Ben Carson said that no amount of bullets in dead bodies is as bad as regulating guns. Many residents of Roseburg agree --- no amount of bullets in the dead bodies of their own friends and families is as bad a regulating guns:
On the same day of Obama’s visit, a gunman killed one and wounded three at a college campus in Arizona, according to officials. Two were shot in another incident in student housing at Texas Southern University, The Associated Press reported.
An El Niño that is among the strongest on record is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean, and climate scientists say California is likely to face a wet winter.
“There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
“And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal,” he said.
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Just three weeks ago, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center raised the odds of California getting doused with a wetter-than-average winter. Southern California now has more than a 60% chance of a wet winter, a 33% chance of a normal winter and less than a 7% chance of a dry winter.
Not that we don't need the rain. But:
Patzert issued a note of warning to Californians: Don’t think this El Niño spells the end of this state’s punishing four-year drought.
The last record El Niño that ended in 1998 was quickly followed by the arrival of El Niño’s dry sister, La Niña.
“Thinking ahead one year, could we be whiplashed from deluge back to drought again?” Patzert said. “Because remember, La Niña is the diva of drought.”
Patzert said that in the last 140 years in California, seven out of every 10 years are dry, so it would be foolish to declare an end to water conservation during this winter’s rains.
Let's just hope we don't get hit the way South Carolina got hit this past week. They're still swimming through the streets down there.
There have always been extreme weather events. But it looks like we'd all better get used to having a whole lot more of them. Too bad half the people in the richest most powerful nation on earth are cretins or we might just be able to mitigate this. But hey, stuff happens, right?
Conservatives: Don’t Get Suckered Into Backing A “Compromise” Speaker Who Is Boehner-Lite
The sudden implosion of the supposedly inevitable ascension of establishment Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to the office of Speaker of the House, now occupied by his mentor John Boehner, has shown the Capitol Hill Republican establishment to be a fragile edifice ready to collapse.
Conservatives should not be suckered into propping it up any longer by abandoning their battle to elect principled conservatives to run the House of Representatives.
But that is exactly what is going on in Washington right now as those establishment politicians who stand to lose out if new leadership is elected and cleans house scramble desperately to hang on to their corner offices and their power to divide up the spoils the welfare state extorts from producers.
A number of names have been floated as potential “compromise” Speakers: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the candidate most often touted by the Washington political class as the ideal “compromise” Speaker, but Representatives Lyn Westmoreland, Mike Conaway, Jeff Miller, Tom Cole, Pete Sessions and Tom Price are also in the mix, according to our Capitol Hill sources.
Conservatives who fold and back a “compromise” Speaker will own the results of that Speaker’s policies and find that they are boxed-in and unable to effectively oppose a new anti-conservative leader they helped elect.
And this is particularly true of Paul Ryan, whom many conservatives once thought of as a rising conservative star, because of his image as being a pro-life family man and his “reform conservative” style budget ideas, but who has in reality abandoned conservative principles to push amnesty for illegal aliens, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, breaking the budget caps and many other anti-conservative policies.
How Paul Ryan went from budget-balancing conservative wunderkind, to GOP vice presidential nominee, to channeling Nancy Pelosi when he snarled, “It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” as he tried to sell Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority and Trans-Pacific Partnership treaties to skeptical conservatives during a Rules Committee meeting is one of Washington’s saddest tales of how DC’s inside elite capture talent and bend it to their will.
As Ryan became more visible, first as Ranking Member and then as Chairman of the Budget Committee he became part of a group who styled themselves the “young guns” of the House Republican Conference.
Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan were visualized as a new generation of Republican leader who would challenge the older establishment-types.
Yet, after the 2010 Tea Party wave election that returned Republicans to the majority in the House, and vaulted Cantor, Ryan and McCarthy to leadership position in that new majority, what the conservative voters who turned-out to make that majority possible was a series of lies about the budget and spending, “me-too” Republicanism and not even a scaling back of the Democratic agenda.
Republicans, who had had promised $100 billion in real cuts during the campaign, compromised with the Democrats for $38.5 billion in future savings and claimed the deal would result in "the biggest annual spending cut in history," as President Obama termed it.
Yet, as then-Senator Jim DeMint later noted, there was no actual reduction in spending. Here’s what really happened when the fiscal year ended on September 30, 2011: the Congressional Budget Office found that the April deal to avoid a government shutdown resulted in an increase of more than $170 billion in federal spending from 2010 to 2011.
Hailed by leaders of both political parties (and the establishment media) as a historic compromise that produced the “largest spending cut in history,” the deal negotiated by Paul Ryan ended up being a spending increase.
No one on the outside seemed to notice the lie upon which the spending deal was founded, because everyone on the inside, and especially Paul Ryan, knew there would be no decrease in spending. And the historic “budget cuts” would actually result in the federal government spending $3.6 trillion -- a 4.2 percent increase in outlays that also ballooned the annual deficit to $1.298 trillion.
Yet Paul Ryan’s star continued to rise and when Mitt Romney chose him as his running mate in 2012 many conservatives embraced the Ryan choice as an opportunity to place one of their own in line for the presidency and in the near term have a key spokesman for the conservative agenda in the inner circle of the decidedly non-conservative Romney campaign.
What conservatives got from vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was pretty much the same as they got from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan – someone who out of the camera’s eye told them he was a “young gun,” but who failed to move the Romney campaign to the right, or to even get it to embrace his own ideas, while he readily went along and got along with Romney’s listless content-free establishment Republican ideas and campaign.
Why would conservatives “compromise” and hand the Speaker’s gavel to a younger, more aggressive, more articulate, more arrogant version of John Boehner?
It is the House Republican establishment who are blocking the will of the people, not conservatives, such as the House Freedom Caucus members, who are fighting to elect a transformational leader, like Daniel Webster of Florida, as Speaker.
Those conservatives who saw Paul Ryan and his fellow “young guns” as the vanguard of a new conservative House, or who think some “compromise” candidate for Speaker is a viable alternative to continuing the fight to elect a principled limited government constitutional conservative as Speaker, might profit from recalling the ending of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
"I was asked what would you do if you were there and they were holding a gun to your head and asking you about your Christianity and I told them what I would do... Ben Carson on Andrea Mitchell this morning
He seems to be hung up on his belief that the shooter targeted Christians. He always mentions it as if that has some special significance. The facts are that this guy was hostile to religion while also being a big fan of the IRA, which was the very definition of a religious revolutionary force, so I don't think we can glean a whole lot from that other than that he was a mentally ill person with deadly weapons who had some very confused ideas. Also, he shot people who didn't answer and people who said they weren't Christian so I don't think this was an attack on Christianity as much as Carson clearly wants to believe it was.
“When they get here,we need to be able to fight them, particularly if we have an administration that won’t fight them, we need to be able to fight them ourselves.”
He condemns them for their religious fanaticism and nihilistic dedication to their beliefs.But it's clear to me that Carson believes that Christians should also be willing to die to defend their faith. For him this event was all about "that question":
Ben Carson was among those proudly declaring their faith after Thursday's massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
The Republican presidential hopeful posted a photo of himself on Facebook that showed him holding a sign that read 'I Am A Christian' and featured a drawing of an ichthys.
He shared the photo - which has been liked close to 800,000 times - following reports that gunman Chris Harper-Mercer asked his victims if they were Christian before shooting them dead.
'Today, many of your questions were in regards to the sorrowful event that took so many precious lives in Oregon yesterday. We don’t have all the details yet, but as time passes more are coming out,' wrote Carson on Facebook.
'Millions of people are posting pictures of themselves declaring they are Christians in support of the victims and their families. I did so on Facebook this afternoon. If you have a moment, please consider doing it as well.'
Harper-Mercer said on multiple sites that he was not religious and against organized religion.
The motives for his attack are still uncertain, as are the faiths of many of his victims, though it is known that they were not all Christian and included at least one Jewish man - teacher Lawrence Levine.
It was the father of one of the victims Anastasia Boylan - who survived the horrific attack but remains in the hospital - who revealed that Harper-Mercer had been asking individuals if they were Christian.
Another eyewitness, Kortney Moore, said that the gunman asked if they were religious before shooting, but did not mention anything specifically about Christianity.
Harper-Mercer had also voiced his contempt for the Black Lives Matter movement, complained about women and the fact that he was a virgin and applauded the actions of Vester Flanagan, the Virginia man who murder his former colleagues while they were on camera doing a news segment.
The facts don't matter to Carson on any subject. And on this one, Carson is convinced this was a hate crime against Christian. And he believes that one should die for one's faith. Just like those Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers.
Here's Carson at that NRA convention last spring. Yikes:
Note that he doesn't seem to know that when the nation was founded there was no "military" and it wasn't anticipated that there would be one, hence the first part of the Second Amendment that was evidently written in invisible ink to wingnuts: A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state... They really hate that "well-regulated part."
Carson is one scary dude and he scares me more each day. I get trump --- he's a brash egomaniac clown who speaks for the bros and the yahoos. Carson is something else again. He's a crazed right wing fanatic who sounds like a reasonable person. I suspect that's far more dangerous.
Michael Tomasky speak, you listen. He points out something that should make the beltway gasbags and kewl kidz think a little bit: all the politicians they code as authentic are nuttier than a Payday bar. Also too:
I can’t tell you the number of straight-news reporters who’ve said to me over the years something like: Yes, okay, Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham or whoever may be a little out there, but you know what? At least he really means it. What you see with him is what you get. To which I would rejoin, well, that’s fine, but so what; all that means to me is that when he starts World War III or resegregates our school system via his court appointments or gives the 1 percent another whopping-big tax cut, he’ll be doing so sincerely. But this (as I knew going in) was always a loser of an argument to an objective reporter, because they divorce themselves emotionally from the whole idea of outcomes.
And this is how political journalists end up assessing politicians with such a preponderant emphasis on their authenticity. They aren’t allowed to make subjective ideological judgments, so they make them on the basis of personality. It’s why they dwell excessively on matters like explaining to you which candidate you’d rather have a beer with. That was one great scam, by the way, back in 2000—persuading the American public that they’d all rather have a beer with the candidate (Dubya) who didn’t drink beer!
This is the important point:
... I don’t care whether any of them is authentic. I just care what they do. I’d much rather have a president who inauthentically raises the minimum wage and passes paid family leave than one who authentically eliminates the federal minimum wage and does what the Chamber of Commerce tells him to do on all such matters.
Agreed. Moreover, we simply cannot know if these people are "authentic" anyway. They probably don't know if they're "authentic." We're all acting in public in certain ways, and politicians do it more than most. Politics is, by definition, an artificial act --- nobody's being "real". What these Villagers think is authentic is really good acting.
Now people do use heuristics to assess these politicians and there's no arguing with that. It's a fundamental feature of human communication and it's pretty sophisticated. But it's also colored by others' interpretations, which is where this "authentic" stuff has an effect. There are many ways to look at certain behaviors but when the press decides that it represents something specific about the person's character, many people will go along. Life is short, most are too busy to go too far into the weeds.
Surfing through the cable news channels yesterday morning, it was clear that the beltway wags were preparing to spend the day indicting Hillary Clinton for buckling under pressure to left-wing fanatics who have taken over the Democratic Party and forced her to take a position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal against her will. The word had gone forth from NBC’s First Read that Hillary Clinton had obviously flip-flopped from her true beliefs on the issue in the most flagrantly dishonest way possible and had therefore cemented “every negative stereotype about her.”
During MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” they even called in Chris Matthews to analyze the fallout from this terrible decision and the talking heads agreed this showed the left was driving the train. With a socialist gunning for the presidency (a socialist who won’t even agree to join the Democratic Party!) unions calling the shots on trade and tree-huggers bringing the hammer down on the environment, the Democrats were in the same predicament as the right with Hillary Clinton being forced, in Matthews’ words, to “bow to the extreme.” And so a new Beltway meme was born.
Or rather, it was stillborn since within minutes of Mitchell and Matthews declaring that the Democratic Party’s hippies were driving the Party straight over the cliff with all their unreasonable demands, the news broke that the presumptive Speaker of the House, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, had dropped his news that he was withdrawing from the race. What followed was the kind of chaos you normally only see during a natural disaster or a bomb scare, with sweaty reporters shoving microphones into the face of every person who looked like he or she might be a Republican and anchors back in the studios shaking their heads in disbelief. How on earth could this have happened?
Of course, it was entirely predictable. After all, John Boehner had been forced to resign because he simply could not get his fractious caucus to work together to do the business congress is tasked with doing. And John Boehner was a 25-year congressional veteran who understood how to work every lever to get that job done. It remains a mystery why anyone thought that Kevin McCarthy — a man who had only been in Congress only since 2007 and whose rhetorical skills made George W. Bush sound like Martin Luther King Jr. by comparison — would fare better than Boehner. MSNBC’s Luke Russert seemed to think that he would be more successful because had gone to some lengths to “stay in touch” with all the members by texting them frequently, but that was about it.
McCarthy’s epic gaffe, admitting that the Select Committee on Benghazi is a partisan sham, was likely the most important reason for his fall from grace and subsequent inability to put together enough votes to win. And there were rumors circulating about a personal scandal. But by all accounts it was the anti-establishment Freedom Caucus yanking McCarthy’s chain so hard with demands for greater say in policy and process that made him realize he couldn’t win the vote. Evidently, his assurances that he would not be John Boehner were simply not enough to assuage their concerns. (All that texting seems not to have done the trick after all.) Indeed, one wonders why everyone assumed they would fall in line — after all, they never had when he was the party whip.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), the leader of the House Tea Party Caucus, asked McCarthy to publicly oppose efforts by establishment groups — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others — to run radio and TV ads criticizing conservatives who defied their own leaders.
In other words, they wanted the Speaker of the House to take their side in disputes with … himself. Once he understood the impossibility of his position, McCarthy wisely withdrew.
The media were completely shocked — as they are every single time the House GOP caucus behaves like the radicals they are.
More evidence we've reached "peak water" in California
by Gaius Publius
March in Yosemite, four years running (source; click to enlarge)
It may be a see-saw course, but it's riding an uphill train.
A bit ago I wrote, regarding climate and tipping points:
The concept of "tipping point" — a change beyond which there's no turning back — comes up a lot in climate discussions. An obvious tipping point involves polar ice. If the earth keeps warming — both in the atmosphere and in the ocean — at some point a full and permanent melt of Arctic and Antarctic ice is inevitable. Permanent ice first started forming in the Antarctic about 35 million years ago, thanks to global cooling which crossed a tipping point for ice formation. That's not very long ago. During the 200 million years before that, the earth was too warm for permanent ice to form, at least as far as we know.
We're now going the other direction, rewarming the earth, and permanent ice is increasingly disappearing, as you'd expect. At some point, permanent ice will be gone. At some point before that, its loss will be inevitable. Like the passengers in the car above, its end may not have come — yet — but there's no turning back....
I think the American Southwest is beyond a tipping point for available fresh water. I've written several times — for example, here — that California and the Southwest have passed "peak water," that the most water available to the region is what's available now. We can mitigate the severity of decline in supply (i.e., arrest the decline at a less-bad place by arresting its cause), and we can adapt to whatever consequences can't be mitigated.
But we can no longer go back to plentiful fresh water from the Colorado River watershed. That day is gone, and in fact, I suspect most in the region know it, even though it's not yet reflected in real estate prices.
Two of the three takeaways from the above paragraphs are these: "California and the Southwest have passed 'peak water'" and "most in the region know it." (The third takeaway from the above is discussed at the end of this piece.)
"For the first time in 120 years, winter average minimum temperature in the Sierra Nevada was above freezing"
My comment, that "most in the region know it," is anecdotal. What you're about to read below isn't. Hunter Cutting, writing at Huffington Post, notes (my emphasis):
With Californians crossing their fingers in hopes of a super El Niño to help end the state's historic drought, California's water agency just delivered some startling news: for the first time in 120 years of record keeping, the winter average minimum temperature in the Sierra Nevada was above freezing. And across the state, the last 12 months were the warmest on record. This explains why the Sierra Nevada snow pack that provides nearly 30% of the state's water stood at its lowest level in at least 500 years this last winter despite precipitation levels that, while low, still came in above recent record lows. The few winter storms of the past two years were warmer than average and tended to produce rain, not snow. And what snow fell melted away almost immediately.
Thresholds matter when it comes to climate change. A small increase in temperature can have a huge impact on natural systems and human infrastructure designed to cope with current weather patterns and extremes. Only a few inches of extra rain can top a levee protecting against flood. Only a degree of warming can be the difference between ice-up and navigable water, between snow pack and bare ground.
Climate change has intensified the California drought by fueling record-breaking temperatures that evaporate critically important snowpack, convert snowfall into rain, and dry out soils. This last winter in California was the warmest in 119 years of record keeping, smashing the prior record by an unprecedented margin. Weather records tend to be broken when a temporary trend driven by natural variability runs in the same direction as the long-term trend driven by climate change, in this case towards warmer temperatures. Drought in California has increased significantly over the past 100 years due to rising temperatures. A recent paleoclimate study found that the current drought stands out as the worst to hit the state in 1,200 years largely due the remarkable, record-high temperatures.
The rest of Cutting's good piece deals with what the coming El Niño will do. Please read if that interests you.
There's an easy way to think about this. Imagine the thermostat in your home freezer is broken and the temperature inside goes from 31 degrees to 33 degrees overnight, just above freezing, with no way to turn it down. Now imagine the Koch Bros (and "friends of carbon" Democrats) have emptied your town of repair people — every last one of them is gone. It's over, right? Everything in the freezer is going to thaw. Then the inside is going to dry out. And everyone in your house who doesn't already know this will figure it out. All because of a two-degree change in temperature that can't be reversed.
When it comes to climate, two non-obvious rules apply:
Change won't be linear; there will be sudden bursts at tipping points.
Pessimistic predictions are more likely to be right than optimistic ones.
Most people get this already, even if they haven't internalized it. Which is why most people already know, or strongly suspect, that California and the American Southwest have already crossed a line from which there will be no return. This revelation, from the state's water agency, just adds numbers. Time to act decisively? Do enough people think so?
Negative and Positive Takeaways
I said that two of the three takeaways about California, from the text I quoted at the beginning, were these: "California and the Southwest have passed 'peak water'" and "most in the region know it." The third is from the same sentence: "though it's not yet reflected in real estate prices" — meaning farm land as well as urban property.
It's just a matter of time, though. Prices will fall as awareness hits, awareness that future prices can only fall. Note that prices in bear markets tend to be decidedly non-linear. And when that awareness does hit, when land is cheap, insurance expensive and the population in decline, nothing coming out of the mouths of the Kochs — or methane-promoting politicians in the Democratic Party — will change a single mind. (In terms of our playful freezer metaphor, you know the thing's going to end up in the yard, right? It just hasn't been carted out yet.)
But that's just the negative takeaway. There's a positive takeaway as well. It's not over everywhere, not yet. From the same piece quoted at the top, referring to the tipping point of extreme weather:
This [incidence of extreme weather] is "a" tipping point, not "the" tipping point. We have slid into a "new normal" for weather, but please note:
We're talking only about the weather, not a host of other effects, like extreme sea level rise. I don't think we've passed that tipping point yet.
We can stop this process whenever we want to — or rather, we can force the "carbon bosses" and their minions in government to stop whenever we want to stop them. They have only the power we collectively allow them to have.
It really is up to us, and it really is not too late in any absolute sense. For my playfully named (but effective) "Easter Island solution," see here. For a look at one sure way out, see here.
Will it take a decidedly non-linear, noticeably dramatic, event to create critical mass for a real solution? If so, we could use it soon, because the clock is ticking. It may be a see-saw course, but it's riding an uphill train. (Again, the real solution, expressed metaphorically, is here. Expressed directly, it's here. Everything less is a delaying tactic.)
Speaking of Idaho, Mother Jones celebrates victory in court in a defamation lawsuit brought against the pulication by ["He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named"], a billionaire Republican political donor from Idaho:
Litigation like this, Bergman said, is "being used to tame the press, to cause publishers and broadcasters to decide whether to stand up or stand down, to self-censor."
You really should read the whole thing. It is a Byzantine tale with a touch of Spanish Inquisition. Like some other billionaires we know, "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" apparently feels entitled to be free from examination by the press and goes to some extreme lengths to punish transgressors. At least those who might be easily subjugated by the prospect of a mountain of legal fees.
This is just so perfect. It's from Graydon Carter editor of Vanity Fair:
Like so many bullies, Trump has skin of gossamer. He thinks nothing of saying the most hurtful thing about someone else, but when he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret. Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.” Which I can only assume gave him fits.
Who would have imagined that Trump is literally overcompensating for a stubby appendage?
The latest anti-Muslim event is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday and promises to feature protesters, many of them reportedly likely to be armed, outside 20-plus mosques in various states across the country. These anti-Muslim rallies are part of what right-wing organizers have dubbed a “Global Rally for Humanity” to encourage “fellow patriots” to unite in protest against the presence of Muslims in America.
Jon Ritzheimer, the guy who led the armed protest outside a Phoenix mosque in May, is apparently one of the leaders of these events. For those who have luckily forgotten about Ritzheimer, he had gone into hiding after the May protest, but not before reportedly creating a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $10 million off his anti-Muslim antics. However, after he failed to raise any money, Ritzheimer channeled his inner Anthony Weiner, claiming that he was victim of hackers, although media reports were very skeptical of this claim.
Anti-Muslim bullshit has truly been off the charts lately. In the last few weeks alone we have seen Ben Carson declare that Islam is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution. Also, we saw Donald Trump refuse to challenge a person at his event who announced, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims.”
A 14-year-old Muslim student, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested a few weeks ago for bringing a homemade clock to school. And we have seen a spike in attacks on mosques, the latest being hateful graffiti sprayed on the walls of a mosque in Louisville, Kentucky.
Despite these incidents, just last Friday Bill Maher declared on his HBO show that the concept of Islamophobia was “silly.”
It may just end up being another fringey failure. They keep trying these things and they don't get a lot of traction. Still, you never know. With the kind of rhetoric coming from Republican presidential candidates and gun nuts hanging on their every word ...
This made me sad:
I must say that you really get a sense of the ignorance of the organizers when you realize that one of the mosques targeted, Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C., is headed by Talib Shareef, a man who is a retired chief master sergeant who served 30 years in the United States Air Force. I wonder if Shareef ever thought he would be called to defend his own freedom of religion on U.S. soil.
A lot of these people would say it isn't his soil.
It was a shocking upset last night in Eric Cantor's home district. And while a lot of people are making this out to be a sort of Tea Party vs establishment and there is an element of that but I look at South Carolina with Lindsay Graham facing a lot of Tea Party challengers and he was able to beat them back, Mitch McConnell was able to do that a few weeks ago and now you see there's a runoff in Mississippi between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran, McDaniel the tea party backed candidate. I think in Cantor's district specifically it's the age-old thing which often happens --- a politician goes to Washington, they become big, they have a national profile, they go around the world, they're always on television. Some people feel that they begin to lose touch with the voters in their district. Eric Cantor is a fascinating example. He's somebody that out-spent his opponent 15 to 1, he spent $168,000 on steak dinners for his campaign. His opponent spent 200,000 for his entire campaign. So when you look at this you see he lose 56-44 there is a lot of folks who were disenchanted with Eric Cantor, the power of incumbency.
In fairness, Russert wasn't alone in this. The aftermath of the Cantor defeat had all the Villagers blandly waving away any suggestion that this was due to right wing craziness instead insisting that Cantor just wasn't filling the proverbial potholes, "all politics is local" blah, blah blah.
Today Russert said this in the wake of McCarthy withdrawing his candidacy for Speaker:
I honestly think this all goes back to when David Brat beat Eric Cantor last year in 2014. Anything is possible now with House Republicans. Anything is possible in the Republican party. There's a fight for the soul of the party. It's happening today on Capitol Hill, it's going to happen next year out there in those primaries and no one knows who's going to emerge from this but I'll tell you one thing, we're seeing right now the chaos that's happening between these two divergent schools of thought, the establishment and the conservatives. It is playing out in full force and it is very ugly for Republicans who like to keep this stuff behind closed doors. They hate this playing out, this is not the way they like to do things, Kate.
I don't know who "they" are --- the wingnuts are having the time of their lives.
What Russert just discovered today has been true for a very long time. And yet the Villagers all seem to discover it every few months after which they rush to discount what they've learned and go back to the assumption that the "grown-ups" are in charge.
They aren't in charge and haven't been for a couple of decades. Look at the record: endless partisan witch hunts, impeachment, stolen election, war with Iraq, defense of torture,more partisan witch hunts, immigration lunacy, Ben Carson and Donald fucking Trump. And that's just for starters.
It's not as if this is any surprise. They just keep doubling down. At some point the political media is going to have to wrap their minds around this.
Unfortunately, it isn't happening today. Just as this chaos was reigning on Capitol Hill this morning, Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell were explaining that Hillary Clinton's opposition to the TPP is a sign that the Democrats are just as in thrall to the "far left" as the Republicans are to the far right and that both parties are equally off the rails with their extreme policies and cutthroat politics. Why, Bernie Sanders is a socialist who refuses to become a Democrat and the liberals are all making Clinton "bow to the extreme."
So, if anyone thinks they are in any way wised up to the reality of American politics, think again. It's the same old, same old.
Why do sane people put up with this bullshit? Even when the press aggressively pursues an important line of logical questioning, it makes no difference. Cameron is clearly full of it, knows he's full of it and yet persists in pretending that he's not full of it.
This folks, is why Donald Trump is popular. He may be a loon but he doesn't do this slick obfuscation and people sense it. True, he'd probably say that we should nuke Riyadh (and Carson would talk about how we shouldn't be "politically correct") but at least it wouldn't be this drivel.
I'm sure this was just an excuse --- the Benghazi comments were the kiss of death. But it may have been the excuse he needed to drop out:
There’s a guy out in America who has emails for a massive number of members of Congress and the email addresses of highly influential conservatives outside Congress.
A few days ago, he emailed out to 91 people, including these members of Congress, an email with a series of links to stories alleging a relationship between Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) of North Carolina. It is worth nothing that the two deny a relationship.
But the email began circulating pretty heavily. Conservatives were buzzing about it. The first line pointed to the current scandal about Denny Hastert and concluded suggesting that if the rumor about McCarthy and his personal life were true, he was a national security risk.
Then, as Matt Lewis noted there was this odd quote from Ellmers the other day.
Even some natural leadership allies such as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) (R-N.C.) expressed doubts about promoting McCarthy to Speaker, a job second in line to the presidency.
“He has not spoken to me personally for my vote, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has, so that’s where I am right now. At this point I will be casting a vote for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) 81%,” said Ellmers, who is facing a GOP primary challenger. “I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t ask for my vote.
“I’m apparently not high on his priority list,” she added.
A lot of people in Washington, including the members of Congress on that email chain, were scratching their head. It appeared there was smoke. Then Congressman Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) 89% demanded candidates with “moral turpitude issues” get out of the race. Add all of this with McCarthy’s statement undermining the Benghazi investigation and . . . well . . . .
It is again worth noting that both parties deny it. But the rumor itself may have led to McCarthy’s collapse. It has become a louder buzz over the past few days with more and more people on and off the hill talking about it. Once Ellmers’ odd quote was out there, the buzzing became chatter.
Personally, I think this is nonsense. McCarthy didn't make it because he's a dolt and he's unacceptable to wingnuts. (They want that Duggar nutball Daniel Webster.) I don't know why anyone would care that he's having an affair, if he's having an affair. But you can see that the Villagers are very stimulated by the story. Of course.
I still think someone should be asking what happened at that Cruz meeting last night. Freedom caucus' Heulscamp says that they had wanted McCarthy to promise to throw his support to wingnuts in primaries and he refused. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds like it's something they would demand.
Trump is running on xenophobia and his own massive ego. Carson is an orthodox social conservative. Both are non-professional politicians who revel in saying what the right wing really thinks without regard to “political correctness” (also known as good manners and basic human decency). Their voters are thrilled to have a couple of candidates who “speak for them.” The problem is that neither of them are likely to be able to win a general election, and at some point enough voters may sober up and realize that. At that point they may very well look around and see that Cruz is a hated political professional, but he’s just as good at channeling their rage and believes just as fervently in in every crackpot idea that they do. And while he may be a senator, it will certainly impress them to know that he’s loathed by everyone in the Senate and all but the most radical right wingers in the House. If that’s not a sign of true conservative principle, they don’t know what is.
The campaign has been getting in position for a long time. Steve Deace, an Iowa-based talk-radio host who has endorsed Cruz, says that as far back as August of 2013, Cruz was asking him to set up meetings with top Iowa activists. Now, Deace says, the Texas senator has “the best [Iowa] organization I’ve ever seen,” composed of the sort of dedicated activists who put Rick Santorum over the finish line four years ago.
Cruz also has a plan beyond Iowa. He has referred to the March 1 “SEC primary,” in which eight Southern states go to the polls, as his “firewall”: that is, a backstop against whatever losses he might sustain beforehand. This year, these Southern states will go to the polls before Florida and before the traditional Super Tuesday, a change in the primary calendar instituted by RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Most of those contests, unlike the ones that precede them, are not winner-take-all, and Cruz’s goal is to win the most delegates rather than to take entire states.
Throughout the primary season, Cruz has crisscrossed the South, sweet-talking voters unaccustomed to playing an outsized role in presidential contests. “He has made the largest investment in those Southern states of any candidate,” [GOP strategist]Mackowiak says. “Most of those political leaders in those states have never been asked to participate in the process.”
Texas is one of the “SEC primary” states, and it alone will award 155 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination. Cruz, of course, holds a natural advantage. His team spent over a year developing detailed knowledge of the state’s political contours just three years ago. Mackowiak says there’s a “very real possibility” that Cruz will be the overall delegate leader on March 2.
And again, Cruz has plenty of money and isn’t hemorrhaging millions as Scott Walker did. He can certainly get more of it if he needs to.
And here’s something to make Democrats wake up in the middle of the night screaming:
“He’s in an incredibly strong position,” says David Bossie, the president of the conservative activist group Citizens United. “If Ted Cruz does not win the nomination, he is gonna come back to the United States Senate as the most powerful senator, even without the title of majority leader.”
Cruz may just be the most powerful leader in the House as well. This piece by Steve Benen at Maddowblog lays out Cruz’s influence with the rump extremists who pushed out John Boehner and show no signs of moderating their destructive tactics. He’s their putative leader, king of the shutdowns, emperor of the obstructionists. Indeed, he was off the campaign trail yesterday huddling with House members about how to handle the Speaker’s contest
The final shoe dropped. The last of the four major candidates (or semi-candidates in one case) — Trump Sanders, Biden and now Clinton — has declared a position on TPP. Biden is apparently in favor (and he almost has to be, given his position). Clinton is now opposed.
Here's the video that all the analysts are interpreting:
Note her problems with TPP. Jobs, currency manipulation, the murderous (my phrase) monopolies given to Big Pharma on cancer-saving biologics. The part at the end, about "making changes here," was also interesting.
Of the four items listed above, jobs and making changes here are fairly unspecific. For example, both sides in the TPP debate cite "jobs" as a point in their favor. But the middle two are both specific and quantifiable. In addition, the moral issues around Big Pharma's monopolies are, if you think about it, monstrous — meaning, you have to be a monster to want to make money this way.
This sets up an interesting debate next week, yes?
By the way, she could also have mentioned this, but perhaps that's a little too "in your face, Obama" at this stage of the game. Still, if "TPP enables slave trafficking in Malaysia" ever becomes a right-wing meme, this treaty could go down fast. Trump-fueled House members would be all over it.
(Anyone know someone who knows someone who knows someone with orange hair? If so, feel free to send the link, stat.)
In some documentary about the band Heart, a band member holds up two shoes in the dressing room before a show. One is the shoe he wore to the theater. The other is a knee-high, leather boot that screams rock and roll. "This is reality," he says, holding up an ordinary desert boot. Holding up the knee-high, leather model, he says, "This is fantasy."
Now, I answer voice mail about once a week at the local Democratic Party headquarters. Our county is one of the handful in the state that actually has one (and a land line). It's amazing the expectations the uninitiated have when they call for the first time, the way independent-leaning noobs did because of Barack Obama in 2008, or Bernie Sanders now. They imagine they are calling the DNC headquarters or the White House, and that a full-time, paid staff is just waiting to pick up the phone 24/7/365. This is fantasy.
No, I don't know when Hillary is coming to town.
No, we don't have any Bernie t-shirts in your size or any size.
No, I cannot give the president a message.
Yes, I know the listing says Democratic Party.
Sometimes they say something snarky or hang up in a huff. Our failure to live up to their fantasy confirms how utterly calcified the Democratic Party is, just as they already suspected. Except they wanted to speak with the base commander and called the political equivalent of the motor pool. It's all volunteers down here just like any grassroots campaign. We just have a permanent office. It's staffed on an irregular schedule and with little budget. There is no direct line to the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. Sorry. Here in the provinces, we haven't heard a peep from the Clinton campaign and don't expect to for months.
Or maybe callers want information on Bernie's local campaign but could find none. That's because there is just an ad hoc team of enthusiastic volunteers operating out of someone's house, with no field office, staff or phone. So they call the local Democratic Party headquarters because we do. Yet because we can't give them any Bernie swag (his campaign hasn't sent any — like either of us have money to burn), we're the ones who are worthless. But not Bernie.
So it goes.
What the public does not see is the thousands of unglamorous, behind the scenes man-hours that go into putting on a general election. Most voters see only the same four or five retirees (essentially volunteers on a stipend) working at their local precinct on Election Day. Every other year here the local parties spend months recruiting them. There are eighty precincts in this county (granted, one of the larger ones). There are 100 counties in this state, and 50 states, plus the territories and the District of Columbia. Do the math. Democracy is a helluva logistical effort. Plus, it takes showing up at monthly Board of Elections meetings to lobby for additional Early Voting locations and to fend off assaults on voting rights. And trying, trying to get out the vote in municipal and off-year elections most first-time callers never bother with, thus allowing the T-party to control Congress and state legislatures.
What first-time callers don't know they don't know is that local political operations in reality are a little different from what they imagine from watching presidential campaigns on TV.
In pretty much any spy movie or TV police drama, characters can sit down at a computer and with a few mouse clicks pull up full-color, detailed dossiers on any suspect and all their known associates going back to grade school. You know that's fantasy too, right?
CARSON: Of course, you know, if everybody attacks that gunman, he’s not going to kill everybody. But if you sit there and let him shoot you one by one, you’re all going to be dead. And you know, maybe these are things that people don’t think about, it’s certainly something that I would be thinking about.
KELLY: But don’t you allow for that notion that in a time of great stress like that, one might not know exactly what to do. And to judge them, to sound like you’re judging them –
B. CARSON: I’m not judging them at all, but, you know, these incidents continue to occur. I doubt that this will be the last one. I want to plant the seed in people’s minds so that if this happens again, you know, they don’t all get killed.
I don't know what to say about this guy anymore. His endorsement of torture was bad enough. This is psychotic. And he doesn't seem to have a clue that it's psychotic.
At its core, this comes down to breathtaking arrogance. Look again at what Carson said on Fox News last night about running at the gunman: “[M]aybe these are things that people don’t think about, it’s certainly something that I would be thinking about.”
Right. Of course. Carson, who’s never confronted with such a terrifying nightmare, feels certain that he knows exactly how he’d respond when staring down the barrel of a gun held by a madman. He knows what he’d be thinking and how he’d respond – and Carson sees this imaginary hero within as a model for everyone.
For those who have the nerve to suggest such shallow bravado is callous, Carson is inclined to “laugh” at “their silliness.”
I wrote about this earlier for Salon and as the day goes on I see that with every mass shooting of innocent people, these gun zealots are getting more and more callous. It's beyond simple ego and macho fantasy. It is now officially a cult which is defined as "a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object."
The object they worship is the gun. And the innocents, even small children, who are being killed are blood sacrifices to their idol.
Carson is literally advising people not to use common sense in a situation like this, not to adhere to a gunman's demands in the hope they will be spared, not to play dead or otherwise try to survive. He's encouraging people to rush into live fire as the best way to save lives. It's as close to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as it gets. They are becoming what they despise.
I'm beginning to think he's more dangerous than Trump. It's certainly scary that nearly 50% of Republican primary voters are supporting one of the two of them.
David Axelrod on Wednesday panned the first television ad from a group urging Vice President Biden to jump into the 2016 presidential race, describing it as "tasteless."
The Draft Biden super-PAC's emotional ad uses audio of Biden talking about his two sons and how they helped him find a purpose in his life after his wife and daughter were killed in a 1972 car crash.
The 90-second spot shows black-and-white photos of Biden with his family, including his elder son Beau, 46, who died in May after battling brain cancer.
“Things can change in a heartbeat — I know,” Joe Biden says in the ad. “My dad’s definition of success is when you look at your son or daughter and realize they turned out better than you — and they did.”
The spot then ends with a plea: “Joe, run.”
"Am I alone in finding this Draft Biden ad tasteless? It's powerful, but exploitative. Can't believe he'd approve," Axelrod tweeted, linking to an article about the ad.
I dunno about tasteless, but I think they've milked this tragedy to a point where it's starting to feel manipulative and -- dare I say it -- inauthentic. I'm guessing that it means he's going to get in, though. I find it hard to believe that this didn't get the thumbs up from Biden. It sure feels like one of those "re-introduction" roll-outs to me.
Whatever. He has a right to run if he wants. The voters will make their decision. But the Hamlet act is getting really old. And I hope he's ready for this.And this.And this.And this. I don't know how many people in the Democratic party are anti-abortion, outsourcing free traders but it looks like that's his constituency.
“So when you have a gun-free zone at a school, it’s like an invitation, if you are crazy and want to shoot people, that’s where you go. I would do the opposite. I would have and encourage every school in American put stickers on every window going into the school saying, ‘We are armed. Come in at your own peril. We have concealed carry for teachers who have it and we also have armed security and you will be shot.’”
This is just nuts. how can we possibly be proud of this sort of "exceptionalism." It's a tragedy.
These gun zealots keep talking about how it's not the guns it's the mental illness. I'm beginning to see things their way. It is mental illness for people to defend this lunacy. If we're going to start involuntarily committing people the best place to start would be with the Republican presidential candidates.
Whether, and to what degree, Cruz intends to intervene in House affairs is not clear, but when the Washington Examiner said the senator has “meddled” in the lower chamber “on several occasions,” that’s no exaggeration.
In September 2013, just eight months into his congressional career, Cruz strategized with House Republicans privately. GOP lawmakers shut down the government a few days later.
In October 2013, Cruz met again with House Republicans about their shutdown gambit.
In April 2014, Cruz hosted a chat with House Republicans about strategy on immigration reform. A bipartisan reform bill died in the chamber soon after.
In June 2014, on the same day as the election of the current House GOP leadership team, Cruz met again with a group of House Republicans.
In July 2014, Cruz huddled with House Republicans, who took his advice, ignored their party’s leadership, and derailed a GOP border bill.
A week later, also in July 2014, they met again, this time as members were getting ready for their August break.
In December 2014, with Congress facing a funding deadline, Cruz huddled again with House Republicans.
In September 2015, Cruz met privately with a group of House Republicans once more as the party weighed another government-shutdown plan.
And today, with House Republicans poised to choose a new Speaker, there’s Ted Cruz hanging out with House Republicans.
Just to be clear, when the junior senator from Texas meets with GOP House members, he’s not huddling with every House Republican. In most of these gatherings, Cruz chatted with groups of a couple dozen lawmakers, not a couple hundred.
Representative Marlin Stutzman, a fourth-generation farmer from northeast Indiana, came to Washington on the Tea Party wave of 2010 intent on tackling his constituents’ many demands: cutting federal spending, repealing the estate tax and, as he said in his campaign announcement, standing up for “We the people.”
But instead, Mr. Stutzman, 39, and many of his conservative colleagues who eventually pressed for the resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner find themselves serving in a House they describe as of the leadership, by the leadership and for the leadership — where power lies not in big ideas or high-minded debate but in the mighty weight of the speaker’s gavel.
In interviews, in public appearances and in private conversations, the conservatives said it was their shared frustration over their powerlessness, and what they viewed as Mr. Boehner’s refusal to open up the legislative process, that forged their strongest bond and ultimately led them to press for his ouster. Still, the group has been ridiculed for an ideology and approach that seems deeply rooted in a single word: no.
They say their policy positions — drastic reductions in the size of government and lower taxes — are repeatedly undercut by the unwillingness of Republican leaders to contemplate using their ultimate weapon, the power of the purse, to force a government shutdown. Rather than trying to get past the paralysis, Mr. Stutzman and his allies want to use it to maximum effect.
“The Shutdown Caucus — we have been called that,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, clearly unbothered by the phrase. He recalled Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, once telling him in the midst of a fight over raising the debt ceiling, “We don’t want to play chicken on this issue.”
Mr. Mulvaney said he had replied: “Put this issue aside, I’ll play chicken with you every time. You think I am crazy, and I know you are not.”
Mr. Stutzman and Mr. Mulvaney, along with other hard-liners, share an anti-establishment zeal, a profound allergy to federal intervention and a ferocious antipathy toward President Obama. But their ranks, about 40 members loosely bound by their affiliation with the shadowy House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers, in some respects defy facile caricature.
“It’s easy to dismiss us as the knuckle-dragging, Cro-Magnon, Tea Party group,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
No they're not Cro-Magnons. They're unhinged reactionaries. I guess that's supposed to be better.
On the stump last week-end, Donald Trump entertained his followers in the wake of the massacre in Oregon with colorful fantasies of him walking down the street, pulling a gun on a would-be assailant and taking him out right there on the sidewalk. He said, “I have a license to carry in New York, can you believe that? Somebody attacks me, they’re gonna be shocked,” at which point he mimes a quick draw:
As the crowd applauds and cheers, he goes on to say “somebody attacks me, oh they’re gonna be shocked. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh there’s Trump, he’s easy pickins…” And then he pantomimes the quick draw again:
Everybody laughs. And then Trump talks about an old Charles Bronson vigilante movie and they all chanted the name “Death Wish” together. Keep in mind that this sophomoric nonsense took place just two days after a disturbed man went into a classroom and shot 17 people.
Now Trump is a clown, we know that — a very wealthy celebrity clown who has captured the imagination of millions of people. And if there’s one thing he’s known for, it’s his macho swagger so this isn’t exactly a shock coming from him. Indeed his entire rap is based on the idea that American leaders are all a bunch of “babies” (although one cannot help but think he has some other words in mind) while he is the manly leader who will take on all the “bad people” including world leaders, ISIS and anyone else who stands in the way of making America great again. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Trump literally packing head at his next rally and shooting into the air like Yosemite Sam.
Ben Carson, the Republican presidential candidate, said on Tuesday that victims of mass shootings should not be timid during attacks, imagining that if he were facing a raging gunman, “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me.”
The remarks on Fox News came a week after a gunman entered a community college classroom in Oregon and opened fire on students after asking them about their religion. Mr. Carson said that he would defend his faith at any cost and that if he had been in that classroom he would not have cooperated.
“I would say: ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,’” Mr. Carson, a conservative who has been rising in recent polls, said.
That’s very impressive. I’m sure Carson had a lot to teach the victims about how they should have behaved more bravely in the face of an armed madman bent on killing them. One of them, a veteran who tried to keep the shooter out of the room, did live, so perhaps Carson can tell him all about what he did wrong when he’s out of the hospital. As for defending his faith at any cost and committing suicide rather than cooperate, well let’s just say that makes him someone who has more in common with Islamic fundamentalists than he might be comfortable with.
One thing is clear. While Trump and Carson may have personalities that are polar opposites in terms of temperament, they do have a couple of important things in common (besides crackpot politics). They are both outrageously arrogant and they both see themselves as Hollywood-style heroes. This notion they are personally so tough that if anyone threatened them with a gun, they’d either out-draw them or inspire everyone to run straight into a hail of bullets, is ludicrous. Neither of these men are trained military veterans or have any professional experience with firearms — except in their own Walter Mitty fantasies. These comments are embarrassing for both of them.
But it does speak to a larger issue about how the right proposes to deal with gun violence, personal danger and the fear that permeates our society due to the flood of deadly weapons landing in the hands of people with an ax to grind who want to go out in a blaze of glory and take a bunch of people with them. Isn’t that the dark side of Trump and Carson’s inane self-serving illusions about their own theoretical heroism? Doesn’t Wayne LaPierre’s formulation that “the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” sound like old fashioned cowboy serial dialog that ignores the indiscriminate carnage that inevitably results when bullets start flying from guns that don’t know what kind of “guys” are firing them?
There's lots more at the link about "stand your ground" and "Castle Doctrine" and how "good guys with guns" are actually raising the body count substantially. This macho fantasy world these people inhabit is very, very dangerous.
Police in Auburn Hills, Michigan are investigating an attempted shooting at a Home Depot, where a 47-year-old woman with a concealed carry permit tried to shoot a fleeing shoplifter, WXYZ reports.
According to authorities, the woman witnessed a man exiting the Home Depot while being followed by loss prevention officers. The man attempted to flee in a small, dark sport utility vehicle, at which point the woman pulled out her concealed 9mm handgun and opened fire in the Home Depot parking lot.
She fired repeatedly, and police believe one of the bullets struck and flattened the SUV’s tire — but the suspects, described as two males in their 40s, one white and one black, still escaped. The woman is said to be cooperating with police, who are still deciding whether to charge her for shooting up a Home Depot parking lot to stop a suspected shoplifter.
According to police, there were many people in the parking lot when the woman shot at the fleeing SUV. A police spokeswoman told a WXYZ reporter that “the best thing that anybody who witnesses or thinks they’re witnessing a crime could do for us is gather information, write down information, provide it to the officers when they arrive.”