Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week's address, President Obama highlighted the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill in Congress that could help us find a cure for Alzheimer's, end cancer as we know it, and help those who are seeking treatment for opioid addiction":

The Ledes

Sunday, December 4, 2016.

Washington Post: "Irving Fradkin, an optometrist who in 1958 began collecting $1 donations to help send local high-schoolers to college and whose efforts grew into a charity that has distributed $3.5 billion to more than 2.2 million students in the United States, died Nov. 19 at his home in Fall River, Mass. He was 95." -- CW

The Wires

The Ledes

Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Los Angeles Times: "Authorities said they were preparing to deal with dozens of fatalities after a fire raced through a converted warehouse crowded with people attending a Friday night concert, officials said. Nine bodies have been recovered, but Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said officials were prepared for up to 40 fatalities. He said many of those inside the warehouse were young, some from foreign countries. Firefighters were beginning to move through the burned-out remains of the building looking for victims. The building’s roof caved in, and debris will make the search effort difficult, Kelly said. Firefighters plan to use drones with thermal-imaging equipment to search the building. There is no known cause of the fire. While arson is not suspected, Kelly said investigators are on scene and nothing has been ruled out. Officials said the warehouse isn’t currently considered a crime scene." -- CW 

Public Service Announcement

Guardian: (Nov. 3): "An Alzheimer’s drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.” -- CW

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

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."

New York Times: "The veteran television personality Jane Pauley will replace Charles Osgood as the anchor of the highly rated CBS show 'Sunday Morning.' Mr. Osgood, who is retiring, announced the news on his last show on Sunday. Ms. Pauley’s first day in the role will be Oct. 9, and she will become only the third anchor of the show, which started in 1979." -- CW 

New York Times: "Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?.... In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer. In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.... All non-Africans are closely related to one another, geneticists found, and they all branch from a family tree rooted in Africa.... There are also clues that at least some modern humans may have departed Africa well before 50,000 years ago, perhaps part of an earlier wave of migration." -- CW ...

... CW Note to White Racists: You, too, are black. It's way past time to give up your quest for "racial purity"; it's genetically impossible. This, BTW, is something non-ignoramuses have known for a couple of decades. No wonder you hate science.


The Los Angeles Times has extensive coverage of the Emmy Awards here.

The video below will most likely be taken down for copyright infringement, so watch it while you can. It's pretty funny. Here's a WashPo report on Jeb!'s cameo on the opening bit for the Emmy Awards. Also, ABC may put up a video of it here, but they have nothing at all up on the awards ceremony as of 8:30 am ET, Monday, Sept. 19.

Chris Welch of the Verge: "Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work.... Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages."

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The Commentariat -- June 1, 2014

Ernesto Londoño of the Washington Post: "Taliban fighters released the sole remaining American military hostage [Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl] Saturday morning to a team of U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, who quickly hustled him onto a helicopter.... His release was secured after the Obama administration, working through Qatari government intermediaries, agreed to free five high-profile Afghan inmates held by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." ...

... Kevin Sieff of the Washington Post: "Although the five men have each been in prison for at least a decade, many believe they still have significant influence within the Taliban because of their contributions during the group's formative years."

... White House: "In the White House Rose Garden, President Obama delivers a statement about the recovery of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl":

... Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Top Republicans on the Senate and House armed services committees went so far as to accuse President Obama of having broken the law, which requires the administration to notify Congress before any transfers from Guantanamo are carried out.... A senior administration official ... acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it. " ...

... ** Steve M.: "... in all likelihood, if they'd gotten advance notice, the Republicans would have done everything in their power to block the release of Bergdahl -- as, reportedly, they did in 2012." ...

... Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel describes the operation to retrieve Bergdahl.

James Risen of the New York Times & Laura Poitras: "The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.... The agency intercepts 'millions of images per day' -- including about 55,000 'facial recognition quality images' -- which translate into 'tremendous untapped potential,' according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden."

Dina Cappiello of the AP: "The new pollution rule the Obama administration announces Monday will be a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's environmental legacy and arguably the most significant U.S. environmental regulation in decades. But it's not one the White House wanted.... Obama was forced to rely on the Clean Air Act after he tried and failed to get Congress to pass a new law during his first term. When the Republicans took over the House, the goal became impossible. The new rule, as the president described it in a news conference in 2010, is another way of 'skinning the cat' on climate change."

Charles Pierce wrote an excellent essay Friday on the VA scandal.

Adam Kirsch of the New Republic: New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan doesn't know what a book review is. "... the whole idea of an ombudsman does not apply to political and intellectual debate, because there is no privileged position, above and outside the fray, from which such judgments can be issued. The idea that a reviewer might be censured for her opinions, by the official spokesman of the very publication that published them, should give every writer -- and reader -- pause." Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link.

Julie Pace of the AP: "Once seemingly destined to become secretary of state, Susan Rice now holds a lower-profile job at the White House, juggling global crises for the president and trying to ensure his foreign policy priorities don't fall by the wayside in a storm of overseas problems."

CW: Unsurprisingly, the New York Times' official abstinence columnist Ross Douthat gets stuff wrong in his piece on the "tension between sexual expectations and social reality" -- like his notion that feminists should be doing more to make men feel good about themselves -- but for once you won't necessarily be wasting your time reading the Wisdom of Pope Benedict's Man at the Times.

The American Family Association (Tony Perkins' group) has told its followers -- or whatever they are -- not to open mail that comes with a Harvey Milk "forever" stamp. Steve Benen reports.

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: The Army "last year, quietly issuing [Christian fundamentalist & anti-Islamist retired Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin] a scathing reprimand following a criminal investigation that concluded he had wrongfully released classified information, according to an Army document obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request." Boykin more or less the reprimand, saying that while reprimands should be taken seriously, "at this stage in my life, it really hasn't had any impact on my life like it would have if it had happened when I was on active duty." Via Steve Benen.

The Ark & the Covenant -- Busted. Joe Sonka of LEO: "Dinosaurs on a goddamned boat" may not get any Kentucky tax incentives/breaks, after all. Via Benen.

Beyond the Borders

Maureen Dowd on the Irish troubles.

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "The United Nations is facing a chorus of criticism over the inauguration as president of its general assembly of Uganda's foreign minister [Sam Kutesa], just four months after that country enforced a brutal and widely denounced anti-gay law.... As the appointment nears, questions are being asked about his track record of alleged corruption, as well as his role as cabinet member of a government that has enacted one of the most virulent homophobic laws on the globe."

News Ledes

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, died Saturday night in the crash of a private jet at a Massachusetts airfield. All seven people aboard were killed when the Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. as it was departing Hanscom Field in Bedford for Atlantic City International Airport, said a Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman."

New York Times: "Ann B. Davis, the comic actress best known as the wistful, wisecracking live-in maid on the long-running ABC sitcom 'The Brady Bunch,' died on Sunday at a hospital in San Antonio. She was 88."

AP: " A man has been arrested in southeast France in the investigation of a shooting at a Jewish museum in Brussels that left at least three people dead, the Paris prosecutor's office said Sunday."


The Commentariat -- May 31, 2014

Greg Jaffe & Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Eric K. Shinseki resigned as secretary of veterans affairs Friday, apologizing for a scandal in which employees throughout the VA's massive hospital system conspired to hide months-long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care. The size and scope of the coverups in an agency that he had presided over for more than five years left Shinseki dumbfounded and President Obama searching for a replacement for one of his longest serving and most trusted Cabinet officials." ...

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Even when President Obama at last decided to fire someone for the scandal at the Veterans Affairs Administration, he made clear it was not his idea. In fact, Obama said, he had to be convinced by the man who was being let go":

... New York Times Editors: "... the department's problem was not Mr. Shinseki. It has been broken for years. No one should expect his removal to be anything but the beginning of a much-needed process of change." ...

... ** Mariah Blake of Mother Jones: "... according to VA inspector general reports and other documents that have gone overlooked in the current firestorm, federal officials knew about the scheme at the heart of the scandal — falsifying VA records to cover up treatment delays -- years before Obama became president. VA officials first learned of the problems in 2005.... White House spokesman Jay Carney says the commander in chief was unaware of these allegations until news of the Phoenix VA scandal hit. But according to a memo obtained by the Washington Times, Obama's transition team briefed him on the issue before he took office." Read the whole article. ...

... Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "... at an earlier job, as Army chief of staff, [Shinseki] was awfully prescient about how bad things were going to get in Iraq if the United States followed the advice of Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. After Shinseki testified before that war's start that securing Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops to pacify the country, he was subject to a relentless campaign of vilification led by those three and their associates, carried out by the right-wing media.... He may have messed this assignment up, but he still comes out of the wash way ahead of the people who gave us, by choice, all the damaged veterans he was supposed to care for." ...

... Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: Sloan Gibson, "the man who is temporarily replacing Eric Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs, is a West Point graduate, a onetime banker and a former chief executive of the United Service Organizations (known to most Americans as the U.S.O.) who joined the Department of Veterans Affairs just three months ago." ...

... ** David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: The VA has been crooked from the git-go. "For decades, the VA was a byword for bureaucracy itself, seen as Washington's ultimate paper-pushing, mind-bending hierarchy. That reputation was rooted in the VA's history: It came about because the agency's first leader was an audacious crook." ...

... Paul Steinhauser of CNN: "Minutes after Obama delivered the news, Republicans made it clear that Shinseki's departure doesn't bring an end to this controversy, and shifted their attention from the outgoing VA secretary to the President." ...

... MEANWHILE, on Fox "News." Steve M. has the answer: "Old Fox Line: Shinseki must go! New Fox Line: Yeah, he resigned -- so what?

David Nakamura: "President Obama announced Friday that Jay Carney will step down as White House press secretary after more than three years and be replaced by his deputy Josh Earnest, who worked on the Obama campaign in 2008":

Matthew McKnight of the New Yorker: "On this week's Political Scene podcast, David Remnick and Ryan Lizza join host Amelia Lester to discuss President Obama's speech at West Point and criticisms of his foreign policy":

Would Boehner Drink Drano? Jonathan Chait on the GOP talking point "I am not a scientist": "Very few of us are scientists, which is exactly why we tend to defer to scientific judgment. It might make sense to question expert consensus in a field where you are an expert, but if you know very little about it, you probably want to just go along with what the experts think. Scientists do, in fact, have a nearly unanimous view of anthropogenic global warming.... 'I'm not a scientist' allows Republicans to avoid conceding the legitimacy of climate science while also avoiding the political downside of openly branding themselves as haters of science. The beauty of the line is that it implicitly concedes that scientists possess real expertise, while simultaneously allowing you to ignore that expertise altogether."

Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has joined Mitch McConnell in suggesting that Kentucky could maintain its Obamacare exchange if health care reform is repealed, saying that he's 'not sure' if the new marketplace (Kynect) should be unraveled. Paul's comments come as a growing number of Republicans aim to repackage the key tenets of President Obama's health care law as unique state solutions, designed and built by state officials far away from Washington D.C."

New Yorker: "On this week’s Out Loud podcast, [New Yorker staffer Ken] Auletta joins Nicholas Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, to discuss the strategies he used to report the story" of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson's firing.

2014 Elections

Gail Collins on the Texas & Mississippi GOP primaries.

Quack, Quack. Jim Newell of Salon has a sneaking suspicion of why RNC chair Reince Priebus can't convince Americans that the Republican party is "the party of equality."

Presidential Election

Elias Isquith of Salon: Chris Christie will not be president; he can't even manage New Jersey.

Marie's Sports Report

When $2BB Is Not Enough. Tim Stelloh of NBC Sports: "After being forced to relinquish control of the Los Angeles Clippers, embattled owner Donald Sterling filed a lawsuit Friday seeking $1 billion in damages from the NBA. The complaint, which was filed in federal district court in California, assailed league commissioner Adam Silver." ...

... Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today: "Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling does not have the authority to stop a $2 billion sale of his team because he has been determined to be mentally unfit to make decisions related to the family trust, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports."

Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "As challenges against the name of the Washington Redskins have persisted for more than four decades, the teams ownership and management has held on to a consistent story: that the team changed its original name -- the Boston Braves -- to the Boston Redskins in 1933 to honor its coach, William 'Lone Star' Dietz, who maintained at the time that he was a member of the Sioux tribe. But in a 1933 interview with the Associated Press, George Preston Marshall, the team's owner and original founder, admitted that the story wasn't true." ...

... Travis Waldron: "The Washington Redskins ... started a Twitter campaign to rally support Thursday afternoon" for keeping a racial slur as their name. "No one, other than perhaps the people running the team's communications effort, thought this was going to go well." Waldron reproduces some Twitter responses.

News Ledes

ew York Times: "An American who blew himself up in an attack in Syria on Sunday has been identified by law enforcement officials as Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a man in his early 20s who grew up in [Vero Beach,] Florida and traveled to Syria late last year."

AP: "A friend of the brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon was accused Friday of obstructing the investigation into the deadly attack by deleting information from his computer and lying to investigators. The friend, Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, of Quincy, was arrested at his apartment.... About 40 minutes after the bombs went off, Matanov called Tamerlan Tsarnaev and invited him to dinner, the indictment said, and all three of them dined together at a restaurant that night."

Guardian: "Google has launched a webpage where European citizens can request that links to information about them be taken off search results, the first step to comply with a court ruling affirming the 'right to be forgotten'."


The Commentariat -- May 30, 2014

Michael Shear & David Joachim of the New York Times: "The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, apologized to veterans and lawmakers on Friday for the agency's mismanagement of the nation's veterans hospitals as he prepared to meet with President Obama, his job on he line, over the widening scandal. 'After Wednesday's release of an interim inspector general report, we now know that V.A. has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some of our veterans' health facilities,' Mr. Shinseki told a conference of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans." ...

... Richard Oppel & Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "At the heart of the falsified data in [the] Phoenix [VA hospital], and possibly many other veterans hospitals, is an acute shortage of doctors, particularly primary care ones, to handle a patient population swelled both by aging veterans from the Vietnam War and younger ones who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.... The inspector general's report also pointed to another factor...: pressures to excel in the annual performance reviews...." ...

... Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "President Barack Obama says he will have a 'serious conversation' with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki about his 'capacity' to adequately handle the problems in the department. [The remarks were made during an interview with] Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan that was taped on Thursday and aired on Friday. Shinseki on Friday is expected to deliver to the president an internal audit on the situation at the VA." ...

... Russell Berman of the Hill on why Boehner & Cantor aren't calling for Shinseki's ouster: "It's not that House Republican leaders think Eric Shinseki is doing a good job as secretary of the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs. It's that they think his ouster could give President Obama an easy way out of a widening crisis." ...

... OR, as Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan of Politico put it, "John Boehner and Eric Cantor don't want to make the Veterans Affairs scandal about Eric Shinseki. They want to make Barack Obama responsible."

Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed an agriculture budget bill that included nearly $21 billion for child nutrition that would allow schools to opt out of White House nutritional guidelines passed in 2012. The vote was 31 to 18." Because, um, serving nutritious meals is too ha-a-a-rd.

Wowza! Denver Nicks (Not a Pro B-ball Team) of Time: "House lawmakers advanced legislation Thursday that boosts funding for the federal system of background checks for gun purchases, less than a week after a gunman's rampage in a California college town reignited debate over gun control.... The amendment passed 260 to 145." ...

... Mellow! AP: "The GOP-controlled House voted early Friday in favor of blocking the federal government from interfering with states that permit the use of medical marijuana. The somewhat surprising 219-189 vote came as the House debated a bill funding the Justice Department's budget. The amendment by conservative GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California -- the first state to legalize medical marijuana -- came as almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical uses...." CW: This vote is a shocker: it is both intellectually consistent with the GOP's states-rights philosophy AND it's sensible & humane.

Paul Krugman: "Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy.... You might ask why the Chamber of Commerce is so fiercely opposed to action against global warming, if the cost of action is so small. The answer, of course, is that the chamber is serving special interests, notably the coal industry -- what's good for America isn't good for the Koch brothers, and vice versa -- and also catering to the ever more powerful anti-science sentiments of the Republican Party." ...

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: "House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that he's 'not qualified to debate the science over climate change' while slamming the Obama Administration proposed plans to deal with rising global temperatures." CW Think about the logic there. ...

... Dumb & Dumber. Darren Goode of Politico: Apparently ignorance is now a GOP talking point. ...

... Ignorance of the Science Is No Excuse. Emily Atkin of Think Progress: "Donald. J Wuebbles, a distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and coordinating lead author ... on the recently released National Climate Assessment, said that report was written by scientists and other experts specifically so that members of Congress could understand climate change and how it affects the country. With that report available, he said, climate change should be 'readily understood by any policymaker.'" ...

... Jonathan Chait: "When the history of this presidency is written, it will record that bold, progressive reforms dramatically reshaped the face of government, thanks to the vision, creativity, and political will of one man. And that man is Mitt Romney. President Obama already has Gina McCarthy, who designed Romney's cap-and-trade program in Massachusetts, running the Environmental Protection Agency for him.... The [Obama] administration's new regulations of power plants, due for release Monday, will be designed to expand the structure Romney built." Read the whole post. It's funny. And a reminder that President Obama is just as liberal as Mitt Romney.

Jamelle Bouie in Slate: President "Obama is a talented politician, but in his five years as president, he's made major political mistakes. The 2011 debt ceiling crisis was a huge debacle that threatened the global economy, and it owes itself -- in part -- to Obama's decision to negotiate the debt limit, bucking precedent and sparking a spiral of Republican intransigence.... If there's another failure in the cards for Obama, it's immigration. Since 2009 the president has pressed for comprehensive immigration reform at the same time that he's increased border security.... President Obama still thinks he can get immigration reform from a recalcitrant GOP.... Like the push to negotiate the debt ceiling, this is an insane calculation.... It's hard to overstate the human cost of Obama's deportation policies."

Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "America must change its 'suck-it-up culture' when it comes to responding to head injuries, President Barack Obama said at a White House event on Thursday, during which he revealed his suspicion that he himself sustained concussions as a young athlete." CW: Great. Now Karl Rove can claim Obama is brain-damaged, just like Hillary:

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post: National spelling bee brings out the racists. Turns out only very, very white kids are entitled to spel rite. Also, only very, very white children are American children.

More on reparations by Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker. CW: Yo, Jelani. Shouldn't those Indian-Americans receive reparations, too?

Neil Irwin of the New York Times: "Six days after The Financial Times launched an attack on the data behind Thomas Piketty's much-debated tome on inequality, 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century,' Mr. Piketty has offered his first detailed response to the newspaper's criticism. The short version: He doesn't give an inch." ...

     ... Update: Here's Picketty's full response.

Ellen Nakashima & Barton Gellman of the Washington Post: "The Obama administration and former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden offered divergent accounts Thursday of his efforts to raise concerns about National Security Agency activity more than a year ago, as each side tried to shape the debate over whether the massive leak of classified information was avoidable." The Guardian story, by Dan Roberts, is here. Snowden's e-mail & the response are here. ...

... CW: This is weird. Charles Pierce doesn't seem to understand the difference between reporters & sources. If you bring me evidence that your boss is doing something "irregular" & I publish your stuff, you can get fired or maybe even successfully sued; I suffer no adverse consequences. If Ed Snowden reveals NSA secrets, & the WashPo publishes them, Snowden can be prosecuted; WashPo reporters & editors suffer no adverse consequences. Somebody buy Pierce a copy of the First Amendment. There's no guarantee of Freedom of the Sources. (And, no, freedom of speech doesn't cover Snowden, et al., either.)

Guns are mostly for hunting down politicians who would actively seek to take your freedoms and liberty away from you. Google 'Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung Il, Castro, Stalin' just for starters. -- Samuel Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher, who clearly needs psychiatric supervision & probably a visit from the Secret Service

Kate Tummarello of the Hill: "The broadcast industry plans to sue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its decision to crack down on resource-sharing deals between broadcasters. On Friday, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) will ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a March FCC vote that requires broadcasters to unwind many of their advertising sales resource sharing arrangements, according to a source familiar with the matter."

Racism Pays! James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times: "Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer appears to have won a frenetic bidding war for ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, with a $2-billion offer that would set a record price for an NBA team.... The sale price would be almost four times the previous NBA franchise high: the $550 million paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks.... The tentative deal still must receive the blessing of Donald Sterling, who has waxed and waned on the question of whether he would allow his wife to sell the team he has controlled for more than three decades."

Ballmer already has the moves for a sports team owner. Here's how he behaved at a Microsoft meeting:

A Singular Reality Chek. Politico Gets It. This article by Ken Vogel in Politico Magazine is interesting mostly for the first few grafs about President Obama & for its final paragraph. It seems to me that when even a top Politico reporter acknowledges -- even highlights -- the oligarchic takeover of U.S. politics, we're on the verge of a journalistic realignment.

Retreat of the Troglodytes. Juliet Eilperin & Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Republican candidates have begun to retreat in recent weeks from their all-out assault on the Affordable Care Act in favor of a more piecemeal approach, suggesting they would preserve some aspects of the law while jettisoning others.... The moves also come as senior House Republicans have decided to postpone a floor vote on their own health-reform proposal -- making it less likely that a GOP alternative will be on offer before the November elections...."

Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Hillary Clinton offers a detailed account of the deadly attack on the American embassy in Benghazi -- and a pointed rebuttal to Republican critics who've laced into her over the incident -- in a much-anticipated chapter of her forthcoming book, 'Hard Choices,' obtained by Politico. 'Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country,' Clinton writes in the gripping chapter, 'Benghazi: Under Attack.'"

A Land Where Nobody Knows Your Name

     ... I know that fellow is a jerk; I just don't know which jerk.

     ... Caroline Bankoff of New York: "Weiner, for his part, told Business Insider that learning that someone had confused him with the free-school-lunch-hating Ryan is 'the final insult.'"

Congressional Race

Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "An Arizona Republican running for Congress argued that Democrats commit nearly all the mass shootings in the country. Gary Kiehne, a rancher looking to unseat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), made the claim when asked about gun rights at a Republican primary debate on Saturday. 'If you look at all the fiascos that have occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people,' Kiehne said. 'So I don't think you have a problem with the Republicans.' Kiehne also boasted that he had 'more guns and ammo than any one of my competitors.' Kiehne's claim that 99 percent of shootings were committed by Democrats is completely false, yet continues to be a persistent myth on the radical right.

... AND/OR ... Right Wing World

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch: "Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell yesterday linked the Isla Vista mass killings to marriage equality laws, which he claimed are destroying the culture."

... SO -- Married Gay Democrats???


The Commentariat -- May 29, 2014

CW: Reality Chex got "disappeared" last night, & it appears I lost some content. Sorry for the inconvenience. Looks as if I'm back up & running. 'Til I'm not.

U.S. military action cannot be the only—or even primary—component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. -- President Obama, in his West Point commencement address

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday tried to regain his statesman’s mantle, telling graduating cadets [at West Point] that the nation they were being commissioned to serve would still lead the world and would not stumble into military misadventures overseas. Speaking under leaden, chilly skies, Mr. Obama delivered the commencement address at the United States Military Academy":

... E. J. Dionne locates the "Obama Doctrine." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate explains President Obama's policy to dummies pundits.

Wesley Lowery & Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: "An independent review of Veterans Administration health centers has determined that government officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments, calling a crisis that arose in one hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., a 'systemic problem nationwide.' The Inspector General’s report, a 35-page interim document, prompted new calls for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a former general and Vietnam veteran, to resign a post he has held since the beginning of the Obama administration. Those calls from Capitol Hill included several members of Obama’s own party, complicating what is already a political challenge for a president who has made veterans issues a legacy-defining priority after a decade of war." ...

... Mark Thompson of Time goes over some of the numbers. CW: Most damning, in my mind, is that Shinseki, his predecessor & other top VA officials received plenty of reports about these practices. Why Shinseki claims to have been unaware of the widespread & (internally) well-reported problem is a head-scratcher. ...

... Edward-Issac Dovere & Carrie Brown of Politico: "More and more Democrats — including Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John Walsh (D-Mont.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), all of whom are up for re-election — have joined Republicans in saying that the IG report is all the proof that they need that Shinseki should be fired." ...

... Jacob Siegel of the Daily Beast: "New whistleblower testimony and internal documents implicate an award-winning VA hospital in Texas in widespread wrongdoing — and what appears to be systemic fraud.... High-level VA hospital employees conspired to ... manipulate hospital wait lists.... If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay.Documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight." ...

... Jonathan Topaz of Politico: "Sen. Richard Burr [R-N.C.] said on Wednesday that he isn’t backing down from his recent attack on veterans’ groups and even stepped up his assault, charging the organizations are more upset by his comments than they are by the scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs."

New York Times Editors on President Obama's decision to delay a report on immigration enforcement policies: "There is something ridiculous about the president’s fear of halting a legislative process that has been motionless for nearly a year. And it’s infuriating for him to insist that doing more through executive action to protect families and reset the system’s warped priorities — as he did in halting the deportations of thousands of young people brought to the country as children — is impossible or too politically dangerous." CW: Exactly right.

** Linda Greenhouse: "... the [Supreme C]ourt’s majority is driving it into dangerous territory. The problem is not only that the court is too often divided but that it’s too often simply wrong: wrong in the battles it picks, wrong in setting an agenda that mimics a Republican Party platform, wrong in refusing to give the political system breathing room to make fundamental choices of self-governance.... The Republican-appointed majority is committed to harnessing the Supreme Court to an ideological agenda.... Instead of blaming our politics for giving us the court we have, we should place on the court at least some of the blame for our politics." Read the whole post.

Michelle Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, whacks "some in Congress" for their attempts to undermine federal nutrition programs: "... unfortunately, we’re now seeing attempts in Congress to undo so much of what we’ve accomplished on behalf of our children."

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: Most political polls are junk polls. "Many of the surveys to date have been conducted by firms that use automated phone surveys and combine deficient sampling with baffling weighting practices."

What It Takes to Be a Tea Party Star. Dana Milbank reviews Ben Carson's divisive remarks.

Steve M. on the problem of positive thinking: "... it's about conquering rather than coexisting in a society, and it's not healthy." ...

... Jesse Singal argues in New York that Elliot Rodgers' crimes were the result of mental illness, not of misogyny.

Michael Waldman of NYU's Brennan Center, in Politico Magazine: "How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment."

Claire Miller of the New York Times: "Google on Wednesday released statistics on the make-up of its workforce, providing numbers that offer a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man’s world."

CW: Looks as if all or much of the Brian Williams interview of Edward Snowden is here, though it's divided into six short segments. Happily for me, I won't be able to listen. ...

... Erin McClam of NBC News: "A key claim by Edward Snowden — that his unmasking of government spying programs has not hurt anyone — was immediately called into question Wednesday by a former ambassador to Russia and a former top counterterrorism official." ...

... Michael Kinsley responds to New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan's criticism of his Glenn Greenwald book review. CW: When it comes to writers, including academic writers, the recriminations never end.

Jessica Taylor of the Hill: Tuesday's primary results make it appear Texas is now Ted Cruz's Texas.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/05/28/3262267/say-again-senator-aca-unkynected.html?sp=/99/349/#storylink=cpy

Presidential Election 2016

Rick Perry, Blue-State Poacher. Caleb Hannan in a Politico Magazine piece on Perry's attempts to bolster his presidential creds by luring jobs away from states with Democratic governors. CW: What I don't get is this: how, exactly, does this make him more presidential? Are we supposed to infer that President Perry (perish the thought) would poach jobs from Mexico & Canada?

Bush's Brain v. Hillary's Brain. Peyton Craighill & Scott Clement of the Washington Post: "Two-thirds of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll disapprove of the Republican strategist raising questions about Clinton's age and health in advance of her potential presidential run."

Senate Races

Lexington Herald-Examiner Editors mock Mitch McConnell for his pretense that Kynect is "unconnected" to ObamaCare: "... it's no wonder that polls show many Kentuckians don't know that Kynect is a direct product of President Barack Obama's landmark law. How can average people be expected to understand if the Senate's Republican leader still hasn't figured it out, or at least is pretending there's no connection?" ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "The real political bombshell here is that the senator feels compelled to dodge accountability for his position at all." ...

     ... Update. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post exchanges e-mails with Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager (on loan from Li'l Randy): "McConnell appears to have accepted the Medicaid expansion that has been so embraced by his state’s residents, while drawing a distinction with the Obamacare health plans sold on the statewide exchange. Given that three out of four of the newly insured in Kentucky ended up on Medicaid, that probably makes political sense — and also is newsworthy." CW: How does opposition to ObamaCare end? Not with a bang but a whimper. ...

     ... Greg Sargent: McConnell's "position is still gibberish: He still hasn’t taken a position on whether he would actually support doing that, but barring further clarification, let’s just say he wants Kentucky residents to think he would, or that he might. This provides an opening for Alison Lundergan Grimes to continue putting McConnell on the spot, should she choose to. Either way, for all practical purposes, this is a significant political concession."

Henry Decker of the National Memo: "Mississippi’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate is heating up in its final week, with incumbent Thad Cochran and his right-wing challenger Chris McDaniel trading attack ads centered on a nursing home break-in that has roiled the bitterly negative race.... McDaniel is generally considered to represent the Tea Party’s best chance of knocking off a Republican incumbent in the 2014 primaries."

Gubernatorial Race

Scott Bauer of the AP: "A person close to an investigation of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and other conservative groups said Wednesday that Walker's attorney is talking with the lead investigator about a possible settlement that would end the probe." ...

... Jason Stein, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "A legal civil war broke out Wednesday among targets of a John Doe probe, as a conservative group sought Wednesday to block prosecutors from having settlement talks with Gov. Scott Walker's campaign." AND, yes, as Nadd2 points out in today's Comments, even the Wall Street Journal editors have turned on Walker.

Beyond the Beltway

Mary Wisniewski of Reuters: "Declaring gun control 'essential' to public safety, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday proposed a gun shop ordinance that would videotape gun purchases and limit sales to one per month per buyer. The ordinance comes in response to a January court order invalidating a longtime ban on gun shops within the nation's third-largest city. The proposed law would require a 72-hour waiting period to purchase handguns and a 24-hour waiting period to purchase rifles and shotguns." ...

... The Guardian story, by Lauren Gambino, is here.

Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel: "The coalition of groups trying to prove Florida's congressional map was intentionally gerrymandered to help Republicans turned to experts Tuesday who testified it was 'virtually impossible' to have drawn the maps without political bias.... 'In this case they did a really good job of following the recipe about how to do a partisan gerrymander,' [Jonathan] Katz[, a social scientist,] testified."

Lindsey Layton of the Washington Post: "The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans, but it also has severed ties to a community institution, the neighborhood school, and amplified concerns about racial equality and loss of parental control." CW: Just another part of the plan to increase inequality, IMHO.

Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post: "Republican governors in seven states -- Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas and Utah -- are either ignoring or refusing to comply with national standards meant to prevent sexual assault in prisons, according to new information from the Justice Department."