Open Thread – Halftime at the GOP Debate

The Guardian‘s liveblog here.

I like the predictions from BJ commentor Sloan:

Fiorina claims to have video of Loch Ness monster.

Jeb! shivs Rubio with a ball point pen, invokes “stand your ground” law.

Ted Cruz manages to be even more creepy. Sees post-debate bounce.

Trump rates everyone’s daughter on scale of 1 to 10.

Rand Paul shows up dressed like Batman. Nobody notices.

Christie orders Papa Johns pizza and doesn’t share with anyone.

Kasich lights himself on fire to get noticed. It doesn’t work.

Carson literally sleeps through the whole thing. Standing up, eyes wide open. And is declared the winner.


From Guardian US columnist Jeb Lund, live from Tampa, Florida.

That was a really fun bit during the Kiddie Table debate, when Lindsey Graham joked about being a Fox News instead of CNBC watcher. It’s just a little reminder that CNBC is the Marxist network that aired Rick Santelli’s 1% whine about taxation and moochers that the conservative astroturf group FreedomWorks used to launch the Tea Party.

Also via the Guardian, kibitzing:

Alan Grayson Was Right

Remember when people made fun of Alan Grayson for this:

He was right:

IDAHO FALLS — On the last weekend of August, Jason and Jenny Steinke talked about their future. For the first time in a while, it looked positive. Jason had just landed a good-paying mechanic job with benefits. Jenny was set to be a grandmother.

That weekend, they found time to escape for a quick Island Park camping trip, one of their favorite activities. Several weekends prior the couple drove from their home in Idaho Falls to Grand Targhee Ski Resort, where they listened to music and rode the chairlift to the top of the mountain.

“We just enjoyed each other’s company,” Jason, 43, said recently. “I’m grateful for those three weeks, because they were three really good weeks.”

Yet something weighed on the couple. During the Island Park trip, Jason and Jenny talked at length about her worsening asthma. Nearly a decade ago the 36-year-old had been diagnosed with the condition that inflames and narrows the airways.

The asthma flared up every so often, once requiring hospitalization, but hadn’t usually required much attention. Without insurance, Jenny sometimes obtained short-acting inhalers from a community health clinic. Other times, she bought them off friends who had extras.

The inhalers usually helped. But over the summer months Jenny needed them more frequently. On the camping trip she was using her inhaler every hour, Jason noticed. The more she used it, it seemed, the shorter the duration of relief.

Still, the Steinkes didn’t panic. With Jason’s new job at Utility Trailer, they would finally have health-care coverage. The insurance was set to kick in Sept. 1, two days after they returned from the camping trip. Surely Jenny could wait until then to see an asthma specialist, they told each other.

“Now that I had insurance, we were going to try to get the asthma under control,” Jason said.

I don’t need to tell you how this story ended, do I?

Bitch all you want about the Democrats not being pure enough or good enough or progressive enough, one party is actively trying to kill you, and it ain’t the Democrats.

Buyer’s Remorse From Topeka To Salina

Turns out GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s ridiculous austerity program is incredibly unpopular in Kansas a year after being re-elected on a platform of massive tax cuts magically creating revenues.  Hoocoodanode, right?

A new poll from the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University shows only 18 percent of Kansans are satisfied with Gov. Sam Brownback’s performance in office, and most (61 percent) think his signature tax policies have either been a “failure” or a “tremendous failure.”

The Fall 2015 “Kansas Speaks” survey also showed a large majority (61 percent) favor expanding Medicaid. Another 84 percent oppose requiring colleges and universities to allow firearms on campus, and 82 percent are skeptical that voter fraud is a significant problem in Kansas.

The survey of 638 Kansas adults was conducted Sept. 14 through Oct. 5, with a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

The survey asked respondents to indicate whether they were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with a list of elected officials. Overall, only 18 percent said they were either somewhat or very satisfied with Brownback.

That question is slightly different from the standard polling question, which asks people whether they “approve” or “disapprove” of a person’s performance in office. It wasn’t immediately clear how much impact that subtle difference in wording may have had on the results. One thing that was clear, though: Brownback’s “satisfaction rating” among Kansans was 10 points lower than President Barack Obama’s.

Brownback is losing to Obama in a blood red state.  That’s how bad his austerity regime has been for Kansans, and in fact his platform planks of opposing Medicaid expansion, putting guns on university campuses, and voter suppression laws have been complete losers for the guy.

I’d argue that Brownback has actually replaced Jindal as the most hated governor in the US right now, especially with Jindal’s term up in January.  Kansas on the other hand has three more years of Brownbackonomics to go, and I’m pretty sure his massive tax hike on cigarettes and beer in order to make up for his ever-deepening budget hole may put him in single digits by this time next year.

But once again, Kansas, you brought this on yourself.  You knew exactly what Brownback was going to do, he followed through, and you’re all surprised now that your state is a hellhole?

How about “stop voting Republican” guys?

I Was Wrong; Ben Carson May Be Genuinely Dangerous

Back in May, when Dr. Carson announced he was joining the GOP clown parade, I thought he stood the risk of damaging a long, worthwhile career in neurosurgery with a sideline in personal inspiration for an under-thought attempt to… sell more books, or improve his name recognition, or work through the grief of his beloved mother’s declining health. So I figured he’d be mostly ignored, maybe thumped around by some of the more aggressive GOPer candidates as a practice dummy, and eventually disappear into the triva-game mists with Lincoln Chafee and Larry Lessig.

According to the latest poll from Bloomberg Politics and the Des Moines Register, Carson is ahead of the pack with 28 percent of the vote. But more interesting are the facts behind his rise. Iowans aren’t just charmed by his demeanor, his experience, and his inexperience as a politician and policymaker—although that’s definitely true—they also support his most controversial, and entirely ludicrous, ideas…

… The vast majority of Iowa Republicans are still undecided. As the caucus comes closer, their preference might change. And other candidates, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, are also popular with GOP voters in the state. What it does mean, if anything, is that Carson speaks the language of Iowa Republicans. They like his rhetoric, whether it’s absurd, ignorant, or genuinely offensive…

What I didn’t appreciate was the Chauncey Gardiner effect — the degree to which a soft-spoken, well-intentioned innocent from within a sealed bubble could become a figurehead for some of the worst and most dangerous impulses in modern American politics. Dr. Carson is a devout Seventh Day Adventist, and a gifted surgeon, and his particular gifts and circumstances have apparently protected him from exposure to any information that might conflict with a trophy cupboard of 1950s moral axioms and 1980s neoconservative financial theories.

As the NYTimes perceives it, “Calm Manner Has Ben Carson Rising in Polls“:

… “That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said Miriam Greenfield, a farmer in Jewell, Iowa.

In an election season that has confounded party leaders and experts, the rise of Mr. Carson is another unexpected twist. His supporters cite Mr. Carson’s character, not his positions, as the main reason they back him. And they say his low-key approach is precisely what would tame Washington’s bitter partisanship, rather than Mr. Trump’s swagger.

“He is kind when he speaks, and he doesn’t have an agenda to set himself up as wonderful,” said Donna Christiansen, a retiree in Ames.

What is more, Mr. Carson’s provocative comments on topics like Nazism and slavery, which pundits and commentators regularly denounce, seem only to deepen the enthusiasm his evangelical base feels for him. He has connected with Republican women here, who prefer him to Mr. Trump. And he has built momentum far from the political establishment, which was unimpressed with his debate performances and his lack of governing experience. He conducts chats on Facebook and visits medical clinics and churches rather than the usual political stops…

And unlike some other candidates popular with the party’s grass roots, Mr. Carson has built a muscular financial base. His $20.8 million raised over the summer, most in small donations, was more than the total of any other Republican candidate. On Friday, he released his first television ad in the four early nominating states. Read more

Long Read: “Benghazi Biopsy”

Now that the circus parade is over, here’s Kurt Eichenwald’s excellent NewsweekComprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages“:

… The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.

The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. Read more