CBS News

A Monday Tease

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, appears on Face the Nation in 2014. (CBS News)

“Well, if Bill Kristol has a memo, what could possibly go wrong?”

Steve Benen

The only real question is whether you really want to know. Yeah. One of those.

Benen’s sketch is pretty straightforward: Bill Kristol, third party, Tom Coburn, Rick Perry, some sarcasm here, the RNC there, and the question remains whether or not you really want to know.

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Image note: Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, appears on Face the Nation in 2014. (Detail of frame from CBS News)

Benen, Steve. “Anti-Trump forces start eyeing possible third-party candidates”. msnbc. 21 March 2016.

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The Fragile House

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“I was just planning on serving out my tenure as Ways and Means chair and then going, finding out something else to do with my life. I really don’t know how long this is going to last. This wasn’t something I was planning on doing in the first place.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI01)

It has not exactly been the quietest of months in the House of Representatives, but as the new Speaker settles in, we find a teaser for the sequel. Kate Ackley of Roll Call explains:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, after two weeks on the job, said he has “no idea” how long he may lead the House, committing only to the 14 months left in the current Congress during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Paul RyanNo matter the duration of his tenure, the Wisconsin Republican told Scott Pelley of CBS News he is willing to risk losing the job in pursuit of major policy initiatives including tax and entitlement overhauls. The speaker also said in the interview that aired Sunday he and President Barack Obama could find common ground on select issues.

As for his own future, Ryan portrayed an uncertainty that belies his otherwise smooth start in the House’s top job. Given the chaos following Speaker John A. Boehner’s resignation announcement, a short speakership for Ryan could once again embroil the Republican Party.

“I was just planning on serving out my tenure as Ways and Means chair and then going, finding out something else to do with my life,” he said during the interview taped last week in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. “I really don’t know how long this is going to last. This wasn’t something I was planning on doing in the first place.”

This is one of those things. If we don’t make a note of it, we feel stupid when it comes up later. At least now we can say we were warned.

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Ackley, Kate. “Ryan: ‘No Idea’ How Long I’ll Be Speaker”. 218. Roll Call. 15 November 2015.

A Clown Car Presentation: Insurevirentaderble

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Never read too much into any one poll, but the lede from Associated Press is nonetheless troubling:

Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

But wait, there’s more:

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in November 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

And then there is the reality check: “Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party’s professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections”, explain Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson, and in truth one need not be a political professional to figure that out. Still, though, how superstitious do we really wish to be?

(more…)

Your House of Republican Chaos

Speaker Boehner announced his resignation 25 September 2015.

Follow the bouncing something, as the spectacle inside the House GOP seems a performance for the ages. As the factions line up, Speaker Boehner’s allies are scorching the insurgency:

GOP lawmakers who’ve stood by Boehner’s side throughout his rocky five-year tenure as Speaker bitterly blamed the right flank for forcing a contested leadership race less than a year after the party won control of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.

A fired-up House Ethics Committee Chairman Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), speaking not long after Boehner dropped the bombshell at a Friday conference meeting that he’ll leave Congress at the end of next month, ripped into hard-line conservatives.

He accused them of opposing Boehner at every turn, and noted they have “never had a horse of their own.”

“Any jackass can kick down a barn door. It takes a carpenter to hang one. We need a few more carpenters around here. Everybody knows it,” Dent said off the House floor.

Leadership allies are frustrated by what they see as a repeated exercise in futility.

(Marcos)

And the hardliners posture:

A co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus has a warning for any Republican hoping to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): No one will get the promotion without our blessing.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a sharp critic of Boehner, said Friday that there are roughly 40 members of the group — and another 20 conservatives outside of it — who won’t back any new Speaker who fails their litmus test for conservative purity. And the group’s leadership endorsements, he warned, will be “a collective, corporate decision.”

“We have enough votes in the House Freedom Caucus to prevent anybody from being Speaker. We will be a voting bloc,” Huelskamp said.

“We’re looking for someone who, number one, has conservative principles and actually can articulate them, but also … follows through on John Boehner’s [2011] promise … [to] open up this House and let conservatives have a shot at things,” he added. “And at the end of the day, the Democrats had more shot at amendments than conservatives. So we’ve gotta talk about process as well.”

(Lillis)

And Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-10) pretends his gavel ambitions have a chance of success, while other House players scramble to fall up the ladder.

This is the point at which we are supposed to make some sort of joke about things either starting or ceasing to make sense, and it is our shame to disappoint you; there is no baseline by which the idea of making sense makes any sense.

(more…)

The Brownback Way

Naota (at right), tugs on the electrical cable rectally feeding a sex toy designed to look like his father (bottom), while MiuMiu the cat catches some rays. (FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

“In a development that falls somewhere between ‘I can’t believe he hadn’t done this already’ and ‘My God, what a monumental prick,’ Brownback issued an executive order Tuesday removing gender identity and sexual orientation from the classes of protected Kansas government employees, which include race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.”

Luke Brinker

Because what would we do without Kansas?

The critique is fairly straightforward; Luke Brinker of Salon opens with the basic review:

Confronting a $344 million budget deficit following the failure of his supply side economic experiment, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is a busy man these days, further slashing education in a state that had already imposed among the largest cuts in the nation, gutting the state’s pension system, and diverting funds from vital infrastructure programs in an effort to clean up the mess his tax cuts for the wealthy created. But amid all this, the governor still has time to deal with other matters, as he demonstrated today, with a quintessentially Brownbackian assault on the civil rights of LGBT Kansans.

Steve Benen wraps it into a larger consideration of conservative “culture warriors”:

Anyone tempted to believe Republican officials are slowly giving up on their staunch opposition to gay rights received quite a wake-up call this week. Much of Alabama is defying the federal courts on marriage equality; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) are talking about amending the U.S. Constitution; and in Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has decided to roll back LGBT protections for no apparent reason.

Or perhaps a more bland description, you know, like an actual news article from Jonathan Shorman for the Capital-Journal:

Then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, signed the order in 2007 prohibiting discrimination against most state employees on the basis of sexual orientation, The Associated Press reported at the time.

The order required agencies under the governor’s direct control to ensure they have programs to prevent harassment against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and people who have had surgery for sex changes. It covered 25,000 of the 41,000 state employees.Sam Brownback loves riding gays' asses.  (FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

On Tuesday, Brownback issued a new executive order canceling Sebelius’ order.

“This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” Brownback said in a statement.

“Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action. The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.

In other words, equality in America should be subject to the kind will of supremacists. Just like Brownback’s deep Christian faith instructs him to usurp God’s authority on Earth. Recent generations have included in their puerile instruction from parents that the commandment about not taking God’s name in vain pertained to things like not saying, “God damn it!” or, “Jesus Christ! what was that?”

Governor Brownback reminds exactly the cost of that sinful deception; he should not take the Lord’s name in vain. Just like he pretends to supersede the U.S. Constitution, he also acts to supersede Jesus fucking Christ.

Then again, this is Kansas we’re talking about. Hateful megalomania seems epidemic in the Sunflower State.

† † †

(more…)

The Buzzkill

‘Tis the season, but the season ain’t enough. A quick list of links to depress the hell out of you:

“I have a place I would like to take you where I hung your grandpa.”

Is this really how we do it in America?

• SOTU: Did you catch the part where President Obama made history? No, really, this is important, and comes on the heels of Eric Holder’s historic memorandum in December.

‘Oh, rascal children of Gaza’, by Sami Kishawi

• What does the phrase, “the eleven American nations”, mean?

• Something about “unequivocal support for law enforcement” goes here. And here. With an update here.

Yeah, sorry ’bout that. But do try to have a good day, anyway.

An Obvious Question

Outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7)

Surprise is one thing, but Emma Dumain’s report for Roll Call only begs the question:

Perhaps the most revealing assessment of the evening’s turn of events came from Speaker John A. Boehner. Earlier, he exited from a local Italian restaurant and declined to speak with reporters who were waiting for him.

Once safely out of the media’s reach, however, the Ohio Republican released a brief statement that touched, in just three sentences, on just how surprising Cantor’s defeat really was, and how at a loss all politicians and political operatives are to explain how the loss transpired:

“Eric Cantor and I have been through a lot together. He’s a good friend and a great leader, and someone I’ve come to rely upon on a daily basis as we make the tough choices that come with governing. My thoughts are with him and Diana and their kids tonight.”

This keeps happening, as in 2012 when the Romney campaign apparently had no clue what was actually happening out in the voting districts.

Certes, there are times when an electoral flameout is a surprise insofar as a titan falls, but usually there are hints on the front side. To the other, there probably were, and maybe we all should have paid more attention when the House Majority Leader was booed in his own district. But how is it that the people responsible for planning the tactical outlook that preserves and hopefully, for House Republicans, grows the majority, can possibly be surprised this evening? That is to say, how could they not have seen this coming before it happened?

Surprise, yes, but one wonders at the degree of blindness required if absolutely nobody saw any hint that this was coming. Over the course of the next few days, cooler heads will prevail and everyone will start explaining how they knew it all along.

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Dumain, Emma. “Boehner Statement on Cantor’s Defeat”. 218. 10 June 2014.

Crawford, Jan. “Adviser: Romney ‘shellshocked’ by loss”. CBS News. 8 November 2012.