Friday Reads: Shock and Awe on the American Campaign Trail

Good Morning!

Well, I  am supposed to be waiting to hear the Big Dawg speak at an event today. Instead, I’m sitting here with a flat tire waiting.  I’ve heard Bill Clinton speak quite a few times down here including with George H.W. Bush in a small tent on campus right after Katrina when I was one of two profs actually teaching on the UNO campus.  Exactly one building was open.  He’s really a great speaker and he has the ability to make you feel like the most important person he’s ever met when he’s one on one.  I wanted to see if he still had it frankly.

I’m still stunned by the so-called “debate” last night between the remaining Republican Presidential Candidates. Did you ever think you’d see ten minutes of one of these things dedicated to the penis size of the front runner?  Did you even think that a member of the U.S. Senate would be the one to bring it up on national TV?  I’d like to go on record saying that the Republican party needs to goes the way of the Dodo.  I’m not sure if there are any sane people left in the infrastructure, but whatever grown ups are left need to just turn off the lights and start over.  They need to send the racists and the religious kooks and the enablers that make them deny economic and scientific reality back to whatever self-created hell realm they’ve emanated from. Paul Krugman isn’t very generous about their shit show either.

So Republicans are going to nominate a candidate who talks complete nonsense on domestic policy; who believes that foreign policy can be conducted via bullying and belligerence; who cynically exploits racial and ethnic hatred for political gain.

But that was always going to happen, however the primary season turned out. The only news is that the candidate in question is probably going to be Donald Trump. Establishment Republicans denounce Mr. Trump as a fraud, which he is. But is he more fraudulent than the establishment trying to stop him? Not really.

Actually, when you look at the people making those denunciations, you have to wonder: Can they really be that lacking in self-awareness?

Donald Trump is a “con artist,” says Marco Rubio — who has promised to enact giant tax cuts, undertake a huge military buildup and balance the budget without any cuts in benefits to Americans over 55.

“There can be no evasion and no games,” thunders Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — whose much-hyped budgets are completely reliant on “mystery meat,” that is, it claims trillions of dollars in revenue can be collected by closing unspecified tax loopholes and trillions more saved through unspecified spending cuts.

Mr. Ryan also declares that the “party of Lincoln” must “reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.” Has he ever heard of Nixon’s “Southern strategy”; of Ronald Reagan’s invocations of welfare queens and “strapping young bucks” using food stamps; of Willie Horton?

Put it this way: There’s a reason whites in the Deep South vote something like 90 percent Republican, and it’s not their philosophical attachment to libertarian principles.

The Republican Party is capable of nothing these days but ruining the states they govern,  stopping any kind of governance on the Federal level,

and making laws to make lives miserable for any one that isn’t either white male or white male property and branded the right kind of  “christian”.  The one thing I will say about the ongoing shit show is that people that have been voting Republican under the mistaken idea that Republicans are anything but a party of rich dudes getting political favors and racists, misogynist, homobigoted religious freaks are finally finding out what’s been the underlying theme of insurrection since the Reagan Shit show. The Republican Party is not the Party of Lincoln or even Ronald Reagan.  It’s the party of George Wallace, at best.


The Republicans have become so obsessed with one policy–subsidizing the extremely rich--they’ve also tanked any possible hope that we can get reasonable trade policies or any kind of reasonable form of government spending to include fixing the damn roads and bridges.  If you look around the world, you can see how trade has been creating healthy middle classes.  There’s a lot of money that flows into countries from trade and a hell of a lot of it goes to workers and smaller businesses because responsible government ensures this through good policy.  NOT in this country, however.  They’ve destroyed the decades of what economics has taught us they way they’ve turned racism, misogyny and bigotry into religious freedom.

The Econ-101 case for free trade is straightforward: Trade benefits those who produce exports and those who consume imports (including producers who use imported goods as inputs). It hurts the producers of goods which can be made better or more cheaply abroad. But the gains to the winners exceed the gains to the losers: that is, the winners could make the losers whole and still come out ahead themselves. Therefore, trade passes the Pareto test.

[Yes, this elides a number of issues, including path-dependency in increasing-returns and learning-by-doing markets on the pure-economics side and the salting of actual agreements with provisions that create or protect economic rents on the political-economy side. It also ignores the biggest gainers from trade: workers in low-wage countries, most notably the Chinese factory workers whose parents were barefoot peasants.]

So when the modern Republican Party (R.I.P), in the name of “small government” and opposition to “class warfare,” set its face against policies to redistribute the gains from economic growth, it destroyed the theoretical basis for thinking that a rising tide would lift all the boats, rather than lifting the yachts and swamping the trawlers. Free trade without redistribution (especially the corrupt version of “free trade” with corporate rent-seeking written into it) is basically class warfare waged downwards.

Trade by itself can’t account for all of the fractal growth in incomes, with the top half of earners (mostly college graduates) pulling away from the less-educated bottom half, the top decile pulling away from the rest of the top half, the top 1% pulling away from the rest of the top decile, and the top tenth of 1% pulling away from the rest of the top percentile. (I suspect that the billionaires have also been pulling away from the merely rich, but I’m not sure there’s data to support that.) The increasing importance of “winner-take-all” phenomena (linked to the information revolution and the increasing importance of very-low-marginal-cost goods as well as trade), the combination of dual incomes and assortative mating, and the destruction of labor unions have all done their share.

But the bottom line is that all of the gains, not merely from trade but from economic growth, have been concentrated in the hands of a relative few.  And worsening inequality harms the relative losers even if their absolute incomes do not fall.

Have we finally reached a critical mass where folks on both sides of the aisles will realize that all they do is lie and that if Bernie Bros or Hillary Haters repeat their lies, we’re as good as cooked.   Donald Trump has pretty much killed the narrative that the Republicans are a Big Tent party that are just interested in a different approach to governing. 

Reeling from a second straight loss to Barack Obama, a flailing Republican Party in 2013 found its culprit: Mitt Romney’s callous tone toward minorities. Instead of being doomed to irrelevance in a changing America, the party would rebrand as a kinder, more inclusive GOP. They called their findings an “autopsy,” and party leaders from Paul Ryan to Newt Gingrich welcomed it with fanfare.

But even then, Donald Trump was lurking.

Now, with Trump’s GOP takeover fully underway, interviews with four co-authors of the 2012 autopsy and 10 other Republican leaders reveal a party establishment terrified that Trump is not only repeating the party’s failures — he’s destroying the party in the process. And while the leaders continue to insist that their report laid out the Republican Party’s best chance of victory, they fear Trump’s dominance will tear the party apart before they ever get a chance to put it in play. “New @RNC report calls for embracing ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’” he wrote in a little-noticed tweet, nestled alongside digs at Mark Cuban and Anthony Weiner on the day of the report’s release. “Does the @RNC have a death wish?”

Pundits laughed it off as the buffoonish ramble of a fringe New York billionaire on that March 2013 day, but what Trump didn’t say — and what the party establishment couldn’t have imagined — is that, three years later, he would be the one on the verge of making that death wish come true. The billionaire has not only ignored the report’s conclusions, he has run a campaign that moved the party in the exact opposite direction.

This is the same candidate that has open support of David Duke and white supremacists and answers questions about that support with “meh”. You need look no farther than Trump Rallies to find them out in the open and acting like goons. White nationalists shoved and assaulted a young black woman with absolute impunity.

White supremacists and other Donald Trump supporters could face charges for altercations that broke out during a Kentucky campaign rally — but so could protesters.

Video showed a white nationalist leader shoving and screaming at a black woman who protested the Republican presidential candidate’s rally Tuesday at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.

Matthew Heimbach, head of the Traditionalist Youth Network, admits he was involved in an altercation with a black woman who he said was screaming obscenities and creating a disturbance, but he denied the woman’s claims that he used racial slurs.

One of the protesters, Henry Brousseau, filed a police report alleging that he was punched in the stomach by a woman in Heimbach’s group for shouting “Black Lives Matter,” reported the Courier-Journal.

The 17-year-old Brousseau said he did not know the woman’s name but took a photo of her before he was ejected from the event by what he believes was a combination of Trump security guards, Louisville Metro Police officers and Secret Service agents.

Trump interrupted his roughly 40-minute speech at least a half-dozen times to call for the removal of protesters, reported WDRB-TV, and some of the demonstrators said the candidate’s supporters roughed them up before they were ejected.

“I didn’t expect hands to be placed on me,” said protester Shalonte Branham. “I expected security to say, ‘It’s time to go,’ but I did not expect people to try and harm me.”

Karma has been swift for these horrible people in the world of social media.  Those of us living in the world outside Trump’s wet dreams are ensuring that chickens come home to roost.

Imagine if you will that you are one of the dullards who frequents Donald Trump rallies. Imagine that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is actually exciting enough for you to become energized when he hits the stage. Now imagine that because you are of the low-information variety American voter, your favorite part of the show is the racism.

You would be just like young Joseph Pryor, who was just kicked off of the US Marines’ delayed enlistment program, meaning he will not EVER be a United States Marine, because of the antics he pulled in connection with the assault of a black woman at a recent Trump rally in Kentucky.

Louisville police added to the mess the Trump supporters got themselves into by announcing they’re looking at filing criminal charges against several people. There has been some speculation that Trump himself may be facing charges as a ringleader, but that is unconfirmed at this time. What we do know is that a woman was treated with the utmost of disrespect, was physically and verbally assaulted and quite possibly had her civil rights violated for no reason other than the color of her skin.
It’s a common scene at these things. Protesters stand as quietly as they can and are eventually discovered and removed with extreme prejudice. Trump security personnel, local police and tens of thousands of unruly thugs in red hats solves those issues while Trump stands on stage scanning for the next people to have booted out. It’s nothing but a reality TV hook.

Now this poor young man, whose racism may have just been a side-effect of being raised by idiots and who may have had hope with just a few more IQ points, will tell the story of how he sacrificed his military service for Donald Trump. His friends will toast him with Natural Ice until the day he dies of liver failure. He’ll be buried with full honors by his World Of Warcraft buddies in a casket draped with the Gadsden Flag In an unsanmctioned cemetery slated to be paved for the new Walmart Supercenter parking lot.

This guy isn’t the first person to go full stupid for Donald Trump and lose big and he certainly won’t be the last.  But, so many folks are also

falling for horrid Republican lies about Hillary Clinton.  Last night, Rubio out right lied about the focus of the FBI interest in Clinton’s emails which were first outlined here.   Politico fact checked it last night along with other blatant lies last night.  The entire lot of them lie like a warehouse filled with rugs.

Marco takes two shots at Hillary on Benghazi; misses

Rubio launched a late attack on Hillary Clinton that contained what were at best two distortions. First, he said she’s under FBI investigation. In fact, the FBI is investigating handling of classified information on her email server, which is not quite the same as investigating her—at least not yet. Second, Rubio said Clinton lied to the families of the victims of the attack in Benghazi. But there’s no way to know: PolitiFact has delved into this before and determined “there simply is not enough concrete information in the public domain for Rubio or anyone to claim as fact that Clinton did or did not lie to the Benghazi families.” Clinton and the families disagree about what was said, but even if she blamed the video mocking Islam for triggering the attacks, that might not have been an intentional lie given the intelligence at the time.

— Isaac Arnsdorf

This morning our local published an Op Ed a local freaking Republican pol repeating the same damned lie!  (H/T to Adrastonos.)  “There is no FBI or DOJ email investigation of Hillary Clinton.”  Immunity granted to Bryan Pagliano does not look bad for her or mean she’s done something criminal at all.   There are now lies!  damned lies!  and Republican lies!!!

What about Clinton – does Pagliano’s immunity somehow count against her? Hardly. Again, it is only what it is.  The whole country saw her on live television being questioned by a Republican-majority House Committee. They can decide about her from what they saw themselves.

WAPO puts it this way: “Clinton emails continue to be non-scandal, disappointing Republicans”.  So, they lie.

US citizens of goodwill can no longer take the Republican Party seriously.  This morning, Fox News is trying to push Kasich as the reasonable one left

in the room.  This is the governor that is trying to take credit for both Obama’s and Clinton’s legacy while simultaneously damning them.  He is no moderate. Never has been or will be.

For all of Kasich’s supposed moderation, he is one of the most extreme antiabortion politician in America. Such views, however, seem to have little impact on Kasich’s moderate image.

Consider that, since Kasich took office in 2011, he has signed into law 16 antiabortion measures. These include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks; a mandatory ultrasound for women having abortions in clinics that receive state funding; and a provision in the state’s budget bill that prevents rape crisis counselors from providing women with information about abortion services. Onerous regulations on abortion providers have led half the abortion clinics in the state to shut down. All of this would seem to reflect Kasich’s “Christian moral imperative” too.

“John Kasich also peddles economic quackery and social conservatism.”

While there’s substantial evidence that Kasich is not consumed with a sociopathic loathing of immigrants and the poor, that’s a remarkably low bar to clear to merit the “moderate” appellation. To be sure, Kasichhas not quite followed the ultraconservative path charted by, say, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — but it’s not for lack of trying. Just as Walker did, Kasich signed a law stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights shortly after taking office in 2011 — and like Walker, Kasich witnessed a plunge in his standing in the polls; one April 2011 survey pegged Kasich’s approval rating at a mere 30 percent. Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio lacked a law providing for a gubernatorial recall, so opponents of Kasich’s anti-union law staged a November 2011 referendum on it instead. The outcome was a humiliating rebuke to the new governor; by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, voters overturned the law — a chastening result that informed Kasich’s subsequent decision not to pursue legislation making Ohio a so-called right-to-work state.

It is imperative that more and more people see exactly what the Republican Party has become.  For that, I’m thankful for the Trump candidacy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Live Post: And then there were Four


Ladies and Gentlemen!  Go find your Antacids!!!

It’s yet another ghastly hatefest that FoxNews calls the Republican Presidential Primary Debate.  Live from Detroit!  It’s the Xenophobia/Racism/Misogyny/White Male Anger Party!!!

There aren’t many left standing but I can’t imagine even trusting any of them to walk my dog or feed my cat, let alone run my country.

Carson bailed this week.  The pundits believe that Rubio’s path to an outright victory has disappeared.

Marco Rubio’s path to the Republican nomination short of a contested convention has narrowed to nearly nothing as his campaign and allies reboot their strategy to prepare for months of guerrilla warfare to deny Donald Trump a clean, pre-convention victory.

The math for Rubio is daunting. After getting thoroughly routed on Super Tuesday, Rubio is in so deep a delegate hole that he would now need to win roughly two-thirds of all the remaining delegates to guarantee his nomination ahead of Cleveland, according to a POLITICO analysis.

That is an enormously difficult, if not impossible, climb for a candidate who has so far won only a single state, Minnesota, and especially one who is not predicting victory in any of the next dozen states and territories that cast ballots, until his home state of Florida votes on March 15.

“It’s fair to say that Rubio’s path to 1,237 is shot,” Dave Wasserman, an analyst with the Cook Political Report who closely tracks the delegate race, said of the threshold to secure the nomination.

“There’s virtually no chance for Marco Rubio to get to a majority prior to the convention,” said John Yob, who served as a top delegate strategist for Rick Santorum in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.

Even inside the Rubio orbit, there has been an acknowledgement that as long as Ted Cruz (and John Kasich) stay in the race, they have virtually zero mathematical chance of securing the nomination. Asked directly by Fox’s Megyn Kelly on Wednesday night if it was now “mathematically impossible” for him to be the nominee, Rubio dodged.

My thought is that Rubio was basically a VEEP and not much else.  He’s not too bright and he really doesn’t appear to enjoy working at anything.  However, he’s managed to totally cut himself off from that path having been replaced by the Chris Christie lapdog and Mr. Slave act.  Rubio’s made far too many penis size jokes for that now and his Senate seat is as good as gone.

Romney is looking to block the Trump at the Convention.

Mitt Romney has instructed his closest advisers to explore the possibility of stopping Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, a source close to Romney’s inner circle says.

The 012 GOP nominee’s advisers are examining what a fight at the convention might look like and what rules might need revising.

“It sounds like the plan is to lock the convention,” said the source.

Romney is focused on suppressing Trump’s delegate count to prevent him from accumulating the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination.

But implicit in Romney’s request to his team to explore the possibility of a convention fight is his willingness to step in and carry the party’s banner into the fall general election as the Republican nominee. Another name these sources mentioned was House Speaker Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate in 2012.

122215-BeelerOthers are looking at a (GAG) dream unity ticket of Cruz and Rubio.  This is the National Review and a Cruz advisor so please don’t go there without Peptobismal close by.
In the immediate wake of Super Tuesday, each has much to gain from such a deal. As the candidate currently with more delegates, Cruz would love to get enough support from Rubio’s delegates to secure the nomination. For Rubio, currently in third place, for whom holding his home state of Florida has now become a do-or-die situation, the idea of securing the vice presidency would be a valuable insurance policy. As a young man, he would have an inside track to the presidency in eight years. Our current immigration situation would likely be addressed by a Cruz-Rubio administration to the degree that the issue would no longer be any obstacle for him in 2024. The beauty of this arrangement is that the primary voters would be the ones to decide which candidate will be at the top of the ticket. And voters could freely vote for their favorite with much less concern that failing to rally around the other would be helping Trump. Let Ted compete with Trump in the states with electorates like Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Let Marco compete with Trump in states with electorates like Florida and Minnesota.
Kasich seems to be holding out for Ohio and the rest of the Great Flyover to weigh in.
So, I’m voting on Saturday and phonebanking.  I’m also planning to go see the Big Dawg tomorrow morning so I’m either live blogging that or going to be late with my impressions.
Meanwhile, grab the popcorn and the antacids!  It’s FOX NEWS and Republicans!   Yes, it’s another Trigger Warning cause this goes to (GAG) FOX news.  The debate will be held in Detroit, Michigan.
If you don’t have the stomach for the TV, you can watch on the internet.AR-150329878

The debate tonight will feature Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. With only four candidates on the stage, this will be the smallest debate yet. The event begins at 9PM ET/6PM PT tonight on Fox News. Here’s how to watch it online:

If you do have a cable subscription, you can also watch on your Android oriOS mobile device with Fox News Go. Unfortunately, Fox isn’t offering a ton of options to watch online without cable, but if you can borrow a login from someone then you’ve got mobile covered.

The Fox News Election HQ app for Android and iOS can’t stream the debate, but you can use it to grade the candidates as you follow along. At the end of the debate, it will give you a “debate scorecard” to show you which candidate you align with the most.
Who gets the lucky job of moderating?  (If you could call it that.)  Yup. It’s Megyn Kelley, Chris Wallace, and Brett Baier. Yes, there’s not enough antacid in the world for that is there?
175112_600Here we go folks!
It’s another LIVE BLOG with the Fascist Party of America!!!


Lazy Saturday Reads: Republicans Must Speak Incoherent Nonsense to Win GOP Nomination


Good Morning!!

I’d love to be able to transport myself to a beautiful, peaceful place and isolate myself from current events. The reality of what is happening to our politics as our country devolves into a place where mass shootings are common, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny run rampant, income inequality is destroying the economy, and and the environment is rapidly deteriorating is just too much. I feel emotionally overwhelmed by it all.

At times, it’s easy to laugh at the insanity of today’s Republican Party and the complete incompetence of the mainstream media, but today the ugliness of what’s happening makes me feel like crying. Is there anything that can be done to turn this devolution of our country around?

I guess I reached the breaking point when I came home last night to the news that Republican presidential candidate(!) Donald Trump had attacked Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly by suggesting her questions to him during the debate on Thursday night were “mean” because she was menstruating. Can this really be happening?

Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump says Fox’s Megyn Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her wherever.’


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Friday night that Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes” when she  aggressively questioned him during Thursday’s presidential debate.

“She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said in a CNN interview. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.” ….

In Thursday’s debate, Kelly questioned Trump over his history of offensive statements about women.

Calling in to CNN for a 30-minute interview on Friday night with Don Lemon, Trump hurled insults at Kelly, calling her a “lightweight,” and bashed her co-moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, as well as other Fox talent.

“I just don’t respect her as a journalist,” Trump said of Kelly. “I have no respect for her. I don’t think she’s very good. I think she’s highly overrated.”

Trump said he is considering skipping the next debate hosted by Fox News Channel, scheduled for January in Iowa, because he believes he was treated unfairly by the network’s moderators.

This pathetic excuse for a human being has been leading the national polls in the race for the GOP nomination for more than a month!


Oliver Willis writes: Trump: Megyn Kelly Asked Tough Questions Because She Was On Her Period.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front runner, suggested that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was on her period.

Appearing on CNN, captured by Think Progress, Trump said that Kelly, who questioned Trump about past misogynistic statements where he called women pigs and cows was asking “ridiculous questions” because she had “blood coming out of her eyes” and “blood coming out of her whatever.”

Trump’s fellow Republican candidates did not issue statements or condemnations of him when he promoted a tweet earlier in the day that called Kelly a “bimbo.”

Those candidates did however, issue various policy statements insensitive to women’s issues during the debate, as Republican insiders feared that this presidential campaign would once again bring the Republican Party’s “War on Women” to the forefront.

It looks like Trump is doing just that.

Most Americans–even Republicans–probably understand that Trump is a clown who simply blurts out whatever comes into his sick mind without any concern for the consequences. But what about 16 other Republican candidates? Are most of them really any better?


Paul Krugman has a brilliant column today in which he points out that to be a Republican candidate today means that you must spout complete nonsense.

From Trump on Down, the Republicans Can’t Be Serious.

…while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.

For example, Mr. Trump’s economic views, a sort of mishmash of standard conservative talking points and protectionism, are definitely confused. But is that any worse than Jeb Bush’s deep voodoo, his claim that he could double the underlying growth rate of the American economy? And Mr. Bush’s credibility isn’t helped by his evidence for that claim: the relatively rapid growth Florida experienced during the immense housing bubble that coincided with his time as governor.

Mr. Trump, famously, is a “birther” — someone who has questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States. But is that any worse than Scott Walker’s declaration that he isn’t sure whether the president is a Christian?

Mr. Trump’s declared intention to deport all illegal immigrants is definitely extreme, and would require deep violations of civil liberties. But are there any defenders of civil liberties in the modern G.O.P.? Notice how eagerly Rand Paul, self-described libertarian, has joined in the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood.

And while Mr. Trump is definitely appealing to know-nothingism, Marco Rubio, climate change denier, has made “I’m not a scientist” his signature line. (Memo to Mr. Rubio: Presidents don’t have to be experts on everything, but they do need to listen to experts, and decide which ones to believe.)

The point is that while media puff pieces have portrayed Mr. Trump’s rivals as serious men — Jeb the moderate, Rand the original thinker, Marco the face of a new generation — their supposed seriousness is all surface. Judge them by positions as opposed to image, and what you have is a lineup of cranks. And as I said, this is no accident.

Please go read the whole thing.

North Dakota Post-glacial Landscape

And what about the views on reproductive health that were expressed during the debate? Here Iris Carmon at MSNBC, GOP candidates: Ban abortion, no exceptions

At the first debate among candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination, the question was not whether or not to ban abortion or to defund Planned Parenthood. It was about whether exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or a woman’s life endangerment are legitimate. Their answer: No.

Moderator Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker how he could justify opposing an exception to an abortion ban in cases where a woman’s life was in danger, though he did sign a bill with such an exception. Then she turned around and asked Marco Rubio how he could support exceptions in the case of rape and incest if he believed abortion was murder….

Walker, who asked the Wisconsin legislature for a 20-week abortion ban that had no exceptions for rape and incest but ultimately decided not to heed the anti-abortion activists who begged for a no-exceptions bill, replied, “I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.” The claim that an abortion is never needed to save a woman’s life is a common one in anti-abortion circles. Medical experts disagree.

As for Rubio, he denied he had ever advocated for such exceptions. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” he said. “In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.” In fact, Rubio was a cosponsor on a 20-week abortion ban that contained rape, incest and life endangerment exceptions.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee did him one better and actually named which amendments of the constitution he believes already ban abortion. Specifically, the fifth and fourteenth.


These kinds of attitudes toward women and their rights to control their own bodies are now in the mainstream of Republican ideology. The New York Times suggests that while some argue that Republican candidates will hurt themselves with women voters by expressing these misogynistic views, this may not be true, at least for now.

In the short term, however, the political peril for the Republican candidates may not be so grave. They are largely focused now on winning over likely Republican voters who will decide the party’s nomination — an electorate that tends to skew male and older in many key states.

Recent polls of Republican voters indicate that Mr. Trump is performing strongly among men and to a slightly lesser extent among women, though sizable numbers of women also say they would not support him. It remains an open question whether Mr. Trump offended his supporters, or many other likely primary voters, by refusing to renounce his past descriptions of women as “fat pigs” during the debate; indeed, pollsters say he may have struck a chord with some voters by saying he doesn’t “have time for political correctness” when he was asked about his remarks.

The 2012 election was a case in point: Even though Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, won white women with 56 percent of their votes, he lost over all with female voters. A Republican nominee would be hard-pressed to improve that if the 2016 Democratic nominee is a woman, many Republican pollsters believe.

So they’re going to try to win the presidency by appealing to white male woman haters? Okay. Read about what Republican women think and much more at the link.


Trump’s attack on Megyn Kelley was too much even for ultra right wing nut EReaderrick Erickson. From The Washington Post: Donald Trump disinvited to speak at RedState event; Megyn Kelly invited.

ATLANTA — Conservative commentator Erick Erickson on Friday night disinvited GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump from speaking at an activist conference he is hosting here this weekend, citing disparaging remarks Trump made hours earlier on CNN about Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Erickson said Trump had been scheduled to speak at his RedState gathering on Saturday at the College Football Hall of Fame, but he told Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, about an hour before midnight that Trump was no longer welcome.

Trump’s campaign said in a statement that Erickson’s decision was “another example of weakness through being politically correct. For all the people who were looking forward to Mr. Trump coming, we will miss you. Blame Erick Erickson, your weak and pathetic leader. We’ll now be doing another campaign stop at another location.”

Trump’s CNN interview Friday evening instantly drew controversy and criticism after he said Kelly, one of the moderators of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that he was referring to Kelly’s nose. His campaign also issued a statement, claiming Trump said “whatever” instead of “wherever,” again repeating that the reference was to her nose.

Erickson, a Fox News regular and face of the popular RedState blog, has long been a foe of congressional GOP leaders and an ally of conservative grass-roots organizers. He has also drawn criticism for saying impolitic things, once calling retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter an “[expletive] child molester” and First Lady Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy.” He has since apologized for both comments.

Trump’s words about Kelly simply went too far, Erickson said Friday, making him, someone who enjoys and appreciates barbed political rhetoric, uncomfortable and queasy. And with his invited guest dominating the 2016 race, and few if any conservatives reining him in, Erickson thought he’d try.

We’ll have to wait and see if that has any effect on Trump. But Republicans will still be stuck with several other candidates whose attitudes toward women aren’t really any better than Trump’s and whose ideas, as Paul Krugman points out, are completely incoherent and nonsensical.

Now I’m going to a peaceful place in my mind and try to pretend none of this is happening for today.

Remember, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a nice weekend.

Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

There was another Republican debate last night, and it may actually be the last one! We live blogged it here. I watched the debate and all it did was remind me how distasteful–actually repulsive–every one of these candidates is. Romney is the slimiest, liar ever; Gingrich is nothing but a grifter; Ron Paul is a whiny old geezer; and Santorum is a sanctimonious, preachy theocrat. After this election, the Republican Party may be truly dead. It’s already brain dead.

Here are a few reactions to the debate for those who are interested.

Paul Begala: Romney Wins the battle, but it may lose him the war.

Andrew Sullivan: The winner’s in the White House.

TPM: Rick’s rough night.

Hot Air: Tough night for Santorum

In state legislatures around the country women are fighting back against the Republican war on women. Yesterday, Governor Bob O’Donnell of Virginia was forced to back down on the anti-woman state-sanctioned rape law that he had originally said he’d sign. In Georgia, (via Charlie Pierce), state rep. Yasmin Neal

was the driving force behind a brilliant bill filed yesterday that would outlaw vasectomies in Georgia on anti-abortion grounds — namely, that the lives of millions of potential “persons” were snuffed out because of the vas deferens between the way we see men as reproductive critters and the way we see women as reproductive critters:

Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies,” said Rep. Yasmin Neal, D-Riverdale, author of the Democrats’ bill. “It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States.”

Now some Democrats are fighting back at the federal level.

The House Judiciary Committee recently passed a bill that would ban selective abortions based on race or gender by a 20-13 vote. The biggest hurdle to passage was the bill’s name.

Democrats proposed calling the bill “The Ronald Reagan Impose Your Beliefs on a Woman’s Womb Act” and “The Tea Party Determines What Rights a Woman Has Act.”

The legislation (H.R. 3541), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), was originally entitled the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Non-discrimination Act of 2011.” But after objections by committee Democrats and an amendment by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the bill, which passed on Feb. 16, was changed to the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA) during mark-up sessions last week.

Thirteen Democrats voted against the measure claiming it violated the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, and would “make it more difficult for women of color to obtain the basic reproductive health care services.”

The GLBT community is fighting back against the GOP haters too. Not too long ago, an anti-gay Tennessee state legislator was asked by the owner, Martha Boggs to leave her restaurant because of his bigoted public statements. Today, Antonio a gay hairdresser in Santa Fe, said he will no longer cut Republican New Mexico governor Susannah Martinez’s hair. Even {gasp!} Alan Simpson is getting in on the act. He says Rick Santorum is “rigid and a homophobic.”

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) weighed in on the Republican presidential primary on Wednesday, calling Rick Santorum “rigid and a homophobic.”

In an interview with CBS News’ Bob Schieffer, Simpson faulted the Republican field for making issues like same-sex marriage and reproductive rights central to their platforms, warning that they would lose favor with voters if the conversation does not change.

“I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, somehow they’re going to take us all to Alaska and float us out in the Bering Sea or something,” said Simpson, long known for colorful commentary. “We won’t have a prayer.”

He continued, “I watch Republicans, they give each other the saliva test of purity, and then they lose and they bitch for four years.”

Simpson supports Romney, who also claims to be homophobic, anti-choice, and anti-birth control. Oh well….

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and one of those mainline Protestant churches that Rick Santorum thinks have been taken over by Satan offered drive-thru ashes! Someone needs to tell Rick! It’s the Devil’s work!!

Over the weekend, Newt Gingrich tried to look macho by claiming “you can’t put a gun rack on a Chevy Volt!” But lots of people have stepped forward to prove him wrong.

A GM exec came forward to prove Newt was incorrect.

Chevrolet executive Selim Bingol fired back this morning via GM’s new blog, called BTW:

“Newt Gingrich has taken up saying that ‘You can’t put a gun rack on a Volt.’ That’s like saying ‘You can’t put training wheels on a Harley.’ Actually, you can. But the real question is ‘Why would you?’ In both examples:

It looks weird,

It doesn’t work very well, and

There are better places for gun racks and training wheels — pickup trucks and little Schwinns, respectively.

Seriously, when is the last time you saw a gun rack in ANY sedan?”

OK, I know I haven’t posted much serious news this morning. I guess I’m just punch drunk from that debate last night. We did get a bit of good news last night though. A federal judge in California–a Bush appointee yet–found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

You may recall that Martha Coakley got the ball rolling in Massachusetts in 2010, convincing the Obama administration to stop defending the law. Yesterday’s decision is the third time a court has called DOMA unconstitutional

The New York Times has an interview with the mother of Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria yesterday. Colvin was majoring in anthropology at Yale in the late 1970s,

but took a course with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Hersey. She also started writing for The Yale Daily News “and decided to be a journalist,” her mother said.

On Wednesday, Marie Colvin, 56, a veteran correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, was killed as Syrian forces shelled the city of Homs. She was working in a makeshift media center that was destroyed in the assault. A French photographer, Rémi Ochlik, was also killed.

At her family’s split-level home on Long Island, the telephone rang at 5 a.m. It was so early, her mother said, that “I knew it was something terrible.”

“She was supposed to leave Syria” on Wednesday, Ms. Colvin said. “Her editor told me he called her yesterday and said it was getting too dangerous and they wanted to take her out. She said she was doing a story and she wanted to finish it and it was important and she would come out” on Wednesday.

Photojournalist Remi Olchlik was also killed in Syria yesterday

Remi Ochlik didn’t waste any time celebrating after he won one of photojournalism’s most prestigious prizes two weeks ago. Hours later, he was on a plane headed back to work in Middle East danger zones, a friend recalled.

On Wednesday, the promising 28-year-old French photographer was dead, killed in a barrage of gunfire and shelling by government forces in Homs, Syria, where he had arrived just the night before….

Colleagues remembered Ochlik as careful and experienced despite his young age, but driven to cover a string of conflicts that won him a reputation as one of the world’s best young photojournalists.

At just 20 years old, Ochlik got his professional start covering riots in Haiti in 2004. The next year he set up photo agency IP3 Press and covered sports, society and politics. When the “Arab Spring” erupted last year, Ochlik was all over it: In Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, and most recently, Syria.

That’s it for me this morning. What are you reading and blogging about?

Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

There’s another Republican Debate in South Carolina tonight. Can you believe it? This one is hosted by CNN. How much more of this torture can American stand? These debates just keep on coming! We’ll live blog this one later on, perhaps with some interesting variations on the theme.

Speaking of horrible things that never end, can you believe Obama is considering appointing Larry Summers to head the World Bank? Here I thought we were finally free of Summers, but the guy just won’t go away. He keeps coming back, no matter how ghastly of job he does. From Bloomberg:

President Barack Obama is considering nominating Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council director, to lead the World Bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Summers has expressed interest in the job to White House officials and has backers inside the administration, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and current NEC Director Gene Sperling, said one of the people. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also being considered, along with other candidates, said the other person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations….

A nomination of Summers would bring scrutiny of his previous stints in government, both as former President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary and Obama’s NEC director, as well as his tenure as president of Harvard University.

“Larry is controversial,” said Erskine Bowles, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff. “Anything you appoint Larry to, you know there are going to be some people who are going to take shots at him. But you know he’s a brilliant economist, which I think everybody recognizes.”

Oh really? If he’s so brilliant, then why is teaching college freshman? Why doesn’t he publish in academic journals? Why did he get fired by Harvard and the Obama administration? Enough with the retreads, Mr. President.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mitt Romney has admitted he pays somewhere close to 15% of his income in Federal taxes. NPR’s Here and Now had an interesting discussion yesterday about how he and other richie-rich folks get away with this. I recommend listening to the show if you have time. Here’s a bit from the write-up:

“Carried interest is the way that hedge fund managers and private equity firm managers get paid when they do a deal,” Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Institute told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Gleckman says private equity firms bring in outside investors. To get in on the deals, investors pay the firms in two ways– an initial fee, and a 20 percent cut of future profits.

When the owners of private equity firms pay taxes on that compensation from the investors, they pay as if it were capital gains– so that means they are paying a top rate of no more than 15 percent.

“Ordinarily if they were paid like the rest of us in wages and salaries, they’d be paying a top rate of up to 35 percent,” he said.

Gleckman said the carried interest tax arrangement is completely legal and not uncommon.

Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice said that this kind of income comes from work and should be taxed as such. And Gleckman agreed, saying that capital gains taxes are lower because the goal is to encourage people to risk their own money. Romney isn’t doing that.

Here’s another explanation at Bloomberg:

Romney, one of the richest men to seek the presidency, probably benefits from a controversial tax break that allows him to pay a lower overall rate than do millions of American wage-earners whose votes he’ll need to capture the White House.

That’s because private equity executives, as Romney was for 15 years when he ran Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, receive much of their compensation as “carried interest.” That enables them to treat what would be ordinary income for other service providers, taxed at rates as high as 35 percent, as capital gains taxed at 15 percent….

Yet those investments were largely made by Romney’s former partners with other investors’ money, not his personal funds. The vast majority of the resulting gains represent compensation for Bain’s work acquiring, sprucing up and selling individual companies, critics say.

“This is labor income for them, not a return on capital invested,” said Victor Fleischer, an associate law professor at the University of Colorado whose 2007 paper on the topic helped spark a move in Congress to try to change the law. “It’s a method of converting one’s labor into capital gains in a way that’s unusual outside the investment management industry. Ordinary people wouldn’t be able to do this.”

If Romney just paid his taxes like the rest of us, he’d probably be doing a much greater service to the country than if he becomes president. BTW, the articles says that Obama has paid 31% of his income in taxes for the last three years.

But that’s not all. Romney keeps millions of dollars of his vast wealth in the Cayman Islands, a well-know tax shelter.

Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.

Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income derived from those investments.

“The tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the fund is domiciled here or another country,” a campaign official said in response to questions. “Gov. and Mrs. Romney have money invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds.”

Bain officials called the decision to locate some funds offshore routine, and a benefit only to foreign investors who do not want to be subjected to U.S. taxes.

Whatever. The guy is filthy rich, pays very little of his income in taxes, and has no clue how most Americans live. His attitude is that capitalism is sacred and if millions of “little people” are hurt by the machinations of people like him, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. And we shouldn’t have any safety nets for when things go wrong either. This man should never be POTUS.

A few more Romney items …

While he was at Bain Mitt used large donations of stock to the Mormon church to avoid paying taxes.

The New York Daily News got ahold of John McCain’s oppo research on Romney from 2008. “Talk about awkward,” the first line reads.

And here’s another awkward moment for the Mittster: Mitt Romney Allegedly Pulls Back Handshake Upon Learning That DREAM Act Advocate Is Undocumented.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney suddenly pulled back his hand after hearing that a young college student who greeted him at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night was undocumented, according to DREAM Act activists.

“He extended his hand to shake mine,” the young woman told The Huffington Post. “But once I said I was undocumented, he pulled his hand away from me.”

The 19-year-old college student, who asked to be identified only as Lucy because of her undocumented status, said she was also booed by Romney supporters as she was escorted out of a New York City fundraiser. One of the supporters told her to “go back to Mexico,” and she responded that she was “actually from Peru,” according to her account of the event.

Oops! There goes the Latino vote….

But we can’t forget that Romney still has at least one viable competitor for South Carolina’s delegates–food stamp obsessive and child labor advocate Newt Gingrich. Guess what Newt’s been up to? He’s using a fund-raising letter to threaten to punch out Barack Obama

Newt Gingrich’s campaign sent out a fundraising request to supporters this afternoon touting that the former speaker said he wants to knock Obama out, because, as the subject line of the email suggests, “A Bloody Nose Just Won’t Cut It.” The comment comes from a recent town hall where a questioner asked Gingrich how he would “bloody Obama’s nose.” “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out!” Gingrich responded. “This is exactly why Newt Gingrich is the candidate who must face Obama,” campaign spokesman RC Hammond says in the email, above a bright red “Donate” button.

You just can’t make this stuff up!

Conor Friedersdorf has an excellent response to Andrew Sullivan’s silly Newsweek article defending Obama’s accomplishments as President. I think Friedersdorf is a liberatarian, but his assessment on Obama is still on point. Check it out. I’ll just reproduce his list of Obama’s “accomplishments” here:

(1) Codify indefinite detention into law; (2) draw up a secret kill list of people, including American citizens, to assassinate without due process; (3) proceed with warrantless spying on American citizens; (4) prosecute Bush-era whistleblowers for violating state secrets; (5) reinterpret the War Powers Resolution such that entering a war of choice without a Congressional declaration is permissible; (6) enter and prosecute such a war; (7) institutionalize naked scanners and intrusive full body pat-downs in major American airports; (8) oversee a planned expansion of TSA so that its agents are already beginning to patrol American highways, train stations, and bus depots; (9) wage an undeclared drone war on numerous Muslim countries that delegates to the CIA the final call about some strikes that put civilians in jeopardy; (10) invoke the state-secrets privilege to dismiss lawsuits brought by civil-liberties organizations on dubious technicalities rather than litigating them on the merits; (11) preside over federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries; (12) attempt to negotiate an extension of American troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (an effort that thankfully failed); (14) reauthorize the Patriot Act; (13) and select an economic team mostly made up of former and future financial executives from Wall Street firms that played major roles in the financial crisis.

Unfortunately, he didn’t include Obama’s many contributions to the war on women.

Speaking of Obama’s war on the Constitution, Chris Hedges is going to court to sue Obama over the indefinite detention portion of the NDAA.

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

Thanks to Hedges for putting his money where his mouth is.

I’ll end with this piece from Reuters: Sunk! How Hollywood Lost the PR Battle Over SOPA.

In the space of a couple of days, Hollywood and its content creators lost the public relations war over Internet piracy SOPA legislation — which now appears poised to crumble into a million bits of dust.


The messaging industry never had control of the message.

The tech guys found a simple, shareable idea — the Stop Online Piracy Act is Censorship — made it viral, and made it stick.

Hollywood had Chris Dodd and a press release. Silicon Valley had Facebook.

It shouldacoulda been a fair fight. But it wasn’t.

It seems that Hollywood still does not realize that it is in the information age. Knowledge moves in real time, and events move accordingly. The medium is the message in a fight like this.

I disagree that the fight is over, but it’s nice to see the battle for free speech and privacy getting some corporate media ink.

So … what are you reading and blogging about today?

Friday Reads

Laissez les bontemps roulez! It’s the start of the Carnival Season!

Tonight is 12th night which means it’s the official start of the carnival season or the lead up to Mardi Gras Day.  The season kicks off on Epiphany and ends on Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday.  There are two huge parties tonight!  The first one is held on a St. Charles Street Car and The Phunny Phorty Phellows.  They herald in the season.  We also celebrate Joan of Arc’s birthday with a parade in the Quarter.  If you make it down here, you will see many folks in medieval costume and many maskers.  Tonight is undoubtedly one of my favorite holidays because it’s just an incredibly colorful, local celebration.

If you’re going to hang out with native New Orleanians who grew up with Mardi Gras, there are a few things you must know. Here are the top ten.

Number 10

How to spell “krewe.”

Number 9

Carnival is a season, Mardi Gras is a day.

Number 8

The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, and the official Mardi Gras song is “If Ever I Cease To Love.”

Number 7

The Captain of the Krewe is more important than the King.

Number 6

If you miss a doubloon thrown from a float, never reach down to pick it up. Always put your foot on it. If you go with your hand, you’re either too late or you’ll get your fingers stepped on.

Number 5

If you bite into a plastic baby in a King Cake, that’s a good thing

Number 4

Any beads shorter than two feet long are unacceptable unless they are made of glass.

Number 3

The national press has no clue about Mardi Gras.

Number 2

The vast majority of people in the French Quarter during Carnival are people from out of town.

Finally, the Number 1 thing you must know about Mardi Gras is

You can always judge how bad hurricane season has been by riding down St. Charles Avenue in late fall to see how many Mardi Gras beads are still hanging in the trees.

Every office in the city will be serving King Cake!  Watch out for that baby because you’ll have to buy the next one!  It’s only 46 days until Mardi Gras!

The tea party has found a primary challenger for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.  Who could possibly think that Hatch isn’t extreme enough?  Yup, it’s the usual group of whackos.

Conservative groups that want to send a message that centrists won’t be allowed to hide behind the GOP label have made a prime target out of Hatch, Utah’s six-term senior senator. Although firmly in the conservative camp on social issues, Hatch has built a reputation for reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on economic policy, and shies away from the red-meat rhetoric many grassroots conservative groups demand.

The Club for Growth, a deep-pocketed fiscal conservative group, eagerly courted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to run against Hatch, but Chaffetz quashed their hopes in August when he announced he would seek reelection to the House instead. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, also considered challenging Hatch, but opted out in October.

FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party group that has set its sights on Hatch, placed its hopes in Liljenquist early, naming him its “Legislative Entrepreneur of the Year” in November and warmly welcoming him to the race on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased to see a dedicated and proven conservative like Dan Liljenquist step up and challenge the status quo in Utah,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. “His record in the state Senate shows clearly that Liljenquist has the ability to produce innovative solutions to budget woes, and to effectively turn those ideas into action and real legislative change.”

I guess my gut feeling yesterday about the Obama plan to decrease the size of the military was right.  It is an old rehashed Rummy idea.  Это интересно.  (That’s interesting in Russian with apologies for my Parisian accent to my Russian language teacher at university.)

The Obama administration plans to revert to a Bush-era plan to cut the number of U.S. Army combat brigades in Europe in half as part of the Pentagon budget cuts to be announced within weeks, U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said.

The decision is a retreat from the administration’s previous determination, announced last April, to leave in place three of the four brigade combat teams now stationed in Europe, three in Germany and one airborne brigade in Italy. A brigade combat team usually has 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers.

“My understanding is that there will remain two brigades,” Hammond said in an interview yesterday in Washington after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for their first talks at the Pentagon since they each took office. “But in addition to that, there will be some rotating presence” for training and exercises, he said.

Speaking of interesting, here’s something a little offbeat from AJ.  It’s about fertility problems in “Mother India”.  Who would think that a country with severe population problems would have a booming fertility clinic business?

Jhuma and Niladri are a couple from Burdwan in the state of West Bengal. They have been married for eight years and have no children. This is a major problem, especially in India where a childless married woman is considered impure. A few years ago, Niladri would probably have abandoned Jhuma, and her life would have become a misery, her presence taken to be an inauspicious sign at social events or religious ceremonies.

Today, cutting-edge research and the boom in the assisted reproduction industry offer them new possibilities, new hopes, new dilemmas. The couple set off for Hyderabad, the heart of Indian medical and assisted reproduction research, on a journey of hope, a journey that will take them to Dr Rama’s fertility clinic.

Dr Rama is the owner of a number of clinics in southern India and is expanding her business into the Gulf States and the Caribbean. At the Hyderabad clinic, Jhuma comes into contact with doctors, embryologists, other infertile women and surrogate mothers who are driven by poverty to sell their wombs to earn the surrogacy fees that give them and their existing children a chance of a future.

Drink your coffee before you follow this link. What Would Hillary Clinton Have Done?  I wish I’d have bought some hip waders first, but oh well.

The empirical choice between Clinton and Obama was never as direct as those on either side made it out to be; neither was obviously more equipped or more progressive than the other. The maddening part, then and now, is that they were utterly comparable candidates. The visions — in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. They’re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth.

If she had won her party’s nomination and then the general election, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would probably not have looked so different from Obama’s. She was, after all, a senator who, for a variety of structural and strategic reasons, often crossed party lines to co-sponsor legislation with Republicans, who voted to go to war in Iraq, who moved to the center on everything from Israel to violent video games. You think Obama’s advisers are bad? Hillary Clinton hired, and then took far too long to get rid of, Mark Penn. And her economic team probably would have looked an awful lot like Obama’s.

Yup.  It’s the no difference trope!  I tried to warn you.

Alrighty.  That’s my contribution for the day.  Wonk will be hostessing the live blog for the Republican debates tomorrow night.  I have the makings of cosmopolitan martinis and a spinach/feta pizza.  Youngest daughter is coming in for the LSU blow out with two of her roommates.  At this point, some one is bound to find out that I faked the thanksgiving hand holding deal.  The thangka of lion faced dakini is sure to be a give away! So, be sure to join us for  what promises to be another whack event!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Republican Debate Open Thread and Live Blog

Look what vcame out of the clown car!

Can you believe there’s another Republican debate tonight? I’m going to listen to at least part of it, because I’m hope Newt Gingrich will melt down. I expect everyone will be trying to trip him up since he’s now the {shudder} frontrunner.

The debate will be on CNN from 8-10PM. CNN will probably be live streaming it. I’ll find the link ASAP. The topic tonight’s debate is national security. I wonder if Herman Cain will show up? Or perhaps he’ll have one of the boxes on his back so that his advisers can cue him?

From the Boston Globe:

With new trouble appearing in the Middle East and the Pentagon facing possible budget cuts, the Republican White House contenders are debating for the second time in as many weeks how they would do better than President Barack Obama in protecting and extending America’s national security.

Six weeks to the day before the first nominating contests in Iowa, the candidates were looking to use the pre-Thanksgiving holiday debate to build or — for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the head of the pack — sustain momentum in the battle to pick a 2012 election challenger for Obama.

Businessman Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania also were meeting in Tuesday night’s forum put together by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

With unemployment stubbornly high and the economy sluggish to recover from recession, the candidates also were likely to drive the foreign policy discussion back to pocketbook issues at home.

With this crazy crowd, you never know what could happen. I don’t want to miss any ghastly gaffes or monstrous meltdowns! If you’re listing/watching too, please join me in documenting the atrocities. You can feel free to bring up other topics as well. This is an open thread.