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.


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.


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.


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?


Tuesday Reads: Benghazi Will Never Die and Other News

John Cole / Scranton Times Tribune

John Cole / Scranton Times Tribune

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a very late start this morning because of some computer problems, but as far as I can tell, Joe Biden is still playing games with the press corps. I suppose that could go on for at least the rest of the week, since Hillary is testifying before the Benghazi! Committee on Thursday. I doubt if she will suddenly implode, but apparently Biden is hoping for a major meltdown of some kind.

Last night Rachel Maddow announced that she will be interviewing Hillary on her Friday show, so that should be interesting. Meanwhile, ABC News was forced to admit that Hillary’s poll numbers have gone up against both Bernie Sanders and Biden, according to their latest survey of voters.

Hillary Clinton has followed a successful debate performance by rebounding in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, regaining ground against Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden alike.

With anticipation surrounding Biden at a peak, Clinton has 54 percent support in interviews Thursday through Sunday, compared with Sanders’ 23 percent and Biden’s 16 percent. That’s 12 percentage points better for Clinton than her position a month ago, bringing her halfway back to her level of support in the spring and summer, before her September stumble.


In anticipation of Hillary’s testimony on Thursday, Democratic members of the Benghazi “special committee” released a 146-page report detailing the results of the investigation so far from their point of view. CBS News: Democrats: Benghazi committee interviews discredit GOP claims about Clinton.

“This report shows that no witnesses we interviewed substantiated these wild Republican conspiracy theories about Secretary Clinton and Benghazi. It’s time to bring this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to an end,” Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a statement accompanying the 146-page report.

Following through on a recent threat, the Democrats released excerpts from the panel’s 54 interviews, but still called on Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, to release full transcripts and depositions….

Based on 54 interviews, the Democrats said the committee found no evidence that Clinton ordered the military to stand down on the night of the attacks, no evidence she personally approved a reduction in security before the attacks and no evidence Clinton or her aides oversaw an operation to scrub or destroy documents related to Benghazi, among other findings.

Documents obtained by the committee confirmed Clinton’s earlier testimony about her actions that night, the report said, as did the interviews with Mills and Sullivan.

Many more details at the link.

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune


As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, the Benghazi committee is falling about anyway, thanks to the stupidity of its chairman Trey Gowdy. At The New Republic, Brian Beutler writes: The Benghazi Witch-Hunt Against Hillary Is Backfiring Just Like Bill Clinton’s Impeachment.

When the committee began to drift from its nominal investigative purpose—the 2012 attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed—and focus on unrelated aspects of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009-2013, it invited comparisons to the GOP-led fishing expeditions of the 1990s, which culminated in the partisan impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and discredited his leading critics.

The comparison became inescapable this weekend, when the top Democrat on the Benghazi committee revealed that its Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, had fabricated a redaction to Clinton’s emails to make it look like she’d endangered a spy, and the CIA had busted her. Gowdy even mimicked intelligence community vernacular, designating the redaction as undertaken to protect “sources and methods,” without disclosing that he was the redactor or that the CIA had cleared the name he redacted for release.

This flagrant misconduct has barely pierced the consciousness of the political scribes who have treated every selective Benghazi leak with as much credulity and legitimacy as lower-fanfare congressional investigations, even after their media peers have been burned—repeatedly—by intentionally deceptive leaks. Conservatives, too, are ignoring or brushing off the impropriety. But Benghazi committee errors are piling up so rapidly, and timed so impeccably for Hillary Clinton’s public testimony before the committee this Thursday, that it seems for once like Republicans might tamp down on the Hillary misdirection of their own volition, much as they did in the 1990s when a similarly unfocused obsession with the Clintons damaged their party.

Back in 1998, House Republican leaders had to dial back an investigation into the Clintons’ campaign finance practices after then-oversight committee chairman Dan Burton tried to hoodwink the press with heavily edited transcripts meant to implicate Hillary. That botched operation forced Burton to fire his top aide David Bossie, who went on to become president of Citizens United, and prompted an angry backlash from Speaker Newt Gingrich on behalf of an embarrassed Republican conference.

The recent blows to the Benghazi committee’s self-styled credibility are at least as severe, beginning with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s admission that Republicans empaneled it to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, running through well-substantiated allegations that Republicans have been using committee resources to investigate Clinton at the expense of the actual attacks on the U.S. facility in Libya.

I am sooooooo looking forward to Hillary’s appearance on Thursday!

Chris Britt / Creators Syndicate

Chris Britt / Creators Syndicate

According to CNN, Jim Webb will hold a press conference today to announce he is dropping out of the Democratic primary race and that he does not plan to run as an independent.

Jim Webb will end his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination at a press conference Tuesday, according to two sources with knowledge of the decision.

The former Virginia senator who launched a longshot presidential bid earlier this year is considering an independent run, according to his campaign. Craig Crawford, Webb’s spokesman, declined to comment on whether the senator was dropping out of the Democratic race, however.

“Jim will have the first word at 1 p.m.,” Crawford said, referring to the senator’s press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

After a prolonged exploration of a presidential bid, Webb used an more than 2,000-word blog post to announce his run.

His campaign, however, never really got off the ground and was seen by even some close Webb aides as more of a vanity play than an actual presidential bid. In total, Webb spent four days campaigning in New Hampshire and 20 days in Iowa, far fewer than the senator’s challengers.

Webb also expressed outright frustration with the Democratic Party during his run, questioning their strategy and the support they were providing him. During the first Democratic debate earlier this month, Webb spent considerable time complaining about the amount of time he was given to speak.

John Darkow / Columbia (Missour) Times Tribune

John Darkow / Columbia (Missour) Times Tribune

On the Republican side, Carly Fiorina is struggling and Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still running neck and neck. Politico reports: Fiorina’s support collapses, Trump leads in CNN poll.

Carly Fiorina’s time near the top of the Republican polls may have come to an end, as another national CNN/ORC poll out Tuesday suggests. Just 4 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning voters said they would cast their votes for her in a primary election, down from 15 percent in September.

Overall, Donald Trump led the field with 27 percent, followed again by Ben Carson with 22 percent, up 8 points from last month’s survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each earned 8 percent, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Fiorina pulled in 4 percent, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich earned 3 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 2 percent and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham 1 percent.

Appearing later in the morning on CNN’s “New Day,” Trump commented that he and Carson have both “hit a chord” in the electorate.

The crazy chord?
Tom Toles / Washington Post

Tom Toles / Washington Post

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is continuing to do extremely poorly in the polls. His latest problem stems from his repeated claim that “My brother kept us safe.” Donald Trump pointed out that Jeb’s brother George W. was actually president when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. That simple statement of fact sent Republican to the fainting couch where they accused Democrats of fomenting conspiracy theories. Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart wrote: Trump Is Right About 9/11. George W. Bush didn’t do all he could to prevent the attack—and it’s time Republicans confronted that fact.
[Trump’s] latest ugly truth came during a Bloomberg TV interview last Friday, when he said George W. Bush deserves responsibility for the fact that “the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Politicians and journalists erupted in indignation. Jeb Bush called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” Ben Carson dubbed them “ridiculous.”

Former Bush flack Ari Fleischer called Trump a 9/11 “truther.” Even Stephanie Ruhle, the Bloomberg anchor who asked the question, cried, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.”

Oh yes, you can. There’s no way of knowing for sure if Bush could have stopped the September 11 attacks. But that’s not the right question. The right question is: Did Bush do everything he could reasonably have to stop them, given what he knew at the time? And he didn’t. It’s not even close.

When the Bush administration took office in January 2001, CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke both warned its incoming officials that al-Qaeda represented a grave threat. During a transition briefing early that month at Blair House, according to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, Tenet and his deputy James Pavitt listed Osama bin Laden as one of America’s three most serious national-security challenges. That same month, Clarke presented National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with a plan he had been working on since al-Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole the previous October. It called for freezing the network’s assets, closing affiliated charities, funneling money to the governments of Uzbekistan, the Philippines and Yemen to fight al-Qaeda cells in their country, initiating air strikes and covert operations against al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan, and dramatically increasing aid to the Northern Alliance, which was battling al-Qaeda and the Taliban there.

But both Clarke and Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded. Clarke recounts that when he briefed Rice about al-Qaeda, “her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.” On January 25, Clarke sent Rice a memo declaring that, “we urgently need…a Principals [Cabinet] level review on the al Qida [sic] network.” Instead, Clarke got a sub-cabinet, Deputies level, meeting in April, two months after the one on Iraq.

When that April meeting finally occurred, according to Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz objected that “I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” Clarke responded that, “We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al-Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” To which Wolfowitz replied, “Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example.”

By early summer, Clarke was so despondent that he asked to be reassigned. “This administration,” he later testified, “didn’t either believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem.

And so on . . . we all know the story from the 9/11 committee hearings but you can read more about it at The Atlantic. Actually all Trump really said was that Bush was president when 9/11 happened. That’s pretty difficult to deny.

Interestingly, Andrew Kaczynsky points out that Trump actually predicted that something bad was likely to happen: “Over A Year Before 9/11, Trump Wrote Of Terror Threat With Remarkable Clarity.” Read about it at Buzzfeed. Finally, The Hill reports that the DNC is using Beinart’s story in The Atlantic to “bash” poor Jeb. I wonder how much longer he can keep going?

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

Friday Reads: Walking Dead Edition

halloween with esther williams
Happy Friday! It’s still October!

I’m going to binge on all things Halloween for awhile because I refuse to acknowledge the onslaught of National Crass Consumerism Season which overtakes all Autumn Holidays. Tis the season for me refusing to buy anything but the basics because I don’t want to encourage the takeover of all things autumnal.

The campaign trail continues to heat up and there’s been a death watch put out for two republican candidates.  The first one is my disastrous Governor Bobby Jindal.  The second one is for the abysmally dull Jeb Bush. The Republican field is narrowing down to people that are really unfit to govern at all and all Republican establishment eyes appear to be turning to dim, inexperienced, and very flip floppy Marco Rubio.  But, let’s go wallow in the Bobby Jindal death knell awhile.

The Louisiana governor’s campaign reported having just $260,000 to spend at the end of September after raising a little over half a million dollars and spending significantly more than that in the third quarter. It’s a paltry sum compared to his rivals, and if Jindal can’t jumpstart his White House bid soon, he could be headed the way of Rick Perry and Scott Walker, who ended their campaigns when their coffers ran dry.

Jindal’s been such a disaster for Louisiana it appears that a few Democrats actually have a chance in statewide elections including the race against David Vitter for Governor.  Sean Illing refers to this as our “nasty Bobby Jindal hangover”.   Could this be the year that Blue Dog Democrats make a come back? sandra Dee Halloween

The GOP is in serious trouble as a national political party. Demographic shifts, a crisis-driven conservative media and an ungovernable congressional caucus have tarnished the Republican brand. Increasingly, the GOP’s base is confined to the south and to pockets of rural America. But even in a conservative state like Louisiana, Republicans are being challenged by Democratic candidates. While it’s unlikely that Louisiana becomes a blue state anytime soon, there are some compelling indicators that the political winds are shifting.

First, you have the emerging gubernatorial race, which is far more competitive than many thought possible. The Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards, is now leadingthe former Republican frontrunner, David Vitter, by a substantial margin. “

It’s almost laboratory conditions in Louisiana for Democrats,” James Carville told Salon in an exclusive interview. “You have a horrifically unpopular incumbent governor [Bobby Jindal] and the likely Republican survivor [Vitter] is one of the most flawed candidates in American politics.”

Against the backdrop of Jindal’s tenure (which began with an $865 million surplus and ended with a $1.6 billion budget deficit) and the GOP’s broader image problem, things set up perfectly for Louisiana Democrats.

In addition to the gubernatorial race, there is also the campaign for Louisiana Secretary of State. The Democratic candidate is Chris Tyson, a young progressive who many, including Carville, believe has a bright future in national politics – although Tyson himself insists his “immediate concern is winning this election.” A Baton Rouge native, Tyson would be the first African-American elected statewide in Louisiana since Reconstruction. As yet there is very little polling data, but that which exists shows the race extremely tight.

That the race is close at all is remarkable. Tyson’s Republican opponent, incumbent Tom Schedler, was thought unbeatable by most observers of Louisiana’s politics, but that’s no longer the case.

Carville, who follows Louisiana politics as closely as anyone, expected a competitive race. The Republican Party is reeling nationally, he noted, and “Chris is a once in a generation candidate…He’s a progressive Democrat in Louisiana, but he’s also the son of a federal judge, a former small business owner, a law professor, a community activist and a graduate of Howard, Harvard and Georgetown University.” Tyson may not win this election, Carville added, but “it’ll be interesting to watch because it’s a good barometer of what’s possible in this political climate…The deck couldn’t be stacked more in the Democrats’ favor.”

I watched the debate between the four candidates running for govenor and basically wanted to sell the kathouse and head for the safety of a blue state.  However, none of them could ever be as worse for the state than Jindal. At least their open to addressing some of the problems we have in the state with something other than naked ambition in mind.  So, Jindal is building a huge house in Baton Rouge.  We won’t be completely rid of him but it seems he’s gone from public life shortly.

uploads-20131017T1612Z_d9c3d8a16e07853f46edd6951c40a14f-5x65Jeb Bush is tightening his campaign belt.  Yesterday, many in the media put him on the Death Watch list.

Jeb Bush’s campaign slashed hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries over the last three months as the struggling candidate’s fundraising machine slowed to a more middling pace, new campaign-finance reports indicate.

No longer able to raise unlimited sums with his super PAC, Bush hauled in $13.4 million in the third quarter of the year for his campaign. That’s more than all of his GOP rivals except Ben Carson. But Bush also spent more than many of them, leaving him with about as much money in the bank as Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz has more.

Bush’s campaign once saw its size and staff as its strength. But the newly released campaign-finance reports indicate it could be a liability if fundraising slacks further.

More than 60 Bush staffers might have had their salaries cut or their positions changed to reduce their income, compared with the second quarter of the year when Bush announced his candidacy, the campaign-finance reports show. The campaign did not want to discuss the numbers. But the pay cuts, depending on whether the salaries are divided on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, could have saved the campaign anywhere from $450,000 to nearly $900,000 per quarter, according to a POLITICO analysis of the campaign’s payroll. The cuts have ranged from the small for some staffers ($12 a week) to large reductions for four of the top campaign chiefs who each took a $75,000 pay cut.

vintage-halloween-pinup-gloria-saundersYouGov describes Bush’s campaign as “faltering”. 

He was once the clear frontrunner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination.  Then, while candidates like Donald Trump emerged, he was still seen by many Republicans as the likely nominee.  But now former Florida Governor Jeb Bush runs behind Trump, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.  Bush is just about tied with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and businesswomen Carly Fiorina in the latestEconomist/YouGov Poll.

Red State has officially put him on Death Watch.  (Not linking to it.  Won’t do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.)

There is also some talk about no one liking Chris Christie. This includes his home state. He should be on death watch too except no one cares about him any more.

Meanwhile, the Biden Will-he-or-Won’t-he? obsession of the national media continues.

Former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, one of Biden’s closest political advisers, said Biden would soon make a decision about whether to enter the race. In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Kaufman asked former staffers to stay in close contact and said Biden would need their help immediately if he enters the race.

“If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead,” Kaufman said.

Calls within the Democratic Party for Biden to run have been growing for months, fueled largely by concerns that front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign was faltering under the weight of an email scandal and declining popularity. But Clinton’s commanding performance Tuesday in the first Democratic debate, coupled with Biden’s seemingly endless delays in making a decision, have put a damper on the speculation in recent days, with top Democratic leaders questioning whether it’s too late for Biden.

Kaufman’s letter to former Biden aides marked an attempt by the vice president to signal he’s still very much considering running and shouldn’t be written off. It also served to reinforce the notion that Clinton isn’t the only Democrat who could run in part on a promise to lock in policies that Obama has advanced during his two terms.

“He believes we must win this election,” Kaufman said. “Everything he and the president have worked for — and care about — is at stake.”

Clinton and her top rival in the race, Sen. Bernie Sanders, have been campaigning for months and have raised tens of millions of dollars, giving them a huge head start that would make it tough for Biden to mount a viable challenge. The first filing deadlines in some states are just weeks away and Biden currently has no operation in key states. Alluding to those concerns, Kaufman said Biden was “aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon.”

Has any one ever seen a whackier campaign season or is it just me?  So, establishment Republican donors appear to be stumped or Trumped, depending how you wanna look at it.  I’m thinking that SuperPacs mayfcc65b1919f1a271e4dbf7073a021211 actually have a huge effect in the race because the traditional campaigns don’t seem to be flush with cash right now.

“You could have this big super PAC, but if you have limited momentum and limited money to keep the campaign going, it’s like the guy at the top of Mount Everest with two broken legs and an extra oxygen tank,” said Republican strategist Matthew Dowd. “You’re living longer, but you’re not going anywhere.”

One of the challenges for Bush and other GOP hopefuls has been the dominance of real-estate impresario Donald Trump, who has siphoned off much of the enthusiasm in the base. The businessman raised $3.8 million, even though he has pledged to self-fund his campaign and is not soliciting contributions.

“Donald Trump has basically stultified the fundraising for these candidates,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who had been Walker’s national finance co-chair and is now backing Bush. “He’s the Trump speed bump. His ratcheting up in the polls has made it very difficult for more establishment Republicans to get traction with donors.”

In all, six Democratic candidates reported raising $123.2 million for their campaign committees so far this year, while 15 GOP candidates pulled in $143.5 million overall.

Clinton and Sanders together had $60.1 million on hand at the end of September. Meanwhile, the 15 Republicans combined reported having $61.2 million in the bank.

Meanwhile, the first primary happens in February.  Who knows what will come and go between then and now?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Lazy Saturday Reads: “Stuff Happens”

 StuffHappens poly

Good Morning!!

I just can’t get past Jeb Bush’s remarks about the mass shooting in Oregon: “Stuff happens.” In context, the meaning is the same. Here’s full quote:

“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see.

But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

I think what was shocking to many commentators is that Bush didn’t express any sadness or horror at the senseless murder of nine people.

The truth is that Bush was simply being honest about Republican policy–the solution to problems that affect ordinary people is not government or laws. There is nothing we can do, because laws and regulations will cause inconveniences for other people. We just have to accept that the cost of “freedom” is that people will periodically be murdered with high powered weapons, and that is the price we must pay so that people can have all the guns they want.

Here’s Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine explaining that Bush was simply stating GOP policy in frank terms:

The news media immediately initiated its gaffe sequence, reducing Bush’s response to “stuff happens” and the context to the shootings in Oregon. Omitted from the gaffication was the intermediary process in Bush’s reply, when he generalized from a particular shooting to public problems in general, which led him to his position that frequently events occur and the proper response is nothing. That idea is not always wrong, not even for liberals, and certainly not for conservatives. Those of us who favor gun control find it terribly wrong as a response to mass shootings. But, again, denying any public policy response to endemic gun violence is a completely standard position in the GOP.

So the impulse to call Bush’s response a gaffe rests instead upon the callousness of the wording — “stuff happens.” But Bush was not applying that phrase specifically to yesterday’s tragedy. He was generalizing about events — many of them, yes, tragic. He was not dismissing the scope of the tragedy in Oregon. And without that element, there is not, or should not be, anything especially troublesome aside from the fact that Bush subscribes to a party doctrine that dismisses even the most sensible and minor limits on access to deadly weaponry.

Here is the video with some commentary from The New York Daily News.


Of course Bush and his fellow GOPers don’t apply their “stuff happens” philosophy when it comes to women’s reproductive health. When it comes to anything involving women, no amount of regulation is enough for them. Women should be returned to the status they held in the 1950s and early 1960s. What about women who choose not to be married?

Hey, stuff happens. If you can’t get a decent job and you automatically get less pay than your male counterparts, that’s just the way it is. Government can’t solve your problems. What if you can’t afford to have a child or you were raped or you’re a 12-year-old girl impregnated by her stepfather or father? Tough luck. You should have the baby and be grateful for what “god” gave you. Of course we’ll still call you a slut and a whore if you aren’t married.

What if you have black or brown skin and people are prejudiced against you? What if they even attack you violently because of the color of your skin? What if they make you go to separate schools and make you drink out of separate drinking fountains? What if they won’t let you vote?

Bush stuff1

Hey, stuff happens. Laws won’t change anything.

Except that is what happened. Government leaders took action and laws changed. Women gained some rights and privileges that had been denied them right up until the 1970s. Black people were integrated into schools and “separate but equal” was replaced with equality for all. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but to the extent that changes happened, government and laws played important roles.

Of course Jeb Bush’s mistake was that he stated Republican attitudes honestly. Republicans are supposed use weasel words and vague generalities instead of coming right out and saying, “Tough luck, stuff happens.”

There is also a larger context for Jeb Bush’s words. Remember Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to the out-of-control looting of Iraq’s precious national treasures? From CNN, April 12, 2003:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of “pent-up feelings” of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein.

He also asserted the looting was not as bad as some television and newspaper reports have indicated and said there was no major crisis in Baghdad, the capital city, which lacks a central governing authority. The looting, he suggested, was “part of the price” for what the United States and Britain have called the liberation of Iraq.

“Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things,” Rumsfeld said. “They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here.”

Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. “Stuff happens,” Rumsfeld said.

bush-happensAs we all know, stuff kept right on happening in Iraq and stuff is still happening there and in Afghanistan and Syria, thanks to the second Bush administration. Now Jeb! wants to be the third President Bush. Fortunately, he’s so ham-handed, incompetent, and uncharismatic that he probably won’t get that chance.

But the simple truth is that with today’s Republican Party in charge, we are not going to be able to solve problems that affect ordinary Americans. The only thing government will be permitted to do is enable giant corporations to destroy the economy and the environment and generally ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Of course many Republicans recognize that Bush hurt himself with his honesty. Here’s Ed Straker at The Daily Thinker:

In a poll with a margin of error of about 5%, Jeb Bush is polling at 4%.  That means, statistically speaking, that it is possible that Jeb Bush is at zero percent in the polls.  The last time I wrote this about a candidate, he ended up out of the race shortly thereafter.  I hope the same does not happen to Jeb, because then the amnesty crowd will be forced to pin their hopes on Marco Rubio, who has the same sweaty nervousness giving speeches as a first-time bank robber handing a furtive note to a bank teller.

But even Politico, the website of liberal Democrats and their Republican friends, is starting to turn on Jeb, featuring an article telling of his most recent flubs.

Speaking about the massacre in Roseburg, Oregon, Jeb says, “Stuff happens.”  Some conservative websites say that quote was taken out of context, but it wasn’t.  Listen to it yourself.  He is clearly responding to the shooting, and chose his words very badly.

Stuff happens bushMore right wing criticism of Bush at the link.

Donald Trump’s comments on the Oregon mass murder were similar to Jeb Bush’s. Josh Voorhees at Slate:

On Friday morning, an unusually calm Donald Trump offered his take on what can be done to prevent the next massacre on U.S. soil: nothing.

“First of all, you have very strong laws on the books, but you’re always going to have problems,” Trump said during a telephone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We have millions and millions of people, we have millions and millions of sick people all over the world. It can happen all over the world and it does happen all over the world, by the way. But this is sort of unique to this country, the school shootings. And you’re going to have difficulty no matter what.”

Trump added later: “It’s not politically correct to say that, but you’re going to have difficulty and that will be for the next million years, there’s going to be difficulty and people are going to slip through the cracks. What are you going to do, institutionalize everybody?”

Donald Trump

Trump didn’t come right out and say “stuff happens,” but that’s obviously what he meant. Government can do things to help the rich, but not the rest of us. Tough luck folks. Stuff happens. More from Voorhees’ piece:

You don’t have to squint to find the irony in Trump’s comments, and not just because the GOP front-runner managed to talk about a mass shooting without ever once directly mentioning guns, aka the very weapon of choice for this particular killer—just like it was for those murderers that came before him at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and the countless other schools that were the settings for similarly horrible violence. In that way, Trump’s not unlike the rest of his GOP rivals who, as my colleague Will Saletan notes, continue to maintain that gun violence isn’t a gun problem.

What’s so remarkable about Trump effectively throwing in the towel on this topic is that his whole campaign is predicated on the idea that he’d be able to fix all of the nation’s woes with the sheer force of his personality. Here’s a man, after all, whose heartless immigration policy is built on the premise that he’d construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that would ensure that no one—and especially not would-be criminals like the one man who allegedly killed Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco—could slip through the cracks, and yet here he is suggesting that there’s nothing to be done about school shootings because ultimately there will always be people who slip through the cracks.

That’s because the “problems” Trump and the rest of today’s Republicans want to “solve” aren’t the same problems the rest of us care about.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comments. This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads


Good Morning!!

Pope Francis is currently visiting Washington DC, and he will address Congress this morning. Yesterday he said a mass and canonized a questionable new saint. From NPR:

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., today. You can watch the proceedings in The Washington Post video above.

Serra, the first Hispanic American saint and the first saint to be canonized in the U.S., helped Spain colonize California in the late 1700s, converting tens of thousands of Native Americans to Catholicism in the process. Some Native American groups objected to the canonization of a priest who converted indigenous people to Christianity using force.

The pontiff addressed Serra’s history in his homily.

“Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.”

After the mass, Francis met with Native Americans at the basilica to speak with them privately about the controversy.

At the link, you can read tweets from people who noticed that Francis fell asleep at one point during the mass.

CIRCA 1930: Fray Junipero Serra Postcard. ca. 1915-1925, Fray Junipero Serra Postcard (Photo by LCDM Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

CIRCA 1930: Fray Junipero Serra Postcard. ca. 1915-1925, Fray Junipero Serra Postcard (Photo by LCDM Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

NPR tried to soft-pedal the controversy over Serra’s canonization. NBC has more details:

Saint or Sinner? Pope Courts Controversy With Canonization of Junipero Serra.

…to some Native Americans, Serra’s achievements are nothing to celebrate. They say he created a military-backed mission system that thrived on brutality and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

“It is very offensive to canonize the person who actually enslaved, whipped, tortured and separated families and destroyed our cultural and spiritual beliefs,” said Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. “How can that behavior be recognized as saintly behavior?” ….

Robert Senkewicz, a professor of history at Santa Clara University who has written a book about Serra, said it’s probably no accident that a pope who hails from Latin America, where the missionaries were seen as protectors, would support Serra.

He said he understands both sides of the debate: there’s evidence that Serra supported the flogging of the California Indians as punishment; he had women and girls locked away at night to keep them safe from rapists; and the crowded missions helped breed the disease that killed many.

“Serra, by his own right, really loved the Indians,” Senkewicz said. “But he thought of them as children. Like 99 percent of the people of the day, he thought Europeans were superior to the native people.”

Lopez said he was stunned by the pope’s elevation of Serra given that the pontiff has championed the downtrodden and even apologized in July for the church’s “grave sins” against the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Statue of Junipero Serra on Highway 280 south of San Francisco

Statue of Junipero Serra on Highway 280 south of San Francisco

Like most of what the Vatican does, conferring sainthood is a political process. Frankly, to me it’s meaningless; but I can certainly understand why many Catholics would be up in arms about it.

The Washington Post on Francis’ speech to Congress this morning:

Pope Francis, a symbol of unity for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, will address Congress Thursday morning, marking the first time a pope has bridged the church-state divide to speak to America’s elected representatives.

The pope is scheduled to arrive on Capitol Hill at 9:20 a.m. Hours earlier, hundreds people began lining up outside the Capitol grounds, waiting to pass through security checkpoints and stake out a place to see him….

At 10:01 a.m., the House sergeant-at-arms is scheduled to announce: “Mr. Speaker, the pope of the Holy See.” His words will formally launch an event that would have been politically impossible through much of American history, when Catholics — especially waves of immigrants from Italy, Ireland and central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — suffered widespread discrimination.

That began to change with the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency in 1960, according to the article.

In speaking before Congress, the pope was to take the central position in a tableau reflecting a wholesale shift in Catholics’ place in the United States. Vice President Joe Biden (D), who is also Catholic, will sit behind him, next to Boehner. In front of him will be four justices of the Supreme Court — including three of the six Catholics who currently sit on the nine-member court.

There are 164 Catholics in this Congress, or 31 percent of the members. That’s a higher proportion than in the overall U.S. population, which is 22 percent Catholic. Despite those numbers, it seems doubtful that even a pope who has admonished world leaders to argue less and accomplish more can break the bitter, years-long political paralysis in the U.S. legislature.

Pope Francis meets with John Boehner before the historic speech to Congress.

Pope Francis meets with John Boehner before the historic speech to Congress.

Unfortunately, many of the “Catholics” in this Congress and the Supreme Court do not subscribe to actual Catholic values such as humility, helping the poor, protecting the environment, and making peace, not war.

Pope Francis also held a meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor to “quietly” support their battle against birth control being covered by Obamacare. USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor Wednesday, a move that Vatican officials said was intended to send a message of support in the nuns’ battle against Obamacare.

The religious order of Catholic sisters is suing theObama administration over a provision of the Affordable Care Act that the administration has interpreted as requiring the sisters to purchase health insurance with birth control coverage.

Catholic teaching opposes the use of birth control. The sisters can request a waiver, but their lawsuit argues that requiring that paperwork infringes on their religious freedom. The sisters are suing under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Clinton-era law that prohibits the government from placing a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion.

Last August, an appeals court sided with the government, but an unusual dissent by five judges this month called that decision “clearly and gravely wrong — on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty.” The question now goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sigh . . .

News From the Clown Car

Donald Trump is once again feuding with Fox News.

From Politico: Trump says he won’t appear on Fox News. The Republican front-runner says Fox has been treating him unfairly, while Fox says it dumped Trump first.

Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly before the feud

Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly before the feud

Citing unfair treatment, Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is not going to appear on any Fox News shows “for the forseeable future,” reigniting a feud that has heated up and cooled throughout the summer.

“.@FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future,” Trump tweeted at mid-day on Wednesday.

Fox News fired back a couple hours later, saying Trump had it all wrong, and that it was Fox who dumped Trump. A spokesman issued a statement, condeming Trump’s attacks on Fox’s journalists.

“At 11:45am today, we canceled Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance on The O’Reilly Factor on Thursday, which resulted in Mr. Trump’s subsequent tweet about his ‘boycott’ of FOX News,” the statement reads. “The press predictably jumped to cover his tweet, creating yet another distraction from any real issues that Mr. Trump might be questioned about. When coverage doesn’t go his way, he engages in personal attacks on our anchors and hosts, which has grown stale and tiresome. He doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”

The Republican presidential candidate had devoted Monday and Tuesday nights this week to blasting the network’s coverage of him on Twitter, tweeting and retweeting criticism.

More details at the link. Ugh.

Donald Trump at the South Carolina Freedom Summit

Donald Trump at the South Carolina Freedom Summit

Also from Politico: Trump: I’m so tired of this politically correct crap.

A seemingly exasperated Donald Trump announced on Wednesday, “I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,” telling a crowd of South Carolina business leaders that he’s still the straight-talking, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy that surged to the top of the polls this summer.

The Republican presidential candidate is suffering a bit of a slump, due to some slippage in the polls, a lackluster debate performance, and another round of negative headlines due to his refusal to apologize for not correcting a questioner at a New Hampshire town hall who insisted President Obama is a Muslim and not an American.

On Wednesday, he tried to reclaim his mojo,  launching another Twitter-based attack on Fox News before taking the stage in South Carolina to blast his rivals. In the case of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Trump remarked that both candidates “hate each other … but they can’t say it.” Rubio was state senator while Bush was governor of Florida.

Trump, addressing the Greater Charleston Business Association and the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, detailed his grievances with the way politicians act.

“This is what bothers me about politicians. He announces he’s gonna run and they go to Jeb, ‘what do you think of Marco Rubio?’ ‘He’s my dear, dear friend, he’s wonderful, he’s a wonderful person, I’m so happy that he’s running.’ Give me a break,” Trump said. “That’s called politicians’ speak. Then they go to Marco, what do you think of Jeb Bush? ‘Ohh, he’s great, he’s brought me along.”

Rubio and Bush “hate each other,” Trump said, blasting Rubio as “overly ambitious, too young, and I have better hair than he does, right?”

What Donald Trump refers to “political correctness” is behavior that normal people call common courtesy.

Jeb Bush had another stumble a couple of days ago.

CNN reports: Jeb Bush weighs in on ‘multiculturalism.’

Jeb Bush in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jeb Bush in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jeb Bush argued Tuesday that the United States is “creeping toward multiculturalism” and described it as “the wrong approach.”

His answer came in response to a question at an Iowa diner Tuesday from a woman who wanted to know how the former Florida governor would help refugees and immigrants integrate into U.S. society and “empower them to become Americans.”

“We should not have a multicultural society,” the Republican presidential candidate responded.

But Bush, who’s a self-admitted policy wonk and tends to use nuanced language, was referring to “multicultural” in the literal sense — a social model in which cultures live in “isolated pockets,” as he described them, rather than assimilating into society.

“America is so much better than every other country because of the values that people share — it defines our national identity. Not race or ethnicity, not where you come from,” he said. “When you create pockets of isolation — and in some cases the assimilation process is retarded because it’s slowed down — it’s wrong. It limits peoples’ aspirations.”

He added that people who aren’t “fully engaged” in a broader community will struggle to get the best education and argued that learning English would better accelerate access to opportunities.

Personally, I think it’s entirely possible for ethnic groups in the U.S. to hold onto their languages and cultures, while at the same time fitting in to American society. The children of immigrants usually assimilate; at the same time, I think they should be encouraged to understand their ethnic and cultural history and be able to speak their native language with older family members.

In The News

BBC News: Hajj stampede: At least 717 killed in Saudi Arabia.

Quora discussion: Why do Americans think helping even the less fortunate next-door neighbour is ‘socialism’?

The Boston Globe: Apple bans walk-in purchases of the new iPhone 6s in New Hampshire, three other states.

ABC News: Texas HS Football Assistant Coach Admits to Telling Players to Hit Referee, Principal Says.

ABC News: Pope Francis Cites Victims From Church’s ‘Difficult Moments.’

The Telegraph: Angela Merkel’s ministers ‘ignored warning over Volkswagen emissions rigging.’

The New York Times: Hackers Took Fingerprints of 5.6 Million U.S. Workers, Government Says.

Some Interesting Longer Reads

Foreign Policy: ‘Close Your Eyes and Pretend to Be Dead’ What really happened two years ago in the bloody attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

Scientific American: Why the Human Brain Project Went Wrong–and How to Fix It.

The New Republic: Down the Rabbit Hole. The rise, and rise, of literary annotation.

Slate: Yogi Berra Wasn’t Trying to Be Witty. And he wasn’t dumb either. How did the narrative of the wise buffoon come to dominate his life?

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?