Friday, October 30, 2015

Andy Borowitz


Jeb Quits Race with "Mission Accomplished" Banner



MIAMI (The Borowitz Report)—Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced that he was dropping out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, while standing in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner draped over the façade of his campaign headquarters, in Miami.

Speaking to his remaining staff members who were seated in a dozen folding chairs, Bush thanked them for the hard work that led to the triumphant completion of their mission.

"Our work is done," Bush said. "Thanks to you, we have prevailed."

While acknowledging that he took pride in the impressive success of his campaign, Bush stressed that victory did not belong to him alone. "This is a great day for America," he said.

Upon the conclusion of his remarks, Bush bade farewell to his staffers with a military-style salute before stepping into a waiting helicopter and ascending to the skies.

Minutes after Bush flew away, however, reporters asked senior Bush staffers to define more clearly the mission that Bush had deemed accomplished.

"We feel really good about the work we did, our ground game, getting the word out about Jeb's accomplishments as a conservative Governor in Florida," said Bush's campaign manager, Danny Diaz, who added, "Please, just leave me alone."

Bush-isms: Funny George Bush Quotes


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Something to Know - 29 October

Rob Rogers

I have to admit that I did not watch to Clown Car (or what's left of it) last night.  I can usually pick up the salient points on news flashes or general media coverage the next morning.  However, needing to feed the beast, I had to send something out this morning.  An errant blimp or an errant political "debate"...and then along comes Gail Collins.  I think she probably captures the essence of the Clown Car's Jalopy Derby:

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST

Oh, Those Debating Republicans

OCT. 29, 2015


On his way into the big presidential debate, Ben Carson told reporters his plan was "to be me." Excellent idea — way better than planning to be Chris Christie.

"We are on the verge, perhaps, of picking someone who cannot do this job!" cried Gov. John Kasich of Ohio at the moment the contest began. Kasich had actually been asked to name his biggest weakness, but the thought of Carson's tax plan and Donald Trump's immigration plan seemed to send him a little off topic.

"He was so nice, he was such a nice guy," sneered Trump at Kasich's howling. "But then his poll numbers tanked."

Hard to believe the race is still barely beginning — one week until one year until presidential Election Day! But you can't say things have been boring. "What the hell are you people doing to me?" Trump demanded in Iowa, where he's no longer in the lead. Perhaps we will look back on this as the moment when the former star of "The Apprentice" fired a state.

But about Wednesday night's debate — the topic was economics, and the big takeaway was probably that when there are 10 people onstage, nobody is going to have to explain how that flat tax plan adds up. When in doubt, complain about government regulations.

Carson appears to have a particular genius on this front. Asked what to do about the pharmaceutical industry's outrageous pricing policies, he mildly said: "No question that some people go overboard when it comes to trying to make profits," and then he careened off to the cost of government rules on "the average small manufacturer."

Every seasoned politician is good at answering a difficult question with the answer to something entirely different. But Carson — who isn't supposed to be a politician at all — was possibly the champ. Where do you think he picked that up? It's a little unnerving to think this kind of talent is useful in the operating room.

Because Carson's voice always sounds so moderate, responses that make no sense whatsoever can sound sort of thoughtful until you replay them in your head. Asked why, as an opponent of gay marriage, he serves on the board of a company that offers domestic partner benefits, Carson said that he believed "marriage is between one man and one woman and there is no reason that you can't be perfectly fair to the gay community." He then proposed, in his measured tones, that "the P.C. culture … it's destroying this nation."

Republicans who have been terrified by Trump and Carson, and in despair over Jeb Bush, keep pointing hopefully to Marco Rubio. During the debate, Rubio demonstrated great verbal talent when it came to explaining why he seems so bad at things like, say, managing his personal finances. (His parents were humble working folk who did not leave him a fortune.) Also, his stupendous absentee record in the Senate is not all that much worse than some other people who have run for president.

"But Marco, when you signed up for this — this was a six-year term and you should be showing up to work," interjected Bush, who seemed as if he had suddenly shaken himself from a nap. Bush's only two moments of energy involved Rubio, who he seems to hate, and fantasy football, which he really, really enjoys.



Jeb Bush is not going to be the Republican presidential nominee. Neither is, let's see — Christie, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina or any of the other supporting cast members. Ted Cruz did have a big moment when he answered a question about raising the debt limit by attacking the questioner. That went over so well that by the end of the two-hour session, the left-wing media had overtaken government regulators as the greatest threat to the future of American democracy.

Or do you think it could actually be Carson? The guy who seems to blame gun control for the Holocaust?

One of the theories on why Carson can't win — besides the fact that he's utterly loopy — is that even a lot of Republican voters will be unnerved by his plans to undermine Social Security and Medicare. But his ideas aren't actually all that different from those of most of the other candidates, who want to raise retirement rates or cut out everybody under, say, 45. "It's not too much to ask of our generation after everything our parents and our grandparents did for us," said Rubio.

Hard to imagine this going over well in middle-aged America, but the whole party is on the same page. Except for Mike Huckabee who — yes! — is still in the race, out there somewhere. And Trump, who says everything will be fine after he makes "a really dynamic economy from what we have right now" and builds that wall at the border.

Somebody has got to be nominated. Happy Halloween.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Something to Know - 28 October

Rob Rogers

This small news item was buried in a small section of today's LA Times.  It is an example of hiding the full truth of the interests of the Lobbying Industry.   Federal investigators have come to the conclusion that the horrific loss of life as a result of the intersection of trains and road vehicles and defects in our nation's railroad tracks can be prevented by the use of technology.  But no, this would cost the railroads too much money.  Lobbyists are responsible for the prevention of the implementation of regulations that actually improve the safety on the food we eat, the air we breathe, the safety of the roads, air and rail we travel on, and the consumer products we purchase.   Corporations serve to protect their bottom line, and not the consumers they are in business to that what we have?   Is this our "American Exceptionalism"?:



   House OKs train safety tech delay

   The House passed a bill that delays for three to five years the mandate for railroads to put long-sought safety technology in place.

   Federal accident investigators say the technology, known as positive train control, would have prevented an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in May that 
killed eight people and injured about 200 others.

   Railroads and companies that ship freight by rail have been lobbying Congress for a delay. Under the bill, railroads would have until Dec. 31, 2018, to install positive train control and could seek a waiver for up to another two years. Senate action is still required.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Something to Know - 21 October

Mike Luckovich

Biden is not going to run.  With that issue off the table, the Democrats can now speak to the relevant issues and present a sane and progressive agenda.   What I am sending out today, is kind of "cheesy", in that it directs attention to the scramble of idiocy that continues to prevail within the ranks of the GeeOpie House of Representatives.   Paul Ryan will consent to calls to be Speaker, but on his terms.  So, I was waiting to see what the "Crazies" had to say.  Well, here it is, and it does not look like there is unity in the ranks.  If this group prevails, no telling what is going to happen.  Who Will Be Speaker?  will be like looking for Waldo.  The election of 2016 may just be decided upon by the fact that the Republicans are not able to govern:

Last night in the House Republican Conference Meeting, Paul Ryan announced that he would be willing to accept the position of Speaker of the House if all of his conditions were met. He said he would only agree to be Speaker if he could be the unifying person between the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee, and the moderate wing of the GOP conference.

Oh and there's one more thing. He will only agree to be Speaker of the House if the Republican Conference agrees to change the House rules to get rid of the ability for Members to file a motion to vacate the chair. You'll recall this is the very tool that Congressman Mark Meadows ultimately used to force John Boehner to resign.

So, Paul Ryan wants to be Speaker, but he doesn't want to have to pay the consequences if he does a bad job. Not only that, he wants to remove any consequences for any future Speaker of the House. Let's be clear here. He's talking about changing a rule that was initially laid out by Thomas Jefferson in his Rules on Parliamentary Procedure - a set of rules that each Member gets a copy of at the beginning of a new session of Congress!

This is absolutely insane and what's more, we have it on good authority that many Members of the House Freedom Caucus stood and gave Ryan a standing ovation after his speech last night. Now, perhaps it was simply a good gesture, but for them to stand and clap after Ryan talked about changing the rules of the House to remove any accountability for a sitting Speaker is alarming.

We must continue to encourage the House Freedom Caucus to remain strong and to remain en bloc. Paul Ryan has already proven that he isn't willing to change business as usual in Washington, in fact he wants to double down. The House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives in the House must continue to stand and demand a Speaker who will devolve the power structure.

Still, the only person who has laid for such a plan is Daniel Webster. He is the only one who has actually implemented his plan and he may well be the only person in the House qualified to make such a drastic and necessary change.

Call and Tweet the following list of Congressmen today. Tell them not to give in to Paul Ryan's demands and tell them to remember why they have their majority. You can remind them by sending them to watch this video:

In liberty,
Tea Party Patriots Support Team


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Andy Borowitz


Benghazi Hearings Cancelled After Clinton Drops Out of Race



WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Washington was in turmoil on Tuesday morning as a House select committee abruptly cancelled its Benghazi hearings shortly after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she was withdrawing from the Presidential race.

Secretary Clinton's stunning announcement came at 9:00 A.M., followed by the committee chairman Trey Gowdy's decision to cancel the hearings at 9:04.

"As you know, we have been preparing for this week's hearings for months," Gowdy said. "However, after meeting with fellow committee members over the past four minutes, we've come to the conclusion that we know all we need to know about Benghazi."

Gowdy flatly denied that the decision to cancel the long-awaited Benghazi hearings had anything to do with Clinton's sudden departure from the race. "We wish her well in whatever her future endeavors may be," he said.

But shortly after Gowdy's announcement, Clinton called an impromptu press conference at 9:13 to announce that she was jumping back into the race. "I was just trying to prove a point," she told reporters, before heading off to campaign stops in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Minutes after Clinton's second announcement, an irate Gowdy called her decision to reenter the race "beyond unethical" and revealed that the committee's investigators had just uncovered fresh evidence about Benghazi.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Something to Know - 18 October

Rob Rogers

Bernie Sanders has found support for his campaign, in the obvious places (young, idealistic, and people who value to democracy of our form of government).  Many other previous presidential campaigns (Eugene McCarthy, Adlai Stevenson, etc.) that had a left-of-center populist in the game were never successful in the final election.   However, "Bernie" is doing well because of the fact that income inequality is the worst it has ever been, and Hillary represents too much of the existing power structure and all of its baggage.   If Bernie Sanders will need to do a better job of defining the term "Social Democrat" and its relevance to the issues of today.   No matter how much Senator Sanders has a better response in defining and offering solutions to what ails us, the opposition (The GeeOpie) has millions (billions?) of dollars available to paint the term "Socialist" all over TV to defeat him.  Forget the issues - demonizing socialism - will be the opposition's program against Bernie.   His success depends on who well the electorate understands what Social Democrat means.  This piece from the Washington Post lays it out:

What is a democratic socialist? Bernie Sanders tries to redefine the name.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a rally in Los Angeles this month. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

DES MOINES — When Sen. Bernie Sanders came to speak in Iowa a few months ago, Drake University student Ian Miller snagged a seat on the stage. It was a close-up look at a historic campaign: After decades where socialists were the enemy, a "democratic socialist" had come to town as a serious candidate for president.

What a moment, right?


"Remind me what a socialist is?" Miller said last week.

A friend, Nik Wasson, tried to explain: "A socialist is someone who believes the government needs to be involved in a lot of aspects of the economy, and social issues as well."

What you need to know about socialism
Play Video1:55
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been making waves as the only democratic socialist running for president. Here's what you need to know about being a democratic socialist and how it's different from socialism. (Alice Li/The Washington Post)

"Okay," said Miller, who was born in 1995. "Well, knowing what 'democratic' means — and now, knowing again what 'socialist' means," he approved of the combination. "[Sanders] might want to see government have a heavier hand in certain policies," he said, but "he wants everyone to have a say in it."

Sanders's remarkable success this year — in spite of his label as a socialist — is due to a mix of good politics and great timing.

Twenty-four years after the end of the Cold War, many Americans no longer associate socialism with fear or missiles — or with failure, food lines or empty Soviet supermarkets. A word that their elders saw as a slur had become a blank, open for Sanders to define.

And this year, Sanders (I-Vt.) has tried to define it with an eye toward a moderate audience.

He has called for huge growth in government regulation and spending. But he has stayed away from classic socialist ideas, like government takeovers of private industry. And, in his speeches, Sanders has talked about socialism in modest, solidly American terms: It's nothing more than the pursuit of fairness in a country now rigged by the rich.

So far, it's worked — but Sanders still hasn't had to face an opponent determined to use socialism against him.

"What democratic socialism means to me," Sanders said during a recent speech in New Hampshire, "is having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country."

Until recently, the word "socialist" occupied a special place in American politics: Along with "liar" and "hypocrite," it was a rare insult so low-down that it couldn't even be used on congressmen.

In 2011, for example, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R) spoke the word on the House floor in 2011 — referring to Democrats as "socialist members." There was a formal complaint, and Brooks retracted the word. In the Congressional Record, it was replaced by asterisks. "The *.*.* members of this body choose to spend money that we do not have," Brooks said, officially.

Even now, socialists seem to be one of the most distrusted groups in American politics. In June, Gallup asked voters if they could vote for a socialist for president — if that socialist happened to be their own party's nominee. Fifty percent said no. Gallup asked the same question about 10 other groups — Jews, Muslims, Mormons, evangelicals, gays, atheists and others — and socialists scored the worst.

[Wonkblog: Eight questions about Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism]

Still, for Sanders, this has proven to be a ripe moment. One theory holds that President Obama may have helped pave the way.

"The public battle over Obama's socialism has probably left a lot of his millennial supporters inclined to embrace the term on the theory that if Obama's foes don't like socialism, there must be something good about it," said Stanley Kurtz, a conservative scholar whose book "Radical-in-Chief"argued that the president's ideology had been informed by hard-left theorists.

Sanders doesn't talk much about hard-left theories. He often tackles questions about socialism with a joke — which is only funny because times have actually changed.

"Does anyone here think I'm a strong adherent of the North Korean form of government? That I want all of you to be wearing similar-colored pajamas?" he says. The joke assumes that Sanders's audiences no longer see old-style, Soviet socialism as a threat but as a weird foreign curiosity.

Indeed, some of them aren't even that curious about it.

"Bernie is the one," said Levi Vivanh, a freshman at Drake who'd seen another Sanders speech. "He gets to the point of what people want. He's right about tuition costs."

But Vivanh wasn't sure what Sanders meant when he talked about his broader ideology. "Democratic socialist . . . I don't really know what that means," Vivanh said. "It sounds like he's more focused on society. Is that what it means?"

Sanders has been in elected office for 34 years now. For that entire time, he has been arguing with people about whether the word "socialist" applies to him — and what he thinks socialism actually means.

In 1981, when Sanders ran for mayor of Burlington as a far-left independent, he was tagged as a socialist by his enemies. Sanders embraced the term, said his longtime friend Stanley "Huck" Gutman, partly as a way of showing his dislike for the two mainstream parties.

"The Democratic Party has too often been complicit in not serving the people who vote for the Democratic Party. I think the Democratic Party pays too much attention to Wall Street," said Gutman, a poetry professor at the University of Vermont who has also worked as Sanders's chief of staff in Congress. "I know Bernie certainly thinks so."

As mayor, Sanders gave his small city a "foreign policy," and it was decidedly leftist. He visited Nicaragua to meet Sandinista leaders. He spent his honeymoon on a goodwill trip to Burlington's sister city in the Soviet Union.

He was elected to Congress, in 1990, and seemed to relish his role as a skunk at the two parties' picnic.

"What do you think of socialism?" Sanders asked passersby outside the Capitol on his first day, according to a story in the Boston Globe. "What happens if we were in France? Does that panic you? Would you be afraid to go to France?"

But in the years since, Sanders has blurred the lines between himself and Democrats. First he joined their caucus in Congress. Now he's running for president in their primary. And, when he talks about what a "democratic socialist" is, he does not emphasize that old opposition to the two-party system.

[Vermont's official Socialists think Sanders has gone too far, joined the enemy]

In this campaign, in fact, some observers believe that Sanders is even wrong to call himself a "democratic socialist."

That's because there are official Democratic Socialists — both in other countries and in the United States — and they generally want something more aggressive than he does. The Democratic Socialists in the United States want a system where workers or the government own factories and other means of production. (This is different from a communist system, in which the government owns everything in the people's name.)

Sanders doesn't want that. Instead, what he wants is to take existing federal programs — many established by Democrats such as Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson — and super-size them.

Right now, for instance, the federal government provides health insurance to seniors: Medicare. Sanders wants the government to start providing it to everybody, a national single-payer system that might cost something like $15 trillion.

For another current example, government — federal, state and local — pays for public school for every child who wants it. Sanders wants to expand that to both younger and older students. He would make preschool universal and make public college tuition-free. In the process, he'd be giving Washington unprecedented new levels of control over these sectors.

"He's not a democratic socialist," said William Galston, an expert on domestic politics at the Brookings Institution. "He's a social democrat. Seriously."

Social Democrats, a separate entity in the field guide to leftists, are generally more moderate. By those definitions, then, Sanders is actually making his own life harder, by mislabeling himself.

Still, socialism is the label he's stuck with. Sanders's friends worry about what's coming: future attack ads aimed at that 50 percent of Americans who wouldn't vote for a socialist at all.

So far, the toughest thing he's faced was a mild rejoinder from Hillary Rodham Clinton at the first Democratic debate.

"We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America," Clinton said, after Sanders cited Denmark as an example of democratic socialism in action.

She didn't even use the s-word. Yet.

Fahrenthold reported from Washington. John Wagner in Goffstown, N.H., contributed to this report.

David Weigel is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 election and ideological movements.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Something to Know - 14 October

Tom Toles

I need to apologize.  This should have come out yesterday.  What I do is bookmark all that I read from various sources (New Yorker, LA Times, NY Times, Rolling Stone, etc) for later reading, and pick out the best to send out.   This one is the best one from yesterday, but I not know it at the time - too busy with other stuff to notice.   This particular piece has been really buzzing around the Internet on several forums, with lots of chatter.  For good reason.  I think you will see that David Brooks really hits it out of the park as he takes on the crazies who have infested the GeeOpie:

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Republicans' Incompetence Caucus

OCT. 13, 2015


The House Republican caucus is close to ungovernable these days. How did this situation come about?

This was not just the work of the Freedom Caucus or Ted Cruz or one month's activity. The Republican Party's capacity for effective self-governance degraded slowly, over the course of a long chain of rhetorical excesses, mental corruptions and philosophical betrayals. Basically, the party abandoned traditional conservatism for right-wing radicalism. Republicans came to see themselves as insurgents and revolutionaries, and every revolution tends toward anarchy and ends up devouring its own.

By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.

All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.

This produced a radical mind-set. Conservatives started talking about the Reagan "revolution," the Gingrich "revolution." Among people too ill educated to understand the different spheres, political practitioners adopted the mental habits of the entrepreneur. Everything had to be transformational and disruptive. Hierarchy and authority were equated with injustice. Self-expression became more valued than self-restraint and coalition building. A contempt for politics infested the Republican mind.

Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests.

But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.

A weird contradictory mentality replaced traditional conservatism. Republican radicals have contempt for politics, but they still believe that transformational political change can rescue the nation. Republicans developed a contempt for Washington and government, but they elected leaders who made the most lavish promises imaginable. Government would be reduced by a quarter! Shutdowns would happen! The nation would be saved by transformational change! As Steven Bilakovics writes in his book "Democracy Without Politics," "even as we expect ever less of democracy we apparently expect ever more from democracy."



This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity.

In his masterwork, "Politics as a Vocation," Max Weber argues that the pre-eminent qualities for a politician are passion, a feeling of responsibility and a sense of proportion. A politician needs warm passion to impel action but a cool sense of responsibility and proportion to make careful decisions in a complex landscape.

Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.
If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the "boastful but entirely empty gesture." His work "leads nowhere and is senseless."

Really, have we ever seen bumbling on this scale, people at once so cynical and so naïve, so willfully ignorant in using levers of power to produce some tangible if incremental good? These insurgents can't even acknowledge democracy's legitimacy — if you can't persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!

People who don't accept democracy will be bad at conversation. They won't respect tradition, institutions or precedent. These figures are masters at destruction but incompetent at construction.

These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.