Friday Reads Scandal and Conspiracy Theory Rag Edition

Good Afternoon!BadGirls-Gwaltney-182x300

Outrageous and untrue conspiracy theories have followed wherever Hillary Clinton has ventured.  This week appears to be one major attack of the killer gossip for nearly all our usual suspects.  For once, Hillary is not the center of any of them.  I’m just going to go with all of this even though my better wisdom beings tell me that it’s a lot of idle chatter.

So who doesn’t like a good scandal every once and a while?

The National Enquirer which is well known for breaking the seal on famous extra marital adventures of pols like John Edwards started following the adventures of lying–and possibly cheating–Ted. Yesterday’s headlines spun stories of five women who could actually hold their noses long enough to have sex with this really sorry excuse for a human being.  The most self-righteous “family values” pols are frequently the biggest hypocrites when it comes to adventurous sex lives.  So, while Cruz is so vile it’s hard to believe he could get one woman let alone a number of them, I’m going to go with the story here.  Now, the author of this is like 1 degree of separation from a Trump crony but still, the intrepid Enquirer usually brings home the bacon and Ted Cruz is a pig among men.  How much money does it take to get a lady to bed this dud?

“Private detectives are digging into at least five affairs Ted Cruz supposedly had,” claimed a Washington insider.

“The leaked details are an attempt to destroy what’s left of his White House campaign!”

The ENQUIRER reports that Cruz’s claimed mistresses include a foxy political consultant and a high-placed D.C. attorney!

There are also whispers of other intimate late-night sessions Ted has had in Washington — and even a wild sex worker makes the cut!

7531628154_58bc3b9b8e_o1.jpg.scaled600There’s actually names and pix!

Despite being partially-obscured, three of the five women alleged to have been involved with Cruz have already been identified: Katrina Pierson, Sarah Isgur Flores and Amanda Carpenter. This story was already in the works at Breitbart, as Allum Bokhari had it back in February but was not permitted to run with it. The current timing strikes me as intriguing given the fact that Donald Trump already warned the Cruz campaign that there would be reprisals for their advertised attack on his wife Melania.

It also looks as if the Rubio campaign had the dirt on Cruz, but sat on it in order to keep him viable against Donald Trump.

So, what would this kind of story be without a link to a right wing conspiracy site?  Uh, you can go there if you want because it’s rather interesting actually.

Interestingly Sarah Isgur Flores, in addition to being a well known political operative, was also the campaign manager for Carly Fiorina.  And that little factoid brings an earlier discovery into question; where the Super-PAC for Ted Cruz (Keep the Promise) actually sent the Super-PAC for Carly Fiorina (Carly for America “CfA”) $500,000 (link).

7486498168_1583b63829_o1.jpg.scaled1000Alabama’s governor has also be caught up in a sex scandal.  More-Pious-than-Thou Republican Governor Robert Bentley’s wife has filed for divorce over the release of a some what juicy but not as juicy as Anthony Wiener’s sexting audio tape.  Ah, a Republican, their dick, and their mistress!  What could be more apropos during the election season!

A day after shocking audio tapes revealed Gov. Robert Bentley made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to his chief political advisor, questions over the future of the Alabama governor remain.

In the wake of accusations by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency chief Spencer Collier, who Bentley fired Tuesday, the governor apologized for comments made to advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason but denied having a physical affair with the married mother and his former communications director.

On Tuesday, Bentley announced the firing of ALEA chief Collier, who said he learned of his dismissal on social media. Collier later announced he had seen and heard evidence of an affair between the married governor and Mason. Collier’s statements were the first on-the-record comments regarding the governor’s relationship with his advisor. Rumors of the affair began circulating shortly after Dianne, Gov. Bentley’s wife of 50 years, filed for divorce in the summer of 2015.

Bentley held a Wednesday press conference to deny a sexual relationship with Mason but apologized for what he described as “inappropriate comments.”

“I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility,” Bentley said, adding, however, he had broken no laws.

Donald Trump continues his absolute scandalous behavior with women.  He can’t stop saying sexist and misogynist things.  His Twitter _Les_Pulp_-_MP_unashamedaccount is a trifecta of terror against women.  He’s said horrid things about Hillary Clinton already.  It can only get worse as the election wears on and wears on all of us.

The altercation underscores the striking nastiness of the GOP primary race and the uncomfortable gender politics surrounding Trump, who has a long history of making incendiary remarks about women and their appearance. Trump has shown little reluctance in attacking his female rivals — or some of his rivals’ spouses — in ways that strike many as sexist or demeaning, and many fear that the insults are a harbinger of the gutter rhetoric to come if he faces Clinton in November.

Trump has called Clinton “very shrill,” belittles her for a lack of stamina and energy, and late last year jabbed her and husband, Bill Clinton, for the latter’s marital indiscretions while he was president. In another instance, Trump said Hillary Clinton “got schlonged” in her 2008 primary fight against then-Sen. Barack Obama.

“I have some very real concerns should he become the nominee. I think it would be catastrophic for our party,” said GOP strategist Katie Packer, who leads the Our Principles PAC, an anti-Trump super PAC. “Half of the reason why I’m fighting so hard to stop Donald Trump is because I think he’s a walking, talking stereotype of a sexist misogynistic pig.”

Polling shows Trump sliding among women in recent months, hurting the GOP’s already shaky position with that demographic. Trump’s favorability numbers have decreased 10 points among women nationwide since November, to 23 percent, while his unfavorable number among women has jumped to 75 percent from 64 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken this month.

7719d9b4a7d8994f0f3b4b049043c197Ben Carson continues to amaze his with statements that seem to come from a parallel universe. He’s taking credit now for Trump “seeming more presidential”.  I’m not sure what’s the bigger lie. Is it his characterization of his role or Trump?

Ben Carson says he’s rubbing off on Donald Trump and has convinced him — at least in flashes — to act more presidential.

“I’ve had talks about being presidential, about toning it down a bit, appealing to a broader group of people,” Carson said in a phone interview on Friday morning. “You did notice that he wasn’t nearly as caustic in the last debate. People appreciated that. It’s a matter of cultivating and capitalizing on that.”

But Carson acknowledged he couldn’t hold back Trump’s instincts forever. Trump provoked another food fight this week when he accused Ted Cruz of disseminating a racy magazine photo of Trump’s wife, Melania, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi. He went further, retweeting a supporter’s unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, prompting Cruz to lash out and call Trump a “sniveling coward.”

Carson said the moment is part of a broader craving by the public for gladiatorial combat among politicians.

“You know, when I was in the race, that was what I complained about constantly, the fact that it was getting into personalities,” he said. “We have all these serious things. Nobody wanted to hear that. We want to hear juicy stuff … Maybe it’s just human nature.”

This is the same pious dude that’s under suspicion of a quid pro quo for throwing his support behind STrump.  STrump also appears to have plagiarized an Op Ed of Carson.  I guess cheating is all in the Republican Family.

After Ben Carson on Monday said that he discussed with Donald Trump a possible role in his administration, Carson on Wednesday said that the two “did not discuss any quid pro quo.”

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Carson on Wednesday about his discussions with Trump and what kind of role he would expect in the administration if Trump were elected president.

“First of all, we did not discuss any quid pro quo. There seems to be a great desire by many people to try and make it seem that way,” Carson said in response. “But we did agree that we’re both extremely interested in saving America — particularly for the next generations, and that we will continue to work together in the process of doing that.”

During a Monday interview with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg, Carson said he would be involved in an “advisory capacity” when Malzberg asked if he would be part of Trump’s administration. When pressed for details, Carson said he could not share more since nothing was final.

Burnett also asked Carson about a report showing that Trump appeared to plagiarize parts of an op-ed written by Carson. The retired neurosurgeon seemed unfazed by the potential plagiarism.

“I would say that many of the people who worked for me previously are now working for Donald Trump, so that doesn’t surprise me at all,” Carson said. “Let me put it this way: it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Well, at least it gets our minds off Benghazi!!!! and Email!!!!

So, let’s look at a scandal here of the Bernmeister.  He’s not to be left off our hypocrite of the day list.judashour-front

Dozens of veterans died while waiting for medical care at Phoenix Veterans Health Administration facilities, a scandal CNN broke in the spring of 2014. The imbroglio spread with reports of secret waiting lists at other VA hospitals, possibly leading to dozens more preventable deaths.

He held one-sixth of the hearings on oversight that his House of Representatives counterpart held. Republicans griped that they had made multiple requests for more oversight hearings, but received no response. A news host even challenged Sanders as the scandal erupted, saying he sounded more like a lawyer for the VA than the man responsible for overseeing it.

“We feel that he did not live up to his responsibilities as SVAC chairman to provide oversight into this. He keeps hiding behind the mantle [of the title]. And yes, he did pass the $15 billion piece of legislation, but that’s… akin to closing the barn door after the chickens have escaped,” said Matthew Miller, the chief policy officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

By the time the scandal broke, Sanders had been chairman for more than a year. While the House VA committee held 42 hearings on VA oversight, the Senate VA committee chaired by Sanders held only about seven hearings on the matter.

“The House needed a partner in the Senate to help flesh out the problems at the VA, and unfortunately Bernie Sanders was not that partner. Jeff Miller and his committee were the ones who pursued this and ultimately uncovered [the VA scandal]… only when the VA scandal broke was when [Sanders] ultimately decided to do oversight hearings,” said Dan Caldwell, the vice president for political and legislative action of Concerned Veterans for America.

Ah, Saint Bernie!  We know ye far too well!

Well, that’s something completely different from me!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

Advertisements

Friday Reads

fun-with-dick-and-jane-illustrations-14-copy

Good Day!!

There’s actually a bit of good news this week hidden among the atrocities.  “No Child Left Behind” has been replaced with “Every Child Succeeds”.   That sounds like one replacing one bit of jargon for another.  However, there’s some substantive changes and there’s some hope it will be good for teachers, students, and taxpayers.

The testing and accountability regime–which really led to a layer of bureaucracy, massive testing and costs–has been criticized by the education community since its inception.  I remember hearing it called “No Teacher Left Standing” by friends teaching in the Public Education system.  It’s a function of corporate bureaucrat think which basically frames all situations in terms of no one can be trusted but a report-generating middle man who basically just ensures every one does their jobs based on some really bizarre set of standards invented by Corporate CEOS like Romney, Fiorino and Trump who notably have no clue what they’re doing in their own companies let alone a school system.

Select “educational outcomes” were boiled down to the most base things and it resulted in teaching to a particular test because teachers feared for their jobs.  The idea of developing a child’s critical thinking skills, their ability to work with others, and their basic nature of surging, fixating and mastering one content area using a variety of different senses was ignored.  As a result, “No Child Left Behind” represented the worst of American Business practices. Trivial outcomes were emphasized.  Control was paramount. The humanity of teachers and students was ignored.  Bureaucratic managers and unnecessary consultants raked in money as Districts struggled to implement and report results.

Unfortunately, this mindset has also crept into Higher Education and I can tell you that my job has switched from teaching to constantly grading stuff, reporting on outcomes, and paperwork.  It’s not a good situation for any one.  It creates a really stressful, negative environment too.

Here’s a good basic outline by USA Today on what’s changing.  This was a bipartisan effort which has been extremely rare given the pledge by Republicans to thwart any possible Obama-backed law.

No Child Left Behind:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, was a civil rights law that provided education funding to states and attempted to ensure that every student had access to an education. The law would expire every three to five years, requiring Congress to reauthorize it. In 2001, Democrats and Republicans in Congress became increasingly concerned by the growing achievement gaps that left poor and minority students in failing schools, and devised a system of testing and accountability to fix it. “The fundamental principle of this bill is that every child can learn, we expect every child to learn, and you must show us whether or not every child is learning,” President George W. Bush said in the Jan. 8, 2002, signing ceremony.

Every Student Succeeds Act: The new law tries to preserve the spirit of No Child Left Behind, while fixing what were widely perceived as its one-size-fits-all approach.The goals of No Child Left Behind, the predecessor of this law, were the right ones: High standards. Accountability. Closing the achievement gap,” Obama said Thursday. “But in practice, it often fell short. It didn’t always consider the specific needs of each community. It led to too much testing during classroom time. It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.”

NPR has some interesting analysis on the law.images (2)

The new law changes much about the federal government’s role in education, largely by scaling back Washington’s influence. While ESSA keeps in place the basic testing requirements of No Child Left Behind, it strips away many of the high stakes that had been attached to student scores.

The job of evaluating schools and deciding how to fix them will shift largely back to states. Gone too is the requirement, added several years ago by the Obama administration, that states use student scores to evaluate teachers.

The new law, which passed the House and Senate with rare, resounding bipartisan support, would also expand access to high-quality preschool.

Before the signing, President Obama made clear that he believed the goals of NCLB — namely high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap — were the right ones. But in practice, he said, the law fell short.

“It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see,” Obama said.

NCLB was signed by President George W. Bush in early 2002 and was, itself, an update of a much older law — the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. While ESSA officially marks the end of the NCLB era, the majority of states have for several years received waivers from the Obama administration, exempting them from some of the law’s toughest requirements.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken was a key supporter and mover for the change.  You can see his speech to the Senate encouraging a yes vote on the bill on his web page.  Minnesota is a state that is consistently oneTop-101 of the best for educational outcomes and has a vibrant public school system.

Now, this bill is not perfect. But it’s a huge improvement over NCLB. Over the last 13 years, we learned that the one-size-fits-all approach to fixing failing schools wasn’t working. That’s why this bill is designed to find a balance between giving states more flexibility while still making sure that states intervene and fix schools where students are not learning.

Over the last several years, I’ve met with principals, teachers, students, parents, and school administrators in Minnesota. These conversations have helped me develop my education priorities to help improve our schools, our communities, and our nation’s future. I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground, and I’m very pleased that many of my priorities to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gap are reflected in the legislation that is before us today.

These priorities include things like strengthening STEM education, expanding student mental health services, increasing access to courses that help high school students earn college credit, and improving the preparation and recruitment of principals for high need schools. I also successfully fought to renew the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which provides critical after-school learning activities for students. Another one of my priorities helps increase the number of counselors and social workers in our schools.

And my provision to allow states to use Computer Adaptive Tests will go a long way toward improving the quality of assessments used in our schools and will give teachers and parents more accurate and timely information on their students’ progress.

I was also able to include a new Native language immersion program because I believe language is critical to maintaining cultural heritage and helping Native American students succeed. In addition, I wrote a provision to provide foster children who move to new school districts the opportunity to stay at their current school if it’s in their best interest.

Again, I’m very pleased that these priorities have been included in the legislation we are considering today, and I thank my colleagues for working with me on them. These provisions will help hundreds of thousands of students in Minnesota and across the country reach their full potential.

So one of the most interesting things that has just come out of the battle royale that is the republican presidential primary campaign is the news that a supposed “secret” meeting took place among establishment Republicans like Dick Cheney.  There is now official talk of a brokered convention. Establishment Republicans have been concerned about the rise of both Donald Trump and Ben Carson and the incredible chaos that’s occurred because of differences in priorities between insurgent and establishment Republicans. We may be looking at an event that hasn’t happened for some time.

abductionWill there be a contested convention?

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as businessman Donald Trump continues to sit atop the polls in the GOP presidential race.

More than 20 of them convened Monday near the Capitol for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

Weighing in on that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said.

The development represents a major shift for veteran Republican strategists, who until this month had spoken of a brokered convention only in the most hypothetical terms — and had tried to encourage a drama-free nomination by limiting debates and setting an earlier convention date.

Now, those same leaders see a floor fight as a real possibility. And so does Trump, who said in an interview last week that he, too, is preparing.

Ben Carson has had a public hissy fit over the news and is threatening to leave the Republican Party.1206-BKS-Childrens-facebookJumbo

Ben Carson on Friday blasted the Republican National Committee following a Washington Post report that nearly two-dozen establishment party figures were prepping for a potential brokered convention as Donald Trump continues to lead most polls.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus held a dinner in Washington, D.C., on Monday, and, according to five people who spoke with the Post, the possibility of Trump heading into the Cleveland convention with a substantial number of delegates was a topic of discussion. Some attendees suggested the establishment lay the groundwork for a floor fight that could lead the party’s mainstream wing to unite behind an alternative. Carson rejected this approach.

“If the leaders of the Republican Party want to destroy the party, they should continue to hold meetings like the one described in the Washington Post this morning,” Carson said in a statement released by his campaign.

Carson said he prays the Post’s report is incorrect and threatened to leave the GOP. “If it is correct, every voter who is standing for change must know they are being betrayed. I won’t stand for it,” said Carson, who added that if the plot is accurate, “I assure you Donald Trump won’t be the only one leaving the party.”

The retired neurosurgeon said that next summer’s Cleveland convention could be the last Republican National Convention if leaders try to manipulate it.

“I am prepared to lose fair and square, as I am sure is Donald,” Carson said. “But I will not sit by and watch a theft. I intend on being the nominee. If I am not, the winner will have my support. If the winner isn’t our nominee then we have a massive problem.”

Establishment Republicans fear that Donald Trump–as their presidential nominee–means that Democratic party will have a real chance at taking back the Senate and even the House.  The Cook Political Report explains that this might be an overreaction.

dicknp

To most Republican strategists, there’s no bigger nightmare than Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2016. This week, just about every Democrat running for president, Senate, House, and their respective campaign committees sought to tie Republicans to Trump and brand them one big bunch of xenophobes. Talk of a down-ballot Republican apocalypse has reached fever pitch.

Even setting aside the remoteness of a scenario in which Trump would face Hillary Clinton in a one-on-one contest, such talk is premature and possibly overblown.

Given Trump’s unpopularity with the electorate overall, there’s a possibility he could end an era of very close and competitive presidential elections and suffer a landslide defeat (by modern standards). But what would that mean down-ballot? If Trump becomes his own radioactive island, GOP candidates in swing districts would have no choice but to renounce him and run far away for cover.

The challenge in assessing their odds for survival in such a scenario is that there hasn’t been a blowout presidential election in a very long time. However, history is on the GOP’s side.

Since 1960, there have only been three elections in which one candidate prevailed by a double-digit margin in a presidential race: Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater in 1964 (by 22.6 percent), Richard Nixon over George McGovern in 1972 (by 23.2 percent), and Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale in 1984 (by 18.2 percent). In all three instances, Democrats retained control of the House.

Despite the predictable outcome of each of the three landslides, there is scant evidence the losing side’s demoralized voters stayed home in huge numbers or bolted their party en masse down-ballot compared to the previous presidential cycle. In each case, voters seemed to evaluate presidential candidates on a case-by-case basis but stuck with their core party preferences for Congress.

So, if you want some real conspiracy theory/gossip.  The establishment plan is to put Mitt Romney into nomination on the floor.  (GAG)

With Donald Trump’s ruinous domination of the Republican primary polls showing no signs of abating, top leaders in the GOP are reportedly now preparing for the possibility of a contentious brokered convention next year in Cleveland.

If that happens, a small group of wealthy donors and die-hard loyalists close to Mitt Romney will be ready with a strategy to win him the nomination from the convention floor.

Romney thought seriously about entering the 2016 race earlier this year, and ultimately decided against it. But as I report in my new book, The Wilderness, when the former Republican nominee informed friends, family, and a few close allies late in January that he was going to announce his decision to bow out, some urged him to reconsider:

The Republicans have seriously lost it.  All I can say is that Nixon’s Southern Strategy has caused the vultures to come home to roost.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Monday Reads

165623_600Hello Monday and Sky Dancers!!!

I’m beginning to think we should offer free psychotropics and mental health screenings for folks voting Republican these days. You might consider putting a candy bowl of them out for your crazy uncle and cousins still voting Republican as a holiday treat.  Tolerance and displays of so much delusion should definitely be on the radars of what’s left of our mental health systems.  It’s hard to know where to start but the fact that Donald Trump is the leading presidential candidate and basically doing it by taking pages and policies out of Hitler’s playbook is one example worthy of discussion.

However, let me start locally with Slum Dog Governor Piyush Jindal who has decided he needs to take a “victory lap” around the state before he fades into oblivion.  You might think I’m kidding on this so I’m going to include some quotes from the state’s major newspaper for good measure because  I am not kidding.  He’s finally retreated  from the cornfields of Iowa. We’re expecting a huge budget deficit mid term thanks to his stupid accounting tricks and tax giveaways.  A Blue Dog Democrat–John Bel Edwards–supported by many Republicans is set to follow him into the statehouse.

Jindal wants to travel the state for some local accolades.  Good luck with that Governor!  All but about 20% of us can’t stand the sight or sound of you.

With only weeks remaining in office, Gov. Bobby Jindal has returned home to try to shore up his Louisiana legacy after his presidential campaign ended unsurprisingly with him headed to a new home in Baton Rouge, rather than the White House.

A statewide tour and press releases touting his accomplishments might be too little too late to win kind thoughts from the folks in Louisiana, where his approval ratings have dropped to record lows.

The term-limited Republican is seeking to exit the governor’s mansion in January with Louisiana residents remembering his economic development wins and education overhaul, rather than prevailing criticisms that he put his national ambitions over the state’s needs.

Jindal dismissed such criticisms in the press conference he held in Baton Rouge, a post mortem of sorts, after scrapping his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

“We’ve continued to work every single day that I’ve been governor to work hard to move our state forward. I’m proud of the result,” he said. He added: “I think that I will be leaving our state better off than we were eight years ago.”

Yes indeed!  Well, about that leaving the state better that it was eight years ago part …

Now that his campaign is officially dead, however, it’s worth highlighting Jindal’s record as governor of Louisiana. This is what the man did. This is what he accomplished. This is what he leaves behind. And this what he should be remembered for.

  1. He entered office with an $865 million surplus and he will exit with a $1.6 billion deficit.
  2. Funding for higher education has been cut by more than 80 percent, and the entire system is experiencing a fiscal crisis.
  3. Funding for youth services has been cut by 40 percent.
  4. Funding for Veterans Affairs programs has been cut by 69 percent.
  5. The Department of Environmental Quality has been cut by 96 percent (in a state with a rapidly eroding coastline).
  6. He rejected a Medicaid expansion in order to protest Obamacare, and thousands of low-income Louisianans remain without health care as a result.
  7. Louisiana has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation; the highest diabetes-related death rate; the highest rate of death from breast cancer; the third highest rate of cancers deaths overall; and the eighth highest rate of teenage pregnancy.
  8. He rejected $300 million of federal stimulus money (one his favorite talking points at the time), despite Louisiana’s underfunded and crumbling infrastructure.
  9. He issued a symbolic executive order that defended discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”
  10. He sold out his state to protect BP against legitimate lawsuits. (Side note: Jindal’s brother is a lawyer for the firm representing BP).
  11. He held a massive “prayer rally” on the state’s flagship campus, a rally that promoted his presidential campaign and distributed materials blaming gay people for hurricanes and natural disasters.
  12. He signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allowed creationism to be taught in science courses at public schools.

There are countless other examples of Jindal’s failures, but this list is fairly illustrative of his career as Governor of Louisiana. This is what he did in order to pitch himself as a fiscally responsible, small government conservative in GOP primary states. It explains why 70 percent of Louisianans now disapprove of the job he has done. And it explains why he won’t be missed and why the Republican gubernatorial candidate following him, David Vitter, has tried unsuccessfully to run away from Jindal’s record.

The stench of Jindal’s administration will linger for years in Louisiana, and everyone here knows it. His presidential campaign was and is a punchline, but his governorship was a moral and political failure, and a tragedy for thousands of Louisianans. If he’s ever elected again for public office, I can assure you it won’t be as a Louisianan.

I’d say Sean Illing’s list is a pretty decent capsule of the wreckage.  I’d have to add that you can put many a sad face on how bad life has gotten with Jindal administration including mine.bobby_Jindal_No_Go_Zone_ColorWEB

We have a kinda sorta Democrat now whose first act was to appoint the former Republican State Senator responsible for the Creationism in public schools disguised as science to be his chief of staff.  His transition team is remarkably full of Republicans.  However, he still says that the Medicaid expansion is priority one and it could be one of the reasons why Nevers got the job.   I’m trying to be optimistic here.  You can hold my hand if you want to help.

“The expansion of health care coverage for working families is among the highest priorities. It’s something I’ve been working on for three years, and I never once during this campaign shied away from that particular issue,” Edwards said during a news conference with reporters in New Orleans. “So we are going to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana. We’re going to do it as soon as we possibly can and as responsibly as we possibly can.”

The strongest signal yet of Edwards’ commitment to Medicaid expansion is his appointment of state Sen. Ben Nevers to be his chief of staff. Nevers has been one of the foremost advocates of Medicaid expansion in the Legislature, at times offering tearful testimony as he pleaded with colleagues to expand the federal program to cover people who aren’t paid enough to purchase their own insurance.

Asked about the significance of Medicaid expansion to the working poor, Nevers said, “it means life or death to many people across this state.”

“There are over 242,000 people without medical insurance in this state who go to work everyday; who have been dependable employees,” Nevers said. “It would mean the opportunity for them to have insurance for them and their families. I can tell you that there’s many people across this state who’ve suffered tremendously because we’ve refused to expand Medicaid.”

When asked what it means to him personally, Nevers said, “It means a tremendous amount to me.

“As you know, I filed bills the last three years to expand Medicaid and could not get them out of the Senate or the House,” Nevers said. “It’s been a very frustrating experience because I know we’re sending dollars to Washington D.C. that we refuse to take back in our own state. Now that’s just ludicrous.”

This state is among the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick.  Things certainly could not get much worse.

People here and all around the country certainly do not trust their governments.  Is this the real legacy of Reagan’s dementia and eagerness to poor shame?  cjones11072015

A year ahead of the presidential election, the American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar.

Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time,among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems.

Yet at the same time, most Americans have a lengthy to-do list for this object of their frustration: Majorities want the federal government to have a major role in addressing issues ranging from terrorism and disaster response to education and the environment.

And most Americans like the way the federal government handles many of these same issues, though they are broadly critical of its handling of others – especially poverty and immigration.

A new national survey by Pew Research Center, based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted between August 27 and October 4, 2015, finds that public attitudes about government and politics defy easy categorization. The study builds upon previous reports about the government’s role and performance in 2010 and 1998. This report was made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the survey from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The partisan divide over the size and scope of government remains as wide as ever: Support for smaller government endures as a Republican touchstone. Fully 80% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they prefer a smaller government with fewer services, compared with just 31% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Yet both Republicans and Democrats favor significant government involvement on an array of specific issues. Among the public overall, majorities say the federal government should have a major role in dealing with 12 of 13 issues included in the survey, all except advancing space exploration.

There is bipartisan agreement that the federal government should play a major role in dealing with terrorism, natural disasters, food and medicine safety, and roads and infrastructure. And while the presidential campaign has exposed sharp partisan divisions over immigration policy, large majorities of both Republicans (85%) and Democrats (80%) say the government should have a major role in managing the immigration system.
But the partisan differences over government’s appropriate role are revealing – with the widest gaps on several issues relating to the social safety net.

165965_600 (1)That last bit certainly shows up in the Trumpettes and his followers who don’t appear to understand that offering up the same policies as Hitler isn’t a good thing.

Only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners see a major role for the federal government in helping people get out of poverty (36%) and ensuring access to health care (34%), by far the lowest percentages for any of the 13 issues tested. Fully 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the government should have a major role in helping people out of poverty, and 83% say it should play a major role in ensuring access to health care.

Moreover, while majorities of Republicans favor a major government role in ensuring a basic income for people 65 and older (59%), protecting the environment (58%) and ensuring access to high-quality education (55%), much larger shares of Democrats – 80% or more in each case – favor a large government role.

So what explains the Republican base’s fascination with some one touring the country touting a book written on the Constitution that believes the Constitution was written by Thomas Jefferson? Is this the result of whackadoo Texans controlling the nation’s textbook content or deliberate, delusional ignorance?

It’s a common misconception that Thomas Jefferson participated in drafting the U.S. Constitution in 1787. But as Republican presidential candidate and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson points out in his latest book, “A More Perfect Union,” Jefferson was “missing in action,” serving in Paris as minister to France.

That did not stop Carson from praising Jefferson in a C-Span interview Sunday as one of the most impressive of the Founding Fathers because he “tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control peoples’ natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”

It’s not the first time Carson has abused Jefferson’s history. “Thomas Jefferson himself said, ‘Gun control works great for the people who are law-abiding citizens and it does nothing for the criminals, and all it does is put the people at risk,’ ” he told Fox’s Neil Cavuto after the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., in  early October. Jefferson never said that.

In his book, Carson repeated a version of the same statement, noting what he called “Thomas Jefferson’s warning: ‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather than encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

The supposed Jefferson comment on gun control is listed among many “spurious” quotations by the Monticello Web site. “This is not something Jefferson wrote,” say the researchers at Monticello, but rather comes from a passage he included in his “Legal Commonplace Book.” The passage, they note, was written by Cesare Beccaria in his “Essay on Crimes and Punishments” and was copied by Jefferson.

Oddly, Carson’s footnote to the quote duly notes that it comes from Beccaria and not Jefferson.

Republican obsession with all things not true but that play into their views of the world is on full display in the Trump poll numbers.  The more outrageously untrue and appalling things that spew out of Trump’s Cartoon_18.14mouth yields a bump up in the polls.  I mean, what kind’ve person could get a huge number of the Jewish population volunteering to register as Muslims just to express their outrage at the suggestion we start a database of the nation’s followers of Islam.  Trump’s latest outrages include the huge lie that thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks.    This earned him another Pinnochio from WAPO’s fact checkers and the NYC police.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You raised some eyebrows yesterday with comments you made at your latest rally. I want to show them, relating to 9/11.

VIDEO CLIP OF DONALD TRUMP, IN WHICH HE SAYS: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “You know, the police say that didn’t happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday?”

TRUMP: “It did happen. I saw it.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “You saw that…”

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “…with your own eyes?”

TRUMP: “George, it did happen.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Police say it didn’t happen.”

TRUMP: “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “As I said, the police have said it didn’t happen.”

— Exchange on ABC’s “This Week,” Nov. 22, 2015

This exchange demonstrates the folly of trying to fact-check Donald Trump. Even when confronted with contrary information — “police say it didn’t happen” — he insists that with his own eyes he saw “thousands and thousands” of cheering Arabs in New Jersey celebrating as the World Trade Center collapsed during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Trump has already earned more Four-Pinocchio ratings than any other candidate this year. He is about to earn another one.

The Jersey City Mayor says the “account is absurd” too. 

He also is race baiting and just bragged about his audience beating up a Black Lives Matter protester.  He upped the ante by tweeting the right wing trope that blacks are murdering blacks with an appalling racist graphic attached.  He still has yet to suggest any thing policy related. He seems perfectly happy to just spew vitriol.  That is also what the base seems to love.  His tweet about black murder rates is definitely creating consternation from every one but the Republican base.

Donald Trump is taking heat on social media for a Sunday afternoon tweet of statistics purporting to show that the vast majority of murdered black people in the U.S. are killed by other black people.

The tweet was apparently Trump’s response to a Twitter thread about support from white supremacists for the GOP front-runner.

It also comes the day after a Black Lives Matter protester said he was physically and verbally assaulted at a Trump rally.

The image Trump posted includes a list of “USA Crime Statistics ~ 2015.” The two that are highlighted are “Blacks Killed by Police ~~ 1%” and “Blacks Killed by Blacks ~~ 97%.”

A drawing of a black man wielding a sideways pistol and wearing army pants, military boots and a bandana and mask accompanies the statistics, which are sourced to the “Crime Statistics Bureau” in San Francisco.

The message immediately took off on the social media platform, with thousands of people retweeting it and liking it within an hour. But many also lashed out angrily against the real estate mogul, calling Trump a racist and questioning the veracity of the stats.

Indeed, an initial search to confirm the numbers couldn’t turn up a “Crime Statistic Bureau” in San Francisco.

However, the percentages do, in some ways, align with Department of Justice (DOJ) findings from several years ago. A DOJ study released in 2011 reported that 93 percent of black homicides were committed by other blacks between 1980 and 2008.

In 2014, that figure was roughly 90 percent in 2014, according to the latest DOJ numbers.

The category tweeted out by Trump that doesn’t fit with DOJ statistics is “Whites Killed by Whites,” which Trump’s tweet indicated was 16 percent.

According to the department’s 2011 report, 84 percent of white homicides were committed by whites between 1980 and 2008. That number was 82 percent in 2014.

Trump has been roundly bashed during his presidential campaign for disparaging comments made about Mexican immigrants, Syrian refugees, Muslims and black people.

We’ve written a lot about the alternative reality were Republicans and their elected officials and candidates reside.  I’ve noticed the disconnect is getting worse on many levels.  But, again, look at Louisiana.  People down here got fed up with it.  Maybe the rest of the places that have Republican governors that are beyond delusional–Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan,Indiana etc.–will wake up to what’s actually going on.  But then again, take Kentucky.

Please.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Reads: Lies, Damned Lies, and Deadly Lies

Good Morning!

GabDellOttoPinocchioIt appears I’m back on line after five days of utility hell! Katrina taught me how to camp out efficiently in my own home and endlessly harass “service” providers. However, it’s a skill I’d rather never use again. The last hurricane was bad enough. This 1 day outage of electricity and 5 day outage of tv/internet was made worse by me having to stick around the house waiting, calling, and watching.  I watched the forum last night and Z Nation on my old college TV which finally brought me back in to the world at large.  The new TV in the front took a hit from the power surge so all is not completely well.  I’m still waiting for the carpenter to fix the faschia board  on the gable.  So, let me see what’s going on in the world before I try to go back and catch up with lost work.

I’ve noticed that one thing about living in the information age with plenty of ways to chase down information and plenty of ways to document and spread information, we’ve got a lot of opportunities to catch up with big fat liars and their lies.  Most of the public seems to not avail itself of the tools necessary to fact check. Indeed, they appear to chase straight for the sites and people that peddle lies.  But, we’re seeing an entirely new reality when the actual reality burbles its way through the web and media.

No where is this more noticeable than when officer’s invent stories that are not backed up by the material evidence collected at the scene.  Thank goodness for police body cams and dash cams!  We’re beginning to see more and more examples of police using unnecessary deadly force and then being caught creating absolute lies to cover up their actions. There are two recent examples worth noting.  The first comes from N.J. where a dash cam shows that a suspect did, indeed, have his hands up which conflicts with officer accounts.

Two police officers who accused a motorist of trying to grab one of their guns were convicted Thursday of misconduct in part because a dashcam video showed the motorist holding his hands up.

Bloomfield Officers Sean Courter and Orlando Trinidad were found guilty by an Essex County jury of conspiracy, official misconduct, tampering with and falsifying public records and lying to authorities. Courter, 35, and Trinidad, 34, face mandatory minimum prison sentences of five years when they’re sentenced in January.

Courter, of Englishtown, and Trinidad, of Bloomfield, initially said motorist Marcus Jeter tried to grab Courter’s gun and struck Trinidad during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway in 2012. Jeter was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault and other offenses based on video from one of the officers’ dashboard cameras.

But Jeter acquired a second police dashcam video through an open records request. Combined, the videos showed him with his hands in the air for virtually the entire encounter.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Jeter and charged Trinidad, Courter and a third officer.

“They accused Mr. Jeter of criminal acts that led to him being charged and indicted,” assistant prosecutor Berta Rodriguez, who tried the case, said Thursday. “He was facing five years in prison. But for the dash camera in the second police vehicle, he might be in prison today.”

The third officer, Albert Sutterlin, pleaded guilty in 2013 to falsifying and tampering with records.

PinocchioThis next example had a tragic result.  A six year old boy was killed as city marshals in a small Louisiana Town near Texas used deadly force on his unarmed father. The two were seated in a car. Two city marshals now face second degree murder charges. 

Two city marshals in the central Louisiana town of Marksville will be charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a six-year-old autistic boyfollowing a car chase involving his father, authorities announced late Friday.

Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, a reserve officer, and Lt. Derrick Stafford, 32, were arrested Friday night by the Louisiana State Police, which is leading the investigation, CBS affiliate WAFB reported.

Jeremy Mardis was shot and killed Tuesday after his father, Christopher Few, led law enforcement officers on a chase. Few was wounded in the incident and is hospitalized in critical condition.

The marshals will also be charged with attempted second-degree murder of the father, Louisiana State Police Col. Michael Edmonson said at a news conference late Friday night.

Lt. Jason Brouillette and Sgt. Kenneth Purnell were also involved in the chase but have not been charged. All four officers were placed on administrative leave.

One of the officers was wearing a body camera which recorded the chase, the shooting and its aftermath.

“It is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen, and I’ll leave it at that,” Edmonson said, adding that the footage, witness interviews and forensic evidence led police to file charges.

According to the Marksville Police Department, Few led the law enforcement officers on a short pursuit Tuesday night and stopped on a dead-end road.

“The initial statement to my investigators was that the vehicle was backing up, they feared for their lives and they started firing,” Edmonson told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud Friday morning.

“There were a lot of shots fired that night and they were coming in one direction. There’s nothing for us that indicates that any fire came from that SUV,” Edmonson said. “There was no weapon found in that SUV.”

You can read more about this case on the NYT.  We are clearly doing many things wrong in our criminal justice system.  I hate to disturb you on a weekend morning, but reading about this small victim and his unnecessary death is vital to realizing we need reform and we need it now.

BB wrote quite a bit about the fanciful tales spun by Republican candidate Ben Carson yesterday.  More and more media outlets are finding and checking out his tall tales.  The WSJ has found more examples of imagescompletely untrue anecdotes that show up in Carson’s book and speeches.  Carson’s poll numbers have started to fall.  WTF is wrong with Republicans that they blindly accept all of their jerks at face value?  Are they completely incapable of critical thinking and fact checking?  Brian Beutler discusses this in an article in the Republic. 

Ben Carson’s popularity among conservatives has been marked by their imperviousness to questions about his honesty and fitness. Carson has made dozens of statements about federal policy that have transcended garden-variety conservative over-promising and reached the realm of Chauncey Gardner-esque absurdity. He has also faced serious questions about the veracity of stories he tells about his youth and young manhood. Through it all, conservatives have not only stuck by his side, but actually become more taken with him. They’ve brushed off scrutiny with glib mockery, accusing white liberals of “othering” a black man for having the temerity to leave the “thought plantation.”

That all likely changes now that Carson has confessed to fabricating a seminal story about having declined admission to West Point in his youth. When you’ve lost Breitbart, it stands to reason that you will also lose talk-radio fawning, viral email forwards, and all the other mysterious sources of conservative cult status.

But there is room for genuine doubt here: Could Carson’s supporters prove so uninterested in his genuine merits and demerits that they might look past this transgression? The very fact that this doubt exists incriminates both the conservative-entertainment complex and the nature of the Republican electorate.

I always cringe at the representation of these Republicans as “conservative” because they are anything but conservative.  Many tend to be outright theocratic and most really support insurgency and radical change.  There’s nothing conservative about the stories they invent to justify insurrection.  Kevin Drum at Mojo has made a short list of some of his most egregious fabrications.

Because we have synchronous and widespread  sources of news, it’s really difficult for politicians to get away with these tall tells.  Carson gave an absolutely unhinged presser yesterday where he tried to blame the media for all these misunderstandings.   Blaming the “liberal” media has been staple of Republican pols since Nixon.  The entire last Republican debate was an exercise in blaming the media for gotcha questions when mostly what was happen was good old fashion fact checking and holding to account.

Again, we have an excellent example of this in Louisiana in the David Vitter race.  Vitter ran an absolutely blistering set of ads against his two Republican opponents in the election.  They were so bad, that our Republican LT. Governor has now endorsed the Blue Dog Democrat who faces Vitter in the run-off.  Many of the the supporters of the other Republican who came in a very close third have also put their support behind John Bel Edwards.  Now, the Republican party is coming after  LT. Governor Jay Dardenne with machetes and stating that JBE latest ad has brought the race to a new low.  Oh, really?  Where were you a few weeks ago when Vitter was attacking fellow Republicans?  Lies can be told but it takes very little effort these days to unearth the truth.

bad strategies - lyingThe JBE ad is a must see.  Bobb Mann writes about it for Salon,

On the evening of Monday, Feb. 25, 1991, only five hours before Baghdad Radio would tell Iraqi troops to begin withdrawing from Kuwait, all hell rained down on a U.S. Army barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was, as the New York Times described it the next day, “the most devastating Iraqi stroke of the Persian Gulf war.” An Iraqi Scud missile struck the barracks, killing 28 Americans and wounding 100 more.

 The barracks had been home to the 475th Quartermaster Group, an Army Reserve unit from the small western Pennsylvania town of Farrell.

Reading the grisly details of that night’s events still evokes horror and grief. Here is how New York Times reporter R.W. Apple, Jr., described the aftermath in his Feb. 26, 1991, story, “This morning, under the pitiless glare of portable floodlights, excavating equipment began plowing through the blackened remains of the building. Servicemen joined in the search for the missing, using picks and shovels, as some of the survivors milled about. Many wept.”

Fast-forward ten years to February 27, 2001: On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives members were preparing to host President George W. Bush, who would deliver his State of the Union address that evening.

Before hearing from Bush, however, the House had some business to conclude – considering a resolution “honoring the ultimate sacrifice” made by those killed and wounded that horrible day 10 years earlier. When the votes were tallied at 5:27 p.m., the resolution passed overwhelmingly, 395-0.

Thirty-five members, however, did not vote that afternoon. Among them was U.S. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from suburban New Orleans serving his second term.

Vitter may have missed this vote because he waiting on a return call from an escort service based in California that sold the services of women in the Washington, D.C., area. As his colleagues and constituents would later learn, Vitter was a regular customer of the escort service.

Meanwhile, the poor Lt. Governor is getting hate mail from Republican officials all over the state.

Saying “David Vitter’s governorship will further” damage a Republican brand “damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term,” Dardenne threw his support behind Edwards at an event on the LSU campus.

Fine, be angry or disappointed with Dardenne, who has faithfully carried the Republican banner since childhood when he handed out push cards for Barry Goldwater, for his decision to break a promise not to endorse in the runoff. It is also OK to criticize the Republican for endorsing a Democrat even though this particular Republican has a long history of being a) independent and b) shunned by the very party officials who now brand him a traitor.

But to rank Dardenne on the hate meter with Satan, Alabama football coach Nick Saban, “the socialist” Barack Obama or a jilted husband taking violent revenge on his ex-wife goes well beyond the pale — even in this day of nasty, hyperbolic political discourse.

The worst, by far, is the despicable letter fired off by Peter Egan, chairman of the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee. In the unique worldview of Egan, Dardenne endorsing a Democrat — rather than toe the party line and endorse Vitter, or at least stay silent — is “a vehement act of retribution” for being knocked out of the race in the open primary.

Mr. Egan goes on pontificating, declaring “the behavior of endorsing Edwards is akin to that of a jilted man firing indiscriminately at his ex-wife’s car, mindless of the collateral harm and injury to many innocent people.”

I’m all for hyperbole to make a point, but exactly who are these innocent people Dardenne has harmed?

No individual who answers the call of public service deserves hate-speech like this, and especially a man who has done an impeccable job of serving the state he loves.

Where were all these “Republican or die” people when Vitter, a fellow Republican, was assailing Dardenne’s character and GOP service to Louisiana? Is the message that vicious Republican-on-Republican attacks — whether they come from Vitter or Egan — are fair game, but endorsing a man who did not eviscerate your character is a crime punishable by political death?

So, now I’m closing with the professional liar class of pundits who make a huge living peddling lies on Fox News as “conservatives”.  It appears there’s a family feud between Bill O’Reilly and George Will. maxresdefault

FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly has a heated argument with network contributor George Will over his latest columnwhich accuses the O’Reilly Factor host of slandering former President Ronald Reagan in his latest book,Killing Reagan.

“It is not a laudatory book,” Will said about O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan. “It is doing the work of the left which knows in order to discredit conservatism it must destroy Reagan’s reputation as president. Your book does the work of the American left with its extreme recklessness.”

“You’re a hack,” O’Reilly said to Will. “You are in with the cabal of the Reagan loyalists who don’t want the truth to be told.”

So, I guess no one calls O’Reilly’s book a “No-fact Zone”.

Conservative columnist George Will attacked Bill O’Reilly’s new book, “Killing Reagan, in the Washington Post on Thursday — calling it “a tissue of unsubstantiated assertions” that “will distort public understanding of Ronald Reagan’s presidency more than hostile but conscientious scholars could” — and to the surprise of absolutely no one, O’Reilly shot back last night.

 Will’s criticism was admittedly harsh. He warned readers of O’Reilly’s book to beware, as they were “about to enter a no-facts zone,” and referred to the book as “nonsensical history and execrable citizenship,” so it’s not as O’Reilly wasn’t within his rights to be offended.

And offended he was. He began by noting the difference between “slander” and “libel,” which Will misused in his column — because, of course, noting one error in an otherwise sound review of a book invalidates all of the other valid criticisms contained therein.

You should go watch the video if you can stomach it.

So, the deal is that we can in fact ferret out the truth in many many ways these days and we can rely on some media sources and fact checkers to do so.  The deal is this.  The lie tends to resonant louder than then the correction.  It’s usually buried deep and less accessible.

What’s a voter to do?

So, that’s it for me today.  What’s on your reading and blogging list? 

 

 


Friday Reads: “It Doesn’t Take a Brain Surgeon . . .”

Raptor-Jesus-Carson Wonkette

Good Morning!!

I’m filling in for Dakinikat today, because her supposedly repaired cable wires were pulled down again yesterday. She really needs to get a break from whomever is in charge of the Universe.

Since GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has been doing so well in the polls, the media has been focusing on vetting him; and they are coming up with some certifiably crazy stuff. Suddenly that old cliché, “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon” no longer seems applicable; because Carson is a retired brain surgeon and he is clueless about science, history, the health care system, and even basic logic.

If–heaven forbid–this freak were to end up in the White House, this country would be doomed. Therefore, I’m going to focus this post on Carson and his bizarre conspiracy theories and his strange “campaign.” Yesterday we discussed the Buzzfeed piece that revealed a 1998 video in which Carson claimed that the pyramids were built by the biblical character Joseph to store grain.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”

“And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons. And various of scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how—’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.”

Dr. Ben Carson addresses the Republican National Committee luncheon Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Dr. Ben Carson addresses the Republican National Committee luncheon Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

At The National Memo, Eric Kleefeld wrote about some of Carson’s other wacky beliefs, The Conspiracy Theories of Ben Carson: A Brief Introduction. Read the whole thing–and watch the videos–at the link. Here’s just a taste.

In 2014, Carson declared that President Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were acting out roles in a decades-long communist conspiracy to subvert America.

In doing so, he cited a book from the 1950s by fringe right-wing conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist. (Skousen was also a major racist, even defending the honor of antebellum Southern slavery and the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision.) [….]

In a 2011 speech to a church group, Carson declared: “I personally believe that this theory, that Darwin came up with, was something that was encouraged by the Adversary.”

Carson elaborated on this point: “Now this whole creation vs. evolution controversy has been raging on, really since the beginning. Because what is Satan’s plan? To get rid of God — to disparage God, to mischaracterize God….

In a 2014 speech to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, Carson again referenced the aforementioned Cleon Skousen — and said that “neo-Marxists” had “systematically attacked” the family in order to bring down the United States.

In mid-October, Kevin Drum wrote about some of Carson’s other weird ideas at Mother Jones: Ben Carson Is a Paranoid Nutcase.

A few days ago Carson peddled a conspiracy theory about Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and Mahmoud Abbas all being old palsfrom their days together at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1968. He refused to divulge his source for this, but instead explained it this way: “That’s what I call wisdom,” Carson said. “You get these pieces of information. You talk to various people. You begin to have an overall picture. You begin to understand why people do what they do.

He insisted that Hitler’s rise to power was accomplished “through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda”—despite the plain historical fact that Hitler didn’t remove anyone’s guns during the period when he took power.

Asked if the “end of days” was near, he said, “You could guess that we are getting closer to that.”

He has suggested that being gay is a conscious choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out they’re gay. So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

Last year, before the November elections, he predicted that President Obama might declare martial law and cancel the 2016 elections. “If Republicans don’t win back the Senate in November, he says, he can’t be sure ‘there will even be an election in 2016.’ Later, his wife, Candy, tells a supporter that they are holding on to their son’s Australian passport just in case the election doesn’t go their way.”

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) convention in Las Vegas, Nevada June 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Steve Marcus - RTX1GZ5B

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) convention in Las Vegas, Nevada June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

This is the guy who is leading the GOP presidential field and is supposedly tied with Hillary Clinton nationally? Here’s more from Steve Benen at MSNBC today: Carson blasts ‘secular progressives,’ defends bogus claims.

It was an amazing trifecta for Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson: he made three ridiculous claims, about three very different subjects, all over the course of about half a day. But it was his defense for one of the three that continues to stand out.

The retired neurosurgeon said, for example, “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” This, of course, is ridiculously untrue. Carson soon after made some specific claims about Medicare and Medicaid, which were also demonstrably wrong.

But it’s hard to look past Carson’s beliefs about the Egyptian pyramids. As the GOP candidate sees it, archeological and physical evidence should be ignored because, in Carson’s mind, the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain.

And yesterday, the Republican presidential hopeful continued to defend his alternate version of reality.

“Some people believe in the Bible, like I do, and don’t find that to be silly at all, and believe that God created the Earth and don’t find that to be silly at all.” Carson told reporters in Miami during a stop on his book tour. “The secular progressives try to ridicule it any time it comes up and they’re welcome to do that.”

In other words, as Carson sees it, there should be two competing versions of historical and archeological facts. One can be based on evidence, research, and scholarship, though Carson looks down on such an approach, leaving it to “secular progressives,” as if reality has some kind of liberal bias.

Carson1

Can you believe this guy? Even certified right wing conspiracy theorist Rand Paul is laughing at Carson. From TPM:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is the latest GOP presidential candidate to jump on 2016 frontrunnerBen Carson’s theory that the pyramids were created by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain.

“I’’m really big into conspiracy theories, so I think they were probably built by the aliens as grain silos, don’t you think,” Paul joked, when asked about Carson’s idea on 1110AM WBT, as reported by Buzzfeed.

Donald Trump is also capitalizing on the media reports of Carson’s beliefs, according to Politico:

Donald Trump is fully on the attack against Ben Carson, his top Republican rival in the polls, as journalists have called into question the retired neurosurgeon’s anecdotes about his violent past.

“With Ben Carson wanting to hit his mother on head with a hammer, stabb [sic] a friend and Pyramids built for grain storage – don’t people get it?” Trump added in a follow-up tweet, referencing the retired neurosurgeon’s past claims that he tried to harm his mother and friend before seeking redemption, as well as his belief that the biblical figure Joseph built the Great Pyramids of Giza to store grain and not pharaohs’ tombs.

He also took a major swipe at Carson on Thursday evening, as Carson defended himself against the network investigating his stories.

“The Carson story is either a total fabrication or, if true, even worse-trying to hit mother over the head with a hammer or stabbing friend!” Trump tweeted.

The next Republican debate should be interesting.

ben_carson

Carson also thinks transgender people should have their own separate bathrooms. From Think Progress: Ben Carson: Trans People Don’t Deserve ‘Extra Rights,’ Like Using Bathroom.

A week after claiming his anti-gay positionsdidn’t make him homophobic, Ben Carson has suggested that transgender people should be segregated to their own separate restrooms.

Speaking with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Carson explained that he doesn’t think it’s fair that the only way to accommodate transgender people is with “extra rights” to make everyone else “uncomfortable.”

Answering a question about this week’s defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Carson suggested, “How about we have a transgender bathroom?”

“It is not fair for them to make everyone else uncomfortable,” he explained. “It’s one of the things that I don’t particularly like about the movement. I think everybody has equal rights, but I’m not sure that anybody should have extra rights — extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else. The way that this country was designed, it was ‘live and let live,’ and that’s the way I feel.”

ben_carson2

I wonder if Carson knows about what happened to the old Southern policy of “separate but equal” for black people?

More interesting Carson-related links:

ABC News: Ben Carson Lashes Out at Media Over Questions About Violent Childhood.

The Atlantic: Where Is Ben Carson’s Money Going?

Kevin Drum: Is Ben Carson a Liar? Or Does He Just Not Care?

Christian Science Monitor: How Ben Carson became leader in war against ‘political correctness.’

Washington Post: Ben Carson’s stories of violence in his past questioned.

Forbes (via Dakinikat): Archaeologists To Ben Carson: Ancient Egyptians Wrote Down Why The Pyramids Were Built.

Steve Benen: Carson sees a political significance to Noah’s Ark

LA Times: Can Ben Carson expand his base beyond evangelicals and stay on top of the GOP field?

CBS News: Ben Carson misstates political experience of founding fathers.

Jonathan Chait: Is Ben Carson Running for President?

Ben-Carson-and-evolution-with-TARDIS-and-Jesus-riding-dinosaur

 

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!

 

 

 


Thursday Reads: A Quick Rundown

woman-reading (1)

Good Morning!!

This is going to be a quick post, because I think my tooth is getting infected. This is the tooth I was supposed to get a temporary crown for on Tuesday. I’m going to have to call the dentist’s office and see if I can get in on an emergency basis. My Mesa Dentist just opened a practice here and she is already on a wait. Probably from all my referrals. She called me personally Tuesday and chastised me for not making my appointment. I can’t wait to hear what she tells me when I call and tell her it is infected. There’s lots of news this morning, so I’m going to give you a quick rundown, and I’ll try to do something more substantive later on.

First, a dispatch from the “forever war,” intelligence sources in the U.S. and Great Britain are claiming that the recent crash of a Russian plane was caused by an ISIS bomb. CNN reports:

Days after authorities dismissed claims that ISIS brought down a Russian passenger jet, a U.S. intelligence analysis now suggests that the terror group or its affiliates planted a bomb on the plane.

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said his government believes there is a “significant possibility” that an explosive device caused the crash. And a Middle East source briefed on intelligence matters also said it appears likely someone placed a bomb aboard the aircraft.

Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed Saturday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula after breaking apart in midair, killing all 224 people on board. It was en route to St. Petersburg from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The latest U.S. intelligence suggests that the crash was most likely caused by a bomb planted on the plane by ISIS or an affiliate, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke with CNN.

The officials stressed that no formal conclusion has been reached by the U.S. intelligence community and that U.S. officials haven’t seen forensic evidence from the crash investigation.

Intelligence also suggests someone at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport helped get a bomb onto the plane, one U.S. official said.

henri-matisse-reading-girl-white-yellow

We’re never going to get out of the Middle East, thanks Bush and Cheney. Speaking of those two, there’s a new book out in which George H.W. Bush claims that Dubya was betrayed by his advisers–you know, all those long-time Bush family pals that George senior passed on to his son?

In “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush,” author Jon Meacham quotes Bush as saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld were too hawkish and that their harsh stance damaged the reputation of the United States, the cable news network said.

Speaking of Cheney, who was vice president under President George W. Bush, the senior Bush said: “I don’t know, he just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with,” according to the report….

“The reaction (to Sept. 11), what to do about the Middle East. Just iron-ass. His seeming knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East,” Bush told Meacham in the book to be published next Tuesday….

On Rumsfeld, secretary of defense for most of the two terms served by his son, Bush is even more critical. He is quoted as saying: “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the President,” referring to his son.

“I’ve never been that close to him anyway. There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that. Rumsfeld was an arrogant fellow,” he was quoted as saying in the biography. Read more about the book and the Bush interview at The New York Times.

eae535bb5969aea5305f8b2bad2bfd15

The Democratic Party is in deep trouble, as demonstrated by Tuesday’s election results. Greg Sargent: A brutal reality check for the Democratic Party.

The news that Tea Party Republican Matt Bevin snatched the Kentucky governor’s mansion away from Democrats is a particularly stark reminder of how deep a hole Democrats have dug for themselves at the state level, and of the consequences that could have for the long-term success of the liberal and Democratic agenda.

Bevin will replace Democratic governor Steve Beshear, who was perhaps the leading evangelist for the Affordable Care Act in the South. Beshear famously set up a Kentucky health insurance exchange and opted in to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion amid a region of hostility towards the law. Bevin has pledged to transition people off of the exchange to the federal one, and to shut down the state’s Medicaid expansion. But in Kentucky, the law has succeeded at its primary goal: Early on it successfully brought health coverage to some of the state’s (and the country’s) poorest and unhealthiest counties, and Gallupfound earlier this year that Kentucky boasted the second largest drop in the uninsured rate of any state in the country.

Now those policy gains may be in some doubt.

Read the Rest at the WaPo. And from Chris Cillizza: Matt Bevin is the next governor of Kentucky. He has President Obama to thank.

Matt Bevin, the Republican nominee in the Kentucky governor’s race, wasn’t a very good candidate.  By all accounts, he was standoffish and ill at ease on the campaign trail, and inconsistent — to put it nicely — when it came to policy.  The Republican Governors Association, frustrated with Bevin and his campaign, pulled its advertising from the state.  Polling done in the runup to today’s vote showed Bevin trailing state Attorney General Jack Conway (D).

And yet, Bevin won going away on Tuesday night. How? Two words: Barack Obama.

Obama is deeply unpopular in Kentucky. He won under 38 percent of the vote in the Bluegrass State in 2012 after taking 41 percent in 2008. In the 2012 Democratic primary, “uncommitted” took 42 percent of the vote against the unchallenged Obama. One Republican close to the Kentucky gubernatorial race said that polling done in the final days put Obama’s unpopularity at 70 percent.

figurative_oil_painting__coffee_and_matisse__woman_bbe47bdd9e2d0011afd80be22fc3f47a

Again, read the rest at the WaPo. Too bad Obama didn’t stick with Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, while the Republicans ran with it.

Some updates on 2016 GOP primary campaigns . . .

David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight: The GOP Primary Rules Might Doom Carson, Cruz, and Trump.

In a few months, after Iowa and New Hampshire begin to winnow the field, the GOP nomination race could boil down to an epic final between a candidate with a more pragmatic image, such as Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina or Jeb Bush, and a more conservative one, such as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson or Donald Trump.1

If that happens, the moderate finalist — like Mitt Romney and John McCain before him or her — will have a hidden structural advantage: the party’s delegate math and geography.

There are plenty of reasons to be cautious of national polls that show Trump and Carson leading. They may fail to screen out casual voters, for instance, and leaders at this point in past years have eventually tanked. But perhaps the biggest reason to ditch stock in these polls is that they’re simulating a national vote that will never take place.

In reality, the GOP nominating contest will be decided by an intricate, state-by-state slog for the 2,472 delegates at stake between February and June. And thanks to the Republican National Committee’s allocation rules, the votes of “Blue Zone” Republicans — the more moderate GOP primary voters who live in Democratic-leaning states and congressional districts — could weigh more than those of more conservative voters who live in deeply red zones. Put another way: The Republican voters who will have little to no sway in the general election could have some of the most sway in the primary.

As The New York Times’ Nate Cohn astutely observed in January, Republicans in blue states hold surprising power in the GOP presidential primary process even though they are “all but extinct in Washington, since their candidates lose general elections to Democrats.” This explains why Republicans have selected relatively moderate presidential nominees while the party’s members in Congress have continued to veer right.

The key to this pattern: “Blue-state Republicans are less religious, more moderate and less rural than their red-state counterparts,” Cohn concluded after crunching Pew Research survey data. By Cohn’s math, Republicans in states that Obama won in 2012 were 15 percentage points likelier to support Romney in the 2012 primary and 9 points likelier to support McCain in 2008 than their red-state compatriots. Romney and McCain’s advantage in blue states made it “all but impossible for their more conservative challengers to win the nomination,” Cohn wrote.

Read much more interesting stuff at the link.

matisse-woman-reading-at-a-yellow-table

Ed Kilgore’s take on Ben Carson from TPM: Why Ben Carson Isn’t Going Away — And What Makes That So Scary.

During the last month the long-awaited, heavily-promoted decline in Donald Trump’s standing in the Republican presidential nominating contest has finally begun to occur. But aside from a small reshuffling of the order in the “lanes” (e.g., Rubio moving past Bush among Establishment Republicans and Cruz moving past Huckabee, Santorum and Jindal among experienced Christian Right candidates) to which the candidates have been assigned by the punditocracy, the big beneficiary of softening support for Trump has been another candidate with no experience in elected office, Dr. Ben Carson. He is running either first or a strong second in virtually everynational poll, and is now routinely leading polls of Iowa as well. His approval ratings, moreover, are extremely high, and best in the field. It’s safe to say he is almost universally admired by GOP voters.

The conventional wisdom is that Carson is beloved for being a genial, soft-spoken figure and a non-politician with a distinguished biography. That may be true, though this does not necessarily distinguish him from many thousands of his fellow Americans. An equally obvious factor is that he is African American, and Republicans frustrated with being accused of white identity politics if not outright racism love being able to support a black candidate who is as conservative as they are.

Less obvious — and finally being recognized by political reporters spending time in Iowa — is that Carson is a familiar, beloved figure to conservative evangelicals, who have been reading his books for years.

Another factor, and one that I emphasized in my own take here two months ago, is that Carson is a devoted believer in a number of surprisingly resonant right-wing conspiracy theories, which he articulates via dog whistles that excite fellow devotees (particularly fans of Glenn Beck, who shares much of Carson’s world-view) without alarming regular GOP voters or alerting the MSM.

As David Corn of Mother Jones has patiently explained, the real key for understanding Carson (like Beck) is via the works of Cold War-era John Birch Society member and prolific pseudo-historian W. Cleon Skousen, who stipulated that America was under siege from the secret domestic agents of global Marxism who masqueraded as liberals. Carson has also clearly bought into the idea that these crypto-commies are systematically applying the deceptive tactics of Saul Alinsky in order to destroy the country from within—a theme to which he alluded in the famous National Prayer Breakfast speech that launched his political career and in the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate.

Head over to TPM and read the rest.

There’s plenty more news this morning; I’ll try to put a few links in the comments. What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: Will Rubio Win the GOP Nomination?

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Afternoon!!

Boy did I ever oversleep this morning! I’m going through my usual post-road-trip recovery process. The exhaustion usually hits me a couple of days later. There doesn’t seem to be any breaking news today. The Republicans are still insane, gun violence continues unabated in the USA, as do disasters around the world. What else is new?

Well, for one thing it looks like the Republican Party will either nominate Ben Carson or Donald Trump, unless the people who used to be in charge figure out a way to pick Marco Rubio. I can’t see Ted Cruz getting the nomination, because everyone in Washington DC seems to hate his guts. Jeb! Bush has shown himself to be a terrible candidate, and I doubt if he’ll be around much longer. So that leaves Rubio, who is a complete crackpot and likely a crook. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton will probably wipe the floor with him. But he’s still dangerous.

Ultimate Villager Chris Cillizza thinks Trump or Carson may actually win the nomination, despite strenuous efforts by the GOP “political class.”

The Fix: Donald Trump and Ben Carson are top-tier GOP candidates. Get used to it.

I’ve written before in this space that there is more distance between the Republican base and the professional political class than at any time in modern memory. Consider:

* The establishment was convinced until a month or so ago that Jeb Bush was going to be the party’s nominee — totally ignoring the fact that in poll after poll the base made clear that it wasn’t even close to enamored with Bush.

* The establishment regarded Trump as a flash in the pan who should be ignored by “serious” political people. He has now been at or near the top of the Republican field for more than 100 days.

* The establishment dismissed Carson as a candidate with a narrow appeal among social conservatives. He has led the field in each of the past two national polls released on the race.

marco_Rubio

This is the new “normal,” writes Cillizza.

The idea that things are going to return to “normal” sometime soon presumes that the average Republican voter finds the current definition of normal acceptable. They don’t. In fact, exactly the opposite.

Of the four candidates with a real shot today of being the party’s nominee, two have never held elective office — and in fact have never even run before. A third, Cruz, has spent the past three years in the Senate doing everything he can to make clear that he thinks it’s all broken and that his party’s leadership has been co-opted by Democrats. Of the quartet, only Rubio comes close to fitting the definition of a “normal” candidate — and even he, at 44 and having spent just five years in the Senate, would have been considered far too inexperienced to run for president in the pre-Obama era.

We have to assume that the GOP insiders–with help from billionaire donors–will find a way to nominate Rubio. The trouble is that Rubio is almost as crazy as Trump and Carson, even though he appears to many observers to be a “moderate.”

Rubio is impressing some of the big money men. Digby at Salon yesterday: Marco Rubio, the billionaire whisperer: How he became the plutocrats’ favorite candidate (and why we should be scared)

…despite all the big political news of the week, there was a another political story that garnered no attention on the SundayMorning GOP love fest: The decision by vastly wealthy hedge fund manager Paul Singer to back Marco Rubio.

Now it must be noted that so far Rubio has not shown any real strength with voters. He’s still mired down with the pack, usually somewhere around 3rd, 4th or 5th place. By comparison with Bush he’s holding his own, but in the field still dominated by the outsider weirdos, he doesn’t seem to be registering all that effectively in the polls. But there is one group of GOP voters who have been dazzled by him for a while: the billionaires.

He seduced one mega-donor by the name of Norman Braman, a wealthy South Florida car dealer, early on. (Yes, car dealers now become billionaires — amazing what your millions can do when they’re allowed to make money for you.) Braman came out for Rubio before he’d even announced saying, “I just think he’s the candidate of today and tomorrow, and he’s the only one, the only candidate that has come up with specific proposals dealing with the issues facing this nation. Read his book and you’ll see.” Braman hasn’t shared exactly what proposals and what issues to which he’s referring, but the fact that he’s is known as an”eclectic” donor, offering financial support to both Democrats and Republicans over the years, told the party that Rubio had fully shed his early doctrinaire Tea Party image (which had been fraying for some time) to become the kind of establishment candidate who could win the general election.

Marco Rubio2

But Braman isn’t the only octogenarian billionaire who finds Rubio’s smooth charm alluring:

Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rubio has met privately with the mogul on a half-dozen occasions. In recent months, he‘s been calling Adelson about once every two weeks, providing him with meticulous updates on his nascent campaign. During a recent trip to New York City, Rubio took time out of his busy schedule to speak by phone with the megadonor.

And, Adelson is listening. Read the rest at Salon.

More signs that Rubio may end up with the nomination:

Brett Arends’s Roi at MarketWatch: Opinion: Why the money’s now betting on Rubio.

Ben Geier at Fortune: Marco Rubio may be the default candidate for big business.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Why Marco Rubio is so effective and dangerous.

Rubio for Rubio

Rubio may look like a guileless young fellow, and he really doesn’t know much about policy; and he’s shown that he’ll change his positions to please the big money guys. He may also be financially corrupt.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon last week on the second GOP debate: We must now fear Marco Rubio: The GOP’s best bet is sneaky, slippery and deceptively dangerous.

A lot of pundits are casting around for politicians to compare Rubio to—names like John Edwards (for empty suitness) or Barack Obama (for being young and non-white) come up—but the politician he actually evokes the most is Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. Bush. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post doesn’t mention W. Bush, but consider his very convincing description of Rubio’s strengths as a politician.

“Rubio knows how to feed the angry preoccupations of many GOP base voters while simultaneously coming across as hopeful and optimistic,” he writes. “Last night, Rubio, in what appeared to be an appeal to the deep resentment of many of these voters, skillfully converted legitimate questions about his personal financial management into evidence of Democratic and elite media contempt for his relatively humble upbringing, which he proceeded to explain he had overcome through hard work. Rubio’s narrative is both laden with legitimate resentment and inspiring!”

Playing to angry conservatives while simultaneously coming across as a nice, if bland guy to more mainstream crowds? That sounds exactly like the formula that Bush employed against Al Gore in the 2000 campaign. While Rubio avoids the now-loaded term “compassionate conservatism”, his pitch, that he supports conservative policies because he thinks they help working class people, hits exactly the same note.

If Rubio wins, there’s a strong chance that the 2016 election will be a redux of the 2000 campaign: A dim but affable-seeming Republican who comes across as kind of harmless against a smarty-pants Democrat that the media can’t help but portray as high-strung. That combination not only leads to a rather boring campaign, with debates between the nerd and the aw-shucks guy putting everyone to sleep, but it suppresses voter turnout.

bilde

But he’ll probably appoint good advisers, like Bush did right? Like these guys maybe.

The Daily Beast: Marco Rubio’s Slimy Pal Slithers Back.

As Sen. Marco Rubio emerges as a strong contender for the presidential nomination, the ghosts that have haunted his past are threatening to come back around for another pass.

It’s the scandal-ridden gang that won’t leave him alone: former Rep. David Rivera and former state Rep. Ralph Arza, who have been allies with Rubio since their political infancies, are both individuals with controversial pasts. Rivera has been under investigation as the alleged mastermind of a campaign finance scheme, and Arza was forced to resign from the Florida legislature in 2006 following two felony charges related to leaving a racial slur on a fellow representative’s voice mail.

The cloud of impropriety that hangs around Rivera and Arza should be noxious to a rising campaign with its eye on the White House. But both Arza and Rivera were spotted among other Rubio supporters as recently as the Republican presidential debates in Cleveland in August, three Republican sources tell The Daily Beast….

The two may not realize that they are a liability for the Rubio campaign—or they may simply not care. There are certainly figures within the Rubio orbit who think the two are a distraction, and were irritated by their presence in Cleveland, but feel there is little they can do to prevent these former lawmakers from supporting him.

“Both Arza and Rivera would create political perception problems for Rubio,” wrote Manuel Roig-Franzia in the 2012 biography,The Rise of Marco Rubio. “But he had a tendency to stand by them, sometimes to his own detriment.”

More at the link.

Rubio-Ride

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump is a dissenter–he still thinks Trump may win in the end: Is Donald Trump 2016’s Mitt Romney?

As Bump writes,

The tricky thing at this moment is that even consolidation won’t do much for the one-time top tier of the GOP. If Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich and Chris Christie and George Pataki drop out, throwing their support to Marco Rubio, Rubio goes from 11 percent support in this new poll to … 28 percent, still one point behind Ben Carson.

That’s now, in this moment…maybe Rubio is actually doing better than this. But [the NBC/WSJ poll is] also comparing him to Ben Carson who, unlike Donald Trump after these 108 days, looks more like a 2012 boom-and-bust candidate. It’s feasible that this Carson surge will be met by a Carson slide, in the manner of Rick Perry and Herman Cain four years ago. Leaving the one candidate with a consistent level of support back at the front of the pack: one Donald Trump.

But, again: Political predictions in 2015 are a fool’s errand.

Only time will tell.

So….what do you think? What stories are you following today?