Open Thread: Coolest Vice-President Evaarrrr!

biden loves chocolate bullets AP Jenny Aicher 14 may 13
(AP photo/Jenny Aicher)

Thanks to commentor Trollhattan, for this article from the Green Bay Press Gazette:

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin boy wrote Vice President Joe Biden with an unusual suggestion for making the nation safer: Create guns that shoot chocolate bullets.

On Monday, he got an unusual response: A handwritten note from Biden on vice presidential stationery…

The student, Myles, wrote to Biden, President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore several months ago. It was after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and gun violence was in the news. Myles had been having lunch with the school’s reading specialist, Barbara Rankin, when he told her he had an idea.

“He said if we have chocolate bullets, nobody would get hurt and nobody would be sad,” Rankin said. “I’m going to start crying again because he was so insightful.”…

“Dear Myles,” the letter said. “I’m sorry it took me so very long to respond to your letter. I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate. You are a good boy, Joe Biden.”

Full details at the link.

This, my friends, is why we have a “Proud to Be A Democrat” tag.

Late Night Open Thread: Helpful? Honest? Both? Neither?

Thing is, we’re not Republicans, and most of the authoritarians on the (D) side of the aisle are at least trying to keep one foot in the Reality-Based Community. We can’t just scream NIXON DID IT FIRST AND BESIDES REAGAN WAS WORSE AND ALSO DUBYA? WAR CRIMINAL! (which would at least have the advantage of being true statements) and then pretend the made-up scandal-of-the-moment never happened. Events must be discussed, and even mistakes. Consequences will be explored. But unlike the Authoritarians (like any religion, it’s a mindset and a lifestyle) “we” Democratic voters, DFHs, progressives (pick your label) don’t have a fixed template for discussing missteps by “our guys” that don’t do more harm than good. What can be said that can’t be misinterpreted, especially when the other side is expert in misinterpretation, and our (presumed) allies are hypersensitive in a thousand different ways?

Which leads to weird portmanteau articles, like Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast on “The Coming Attempt to Impeach Obama“:

… I think the notion of impeachment is industrial-strength insane. There is utterly no proof that the President Obama even knew anything directly about the shifting Benghazi responses, let alone did something about them (yes, folks; under the Constitution, the President must do something). And as for the Internal Revenue Service story, from what we now know, those transgressions were committed by IRS staffers in Cincinnati who have never been closer to Obama than their television sets… Impeachment is crazy… and the idea that Obama has any direct culpability in either of these matters is, given what we know today, utter madness. Okay?

But this is my point: utter madness is what today’s Republicans do. You can present to me every logical argument you desire. Benghazi at the end of the day was a terrible tragedy in which mistakes, bad mistakes, were certainly made, and in which confusion and the CYA reflex led to some bad information going out to the public initially, but none of this remotely rises to the level of high crime. The IRS cock-up was just that, a mistake by a regional office. I get all this, and I agree with you.

But what we think doesn’t matter. I can assure you that already in the Pavlovian swamps of the nutso right, the glands are swelling. Theirs is a different planet from the one you and I inhabit….

… They do their base’s bidding, not America’s. How many times do you need to see them do this before you accept that it is the reality? And now there’s an added element. They want to gin up turnout among their base for next year’s elections. And if they gin it up enough, and the Democratic base stays home, they could end up holding the House and taking the Senate. And if they have both houses, meaning that the vote in the House would not be certain to hit a Senate dead-end, well, look out.

I hope the White House knows this. I hope they understand, I hope the President himself understands, that the fever has not broken and will not break. It might crescendo right up to his very last day in office. And yes, a lot of this Benghazi stuff is about Hillary Clinton. But not all of it. And the IRS thing, which Drudge led with for two days in a row and may yet be bigger than Benghazi, isn’t about her at all. If my worst fears are never realized—well, good, obviously. But it will only be because they couldn’t identify even a flimsy pretext on which to proceed. Never put the most extreme behavior past them. It is who they are, and it is what they do.

Friday Evening Open Thread: Good Ol’ Crazy Uncle Joe Biden

First, let me draw your attention to Jonathan Bernstein, on “Why You Should Care About 2016 Right Now“:

The pollsters at Quinnipiac are preparing their first Iowa polling for 2016, and will release the results in a few weeks. If you think that’s too soon — and everyone but the most extreme political junkies thinks that — you’re right! But it’s not too soon to be thinking about and working for the 2016 presidential nomination contest, because now is when it’s really possible to push the candidates on policy, which is what’s really important….

A large part of that is finding good issues to run on. And that’s where what happens now matters. Candidates — potential candidates — are looking around to determine which stances all party candidates must take, and are also looking for good issues to help differentiate themselves from the pack. What party actors — everything from think tankers to activists — can do, at this point, is to push the candidates to adopt their pet issues and make them central to the campaign….

Keeping that in mind, Douglas Brinkley has an interview with Vice-President Biden in the upcoming Rolling Stone:

There is a keen Kennedy-like vigor to Joe Biden that overwhelms any room. As was once said of Theodore Roosevelt, he, too, wants to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Unlike President Obama, who speaks in interviews with Hemingway-esque sparseness, Biden rambles like Thomas Wolfe, painting a robust picture of an ever-changing America where coal miners will soon be working in clean-tech jobs, gun-safety laws will be tougher and China will be reined in by the White House from poisoning the planet with megatons of choking pollutants…

What matters the most to Biden these days is whether he can persuade Congress to enact meaningful gun-control laws. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama asked Biden to head up the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Though his efforts so far have failed to overcome congressional resistance, he says that he is not giving up. If serious gun-control legislation is passed in the next three years – and Biden is convinced it will – he will deserve the lion’s share of the credit.

My takeaway from my one-hour White House interview with Joe Biden is that he must be considering a presidential run. There will be too much Obama-era unfinished business – implementing the Affordable Care Act, fighting for climate-change initiatives, for example – for Biden to throw in the towel. His strengths as a candidate are his blue-collar persona, family values, lifetime support of labor unions and farmers, foreign-policy expertise and stouthearted belief that the Obama administration’s record of accomplishment – from the economic recovery to the killing of Osama bin Laden – has been historic. With Air Force Two at his disposal and his two superbright sons, Hunter and Beau, probably working as his chief advisers, Biden can give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. Although she will have an unquestioned advantage among women, it’s not inconceivable to think that labor unions, environmentalists, African-Americans, LGBT voters and small-business owners will prefer the hypercaffeinated, hard-charging vice president. Like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a presumed Republican candidate, Biden has learned to turn the sound-bite culture on its head by speaking from the gut. Though he’s been a major political player since the Nixon years, Biden has pulled off the trick of not seeming like politics-as-usual. It could be a mistake to underestimate his populist appeal. And it’s hard to imagine that this highly ambitious man will choose not to pursue the office he’s wanted all his life…

So… apart from getting in on the ground floor, what’s on the agenda for the start of the weekend?

Friday Morning Open Thread: Job Creators

benghazi issa danziger
(Jeff Danziger’s website)
Most unlikely sighting of the week, by NYMag‘s Kevin Roose:

As a chief architect of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank was a bit of an odd sight at SALT, the giant hedge-fund confab in Las Vegas. Many hedge-fund managers openly detest Dodd-Frank, which increased transparency requirements for hedge funds and other private investment firms and generally made Wall Street a less lucrative place to work.

“He’s like Daniel in the lion’s den,” one fund worker said of Frank’s trip to Vegas.

Still, on Thursday morning, after finishing up a SALT panel with former politicos Harold Ford Jr., Karl Rove, and Scott Brown, Frank was in high spirits.

“I don’t feel like Daniel at all,” he said, while husband Jim Ready dabbed at his made-up face with a moist towelette following a CNBC hit. “Daniel was afraid of being bitten and clawed. It never occurred to me that I was going to be bitten and clawed here.”…

Last night, Frank was spotted at SALT’s Latin-themed pool party at the Bellagio, mingling among showgirls in feathers, a cigar-rolling station, and busty servers in halter tops. Asked whether the bacchanalia on display at SALT meant that his efforts to humble Wall Street after the crisis had failed, Frank sniffed.

“We weren’t trying to humble anyone,” he said. “We want them to be more careful.”

Part of the reason Frank is such a divisive figure at SALT is that for hedge-fund managers, the introduction of Dodd-Frank has often meant having to hire extra accountants and lawyers to comply with new reporting requirements. Frank said that, judging from the expensive surroundings on display in Vegas, the industry is doing just fine, even with the added compliance costs.

“I think it shows they haven’t been severely hurt,” he said…

Gods bless our Barney. I wonder if he looked at his three co-panelists and thought about the old quip — “Here’s See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil”?

Elizabeth Colbert Busch Can’t Quite Overcome the SC Teahadi

Dave Weigel’s been in South Carolina since last week, covering the election Democrats never really expected to win:

UPDATE, 8:23 p.m.: Well, it’s basically over. Beaufort County, the Sanford soft spot, went for him by a 6-point margin—2,152 votes. Charleston County is tied, when Colbert Busch needs to be winning it.

So, basically: Mark Sanford (R) defeats Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D), 54-45 percent.

UPDATE, 7:43 p.m.: Having stopped very briefly into the Elizabeth Colbert Busch party, and finding a classy selection of mostly-white Democrats enjoying a soft jazz band, I drove over to Sanford’s party at Liberty Tavern in Mt. Pleasant. By that time, we’d received results from two counties: Four precincts in Berkeley (Sanford by 7 points so far) and all of Colleton (Sanford 70-29 over ECB.).

But about Colleton and its sole precinct here, Edisto Beach. In 2012, it went for Mitt Romney by a landslide, 496-160 votes. Sanford has won it 272-114. Instead of netting the usual Republican 336-vote margin, it went for Sanford by 158…

I hope that, for once, the Democratic Party takes these results as a reason to fight harder next time, rather than collapsing into a puddle of self-recrimination. I especially hope Colbert-Busch comes back for another race, because the voters liked her and her message:

MT. PLEASANT, S.C.—Elizabeth Colbert Busch votes in safe Republican turf, and that would be fine on its own if the press didn’t want to cover this. The head election official at her precinct walked over to me as I joined a throng covering the candidate and informed me, unsmiling-ly, that I needed to check in with him. He made a fitful effort to break up reporters who were standing in the way of voters—”OK, let’s go!” After the candidate left, and after departing cameramen stumbled over a VOTE HERE sign, the election official snapped at ECB handlers for not following “the system we keep here.” They’d walked in the wrong way.

I noticed this because it was the only rough reception ECB got. Leaving the polls, female voters unanimously told me that they had voted for her. (Other reporters found some older women who’d stuck with Sanford.) Sharron Bohn, a laid-off government employee, said she was for Colbert Busch ever since her name was floated, and it had nothing to do with Sanford’s scandal.

“I don’t agree with what he did with his personal life, but I don’t really care,” she shrugged. “It’s his politics that worry me—frugality out the wazoo. I’ve had enough of this politicians who smile at us as they tell us about all the programs they’re cutting and defunding.“..