fueled the fire. 'Isn't a Trump rally much more exciting than these other ones?' Trump said on Wednesday as police escorted a protester yelling, 'Trump's a racist' from a rally in Worcester, Massachusetts. 'That kind of stuff only adds to the excitement.'..." ...

... Nick Gass of Politico: "The super PACs going after Donald Trump are making a 'bad, bad decision,' the candidate's special counsel and adviser [Michael Cohen] warned Tuesday morning, saying that if the reports are true, 'it changes everything.'... Trump has repeatedly held the threat of running as an independent candidate over the Republican Party throughout the course of the campaign, remarking as recently as Sunday that he would not rule out a third-party bid despite having signed the pledge and announcing it with a press conference at Trump Tower in September. 'I'm going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,' he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on 'This Week.'" ...

... In a new campaign ad, John Kasich attacks Donald Trump's racist hate campaign:

 

... Charles Pierce: "Rich (Sparkle Pants) Lowry, editor of America's oldest journal of white supremacy," the National Review, looks to history to explain Donald Trump, & discovers the Donald is the reincarnation of Andrew Jackson! "And so long as he slaughters enough Indians to make the white people feel safe. In light of recent events, I do not find this parallel encouraging, although I do give Ol' Plasterboard credit for doing it without any balls." ...

... CW: Say, couldn't we put Trump on the $20 bill & dispense with Old Hickory (as well as all this girly talk about putting a woman on a U.S. bill)? According to Trump's female employees, he's, like, a feminist leader ahead of his time, even if his means of discipline are a tad sexist (which he denies, of course).

... Caitlin Yilek of the Hill: "Jeb Bush on Tuesday criticized front-runner Donald Trump's comments about Black Lives Matter protesters and Muslim-Americans, accusing the billionaire of trying to 'create a grievous kind of culture.'... The former Florida governor slammed Trump for claiming that thousands of Muslim-Americans in New Jersey cheered as the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, 2001, and said the roughing up of a Black Lives Matter protestor would never happen at one of his events."

Ben Jacobs: "Without ever leading in a single poll, Ted Cruz has become the frontrunner in Iowa. The Texas senator and conservative firebrand has closed the gap on real-estate mogul Donald Trump and is now trailing Trump by only a margin of 25% to 23% in the Hawkeye State, according to a poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University. But, more than that, Cruz has been notching up key endorsements in Iowa and positioning himself to win the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses on 1 February." CW: Those Iowa Republicans sure know how to pick a president: first Trump, then Carson, now Cruz. Not that their choice in 2012 -- Rick Santorum, by a nose -- wasn't excellent. ...

... Shane Goldmacher of Politico: "The political operative behind the nonprofit that just began attacking Ted Cruz in Iowa is a Marco Rubio backer who served as a co-host of a fundraiser for the Florida senator last week.... The new anti-Cruz ad hits the Texas senator for his support of the USA Freedom Act, which restricted the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone metadata.... Rubio has attacked Cruz for the same vote." CW: Just a coincidence, I'm sure. Because it would be wrong unlawful for Marco to coordinate with a 501(c)4 nonprofit that -- coincidentally -- supports his candidacy. ...

... BUT then, that's what Marco & his friends do. Mark Murray & Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC News: "Conservative Solutions Project, an outside group promoting Republican Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, has spent nearly $8.5 million in TV ads.... Unlike a Super PAC, Conservative Solutions Project doesn't have to disclose its donors because it exists as a tax-exempt social welfare group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. But it's precisely that tax-code designation that has campaign-finance watchdogs alleging the Conservative Solution Project ads are illegal -- because they are benefitting an individual presidential candidate rather than advancing the social welfare.... The website for Conservative Solutions PAC is all about Rubio's presidential campaign.... Maybe most striking of all, NBC News has obtained at least two advertising filings with the Federal Communications Commission in which Conservative Solutions Project appears to describe its advertising as being on Marco Rubio's behalf."

Julian Hattem of the Hill: "Global intelligence officials’ failure to detect this month's deadly attacks across Paris may be in part due to increased scrutiny on government spying, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) claimed on Tuesday. 'It's not a coincidence that this happened in the aftermath of restricting these programs and, remember, also demoralizing the intelligence community,' the Republican presidential contender said in a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.... Christie appeared to cast blame for the failure on both a global aversion to government surveillance following the 2013 leaks from government whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the Senate's controversial report last year blasting the CIA's past use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'" Because it upset intelligence operatives so much they couldn't do their jobs or something. CW: Maybe Christie should read the NYT report by Andrew Higgins, linked under Way Beyond below. Belgian officials knew how dangerous some of these perps were; they just didn't do anything about it. Not that Christie isn't a big expert on international affairs, which, BTW, he says he is. Because 9/11.

Beyond the Beltway

John Eligon & Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "Two men were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the overnight shootings of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station, the Minneapolis Police Department said. One suspect, a 23-year-old white man, was arrested in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis, at about 11:20 a.m., the police said in a statement. The other, a 32-year-old Hispanic man, was arrested about 45 minutes later while in his vehicle in South Minneapolis." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... New Lede: "As the police arrested three people on Tuesday in connection with the shooting of five people during a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police precinct here, demonstrators returned to the street with renewed vigor, vowing not to cower in fear of what one organizer called 'an act of terrorism.'"

Alex Johnson of NBC News: "A few hundred protesters closed a major Chicago intersection Tuesday night after authorities released a 'disturbing' dashcam video of the moment a cop shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times last year." ...

... Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old last year, authorities said Tuesday. The charges were announced a day before the city plans to release a video that captured the shooting, footage that officials worry could lead to intense protests." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Update. NBC Chicago: "Chicago officials on Tuesday released 'graphic' and 'chilling' video showing an officer [Jason Van Dyke] fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. The footage has been described as something that 'will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.'... In the moments before the video was made public, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy called for peace and calm." Includes video. ...

... How Could This (Alleged) Murder Have Happened? Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post: Jason "Van Dyke, a white 14-year veteran of Chicago's police force, has been accused of misconduct 17 times before, according to data from the University of Chicago and the journalism non-profit Invisible Institute. The database, published less than a week before the announcement that Van Dyke would be prosecuted, details tens of thousands of complaints against Chicago police officers that weren't previously made public. Fewer than five percent of the allegations resulted in disciplinary actions for the officers; none of the 18 complaints against Van Dyke led to a penalty.... The allegations against Van Dyke include 10 complaints of excessive force, including two incidents where he allegedly used a firearm, causing injury. He was also accused of improper searches and making racially or ethnically biased remarks. Four of the allegations were proven factual, but Van Dyke's actions were deemed lawful and appropriate."

New York Times Editors: "Student protesters at Princeton performed a valuable public service last week when they demanded that the administration acknowledge the toxic legacy of Woodrow Wilson, who served as university president and New Jersey governor before being elected to the White House. He was an unapologetic racist whose administration rolled back the gains that African-Americans achieved just after the Civil War, purged black workers from influential jobs and transformed the government into an instrument of white supremacy.... The overwhelming weight of the evidence argues for rescinding the honor that the university bestowed decades ago on an unrepentant racist." ...

... ** Gordon Davis, in a New York Times op-ed: Woodrow Wilson was "an avowed racist. And unlike many of his predecessors and successors in the White House, he put that racism into action through public policy. Most notably, his administration oversaw the segregation of the federal government, destroying the careers of thousands of talented and accomplished black civil servants -- including John Abraham Davis, my paternal grandfather." ...

... Here's more compelling testimony from NYT readers.

Alexandra Samuels in USA Today: "Following alleged social media threats against students of color, Western Washington University, located in Bellingham, Wash., announced classes on all of Western's campuses are suspended Tuesday, effectively canceling classes through the Thanksgiving break.... A law enforcement investigation is underway."

Reuters: "Amazon on Monday agreed to pull advertisements for a new television show featuring Nazi-inspired imagery from New York City's subway system, hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the company to do so. The advertisements for The Man in the High Castle completely wrap the seats, walls and ceilings of one train on the busy shuttle line that connects Times Square and Grand Central terminal.... An MTA official ... said Amazon had asked for the shuttle train advertisements, but not the posters, to be removed.... Frank Spotnitz, the show's creator and executive producer, told Entertainment Weekly he agreed with critics that the advertisements could be seen as offensive.... 'If they had asked me, I would have strongly advised them not to do it.'" (See also yesterday's Commentariat.)

Way Beyond

Worse than Washington. Andrew Higgins of the New York Times: "As Brussels remained locked down for a fourth day, facing what the authorities say is its own imminent terrorist threat, the failure to stop two brothers clearly flagged as extremists before the Paris carnage highlighted the tribal squabbles of a country that holds the unenviable distinction of going without a functioning government for 541 days. Flemish nationalists, ever eager to show that Belgium in its current form does not work, have jumped on the mess, with Karl Vanlouwe, a member of the Belgian Senate, writing in the newspaper Le Soir on Tuesday that '20 years of laxity' by the French-speaking Socialist Party had turned Brussels into a 'rear base of Islamic barbarity.'"

Eric Cunningham of the Washington Post: "A powerful explosion tore through a bus carrying elite security guards for Tunisia's president in the heart of the capital, Tunis, authorities said Tuesday, killing at least 11 people in what appeared to be the latest militant attack in the North African country." (Also linked yesterday.)

News Lede

Attention, Costco Shoppers. E. coli in the Salad Cooler. Washington Post: "Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.... Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."