“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West, and when you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility, suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.”— President Obama, criticizing the GOP presidential candidates for their rhetoric about Syrian refugees.

“France will remain a country of freedom.” — French President Francois Hollande defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. 11/18/15

“Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive.”  — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 11/17/15

“I would bomb the s— out of them. I would just bomb those suckers. And that’s right: I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries. I would blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left.” — Donald Trump, saying, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

“All our prayers are with the people of France tonight. We must stand side-by-side every step of the way with France and our allies around the world to wage and win the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism. Even in this darkest night, Paris remains the City of Light. No terrorist attack will ever dim the spirit of the French people or our common commitment to the democratic values we share.” — Hillary Clinton urging America to stand with the French “to wage and win the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism.”

“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. … Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves. That’s what they’re fleeing. … Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.” — President Obama at the G20 summit in Turkey on Monday on the Syrian refugees.

“The one who is responsible for the attacks in Paris cannot be put on equal footing with refugees, with asylum seekers, and with displaced people. He is a criminal, and not a refugee. And I would like to invite those in Europe who are trying to change the migration agenda we have adopted to be serious about this and not give in to these basic reactions.” — European Commission President Juncker 11/15/15

“I recognize Barack Obama does not wish to defend this country.” — Ted. Cruz 11/15/15

“We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent. I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on his proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“Before the Paris horror, ISIS was killing Muslims on a daily basis. We Muslims despise these crazy people more than anyone else does.” — Dean Obeidallah 11.16.15

“Now to me, that was us stepping in a trap because we should have known that she (Hillary) was going to go on and just stall, debate, filibuster, on these answers to make it go as long as possible, so we would look cruel.” –House Select Committee On Benghazi member Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R). 11/12/15

The National Rifle Association has stood in the way of legislation that is designed to prohibit terrorists from purchasing firearms legally, and that obstructionism goes back to 2007.” — The Daily Kos, noting that one the NRA’s arguments is that terrorists will just acquire firearms illegally, so such a law would only hurt “law-abiding citizens.” The gun lobby also trots out its standard rap about this kind of legislation being “sponsored by gun-control extremists.” 11/17/15


1. The Borowitz Report: Trump’s Focus on Muslims Distracting Him from Campaign Against Mexicans, Supporters Fear

There are growing fears among supporters of the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump that his new focus on Muslims is distracting him from his campaign against Mexicans.

After the billionaire said he would consider shutting down mosques if he were President, supporters expressed concern that such signature proposals as a wall with Mexico and mass deportations were being lost in the shuffle.

Trump supporter, Harland Dorrinson, agreed. “Shutting down the mosques is a great idea, sure, but he shouldn’t do that if it’s going to divert resources from forcibly deporting eleven million immigrants,” he said. “I would be very sad to see that happen.”

But Tracy Klugian, a die-hard Trump volunteer who is working for his campaign in Iowa, called such criticism of her candidate “misguided.” “You don’t get to be a successful businessman like Donald Trump without being able to multitask,” she said. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. The Late Show with Stephen ColbertThe 4th GOP Debate Was A Thing That Happened



– “We are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily.” — Donald Trump
– “The most important question any of us can have is how do we get the economy growing?”How do we bring back economic growth?” — Ted Cruz
– “We have to take our government back ecause innovation and entrepreneurship is crushed by the crushing load of a 73,000 page tax code” and “Obamacare isn’t helping anyone.” — Carly Fiorina,
– “What we are going through in this country is not simply an economic downturn. We are living through a massive economic transformation.” — Marco Rubio. http://www.vox.com/2015/11/13/9727132/republicans-economy


They would be surprised to find that unemployment is at 5 percent, America’s recovery from the financial crisis has outpaced that of other developed nations, the percentage of uninsured Americans has been plummeting even as Obamacare has cost less than expected, and there’s so much money flowing into new ideas and firms in the tech industry that observers are worried about a second tech bubble. —  Ezra Klein in Vox. 11/13/15


“[T]hey do not hate us because we have military assets in the Middle East. They hate us because of our values. They hate us because young girls here go to school. They hate us because women drive. They hate us because we have freedom of speech, because we have diversity in our religious beliefs. They hate us because we’re a tolerant society.” — Marco Rubio 11/15/15


“This is simply false. The Islamic State may hate tolerance, liberty, and women’s rights. But that’s not why its cadres attacked Paris. … America’s domestic freedoms, precious as they are, don’t have much to do with it.” — Peter Beinart in the Atlantic 11/15/15


“I have several sources that I’ve got material from, I’m surprised my sources are better than theirs.” — Ben Carsonabout the White House for dismissing his claims that China is moving into Syria, saying his sources are clearly better than those of the U.S. government


“Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.” — Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security 11/17/15

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

Fox’s Bolling Defends Trump’s “Deportation Force” As “Good For Latinos” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/12/foxs-bolling-defends-trumps-deportation-force-a/206824

Right-Wing Media Immediately Criticize Obama After He Condemned Paris Attacks http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/11/14/right-wing-media-immediately-criticize-obama-af/206848

Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle: Refugee Resettlement In The United States Is “Forced Infiltration” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/15/foxs-kimberly-guilfoyle-refugee-resettlement-in/206853

After Paris Attacks, Ingraham Fearmongers About Terror Threat Posed By Immigrants And Refugees http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/16/after-paris-attacks-ingraham-fearmongers-about/206858

Laura Ingraham: The US Should Only Accept Refugees “We Can Verifiably Say Are Christians,” Muslims “Stay In The Middle East” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/16/laura-ingraham-the-us-should-only-accept-refuge/206867

Fox’s Varney Offers Financial Advice In Response To The Paris Attacks: Buy Gun Stocks http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/11/16/foxs-varney-offers-financial-advice-in-response/206864

On Fox Business, Mark Steyn Invokes Image Of Terrorists “Sawing Bernie Sanders’ Head Off” To Mock Him For Accurately Linking Climate Change To Terrorism http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/16/on-fox-business-mark-steyn-invokes-image-of-ter/206859

Fox Contributor On Mosque Surveillance: “Let’s Stop Worrying About People’s Rights” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/16/fox-contributor-on-mosque-surveillance-lets-sto/206897

Governors Who Don’t Want To Accept Syrian Refugees Are Recycling Debunked Right-Wing Media Myths http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/11/17/governors-who-dont-want-to-accept-syrian-refuge/206922

Ben Stein: Obama’s “Hatred Of America” May Be “Because He’s Part Black”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/18/ben-stein-obamas-hatred-of-america-may-be-becau/206943

Fox’s Tantaros Claims “Older” Muslim Immigrants Are Not The Problem, “It’s Their Kids, It’s Their Offspring” — Women And Kids “Are The Exact People We Need To Worry About” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/18/foxs-tantaros-claims-older-muslim-immigrants-ar/206939

Laura Ingraham Hypes Fears About Muslim Refugee Women: “What’s Under That Burqa, Baby?”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/11/18/laura-ingraham-hypes-fears-about-muslim-refugee/206938

5. The GOP’s war on voting (cont.): Chris Christie vetoes automatic registration bill

On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the Democracy Act — preventing New Jersey from becoming the third state, after Oregon and California, to adopt automatic registration in 2015. The Democracy Act also would have given voters the opportunity to register and update their information online, and created two weeks of in-person early voting, among other reforms. Together, they would have boosted registration rates, cleaned up the rolls, saved money, and made voting more convenient. 11/10/15 http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/christie-misses-golden-opportunity-garden-state

6. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Climate interruptus


7. Republicans Support Trump on Immigration

A new Economist Group/YouGov Poll finds that 49% of Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP say Donald Trump is the presidential candidate who can best handle immigration — well ahead of Marco Rubio with 10%, Ted Cruz with 7% and Jeb Bush at 5%. 11/11/15 http://www3.atr.rollcall.com/immigration-reform-donald-trump-gop-voters/

8. Time for GOP panic? Establishment worried Carson or Trump might win

Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.

The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet. Philip Rucker and Robert Costa 11/13. 2015 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/time-for-gop-panic-establishment-worried-carson-and-trump-might-win/2015/11/12/38ea88a6-895b-11e5-be8b-1ae2e4f50f76_story.html

9. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“California governor Jerry Brown signed a controversial new bill allowing assisted suicide. Yeah. Just in time for Lakers season.” –Conan O’Brien

“I read that Donald Trump’s hotel chain may have experienced a data breach that may have exposed people’s debit and credit card information to hackers for more than a year. When asked how he planned on fixing the situation, Trump was like, ‘I’m going to build a huge firewall.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“I do think Donald Trump is honest in his own way. He is honestly an egomaniacal billionaire.” –Stephen Colbert

“Much to the dismay of many Republicans, a new report said Donald Trump is still leading in the polls, and one voter was quoted as saying, ‘Unfortunately, I’m leaning toward Trump.’ Even worse, that voter was Jeb Bush.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump’s wife Melania just gave an interview where she said their 9-year-old son Barron wants to grow up to be a golfer, a businessman, and a pilot. When Melania told him that’s very unlikely to happen, he replied, ‘Dad’s in first place for president, anything can happen.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Ben Carson talks like he forgot he had a press conference and just took a load of Benadryl. This guy is a retired surgeon. Apparently, instead of giving his patients anesthesia, he just talked to them until they passed out.” –James Corden

“Ben Carson has made a lot of controversial statements. He’s said prison turns people gay and that Obamacare is the worst thing to happen to our country since slavery. And that was just to his waitress at breakfast.” –James Corden

“This is what happens when you give Donald Trump attention: Everyone else seems reasonable in comparison. Ben Carson is over here saying ‘You’re Hitler!’ ‘Obamacare is slavery!’ And we’re like, ‘Finally, an adult in the room!'” –James Corden

10. Cut for Time: Donald Trump’s Hair – SNL


11. “The Daily Show” w/Trevor Noah:The GOP Debate – Definitely Not A Game Show


12. “The Nightly Show” w/Larry Wilmore: Blacklash 2016: The Unblackening – Donald Trump’s Contempt For Higher Thinking


13. House Freedom Caucus’ “Contract with America II”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are preparing a “Contract With America II” that would call for House votes in the first 100 days of 2016 on replacing Obamacare, overhauling entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and repealing the estate tax.

An early draft of the plan obtained by Bloomberg News also calls for legislation to slash government regulations by 20 percent, cut corporate tax rates and expand offshore oil drilling. Efforts are still under way to finalize contents of the “contract,” which lawmakers say they hope will become the basis of House Republicans’ 2016 agenda. 11/13/15  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-13/house-republican-hard-liners-drafting-contract-with-america-ii-

14. YouGov/Huffington Post survey: Bible & Politics

Do you believe that the Egyptian pyramids were used:

As tombs . . . .. .72%

As grain silos . . . .4%

Not sure . . . .. .. .25%


15. Republicans beating Clinton, Dems in Wall Street donations

Wall Street donors are favoring Republicans over Democrats in the 2016 campaign — a reversal from the last time Clinton ran for president when she and then-Sen. Barack Obama out-raised their GOP rivals with the financial sector’s cash.

In fact, despite lagging in the polls, performing poorly in debates and being nowhere near as sure a bet as Clinton is for his party’s nomination, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has so far taken more than five times as much Wall Street money as Clinton into his campaign and super-PAC. 11/15/15 http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/258599-clinton-lags-behind-republicans-in-wall-street-donations

16. SNL: Young Ben Carson


17. GOP field takes new shape after Paris attacks

It took just 48 hours, but the tragic terror attacks on Paris have quickly cleaved the 2016 Republican primary into a contest between those with serious foreign policy experience and those without, shifting the race, at least for now, from a campaign for the presidency to a test for commander in chief.

The disparity between candidates has been present and glaring for months, of course, but it took a backseat in a primary where experience has been akin to a dirty word, and early state voters haven’t demanded great familiarity with world affairs. The question for 2016 now turns on whether foreign policy fluency and the seasoning of elected office somehow morphs into an asset, a development which could dislodge the two outsiders who are currently perched comfortably atop the polls – Donald Trump and Ben Carson – and reorder the race. 11/15/15 http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/paris-attacks-2016-republicans-215913#ixzz3rcJKZm2f

18. John Oliver curses the Paris attackers


19. The primary storylines

The policy debates in the two primary races seem like they’re two countries apart, let alone two parties. The reason: Both the Democratic and Republican primary electorates simply don’t look a lot like the electorate at large. To wit:

Ninety-two percent of GOP primary voters are white – compared to 72 percent of the general electorate in 2012. Sixty-nine percent of Republican primary voters consider themselves conservative, while 25 percent say they’re moderate; compare that to 35 percent and 41 percent, respectively, for the overall voting pool.

The Democratic primary electorate is 62 percent white and 38 percent non-white, while the electorate overall is 72 percent white and 26 percent non-white. And half of Democrats planning to vote in the primaries say they consider themselves liberal, while only about quarter of those who will cast a general election vote next November say the same. 11/13/15 http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/first-read-donald-trump-goes-rails-n462816

20. Colbert: We Stand With The People Of France


21. The GOP’s nightmare scenario is very, very real

The near future may be playing out in the stress nightmares of the Republican establishment. Rubio eliminates Bush on age, polish, and the value of a last name. Cruz eliminates Rubio based on the Florida senator’s support of amnesty. And suddenly, the deepest field in recent history has collapsed into Trump, Carson, Cruz, and some also-rans. 11/16/15 http://theweek.com/articles/588673/gops-nightmare-scenario-real



1. Stanley B. Greenberg: Why 2016 could be shattering for Republicans

The United States is emerging as racially blended, immigrant, multinational and multilingual — accelerating the growth of a new majority coalition of racial minorities, single women, millennials and seculars. Together, these groups formed 51 percent of the electorate in 2012, but our analysis of census survey data and exit poll projections indicates that they will comprise fully 63 percent in 2016. With these growing groups each supporting Hillary Clinton by more than 2 to 1 in today’s polls, it is fair to say that the United States has reached an electoral tipping point.

This is evident in the shrinking proportion of people who think of themselves as conservative. When Republicans challenged President Obama in the off-year elections of 2010, 46 percent of the country was conservative at the high point. That figure is now 37 percent.

For Republicans, 2016 will prove to be no normal election, because it will confirm that the new America is here and that the counterrevolution has lost. That is why I expect the result to be shattering for the Republican Party as we know it. 11/13/15 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-2016-could-be-shattering-for-republicans/2015/11/13/fae603dc-88b0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

2. Elspeth Reeve: The Hillary Clinton Living Inside the Republican Brain

Imagine a police sketch artist drawing a picture of Hillary Clinton based only on descriptions from the Republicans at the Fox Business Network debates on Tuesday night. The sketch would be unappealing, obviously, but also weird and contradictory. According to the collective wisdom of the GOP crowd, Clinton is a power-mad monster who is nearly unstoppable, but she’s also weak. She is afraid of debating Republicans, but Republican debates are making her stronger. She is a hard leftist who hasn’t been shaken from her mission to drive America into socialism, but also a flip-flopper who only recently began capitulating to the left. At one point in the undercard debate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal summed up the theme: “Look, we all agree Hillary Clinton is bad.” But how is she bad?

She is woman with no ideas except for bad ones: Clinton has no ideas (Rubio: “The political left has no ideas about the future”). Except for one: single-payer health care (Christie: “She will completely nationalize the federal health care system”).

A criminal-ish politician: Christie, in particular, painted Clinton with a tint of criminality. Christie said being governor of a blue state made him better equipped to win nationally, but he seemed to think his time as a U.S. attorney was more appealing; four times, he said some version of the idea that he would be best at “prosecuting” her.

A foreign-policy failure who agrees with Republicans on foreign policy: Clinton is trembling and weak on foreign policy. (Bush: “This president, and Hillary Clinton both, do not believe the United States has a leadership role to play.” Rubio: “Around the world, every day brings news of a new humiliation for America—many the … direct consequence of decisions made when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.” Christie: “Remember why we’re in the position we’re in with China, because of an absolutely weak and feckless foreign policy that was engineered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”) At the same time, she agrees with many Republicans about what to do with the gravest international crisis, in Syria (Paul: “The idea of a no-fly zone, realize that this is also something that Hillary Clinton agrees with several on our side with…”).

A big spender who is also stingy: She wants to tax Americans to death (Christie: “Hillary Clinton’s coming for your wallet”). But she won’t spend the cash to build up some of the biggest government expenses (Fiorina: “Imagine a Clinton presidency. Our military will continue to deteriorate. Our veterans will not be cared for”).

A socialist who loves Wall Street: Clinton is a socialist (Christie: “What Hillary Clinton is talking about doing, if she’s president of the United States, is to make sure that the government gets even more involved in the economy, even more involved in making choices for everybody”) who is screwing up the financial sector by backing Dodd-Frank, which is unpopular on Wall Street (Bush: “This vast overreach has created a huge problem for our country, and Hillary Clinton wants to double down on that”). But she’s also in the pocket of Wall Street (Cruz: “Hillary Clinton embodies the cronyism of Washington.” By contrast, Cruz said he would go after the Wall Street criminals of the financial crisis.).

It gets worse. Clinton wants to regulate the economy to death (Carson: “Even for the average person, every single regulation costs money. … Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton won’t tell you that that’s the thing that’s really hurting middle class in the core. They’ll say it’s the rich, take their money, but that won’t help”). But she has not backed the right regulations (Bush: “What we ought to do is raise the capital requirements so banks aren’t too big to fail”).

Their bizarrely contradictory portrait of Clinton points to what’s confusing in the Republicans’ own message. They know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are on the other team; what they don’t know is why the GOP team is better or more noble, or what exactly binds it together. They can’t agree on what parts of the old GOP platform should be thrown out—Santorum says Republicans should pander less to business owners than to the people who work for them, Paul suggests ditching some social conservatism and hawkish foreign policy, Bush says lose the hostility to immigrants, and Trump says cut entitlements. But they do agree on what to keep: being against whatever Clinton is for. And whoever she is.  http://www.newrepublic.com/article/123430/hillary-clinton-living-inside-gop-brain

3. Washington Post Editorial Board: Mr. Trump praises a grotesquely inhumane immigration plan from the 1950s

“WE HAVE a country that’s going to hell.” So pronounced Donald Trump, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, at Tuesday night’s debate. If Mr. Trump thinks that now, it’s likely many Americans would come to agree with him were they to see the economic and social upheaval unleashed in carrying out his plan to forcibly deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, a major portion of whom are employed, have lived in the United States 15 years or more and have children and other relatives who are U.S. citizens.

Mr. Trump, who has stirred up so much enthusiasm for mass deportations, is now offering what he evidently regards as an exemplary template: the far more modest but still massively cruel round-’em-up-and-throw-’em-out program carried out, mainly in the summer of 1954, under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What little sense entered the GOP debate on this issue came from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who called advocacy of mass deportations “silly” and juvenile, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who put his finger on the problem precisely. “It’s not embracing American values,” Mr. Bush said. “And it would tear communities apart, and it would send a signal that we’re not the kind of country that I know America is.” 11/11/15 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-inspiration-for-mr-trumps-immigration-policy-is-an-inhumane-plan-from-the-1950s/2015/11/11/61a8628e-88bd-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

4. Matt Taibbi: The GOP Clown Car Rolls On

Not one of them can win, but one must. That’s the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy.

Conventional wisdom says that with the primaries and caucuses rapidly approaching, front-running nuts Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson must soon give way to the “real” candidates. But behind Trump and Carson is just more abyss. As I found out on a recent trip to New Hampshire, the rest of the field is either just as crazy or as dangerous as the current poll leaders, or too bumbling to win.

Disaster could be averted if Americans on both the left and the right suddenly decide to be more mature about this, neither backing obvious mental incompetents, nor snickering about those who do. But that doesn’t seem probable.

Instead, HashtagClownCar will almost certainly continue to be the most darkly ridiculous political story since Henry II of Champagne, the 12th-century king of Jerusalem, plunged to his death after falling out of a window with a dwarf. 11/17/15 Read more at: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-gop-clown-car-rolls-on-20151117#ixzz3rs3IqTTt 

5. Damon Linker: Why aren’t conservative intellectuals disgusted with the GOP?

Somehow, my friends on the right don’t seem to hear anything troubling, anything intellectually offensive emanating from the mouths of the Republican candidates. And I just don’t get it.

I don’t just mean the obvious stuff. You know, the unprovoked and petty anti-intellectualism of Marco Rubio denigrating philosophers by contrasting them unfavorably to welders (and presumably people who work at other skilled trades as well). Or Rand Paul’s nonsensical, conspiratorial musings about the Federal Reserve. Or Donald Trump’s xenophobic promises to build a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and round up and deport eleven million undocumented immigrants. (If they’re undocumented, how will we find them? House to house sweeps by armed agents of the state through poor and heavily Latino neighborhoods? That’s either absurdly unfeasible, as Jeb Bush and John Kasich pointed out, or a program for American fascism.)

The Republican Party’s 2016 presidential candidates have descended into vapid, puerile bleating. Conservative intellectuals are better than this, smarter than this. The time has come for them to speak up and call the GOP field what it is: ignorant, insulting, and dangerous. 11/13/15  http://theweek.com/articles/588466/why-arent-conservative-intellectuals-disgusted-gop

6. Paul Krugman: Fearing Fear Itself

Like millions of people, I’ve been obsessively following the news from Paris, putting aside other things to focus on the horror. It’s the natural human reaction. But let’s be clear: it’s also the reaction the terrorists want. And that’s something not everyone seems to understand.

Take, for example, Jeb Bush’s declaration that “this is an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization.” No, it isn’t. It’s an organized attempt to sow panic, which isn’t at all the same thing. And remarks like that, which blur that distinction and make terrorists seem more powerful than they are, just help the jihadists’ cause.

Think, for a moment, about what France is and what it represents. It has its problems — what nation doesn’t? — but it’s a robust democracy with a deep well of popular legitimacy. Its defense budget is small compared with ours, but it nonetheless retains a powerful military, and has the resources to make that military much stronger if it chooses. (France’s economy is around 20 times the size of Syria’s.) France is not going to be conquered by ISIS, now or ever. Destroy Western civilization? Not a chance.

So what was Friday’s attack about? Killing random people in restaurants and at concerts is a strategy that reflects its perpetrators’ fundamental weakness. It isn’t going to establish a caliphate in Paris. What it can do, however, is inspire fear — which is why we call it terrorism, and shouldn’t dignify it with the name of war.

The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire. And it’s crucial to realize that there are multiple ways the response can go wrong.

Again, the goal of terrorists is to inspire terror, because that’s all they’re capable of. And the most important thing our societies can do in response is to refuse to give in to fear. 11/16/15 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/opinion/fearing-fear-itself.html?_r=0

7. Michael Brendan Dougherty: Ben Carson is political malpractice

Carson’s virtues are starting to crack under pressure. Carson’s story of religious transformation, which has gone from personal testimony to bookable persona is under question. And, boy, did he suddenly become prickly and defensive. It’s bonkers that Carson and the media are debating not only whether he lied about getting admitted to West Point, but also about whether he attempted to stab a childhood friend — and Carson is the one arguing that he did! This is sketch comedy, not a campaign. And as his biography continues to get shredded, it will become a farce.

Carson is diverting monetary, emotional, and organizational resources away from the real long-term work of evangelical politics. He has no ideas to offer his party, which is in need of them. He has no political leadership skills for a culture that is desperate for them. He is pulling evangelical influence and resources away from candidates who can win, which ultimately enhances the grip of the more secular, more liberal Republican establishment. This is political malpractice. http://theweek.com/articles/587452/ben-carson-political-malpractice

8. William Falk: The death of the swing voter

Here’s a strange thought to chew on a year before the presidential election: The votes of 95 percent of Americans likely to cast ballots are already determined. People who lean conservative will vote for any Republican who emerges from the scrum (with the possible exception of the divisive Donald Trump). Ditto for people who lean liberal. New research by Michigan State political scientist Corwin Smidt confirms that the percentage of voters who are truly “independent,” swinging from party to party, has plunged from 15 percent in the 1960s to just 5 percent today. Crossing over party lines to vote for the other tribe’s presidential candidate has become unimaginable. As Jonathan Chait put it this week at New York: “The dominant fact of American politics is that nobody is changing their mind about anything.”

It wasn’t always this way. For much of the latter half of the 20th century, there were liberal-leaning Republicans and conservative-leaning Democrats. It was not impossible to find common ground. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both actively sought the votes of people who traditionally vote for the other party, and enjoyed great popularity partly as a result. But since 2004, polarization on immigration, climate change, abortion, religion, and social issues has become so acute that every presidential election seems to represent a major turning point, with the very definition of our nation at stake. Polls suggest that the gulf between the two parties is actually widening. Republicans loathe Hillary Clinton as much as they do Barack Obama; Democrats see Trump and Ben Carson as wackos and frauds, and have only slightly less contempt for the rest of the field. So here’s a safe if depressing prediction: The new president John Roberts swears in on Jan. 20, 2017, will be very quickly despised and distrusted by roughly 45 percent of the nation. Is this a democracy, or a dysfunctional family? 11/13/15 http://theweek.com/articles/588492/death-swing-voter

9. David Brooks: The G.O.P. at an Immigration Crossroads

It’s no exaggeration to say that the next six months will determine the viability of the Republican Party. The demographics of this country are changing. This will be the last presidential election cycle in which the G.O.P., in its current form, has even a shot at winning the White House. And so the large question Republicans must ask themselves is: Are we as a party willing to champion the new America that is inexorably rising around us, or are we the receding roar of an old America that is never coming back?

Within that large question the G.O.P. will have to face several other questions.

The first is: How is 21st-century America going to view outsiders? For Republicans in the Donald Trump camp, the metaphor is very clear: A wall. Outsiders are a threat and a wall will keep them out.

The second question Republicans have to ask is: Can the party see reality? The great Victorian critic John Ruskin once wrote: “The more I think of it I find this conclusion more impressed upon me — that the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.”

The third G.O.P. question is: How does the party view leadership? For a rising number of Republicans — congregating around Trump and Ben Carson — leadership is about ignorance and inexperience. Actually having prepared for the job is a disqualifying factor. Knowing the substance of government is a negative. 11/13/15 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/13/opinion/the-gop-at-an-immigration-crossroads.html

10. John Avlon: The GOP’s Reckless Refugee Rhetoric

In the wake of the Paris attacks, more than two dozen governors—all Republicans, except for New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, a Democrat—announced they did not want to have any Syrian refugees darken their states. One would-be governor, the desperate David Vitter, lost no time in cutting a negative attack ad trying to make it look like President Obama was intentionally importing terrorists to Louisiana. Folding to fear-mongering apparently seems like good politics in 2015. It will look awful in a few decades.

The way we will win this long war is not through military means alone, though that is an essential component (and it is ridiculous that the city of Raqqa has been allowed to solidify its role as the ISIS capital for so long). Ultimately, we will succeed by showing that we are different and bigger and better than the “us versus them” stereotypes that terrorists so desperately want the Arab street to believe.

That requires us living up to our best traditions, not solidifying our worst fears. And for those governors and presidential candidates who would seek to turn away refugees from ISIS, I’d recommend that they reacquaint themselves with the poem written by Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

That is the spirit of Liberty. All the reflexive campaign rhetoric about America being a beacon of freedom is now being put to the test. We should screen refugees for security and then welcome them in, letting the process of assimilation work without apology.

That is the American story and it is our responsibility to carry that story forward. Failure to do so represents a rejection of our best traditions, folding in the face of fear. Governors and presidential candidates above all should hold themselves to a higher standard. 11/1715 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/17/the-gop-s-reckless-refugee-rhetoric.html

11. LA Times Editorial Stop the fear-mongering on Syrian refugees

It was inevitable that the terrorism attacks in Paris last week would echo quickly through the U.S. presidential campaign. Given the stream of nativist rhetoric already out there, it was also inevitable that some politicians’ responses would be highly objectionable, beginning with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s assertion that the United States should accept only Christian refugees from the Syrian conflict. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sounded a similar note, calling for special efforts to protect Christians in the region; never mind that Islamic State jihadists target fellow Muslims with just as much viciousness.

It’s preposterous that a serious contender for the presidency of the U.S. would bar war refugee status based on someone’s religion. And the suggestion by GOP candidate Ben Carson that the U.S. bar all Syrian refugees for fear that a “sleeper” terrorist might slip in is an emotional, and ill-conceived, overreaction, as are pledges by several Republican governors to resist efforts to resettle refugees in their states.

It defies what the nation stands for to deny a safe haven for the persecuted based on their faith, nation of origin, or our fear. 11/1/7/15 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-1117-syrian-refugees-20151117-story.html



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