DAYLEE PICTURE: The Summer Palace at dawn in China. From National Geographic.
He’s The President, Not An Action-Movie Hero (Gene Lyons) from the National Memo
"Sometimes it appears that everybody in Washington yearns for an action-hero president to make them feel important. That’s never more apparent than during a crisis like the Syrian civil war President Obama stands accused of “dithering” about."
The Errors of Edward Snowden and His Global Hypocrisy Tour (Kurt Eichenwald) from Vanity Fair
"My tolerance for Edward Snowden has run out. ... what, exactly, is Snowden attempting to prove with his China revelations? That countries engage in espionage? That the United States listens in on communications of countries with which it maintains often tense and occasionally volatile relations? The existence of electronic espionage seems to be his beef."
I actually think Eichenwald is being fairly charitable here. From the beginning of this affair, I have paid most attention to what Snowden has done and very little attention to the reasons he gives for why. His stated reasoning makes no sense. He says he has leaked this massive amount of national security information to selflessly alert the American people about how their civil liberties are being violated -- and yet in 2009 he said leakers should be "shot in the balls." If it's about American civil liberties, why is he chatting it up with the Chinese and the Russians? If it is the case that contractors like him had direct access to people's personal email and phone conversations (as he implies) where's the evidence? Rather than giving spying program specifics to foreign countries, why doesn't he give us one example of actual content from emails or phone calls from Billy Bob American or average Mary Jane Citizen? Answer: all the civil liberties outrage is simply a gaseous smoke screen designed to mask what was really going on. He loved the well-funded and well-womaned high life of an NSA hacking nerd (which he clearly did love) and was going for a huge payday by scoring several months worth of NSA data working for Booz Allen which (in my view) he was looking to sell. But something went wrong. Maybe his cover was blown. Maybe the NSA were on to him. And in an effort to cover his flight he let loose this tremendous fog of NSA data all the while singing the national anthem. Is he this unprincipled? Probably not. But I do not believe that he is at all the martyr for principle he's made out in many circles. Look to his actions, not his words.
Supreme Court Decision Triggers Massive Overhaul of Regulations (Ben Goad and Julian Hattem) from The Hill
"The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ban on federal benefits for gay couples is sure to trigger a mammoth effort to change hundreds of regulations and laws across the breadth of government. The scope of the high court’s ruling goes far beyond Social Security checks and joint tax returns."
Court Underscores Political Shift on Same-sex Marriage (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"Sometimes the court makes history outright, as it did when it outlawed segregated schools in 1954 or legalized abortion in 1973. Other times, it moves more deliberately, facilitating changes already underway. That was the case on Wednesday. The justices carefully provided a historic push to the same-sex-marriage movement ..."
IG: Audit of IRS Actions Limited to Tea Party Groups at GOP Request from The Hill
"The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans. A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”"
Pentagon Aims to Make Benefits Available to Same-sex Spouses from Politico
"Working with the Justice Department and other executive branch agencies, the Pentagon "intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible," Hagel said in a written statement. "That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.""
IRS Scandal: Gimme Your Read on This (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"As one of the people from a progressive group is quoted saying in the piece, “This is kind of what you expect. You expect it to take a year or more to get your status because that’s just what the IRS goes through to do it.” In other words, rather than feeling persecuted their response was more like, Yeah, that’s just how it is."
Said another way: the IRS has always targeted progressive political groups.
Here's How Darrell Issa Manufactured the IRS 'Scandal' (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"If the IRS was targeting political groups from across the ideological spectrum, where did the original narrative about tea party targeting come from? The answer makes Darrell Issa and his fellow House Republicans look even worse than they did on Monday: ..."
Democrats Want You to Watch Republicans Talk about Marriage Equality from Raw Story
"Democrats have a new strategy to use against their Republicans opponents: Just let them speak."
Armey in Exile (Luke Mullins) from the Washingtonian
"The 2012 election was supposed to be the culmination of Dick Armey’s life’s work—his chance to harness tea party fervor and bring about sweeping reform. So when it all fell apart amid a feud with his
comrade-in-arms, not even an $8-million payout could console him."
It’s a Wendy Davis Nation, Now (Irin Carmon) from Salon
"For years, Democrats' pro-choice stance was blamed for losing "values" voters. Today, that's all changing fast."
Antonin Scalia’s Self-Pitying, Angry Nostalgia from Salon
"Supreme Court's arch-conservative says legalizing same-sex marriage discriminates against people who don't want it."
Pro-Hillary Group Meeting with Top Democratic Donors from CNN
"Some two dozen leading Democratic donors meet for breakfast in New York City Thursday morning with some top Clinton allies to discuss funding an independent political action committee that's urging Clinton to run, according to Democratic sources with knowledge of the event. The breakfast follows lunch held Wednesday with the same mission, to support the Ready for Hillary PAC."
C. S. Lewis, Evangelical Rock Star (T.M. Luhrmann) from the New York Times
"C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” offers theological complexity, not simplicity — a chance to hang on to God in a secular age of doubt."