Late Night Open Thread: Who Lost China the WMDs?

Eli Lake, accredited Wingnut Wurlitzer puke funnel, wrote the article:

In an interview with The Daily Beast, former Senator Rick Santorum said he and his staff began receiving photographs of discarded Sarin and Mustard shells from U.S. soldiers in 2004. Two years later, when he was up for re-election, Santorum even went public with some of this information in a press conference disclosing a Pentagon report that found 500 chemical weapons shells had been found in Iraq…

But at least in 2005 and 2006 the Bush White House wasn’t interested. “We don’t want to look back,” Santorum recalled Rove as saying (though Santorum stressed he was not quoting verbatim conversations he had more than eight years ago). “I will say that the gist of the comments from the president’s senior people was ‘we don’t want to look back, we want to look forward.’”…

Santorum on Thursday stood by that claim. “There was no active chemical weapons operation in Iraq, that doesn’t mean there were no chemical weapons,” he said. “That was the point we were making. It’s clear from the New York Times article that the military as well as the administration didn’t want to have that conversation because they missed it.”…

… including a special guest appearance by our old friend Pete Hoekstra (see: Hoekstroika):

In an interview Thursday, Hoekstra declined to name Bush administration officials with whom he spoke. But he said he felt stonewalled during his own investigation in 2005 and 2006 into the issue. “This was an active investigation by the intelligence committee and they chose not to answer our questions truthfully and fully,” Hoekstra said….

Tell me again how “nobody” takes Luzer Rih Sanctorum seriously. I’m just barely old enough to remember when RWNJs used the magical phrase Matsu and Quemoy un-ironically, and I seriously think Santorum is his generation’s Dick Nixon. Sure, he’s a twisted little sociopath that you wouldn’t want as a neighbor (much less an in-law), but there’s a negotiable bloc of American voters who want to be represented by a twisted little sociopath “they can count on” (to punish all the happy, successful, smiling folk who are not like them — and Rick Santorum).



Fresh from the “NO SCREAMING EAGLE SHIT” Files

They needed a study for this, apparently:

States that stiffened their voter identification laws saw drops in election turnout, with disproportionate effect on blacks and younger people, according to a nonpartisan congressional study released Wednesday.

As of June, 33 states had enacted laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls, the study said. Republicans say that requirement will reduce fraud, but Democrats insist the laws are a GOP effort to reduce Democratic turnout on Election Day.

The report by the Government Accountability Office was released less than a month before elections that will determine which party controls Congress.

The study found that election turnout in Kansas and Tennessee — which tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections — dropped more steeply than it did in four states that didn’t change their identification requirements.

The report found that in those two states, reduced voter turnout was sharper among people aged 18 to 23 than among those from 44 to 53. The drop was also more pronounced among blacks than whites, Hispanics or Asians.

Young people and blacks generally tend to support Democratic candidates.

That’s why Republicans are moving the heavens and earth to try to pass and enforce voter id laws. Their base is shrinking and dying off, so they are trying to keep the blahs and other minorities from voting.



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Safe Bets

In a country that allowed George W. Bush to assume office, twice, It’s impossible to be absolutely sure any given mope or miscreant won’t manage to win sufficient electoral votes or the negotiable allegiance of five Supreme Court Justices. That being said, there’s an awful lot of chaff being emitted in advance of 2016.

No matter how many Mormons and/or vulture fund managers tithe, this guy is not going to be elected President in 2016 (thank you, Paul Constant):

There’s an undercurrent of smugness in contemporary Republicans, a belief that if Mitt Romney had won the presidency in 2012, America would be a paradisiacal wonderland by now. And that pro-Mitt undercurrent seems to be going mainstream.

Why, no less a foreign policy expert than Ann Romney declared yesterday on Fox News that if we lived in an America headed by a President Romney, ISIS would not be the huge problem that it is. Romney believes her husband “would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria,” which would have curbed the ISIS threat, along with “other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.” Do you see the error you have made, America? …

Nor will this guy, much though I hate agreeing with anyone working for WaPo‘s “The Fix” blog:

[N]ot to take anything away from Webb’s service — including as a war hero, Navy secretary under Ronald Reagan and one-term senator from Virginia. It’s just that there wouldn’t seem to be a more unlikely presidential hopeful than Jim Webb… He retired after one term in the Senate and didn’t seem to particularly enjoy being in public life…

Nor, except in my nightmares, this guy (thank you, Mr. Kilgore):

Jeb ‘16—The Excitement Builds!
It’s no secret the GOP Donor Class loves Jeb Bush and would like to see him run for president. But if you have any doubts, read this unintentionally hilarious spin sent out via Politico’s Mike Allen today:

As Jeb Bush plunges into a frenzy of fall travel for Senate candidates, his allies insist a presidential campaign is becoming more of a possibility than even they thought a few months ago. He’s doing a lot of under-the-radar prep, including foreign policy tutoring and meetings with tech gurus. And several of his friends think he is leaning more yes than no…

In the next breath, Allen is admiring Bush’s practice of holding fundraisers IN FLORIDA for Senate candidates in other states… As to why this would “amp up demand for the former Florida governor,” Allen is as “opaque” as the man he’s hyping.

And, finally, I think we can safely cross this guy off the list…

Anyone who thinks it’s too early to talk about the 2016 presidential campaign should be aware that the Right has just chosen its Big Narrative for the cycle, via the Free Beacon’s discovery of correspondence between Hillary Rodham and—wait for it!—Saul Alinsky. It was previously known that HRC had written (both favorably and unfavorably) about Alinsky in a college thesis on community organizing (it would have been rather difficult to ignore him on that subject—sorta like writing about Chick Fil-A without interviewing the late Truett Cathy). But direct correspondence is a new thing.

No, it doesn’t reveal any revolutionary plotting between the two, and yes, this was forty-six years ago. But we’re off to the races…

… because I’m fairly sure “not being dead is referenced somewhere in the Constitution. Looks like the Wingnut Wurlitzer is ready to anoint him as the VP candidate, though!
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Apart from pointing & mocking, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Pence’s Turn at the Fail Parade

How bad are the Republicans trying to find a suitable 2016 contender? This bad:

With Washington’s reputation lurking in used-car-salesmen territory, there will be a wide lane in the 2016 presidential campaign for governors with records built outside the national capital.

On the Republican side, the list of potential contenders already includes New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Texas’ Rick Perry and a prominent former governor, Florida’s Jeb Bush.

Now, grass-roots conservatives are seeking to add another governor’s name to that list of 2016 possibilities: Indiana’s Mike Pence.

The Hoosier chief executive isn’t as well known nationally, and some will question whether his record is too far right to be a plausible general-election candidate. But he’s generating a small groundswell, particularly among GOP social-policy activists, some of whom think Mr. Pence hits the sweet spot for 2016.

He is reliably conservative on fiscal and social policies, and rose to a position of power in Washington, where he led the conservative Republican Study Group in the House of Representatives and helped found the tea-party caucus. Yet he deployed a more soothing style and wasn’t as polarizing as some House conservatives. He once hosted his own radio talk show and referred to himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”

Now, as a heartland governor for the last two years, he has a record outside of Washington, in a state that’s surging economically.

This will end poorly:

There are very few members of congress with whom I’ve ever had the opportunity to discuss a substantive matter of public policy. But as it happens, one of them — the one with whom I’ve had the second-longest exchange — is Mike Pence (R-IN) who I’ve seen on television today repeatedly discussing the Republican Study Group’s “plan” for the financial crisis. And I can tell you this about Mike Pence: he has no idea what he’s talking about. The man is a fool, who deserves to be laughed at. He’s almost stupid enough to work in cable television.

Specifically, way back in 2005 I got to talk to him about Social Security privatization at a Heritage Foundation event. Obviously, I have my perspective on this and conservatives have theirs. But Pence had a truly peculiar idea. His idea was that the government ought to reassure people about the risks of losses under a privatization plan by having the government guarantee a minimum annuity level pegged to what’s promised under current law. This plan would, according to Pence, save money relative to current law because most people’s stock/bond portfolio would outperform the level needed to provide such an annuity, so the government would only need to kick in for a minority of people. I said I thought this would create a moral hazard problem for bad investors. He had no idea what I was talking about. Seemed unfamiliar with the term. Then I tried to explain it to him, I said that if the government guaranteed to bail you out in case of losses, then investors would make riskier investments and the number of people who need bailing out would rise. He just flat-out denied this, said the presence or absence of a guaranteed bailout would have no impact on investor behavior. He seemed unaware that some portfolios are riskier than others, or that higher average rates of return are associated with greater risk taking. He didn’t know anything at all, in short, about investing, financial markets, or, seemingly, the basic terms of public policy. And yet there he was speaking on the topic at Heritage. He’s a total fraud.

The man is dumb as a sack of hammers.



Late Night Open Thread: That Steak Fry


(via Jim Newell at Salon)

Asked and answered, as the expression goes. Hillary had an unobjectionable, if thoroughly anodyne, response to the DREAMers: We should elect more Democrats. It’s not the answer they were looking for, and it’s not the answer the media wanted (because it’s hard to twist into either disrespect or slavish agreement with the current President), but it’s not like she dropped her burger and ran away choking, either.

I think Dave Weigel has the best take I’ve seen:

The reader may be surprised to learn that Clinton did not reveal her 2016 plans to a reporter on a ropeline. Nor to the other reporter who asked. Actually, it appeared as though Clinton was following the plan of every other 2016 candidate—pacing herself before the midterms, making a decision after them. It’s almost unheard of to announce a presidential run before the previous cycle’s midterms are over, and the only guy who’s broken that recently was Mike Gravel, who did not become the nominee…

The Hillary 2016 campaign is a minor problem for Democrats. They are generally ready to nominate her. Some of them want a progressive challenge that moves her to the left, or at least keeps her honest. Far, far fewer believe that the party needs a savior, because it already tossed her aside for one of those.

Hillary 2016 is a far bigger problem for the media, which simultaneously is ready right now to cover her like a nominee—200 reporters!—and yet so palpably bored with how she talks, and runs.

The media needs eyeballs, in order to sell advertising. The Media Villagers need entertainment, and it’s worth their sinecures to be caught watching — or mocking — the simple pleasures of the True Heartlander (reality tv and YouTube), so they want the political equivalent of a bear to bait or a bull to lance. It’s gonna be a long slog to 2016.

And yet: We do need to elect more Democrats!



Monday Morning Open Thread: Imaginary Gardens, Genuine Toads

Much as I respect the man, a Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2016 would be a Jesse Jackson 1988 campaign, or a Newt Gingrich 2012 campaign; mostly personal-brand enhancement, with a media-friendly gloss about the Overton Window. But, as per those past campaigns, there’s also the “discourage the dreamers” spoiler effect… and that’s clearly why Chuck Toad wanted Sanders’ input. Look! Dems in disarray! Everybody already hates the not-yet-even-declared nominee! Not to mention, crazy SOCIALIST person, soon to be officially part of the failed Democrat Party… Way to honor your allegiance to the Media Villagers, Mr. Todd.
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Speaking of the 2014 elections, yesterday was the last of Tom Harkin’s famed Steak Fries:

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into the partisan fray here Sunday, framing the November midterm elections as “a choice between the guardians of gridlock and the champions of shared opportunity” and warning Democrats of the consequences of complacency….

“In 50 days, every Iowa voter needs to know that from the president on down to local officials, we Democrats are for raising the minimum wage, for equal pay for equal work, for making college and technical training affordable, for growing the economy to benefit everyone,” Clinton said. “And our opponents are not.”

In a nod to the state’s role hosting the first presidential caucuses, Clinton added: “Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns. Look, I get excited about presidential campaigns, too. But . . . use the enthusiasm that Iowa is so well known for every presidential year and channel that into these upcoming elections. Don’t wake up the day after the election and feel bad and wonder what more you could have done.”…

Both Clintons urged Iowa Democrats to do all they could to elect Rep. Bruce Braley (D), who is locked in a tight race to replace Harkin, and referenced his opponent, state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), though not by name. Hillary Clinton mentioned Ernst’s opposition to a federal minimum wage and noted that women hold a majority of minimum-wage jobs, including those that rely mostly on tips, such as waiters, bartenders and hairstylists…

Harkin was emotional in his remarks Sunday night — he thanked longtime staffers, even calling one up on stage for a hug — but also resolute about the political battles ahead. He called on his supporters to give Republicans “a good whipping” in November.

“Since I got into politics, I always believed that an obligation of our government is to make sure we leave the ladder down for others to climb, too,” Harkin said. “I may be retiring from the Senate, but I’m not retiring from the fight.”

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And speaking of failed candidates, celebrated Alaskan political blog The Mudflats has a comprehensive update on the Palin family’s latest reintroduction to the national media:

… It should be mentioned that at least as far as I know, Sarah Palin does not drink anything but diet Redbull, and skinny white chocolate mochas. While governor, she didn’t even let Todd drink beer, forcing him to sneak off to the garage alone to enjoy his foamy amber coping mechanism. So, we can assume if this pattern of behavior has held true, that as she struggled to throw herself into the thick of the brawl, she was stone cold sober

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My emphases. Apart from rolling our eyes, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?



Invisible primaries, influence and Iraq

Jonathan Bernstein describes the invisible primary as being far more important than the visible primaries of people voting as the invisible primary sets the conditions for the visible primary.  He sees the selectorate involved in the invisble primary as such:

Remember, we’re in the “invisible primary” stage, in which party actors politicians, party-aligned groups, campaign and governing professionals, activists, formal party officials and staff compete and coordinate over candidates. We’re still two years from the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire getting involved, but for people whose business or passion (or both) is party politics, the nomination contest has been under way for at least a year, and probably a lot more….

The evidence suggests that party actors communicate with each other to some extent through high-profile endorsements. Fundraising matters too, of course, especially to those within the party network. So does recruitment of staff. In each of those realms, the universe of party actors is large, but signs that one candidate is winning a lot of support along with a large share of party-controlled (or at least party-connected) resources is a good sign that a candidate is performing well in the invisible primary.

Balloon-Juice,  as a community, is part of the extended party that takes part in the invisible primary.  Quickly doing a google search, I see that we’ve raised at least a quarter million dollars on Act Blue in the past couple of years.   The commenters and frontpagers here routinely are quoted, massaged and memed in liberal arguments ( eg: peak wingnut, anthrax and tire rims, Equitablog, NY Times and LA Times columnists etc).  We have some influence, not much, but some.

The question is how to use that influence as a community if there is a consensus that more bombs and more drones in Iraq is not a particulary wise idea.