So I know you guys are probably missing Inkblot and Domino, but fortunately I have a few cat pictures for you. At the moment I live in a house with four fat orange cats I affectionately refer to as a "herd of Garfields" for reasons that will become immediately obvious below.

Here's Burns and Pumpkin falling asleep in a sunbeam:


And here's Pumpkin again, dressed up in his Sunday best (slightly Instagrammed):


I hope you guys can be okay with these until Kevin gets back. See you next week.

Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation.

Slate's Dave Weigel checks in on Jack Cashill, the conservative writer who intiated the conspiracy theory that Bill Ayers actually wrote Barack Obama's autobiography, and finds Cashill in disbelief over mid-20s love letters Obama wrote to a girlfriend that were uncovered by David Maraniss:

[W]riting longhand, presumably from memory, Obama has the wherewithal to put an umlaut over the “u” in Münzer. In college, I was an Honors English student and a Classics minor, not a political science major like Obama. I had not even heard of Münzer before reading this letter.

That Obama could embark upon a sophisticated, spontaneous discussion of T.S. Eliot – he claimed not to have read “The Waste Land” for a year and never bothered “to check all the footnotes” – should have alerted Maraniss.

So, Cashill's argument that Obama didn't write his book, or the letters, is that there's no way Obama is smarter than him. I wonder what makes him so certain about that?

My colleague Tim Murphy has more.

 Gray wolves were hunted to near extinction in the western US. By 1973 none remained in the wild. Listed as endangered in 1967, they recolonized the Rocky Mountains from Canada. Protected, they grew to 1,679 wolves by 2009, delisted in 2011: Martin Mecnarowski via Wikimedia CommonsGray wolves were hunted to near extinction in the western US. By 1973 none remained in the wild. Listed as endangered in 1967, they recolonized the Rocky Mountains from Canada. Protected, they grew to 1,679 wolves by 2009, delisted in 2011: Martin Mecnarowski via Wikimedia Commons

Just in time for Endangered Species Day the Center for Biological Diversity analyzed 110 species protected under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) and found that 90 percent are on track to meet recovery goals set by federal scientists, with some far exceeding expectations. From the report:

On average, species recovered in 25 years, while their recovery plan predicted 23 years — a 91 percent timeliness accomplishment.

Critics of the Endangered Species Act contend it is a failure because only 1 percent of the species under its protection have recovered and been delisted... To objectively test whether the Endangered Species Act is recovering species at a sufficient rate, we compared the actual recovery rate of 110 species with the projected recovery rate in their federal recovery plans. The species range over all 50 states, include all major taxonomic groups, and have a diversity of listing lengths.We found that the Endangered Species Act has a remarkably successful recovery rate: 90 percent of species are recovering at the rate specified by their federal recovery plan.

We confirmed the conclusion of scientists and auditors who assert that the great majority of species have not been listed long enough to warrant an expectation of recovery: 80 percent of species have not yet reached their expected recovery year. On average, these species have been listed for just 32 years, while their recovery plans required 46 years of listing.

Meet a few of the success stories:

Bighorn sheep: Philipp Haupt via Wikimedia CommonsBighorn sheep: Philipp Haupt via Wikimedia CommonsThe Peninsular bighorn sheep declined to near extinction because of housing developments, agriculture, collisions with cars, predation by mountain lions and diseases contracted from domestic sheep. Sheep populations plummeted from 971 in 1971, to 276 in 1996, but since being listed as endangered in 1998, the number of bighorns has increased to 981 as of 2010.


Green sea turtle: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia CommonsGreen sea turtle: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia CommonsGreen sea turtles in the Pacific are threatened by habitat loss, egg collection, hunting, beach development, bycatch mortality in commercial fisheries, and sea level rise due to global warming. In Hawaii, more than 90 percent of nesting occurs at French Frigate Shoals. Since being listed as endangered in 1978, the number females nesting there increased from 105 to 808 in 2011.



Piping plover: Mdf via Wikimedia CommonsPiping plover: Mdf via Wikimedia Commons

Atlantic piping plover populations declined due to 19th-century hunting and the millinery trade. After these threats were eliminated, its numbers increased, but began declining after 1950 due to beach development and predation by native and introduced predators. It was listed on the ESA in 1985, and gained habitat protection, control of recreationists on beaches, and predators, which allowed its population in the US to increase from 550 pairs in 1986 to 1,550 in 2011. The US population reached its overall recovery goal in three of the past five years, but some of its subpopulations haven't reached recovery yet. Its associated Canadian population has grown little.

From the report:

The corollary to claiming the Endangered Species Act is 1 percent successful because only 1 percent of species has been delisted is that the other 99 percent are failures. In fact, many still endangered species have increased dramatically since being placed on the list. Among them are the California least tern (2,819 percent increase in nesting pairs), San Miguel island fox (3,830 percent increase in wild foxes), black-footed ferret (8,280 percent increase in the fall population), Atlantic green sea turtle (2,206 percent increase in nesting females on Florida beaches) and El Segundo blue butterfly (22,312 percent increase in butterflies).

"Saving species from the brink of extinction—and bringing them back to a point where they're going to survive into the future—can't happen overnight," says lead author Kieran Suckling. "Calling the Act at failure at this point is like throwing away a 10-day prescription of antibiotics on the third day and saying they don't work. It just makes no sense."

You can read the entire report and meet some of the other species being aided by the ESA here.

Though the web headlines have been altered since, several news organizations (including Mother Jones) led their stories on Thursday's evidence dump in the Trayvon Martin shooting case with the revelation that Martin had small amounts of THC in his system.

This in itself is not all that surprising—Martin was suspended from school for possession of marijuana shortly before he was killed. The decision to lead with that information, however, suggests that it's somehow material to the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, and I'm puzzled as to why anyone would think that's the case. Here's National Review's Andrew McCarthy, who in response to a report from ABC seems to regard the news as fully exonerating Zimmerman:

The report neglects to mention that in the 911 tape, George Zimmerman reported to the police dispatcher that Martin seemed suspicious to him because it seemed Martin was "on drugs or something."

The report doesn't say Martin was high at the time, or how that would have justified the use of lethal force by Zimmerman, but McCarthy seems to believe the case is closed. McCarthy's reaction is indicative of the conversation surrounding the Martin killing, which has at times seemed less about the facts of the case and more about whether Martin was the type of scary black person Zimmerman would have been justified in fearing. There's a discomfiting parallel here with rape cases, where too often the facts are subsumed in a debate about whether the victim had it coming. 

That Martin's exposure to marjiuana should be central to this argument, however, seems particularly absurd. The last three presidents of the United States have all but admitted to smoking marijuana, with George W. Bush demurring on the basis that admitting he had done so might set a bad example for children. This is not a drug that turns people into the Incredible Hulk. 

Conservatives might respond that Zimmerman's personality is equally on trial, given that many liberals believe he racially profiled Martin prior to their confrontation. Zimmerman, however, is still alive to defend himself, both in a Florida court and in the court of public opinion. Martin is not.

Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation. 

US Army National Guard Spc. Terry Proud, a Security Force member of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, pulls security during a mission in Farah City, Farah province, Afghanistan, on May 12, 2012. PRT members are meeting with locals to gather information and opinions about the living conditions in Farah City. Photo by the US Army.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported on the efforts of a new super-PAC, backed by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, dedicated to exposing President Obama as a radical, no-good "metrosexual, black Abraham Lincoln." 

But Barack Obama isn't our first metrosexual president. He's not even our first metrosexual Abraham Lincoln. Here's our quick guide to the 43* most metrosexual presidents of all time.

1.) Chester A. Arthur: The "A" is short for Argyle. (It isn't, really.) C-Span notes that our nation's 21st president "was nicknamed 'Elegant Arthur' because of his 'dandy' dressing." One biographer argued that Arthur's "happiest years" came during his stint as New York City customs collector, because the "increased income permitted Arthur to spend excessive amounts at his tailor."

Hey grrrrrl: Smithsonian InstitutionChester A. Arthur: Smithsonian Institution

2.) Thomas Jefferson: Accentuated by the fact that he was a contemporary of John Adams:

Thomas Jefferson: Wikimedia CommonsThomas Jefferson: Wikimedia Commons3.) Franklin Pierce: Pierce sported what historians have classified as a post-powdered antefauxhawk. He was also a terrible president.

TK: TKFranklin Pierce: White House4.) Abraham Lincoln: The original metrosexual Abraham Lincoln:

TK TKAbraham Lincoln: Library of Congress

5–42.) Miscellaneous.

43.) Bill Clinton: 

Bill Clinton: Clinton Presidential LibraryBill Clinton: Clinton Presidential Library

Update: Reader @ThugloniusCrunk points out that: "Young Teddy Roosevelt was called "Jane-Dandy" & "Oscar Wilde" by his elders in the New York Senate." This is true. We've arbitrarily designated him the 17th most metrosexual president of all time:

Theodore RooseveltTheodore Roosevelt

Update 2: Bravo to the Photoshop wizards at TNR behind Metrosexual Abraham Lincoln, Hipster Rutherford B. Hayes, and Freegan Chester A. Arthur. We're all richer for their contribution.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of people who have served as president. Although some observers felt that Grover Cleveland was a different man in his second term, only 43 people have held the office.

An anti-NDAA protest in Portland, Oregon, in January 2012.

At least it's on the record: Most House Republicans support the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens. 

During Thursday's floor debate over the latest national defense authorization act, the House GOP brought out their long knives for Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who, in their view, had collaborated on a nefarious plot to undermine national security. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) accused the lawmakers of wanting to "coddle terrorists," while Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) warned that under an amendment they'd introduced, "as soon as a member of Al Qaeda sets foot on US soil, they hear you have the right to remain silent." National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who has never heard of a same-sex marriage supporting, pro-financial regulation liberal who wasn't secretly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote that their proposal was the result of "libertarian extremists" teaming up with liberals with an "obsession" with giving "more rights" to "mass murderers."

What exactly was the diabolical scheme Smith and Amash had proposed, which would lead to a Normandy-like invasion of Al Qaeda terrorists armed with Muslim Heat Vision and bent on taking advantage of America's adversarial court system? It was an amendment to the defense bill that says anyone arrested on American soil on suspicion of terrorism would get a fair trial in a civilian court, where their guilt would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Last year's defense bill provoked a backlash, because Congress failed to establish clearly whether or not the president can lock up an American citizen without ever having to charge them with a crime. (The bill's detention provisions were just blocked by an Obama-appointed judge, in part because a government attorney couldn't answer the judge's question about whether a journalist reporting on a terrorist group could be indefinitely detained without trial.)

This time around, the line is absolutely clear. Smith and Amash proposed that the government actually has to prove you're guilty of a crime before depriving you of your liberty, something that the founding fathers found significant enough to write into the Constitution. Their opponents want the government to have the power to lock up American citizens without ever convicting them of anything, just because it says someone is a terrorist. Their proposal went down by a vote of 182-231, with only a handful of Republicans joining Amash in support.

As Smith pointed out during yesterday's floor debate, the Fifth Amendment says no "person" shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law. It doesn't say "citizen," and the text of the Constitution uses both words enough that it's clear the framers understood the difference. "Your beef is with James Madison," Smith told Thornberry on Thursday. So keep in mind, when Republicans like Rooney say that Smith and Amash want to "coddle terrorists," they're not necessarily talking about some heavily armed Al Qaeda fighter in Kandahar. They're potentially talking about you.

It's worth noting that only twice have suspected terrorists captured on American soil been shunted into military detention, and both times the individuals in question were transferred back into the criminal justice system because of fears the Supreme Court would declare such powers unconstitutional. Since then, federal courts and civilian authorities have easily handled terrorists, citizen or otherwise, from "Underwear Bomber" Umar Abdulmutallab to Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. To underscore: the power to hold terror suspects captured in the US in military detention is of questionable constitutionality, has almost never been used, and confers no advantages either to incapacitating terrorists or gathering intelligence that civilian authorities don't already possess.

Republicans opposed to the Smith-Amash amendment proposed a hoax fix that "reaffirms" Americans' right to habeas corpus. Only the right to habeas was never in question, so their proposal doesn't actually do anything. It is a complete non-sequitur, a bad-faith attempt to prevent Smith and Amash from closing a gaping "terrorism exception" to Americans' due process rights. That amendment passed by almost the same overwhelming margin that the Smith-Amash amendment failed, by a vote of 243-173.

If nothing else however, it's illuminating to watch "small-government" Republicans—who have spent the last three years lamenting the loss of freedom caused by a higher marginal tax rate or the regulation of derivatives—defend the most arbitrary big government power imaginable. 

Gen. James Cartwright in 2009, with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates: National GuardGen. James Cartwright in 2009, with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates: National GuardWhen it comes to national security, James "Hoss" Cartwright is probably worth listening to. The four-star Marine general capped off 40 years in uniform with a stint as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring last August. Now Cartwright is weighing in on the size of America's nuclear arsenal, and not in the way you might expect: He wants the United States to slash its nuclear stockpile by more than 80 percent.

"The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war," Cartwright told the New York Times on Wednesday. "There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we're really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century."

Cartwright was promoting a report by the disarmament policy group Global Zero, also released Wednesday, that proposes the US reduce its nuclear arsenal to 900 warheads. (In its most recent count, the US claimed to posssess 5,113 nuclear warheads.) The report was endorsed by Cartwright, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, a retired NATO general, an ambassador, and an ex-arms negotiator. "For the United States, deterring and defeating aggression in today's world depends a great deal less on projecting nuclear offensive threat and a great deal more on the skilled exercise of all the instruments of power, both 'soft' and 'hard,'" the report states.

A quick look at the week that was in the world of political dark money...

How Citizens United went down: The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin has a riveting behind-the-scenes story of how the Roberts court decided the landmark Citizens United case. Toobin contends that Chief Justice John Roberts orchestrated a sweeping reinterpretation of decades of campaign-finance laws while keeping his fingerprints off the final opinion (written by Justice Anthony Kennedy). SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein counters Toobin with a less conspiratorial take on how the conservative wing of the court made its decision. Plus: A look at four cases working their way to the Supreme Court that could speed—or stem—the flow of unlimited election cash.

New ad blitzes launch: Mother Jones' Andy Kroll reports on the latest ad campaign from Karl Rove's dark-money outfit Crossroads GPS: A 10-state broadside against President Obama. 501(c)(4) groups like Crossroads GPS are prohibited from devoting the majority of their resources to politicking (although there's a chance that may change soon). This ad carefully sidesteps the issue by not explicitly telling viewers to not vote for Obama or to vote for Romney. 

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign unleashed a $25 million ad campaign of its own; it's suspiciously similar to another ad campaign released this week by the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action, which is prohibited by law from coordinating with the Obama campaign.

Attack ads work: According to a new survey by two Arizona State professors, the more negative ads voters watch, the more harshly they judge the candidate being attacked. That could explain why, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, 70 percent of ads this year have been negative, compared with 9 percent in 2008. However, the survey also found that some people are more resistant to negative ads: strong partisans, close campaign observers, conservatives, men, young people, and those with unsophisticated political views.

Super-PACs home in on state races: Politico reports that super-PACs focused on congressional races are dominating outside spending, especially in Republican primaries. For example, Club for Growth Action has poured more than $1 million into races in Texas and Nebraska. Its Nebraska ads, like this one, appear to be proving the Arizona State survey true:

21-year-old starts super-PAC: This month's sixth-top spending super-PAC is Liberty for All, a pro-Ron Paul super-PAC cofounded in March by John Ramsey, who has spent upwards of $500,000 of his inheritance on campaign ads for Thomas Massie, a Paul-endorsed candidate running for an open House seat in Kentucky. "We're the only freedom organization that is focused on winning elections, plural," Liberty for All's other founder tells MoJo's Tim Murphy.

Americans Elect folds: Last week, it was becoming clear that Americans Elect's effort to launch a third-party presidential bid through a series of online caucuses was in serious trouble. Today, having gained ballot access in 29 states but unable to nominate a candidate, AE acknowledged defeat. When asked if he planned to end his presidential bid now that AE is toast, the group's front runner, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer told Slate's Dave Weigel, "I'm digging deep for words, but all I'm coming up with is bullshit."

A plan of attack backfires: The New York Times reports that Character Matters, a new anti-Obama super-PAC, entertained a proposal to cast the president as a "metrosexual, black Abraham Lincoln" and tie him to his former pastor, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The super-PAC is funded to the tune of $10 million by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts disavowed the ad, but that wasn't enough for Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Washington Post reports that Emanuel is "livid" and won't return phone calls from the Ricketts family. Muckety maps their influence:

Trayvon Martin died of a single gunshot to the heart, and had traces of marijuana in his blood and a single scratch on one knuckle when he died, according to a trove of new evidence released by the state of Florida Thursday night. According to the documents, the Sanford police believed that the teen's death was "ultimately avoidable," if his killer, George Zimmerman, had "remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement" on that fateful night in February.

The evidence includes hundreds of pages of documents and photographs gathered by Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey and shared earlier this week with the attorneys of Zimmerman as part of the discovery process in his trial for second-degree murder. Zimmerman admitted to shooting the 17-year-old Martin in February, but has claimed that he killed the unarmed, hoodie-wearing African American teen in self-defense.

Corey's office made the evidence available to reporters online Thursday night, and highlights quickly emerged on social media. The evidence included these photos:

The gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon: a 9mm Kel-Tec PF9 double-action pistol: State of FloridaThe gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon: a 9mm Kel-Tec PF9 double-action pistol: State of Florida

A cellphone found at the crime scene, believed to be Trayvon Martin's: State of FloridaA cellphone found at the crime scene, believed to be Trayvon Martin's: State of Florida


Photo of George Zimmerman after the shooting: State of FloridaPhoto of George Zimmerman the night of the shooting: State of Florida

Cuts on Zimmerman's head the night of the shooting: State of FloridaCuts on Zimmerman's head the night of the shooting: State of FloridaAnd then there's the first known picture of Zimmerman from on the scene of the shooting. According to the New York Times: "The police took only one photo at the scene of any of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries — a full-face picture of him that showed a bloodied nose—before paramedics tended to him…It was shot on a department cellphone camera and was not downloaded for a few days, an oversight by the officer who took it."

The first on-scene photo of Zimmerman, which wasn't recovered from a police officer's cellphone until days after the killing: State of FloridaPhoto of Zimmerman recovered from a police officer's cellphone days after the killing: State of Florida

Details from the newly released collection of documents quickly emerged on Twitter late Thursday, as journalists pored through the documents: