Republicans In Political Chaos, Clinton “Covering Up Some Shaddy Shit”, And Sanders’ Unconventional Debate Preparation

McCarthy Drop Out

Both political parties are facing a fight against the party establishment in their presidential campaigns, with the Republican battle extending to Congress. Unfortunately the insurgents on the Republican side are the extremists who, while right in finding fault in the establishment, seek to paralyze the political system rather than improve it. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker, and at this point it is difficult to predict how the Republicans will get out of this mess. It is even possible that Boehner will be around a lot longer than he intended.

It is likley that anybody in the Republican leadership would fail to receive enough Tea Party support to become Speaker, but McCarthy sure did not do himself any favors with his comment on the Benghazi hearings in late September. His statement will probably be quoted quite frequently by Hillary Clinton, who has a strong case in criticizing that witch hunt.

Unfortunately for Clinton, she is also guilty herself of quite a bit of unethical and foolish behavior, along with violation of multiple government regulations. There is another quote mentioned in The Hill which Clinton will hope does not get repeated very often (emphasis mine):

Perhaps Clinton has learned the value of distraction from Donald Trump; fresh off her comedy skit on “Saturday Night Live” she mailed copies of her book “Hard Choices” to the entire GOP presidential field with a cheeky note about them starting a book club together. She also spoofed McCarthy’s blunder in an online video and her surrogates continue to rage about it on Twitter.

But a Senate investigation has now revealed a second company that backed up Clinton’s emails, and it has turned over its data to the FBI investigation into whether she mishandled classified information. Documents also show the first company is now concerned it may have deleted emails following the initial request the State Department made for her work records. One employee of Platte River Networks, which turned the server over to the FBI in August, wrote to another of concern that “this whole thing is really covering up some shaddy [sic] shit,” according to documents.

Next week’s debate has the potential to further shake up the Democratic race. The trend so far has been that the more people see of Bernie Sanders, the more they like him, and the opposite for Hillary Clinton. Politico reports on Sanders’ unorthodox debate preparation:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vermont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

He won’t attack Clinton personally but will instead identify where their positions differ — on foreign policy, for example — and try to leave an impression with viewers of the substantive differences between the party’s two front-runners.

“You’re looking at a candidate who has run in many, many elections who has never run a negative political ad in my life — and hopes never to have to run one. You’re looking at a candidate who does not go about attacking personally, I just don’t do that,” Sanders said Wednesday.

He’s working to be prepared to stand his ground if Clinton — or O’Malley — comes after him. His team contends, though, that those defenses won’t come through as pre-written one-liners.

“The one thing Bernie’s not going to do is be a politician that delivers canned soundbites. That would be a disaster,” said Tad Devine, the campaign’s chief strategist, who met with Sanders and campaign manager Jeff Weaver last week to kick off the debate planning. “And one of the reasons to not do formal debate prep sessions is it gets rehearsed.”

This is quite a contrast from how Joe Biden has decided that, even should he announce that he is running, he does not plan to participate in the debate because of not having time to prepare his “canned soundbites.”

Unlike Clinton, Sanders has been saying the same things throughout his career, and perhaps this has served as sufficient debate preparation. I just hope that he is not making a mistake. I think back to occasions such as Obama’s first debate in 2008 where I suspect he felt over-confident as he knew the material, which is not the same as being prepared for a televised debate. Plus sound bites cannot be ignored, as these are what appear in subsequent newscasts where impressions of the debate by the public are often different from those who watch the entire debate. Regardless of how Sanders prepares, what I hope does come out of the debate is how he has been right, and Clinton wrong, on so many of the key issues over the past decades.

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How Negative Will Clinton Go Against Sanders and Biden?

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

Considering how dirty her 2008 campaign was against Obama, there has been speculation as to how negative Hillary Clinton will get against Bernie Sanders, and against Joe Biden if he decides to run. The New York Times notes that Clinton must be cautious in debating Sanders:

Over the next week, Mrs. Clinton and her aides will look for the best way to explain to viewers why she is a better choice than her nearest rival without sounding condescending to Mr. Sanders, or dismissive of his views, so she does not risk alienating his growing army of supporters.

“I’ve seen every attack people have thrown at him, and none of them have worked,” cautioned Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who supports Mrs. Clinton.

Not all of them have been exactly subtle. In 2004, the Republican challenging him for his House seat sought to deride him as a political oddball. “Crazy Bernie,” an advertisement called him, “a holdover from the Woodstock days of reefer and flowers.” But Vermont voters did not seem to mind…

For Mrs. Clinton, debating Mr. Sanders poses a challenge reminiscent of the more troublesome one she faced in 2008, when Senator Barack Obama’s criticisms of her were widely characterized as fair, but Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to counter them and defend herself often were not.

Already, a “super PAC” supporting Mrs. Clinton showed the risks that can come if an unsuccessful attack on Mr. Sanders blows back. As The Huffington Post reported, the super PAC, Correct the Record, in a document that was intended to be off the record, drew a connection between Mr. Sanders and Hugo Chávez, the socialist president of Venezuela who died in 2013, because Mr. Sanders supported a deal to bring low-cost Venezuelan oil to New England. Mr. Sanders, calling it “the same-old, same-old negative politics,” seized on the report and raised more than $1 million in two days.

More on how Sanders set fund raising records in response to this attack here. Clinton’s dirty campaign in 2008 led many Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy  to ultimately endorse Obama instead of her, and any dirty tricks from Clinton this campaign might have the same effect.

Clinton might try to attack Sanders’ views but this will be difficult because of how often he has been right on the issues and Clinton has been wrong. Clinton has often avoided discussing the issues in this campaign, and she did not do a good job on education. Alternet reports Hillary Clinton Delivers a Lame Attack on Bernie Sanders’ Free College Tuition Plan. Just wait until they talk about Iraq during the upcoming debate.

Clinton’s attacks on Sanders have generally come through surrogates. Politico reports on how Morning Joe is responding to the use of surrogates:

There’s a mandate on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: No candidate surrogates or spokespeople can appear on the show until the candidate agrees to be interviewed. And it all started with the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“The rule was put in place for Hillary’s campaign because while just about every other candidate came on, the Clinton team kept trying to put out surrogates and staffers,” host Joe Scarborough told POLITICO. “We finally said ‘not until the candidate comes on herself.’ And then some suggested we have Jeb [Bush’s] people on a month or so ago, but we held to the same policy.”

Bush himself went on the show last week, meaning his surrogates and spokespeople can now appear as well. But Clinton, Ben Carson, John Kasich and Marco Rubio, none of whom has appeared on the show since they announced their campaigns, will have to wait.

“It applies to everybody. It just started with Hillary because her people were aggressive with getting pollsters and spokespeople on, but it applies to everyone,” Scarborough said. “That’s the fairest way to do it.”

While I often disagree with Joe Scarborough, this policy does sound like a good idea.

New York Magazine reports that Clinton’s usual hit-man, former Republican hit-man David Brock, will be leading the attacks on Joe Biden:

If Joe Biden jumps into the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton will be ready to go on the offensive. According to a source close to the Clinton campaign, a team of opposition researchers working on behalf of Clinton is currently digging through Biden’s long record in office to develop attack lines in case the vice-president runs. The research effort started about a month ago and is being conducted by operatives at Correct the Record, the pro-Hillary superpac founded by David Brock, which is coordinating with the Clinton campaign. According to the source, the research has turned up material on Biden’s ties to Wall Street; his reluctance to support the raid that killed Osma bin Laden; and his role in the Anita Hill saga as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The oppo-research project reveals how seriously Clintonworld is taking the prospect of a Biden candidacy. So far, Clinton hasn’t taken any direct shots at Biden herself. But behind the scenes, her loyalists are making moves to blunt Biden’s campaign should he run. “Even implicitly his campaign’s argument would be ‘I have integrity and you don’t,'” a Clinton ally said. “If that’s the message, this could be messier than Obama-Clinton ’08. At least Obama had the Iraq War vote and could make a case about generational change. This guy” — Biden — “is older than she is and just as conventional.”

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign declined to comment.

Joe Biden might respond that while they voted the same on the initial Iraq vote, their views otherwise were quite different. Biden spent the next several months looking for alternatives to war while Clinton was one of the strongest advocates of going to war, including making false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. Biden often opposed Clinton’s more hawkish views as Secretary of State. Biden was pushing for Obama to “evolve” on same-sex marriage while Clinton was still opposed to it. Biden did not join up with the religious right while in the Senate as Clinton did. Biden didn’t spend his time in the Senate proposing to make flag burning a felony, or waging a war against video games as Clinton did. While Biden is not my first choice, he is certainly not as conservative as Clinton on social issues and foreign policy. Both Clinton and Biden have problems with regards to their ties to Wall Street and their hard line views on the drug war.

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Sanders Joins Obama In Opposing Clinton’s Hawkish Views On Syria


While economics have so far dominated the campaign, I feel that the number one reason to nominate Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton is to prevent a return to the foreign policy of George Bush and get us involved in further foolish military intervention. Clinton has a long history of irrational hawkishness. This includes pushing for the Iraq war with false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, along with advocating increased military intervention as Secretary of State. Fortunately the Obama White House frequently opposed advice from Clinton, often with Joe Biden leading the opposition to her proposals. When the Obama administration did listen to her on intervention in Libya, it turned into a disaster.

Clinton has disagreed with Obama on Syria, favoring increased military intervention. She has attacked Obama on Syria saying, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. ” It sound like a good principle to me, sort of the political equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, and an idea Clinton should consider. Instead Clinton is proposing more “stupid stuff” in proposing that the United States impose a no-fly zone in Syria. Enforcement of this would not only increase the risk of us getting entangled in the conflict between the Syrian government and ISIS, but also risk direct military confrontation with Russia.

Bernie Sanders has joined Obama in opposing Clinton’s desire for this increase in military intervention. The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that he opposes a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, offering a less hawkish stance on the war-torn region than Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a position more in line with President Obama.

“We must be very careful about not making a complex and dangerous situation in Syria even worse,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I support President Obama’s efforts to combat ISIS in Syria while at the same time supporting those in that country trying to remove the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad.”

But, Sanders added: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

In a television interview broadcast Thursday, Clinton advocated additional air power to protect civilians in the multi-front war, in which Syrian rebels and international advocates have said that air patrols in Syria’s north could give civilians a refuge from Assad’s bombing raids…

Clinton’s position puts her in the same camp as some Republican contenders for the presidential nomination, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich…

Sanders, who has a pair of rallies planned in Massachusetts on Saturday, has been speaking out in his recent campaign appearances about “the cost of war,” accusing Republicans of being too eager to insert the U.S. military into conflicts that will result in casualties and a range of other problems for returning U.S. soldiers.

Saturday’s events, planned in Springfield and Boston, come amid a fresh burst of momentum for Sanders, whose campaign announced this week that it had raised $26 million in the last fundraising quarter, nearly as much as Clinton. Recent polls from New Hampshire have showed Sanders leading Clinton, and polls from Iowa have showed a close contest.

I don’t know how much of his economic agenda Bernie Sanders could pass when the Republicans can block legislation with forty Senators. The big difference between a Sanders presidency and a Clinton presidency will probably seen in the areas where the president has more direct power. If Sanders is president we are far less likely to wind up in more unnecessary wars, and far less likely to see a continuation of infringements on civil liberties with activities such as the NSA surveillance of American citizens.

Update: Sanders reportedly had more record crowds out to see him in Boston. The Boston Globe reports it was “the largest rally for a presidential primary candidate in recent Massachusetts history, topping 10,000 people drawn to Boston Common eight years ago by Barack Obama.”

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Pope Francis, President Obama, Multiple Politicians, & Celebrities Snub Clinton Foundation Due To Scandals

Clinton Foundation Scandals

The Clinton Foundation is being snubbed in response to the influence-peddling scandals. Politco reports:

The Clinton Foundation invited everyone from Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio to Bill de Blasio and Janet Yellen to its showcase gathering starting Saturday in New York City, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning.

But those invitations were among the dozens turned down by all manner of celebrities, dignitaries and donors, according to the sources, who said the controversies swirling around the foundation and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have made some bold-faced names and donors wary of the foundation.

The glitzy Clinton Global Initiative gathering in New York, which has the lofty title “The Future of Impact,” was supposed to have been a celebration of the accomplishments of the $2-billion Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s past work as it pivots towards a future with Chelsea Clinton at the helm.

Instead, it’s become emblematic of the foundation’s struggles to regain its luster, while scaling back some of its ambitions and restructuring amid heightened scrutiny of its internal workings, the diminished role of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the prospect that former president Bill Clinton also could be forced to step back.

“They’ve had a lot of rejections from people – both for membership renewals and speaking roles this year between the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press,” said one person who has worked on planning foundation events…

The documents, reviewed by POLITICO, also show that the foundation had hoped to land either Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen or French economist Thomas Piketty to deliver a presentation on income inequality. Both declined, as did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Rock legend Elton John was invited to receive an award for his efforts to fight AIDS, but he’s not coming, and neither is New York City Mayor de Blasio. He had been invited as a guest rather than as a speaker and notably has refused to endorse Clinton, despite having managed her successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2000…

Likewise, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama’s decision to skip CGI for the first time since taking office stemmed from his busy schedule ― not the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is actively weighing running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the foreign heads of state who turned down invitations, according to sources, though they have not attended previous CGI meetings. Among those who are scheduled to appear are Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

To be sure, it’s not unusual for organizers of major conferences with dozens of speakers to be turned down by some invitees, but sources who have worked with CGI say the percentage of regrets seems higher this year. They attribute that to politically charged suggestions that foundation donors ― and particularly foreign donors ― sought or received favors from Hillary Clinton’s state department, as well as media scrutiny of the foundation’s finances and staff.

At least five major companies that sponsored the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative have backed out of sponsoring this year’s meeting.

Let’s hope that Democratic primary voters similarly snub the Clinton campaign. Otherwise there is considerable danger that Hillary Clinton will be similarly toxic among general election voters in 2016, greatly increasing the risk of having a Republican president. It just seems inconceivable that a major political party would consider nominating a candidate who has been exposed for such corruption while a cabinet official.

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Speculation Increases On Joe Biden Entering The Race

Ridin With Biden

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been a disaster instead of the expected coronation. Democratic donors have an alternative solution to the problems seen in the Clinton campaign–pushing harder for Joe Biden to run:

Nearly 50 Democratic donors and party activists have signed a letter urging Vice President Biden to jump into the 2016 presidential race to compete against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling him a leader “who understands the real challenges facing American families.”

The letter — whose signatories include some top bundlers for President Obama’s campaigns — underscores a nervousness among some in the party about Clinton’s standing and a building hope that Biden will decide to run.

Some, such as party fundraiser Lou Frillman, had already signed up to help Clinton’s campaign.

“We believe that the vice president is the best candidate,” Frillman said in an interview. “We have a lot of confidence in him….If he runs, we’re ready to support him.”

In a related report:

A wide swath of party financiers is convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers nationwide.

Their potential support — driven in part by a desire to recapture the passion they felt in Obama’s campaigns — could play a key role in helping the vice president decide whether to make a third White House bid. The chatter among a cadre of well-connected party fundraisers suggests that he could benefit from an early jolt of money should he run…

Many of the president’s fundraisers are still up for grabs. Of the 770 people who collected checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, just 52 have signed on as a “Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have held a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Top Democratic money players — many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations — said discussions among senior Obama fundraisers about Biden’s possible bid have taken a serious turn in the past few days.

The Wall Street Journal reports Joe Biden Edges Closer to Joining Presidential Race:

While the Biden team is still debating the best time to jump in, the vice president met Monday with his political advisers and talked about the merits of an early entry that would assure him a place in the Democratic debate scheduled for Oct. 13. They also are honing his campaign message and moving ahead with plans to raise money and hire staff, the people said…

The vice president’s team of advisers are still honing what would be his campaign message: That after inheriting a brutal economic recession, President Barack Obama has had a successful run, and Mr. Biden would keep the U.S. on the same trajectory.

The Democratic debate next month is one of two important events in October that are on the minds of Mr. Biden’s top advisers as they consider a campaign start date.

Democratic National Committee leaders have scheduled only four debates before the Iowa caucuses set for Feb. 1. Delaying a presidential announcement would mean passing on a chance to appear before a national TV audience and make the case that he would be a better nominee than Mrs. Clinton. Yet as a sitting vice president, Mr. Biden already has a platform that keeps him in the public eye…

Stretching out the announcement has other pitfalls. Mid-November brings the first in a series of deadlines to get on the ballot for the first caucuses and primaries in 2016. Meeting those filing deadlines requires money and, in some cases, petition signatures, so preparations would need to begin weeks in advance.

It appears that Biden remains very interested in running for president, but possibly hesitant about running against Clinton should she resume a dominant role in the race. There has also been speculation, such as at Politico, that instead of announcing soon, Biden might wait to see if Clinton collapses:

It turns out that instead of simply deciding yes or no on a presidential run, Biden may have a third option — make no announcement at all, wait until December (or longer) and hope Clinton gets out of the race or is pushed to the sidelines without him having to get in…

“They’re testing it,” said one person who’s spoken with the people laying the plans. “They’re feeling it out.”

Drawing the decision out to November has risks, they know: It’s a gamble between whether she’ll implode (perhaps under indictment over her personal email server), whether he could wait so long that she’d rebound (perhaps fueled by strong performances at the debate or in congressional testimony on Oct. 22).

And November isn’t really a deadline, either. Close observers say they’re not convinced Clinton could survive losing Iowa and New Hampshire in February, given the fall from front-runner grace either would entail…

“He’s trying to keep the door open as long as he can,” said one former staffer who’s been in touch with his aides. “If you do nothing, then the door just closes on its own.”

…Taking his time might mean missing deadlines. There are petition and paperwork requirements that will quickly pile up as the end of the year nears. But in the topsy-turvy circumstances that would have to click into place for Biden to have any kind of realistic shot at the nomination anyway, he might have to make the campaign happen without being on the ballot in every state.

Few are convinced that would matter much.

“If he decides to go after all this, it’s not going to matter if he’s missed two filing deadlines,” said Democratic consultant Joe Trippi…

If Biden’s serious about actually running for president, Trippi said, he’s got to move quickly to assess whether he has the support on the ground in the early states, and among key constituency groups, from labor to African-Americans.

But if he’s hoping to just be handed the keys to the Oval Office, he’s got lots of time.

“If you’re waiting for her to implode, just wait. You could wait until June,” Trippi said. “If she implodes next May, the party’s going to turn to Joe Biden.’’

It would seem a very risky move to sit back and hope that Clinton implodes to the point where she leaves the race. Even if the news were to become far worse for Clinton, she would probably remain in the race if at all possible, even if her chances of winning a general election campaign were to become greatly diminished.

If Biden wants one last shot at the presidency, I think he is best off getting in the race soon, ideally in time for the first debate. However, if Biden does not enter the race, it is a safe bet that he will never close the door to accepting the nomination should Clinton somehow be forced out of the race.

Update: Some reports recently have suggested that Jill Biden was reluctant for Joe to run. Today NBC is reporting that sources are saying Jill Biden is 100 percent on-board with Joe running.

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The Second Republican Debate: Faux Controversies, Lies, And One Candidate Was Even Right Twice

CNN Republican Debate

The second Republican debate (transcript here), this time hosted by CNN, didn’t raise as much controversy as the first. Donald Trump was still a dominant force, but whenever the talk got to policy, Trump didn’t know what to say and was quieter. CNN did try to liven things up with having the candidates respond to comments about them from other candidates. This included both comments during the debates and often insults made to the media before the debates. While at times it was a good idea to have the candidates interact, often it was over matters far to trivial to really belong in the debate.

This did allow Carly Fiorina to have one of the better moments of the debate, and she was obviously ready to comment on this insult from Donald Trump:

TRAPPER: In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.

FIORINA: You know, it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

While candidates often exceeded their time, Fiorina responded perfectly with this brief comment.

It was overall a good night for Fiorina, who might have done more than anyone else to improve her position in the GOP race with her debate performance. Unfortunately doing well in a Republican race does not require telling the truth. She repeated previously debunked claims about her record at HP. While she sounded more forceful than Donald Trump in saying how she would deal with Russia and Syria, Ezra Klein pointed out how she got the facts wrong. Klein, along with Sarah Kliff also pointed out how she was wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. There was no scene such as the one she described:

FIORINA: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Of course most, if not all, of the candidates were also lying about Planned Parenthood during the debate. Even if they didn’t make a claim as blatantly false as Fiorina did, they repeated the debunked claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue.

The biggest whopper came from Jeb Bush when he responded to criticism of his brother from Donald Trump:

TRUMP: Your brother — and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.

BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

Both Trump and Jeb Bush were wrong about Obama and George Bush in the above exchange, but it is Jeb’s comments which were the most absurd. The most destructive terrorist attack on the United States occurred on George Bush’s watch, with Bush ignoring intelligence reports which might have enabled the United States to prevent the attack. Bush then followed up the attack by foolishly getting us into the quagmire in Iraq.

Rand Paul is one of the candidates who was nearly forgotten. Donald Trump, who insulted so many of the other candidates that I thought he was preparing to fire one, even said:

TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.

While Paul is certainly wrong on many, many things, I noted he was right on two points during the debate.  For this group, just being right twice makes him stand out.

First he pointed out that military intervention is not always the best idea:

PAUL: I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.

Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real the debate we have to have in the Middle East.

Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.

Paul missed the point Obama successfully stepped back from the brink, but his overall point is correct about thinking before engaging in senseless military intervention.

Paul also also criticized the drug war during the debate:

TAPPER: Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, “if you’re getting high in Colorado today,” where marijuana has been legalized, “enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.” Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don’t like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves.

There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to — to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.

I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I’m a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

But the bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

Paul was generally right on two points, but neither are going to help him in a Republican primary battle. It is also rather sad that the Democratic front-runner has been wrong on both issues, with Clinton supporting both greater military intervention and being a hard-liner on drug laws.

Paul was more mixed on vaccines. He didn’t go along with Donald Trump’s claims about a connection between vaccines and autism, but also wasn’t consistent with the science:

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would be in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both of which say you are wrong. How would you handle this as president?

TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

Paul later responded:

One of the greatest — one of the greatest medical discoveries of all times was — were the vaccines, particularly for smallpox. And if you want to read a story, it’s called The Speckled Monster, it’s an amazing story, it was all done voluntary.

But people came in by the droves. George Washington wouldn’t let his wife visit until she got vaccinated. So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.

I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.

The debate will probably not change the race very much but it is a good thing that the candidates were provided this opportunity to present their views to a national audience on a repeated basis. If only the Democratic National Committee would do the same this year and allow more than six debates total.

Update: The New York Times reviewed  Crazy Talk at the Republican Debate with Paul Krugman adding additional Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate

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Sanders Gains on Clinton, Biden Met With Obama Bundler, and Trump Loses Job To Foreigner

Clinton declining support women

The Democratic race has become far more interesting than many expected, but we are seeing variations of the same stories the last few weeks: Clinton’s support falling, including in Iowa, New Hampshire, and among women, and along with continued questions about whether Joe Biden will run as the Democratic establishment gets more nervous about Clinton as a candidate.

Among recent polls, ABC News/The Washington Post show non-career politicians Donald Trump and Ben Carson dominating among the Republicans while support for establishment candidate Hillary Clinton is slipping among Democrats:

In the Democratic contest, Clinton’s drop is dramatic, yet not enough to threaten her clear lead. She’s supported by 42 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, down from 63 percent in July, while Sanders has gained 10 points, to 24 percent, and Joe Biden’s up by 9 points, to 21 percent. If Biden doesn’t run, most of his support moves to Clinton, boosting her to 56 percent – exactly double Sanders’ support in this case.

Even if still in a strong position, Clinton’s trajectory leaves no question that she has trouble. Just 39 percent now see her as honest and trustworthy, matching her career low; that has dropped by 14 points since last summer. At 46 percent, her rating for empathy –- understanding the problems of average Americans -– is at a career low (albeit by a single point). Her support in the primary has tanked in particular among women, previously a mainstay of her candidacy, from 71 percent in July to 42 percent now.

The e-mail imbroglio is part of it. Fifty-five percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, disapprove of Clinton’s handling of questions about the matter, 54 percent think she’s tried to cover it up and 51 percent think she broke government regulations by using a private server for work-related e-mail during her time as secretary of state…

In the Democratic contest, Clinton and Sanders run essentially evenly among whites, 31 vs. 33 percent; Clinton’s lead relies on nonwhites, among whom she has 57 percent support, to Sanders’ 13 percent. It’s the only major demographic group in which Clinton still maintains a clear majority.

Clinton’s support from nonwhites has dropped, by 14 points, from 71 percent in July. But her support from whites has fallen farther, by 25 points, in the same time.

As noted, too, Clinton’s support among women has cratered by 29 points since July. Among men she’s lost 9 points in the same period, from 52 to 43 percent. Her gender gap has evaporated.

While Clinton still maintains an overall lead nationally for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders continues to show increased support in Iowa and New Hampshire, with victories there likely to impact the polls nationally should he hold onto these leads. The YouGov/CBS News Battleground Tracker showed a continuation of the trend seen in other recent polls:

The new poll finds Sen. Sanders with 52% support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former Secretary of State Clinton, long considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, receives 30%. Recent polls have shown Sanders’ lead growing in the Granite State, but this would be the first to show the Vermont Senator over 50%.

Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa, where Sanders now leads by 10 points, with 43% to Clinton’s 33%.

The entry of Joe Biden into the Democratic race would have a major impact, with Biden dividing the establishment vote, possibly creating a better chance for Bernie Sanders to win the nomination, or in any event decreasing the chance of Clinton winning. At this time Biden has given out mixed signals, I suspect largely because he has not decided what he is going to do. Bloomberg provides further evidence that he is seriously considering the possibility of running:

The 28 hours Joe Biden spent in New York City at the end of last week were a whirlwind of activity—much of it feeding the mounting speculation that he is inching ever closer to launching a late-starting presidential campaign. Biden stood alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch and announced an $80 million plan to clear the backlog of rape kits in police departments around the country. He appeared with Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally with some of the city’s most powerful unions to support Cuomo’s push to hike the minimum wage. He made his now-famous appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He took part in an evening roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And, the next day, he delivered remarks at a 9/11 memorial aboard the Intrepid Museum, at which firefighters, cops, and other first responders chanted, “Run, Joe, run!”

Each of these events was freighted with political meaning. For some, the turn on Colbert, with Biden expressing his enduring anguish about the loss of his son Beau and his heartfelt doubts about his ability to rise emotionally to the rigors of a campaign, was the most telling, signaling what many in the political establishment have believed for weeks: that for all of Biden’s dalliances with a bid, he would in the end find himself unable to get to yes.

And that may still prove true. But fewer than 12 hours after the Colbert interview aired, Biden partook in a meeting that signaled something entirely different. The meeting appeared nowhere on his public schedule. It was held in secret at his hotel in Midtown Manhattan and lasted for more than 90 minutes: a private, one-on-one session with one of the most prominent and powerful fundraising stars in the Democratic firmament—a mega-bundler who happens to be, at least for now, publicly committed to Hillary Clinton.

The bundler in question was Robert Wolf: the former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, a prodigious buck-raker on behalf of Barack Obama in two successive campaigns, a four-time appointee to economic panels in the Obama administration, and perhaps the only person in the American business community—and certainly the sole Wall Street potentate—with whom Obama during his time in office has developed a deep and genuine friendship…

There is also some news of interest which is somewhat related to the Republican race. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been named the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, replacing Donald Trump. Trump is being replaced due to running for president, along with alienating NBC and many potential viewers with his xenophobic talk. Schwarzenegger very well might have been a contender for the Republican nomination (either now or in the past) if not disqualified due to not being a natural born American citizen. Plus, ironically in light of the xenophobia he is spreading, Donald Trump is losing his job to a foreigner.

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Clinton Loses One Third Of Her Support In Iowa In Latest Des Moines Register Poll

Des Moines Register Poll August

Bernie Sanders has pulled within seven points of Hillary Clinton in the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll with Clinton falling below fifty percent for the first time, reminiscent of her fall in 2008:

She’s the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers; he’s the pick for 30 percent, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

But Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May, a trajectory that if sustained puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa, the initial crucible in the presidential nominating contest.

This is the first time Clinton, the former secretary of state and longtime presumptive front-runner, has dropped below the 50 percent mark in four polls conducted by the Register and Bloomberg Politics this year.

Poll results include Vice President Joe Biden as a choice, although he has not yet decided whether to join the race. Biden captures 14 percent, five months from the first-in-the-nation vote Feb. 1. Even without Biden in the mix, Clinton falls below a majority, at 43 percent.

“This feels like 2008 all over again,” said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll.

In that race, Clinton led John Edwards by 6 percentage points and Barack Obama by 7 points in an early October Iowa Poll. But Obama, buoyed by younger voters and first-time caucusgoers, surged ahead by late November.

Clinton has already fallen behind Sanders in recent polls in New Hampshire and is seeing a decline in her support nationally. Should Sanders pull off victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is likely that polls in subsequent states will be affected by these results. Both Sanders and Martin O’Malley were critical of the decision of the Democratic National Committee to allow only six debates this election at the recent meeting of the DNC. Sanders warned against politics as usual and that, “Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.”

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Clinton Support Eroding As Sanders And O’Malley Fight Back

OMalley Sanders Clinton

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Donald Trump dominating the Republicans and Clinton’s support eroding among Democrats. Clinton still has the lead, but it is down from 55 percent on June 30 to 45 percent at present. More disturbing for Democrats, this poll shows what other polls have shown–Americans know better than to trust Hillary Clinton. Mediaite summarized:

“What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?” Quinnipiac asked. All three of the most popular answers were along the same lines: “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” After those responses, Clinton nets a few positive responses, such as “experience” and “strong.” But then the negative qualifiers begin again, with responses like “crook,” “untruthful,” “criminal,” and “deceitful.”

The same question was asked of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. The top three responses for Trump were “arrogant,” “blowhard,” and “idiot,” while the top responses for Bush were “Bush,” “family,” and “honest.”

The same poll found Clinton with low favorables. A majority of voters, 51%, say that they have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton while only 39% says they have a favorable opinion.

Like other recent polls, this poll also shows Joe Biden doing better against Republicans than Clinton does.

It is no wonder that we are seeing headlines such as Hillary Clinton’s Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders at The New York Times and Inside Democratic Party, growing concerns about Clinton  from McClatchy. While Clinton does well among Democratic voters, she does poorly nationally with independents and those in battle ground states.

While Clinton does hold a strong (but diminishing ) lead in the Democratic race, Sanders is posing a serious threat. Recent polls show him leading in New Hampshire. He is even within four points of Clinton in West Virginia, where she leads 36 percent to 32 percent. Apparently without the race issue, Clinton is not able to win there as easily as eight years ago.

After amazing most observers with how much support he is generating among Democrats, Sanders is preparing for phase 2 of his campaign.

Sanders huddled with advisers at his home here Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level.

He said he will issue a slew of detailed policy proposals, including for a tax system under which corporations and the wealthy would pay significantly more for initiatives that would benefit the poor and middle class, and will pour resources into voter outreach in early nominating states.

The senator also will appear with other White House hopefuls this week at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee and will urge party leaders to embrace him as a candidate who can attract new voters and energy, just as President Obama did eight years ago.

“Smart members of the establishment will perceive where the excitement is, where the energy is, where the enthusiasm is, where the potential voter turnout is,” Sanders said in an interview…

Roughly one-fifth of the delegates who will pick the nominee at the Democratic convention are superdelegates — elected officials and other party leaders who are not bound by voting in their states. So far, those superdelegates have sided overwhelmingly with Clinton.

Longtime Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who was among the participants in Wednesday’s meeting here, said Sanders has the potential to assemble “not necessarily the same coalition, but the same kind of coalition” as Obama did in 2008. Sanders’s huge campaign rallies have been heavily attended by younger voters, and during his long political career in Vermont, he has demonstrated an appeal to lower-income voters from both parties…

Campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator will continue to hold rallies but “phase two will be a more focused effort to reach out to undecided voters” in early nominating states. The campaign is spending heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — all of which have contests in February — and starting to evaluate strategies for a dozen states that have primaries or caucuses on March 1.

To date, Sanders has deployed 41 staffers to Iowa, 23 to New Hampshire and nine to South Carolina, aides said.

Another focus of “phase two,” according to Sanders and his aides, will be a series of detailed position papers and policy speeches that go well beyond his hour-long stump speech.

Sanders said he plans a major address on Wall Street reforms and to add more specifics to many of his ideas, including revamping the tax system. He has pledged to reverse the growing income inequality in the country and has laid out a set of costly priorities — including free tuition at public colleges and universities, a massive infrastructure program and a large youth jobs program — much of which would be paid for by taxing businesses and the wealthy.

“It’s easy to say we’re going to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share,” Sanders said. “What does that mean, exactly?”

He plans, too, to speak out more about foreign policy, a subject that gets relatively little attention in his stump speech.

Aides acknowledge that Sanders could open himself up to criticism by detailing plans that are considered outside the political mainstream. But the candidate said he owes it to voters to lay out what he would do as president: “These are terribly serious times, and the American people deserve to be treated as intelligent people.”

As I have said before, Sanders is the future of the Democratic Party.

Martin O’Malley is also going on the offensive, criticizing the DNC for its preferential treatment of Hillary Clinton, despite her scandals, and limiting the campaign to only six debates:

Martin O’Malley took one of the hardest swings of any Democrat yet at Hillary Clinton on Thursday, saying the party shouldn’t be “circling the wagons” around the former secretary of state and questioning her viability against Republicans.

The former Maryland governor — struggling to climb out of low single digits in national Democratic primary polls — said Clinton will continue to be dogged by her use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.

“Until we start having debates, our party’s going to be defined and branded by questions like: What did Secretary Clinton know, when did she know it, and when will the FBI conclude its investigation?” O’Malley told reporters in New Hampshire. “That’s not a formula for success in the fall.”

O’Malley went further than other Democratic presidential candidates have. Clinton’s top-polling challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has avoided direct intra-party attacks and instead trained his fire on Wall Street and Republicans.

He also criticized the Democratic National Committee for scheduling only six debates, saying those nationally-televised events are opportunities for the party to focus on big ideas, rather than Clinton’s email drama.

“I think it’s a big mistake for us as a party to circle the wagons around the inevitable frontrunner,” O’Malley said Thursday…

O’Malley had also criticized Clinton in an interview with the New Hampshire radio station WGIR earlier Thursday.

He called the email probe “very serious” and said that there are “legitimate questions” about whether she handled classified material on a non-government server.

“These are serious and legitimate questions and Hillary Clinton and her lawyers will have to answer them,” he said.

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Republican Economic Theories Fail In The Real World

Liberal Values is often listed as a libertarian-leaning blog, (or Libertarian Democrat at Wikipedia) and that is certainly true in terms of civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to unjust wars. However I (and other left-libertarians) must differ from libertarian views when it comes to economics. This is both due to concern for the influence of unrestricted corporate, as well as government, power, and because of a respect for the realities of a modern market economy. While we would love to be able to get rid of the rules and pay less (or no) taxes, this just is not realistic.

Conservatives and libertarians often argue that tax cuts will pay for themselves to justify lowering taxes. In rare cases where tax rates are high that can occur, but this has no relevance to our current situation. The Hill reports that the Republican-appointed director of the CBO has verified this:

The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.

At a press briefing, a reporter asked Keith Hall about that theory.

“No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,” Hall said. “And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that.”

Libertarian and conservative economic theory holds that virtually government spending is bad, and is totally oblivious to the multiplier effect of government spending on the economy. Jay Bookman looked further into the CBO report on Obama’s budget proposal:

Yesterday, under Hall’s leadership, the revamped CBO released its analysis of President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. Here’s what it had to say:

“CBO estimates that, under the President’s proposals, the nation’s real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) would be 0.4 percent higher, on average, during the 2016–2020 period, and 1.7 percent higher during the 2021–2025 period, than under current law. After incorporating the proposals’ macroeconomic feedback into the budget, CBO estimates that deficits under the President’s proposals would be $1.4 trillion smaller during the 2016–2025 period than in CBO’s baseline, which is a projection of the paths that federal revenues and spending would take over the next decade if current laws generally remained unchanged.”

You read that correctly. Under the president’s proposals, which include more spending on social programs and infrastructure as well as slightly higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, the country would experience significantly higher growth than under current law, and deficits would be lowered by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Or so says the conservative-run CBO.

If you want a stronger economy and a lower deficit, Democratic economic plans will beat Republican economic ideas.

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