The Washington Post
The real deal struck about reform: There would be none.
As I predicted, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's calendar-freezing machinations to reform the filibuster turned out to be much ado about nothing. Reid and McConnell have struck a deal to eliminate filibusters on "motions to proceed," leaving intact filibusters on the actual legislation. In exchange, the minority will be guaranteed the chance to bring two amendments to the floor. READ MORE >>
Readers of The New York Times, including several hundred thousand subscribers in New York, woke up Tuesday to a full-page ad on page A7, paid for by the Emergency Committee for Israel, that blared: "Who is Chuck Hagel, President Obama's anti-Israel nominee for Secretary of Defense?" Below quotes from several anti-Hagel critiques—including that of th READ MORE >>
Yesterday, an article appeared on The Atlantic’s website headlined, “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” At the top, clearly if not ostentatiously, it was marked, “Sponsor Content.” In prose borrowed from the second-best writer in your tenth grade English class, it described how Scientology chief Miscavige had opened an “unprecedented” 12 “ideal churches” around the world (though mainly in the United States) in 2012, with a photograph and a short paragraph devoted to each one. “This new breed of Church is ideal in location, design, quality of religious services and social betterment programs,” it explained. You can download a screengrab that Gawker grabbed here. The advertorial was the sort of thing that connoisseurs of Scientology agitprop would be used to. Here, for example, is Scientology’s official explanation of these so-called Ideal Orgs. It’s also the sort of thing readers of the Atlantic’s website would be used to: companies like Credit Suisse, Shell, and Mercedes-Benz have all purchased advertorials—“Custom Programs,” in Atlantic Media parlance. An Ad Age article about “custom advertising” reports that an IBM campaign with Atlantic Media received more than one million user interactions and likely cost as much as $200,000 for IBM. (An Atlantic Media spokesperson declined to comment on how much these advertorials cost, or how large a part of its digital advertising revenue they comprise.) Nor is Atlantic Media remarkable in this regard. State-run Chinese and Russian publications buy space in the Washington Post. BuzzFeed runs no banner ads, only branded content. You would probably be hard-pressed to find a major media outlet that wouldn’t publish an advertorial. What was different about this, apparently, is that this time, it was Scientology. And Scientology, we all know, is ridiculous, and worse. Right? READ MORE >>
The platinum coin has a future as a collector’s item but not, it would seem, as a way to avoid the debt ceiling.The Obama Administration announced late Saturday that it will not be minting a trillion dollar coin and depositing it in the Federal Reserve, thereby allowing the government to spend money even if Congress refuses to increase government's borrowing authority. That's potentially a big deal. Without the ability to borrow or spend, the government wouldn't be pay its bills. And, as you may have heard, the government has a lot of bills to pay—to Social Security recipients, for example, and to vendors who sell products to the government. The government also owes interest payments to the holders of U.S. bonds. Defaulting on those payments could, according to many economists, be catastrophic.Obama’s decision, first reported by Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, is not surprising. Obama did not avail himself of the coin option in 2011, the first time Republicans used the once-routine debt ceiling increase to demand cuts in the federal budget. Similarly, the administration has ruled out borrowing money on its own authority, by drawing on the 14th Amendment for justification. An array of legal scholars has indicated that one, if not both, of the options would be constitutional. But Obama has never shown even the slighest enthusiasm for these maneuvers. The interesting question is why. By refusing to increase the debt ceiling, the Republican Congress is practicing a form of economic extortion. The coin, like the 14th Amendment, seemed to give the administration a chance to stop that extortion from working. Just this week, Senate Democratic leaders issued a letter, made public by Greg Sargent in the Post, practically begging Obama to invoke this sort of authority. With Saturday's announcement, Obama basically said "no thanks." Is this yet another one of those concessions that congressional Democrats and other administration allies will come to rue? Perhaps. But the White House doesn't think it's backing down. Administration officials believe they are standing firm—that the coin option, if anything, was becoming a distraction. "There are no magic coins," one senior official told the Huffington Post. "There is no way to get out of this. We feel fine about the politics of it. We think we are in a stronger position if Republicans realize there is no out." READ MORE >>
"This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground." READ MORE >>