May 28 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #881

ON THE RECORD ….

“I’d rather go to Iraq than work for Carly Fiorina again.” — Anonymous former Carly Fiorina staffer complaining that Ms. Fiorina who, although she has a worth an estimated $120 million, failed to pay her high-ranking staffers who worked on her failed 2010 bid for California Senate until a few months before she launching her presidential campaign.

“Republicans running in the 2016 campaign would rather threaten jobs than ‘stand up to the tea party and talk radio.'” — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential hopefuls who, by seeking to eliminate the Export-Import Bank, are threatening tens of thousands of small-business jobs. 5/22/15

“The Republican bet is that they can scare voters about ISIS and pin the blame on Obama, wiping out the memory of the role of the invasion of Iraq in destabilizing the region and creating the conditions for the formation and rise of ISIS. They probably can scare voters—but it’ll be tough to scare enough people to overcome opposition to more years of war and to Republican domestic policies.” — Laura Clawson in the Daily Kos 5/21/15

iraq-lies

“Mr. McConnell promised that his party would instill more discipline, avoiding the last-minute legislative cliffhangers that have long marked Congress and left government workers and the capital markets in a state of constant unease. Instead, he allowed the Senate to depart with a key national security program dangling on the precipice of extinction. Senators also failed again to find a long-term solution for fixing the nation’s crumbling roads.”– NY Times 5/23/15

“I think many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people. When they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily, and so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again, and that’s brainwashing.” — Conservative historian Bruce Bartlett explaining how conservatives are “brainwashing” themselves with Fox News and other right-wing media.

“These people are so greedy, they’re so out of touch with reality. They think they own the world…I’m sorry to have to tell them, they live in the United States, they benefit from the United States, we have kids who are hungry in this country. We have people who are working two, three, four jobs, who can’t send their kids to college. Sorry, you’re all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), criticizing Wall Street executives. 5/26/15

Subsidies being available only to those using the state exchanges was “never part of our conversations at any point. Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange.” — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the latest lawmaker involved in the drafting of President Obama’s health care law to undermine the case against the ACA currently being considered by the Supreme Court. 5/26/15

“Everything I know about the Iranians I learned in the pool room. I ran the pool room when I was a kid and I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are liars.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a video address to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. 5/26/15

“Let’s ask ourselves….Why did I see 75 planes spraying white stuff into the sky on my 15 minute drive to work? Who pays for this and why is it happening? Is something being exterminated here? Is that something me? Does this have anything to do with why Honey Bee’s are Dying off really fast. Why are some days normal with no planes spraying and others look like this? Whos is responcible? What effect will this have on our health and our childrens future? WHO THE F#*% THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Am I the only one who sees this? [sic] — Kylie Jenner, the 17-year-old star of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, unknowingly stumbling into the chemtrail conspiracy theory, which dates back to 1996. 5/26/15

“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust. Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth—in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity.” — Koch-funded global climate change-deniers at the Heartland Institute:4/27/15

“Just a cool thing.” — Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wisconsin’s requiring for mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion. 5/27/15

1. The DAILY GRILL

“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most these arms were snatched up by ISIS.”— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview on Morning Joe.

VERSUS

It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating Radical Islam and it’s time for the rest of us to say it. — Gov. Bobby Jindal@BobbyJindal

 

“When the secretary of state answers a question concerning the murders of six Americans, including an American ambassador, by saying, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’ I think that’s a pretty clear indication that it’s time for that person to go.” — Rand Paul taking Hillary Clinton out of context in a passage from his new book “Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.” 5/27/15

VERSUS

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. […]” — Hillary Clinton in response to repeated questions about why then-Ambassador Susan Rice characterized the attack as coming out of a protest, and accusations that the Obama administration was purposely misleading the public.

 

“Are we gonna light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL? Or are we gonna take very seriously our responsibility to evaluate those areas where we succeed and evaluate where steps are necessary for us to change our strategy where we’ve sustained setbacks?” — WH press secretary Josh Earnest 5/21/15

VERSUS

“Of course my most unfavorite is this idiot Earnest saying ‘Well, we’re not gonna set our hair on fire every time there’s a setback. Mr. Earnest may not, but bodies are on fire on the streets of Ramadi as we are speaking. This is an evil.”– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” before almost immediately retracting it. 5/23/15

 

“This decision is an important victory for the rule of law and for every legal immigrant who is disrespected by the president’s unconstitutional amnesty.” —Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals appeals court decision that blocked President Barack Obama’s action to defer deportation. 5/27/15

VERSUS

“With Republicans doing this, it definitely demonstrates who is on our side and who isn’t, and who we should support and who we shouldn’t.” — Cesar Vargas, the co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, on the ruling which is felt deeply in the Hispanic community. 5/27/15

2. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Fox Attacks Obama For Calling Climate Change An Immediate National Security Threat http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/05/20/fox-attacks-obama-for-calling-climate-change-an/203722

Iraq War Architect Bill Kristol: Knowing What We Know Now, “We Were Right To Fight In Iraq” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/iraq-war-architect-bill-kristol-knowing-what-we/203725

Fox Host Blames ISIS Recruitment In America On Schools Embracing Multiculturalism http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/21/fox-host-blames-isis-recruitment-in-america-on/203729

O’Reilly Factor Misrepresents DACA To Claim Obama’s Executive Action Makes It Easier To Enter U.S. “Illegally” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/oreilly-factor-misrepresents-daca-to-claim-obam/203738

Climate Change Poses Huge Challenge To The Coast Guard, But Fox News Would Rather Dismiss It http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/climate-change-poses-huge-challenge-to-the-coas/203735

Former CIA Official Calls Out Fox News’ Latest “Benghazi Myth, criticizing Fox and the media at large for habitually scandalizing the Benghazi attacks based on incomplete or unsupported claims.”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/26/former-cia-official-calls-out-fox-news-latest-b/203756

Limbaugh Instructs GOP To “Focus” On Benghazi In 2016 http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/26/limbaugh-instructs-gop-to-focus-on-benghazi-in/203758

Immigrants Are More Dangerous Than ISIS And 10 Other Horrible Anti-Immigrant Media Moments From Ann Coulter http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/05/27/immigrants-are-more-dangerous-than-isis-and-10/203769

Bill Kristol: Fox News “Colluding” With RNC To Limit GOP Presidential Debate Field http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/27/bill-kristol-fox-news-colluding-with-rnc-to-lim/203767

The Uncomfortable Truth About The Political Nature Of Fox News — It’s Not “Entertainment,” It’s The Engine Driving The GOP Agenda http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/27/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-the-political-nat/203768

Fox’s Napolitano Floats Impeachment After Court Continues Hold On Obama’s Executive Actions For Immigrants http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/26/foxs-napolitano-floats-impeachment-after-court/203762

3. Poll: Hillary Clinton vs Republican field

PPP’s newest Washington poll finds that Clinton leads the GOP hopefuls by anywhere from 10 to 15 points. Ben Carson and Marco Rubio come the closest, each trailing by 10 at 49/39. Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are each down by 11 at 48/37 and 49/38 respectively. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul face 12 point deficits at 50/38.  Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry lag by 13 points at 50/37. And Chris Christie does the worst of the Republican field with a 15 point deficit at 49/34.  Clinton doesn’t quite match the 15-17 point margins Obama won the state by, but exceeds the 5-7 point ones Gore and Kerry had. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_WA_52115.pdf

4. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“President Obama broke a world record after he reached a million followers on Twitter in just five hours. The only guys not following Obama? His Secret Service agents. They lost track months ago.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A lot of people think I’m retiring, but I’ve been telling a fib. I’ve been forced to leave this job because I gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. ” –David Letterman

“A new poll found that almost 70 percent of voters say that whoever our next president is, they must have political experience. You know, because it would be rude to say ‘anyone but Donald Trump.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said yesterday that knowing what we know now, he would not have invaded Iraq. Mostly because ‘what we know now’ is that Rick Perry will never be president.” –Seth Meyers

“George W. Bush gave a commencement speech at Southern Methodist University this weekend. It was pretty inspirational. He said, ‘As I like to tell the ‘C’ students, you too can be president.’ Even George W. Bush has George W. Bush comedy material in his act.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Lindsey Graham is now the seventh Republican running for president. If you’re keeping score, that’s basically one Republican candidate for every two Republican voters.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama joined Twitter today with a tweet that began ‘Hello, Twitter!’ His bio says, ‘Dad, husband, and president of the United States.’ He didn’t have to say ‘Dad.’ We got that when he tweeted ‘Hello, Twitter!'” –Seth Meyers

“Jeb Bush said recently that he believes apps on the Apple Watch could help Americans better manage their healthcare than Obamacare. So there you go. If you can’t afford healthcare, just buy yourself an Apple Watch.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s Friday. That’s one reason to celebrate. Also, it’s the first day in a long time when no one declared they’re running for president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“During a recent event at a restaurant called Tommy’s Country Ham House in South Carolina, presidential candidate Ben Carson delivered a speech right after he lost his front tooth. Which still left him with more teeth than everyone combined at Tommy’s Country Ham House.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former New York Governor George Pataki may enter the race for president. It’s not definite, but he tweeted that he’ll announce his 2016 plans on May 28 in New Hampshire. Well, what’s he gonna do, go to New Hampshire to say he’s NOT running? That’s like getting down on one knee and saying, ‘I think it’s time to see other people.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“By accident Jeb Bush announced that he was running for president. And then he said, ‘No, not yet. OK, I made a mistake.’ And then later in the day, by accident, he called Hillary and congratulated her. ” –David Letterman

“It turns out Hillary’s brother could damage her campaign. But then Jeb Bush said, ‘I think we all get a pass on who our brothers are.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“The White House encouraged Tom Brady to be more of a role model. They would’ve said more, but there was a drunken Secret Service agent streaking across the Rose Garden.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Senate Democrats blocked President Obama’s trade bill yesterday because they’re worried it could hurt jobs. It’s not an issue for Republicans, since they’ve all found work as presidential candidates.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Last night we had Bill Clinton, the former president. Security was as tight as Governor Christie’s yoga pants.” –David Letterman

“Kim Jong Un reportedly had his defense chief executed after he fell asleep during a meeting. Not only did they execute him, they shot him with an anti-aircraft gun. I’d like to see NBC hire Kim Jong Un to host ‘The Apprentice.’ His way of firing people is much more exciting than Donald Trump’s.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Things like that make me glad I live in America — where our political figures are free to fall asleep wherever they want.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Kim Jong Un — it’s really Catch-22 with him. If you close your eyes, you get shot for nodding off. If you open them, you get shot for laughing at his haircut.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“According to a new report, since he’s been governor, Chris Christie has spent $82,000 at a concession stand at MetLife Stadium. Now, I know it seems like the perfect story for a Chris Christie joke but I’m actually on a Chris Christie joke diet. So nothing for me, thanks.” –Jimmy Fallon

“If you’re going to do a Chris Christie joke, just say, ‘Christie spent $82,000 at a concession stand at MetLife Stadium. Then he turned to his friends and said, ‘You guys want anything?” That’s a joke. I can’t believe it. I caved in. I feel awful.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly seven years. The job sector that has seen the most growth is in the field of Republican presidential candidates.” –Conan O’Brien

“Former President Bill Clinton is on the program tonight. He says that while his wife runs for president, he would like to stay out of the limelight. Well, he’s certainly come to the right place. He’ll be fine here.” –David Letterman

“A new poll finds that the majority of GOP voters say they can’t see themselves supporting Chris Christie. The trick is to lift with your legs, not your back.” –Seth Meyers

5. Fox, CNN Set Criteria for First GOP Debates

The big debate about the Republican presidential debates is over – at least for the first two rounds.

Facing the unprecedented dilemma of having more candidates (19, plus or minus) than a single stage can reasonably bear, Fox News and CNN, the networks hosting the first two debates, came up with two different approaches.

Fox will accept the top 10 contenders, based on their poll numbers, for the first debate in Cleveland Aug. 6. Entrants must have formally registered for a presidential campaign with the Federal Election Commission and have paid all necessary federal and state filing fees.

CNN announced a two-tier system for its Sept. 16 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The top 10 candidates will debate in one group, and the remaining candidates will face off in another. Each candidate must poll at 1 percent or higher. CNN requires debate participants to have at least one paid campaign staffer in two of the early voting states and have visited two of those states at least once.

The Aug. 6 debate will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace will moderate.  Caitlin Huey-Burns – 5/20/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/20/fox_cnn_set_criteria_for_gop_debates.html

gop-debate

6.The GOP’s war on the poor (cont.)

The Kansas legislature has placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.

Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/21/kansas-has-found-the-ultimate-way-to-punish-the-poor/

gop-vs-foodstamps

7. New York Times does its best to be a ‘real opponent’ to Hillary Clinton

New York Times reporters really aren’t bothering to hide their loathing of Hillary Clinton anymore, to the point where the next logical step is for the newspaper to adopt the mottoes “fair and balanced” or “we report, you decide.” Here’s how one Times reporter tweeted his latest article:

In Iowa, Queen Hillary and the Everyday Americans of the Round Table distribute alms to the clamoring press. http://t.co/... — @jasondhorowitz

Laura Clawson in the Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/22/1386859/-New-York-Times-does-its-best-to-be-a-real-opponent-to-Hillary-Clinton

8. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Jeb Bush and Brotherly Love

https://vimeo.com/fiorecartoons/jeb-bush-and-brotherly-love

9. The Borowitz Report: Louisiana Breaks Off Trade Relations with Ireland

In the aftermath of Irish voters legalizing gay marriage, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has used his emergency powers to ban all Irish products from the state.

Jindal explained that breaking off trade with Ireland was necessary to protect the sanctity of marriage in Louisiana.

“Every time someone takes a sip of Guinness, a part of straight marriage dies,” he said. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/louisiana-breaks-off-trade-relations-with-ireland

10. Pope’s pronouncements making trouble for GOP Catholics

Catholic Republicans are developing a pope problem. Earlier this month, Francis recognized Palestinian statehood. This summer, he’s going to issue an encyclical condemning environmental degradation. And in September, just as the GOP primary race heats up, Francis will travel to Washington to address Congress on climate change.”

“Francis may be popular with the general public, but key Republican primary constituencies — hawks, climate-change skeptics and religious conservatives, including some Catholics, are wary of the pope’s progressivism. 5/26/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/popes-pronouncements-making-trouble-for-gop-catholics-118234.html#ixzz3bFFHvNk4

11. Suspicion of US government reaches a new level in Texas

How did America become so divided, the state of the union so fractured, that the secretary of defense is forced to deny the Army is planning the hostile takeover of a state?

The conflict about the Jade Helm exercise illustrates some of the most confounding political divisions in the country. It reveals how an increased willingness to believe in sinister plots, fomented by people once dismissed as occupying the political fringe, has seeped into the political mainstream of the nation’s second-largest state. 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/05/25/divided-america-theories-military-takeover-texas-find-legitimacy-political-mainstream/KSScgClOewjIXXisqkF5IM/story.html

texas

12. Republicans’ 2016 math problem

“The 2016 electorate, demographically speaking, will be worse for Republicans than 2012. And unless Republicans can begin winning more of the nonwhite vote, the 2020 election will be worse for the party than the 2016 election. And 2024 will be worse than, well, you get the idea.” 5/26/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/05/26/the-hard-demographic-truth-facing-republicans-in-2016-in-2-charts/

13. It’s becoming cooler to call yourself ‘liberal’

For the first time since Gallup began tracking it in 1999, there are now as many Americans who describe their views on social issues as “liberal” as there are who describe them as “conservative.” 

“It’s been a long and slow crawl, but Americans have steadily become more liberal on social issues without much interruption — except for a brief dip when President Obama first took office in 2009. Today, it’s tied at 31 percent. Back in 1999, it was about two-to-one conservative over liberal.” 5/26/15 Read more at  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/05/26/its-becoming-cooler-to-call-yourself-liberal-and-it-has-a-lot-to-do-with-gay-marriage-and-marijuana/

OPINION

1. Paul Waldman: Fox News is taking control of the Republican primary

Liberals often say that Fox News is the house organ of the Republican Party, but in the 2016 election, the network is becoming something more: a kind of stern boss, setting the agenda, plotting the group’s course, and weeding out the weak performers. As powerful as the network has been within the conservative movement, the 2016 election has given it the opportunity to increase its influence even further

Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ genius has always been in his ability to balance Fox’s twin goals: making money and serving the interests of the Republican Party. But at a time like this, the latter goal becomes more complicated to achieve than when Republicans are just fighting with Democrats. And some Republicans who just a few months ago could expect nothing but hugs and applause from the network now aren’t getting such friendly treatment.

Once there’s a GOP nominee, he’ll be praised and defended on Fox News like he was the second coming. But until then, Fox is going to work to find the strongest candidate and get rid of the rest. Because if they don’t do it, nobody else can. 5/22/15 Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556439/fox-news-taking-control-republican-primary

dorothy-waldman

2. Alan Rappeport: Republicans Continue to Lurch Right on Immigration

Staring at startling exit polls after a beating by President Obama in 2012, Republicans vowed they were finally ready to do something about immigration reform or risk further alienating Hispanic voters.

But two-and-a-half years later they have seem to have decided to lurch to the right on the issue.

In interviews on Fox News this week, three Republican White House hopefuls did their best to assure potential primary voters that “amnesty” would not happen on their watch.

On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey told Megyn Kelly that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants was an “extreme way to go” and explained why he has changed his view on the issue.

“I think I have learned over time about this issue and done a lot more work on it,” Mr. Christie said. “I think everyone has to do what you need to do to be able to get educated on these issues and learn.”

Bowing to political realities, Mr. Rubio, who says he still wants to change the immigration system, is now among those who say the focus should be on border security.

“If we want to move forward on immigration, the first thing we’re going to have to do is prove to the American people that future illegal immigration is under control,” he said. 5/20/15 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/05/20/republicans-continue-to-lurch-right-on-immigration/?_r=0

immigration

3. Paul Waldman: Hillary Clinton has fewer problems with the Democratic base than you might think

If you’re part of the DC establishment, you know that liberals’ feelings about Hillary Clinton are nothing if not complicated.

Your average professional liberal here in the nation’s capital, whether it’s a think-tank wonk, a Capitol Hill staffer, an interest group activist, or a writer like me, has always had and will always have mixed feelings about Clinton. We acknowledge her talent, her smarts, and her tenacity. We recognize how historic it would be if she became president. And sooner or later we find ourselves defending her, if for no reason other than the craziness of her enemies.

If you look at what the polls are telling us so far, Democrats seem quite happy to have Clinton as their presidential nominee. In the latest Pew poll, 77 percent of Democrats see her favorably, and she has strong approval across ages, incomes, and races. (African-Americans, the most important Democratic sub-group, rate her particularly highly, at 87 percent favorable.)

Approval may be a pretty low bar, but we need to understand that there are lots and lots of Democrats who think Hillary Clinton is the bee’s knees. Many of them are women, and for them the possibility of America’s first woman president is likely to become more and more exciting as election day approaches.

Just like any candidate, Clinton has plenty of problems she’ll have to overcome if she’s going to win the White House. But uniting the Democratic base behind her may be less of an issue than many of us suspect. Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556175/hillary-clinton-fewer-problems-democratic-base-than-might-think

4. Olivia Nuzzi: Dear Chris Christie: Sorry We Did Our Job

On CNBC Thursday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a simple request: that the media apologize for its unjust treatment of him during Bridgegate.

“I do believe there’s an absolute bias and rush to judgement,” he said. “You all know this. You saw the coverage of me 15 months ago. I was guilty, I had done it. Now we’re 15 months later. Where are the apologies pouring in? Not one thing I said the day after the bridge situation has been proven wrong. Fifteen months later everything that I said the day after that story broke—everything I said—has proven out to be true after three different investigations.”

Christie has, as is his nature, graciously handed all of us an opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it.

I would like to apologize.

I would like to apologize to Christie, first, on behalf of everyone who noticed that access lanes to the George Washington Bridge had been inexplicably shut down and wondered why it happened, and how it could have happened without the state’s top lawmaker being—at the very least—aware of it.

And I would like to apologize to Christie on behalf of the children who were late to their first day of school because of the profound traffic jams those lane closures caused, and on behalf of the emergency workers who—instead of sitting in the traffic—were forced to respond to calls on foot.

I’m sorry that Christie’s initial response to this bizarre occurrence in the northern part of his state was indifference, and his response to reporters asking questions total contempt.

I’m sorry that in December 2013, two months after the lane closures, Christie told the press, “I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s not that big of a deal.” I’m sorry that Christie mocked WNYC reporter Matt Katz for asking if the lane closures were an act of political retribution by saying, “I worked the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody I was actually the guy out there, in overalls and a hat. You cannot be serious with that question, Matt!”

I’m sorry the theory that the lane closures were orchestrated to exact revenge turned out to be true.

I apologize that as Christie attempted to go about the business of running for president while largely neglecting the state of which he is ostensibly in charge,

I apologize on behalf of everyone in the media who did their job, despite Christie’s belittling, bullying tactics. That was wrong, and we all should have been covering the Clinton email story, instead—the one that wouldn’t break for another year and a half. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/21/dear-chris-christie-sorry-i-did-my-job.html

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5. Shikha Dalmia: Hillary Clinton has already crushed Republicans on immigration

You can question Hillary Clinton’s political scruples. But don’t doubt her political smarts.

There is no better proof of either quality than her U-turn decision last week to go all out in embracing amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Clinton’s gambit is a major flip-flop — one that will put Republicans in a bind that they’ll have a hard time extricating themselves from. It’s heads she wins and tails they lose, regardless of what they do.

Clinton stunned everyone — even Latino activists — when she boldly called for a “path to full and equal citizenship” for all of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Speaking at a gathering of handpicked young immigrants in a high school in Nevada, a Latino-heavy swing state, she rejected the notion of a mere path to legalization — like the sort Jeb Bush and some of the more immigrant-friendly Republicans have skittishly backed. “That’s code for second-class status,” Clinton declared. She promised to go much further than even President Obama’s recent executive action and “defer” deportation proceedings not only against some illegal immigrants, but virtually all of them, while working toward comprehensive immigration reform that included citizenship.

This was a remarkable shift for someone who has not only maintained a studious silence for months about Obama’s executive action, but also previously opposed drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Indeed, her flip is so dramatic that instead of raising questions about her credibility, it has changed the conversation so much that we’re immediately asking what Republicans need to do to catch up.

Regardless of where one stands on the merits of the issue, the political reality is this: Republicans’ harsh anti-immigration rhetoric has left them no good options. They have created their own vulnerability. And Hillary Clinton has just zeroed in on it. Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556421/hillary-clinton-already-crushed-republicans-immigration

6. Tim Mak: Sorry, GOP. There’s No Smoking Gun In Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Emails

If Republicans were looking for a silver bullet to use against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the State Department’s Friday document dump about Benghazi wasn’t it.

There’s no illicit weapons Libyan program to be found in the emails, as some have speculated. No “stand-down” order. Just a hectic flow of information to and from Hillary Clinton—about danger, about death, and ultimately, about condolences. 5/22/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/22/sorry-gop-there-s-no-smoking-gun-in-hillary-clinton-s-benghazi-emails.html

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7. Peter Beinart: Hillary Clinton’s Surprisingly Effective Campaign

Hillary Clinton has been an official candidate for president for five weeks, and she still hasn’t done the thing most candidates do on day one: given a speech laying out her vision for America. Nor is she planning on doing so anytime soon. Politico reports that Hillary’s “why I’m running for president,” speech, initially scheduled for May, has now been delayed until June, or even later.

There’s a reason for that: The speech is unlikely to be very good. Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”

Team Clinton appears to understand this. And so it has done something shrewd. Instead of talking vision, Hillary is talking policy, which she does really well.

Sooner or later, Hillary will have to move from policy to philosophy. It may be a rocky transition. And if the Republicans nominate Marco Rubio (which at this point looks like a decent bet), she will face a candidate who interweaves personal biography and national aspiration better than she does. But if Hillary stumbles, these opening weeks of her campaign may offer a template for how she regains her footing. She’s at her best talking about America not abstractly, but concretely. She’s most inspiring when talking not about what she believes, but about what she wants to do. And she most effectively humanizes herself by being true to who she is: knowledgeable, passionate, and vaguely obsessive about making government work. Against Rubio, or any other likely Republican challenger, that identity should provide an excellent contrast. 5/22/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/05/hillary-clintons-2016-campaign/393872/

8. E.J. Dionne: The Right’s Political Correctness

The shortage of philosophical adventure and the eagerness of GOP hopefuls to alter their positions to make them more conservative have the same cause: a Republican primary electorate that has moved so far right that it brooks no deviationism. What makes it even harder for the candidates to break new ground is that the imperatives of orthodoxy are constraining even the thinkers who are trying to create a new “reform conservatism.”

The fall-in-line-or-fall-in-the-polls rule means that Walker has gone from supporting to opposing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as has Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. Rubio got much praise for his work in negotiating a bipartisan bill that would have allowed the undocumented to become citizens — and then, faced with hostility from tea partyers, he turned against it.

Paul, the most daring of the lot because of his libertarian convictions, deserves kudos for being true to his small-state ideology by standing up — literally, for nearly 11 hours on the Senate floor — against the Patriot Act. But even Paul has recast his foreign policy positions to make them sound more hawkish and thus more in keeping with prevailing Republican views.

Accommodating right-wing primary voters poses real risks to the party in next year’s elections. Its candidates’ messages on immigration and gay marriage, could hurt the GOP with, respectively, Latinos and the young.

But the greater loss is that none of the leading Republicans is willing to offer a more fundamental challenge to the party’s rightward lurch over the past decade. L. Brent Bozell III, a prominent activist on the right, could thus legitimately claim to The Washington Post: “The conservative agenda is what is winning the field.” 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/25/the_rights_political_correctness_126700.html

9. Jonathan Chait: The Endurance of Bushism

When GW Bush’s economic program turned the projected surplus into persistent deficits, conservatives did not concede they had failed. Instead they blamed Bush for allowing spending to get out of control. Of course the tax cuts had been sold as a way to prevent this very outcome. Conservatives simply shifted from claiming tax cuts wouldn’t lead to deficits because they would prevent excessive spending to claiming tax cuts hadn’t caused the deficit because the true culprit was excessive spending.

Not only did the new conservative attempt to shift blame from tax hikes onto spending undermine the original rationale, it presented a wildly distorted account of what actually caused the deficit. It was not “big spenders” defying the right who produced deficits. It was that Congress enacted the very policies conservatives were demanding: tax cuts plus more spending on defense. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities broke down the legislative causes of higher deficits under Bush, and virtually all of it was the result of policies conservatives had demanded:

Indeed, Bush himself repeatedly used this line during his own presidency. He attacked Congress for “acting like a teenager with a new credit card” and vetoed bills to increase domestic spending. When Jeb Bush and other Republicans blame George W. Bush’s indulgence toward Congress for Bush-era deficits, they’re not actually indicting his administration. They’re making the same argument Bush himself used.

Indeed, the striking fact about the Republican Party is how little it has questioned Bush’s economic program. The central tenets of Bush-era economic doctrine remain as firmly entrenched as ever. All the Republican economic proposals combine deep tax cuts, higher defense spending, and a general refusal to accept that revenues must bear some long-term relationship to likely outlays.

The party’s disposition toward Bush’s Iraq War has attracted deep (and warranted) scrutiny. Its disposition toward Bush’s economic policies has not. Despite their bellicose rhetoric, none of the Republican candidates are actually proposing to recapitulate his regime-change policy, in Iraq or elsewhere. It is in domestic policy where Bush-era dogma remains completely unreconstructed. 5/25/15 Read more at

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/05/republicans-love-bushs-failed-economic-policies.html

10. Paul Waldman: The Koch brothers try to rein in the GOP presidential clown show

Up until now, the Koch brothers hadn’t indicated that they’d be taking a side in the primaries. It almost seemed that they viewed that as the kind of thing amateurs like Sheldon Adelson do, throwing money at some candidate based on overly irrational personal feelings, while they keep focused on the real goal of getting a Republican — any Republican — into the White House. By saying they’re going to support several candidates in the primaries, the Kochs are pledging to accelerate the winnowing process, by which the race’s chaff can be sloughed off and the focus can stay on the serious contenders.

Don’t be fooled by the line about them supporting all the ones whose policies they’re happy with. That’s because there’s almost no disagreement among the candidates, at least on the issues the Kochs care about. All of them would like to see low taxes on the wealthy (most have even advocated a flat tax, a boon to people like the Kochs), a dramatic reduction in regulations that affect corporations and a rollback of the social safety net. Where the Kochs personally disagree with the candidates (as they may on some social issues or on immigration), they disagree with all the candidates, because the candidates’ positions are so similar.

So mark my words: If the Kochs pick out a few candidates to support, it will be the ones they think would be the strongest in a general election and those they think put the best face on the GOP.

If the Kochs are ready to put some of their ample resources into the primary campaign, it’s a sign that the enormous size of the primary field is generating some serious concern at the top of the GOP. The question is whether, even with their money, there’s much they can do about it. 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/05/25/the-koch-brothers-try-to-rein-in-the-gop-presidential-clown-show/?hpid=z5

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