Confirming the Obvious
by Deacon Blues
After likely incoming House (mis)Speaker Kevin McCarthy bragged to Sean Hannity's Fox TV audience Tuesday night that the GOP's Benghazi strategy all along was to politicize Trey Gowdy's hearings into a political weapon against Hillary Clinton's candidacy, there are really only two remaining questions:
1. Why shouldn't committee Democrats stop the charade and immediately quit the process and committee?
2. Why in hell should Hillary appear next month?
What's Gowdy going to do if Hillary tells him to stick it - threaten her with a congressional contempt action? Go for it Skippy.
I didn't think it was possible for the GOP to rescue Hillary from her self-inflicted wounds of late, but I was wrong.
Biden Will Run and St. Marco Awaits
by Deacon Blues
Some short items over the last several days:
Look for Joe Biden to get into the race, and look for him down the road to select Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. Biden’s entry won’t automatically knock out Hillary, but it makes her path even more difficult.
As for Jeb Bush, yes, his check writers are getting skittish. No matter how much money Jeb’s 100 millionaires have poured into his campaign, many of them will pivot to the new bright shiny object of Marco Rubio in the next month or so.
As for Donald Trump, is anyone really surprised that he came up with a tax reform plan that drastically cuts his taxes and bankrupts the Treasury?
Lastly, again no one should be surprised that Vladimir Putin stepped into the vacuum that represents the Obama foreign policy and created a way for him and Russia to become major players again. Obama and his administration can complain all they want about Russia’s real motives and (alleged) lack of real world thinking, but it is Obama’s own failed policies on Syria, Iraq, and fighting ISIS that got us to this point. Frankly, if Putin wants to step into this mess and have Russia take a forceful role in the middle of the Islamic world, perhaps the United States should let him until President Marco Rubio arrives in 2017 to get tough with him (stop chuckling).
Boehner Resigning Next Month
by Deacon Blues
If the reports just now about House Speaker John Boehner resigning next month are true, it means:
-He will do a deal with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood;
-He's finally grown tired of herding the cats in his caucus and wants to be free of any more leadership threats;
-Boehner's visible emotion during Pope Francis's address to Congress yesterday had an explanation; and
-His exiting press conference will be a doozy.
Judging by the initial comments from the far right cabal that brought Boehner down with their latest threats over Planned Parenthood, it also means the scramble inside the House GOP caucus to replace Boehner should destabilize them even further. Clearly, the crazies may feel they won, but they are about to lose the war. And the irony is that Nancy Pelosi just gained more power.
As for Boehner himself, I'll resist heaping platitudes upon him, because he was a lousy Speaker who did a disservice to both the institution and the country. Only the most stupid of conservatives would think Boehner is being noble here. Time after time, he made strategic mistakes and caved in to the crazies because he placed his desire to hold onto the Speakership ahead of people and the country. The House, and more importantly the country are now worse off than they were in 2010 because we've gone five more years without an immigration reform, tax reform, jobs bill, infrastructure program, climate change legislation, etc. . . . The list goes on and on.
So please spare me the talk about John Boehner's selflessness. The only good that comes out of this is that a President Biden gets to work with a House in Democratic hands in 2017. After the electorate sees the GOP civil war in the coming months, Republicans from only the most gerrymandered districts will be safe in 2016.
Trump and Cruz: Small, Little Men
by Deacon Blues
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz now want to blame Hillary Clinton for being the first "birther", the first national politician to question Barack Obama's citizenship. You shouldn't be surprised that these two little men run like cockroaches from the light and blame Hillary for their own despicable behavior. But as Dave Weigel of the Washington Post points out, it (once again with Trump and Cruz) is all another lie.
Both Trump and Cruz routinely lie, just as Carly Fiorina does. It's in the Republican DNA to lie about the Clinton, and to lie about everyday facts. None of them care about being revealed as charlatans and frauds, because GOP voters live in an alternate universe where they are all victims and not responsible for their own ignorance. That's why this GOP campaign season will continue for a while longer with laughingstocks like Trump, Carson, Cruz, and Fiorina at the top of the smoldering heap of misfit toys masquerading as Republican candidates for president. The party, and its electorate deserve no better because the GOP machinery, both in the media and inside the Beltway created this Frankenstein.
See Ya, Chump
by Deacon Blues
Scott Walker entered the 2016 GOP presidential race as the fully-bankrolled candidate of the Koch Brothers. He told everyone who’d listen that he was the best candidate because he was tough on the unions and was a successful governor (if you define "successful" as "smoldering pile"). He got off to a good start with decent poll numbers in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then couldn’t give consistent or well thought-out answers on immigration and foreign policy. And with Donald Trump grabbing the oxygen, and now the phony Carly Fiorina, Walker has suddenly fallen off the map.
Now he’s gone, because 1) the Koch’s hate losers, and didn't want to bankroll his burn rate, and 2) something else about Walker may be about to break.
The rise and fall of Scott Walker is a canary in the coal mine for the 2016 GOP presidential field. Walker wasn't the first candidate with a "chief executive" selling card to get out for money reasons, as that honor fell to Rick Perry. It may soon claim Chris Christie as well, with only his ego preventing it from happening sooner rather than later. John Kasich may stick around a little longer, if only because he is the stealth candidate for VP, that is, until the Carly boomlet started.
But the problem for the GOP is that despite the conventional wisdom, this field may now thin out quicker that anticipated, and with the wrong people dropping out. Imagine a scenario where the marginally-qualified candidates, namely their governors and some senators drop out because Trump, Carson, and perhaps Fiorina suck out all the attention and donors at a time of maximum vulnerability for the rest of the field. How many of the remaining candidates can actually get the nomination?
Worse yet, how electable will the remaining field look?
One More Time: Bring Back the Twelfth Fleet
by Deacon Blues
The Obama administration is worried about Russian intentions with their recent moves to send military hardware and advisors to prop up Assad in Syria. According to the NYT, the White House now worries that Vladimir Putin is trying to reestablish a military presence in the Middle East, instead of trying to play a helpful role in combating the Islamic State. Oh please.
We are in this mess because Joe Biden and Barack Obama wanted out of Iraq and the region at all costs. Any direct intervention in the evolving Syrian civil war was warily rejected by the President. His now laughable policy of training and arming a small number of resistance fighters to deal with Assad has yielded only enough fighters to count on one hand, while his CENTCOM command structure lies to him about the effect of our pathetic air and remote ground effort against ISIS. And now the White House (and Turkey and our Arab allies) are worried that Putin may take advantage of the situation? Of course Putin is going to take advantage of the situation. It's in his DNA as a Russian nationalist.
As I have argued before, Obama should re-establish the Twelfth Fleet in Greece, Crete, or hell, even Turkey. Since Putin will not change his spots, and since both countries feel they have national security interests and rights to military expansion in the region, no matter how ill-advised that may be, Obama should send the biggest, loudest message possible and bring back the Twelfth Fleet.
He won't, but he should.
The GOP's Own Lying (W)itch
by Deacon Blues
I'm constantly amazed at how many Republicans I know, including many GOP women who tell me lately:
1) They hate Hillary, and would never vote for her
2) They insist she is a lying bitch (that is the actual quote all too often)
Of course, after telling me those things, they say they like what they see in Carly Fiorina (natch).
To be fair, I've had Democrats express similar thoughts. But at a time when the media and GOP are attacking Hillary Clinton on her trustworthiness and honesty, Republicans and some reporters are actually touting Carly Fiorina as a possible breakthrough candidate to attract female voters for the GOP.
But with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s popularity falling among women as questions about her honesty and integrity continue to shroud her, many Republicans are beginning to see Mrs. Fiorina as someone who, if she is not the presidential nominee, is a much more serious contender for the vice-presidential nomination or a large leadership role of some kind within the party.
I can't tell if Jeremy Peters is a master of irony or simply this cycle's NYT stooge for the GOP (the NYT has several reporters every election who go onto their kneepads for the GOP). But to actually write that paragraph about Fiorina and get it past an editor in the same 24 hour cycle where she was revealed to be lying Wednesday night about both her business record at HP and her melodramatic claims about the alleged Planned Parenthood videos is staggering. Hell, Peters' own newspaper knows she is lying about both of these issues, and PolitiFact.com did a takedown on the Planned Parenthood lies:
Fiorina’s claim makes it sound like there is actual footage of Planned Parenthood examining an aborted fetus whose heart is still beating, while someone says "we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." There isn't.
The video’s creators added footage of an aborted fetus on what appears to be an examination table, and its legs are moving. But Fiorina makes it sound as if the footage shows what Planned Parenthood is alleged to have done. In fact, the stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content. We rate her statement Mostly False.
Fiorina is not the only bald-faced liar amongst the GOP candidates, as FactCheck.org noted. But if the GOP and the media keep banging on Hillary on the issues of honesty and trustworthiness, then I suggest the media be held accountable, and David Brock's Hillary Super-PAC stop attacking Bernie Sanders and instead focus their money and efforts on destroying the GOP field.
Get the Popcorn
by Deacon Blues
There’s been a flurry of polls lately that have gotten a lot of media attention, largely because of what they reveal about how the current GOP electorate has abandoned mainstream GOP candidates to chase the current bright, shiny objects of Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Of course it’s still early, but if Jeb Bush and other Republican politicians are now polling in single digits against Trump and Carson, then those candidates have a lot of ground to make up during the primary/caucus season to push past the outsiders and gain a nomination, which will not happen without an intraparty civil war and possible third-party move that destroys the modern GOP. And it will have to happen at a time when Trump is getting better as a candidate.
I should also point out that both the CBS News/NYT and ABC News/Washington Post polls have large margins of error (MOE) within their party samples and small samples, so there should be some caution in drawing assessments about the electorate from such polls. Anyone making judgments based on a poll with a MOE of 5-6% needs to catch their breath.
The media has of course also been highlighting Hillary’s declining poll numbers and talking up Joe Biden’s chances in this same coverage. Yes, as David Brooks noted yesterday, Hillary suffers from not having a “formation” story or narrative for her candidacy compared to others. And the self-inflicted wounds from the email stupidity and hereditary defects of Clinton Entitlement Syndrome contribute to her slippage as well. I think Biden will make a final decision about getting in after Hillary’s congressional appearance next month. I also think Hillary has decided to play for the long haul; she accepts the certainty of month-to-month bed media. She’s doing this on the premise that despite her warts she’ll look acceptable to a large part of the electorate at the back end of the GOP Armageddon.
And if the GOP shuts down the government in the meantime over defunding Planned Parenthood, Hillary and the rest of the Democrats will look like adults compared to the GOP Romper Room.
Is CENTCOM Whitewashing Intelligence on ISIS?
by Deacon Blues
The New York Times reports late today that CENTCOM is being investigated over allegations that their senior intelligence staff manipulated intelligence reports by Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts on the Islamic State, and the effect of Pentagon efforts against ISIS. The impression one gets from reading this story is that CENTCOM commanders were whitewashing analyst reports to paint a rosier picture to the White House and Congress of the effects of America's military response to ISIS than the facts on the ground warranted.
The Bush Administration twisted intelligence or ignored it outright to justify the Iraq invasion of 2003. Despite recent claims by Jeb Bush and former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell that all intelligence agencies got it wrong about Saddam's WMD capabilities and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, such claims are bald faced lies. The CIA's Tyler Drumheller, foreign intelligence agencies, the IAEA, the DIA, and our own outgoing CENTCOM commander before Tommy Franks (Anthony Zinni) knew the Neocon narrative from Dick Cheney and his fellow war criminals were utter BS well before 2003.
Now here we are more than a decade later, and CENTCOM commanders are accused of politicizing intelligence themselves. The big questions are for whom, and why?