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More Clemency, A Lot More

You may have seen here that President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. This is part of the administration's general push for prison and criminal justice reform - particularly in relation to the drug war. It is welcome news on all those fronts. But there's a slightly different issue I want to focus on.

Over the last several decades, the presidential pardon power - which includes a broad power to pardon offenses or simply commute sentences - has all but disappeared. The controversy over President Clinton's end-of-term pardons played some role in that. But the trend was already well underway.

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Trainwreck Alert

Catherine Thompson with two great pieces on the Jade Helm military exercise, which gets underway this week and has spawned more conspiracy theories than your tinfoil hat can count. She has the full rundown of the latest conspiracy mongering (come on, Russia helping Mexico reclaim Aztlan is the BEST!).

But there was also news over the weekend that a self-appointed group of volunteers have taken it upon themselves to monitor the military during the exercise, especially as the anticipated takeover of Texas unfolds.

"If a team member sees two Humvees full of soldiers driving through town, they're going to follow them," a leader of the volunteer effort said. "And they're going to radio back their ultimate location."

What could possibly go wrong?

Climate Change 46 Years Ago

On September 17th, 1969, then-presidential aide Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote to President Nixon to alert him to the danger that the rise of carbon dioxide introduced into the atmosphere by fossil fuels would lead to the warming of the planet. "I would think this is a subject the Administration out to get involved with." Here's Moynihan's letter.

Whodunnit?

Some great reporting from Roll Call's Emma Dumain that sheds new light on the Confederate flag fiasco the House GOP brought on itself Wednesday night, more or less under cover of darkness.

We have some of the highlights, but the gist is that the move was carried out by the highest levels of House GOP leadership and that many of the rank-and-file members, including some who would normally be in the loop, were caught completely off guard.

Key line about what happened on the floor that night: "The real red flag was the sudden appearance of leadership staff, namely senior aides for Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio."

So it's a little rich that Boehner went before reporters for his weekly press conference less than 24 hours later and commenting on the Confederate flag said, "I do not want this to become some political football."

You Really Need To Follow This Maine Story

This thing going on in Maine is wild, as so many things tend to be with the marvelously unhinged Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

As you may have seen earlier in the week, LePage seemed by all accounts except his own to have catastrophically botched vetoing nearly 20 bills the legislature had already passed, many or all of which he vehemently opposed.

In LePage's telling, this was all part of his plan, not a botched veto, but a particular interpretation of the Maine constitution that should be obvious to anyone. Except it wasn't obvious, and hasn't been the custom or practice in the state. His interpretation smelled very much like an after-the-fact legal rationale to try escape the bind he put himself in.

But now LePage is going one step further.

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