This year has been a very odd one in politics and we’re not even close to the first vote being cast in a primary. Rumors about Jeb Bush ending his campaign abound and two absolute nitwits lead the Republican field. It looks like Louisiana–deep red since Dubya purged the Katrina flooded parts of New Orleans–might have a Democratic Governor. Gallup Polls finds that U.S. support for the Tea Party is at an all time low. Things get curiouser and curiouser as the year winds down. I’m trying not to be hopeful because politics and the American electorate almost always disappoint.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of conservative Republicans were supporters in the earliest polls. About four in 10 (42%) still support the Tea Party, but the 21-percentage-point drop since the 2010 polls is second only to the plunge in support from Republican leaners (independents who lean toward the GOP). A majority (52%) of GOP leaners, a key source for Republican votes, were supporters in the 2010 polls, but a 29-point drop has left only 23% still supporting the movement.
On the other side, liberal Democrats were the strongest opponents (61%) in the two 2010 polls, and their opposition was almost as high (59%) in the two most recent polls.
A few groups that were more likely to be supporters than opponents in 2010 have since switched sides, including those 65 and older, and those who are married.
While support for the Tea Party has not increased among any major subgroup since 2010, opposition to it has gone up among one — those with postgraduate education. In the earlier polls, 36% of this group opposed the Tea Party, and that number has grown to 53%. Meanwhile, opposition has dropped in a few groups — 18- to 29-year-olds, those with low incomes and unmarried females — because more in these groups no longer have an opinion about the Tea Party.
A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.
To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.
But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.
To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.
Author Mark Halperin lists her advantages following the above brief analysis. Folks are still talking about the “likability and relatablity” factor which drives me nuts. BB found an article on Salon about the BernieBot Dude Bros and their furious fist waving about the girl power displayed on the weekend with the ultimate Girl Power symbol at Hillary’s Rally, Katy Perry.
Fighting against sexism and breaking the glass ceiling of the White House was a major theme of the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Bill Clinton gave a wonky, rambling speech at the Clinton rally before the dinner, but when he joked that he’s “tired of the stranglehold that women have had on the job of presidential spouse,” the audience cheered.
During her speech at dinner, Clinton largely ignored Bernie Sanders, but she did make room for one dig insinuating he is sexist. “Sometimes when a woman speaks out,” she said, “some people think it’s shouting.”
She didn’t call Sanders by name, but it was a clear reference to Sanders suggesting that Clinton was shouting too much on the issue of gun control. It struck many people as an ugly double standard, since Sanders’s standard speaking voice is shouting. The moment even worked its way into the “Saturday Night Live” skit about the debate when Kate McKinnon, playing Hillary Clinton, says, “God, it must be fun to scream and cuss in public,” to Larry David’s Bernie Sanders. “I have to do mine in tiny, little jars.”
The dig clearly stung, as Bernie Sanders immediately went out on Sunday talk showsto deny Clinton’s insinuation that gender played a role in his remarks about “shouting” during the debate.
From the female-heavy crowds that turned out to support Clinton in Iowa, it seems the strategy is working. And not just on older women, either. Girls, from little kids to college aged women, were out in force for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines over the weekend. Moms with daughters, both little girls and teens, were a dominant force in the crowd. Glitter, unicorns, and Disney princess memorabilia was on full display at the Clinton rally.
Girl Power is playing a totally different role in the Louisiana Governor’s race All of David Vitter’s hooker activities are burbling to the surface. It appears the campaign hired Private detectives to chase down the
rumor that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office might have the birth certificate of the alleged Vitter/Cortez Child. Additionally, Vitter was in a car accident the day of the election and the head of his Super Pac as driving the Vehicle. That ought to be a good indication of the sham that is Citizen’s United.
We thought we wouldn’t have Sen. David Vitter to kick around anymore? Good lord, this is quite a story. If you know politics, you know you can’t put anything past the novelesque and often delicious nonsense that goes on in Louisiana. But this is good stuff even for the Big Easy and it brings in the mix of malevolence and desperate incompetence of Fargo. Anyway, let’s go to the tape – literally.
Vitter is running for Governor down in Louisiana, the open primary is actually today. But Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand (because of course that would be his name) is a GOP powerbroker in the Greater New Orleans metro region. And he’s not supporting Vitter. And of course Vitter doesn’t like that.
Apparently Normand holds a weekly get together with other political players at a Cafe in Old Metairie once a week to talk political business and gossip – because of course he does. On Friday morning Normand was meeting with his buds when he noticed a kid at the adjoining table – later identified as 30 year old Robert J. Frenzel of Dallas – apparently recording their conversation. Normand asks whether Frenzel was recording their conversation; Frenzel denies it. But of course, Frenzel, rattled, fumbles his iPhone or some similar recording device long enough for Normand to see the recording app open on the screen. A short while later Normand comes back to snap a picture of Frenzel at which point Frenzel bolts out of the Cafe at high speed and makes a run for it – with the Normand political crew in hot pursuit (one imagines, all a generation older than the presumably still spry Frenzel).
Please stop for a moment and try to work up a good visual image of all this in your head.
So, that’s the drama, but here’s the kicker. Will Vitter be investigated for being too cozy with his Super Pac?
The same day that the coffee shop incident happened, David Vitter was in the area and was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz which was involved in a minor car accident. According to local sources, David Vitter was quickly whisked away in another vehicle by a staffer and the driver of the Mercedes was cited for improper lane usage. The driver was 36-year-old Courtney Gaustella Callihan, the wife of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank. Their home address is also listed as the address for Fund for Louisiana, the Super PAC backing Vitter, according to documents filed with the FEC.
Louisiana Voice and other sources noted a potential legal issue last year when Fund for Louisiana held a campaign event for David Vitter, called Bayou Weekend.
Courtney Guastella Callihan — Callihan’s wife — is listed on invitations as the contact person for the Bayou Weekend. She also served as Vitter’s campaign financial director, a dual role that blurs the distinction between her function with the Super PAC and Vitter’s Senate campaign. Citizens United legalized independent groups raising unlimited funds but it did not legalize politicians establishing dummy organizations to evade campaign finance laws. (Source)
So it would make sense that David Vitter would want to leave the scene, due to the fact that Courtney Guastella Callihan is possibly connected to a Super PAC that is supporting his gubernatorial campaign. News reports list her name as Courtney Guastella, but fail to mention her married name which ties her to her husband – or the fact that her home address is the same as Fund for Louisiana. If these connections are true, along with a possible investigation into his spying on private individuals, it’s likely that David Vitter could find himself in serious legal trouble. Granted, the rules governing the actions of Super PACs are so loose that Vitter could have found a way to do this without breaking the law. The problem for Vitter is that it is especially hypocritical considering the fact he went after Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s campaign for allegedly coordinating with his own Super PAC in photos apparently taken by a private investigator.
Meanwhile, the new Republican establishment candidate, Marc Rubio, is said to have the worst voting record in the Senate. It seems he doesn’t do his job because he hates it and it’s the Presidency or nothing now. Gee, don’t you wish you could just not do your job, get paid, and be up for a big promotion?
Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.
“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”
This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust.
“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.
Just 24 hours after Jeb Bush downsized his campaign to fit his struggle in the polls, Bush tells America if they want to elect Trump, go right ahead. Jeb Bush has better things to do than sit around and be demonized.
Speaking in South Carolina today, Jeb Bush said (via CNN’s Jake Tapper), “If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done, then I don’t want anything, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation. I’ve got a lot of really cool things I cold do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.”
There’s an unappealing Romneyesque entitlement overtaking Jeb Bush’s message (whatever that message is supposed to be— and that is really his problem, he has no message other than a drab calling card for tax cuts for his friends and family because it worked so well under his brother). Jeb Bush sounds petulant that Republican voters are rejecting his pedigree and place. If a Bush wants the White House, they get it.
If this sounds clueless and out of touch, Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer wrote an insightful piece for the New York Times on the Bush family grappling to understand Jeb’s failure to dominate the GOP primary. Ultimately, however, they still believe they will be attending Jeb’s inauguration in January of 2017
I’m not sure if this is the old fox and grapes fable, but given his lackluster and dull performance to date, I’d say Jeb should probably hang it up and get on with those better things. The problem is that Ben Carson appears to have mental health issues and Trump is a bloviating pretensious gasbag that shouldn’t be in charge of anything important.
I guess I am hoping all this adds up to the inevitable President Hillary Clinton but I’ve experienced way too much in my life to expect things to go smoothly and without the eternal cold blast of misogyny fucking things up.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Today has been one problem after another. My loptop (browsers) are being difficult and not saving my links. So here are a shitload of links I had planned on using for my post. As you can see, I had the links organized. But I think I am losing it. I can’t type words properly. It is coming out as gibberish. There is a reason for my open thread choice of music. These meds, the switch to Prosac, and the other scripts for anxiety, agitation and sleep. It seemed like it was working but then nope. All this crap about stop doing shit for people, it doesn’t fucking work because they just don’t get it. You know what they do, they do more outrageous things to hurt you. And you can’t stop doing shit because when you do, something happens like…. you ask him…did you turn the heater off in the bathroom, you get an answer “yes” but then a couple hours later you discover it wasn’t turned off. He knocked the damn thing over and it shut itself off temporarily. I am done.
The links are just copied and pasted. Fuck everything.
First a few on the recent loss of one of Golden Hollywood’s greatest stars:
A technicolor goddess, what a perfect description:
Next, various headlines of the day:
Stories from the uterus:
And more takes from the fuckers on the right side:
The right wing side that is….
Science-y news and shit like that:
The last link:
Have a good night or good day depending on when you get a chance to read this post.
So unhappy….Play acting
I have such a link filled, long ass post in the making, that I regret it is going to be late. Until then, enjoy the music and pass some time with an open thread.
Hillary Clinton has had a great run since her terrific performance in the first Democratic debate and ending with her 11 hours of testimony before the House Benghazi Committee and her interview with Rachel Maddow last night. Hillary’s poll numbers are going up, and yesterday she was endorsed by a major union, AFCME.
Since Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her bid for the White House, she has steadily slipped from inevitable nominee to flawed and vulnerable front-runner amid campaign mishaps and Clinton fatigue – and her rivals anticipated that it all would accelerate in recent days.
But in yet another reflection that little in the presidential election is going the way of the prognosticators, Clinton is bolting out of October with the wind at her back.
The House Benghazi committee that threatened to menace her campaign turned into a bust. The presidential debate that promised to give her rivals a boost instead gave her an opportunity to outshine them. And most important, the headache for her campaign that was Joe Biden disappeared altogether with his surprise Rose Garden announcement that he won’t pursue the Democratic nomination.
Biden’s exit Wednesday followed that of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a declared candidate. And by Friday morning, Lincoln Chafee, the former senator from and governor of Rhode Island, was pulling out of the race, nodding to Clinton’s “good week” as a reason.
“It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it?” Clinton asked the crowd after taking the stage Friday morning at a Democratic National Committee women’s leadership event in Washington.
Yes, it certainly has. Here’s Steve Benen at MSNBC: ‘The best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for.’
About a month ago…Hillary Clinton’s fortunes appeared to be taking a turn for the worse. Her poll support was dwindling; there was increased chatter surrounding Vice President Biden; Bernie Sanders was being cheered by massive crowds; and the political world, for reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, was fascinated with Clinton’s email server management.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver explained that Clinton was “stuck in a poll-deflating feedback loop,” in which the national press hammered her for some perceived weakness, which caused her to lose public support, which produced weaker poll numbers, which caused the national press to hammer her again, starting the cycle anew.
But that was last month. This month, offers a very different take on Clinton’s candidacy. NBC News’ First Read had a good piece this morning:
She came. She saw. She – take your pick – conquered/thrived/survived. As a matter of pure political theater, yesterday’s Benghazi committee hearing was a victory for Hillary Clinton and an overwhelming defeat for House Republicans. And perhaps more importantly, it caps off the best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for. […]
At the beginning of this month, we told you how important October was going to be for Clinton’s presidential bid after her summer struggles: If she doesn’t end up as the nominee, we’ll be able to trace it back to the events in October. Conversely, if she DOES end up the nominee, it will be because of what happened in October. And so – with the reminder that anything can happen in politics – we think we have our answer to our October question.
If you didn’t see the interview with Rachel Maddow last night, please be sure to watch it. You can also read the transcript here. Hillary was very relaxed and sincere during Maddow’s questioning, and she never became the slightest bit defensive when asked about Bill Clinton’s policies on LGBT rights and about her long-time friends who supposedly might cause problems if she becomes President. I was so impressed! It was wonderful to hear her talk about reproductive rights and voting rights. Listening to her makes me realize again and again why we need a woman in the White House.
Rachel even asked Hillary about Alabama Republican Mo Brooks, who said he would start trying to impeach her on day one of her presidency.
Clinton laughed heartily when Maddow confronted her with the threat from Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks to try to depose Clinton on “day one” of her hypothetical presidency.
“Isn’t that pathetic?” the former secretary of state said with a smile. “It’s just laughable, it’s so totally ridiculous.” She characterized it as one of many GOP efforts to win over “the most intense, extreme part of their base.”
Chris Hayes seemed especially amazed by Clinton’s response to this question. I got the impression that he had bought into the Villagers’ narrative about Hillary and was suddenly discovering that she is a real person who is intelligent, competent, and comfortable in her own skin. Until now he has touted Bernie Sanders and Lawrence Lessig. Perhaps he’ll try to get Hillary as a guest now.
More about the interview:
Maddow questioned Clinton on several fronts, including Syria policy, the future of the Veterans Administration, and what Maddow described as a personal concern that the Clintons have surrounded themselves with too many old friends who would want to “fight your wars again.”
Maddow’s toughest questions addressed Bill Clinton’s legacy on civil rights and civil liberties. Many of President Obama’s accomplishments on those issues, Maddow argued, involved “undoing things from the Clinton administration.” In particular, Maddow cited Clinton’s embrace of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy blocking gays from serving openly in the military….
The Defense of Marriage Act, legislation Bill Clinton signed that defined marriage legally as between one man and one woman, was “a defensive action” to stymie what the Clintons believed was enough political momentum to amend the constitution to effectively bar gay marriage, Hillary Clinton said.
The tough-on-crime bill that her husband signed into law was a reaction to the “horrific crime rates of the 1980s,” the former first lady added.
“There was just a consensus across every community that something had to be done,” she said.
Clinton noted that she has since disavowed the law and was committed to reforming criminal justice policies. But Clinton framed her overall governing philosophy as one based on pragmatism, a realization that sometimes it’s necessary to choose the lesser evil.
“I think that sometimes as a leader in Democracy you are confronted with two bad choices. It is not an easy position to be in, and you have to try to think what is the least bad choice, and how do I try to cabin this off from having worse consequences?” she said.
More highlights at the link.
The consensus on both left and right about Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi committee is that her GOP torturers did her a big favor.
Jeb Lund at Rolling Stone: Republicans’ 11-Hour Gift to Hillary Clinton.
Eleven hours is a long damn time. Eleven hours is long enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco with two stops along the way to watch a movie and a football game in their entirety. And over the course of 11 hours of hectoring, insinuation and questions that started out redundant and turned into echolalia, Hillary Clinton never lost her cool. If she’s elected president, she should send every Republican member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi a needlingly effusive thank you card. They practically picked her up and carried her toward the White House….
Despite being billed as a hard-nosed prosecutor, [Trey] Gowdy let the proceedings wander all over the place, to the point where it’s impossible to tell what the Republicans even wanted to know, let alone what they thought they could charge Hillary with. Maybe it was her Libya intervention policy itself that failed, inevitably leading to the four deaths in the Benghazi compound. Maybe it was her email. Maybe she emailed with her buddy Sidney Blumenthal too much and Ambassador Chris Stevens too little. Maybe she didn’t care about the security staff. Maybe she tried to spin the attack afterward. Maybe she goes on political talk shows.
The Republican members of the committee demonstrated their ignorance on two issues repeatedly over the day’s duration. Many seemed totally unaware of the contents of previous Benghazi reports and testimony. If this had been a conventional courtroom, Clinton’s attorneys could have objected with “asked and answered” and turned the proceedings into 11 hours of tape hiss.
Many of the Republicans also seemed ignorant of how the State Department even functions. Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana showed off a pile of Hillary’s emails pertaining to Libya from 2011 and another from 2012, then insinuated that the much smaller 2012 pile indicated her administrative indifference to the issue. Her case of the piles signaled an unawareness of the face that the State Department conducts the majority of its communications through cables, and that things like telephones exist, and that one of the unfortunate byproducts of conducting business on the telephone is that it doesn’t generate an email afterward. Even the most generous interpretation of her questions can’t elide the fact that the disparity in emails could easily have indicated general conversational traffic about Libya that eventually shifted to the official cable system as the maintenance of the Benghazi compound became more urgent.
Read the rest at Rolling Stone.
From The Washington Post: Clinton’s curse and her salvation: Her enemies, by Karen Tumulty.
Throughout her political career, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greatest curse — the reaction she provokes in her adversaries — has also been her salvation.
That was proved once again during her 11-hour inquisition by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, a Republican-engineered train wreck from which she emerged without a scratch.
Pale, hoarse and weary as she was, the former secretary of state left the hearing room looking stronger than she has at any point since she announced her second campaign for president.
Naturally, the rest of Villager Tumulty’s piece is a serious of digs, criticisms, and warnings of future stumbles, but she did have to admit that Hillary is doing great at for now.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!
This is a hell of a storm….
Technology does have its place, yes?
So you can imagine my reaction to seeing a chalkboard on the Weather Channel…yeah no shit!
And this is a bad photo but you will get the idea of the ridiculousness…the “Optics” this visual presents.
And what is with that “fashionable” sweater vest? Ooof.
I know this storm is disastrous, and we are going to know the full scope of the damage and chaos during the next few days. But that chalkboard is too much…
Now the cartoons.
This is an open thread.
I truly believe that many parts of our country–mainly the deep south and the hinterlands–have simply elected Professional Trolls to Congress. No where was this more evident than the 11 hour marathon witchhunt known as Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi. It is simply surreal that these Trolls actually spend our precious tax dollars chasing down right wing conspiracy theories found on the most obnoxious and untruthful websites on the internet . Once again, Hillary Clinton has shown herself more than able to deal with the worst humanity has to offer as well as the best.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is one of our best.
Yesterday’s ordeal should send serious messages to any one voting Republican. Is this really what you want from our country? Actually, Represenative Elijah Cummings said it best yesterday in his closing. You can read his opening statement here at Tiger Beat on the Ptomac.
Here is the bottom-line. The Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million in taxpayer funds. We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. Yes, we have received some new emails—from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens, and others. And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.
But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from the eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions.
It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. Tax money is not to be spent on baitcasting reels and cigars. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. We need to finally make good on our promises to the families, and we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.
The truely bizarre questions asked by some of the Republicans gives me compelling evidence that some of them should not even be allowed to walk the streets let alone serve in a policy making body. We have imaginary “Clinton Doctrines” and weird interest in her sleeping arrangments.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) diverted from the Benghazi attacks on Thursday and accused Hillary Clinton of a broader pattern of trying to take personal political advantage of foreign policy successes while she was secretary of state.
Roskam went so far as to mockingly call it the “Clinton doctrine” in a biting exchange during Clinton’s high-profile testimony before a select committee on the attacks.
Roskam accused Clinton of hogging the limelight when Muammar Gaddafi’s regime fell and even planning her PR push months ahead of that event. The Illinois Republican also claimed that White House staff told Clinton’s State Department staff they were concerned she took too much credit on Libya.
“Let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is,” Roskam said. “I think it’s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton. And at the precise moment when things look good take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gaddafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things.”
Much of Roskam’s questioning Thursday seemed to be trying to establish that Clinton was deeply invested in a narrative of Libya being a successful U.S. intervention—a narrative the Benghazi attacks threatened to undo.
The Republican women and their line of questioning were beyond the pale. I kept wondering if any one would ask a man some of the same questions along the line of do you really care about your employees and do you let them call you and email you with every little issue they have?
Then, there was the were you sleeping alone that night question. Clinton and most of the room erupted in laughter on that question and it seemed to actually confuse Rep. (Bless her lil heart) Roby as to why that line of questioning was a strange.
As Thursday’s Benghazi hearing entered the ninth of its 11 hours, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, asked Hillary Clinton about leaving her office to go home after the attacks.
“Were you alone (at home)?” Roby asked.
“I was alone,” Clinton said.
“The whole night?” Roby asked.
“Well, yes, the whole night,” Clinton said with a laugh.
It was, The New York Times noted, “the first laugh in an otherwise heavy session.”
Roby was not amused, The Hill reported:
“I don’t know why that’s funny,” the Republican chided. “Did you have any in-person briefings? I don’t find it funny at all.”
Still chuckling, Clinton responded, “I’m sorry, a little note of levity at 7:15. Note it for the record.”
“The reason I say it’s not funny is because it went well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger, so I don’t think it’s funny to ask if you’re alone the whole night,” Roby replied.
“Clinton insisted that she had the needed equipment at home to stay in close contact with State Department officials,” The Hill report continues.
“I did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing,” she said.
Roby may well be the new Sarah Palin. The SNL skit simply wrote itself.
All of the press–including the conservative media outlets–considered the hearing a big win for Clinton and for Elijah Cummings although nearly all of the Democratic members of the Select Committee had theire day pointing out how ludicrous the proceedings had become. WAPO’s Editorial
THE HOUSE Select Committee on Benghazi further discredited itself on Thursday as its Republican members attempted to fuel largely insubstantial suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Grilling Ms. Clinton all day, they elicited little new information and offered little hope that their inquiry would find anything significant that seven previous investigations didn’t.
In fact, the highlight of the hearing came before lawmakers asked any question at all, in Ms. Clinton’s opening statement, as she offered a stout defense of the need for assertive U.S. diplomacy and engagement — even, or especially, when the circumstances are not ideal.
“America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places,” Ms. Clinton said. “We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum, and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home.” It would be disastrous if future administrations held back in fear of politicized backlash if and when tragedies occurred.
When questioning began, Ms. Clinton repeatedly pointed out that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, one of four Americans who died in the attacks, did not ask to pull out of Benghazi; in fact, he chose to travel there with knowledge that doing so carried significant risk. Republicans argued that those facts did not excuse the lack of significant diplomatic security in Libya, grilling Ms. Clinton on why more of Mr. Stevens’s requests for additional security were not honored.
On that, Ms. Clinton argued that she was not personally responsible for diplomatic security — the State Department’s security experts were — and she insisted that budget constraints limited how much security they could deploy around the world. She also pointed out that intelligence experts lacked knowledge about the dangers in eastern Libya around Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, and they knew of no credible threat to U.S. diplomats on those days in particular. An astoundingly large portion of the rest of the hearing focused on petty questioning related to Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal and other wastes of time.
“A hearing that was once a threat has really become an opportunity for her,” John Dean, a former White House counsel for Richard Nixon who is now a political independent, said on MSNBC hours into the hearing. “I think this is really Hillary’s day. It’s going to help her presidential campaign. As somebody who’s been both a witness and a counsel, this is a textbook example of how to be a good witness.”
Among House Republicans, there were no high-fives: A half-dozen lawmakers surveyed offered a muted response when asked about the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Many conservative commentators were unimpressed, if not angry with the proceedings.
“So a hearing billed as an epic, High Noon-style confrontation—granted, the hype came from the media, not Republican committee members themselves—instead turned out to be a somewhat interesting look at a few limited aspects of the Benghazi affair,” wroteByron York at the Washington Examiner. “In other words, no big deal. And that is very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.”
Conservative radio host Erick Erickson described the hearings as “a waste of time because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen.”
“There will be no scalp collection,” he wrote in a blog post, adding: “It was all a political spectacle. God bless Trey Gowdy for trying to learn the facts and understand what happened. But the rest of it was just a carnival road show of back bench congresscritters playing to the cameras and Hillary Clinton working hard to play persecuted victim.”
Erickson lamented that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent comments on Fox News bragging about the Benghazi committee’s deleterious effect on Clinton’s poll numbers “discredited this episode before it began in the minds of the press.” McCarthy’s remarks were followed by a second Republican congressman, New York’s Richard Hanna, saying the panel was created “to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.” Meanwhile, a former Benghazi committee staffer says he’s preparing to sue the panel for allegedly being fired because he didn’t want to target Clinton.
Days before the hearing, Gowdy told Politico that “these have been among the worst weeks of my life” and went on CBS to instruct his colleagues to “shut up” about the work of the committee, insisting it was about fact-finding and not politics. The hearing didn’t provide much to boost his outlook.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s dominance in the polls continues. Lincoln Chaffee has folded tent. Jeb Bush continues to downsize. The last debate as well as this grueling committee hearing has made Clinton look downright presidential. The Republicans Congress Critters, however, appeared to be posturing for political ads made for Tea Party Conspiracy theories.
None of the GOP committee members are personally opposing Clinton for the presidency next year, but picking a fight with the Democratic front-runner was an electoral no-brainer.
Every single one of them will be running for reelection in 2016 — mostly in gerrymandered districts where the biggest threat posed to their political survival comes from the right (Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, especially). So battering the party’s prime target on video — in the loudest, most confrontational way possible — makes perfect political sense. Sure it was grating, annoying and confusing to almost everyone else, but a 45-second YouTube clip of your candidate bellowing in the face of the most hated figure in the Democratic Party is pure partisan gold, perfect for TV ads or campaign websites.
Take Pompeo, who peppered Clinton repeatedly — but almost always with a reference to the folks back in his Kansas district, where he’s famously friendly with a few high-profile locals — like the anti-Clinton Koch brothers.
“Why didn’t you fire someone?” he asked Clinton. “In Kansas, I get asked constantly why has no one been held accountable.”
The hearing provided an extraordinary spectacle, starting in the morning and stretching well into the night, far longer than such sessions typically last even with multiple witnesses.
Through the lengthy session, Clinton maintained a relentlessly calm and smiling demeanor, showing few visible signs of fatigue other than a hoarse throat that began to develop in the 10th hour.
From her opening statement on, she sought to seize a rhetorical high ground above the partisan fray, reminding members of the panel that after attacks on diplomatic facilities during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in which hundreds of Americans were killed, members of both parties “rose above politics” to examine what had gone wrong.
It would be easy to write this off as the latest adventure in CDS. Afterall, the entire impeachment of Bill Clinton was a total charade that looks even more silly now that we know exactly how many of his worst critics had more skeletons in the closet than a Hallowen Haunted House attraction. But, this is symbolic of what goes on in Congress now that the Republicans have taken over each of the Houses and are being torn three different ways and none of them are good for the country. Every one in the media–even enablers like George Will and David Brooks– now sees that the party is s0 completely dysfunctional it won’t govern and can’t be trusted with anything else.
The problem is that some of these Representatives come from such incredibly gerrymandered districts that there are worse people waiting in the wings that will likely replace them as the entire mentality right now is thrown every one out continually. Can our country continue to do anything but decline given that we can’t even fund things like our highways without a major ideological showdown.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have to rely on the few heroes and sheroes that are still fighting the good fight.
Don’t forget that Rachel Maddow will be interviewing Clinton on her show tonight at 9 pm edt. Maddow has indicated they will talk about her experience yesterday and her thoughts on the Biden decision.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
Hillary Clinton will testify before Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi “special committee” today, beginning at 10AM. I’m going to watch as much of the testimony as I can. If you’re watching too, please post your reactions in the comment thread. Unfortunately for Gowdy and the other GOP mutants on the joke of a committee, even the corporate media isn’t taking them seriously anymore.
From US News and World Report: The Gowdy Doody Show. Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Benghazi Committee recalls less Watergate than Whitewater, by James Warren.
Yes, boy[s] and girls, it’s Gowdy Doody Time.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, on Thursday gavels to likely disorder the long awaited House select committee hearing on Benghazi, the latest in the rich tradition of congressional spectacles that often go nowhere.
Indeed, America had far more positive anticipation when “Buffalo Bob” Smith led a cheering throng of kids in the theme song of “Howdy Doody,” a 1950s mega-TV hit named after a puppet with 48 freckles (yes, civics mavens, this was before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union)….
The investigation started as a dissection of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.
We’ve paid for nine different congressional and internal probes and Gowdy’s has morphed into a look at Clinton’s emails and her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Its work alone has cost about $4.6 million – if only such GOP ardor was exhibited in pursuing President George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction claims against Saddam Hussein – even though it hasn’t even interviewed most of the defense, intelligence and White House officials it promised.
Instead, it is primed to take testimony from a small army that includes Clinton, speechwriters and the guy who oversaw the server.
Gowdy and his Hillary-suspicious Republicans are so sensitive to the claim of political pandering that they have strategized privately about their own decorum and presenting themselves as sober legislators. It’s like my 6-year-old prior to his first-grade class going to a suburban Chicago pumpkin patch Monday: Everybody promised to be on their best behavior on the bus.
More at US News.
Yesterday commenter Sara posted a link to an excellent Newsweek opinion piece by Kurt Eichenwald: Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.
That is the name of the “classified source” in an old email from Hillary Clinton released last week by Republicans purportedly investigating the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Under the instructions of the Benghazi committee’s chairman, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Koussa’s name was blacked-out on the publicly issued email, as Republicans proclaimed revealing his identity would compromise national security. The media ran with it, saying Clinton had sent classified information through her personal email account.
But the CIA never said the name was secret. Nor did the Defense Intelligence Agency or the FBI. No, Koussa’s role as an intelligence source is about as classified as this column. He is the former intelligence chief and foreign minister of Libya. In 2011, he fled that country for Great Britain, where he provided boodles of information to MI6 and the CIA. Documents released long ago show Koussa’s cooperation. Government officials have openly discussed it. His name appears in newspapers with casual discussions about his assistance. Sanctions by the British and the Americans against Koussa were lifted because of his help, and he moved to Qatar. All of that is publicly known.
But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign—as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted—to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Republicans have implied—and some journalists have flatly stated—that Clinton was reckless and may have broken the law by sending an email that included thirdhand hearsay mentioning Koussa’s name. The reality is that the Republicans continue to be reckless with the truth.
And why is this such an outrage?
The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.
The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. The Republicans sent that same message after the Boston Marathon bombing, where they condemned Obama for failing to—illegally—send the American perpetrators to Guantánamo, among other things. They slammed the president because federal law enforcement agents read the failed underwear bomber his rights after they arrested him in 2009. Never mind that federal agents did the exact same thing under President George W. Bush when they arrested the failed shoe bomber years earlier. Republicans even lambasted Obama when he spoke about ISIS decapitating journalists, saying the president did not sound angry enough.
Please read the rest at Newsweek.
J.J. wanted me to call attention to another outrageous story that has been somewhat overshadowed by the political goings on in the U.S. this week.
Washington Post: Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust.
Jerusalem – In a speech here Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said that Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II.
Then Netanyahu dropped his bombshell. He said: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played “a central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.
The remarks were made in a speech to the World Zionist Congress about “the 10 big lies” told by Palestinians and their backers.
As supporters of the Israeli leader wondered what he was doing, his critics said that his claims were outrageous enough to give cover to Holocaust deniers.
The speech came on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Germany. After Netanyahu’s outrageous claim, Angela Merkel chided him, saying that Germans know that the “final solution” was a German plan. Time Magazine reports:
“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor, according to the Independent. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.”
From The Daily Beast: What Benjamin Netanyahu’s Insane Holocaust Claim Really Means.
It was factually wrong and morally outrageous for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that a Palestinian mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. Almost the entire mainstream of historians, scholars, and politicians has now said so.
The question, though, is why he did it—and the answer is that it was an unintentional, Romney-47%-moment at which a commonplace partisan lie is suddenly revealed to the world. In Romney’s case, it was the Republican talking point that half of America depends on government welfare. In Netanyahu’s, it’s that the Israel/Palestine conflict is actually a result of Arab anti-Semitism.
Why did Netanyahu do it?
First, Netanyahu’s remarks were off the cuff. The transcript of his speech at the 37th Zionist Congress makes that clear. The entire speech was conversational in tone, with corrections and colloquialisms, and the particular reference to al-Husseini was an aside.
Its context was Netanyahu talking about the “big lie” that the Israeli government is seeking to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque—which is indeed a big lie spread widely on pro-Palestine social media. In that context, he mentioned that al-Husseini had told a similar lie in the 1920s, and by the way, al-Husseini supported the Holocaust too.
It was an aside within an aside. But precisely because it was off the cuff, it offers a valuable peek behind the curtain of Israeli nationalist ideology.
Like Romney’s comment about the 47%, comments like Netanyahu’s are made all the time on the Israeli Right. They’re meant for domestic consumption, to inspire the nationalist base. The Arabs hate us, anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism, and most importantly, the Intifada is about Jew-hatred, not resistance to the occupation.
Meanwhile, in Israel hatred of Palestinians is festering. From the World Socialist Website: Israel: Racist mob lynches migrant as violence intensifies.
An angry Jewish mob lynched an unarmed Eritrean migrant worker in the southern city of Beer Sheba after an Israeli security guard repeatedly shot him on Sunday. The crowd cursed and kicked him, chanting, “Death to Arabs!” “Arabs out!” and “Am Israel Hai!” (“The people of Israel still live”).
The murder underscores the noxious atmosphere of xenophobia, racism and fear that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has stoked up in a bid to deflect rising social discontent among Jewish Israelis, whose living conditions are in many cases only marginally better than those of the Palestinians. At the last elections, Netanyahu urged Jewish Israelis to vote, saying that “swarms of Arabs” were going to the polling stations.
Ultra-nationalist Jewish politicians have encouraged the mobilisation of vigilante groups and fascistic mobs that go on the rampage while the police stand and watch. Settler gangs that murder Palestinians and attack and destroy their property go unpunished. Now, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has openly encouraged Jewish Israelis to arm themselves and take vigilante action.
The Eritrean, 29-year-old Haptom Zerhom, had been working as a gardener in a plant nursery in a village near Beer Sheba for the last three years. He was on his way to collect his renewed work visa when 21-year-old Muhannad al-Okbi, a Bedouin Israeli, shot and killed an Israeli soldier and wounded 10 others, including four police officers, at Beer Sheba’s central bus station.
The police shot al-Okbi and then shot Zerhom, believing him to be al-Okbi’s accomplice. As Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline made clear, Zerhom was shot “Just because of his skin colour.”
As Zerhom came under attack from the mob, a bystander found his visa and held it up, shouting, “He’s Eritrean, he’s not a terrorist.”
No one heard him above the melee and Zerhom died of his injuries.
Shades of the Old South.
Finally, from Black Agenda Report: Black Lives Don’t Matter in Israel.
If you want to observe a racist lynch mob, go to Israel, the “world’s worst apartheid state.” After being shot by police, an innocent Eritrean immigrant was pursued by an Israeli mob that “kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted ‘son of a whore,’ ‘break his head’ and more to the point, ‘Kill him!’” But of course, no one will be punished, and the U.S. Black Misleadership Class will say nothing.
The United States does not have a monopoly on the lynch law murder of black people. Israel, both America’s client state and master, is awash in racist state-sponsored violence. Palestinians are usually the intended targets, but Africans are inevitably caught in this terrorism too. The mob murder of Mulu Habtom Zerhom reveals everything that the world needs to know about Israeli apartheid and the settler mentality which it exemplifies.
Zerhom was an Eritrean asylum seeker living in Israel, confined to one of the camps used to hold Africans. He was at a bus station where a Bedouin man shot an Israeli soldier. Zerhom was trying to flee but was himself shot by the police. Video footage shows him lying bleeding and incapacitated as a mob of Israelis kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted “son of a whore,” “break his head” and more to the point, “Kill him!”
Unbelievable! Will the U.S. corporate media follow up on this story? Stay tuned.
This is an open thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic or post your comments on the Benghazi hearings.