Jeb Quits Race with "Mission Accomplished" Banner
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.
PhotoBut 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.
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.
YOr 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.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON, D.C. 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.
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:
Tea Party Patriots Support Team
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.