The Ledes

Friday, January 20, 2017.

Washington Post: "The world’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, was extradited to the United States on Thursday night, whisked away from the country where he built an empire that delivered tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the world." -- CW ...

     ... New York Times Update: "While most Americans were turned toward Washington and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump..., prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn held a news conference on Friday morning detailing the charges against Mr. Guzmán, who was flown out of Mexico on Thursday afternoon and arrived that night at MacArthur Airport on Long Island.... The government’s detention memo also gave an early glimpse of the case against Mr. Guzmán. It said that prosecutors planned to call several witnesses who would testify about the staggering scope of Mr. Guzmán’s criminal enterprise: including its multi-ton shipments of drugs in planes and submersibles and its numerous killings of witnesses, law enforcement agents, public officials and rival cartel members." -- CW 

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Washington Post: "The Kennedy Center Honors showcased the breadth of American music Sunday night [Dec. 4] with emotionally charged performances celebrating the gospel roots of Mavis Staples, the honeyed vocals of James Taylor and the Southern California harmonies of the Eagles. The 39th annual celebration of lifetime achievement in the performing arts also honored actor Al Pacino and pianist Martha Argerich in a three-hour party that offered a wistful goodbye to Barack and Michelle Obama, who were hosting their last Honors tribute. The sold-out audience stood and cheered for several minutes when the president and first lady were introduced."

A Night at the Opera. Los Angeles Times: "The curtain rose on Act 2 of 'The Daughter of the Regiment,' revealing the figure of a tiny woman barely visible in a large dome chair with her back to the audience. Suddenly, she swiveled around — and there was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Cheers and prolonged applause rang out from the crowd at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night even before Ginsburg, a life-long opera lover who was making her official operatic debut, opened her mouth to speak as the imperious Duchess of Krakenthorp.... Her biggest laugh came when — in apparent reference to the bogus 'birther' campaign against President Obama — she asked whether [the character] Marie could produce a birth certificate and added: 'We must take precautions against fraudulent pretenders.' Ginsburg herself wrote her dialogue, in collaboration with ... [the] dramaturge for the Washington National Opera...." -- CW 

Bruce Springsteen performs at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia, November 7:

Washington Post: "Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday evening in London, becoming the first American ever to take home the prestigious award. His satirical novel 'The Sellout' beat five other finalists for the $60,000 prize, which also essentially guarantees substantial new sales and interest around the world. Amanda Foreman, chair of the Booker judges, called 'The Sellout' 'a novel for our times. . . . Its humor disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.' Originally published last year in the United States, 'The Sellout' is an outrageously funny satire of American race relations. The protagonist, a black man whose father was killed by police, wants to reinstitute segregation in his California town. He eventually lands before the Supreme Court in a bizarre case involving slavery. 'The Sellout' also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in March." -- CW 

Washington Post: "Comic actor, movie star and America’s best friend Bill Murray tried to sum up the emotions of being honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night [Oct. 23] at the Kennedy Center. 'My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved,' a straight-faced Murray told the crowd at the end of the two-hour salute. 'It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.'”

Hill: Actor Bill Murray "spoke with President Obama, who congratulated him for winning this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House official said. Asked by reporters in the Oval Office if he met with Murray, Obama said 'absolutely,' but didn’t reveal what else they discussed."

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The Commentariat -- July 17, 2014

NEW. White House: "President Obama spoke with Russian President Putin today about the situation in Ukraine and the additional sanctions on Russian individuals and entities that the United States announced on July 16." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama escalated sanctions against Russia on Wednesday by targeting a series of large banks and energy and defense firms in what officials described as the most punishing measures to date for Moscow's intervention in Ukraine":

     ... AP Update: "Vladimir Putin lamented the latest round of US sanctions against Russia on Thursday after Barack Obama increased economic pressure over the Ukraine crisis.... Russia's benchmark MICEX plummeted 2.6% at opening on Thursday while Russia's biggest oil company, Rosneft, was nearly 5% down."

NEW. Andy Borowitz: "Testing the political waters in Iowa today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that if he is elected President, he would bring the flow of illegal immigrants over the U.S.-Mexico border to a virtual standstill. 'There are ways of keeping people from getting to where they want to go,' Christie said, claiming that he was the only Republican hopeful with the hands-on experience necessary to fix the border crisis." CW: Satire. Really, it's satire.

... Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, reversed course on Wednesday and said she would not back changes to a 2008 law that gave certain undocumented immigrant children broader legal rights to enter the United States.... The Democratic leadership's hard line raises the prospects of an impasse on Capitol Hill that leaves the Obama administration with no additional resources to deal with the border surge." ...

... All for Me & Nothing for You. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father Rafael received political asylum in the U.S. after claiming he was beaten by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's soldiers (because Rafael had joined the Castro revolution), will come down hard on child refuges requesting asylum from violence in their home countries. Cruz's plan: any bill that does anything to help (or deport) these children must ensure that undocumented children who have lived in the U.S. most of their lives are deported. ...

... Greg Sargent: "... Ted Cruz is essentially calling on Republicans to formalize in their legislative response to the crisis what is already their actual position on immigration in general. And not only that, National Review reports that more and more conservatives are giving voice to the Cruz stance, arguing that Republicans must not offer any legislative response to the crisis because Obama's 'amnesty' for the DREAMers proves he cannot be trusted to work with them...." ...

... Steve Benen: "Cruz's 'top priority' is to identify ... young people, for whom the United States is the only country they've ever known, and kick them out of the country. Indeed, the Texas Republican is saying any solution to the humanitarian crisis involving the migrant children must undo the DACA policy.... If Democrats are really lucky, Cruz will rally the right to his cause." ...

... Alexia Campbell of the National Journal: "Something is changing in the most conservative corner of conservative South Carolina. Some tea-party Republicans and evangelical Christians are softening toward immigration." ...

     ... CW: This isn't entirely surprising. Evangelicals, after all, were among those lobbying for the 2008 sex-trafficking bill that is a prime cause of the current border crisis. It's a big mistake to assume that Southern evangelicals are racists. Many -- probably a majority -- are not. As Campbell reports, a 2014 Pew Research survey "shows that a surprising 66 percent of white evangelicals across the country favor some type of legal status for immigrants without papers."

AP: "Senate Republicans have blocked a bill aimed at restoring free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies that object on religious grounds. The vote on Wednesday was 56-43 to move ahead on the measure, short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed." ...

... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "The one tiny piece of good news here is that it's clear Republicans are feeling the heat, because earlier this week they unveiled legislation purporting to protect women's access to birth control coverage. In reality, the legislation won't accomplish its stated purpose, because it does nothing to impact health insurance coverage requirements, but it's a sign that even Republicans understand that they are on the wrong side of the politics here." ...

     ... Joan McCarter of Daily Kos explains the GOP bill: "In response to the Senate Democrats' legislation to overturn the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision..., Republicans are offering up their own bill. That does nothing.... We're very glad that Senate Republicans are so generous in allowing us to do what we like with our slut pill money." ...

     ... Here's how Mitch McConnell described the GOP's important contribution to women's equality:

We plan to introduce legislation this week that says no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives. There's no disagreement on that fundamental point.

     ... CW: It's a relief to know that some Republicans at the federal level do not want employers to actually be able to conduct bedchecks of their lady employees or rifle through the help's medicine chests. And you thought Republicans were corporate shills. I wonder if this far-reaching, ultra-liberal Senate bill would pass the House. ...

     ... CW Update: It turns out that the sponsors of the Republican Women's Freedom Act (or whatever it's called) are Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) & Deb Fischer (R-NE). On the assumption that Republicans have no empathy gene, it's fair to assume that Kelly & Deb there were worried their boss Mitch might stop by uninvited of an evening. So a wise move on their parts.

Bernie Becker of the Hill recounts testimony in the House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday on the proposed suit against President Obama. ...

... Dana Milbank mocks the whole hearing, which he called "amateur hour" -- except that it dragged on for hours.

Denise Grady of the New York Times: "Under sharp questioning from members of Congress on Wednesday, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted that recent laboratory accidents involving flu viruses and anthrax were not isolated mistakes, but rather part of a broader problem of unsafe practices at the agency." ...

... Brady Dennis & Lena Sun of the Washington Post: "Federal officials found more than just long-forgotten smallpox samples recently in a storage room on the National Institutes for Health campus in Bethesda, Md. The discovery included 12 boxes and 327 vials holding an array of pathogens, including the virus behind the tropical disease dengue and the bacteria that can cause spotted fever, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the lab in question."

Paul Waldman: According to a Washington Examiner report, potential Republican donors are refusing to pony up for fear they will be subject to IRS audits or "get Koched"; i.e., subjected to the Harry Reid treatment. Waldman is not feeling all that sorry for them. ...

... In case you forgot how horrible the IRS "scandal" is, Waldman neatly sums it up:

There's never been any credible allegation that anyone was audited because of their political beliefs. There's never been any allegation that the IRS 'targeted' donors to Republican super PACs. The worst thing that happened was that some Tea Party groups that had applied for 501(c)(4) status -- claiming, utterly falsely, that they were charitable, non-political organizations, I might add -- had to wait longer than they should have to get approval on their applications. (And, I have to repeat, when you're waiting for your approval, you're permitted under the law to act as though you've gotten your approval. You can raise and spend money, which they did.)

... CW: Assuming that potential donors really are afraid a contribution will lead to an audit -- & aren't just refusing to give bonuses to the slimeballs they figure they already bought & paid for -- then it looks like this is one place where Darrell Issa's fake scandal scheme is backfiring.

Justin Sink of the Hill: "The director of the White House's political office defied a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, setting up a new high-profile fight between the White House and House Republicans. Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were 'absurd' and 'deeply disturbing.' ... Issa has not produced evidence of a specific instance of the White House violating the law and has pointed to abuses in the office that occurred under the Bush Administration to justify the subpoena." (Emphasis added.)

Paul Krugman's post "The Age of Infallability" is a brief life lesson that explains conservative "beliefs" but has a wider applicability.

Wherein Maureen Dowd Goes Berserk. Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "When Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to address the University at Buffalo, the largest campus of the State University of New York system, she negotiated a few requirements in addition to her pay of $275,000.... The University at Buffalo issued a statement Wednesday saying 'no state funding or student tuition revenue' was used to pay for Clinton's speech."

Congressional Races

The Washington Post predicts that Republicans will take the Senate 52-48 & retain control of the House. They provide maps of the predicted results. I like to think of these as Stupid Voter Maps.

Jonathan Chait explains why the business community isn't going to flip to the Democratic party just because the GOP-controlled House is blowing up all the things business wants.

Ask Him No Questions -- Without Notifying His Office First. Paul Lewis of the Guardian chases after former Sen. Scott Brown (R-N.H.), who's now running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire to try to get a straight response to the Hobby Lobby decision. Police were called. ...

     ... MAG Update. Scott Does Talk to the Press. Jeff McMenemy of Seacoast Online: "Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown blamed the Affordable Care Act for the U.S. Supreme Court's recent controversial Hobby Lobby decision.... 'Had we never had "Obamacare," we never would have had that decision because that was a mandate from "Obamacare" that got us into that position,' Brown said during an editorial board interview Wednesday with Seacoast Media Group." ...

     ... CW: Hope you catch the logic there. Brown is right. If ObamaCare had not guaranteed women equal access to healthcare, the Supreme Court could never have taken it away. By this logic, the Bill of Rights was a tremendous mistake, because the Supreme Court is always interpreting/limiting the rights it guarantees. Really, all laws that inure to the benefit of the citizenry are actually harmful because the courts can always limit or void those laws. The best laws, by this logic, are those that curb human rights or favor special interest groups. Because, hey, who knows, the Supreme Court could maybe void part or all of some of those "good" laws. Scott Brown for Senate! He's not just a pretty face; he's a philosopher.

Gubernatorial Race

Paul Waldman: "When he was elected governor, some Washington conservatives touted Sam Brownback as a future presidential contender. Once he implemented the conservative economic agenda and showed what a dynamic economy and pleasing government balance sheet it produced, he'd be able to take the message nationwide as a demonstration of the power of conservative ideas. Nobody's saying that anymore. Brownback is trailing his probable Democratic opponent. In a state as conservative as Kansas (where Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 22 points), you have to screw up pretty badly to be in that position." ...

... Charles Pierce on Brownback, Santorum & the Gipper. Thanks to MAG for the link. ...

... Here's the take of the Rude Pundit, upon whom the dainty Pierce relies for his post linked above: "Earlier this week, former Senator and losing GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the main speaker at two reelection rallies for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Considering the various ways you can read their last names, it sounds as if everyone was coated with feces-laden effluvia by the end. Brownback is in a tight race with Democrat Paul Davis, who was just endorsed by over 100 current and former GOP officials." And, yes, the Rude Pundit is really rude.

Beyond the Beltway

Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times: "A federal judge in Orange County ruled Wednesday that California's death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, ruled on a petition by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die nearly two decades ago. Carney said the state's death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed. He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Elaine Stritch, the brassy, tart-tongued Broadway actress and singer who became a living emblem of show business durability and perhaps the leading interpreter of Stephen Sondheim's wryly acrid musings on aging, died on Thursday at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89."

New York Times: "Israel began a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip shortly after 10 Thursday night, saying it would target tunnels that infiltrate its territory, after cease-fire talks failed to de-escalate the air war that has raged for 10 days."

New York Times: "A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, and Ukrainian officials said it may have been shot down, possibly by a Russian-made antiaircraft system."...

     ... New Lede: "Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 295 people aboard was shot down on Thursday by a surface-to-air missile, American officials said." ...

... The Guardian is liveblogging developments.

New York Times: "General Motors' top lawyer came under withering attack from lawmakers on Thursday at a Senate hearing investigating the automaker's failure to recall millions of defective small cars for more than a decade."

Washington Post: "Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella announced Thursday that up to 18,000 of his employees will get pink slips in the next year, as part of a massive round of layoffs. The cuts are the largest in the company's history, and they will hit an estimated 15 percent of its workforce."

USA Today: "A marijuana decriminalization law passed by the D.C. Council in the spring took effect Thursday at 12:01 a.m. after a Congressional review process passed. The new law, like others around the country, eases punishments for minor marijuana offenses."

Guardian: "At least three mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel on Thursday, less than three hours into a five-hour 'humanitarian pause' in the nine-day battle between Israel and Hamas. The suspension of hostilities, brokered by the UN and starting at 10am on Thursday, came after four Palestinian children died in an Israeli strike on a Gaza beach and follows an earlier Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that was observed only by Israel."

New York Times: "President Obama said on Wednesday that he believed the United States had 'a credible way forward' in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, and strongly suggested that after consultations with Congress, which has been threatening additional sanctions, he would seek an extension of the talks beyond Sunday's deadline."


The Commentariat -- July 16, 2014

Jonathan Stempel & Jon Herskovitz of Reuters: "A federal appeals court upheld the use of race by University of Texas at Austin in undergraduate admissions, a victory for affirmative action proponents, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered closer scrutiny of the school's practices. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday said the state's flagship university had justified its limited use of race to achieve diversity, given a lack of workable alternatives.... Opponents pledged to appeal, which could give the Supreme Court a chance to again review the case in its next term. In June 2013, the Supreme Court did not directly rule on the program's constitutionality but ordered the 5th Circuit ... to scrutinize it more closely."

Do-Nothing House Does as Little as Possible. Fawn Johnson & Billy House of the National Journal: "Nearly as many House Republicans as Democrats voted on Tuesday to pass a bill to keep federal highway projects temporarily running into the next Congress, despite pressure from two influential outside conservative groups to oppose the measure. Approved in an overwhelming 367 to 55 vote, the bill would provide $10.8 billion more for the federal Highway Trust Fund. The bill is likely to become law only because the Senate and the White House are out of other options. No one is particularly happy about it. It doesn't solve any long-term problems, and in less than a year it will put lawmakers right back where they have been."

Burgess Everett of Politico: Harry Reid "will oppose a proposal from [Sen. John] Cornyn (R-Texas) and [Rep. Henry] Cuellar (D-Texas) to treat unaccompanied minors from Central America the same as those from Mexico and expedite immigration hearings for children with asylum claims or children who may have been victims of human trafficking.... Reid clearly believes that President Barack Obama's supplemental request of $3.7 billion for border funding is superior to Cuellar and Cornyn's border plan -- and he said the White House has sufficient authority to make policy changes to adjust the flow of migrants through the border through the executive office."

Jason Buch of the Houston Chronicle: Jose Antonio Vargas, "the Pulitzer-winner turned activist detained at the McAllen airport this morning, has been released.... After about eight hours in custody, agents released Vargas, according to a spokesperson for his Define American advocacy group.... Vargas made public he did not have permission to be in the country in 2011 and has since advocated for immigration reform. Last week, he reported in Politico Magazine that he had traveled to McAllen to write about the plight of the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied children crossing the border into South Texas."

Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they've got some pie chart or graph behind them and they're talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.... We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life -- that's the way to go. -- Rep. Rene Ellmers (RTP-N.C.) at a meeting of women in the conservative House Republican Study Committee to discuss ways to "message" to "female" voters ...

... Dave Weigel: "Reading that, I thought of this week's Republican message, read by Senate candidate Joni Ernst..., and how she focused on the promise of the Balanced Budget Amendment (a dead idea that polls well) because government should run its affairs like 'you' run the household. No pesky charts there!" ...

... CW: C'mon, Dave, Ellmers is onto something. I now realize the reason I can't understand Louie Gohmert is that he speaks on a higher level that is way above what my weak, female mind can grasp. Hell, I'd probably have voted for Marco I-Am-Not-a-Scientist Rubio if I'd only been smart enough to comprehend his higher-level message. Republican men really need to learn to talk down to us nitwits when they explain why they must make decisions for us. ...

... Ha Ha Ha. Steve Benen has an update. Ellmers issued a statement claiming "... the quote in question was taken completely out of context.... Some writers are cherry-picking words and using predetermined agendas to attack Republicans...." In the statement, she calls the reporter who wrote the story "a liberal woman reporter." Benen writes, "I'm not sure how a multi-paragraph, multi-sentence quote can be taken 'completely' out of context. It's also unclear how this can be fairly labeled 'cherry-picking words.'" CW: I'd add that the "liberal woman reporter" with her "predetermined agenda to attack Republicans" is Ashe Schow, who writes for the right-wing Washington Examiner. Schow, according to Jackie Kucinich of the Washington Post, is "a former editor and writer for the Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America (not exactly bastions of liberalism)." Just remember, being a Republican means never having to take responsibility for your own words. ...

... Update: Schow has published (& provided audio of) Ellmers' full remarks. The "context" was this: women are too dumb to understand big concepts like "trillions of dollars" or complicated pie charts because -- unlike men who talk "on a higher level" -- women can only understand things in simplistic terms that relate to their own family's day-to-day experiences.

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on a rare bill in support of abortion rights that would block states from passing laws that chip away at women's access to abortion services. Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) bill, the Women's Health Protection Act, prohibits restrictions on abortion 'that are more burdensome than those imposed on medically comparable procedures.'" The legislation would nullify mandatory waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds and counseling before abortion;... and other state laws that abortion-rights supporters believe are designed to make it impossible for women to access a safe and legal medical procedure." ...

... Carrie Beusman of Jezebel: "... there's basically no chance that the bill will pass the GOP-controlled House -- however..., it serves the valuable purpose of asking Republicans to explain the disingenuous, unsupported reasoning behind the scores of excessive regulations they've imposed in the past few years. As Blumenthal notes, this may effectively remove the 'patina of respectability' from the whole ridiculous charade." ...

... The folks a Fox "News" are please to note that this bill will doom Democrats as mass murderers. Charles Pierce has a go at one Fox "News" essay on the subject.

The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse. And here is the nutshell version of today's opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad. -- Justice Elena Kagan, dissent in American Express v. Italian Colors, 2013 ...

... Lina Khan, in the Washington Monthly, provides a history lesson on how the Supreme Court has taken away Americans' fundamental right to seek legal redress against corporations. The only way to reverse the Supremes' radical decisions is for Congress to act to restore the rights, which won't happen "given the level of opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests." Via Charles Pierce. ...

     ... CW: This series of cases shows that for the winger Supremes, ideology trumps even their own personal interests. AT&T is just as happy to cheat Sam Alito as it was to defraud the Concepcions (AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion). But Alito the other four ConservoSupremes still ruled that companies could ban class action suits in the fine print of their "contracts" with consumers. Maybe Mrs. Sam could explain to Justice Sam from down there at the woman's level that their monthly bills are so high because the phone company, et al., ignore her complaints.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd thinks President Obama should quit traveling the country & send a hologram of himself instead. Or something.

Dick Cheney Keeps Boosting Democratics. Hayes Brown of Think Progress: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CNN on Tuesday, once more claiming that the Iraq his administration left behind was a 'very stable' one. In actuality, on the waning days of the Bush administration, Iraq was still a highly violent place, with car bombs exploding and government officials targeted."

Todd Akin Tag-teams the Big Dick. Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "Failed Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) has recently re-emerged in the public sphere to defend his claim in 2012 that women who were victims of 'legitimate rape' could not get pregnant. In a phone interview with St. Louis Dispatch, the former congressman compared himself sympathetically to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), who spearheaded an infamous Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. Akin argued that McCarthy was another victim 'assassinated by the media.'"

Jennifer Epstein & Lauren French of Politico: "David Simas, the director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, will not comply with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's subpoena for him to testify, counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter Tuesday to panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).... Issa rejected the White House's assertion of immunity, citing a 2008 federal court case that found that senior advisors to presidents are 'not absolutely immune from congressional process.'"

Rebecca Ruiz & Danielle Ivor of the New York Times find via FOIA requests, that GM hid internal evidence & opinions that ignition switch defects had caused fatal accidents.

You might find yourself more tolerant of the TSA after you read this piece by Nina Strochlic of the Daily Beast: "About a year ago, the [TSA]'s social media team ... launched an Instagram feed. Over its run so far, the filtered, captioned, and heavily hashtagged feed has morphed into an incredible trove of photos documenting the most absurd things people try to bring on planes.... TSA airport inspectors have found cannonballs and eels and rocket launchers." Strochlic includes a few photos.

Senate Races

Ed Kilgore on recent Senate polls: "Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call, who has been known to put the occasional thumb on the scales for the GOP, has a new assessment that concludes party control of the Senate remains 'up in the air.' The Cook Political Report still rates eight races as toss-ups. FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten, while calling Democrats' position 'perilous,' still notes that current polling would suggest Democrats holding onto 51 seats. There's new Marist polling out of Michigan and Colorado providing Democrats good news in those states, and the close and nasty GOP runoff in Georgia is doing nothing to lower Michelle Nunn's prospects.... It's entirely possible the current GOP triumphalism over the Senate is fundamentally no different from the effort by conservative media to spin Mitt Romney right into the White House in 2012."

Governor's Race

Manu Raju of Politico: "In a rare and surprising act of political defiance on Tuesday, more than 100 [Kansas] Republicans, including current and former officeholders, endorsed [Gov. Sam] Brownback's opponent, statehouse Democratic leader Paul Davis. Polls show the challenger with a surprisingly strong shot at taking out Brownback in November.

Presidential Election

Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "A group trying to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016 launched a website Tuesday, with plans to use a national gathering of influential liberal activists later this week to gain more publicity and recruit additional members.... Warren's spokeswoman, Lacey Rose, said that the Massachusetts Democrat is not working with the group,, nor endorsing its plans."

Beyond the Beltway

Pat Reavy & Dennis Romboy of the Deseret News: "Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow [R] and Mark Shurtleff [R] were arrested and charged Tuesday on allegations ranging from accepting bribes to destroying evidence.... The state's former top law enforcement officials were charged in 3rd District Court with pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony; and three counts of receiving or soliciting bribes by a public official, a second-degree felony. In addition, Shurtleff was charged with two counts of illegally accepting gifts or loans, a second-degree felony; accepting employment that would impair judgment, a second-degree felony; witness tampering, a third-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony."

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper will submit signatures Tuesday to put what could be one of the most dramatic startups ever on the ballot - a plan to divide California into six states.... A Field Poll in February showed 59 percent of Californians surveyed opposed the idea. Even if Draper can turn that around, there would be another major hurdle: The U.S. Constitution requires the approval of both Congress and the state Legislature, which is now firmly controlled by Democrats."

News Ledes

CNN: "The Texas actress who admitted sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday, the U.S. attorney's office said. Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, also was ordered to pay $367,000 in restitution."

Washington Post: "On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a 'very high possibility.'" ...

... New York: "Israel Says It Might Invade the Gaza Strip to Save Its Summer Vacation."

New York Times: "The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed."


The Commentariat -- July 15, 2014

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "President Barack Obama is facing a clash with Democrats in Congress over proposals to water down a law intended to combat human trafficking in order to speed up the repatriation of unaccompanied children crossing the US southern border from Central America." ...

... Just What You'd Expect. Cristina Marcos & Peter Schroeder of the Hill: "Fresh off a trip to Guatemala and Honduras, a House GOP working group on immigration will recommend Tuesday that the conference change a 2008 trafficking law to stop the thousands of immigrant children flooding across the border. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the working group's leader, will argue that child immigrants from Central America should be subject to the same rules as those from Mexico. A source close to Granger said the group will also advise that National Guard troops be sent to the border, a longstanding demand from Republicans." ...

     ... Danny Vinik: The "crisis is real and requires immediate action from Congress, but it has nothing to do with border security." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "The White House said Monday it was 'likely' that immigrant children facing mortal danger in their home countries would be allowed to stay in the United States."...

     ... CW: Huh. Apparently those "facing mortal danger" didn't include those deported to the "gang-ridden Honduran city" of San Pedro Susa. (See Monday's Ledes.) As Gonzalez & Ortega report in the Arizona Republic story linked below,

Over three days in May, gang members in another Honduran city, San Pedro Sula, murdered five children ages 5 to 13. 'They cut their bodies into quarters as a warning to others because the children didn't want to distribute drugs in their neighborhood. -- Father German Calix, director of a Catholic relief agency

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has more on the White House's position re: deportation of children in danger. ...

... Saul Elbein has a piece in the New Republic on what life is like in Guatemala, which he likens to the feudal system depicted in the HBO fictional series Game of Thrones. (CW: I found Elbein's piece sort of confusing, but then so is Guatemala.) ...

... Daniel Gonzalez & Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic have an excellent, in-depth piece on the children who are migrating from Central American countries ("Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala ...rank among the top five countries with the highest murder rates in the world") to the U.S. ...

... AND Then There's This. Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones: Immigration "courts have been overwhelmed by the influx of kids coming to the United States without parents or other relatives. But they were overwhelmed even before the children started showing up, in large part because of Republicans' unwillingness to fund and staff them like other federal courts." Read the whole story; former/disgraced AG Alberto Gonzales rates more than a cameo appearance. ...

... Brian Beutler exposes Republicans' hypocrisy on President Obama's nearly $4BB request to alleviate the border crisis.

Ana Marie Cox of the Guardian: "Late last week, the Reason Foundation released the results of a poll about ... the millennials; its signature finding was the confirmation of a mass abandonment of social conservatism and the GOP. This comes at a time when the conservative movement is increasingly synonymous with mean-spirited, prank-like and combative activism and self-important grand gestures.... The conservative strategy of outrage upon outrage upon outrage bumps up against the policy preferences and the attitudes of millennials in perfect discord.... This next generation is not just inclusive, but conflict-adverse." ...

... ** BUT What the Kids Want May Not Matter. Digby has an excellent piece in Salon on the "real reason" for John Boehner's lawsuit against the President. Read it all. ...

     ... CW: I'd add this. George Will, whose demise I have prematurely reported, is at the center of the scheme. Will is well-connected to the conservative Supremes, & it was Will who suggested the challenge to the President's actions re: the ACA. Will may be just the mouthpiece for Scalia, et al., but Boehner surely picked up Will's signals. Retooling the balance of power in the way digby suggests may be these old boys' last hurrah, but it's a helluva hurrah.

Gene Robinson: "Apparently there's a contest among Republicans to see who can be more shameless and irresponsible in criticizing President Obama's foreign policy. So far, Chris Christie is winning.... If you disregard the rantings of unserious provocateurs such as Sarah Palin, Christie's attack represents a new low. He accuses the president of the United States of actually being responsible 'in some measure' for violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Sunnis and Shiites, dictators and rebels -- conflicts and antagonisms that began, I seem to recall, well before Obama took office in January 2009. One might assume that Christie offered specific ideas about what Obama should be doing differently. Nope.... Asked whether Obama should take some kind of military action in the region, Christie answered, 'I'm not going to give opinions on that. I'm not the president.'"

David Nather & Jeremy Herb of Politico: "If you had any doubts about how seriously some Republicans are taking the notion of a Rand Paul presidency, look at how far they’re going to shut down his views on foreign policy. In the past three days alone, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used a Washington Post op-ed to warn about the dangers of 'isolationism' .... Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused the Kentucky senator on CNN of wanting a 'withdrawal to fortress America.' And former Vice President Dick Cheney declared at a Politico Playbook luncheon on Monday that 'isolationism is crazy,' while his daughter, Liz Cheney, said Paul 'leaves something to be desired, in terms of national security policy.'"

Dick Cheney Still Helping Democrats. Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, calling it 'absolutely the right thing to do. I believed in it then, I look back on it now, it was absolutely the right thing to do,' the Wyoming Republican said with regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cheney made his comments at a Politico Playbook lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne and daughter Liz at Washington's Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions -- protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a 'war criminal.'" ...

... Charles Pierce on the Cheney Family Reunion (minus "the Gay One") at the Mayflower Hotel: "... this was one of Mike Allen's little grift-o-rama special events -- a 'Playbook lunch,' sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America.... I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price." Thanks to MAG for the link. See more on great journalism below.

Steve Holland of Reuters: "The White House asked the Republican chairman of a congressional committee [Darrell Issa] on Monday to lift a subpoena against President Barack Obama's political adviser [David Simas], who has been called to testify on Wednesday about his office's operations.... Simas is director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have all had at least one top political adviser in a position similar to that of Simas."

Martin Crutsinger of the AP: "Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will have some good news to tell Congress this week about the health of the labor market.... Yellen is scheduled to deliver the Fed's twice-a-year report to Congress on interest-rate policy and the economy. She testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and will follow that with testimony Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee." ...

... BUT Good News Is Bad News for Rick Santelli. Myles Udland of Business Insider: Tea party inspiration "Rick Santelli had a meltdown on CNBC today.... This debate is sparked by the New Yorker profile of Janet Yellen, as well as recent inflation data that indicate things in the economy could be heating up." Udland has an extended clip. The shorter version is below. ...

It's impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it's impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick.... There is no piece of advice that you've given that's worked, Rick. Not a single one.... The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn't a single one that's worked for you. -- CNBC Steve Liesman to Rick Santelli

The video is something to see:

... Ed Kilgore: It not just that [Santelli's] infamous 2009 'rant' is often credited with creating (or at least spurring) the Tea Party Movement; it's that he so vividly captured the attitude of contempt that 'winners' had for 'losers' in the midst of an economic catastrophe almost no one had any reason to anticipate.... Rick Santelli. What a loser."

Andrew Sorkin
of the New York Times: Sen. Joe Manchin's daughter Heather Bresch, the CEO of a "giant" generic drugs manufacturer, is moving her operations to the Netherlands to evade higher U.S. taxes. But she's very, very sorry she has to go, etc., etc.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, in the Washington Post, explains journalism to the unbalanced. ...

... CW: Here's a good example of non-reporting: Zeke Miller of Time interviews Bobby Jindal. Every damned thing Jindal said is somewhere between untrue & stupid, though usually it's both. Out-&-out garbage. Miller writes it down & Time publishes it.

Lauren Collins of the New Yorker: The scandal-sheet Daily Mail may have met its match in George Clooney.

Senate Races

M. J. Lee of Politico: West Virginia Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R) -- Wall Street's BFF -- is poised to win the Senate seat Democrat Jay Rockefeller is vacating. Monday Elizabeth Warren went to West Virginia to campaign for underdog Democratic candidate Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's current secretary of state. ...

... Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got a rock-star reception during a standing-room-only campaign rally [in Shepherdstown, West Virginia] Monday, as hundreds of liberal activists cheered her broadsides against corporate interests and voiced hopes that her presence might shift the political winds in an increasingly Republican state." ...

... Emily Schultheis of the National Journal: Elizabeth Warren is "proving that she can be a good Democratic soldier by helping the party where and when it needs her most, and she's proving that her appeal and the appeal of her populist message extends far beyond deep-blue Massachusetts.... Monday's West Virginia event was Warren's fourth stop for a 2014 Senate candidate; she'll campaign with her fifth 2014 candidate, Rep. Gary Peters, in Michigan on Friday.... Warren's ability to move easily from blue states to red states is proof she has 'become a serious player' on the national stage, said longtime Democratic consultant Bob Shrum."

News Ledes

New York Times: "A sport utility vehicle packed with explosives detonated in a market in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, bringing down shops and leaving the bloodied remains of men, women and children in the rubble. By late afternoon, at least 89 people were known to have been killed, the Defense Ministry said."

New York Times: "Israel accepted Egypt's proposal for a cessation of hostilities with Hamas and other militant Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, but a fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel has left the fate of the cease-fire unclear. The Israeli announcement came via text message and without comment after Israel's top ministers, known as its security cabinet, met early Tuesday." ...

... AND THEN. AP: "Hamas rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel on Tuesday, moments after the Israeli Cabinet accepted the plan, throwing into disarray international efforts to end a week of fighting that has killed 192 Palestinians and exposed millions of Israelis to Hamas rocket fire." ...

... AND THEN. Washington Post: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday threatened to escalate Israel's operations in Gaza after Hamas balked at an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, saying it had not been consulted on its terms." ...

... AND THEN. New York Times: "The Israeli authorities said a Palestinian attack caused the first Israeli fatality in the eight-day-old military confrontation, in which Israeli bombings have killed nearly 200 Palestinians."

New York Times: "Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, faced with an imminent deadline for an agreement with the West on the future of the country's nuclear program, said in an interview on Monday that Iran could accept a deal that essentially freezes its capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels for several years, provided it is then treated like any other nation with a peaceful nuclear program."

BBC News: "A Ukrainian military transport aircraft has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say. They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 6,500m (21,325ft). The plane was targeted with 'a more powerful missile' than a shoulder-carried missile, 'probably fired' from Russia. The crew survived, reports say."


The Commentariat -- July 14, 2014

Billy House of the National Journal: "The House and Senate this week will take up several long-awaited legislative items, though they will do so amid the circus atmosphere surrounding the House GOP's buildup to a vote later this month on suing President Obama over his executive actions." ...

... Justin Sink of the Hill: "President Obama and other top administration officials will pressure Congress to strike a deal on the Highway Trust Fund in a series of events this week, looking to coerce a deal before the financing for road, bridge, and mass-transit projects is exhausted next month. The president will speak twice on the importance of funding infrastructure...."

Michael Corkery of the New York Times: "Citigroup and the Justice Department have agreed to a $7 billion deal that will settle a federal investigation into the mortgage securities the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis. The settlement, announced on Monday morning, includes a $4 billion cash penalty to the Justice Department -- the largest payment of its kind -- as well as $2.5 billion in so-called soft dollars earmarked for aiding struggling consumers and $500 million to state attorneys general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."

Massimo Calabresi of Time: "... the Internal Revenue Service has decided it will no longer screen approximately 80% of the organizations seeking tax-exempt charitable status each year, a change that will ease the creation of small charities while doing away with a review intended to counter fraud and prevent political and other noncharitable groups from misusing the tax code.... IRS commissioner John Koskinen said the change would result in 'efficiencies [that] will translate into a faster and better review' of bigger nonprofits, while clearing a 66,000-application backlog that has resulted in yearlong waits for groups seeking to start a charity.

Pierre Thomas of ABC News interviews AG Eric Holder on a number of topics:

     ... Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post has a summary.

Caitlan MacNeal of TPM: On "Fox 'News' Sunday" Britt Hume grills Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on Perry's proposal to line the border with National Guardsmen:

But the question I'm trying to get at with you is this: if these children, who have undergone these harrowing journeys to escape from the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won't shoot them and can't arrest them? -- Hume to Perry

It's the visual of it.... -- Perry's best answer

... CW: Cruelly, digby likens Perry to (Commander) Neidermeyer there. Personally, I'm pretty sure Perry has already been whacked on the head by a golf ball & dragged across a field by a horse. Come to think of it, I suspect Perry is sporting those new specs because he had "a traumatic brain injury" which caused brain damage. (Where is Karl Rove when we need him to raise the issue?):

I find Governor Perry interesting in that Republicans keep saying, 'Well, we can't fix the immigration issue because we don't trust the President to enforce the law,' And then, when the president actually follows the law in 2002 and 2008, the very law that was signed by President Bush, they said, 'Well, he should do something different.' -- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on "Face the Nation" Sunday

... apparently his new glasses haven't altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly. -- Rand Paul, in a Politico Magazine opinion piece ...

... Here Gov. Rick Send-in-the-Troops Perry & here Sen. Rand Paul knock each other's views on foreign policy. Paul has the better argument in his piece titled "Rick Perry Is Dead Wrong."

Danny Vinik of the New Republic has "definitive proof that Republicans don't care about the long-term unemployed": Speaker John Boehner rejected the Senate's unemployment extensions bill because it used a gimmick called "pension smoothing" to fake-pay for it (since Republicans demanded the funds not add to the deficit); now Boehner is praising the House-crafted bill to extend the Highway Trust Fund -- a bill that uses that same gimmick to fake-pay for it. ...

... And here's proof -- also in the New Republic -- that Republicans especially don't care about working women. Bryce Covert: "A simple solution [to gender pay inequality] may still be unfeasible, at least politically: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced a handful of times, starting in 2009, but has always been blocked by Republicans. [Emphasis added.] It would, most importantly, prohibit employers from telling their workers they can't discuss pay with peers, tighten the rules for what counts as a legitimate reason for gender pay disparities, and increase the penalties for unfair pay." Women can't sue for equal pay if they don't know what their male peers are making. Covert suggests numerous other policies that also would help reduce the pay gap.

Allie Grasgreen of Politico: "The American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution [Sunday] afternoon calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign if he does not improve under a plan to be implemented by President Barack Obama. The 'improvement plan' would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission's 'Each and Every Child' report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top 'test-and-punish' accountability system to a 'support-and-improve' model; and 'promote rather than question' teachers and school staff.... The resolution comes on the heels of one earlier this month by members of the National Education Association calling for Duncan to step down."

George Packer of the New Yorker: The U.S. is leaving behind Iraqis who helped Americans during & after the Iraq War despite a Congressional mandate to grant them special visas. "... surely America has the capacity to save its Iraqi friends whose war never ended, before ISIS or the militias kill them first."

Laurel Calkins of Bloomberg News: The trial of Perez v. Perry, a fight over Texas redistricting, will begin in federal court in San Antonio today. "It will be the first voting rights trial since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year [in Shelby County v. Holder] that states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need federal approval to change their election rules.... If [the plaintiffs] succeed, Texas might be forced back under federal electoral oversight for as long as 10 years under a largely untested part of the Voting Rights Act left in place by the Supreme Court." ...

... Miriam Rozen of Salon on what she calls "the smoking gun emails" that make the plaintiffs' case.

Kathryn Pogin has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the hypocrisy of "Christian" organizations like Hobby Lobby & the University of Notre Dame that are using economic coercion to discriminate against women, a practice that she writes are at odds with Christian principles. "Hobby Lobby offered coverage for some of the contraceptives it now claims its religious faith forbids it to have any association with, until shortly after the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom asked it if it would be interested in filing suit. The company continues to profit from investments in the manufacturers of the 'objectionable' contraceptives through the 401(k) plan it offers its employees. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced legal trouble for false advertising. It has built a fortune, in large part, by selling goods manufactured in China, infamous for its poor labor conditions and related human rights violations. These are the practices of a corporation that will emphasize the Christian faith of its owners when convenient and profitable, but set that faith aside when it would be costly to do otherwise."

If you are trying to run a whorehouse in the sky, get a license. -- Former Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.), ca. 1966, on the airlines' practice of limiting jobs for flight attendants to young, single women ...

Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.)... ** Louis Menand of the New Yorker on "the sex amendment": how "sex" got added to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Paul Krugman: "The usual suspects will keep crying failure, but the truth is that health reform is -- gasp! -- working." ...

     ... CW: Krugman focuses on the fact that "an immense policy success is improving the lives of millions of Americans, but it's largely slipping under the radar." Here I'm in limited agreement with Chuck Todd, who said it was not the media's job to correct the GOP's lies about ObamaCare. Todd is wrong on that, of course, but it isn't up to the media to cheerlead the success of ObamaCare. The Obama administration needs to do that. And they're not. Their failure to tout the program's success hurts all Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans are still pushing repeal.

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "Six weeks after being released from five years in Taliban captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to return to life as a regular Army soldier as early as Monday, Defense Department officials said late Sunday." ...

     ... CW: Excellent call. A guy who never should have been enlisted in the Army in the first place is being rushed back into active duty after years as a POW. SNAFU.

Artwork via New York magazine.Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent piece last week in which he documented "7 Ways Paul Ryan Revealed His Love for Ayn Rand." In it, he also demonstrates how "Ryan defenders on the center-right like Ross Douthat, who other public figures say or imply things they don't really mean. The New York Times' official Vatican emissary should revisit Matthew 7:16: "By their fruit you will recognize them."

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Elon James of Salon writes that New York Times opinion columnists really need editors. Exhibit A: David Brooks.

CW: The New Republic's top story today is headed with a screaming invitation to ignore it -- "Did We Just Watch the Last Great World Cup? by Franklin Foer. (1) Foer is TNR's editor. He decides what ledes, so his story is not necessarily the most important in today's online magazine. (2) Any headline framed in the form of a question promises you won't get much of an answer. I usually don't read 'em (& I certainly won't read this one). (3) Any story that relies on predicting the future -- especially the distant future (four years!) -- is most likely pure folly.

Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: Some mysterious [semi-literate] person leaked the entire text of a new book/hit job on the Clintons by the Weekly Standard's online editor Daniel Harper. The book, Grove writes, "is juicy and gossipy, yet scrupulously researched, drawing on numerous on-the-record conversations (as well as many not-for-attribution interviews) with prominent Democrats and Clinton insiders, past and present."

The man is a shark. -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, on President Obama's pool game. Obama beat Hickenlooper -- twice -- at his own game in his own bar last week.

Presidential Election

Brent Johnson of the New Jersey Star-Ledger: "The WMUR Granite State Poll of residents in New Hampshire -- which hosts the nation's first presidential primary -- showed [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie leading all possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Christie drew 19 percent of the vote, followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (14 percent) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11).... But if [Mitt Romney] were to declare his candidacy, Romney would lead Christie 39 to 7 percent, according to today's poll." CW: In other words, those polled aren't too sold on Christie.

Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is in Iowa "warming up" for the 2016 presidential campaign: "... he is running one of the most vigorous noncampaign campaigns of any 2016 possibility in either party -- raising money, stumping in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, traveling abroad to boost his foreign policy credentials and honing a message that might be characterized, for brevity's sake, as compassionate competence."

Beyond the Beltway

WFTV Orlando: "Two Fruitland Park[, Florida] police officers are off the job following FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that they were members of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Deputy Police Chief David Borst resigned Thursday, and Cpl. George Hunnewell was fired Friday."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Both the Israeli government and leaders of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said late Monday that they would consider a plan for a cease-fire put forward by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry."

New York Times: "Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer whose literary ambitions led her into the heart of apartheid to create a body of fiction that brought her a Nobel Prize in 1991, died on Sunday in Johannesburg. She was 90."

Los Angeles Times: "A planeload of single mothers and children arrived in [the] gang-ridden Honduran city [of San Pedro Sula] on Monday, ferried back on a U.S.-chartered flight as an unprecedented surge of Central American migrants has overwhelmed U.S. border enforcement officials in recent months.... Their return to Honduras came at President Obama's direction, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security, who requested anonymity...."