An as of yet unnamed “Digest”
As I’m sure close readers of my social media may have noticed, I tend to post a fairly high number of news articles there every day. Due in part to both a suggestion from a friend and a desire to ease myself back into the flow of actually writing on a regular basis, I’m considering starting a daily “interesting articles” (not to be confused with the latest news, necessarily) digest, with some commentary on each article, thus making room on your feeds for what’s really important; photos and Buzzfeed virality. I’m piloting this here to see if there is any interest for this format, and possible tweaks to the tone or topic selection. The normal place for these will be here, “Another Note in the Cacophony” (https://anoteinthec.wordpress.com/) which a few of you may remember as my highly intermittent blog. The links to these will be posted on my feed.
We have an Iran “framework” and there was another terrorist attack. Busy day. Here’s what’s interesting:
- The Robert Menendez indictments were made official yesterday afternoon. Here are a couple of particularly notable facts we have seen in the response; New Jersey Democrats have closed ranks around him, and tightly. After the announcement of the indictment, statement after statement of support came from state politicians, and from the state’s other senator, Cory Booker, formerly of Newark mayor/Twitter municipal superhero fame. His statement of support is noteworthy because Menendez in some ways is a product of the rough and tumble Democratic ethnic-urban machine politics that Booker has spent much of his career positioning himself to the polar opposite of (see the excellent Street Fight, re his first race for Newark mayor). Then again, there is a surprising amount of support across Washington for him, so far. When news of the indictments was first leaked to CNN last month, many Republicans openly mused about whether Menendez was being targeted by the Obama administration due to his lukewarm stance on Obama’s negotiations with Iran. Menendez, in his impassioned statement on the charges last night, alluded to political motivations for the prosecutions as well.
- One off-key note was the editorial from the Star-Ledger, the largest of New Jersey’s papers, which, while giving some credit to the senator’s defenses, said that he should resign while the charges are before the courts. The New York Times also thinks it’s time for him to go. For what it’s worth, the Sheldon Silver indictment in New York was characterized by a similar closing of ranks around him from other NY state Democrats, but enough younger politicians dissented, combined with public outrage, to force Silver out of his leadership position in the State Assembly (he still holds elected office, however).
- National Journal reports that Jeb Bush has taken to having staff record comments he makes in closed door sessions with donors—the kind of environment in which Romney’s infamous 47% remarks were secretly taped—in an attempt to have a hard record of his remarks, and to have evidence with which to push back against the inevitable leaks from these sorts of sessions. Interestingly, the piece also refers to the campaign’s intent to remind Jeb that all of his remarks in front of audiences are effectively on the record in some form.
- Politico’s excellent media critic Jack Shafer points out that the “Fox Primary,” such as it is, has far less influence on the eventual Republican nominee than most media observers give it credit for. While it has employed a staggering number of presidential hopefuls, most of the ones that largely owed their viability to the megaphone of the channel lost, and lost badly. This is just further indication of a fairly hard to argue fact; Fox News, while a reliable source of things for left of center bloggers to get outraged about, is not making serious inroads in the views of those that don’t already share the channel’s worldview. Again, for good measure, the ratings of its biggest programs are dwarfed by those of any one of the three evening newscasts, which these same new media journalists and commentators eagerly declare is approaching an end.
- The Columbia Journalism Review notes that most of the coverage of the “religious freedom” bills is taking opponents and proponents at face value, and not bothering to investigate the actual thicket of legal issues both the Indiana and Arkansas bills raise. As is usual, it is much easier to cover the political conflict than it is to make conclusions about the underlying issue, as the former is just giving both sides, and the latter requires essentially adjudicating who is “right” about the laws.
- And in something I haven’t completely finished reading: Capital New York on why it costs so much to build infrastructure in the New York area. This is an issue that has bedeviled the city for years, and is vital in terms of solving the transit challenges ahead.
And finally, for an offbeat feature. George Pataki, former Republican governor of New York State, has been making very loud noises about running for president as a Republican in the 2016 cycle. Close followers of the news may remember that he was also sort-of in the mix for the 2008 cycle, but eventually decided not to run. These noises have not been taken seriously by most (one political scientist and commentator quoted in a Daily News article about Pataki dismissed his inclinations by implying they were likely the product of psychoactive substances) but they exist, and they will be tracked here, in the form of something I’m creatively calling #Patakiwatch.
- There is just one entry in today’s #Patakiwatch: Bloomberg and other sources are reporting that Pataki has set up shop in New Hampshire for his super-PAC, opening offices and naming a “steering committee” in the state. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that the committee is composed of, “two state senators, some prominent business people, and local activists.” The name of the super-PAC? “We the People, Not Washington.”