Monthly Archives: October 2015

Tomorrow is the last day of breast cancer awareness month, which means we can forget about breast cancer starting December 1. #seetheproblem

Uninsured State By State

From tomorrow’s New York Times, this remarkable map shows the percent uninsured in each state under Obamacare.  The states which elected to expand Medicare coverage are outlined in bold, and you can see the difference.  Compare, say, Arkansas in 2015 to its southern neighbors which did not expand Medicare coverage.

ocarestatesbig

Ted Cruz: “Climate Change Isn’t Science; It’s Religion”

OMG.  Sen. Ted Cruz, candidate for the highest office in the land, thinks that climate change — a phenomenon widely accepted by the scientists who study it — is a religious belief.

“Climate change is not science. It’s religion”

That is what he told Glenn Beck yesterday.

To back up his claim, Cruz pointed to the way we talk about climate change.

“Look at the language, where they call you a denier. Denier is not the language of science … Any good scientist is a skeptic; if he’s not, he or she should not be a scientist. But yet the language of the global warming alarmists, ‘denier’ is the language of religion, it’s heretic, you are a blasphemer.”

Nnnno.  You just disproved yourself.  The language of religion, as YOU say Ted, is “heretic” and “blasphemer”.  Those are words used for people who reject something that people BELIEVE in.  “Denier” is used with regard to FACTS.  Not faith…. facts.

What a goon.

I’m tired of hearing how “smart” Cruz is, and how he argued a case before the Supreme Court, etc.  If he is smart, then he can’t honestly believe what he says, and he is playing his followers for fools.

Debate Questions: A Primer

There continues to be a lot of criticism of the moderators of the CNBC debate held Wednesday night.  And some of the criticism is legitimate.  The first question to Donald Trump, for example, was “Are you a comic book candidate?” is so absurdly dumb that it staggers the mind.  It is a question designed solely for the purpose of soliciting a reaction, of getting a sound bite, of getting the moderator some press attention (which it did, in a negative way).

On the other hand, you have complaints like this:

“Debates are supposed to be established to help the people get to know the candidate,” Carson said at a news conference before a speech at Colorado Christian University. “What it’s turned into is — gotcha! That’s silly. That’s not helpful to anybody.”

***

“Using it for political purposes just doesn’t make any sense at all,” Carson said. “The first thing we’re looking for is moderators who are actually interested in getting the facts, and not just gotcha questions.”

***

Asked to define a “gotcha” question, Carson focused on a debate exchange about Mannatech, a nutritional supplements company that the former neurosurgeon had repeatedly endorsed, personally and in paid speeches.

“The questions about Mannatech are definitely gotcha questions,” Carson said. “There’s no truth to them. I know people know how to investigate. They can easily go back and find out I don’t have any formal relations with Mannatech. They can easily find out that any videos I did with them were not paid for, were things I truly believed. That would be easy to do. If they had another agenda, they could investigate and say — see, there’s nothing there! But if they have a gotcha agenda, they conveniently ignore all the facts and try to influence public opinion.”

Bzzzzzt!  Wrong!

There are two kinds of questions in a debate — relevant and stupid (i.e., irrelevant).  A relevant question is one about a political policy (regarding any issue) or political philosophy, or aspects of one’s character (leadership, integrity, judgment, etc.).  An irrelevant question is one that has no bearing on any of those.

A “gotcha” question is not always bad — in fact, it may be relevant.  “Did you take a bribe for your votes while in the Senate?”, for example, is clearly a gotcha question, and (I think everyone would agree) is relevant.  “Did your cousin have a legal abortion in the 1980s” probably is not relevant.

But question that is hard, and a question that may raise an issue of a candidate’s past or character isn’t a bad debate question.  And for Carson, the Mannatech issue is not an inappropriate question to ask.  Especially since his answer seemed rich with prevarication:

“There’s a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplements, with which you had a ten-year relationship,” Quintanilla asked. “They offered claims that they could cure autism and cancer. They paid $7 million to settle a deceptive-marketing lawsuit in Texas and yet your involvement continued. Why?”

“Well, it’s easy to answer,” Carson quickly replied. “I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda.” He then backtracked a little. “I did a couple of speeches for them. I did speeches for other people, they were paid speeches,” he told the crowd before switching back to a full denial. “It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them.” Then he again acknowledged a role. “Do I take the product? Yes, I think it’s a good product.”

Hmmmm.

As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, Carson’s relationship with the company deepened over time, including “four paid speeches at Mannatech gatherings, most recently one in 2013 for which he was paid $42,000, according to the company.” The company disputes that Carson was a “paid endorser or spokesperson,” according to the Journal, and claims his financial compensation went to charity.

National Review also highlighted Carson’s connections to Mannatech in January and how Carson’s team went to great lengths to distance themselves from the company. Some of his video appearances have been removed from the Internet, but those that remain appear to show a deeper affiliation than Carson claimed during Wednesday’s debate.

In one video for Mannatech last year that remains online, Carson discusses his experiences with nutritional supplements while seated next to the company’s logo. “The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel,” Carson explained. “And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food … Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.”

Carson stopped short of making substantive medical claims about Mannatech’s products. But he did say

“You know, I can’t say that that’s the reason I feel so healthy,” he said. “But I can say it made me feel different and that’s why I continue to use it more than ten years later.”

Which, when coupled with the known fact that he is a doctor, amounts to a medical endorsement.

And that is a problem.  It certainly raises a question.  Which is why a question is appropriate.  Even if all it does is give Carson a change to smack down the issue.

Candidates should welcome these “gotcha” questions — it gives them a spotlight to clear the record.  (see Obama, Birth Certificate).  The candidates who complain about “gotcha” questions are those who get “got” by them.

UPDATE:  And now this…

Mr. Andrew Lack Chairman, NBC News 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York 10112 Dear Mr. Lack, I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns. The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance. CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.”  That was not the case. Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case.  Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed. While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates. What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas. I have tremendous respect for the First Amendment and freedom of the press. However, I also expect the media to host a substantive debate on consequential issues important to Americans. CNBC did not. While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it. I will be working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward and will be in touch. Sincerely, Reince Priebus Chairman, Republican National Committee

The debate questions were not in bad faith — they were just bad.  So, Reince is partially right.  Whining about it though — that’s not petty?   Also…. Important to note: the NBC exec in charge of the suspended 2/26 debate, Andy Lack, doesn’t oversee CNBC… it operates independently… Drum reacts like me:

CNBC did screw up, but mostly by failing to keep the toddlers on stage under control and being poorly prepared to deal with brazen lies delivered with a straight face. For what it’s worth, I’d also agree that a few of the questions they asked were stupid and/or churlish. Not much more than any other debate, though. But conservative grievance culture is once again demanding someone’s head on a platter. After all, if conservatives look bad on television it’s gotta be someone else’s fault, right? So it’s off with NBC’s head. Jeebus. And these guys claim that they’re the steely-eyed folks who can take down Putin and the ayatollah? What a bunch of crybabies.

Anyway…. Since, I was talking about Carson…. this also happened:

This is true.  Also, amateurs produce more porn than professionals.  The point? Seriously, this Republican meme about amateurism being an asset is crazy and dangerous.  Carson seems to relish his standing not only as an outsider but as a non-expert in public policy. He seems to believe that he’d be able to govern by applying “common sense” to the nation’s problems. But this is nonsense. The presidency is a hard and complex job. Electing a true amateur to the White House makes as little sense as having an amateur doctor do brain surgery.

What if Linus is right? What if there really is a Great Pumpkin? Has anyone given this any thought?

Why have a #NationalCatDay when cats clearly don’t give a s**t about it anyway?

Post GOP Debate #3 Recap

Well, according to highlights and conventional wisdom, the two winners of last night’s debate were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  Rubio because he bested Bush in a scuffle, and Cruz because he bashed the media.

As for Rubio, he clearly saw the Bush attack coming and was prepared for it.  Bush should have known better.  It’s not like the comedy circuit where you try out your material in smaller venues and then use it “for the first time” on national TV.  Bush had been attacking Rubio for days on the campaign trail — of course Rubio is going to have a comeback up his sleeve.

Which brings me (and everybody else) to Bush.  This guy was supposed to be the clear nominee, and he just is not cutting it.  It’s one thing to be upstaged by showboating outsiders like Trump, but Bush can’t even shine among insiders.  He had one brief good moment in one debate (when he said, incorrectly, that his brother “kept us safe”) and that was it.  He’s not the grown-up and he has the deer-in-the-headlights look that his brother had on morning of 9/11 while kids are reading to him.  How long can he stay in with such bad debate performances and terrible poll numbers?  Probably a while — he has tons of money — but that would be torture.

Cruz whined about the media.  That’s red meat.  I think the criticism of the debate moderators was somewhat warranted — they asked about the horserace and not about the candidates’ positions way too much — but when Republican candidates whine about the media, it makes them look weak.  Someday, they hope to deal with Putin and ISIS.  And they can’t handle CNBC correspondents?  Puh-lease.

Trump and Carson seem to have hold their own — they have a hardcore group of followers who will never leave them.

Christie and Kusich did some Hillary-bashing, but didn’t do much to improve themselves.  Fiorina was shrill (I think she’s had her 15 minutes).  And Rand Paul was there.  And Huckabee barely was there.

But honestly, GOP candidates, you can’t criticize the moderators for asking stupid non-substance questions (“is yours the comic book candidacy?”) and then whine that the media is so unfair and went so easy on the Democrats.

Meanwhile, these just get better and better….

P.S.  An article by Brian Beutler about The GOP’s Grotesque Festival of Lies.

The night continued like this. Ben Carson denied his involvement with a nutritional supplement scam company that has been well substantiated. When a moderator pointed out that the $1.1 trillion hole in his tax plan would require cutting government by about 40 percent, he said, “that’s not true.”

At one point, a moderator apologized to Donald Trump for misquoting him, because he insisted, “I never said that,” with persuasive adamence. But he did say that. She’d quoted him correctly, to the word.

After the candidates abused the truth for 10 hours, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus attacked the moderators, and conservatives delighted in the knowledge that the base would chalk up the whole mess to media bias, damning GOP primary voters by assuming their oafishness.

RT @pattonoswalt: Trump = level 21 demi-liche, Lamarkin’s Rod of Disease, Cloak of Revulsion #GOPDebate

RT @pattonoswalt: Marco Rubio = paladin, 18 charisma, all other stats 9, cursed broadsword #GOPDebate

RT @pattonoswalt: Carly Fiorinia = level 5 Drow elf with a + 1 Ring of Vampiric rrgeneration #GOPdebate

RT @pattonoswalt: John Kasich = level 4 fighter with standard plate armor and a standard long sword, 10 strength #GOPDebate

GOP Debate #3 Preview

On CNBC tonight.  I will not be watching.  Ratings will be lower than the others I expect.

Trump is already complaining that the debate is unfair, even though it hasn’t happened yet.  I expect him to be more Trumpian than ever because of the recent polls showing that Ben Carson has passed Donald Trump as the top choice among the GOP electorate both in Iowa and nationally.

And the silliness has already begun, because now the candidates are squabbling over — I am not making this up — the green rooms:

DENVER, Colo. — Just hours before GOP candidates take the stage here Wednesday night, tensions over the Republican National Committee’s handling of the debates are flaring anew.

At issue this time: greenrooms.

During a tense 30-minute meeting at the Coors Event Center, which was described by three sources present, several lower-polling campaigns lashed out at the RNC. They accused the committee of allotting them less-than-hospitable greenroom spaces while unfairly giving lavish ones to higher-polling candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

The drama began Tuesday afternoon as RNC officials led campaigns on a walk-through of the debate site. After touring the stage, candidates got a peek at what their greenrooms looked like.

Trump was granted a spacious room, complete with plush chairs and a flat-screen TV. Marco Rubio got a theater-type room, packed with leather seats for him and his team of aides. Carly Fiorina’s room had a Jacuzzi.

Then there was Chris Christie, whose small space was dominated by a toilet. So was Rand Paul’s.

Palin Started It

Light blogging as things are busy, but I had to draw attention to this op-ed by William Paley in the Washington Post, entitled “The GOP’s dysfunction all started with Sarah Palin” because I think it is right on the money, i.e.:

Once McCain put Palin on the ticket, Republican “grown-ups,” who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues. But after the election, when they were free to speak their minds, they either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing-down of the party. They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims that Obama was born in Kenya. And they gladly rode the tea party tiger to sweeping victories in 2010 and 2014.

Now that tiger is devouring the GOP establishment. Party elders had hoped new presidential debate rules would give them greater control. But they are watching helplessly as Trump leads the pack and House Republicans engage in fratricide.

It’s hard to feel much sympathy. The Republican establishment’s 2008 embrace of Palin set an irresponsibly low bar. Coincidence or not, a batch of nonsense-spewing, hard-right candidates quickly followed, often to disastrous effect.

In Delaware, the utterly unprepared Christine O’Donnell promised “I’m not a witch,” but it didn’t save a Senate seat that popular, centrist Republican representative Mike Castle would have won, had he been the nominee.

In 2012, Missouri Republicans hoped to oust Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Those hopes died when GOP nominee Todd Akin opined that “the female body” could somehow prevent pregnancy from “a legitimate rape.”

Party leaders aren’t responsible for every candidate’s gaffe. And Republican primary voters, not party honchos, choose nominees. But it’s easy to draw ideological lines from Palin to O’Donnell to Akin and so on to some of the far-from-mainstream presidential contenders of 2012 and today.

Then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) was rising fast in Republican presidential polls in July 2011. Pizza company executive Herman Cain led the polls three months later. Does anyone now think Bachmann and Cain had the skills, experience and temperament to be president?

True, the party eventually settled on Mitt Romney. But for months, Americans wondered, “Is this party serious?” Now the Republicans’ leading presidential contenders are Trump — who vows to make Mexico pay for a “great, great wall” on the U.S. side of the border — and Ben Carson, who questions evolution and asks why victims of the latest mass shooting didn’t “attack the gunman.

This isn’t to heap new scorn on Palin. But let’s not diminish the recklessness of those who championed her vice presidential candidacy. It was well known that McCain, 72 at the time of his nomination, had undergone surgery for skin cancer. It wasn’t preposterous to think Palin could become president.

Now Republicans ask Americans to give them full control of the government, adding the presidency to their House and Senate majorities. This comes as Trump and Carson consistently top the GOP polls. Republican leaders brought this on themselves. Trump calls Palin “a special person” he’d like in his Cabinet. That seems only fair, because he’s thriving in the same cynical value system that puts opportunistic soundbites above seriousness, preparedness and intellectual heft.

Linda, Michelle, Kaylee, and Gray. My co-actors in Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical. Best cast ever. Must up my game.

I doubt @drunkhistory can be better than it was last week, but I’ll give it a chance.

RT @TheTweetOfGod: Retweet this and you’ll live forever.

Monday Presidential Outlook

Slow news day but it is well worth mentioning that the sheen has come off the Trump, at least in Iowa.  Now we have three polls showing a substantial lead by Ben Carson over Trump:

Ben Carson has overtaken Donald Trump in Iowa, surging to a 14-point lead, according to a new poll.

A Monmouth University survey released on Monday found Carson taking 32 percent support in Iowa, followed by Trump at 18 percent.

That’s a 9-point gain for Carson from the same poll in late August, while Trump has fallen five points in that time.

The poll found Carson with the best favorability rating in the field, with an astounding 84 percent of Iowa Republicans having a positive view of him, compared to only 7 percent who view him negatively.

Trump’s favorability rating is at 53 percent positive and 38 percent negative. His favorability rating is essentially unchanged from late August, although the percentage of those who view him unfavorably has increased by 5 points in that time.

Trump has led in nearly every poll of Iowa since early August, but the Monmouth survey is the third recent poll to show Carson with a healthy lead over the field in the Hawkeye State.

A Des Moines Register-Bloomberg poll released last week showed Carson with a 9 point lead, and a Quinnipiac University survey found Carson ahead by 8.

Carson is ahead among all demographic groups in Iowa, according to Monmouth. He leads among Republicans who describe themselves as “somewhat” and “very conservative,” as well as self-described moderates.

Carson also leads among evangelicals, non-evangelicals, men and women in the poll.

It is difficult to say what happened.  Trump “won” both debates.  He didn’t gaffe (or at least, there was nothing that seemed like a gaffe).

Personally, I think two things happened.  First of all, he simply grew tiresome to some people.  Secondly, the Democratic debates showed what serious candidates looked like, and people saw Trump in a new light.  Iowa is getting closer and now the Republicans there are getting more serious about who they want.  Carson was always slowly rising, and that made him a safer bet (especially among evangelicals).

As a Democrat, this is fantastic news.  Democrats would love to run against Trump, but the one person even better than Trump, is Carson.  A nice guy, but politically dumb.  Really dumb.

RT @JoshMalina: Never trust a man who doesn’t like musical theatre. He’s dead inside.

I gather something big happened on The Walking Dead tonight. Sadly, I’m a little behind.

Friends don’t let friends get sucked into MLM pyramid schemes. #dontbeasucker

RT @JenKirkman: Fuck it. It’s October 25th and I’m listening to Elvis’s Christmas album. Arrest me. Come at me bro. IDGAF.

No, but I would go back further and kill his dad as a baby.

That is one scary well-defined eye.

CSBeOiHWEAAt2RX

The Most Powerful Hurricane Ever Recorded Is Bearing Down On Mexico

200-mph sustained winds and even more powerful gusts.  Patricia is “the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center’s area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins,” according to a Friday morning forecast discussion.

The closest contender, at this point, might be Hurricane Camille when it battered the U.S. Gulf Coast in 1969. Regardless, Patricia looks to be more powerful than Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Katrina in 2005 and many others.

151023060912-hurricane-patricia-friday-530-a-m-satellite-image-exlarge-169

When it hits land, it will be devestating.  This potentially catastrophic destruction would occur in a small area of Mexico’s Jalisco State, between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, according to the NHC’s projected path on Friday morning.  Fortunately, that is not a heavily populated area.

Note that hurricane-force winds (74+ mph) extend out 30 mph from the center of Patricia. This means that a small part of Jalisco’s coast will see the most extreme winds at landfall. A destructive storm surge will also occur near and to the right of where the center makes landfall.

map_tropprjpath20_ltst_5nhpao_enus_650x366

Here is a live feed of Minerva, Mexico (about 120 miles inland from landfall):

Benghazi Committee/Clinton Testimony Wrap-up

Well, to watch to Fox News last night, you would think Hillary got pilloried by the committee.  Not surprising, but I wondered if they heard the same things I did.  The common theme was that “Hillary lied” about Benghazi, although I listened really hard (on Sirius radio) in the hopes that someone would explain exactly what she lied about.  And on that point, I’m still a little vague.

A lot of what was discussed, particularly on Hannity, had to do with the supposed “stand down” order that was given to the military to NOT go into Libya and rescue the ambassador and other embassy workers.  I don’t know why they harp on that.  First of all, it has been debunked over and over again by the military and the CIA and other congressional committees looking into it.  There was no feasible military rescue operation once the violence had started.  Secondly, Hillary wouldn’t be giving the “stand down” order even if there was one.  So I don’t know what that was about.

think the biggest “ding” against Hillary is that she “knew” (at some point) that the embassy over-run in Benghazi was not a spontaneous protest about a video.  But she pretended that it was, because it would look bad for the Obama administration if it was a pre-planned terrorist attack (and it was merely two months before election).  I don’t really understand this at all.  Four embassy employees (including one ambassador) being killed in Libya looked bad for Obama, no matter what.  Plus, the timeline is sketchy.  Even the CIA thought (for 24 hours or so) that the embassy was attacked as the result of a protest over a video (that’s what was causing similar protests in Egypt).  And in truth, some people in the protest were there because of the video; they were arrested and admitted so.  And finally, even if all that is a legitimate complaint, it’s a political one.  How the Obama Administration “spun” (or even mis-spun) Benghazi in the 24-48 hours AFTER it happened is not going to help prevent future embassy attacks.

Anyway, when you step back from the weeds, Fox News and the conservative pundits made it clear that this was all about Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.  Not about the 4 dead people.  It really didn’t change anybody’s mind, I’m sure.  It is telling that Fox News, unlike CNN and MSNBC, cut away from the hearing mid-day.  (God forbid they let their viewers see what is happening when they can just tell their viewers what to think during Hannity).

The general consensus outside the Fox News bubble was that the Committee really didn’t touch Hillary, or do itself any favors.  Speaking at a press conference, even the Committee leader, Rep. Trey Gowdy, had a hard time saying that anything “new” came from Hillary’s testimony:

And even conservative pundits thought it didn’t speak well of the Committee. Like Erick “Eric” Erickson at Redstate, who called the hearing “a waste of time” and a “carnival road show of back bench congresscritters playing to the cameras and Hillary Clinton working hard to play persecuted victim”

Then there’s conservative Byron York, whose report on the day was entitled “Benghazi Bust:

So a hearing billed as an epic, High Noon-style confrontation — granted, the hype came from the media, not Republican committee members themselves — instead turned out to be a somewhat interesting look at a few limited aspects of the Benghazi affair. In other words, no big deal. And that is very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.

Well-known conservative writer John Podhoretz, a former speechwriter for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was unimpressed at times

Obviously, CNN and MSNBC noted that Hillary did well, and remarked how this has been ten days for Hillary (great debate, no Biden entry, etc.).  But as for the hearing yesterday and Hillary, I’ll return to Erick Erickson:

So we’ll go through today’s hearing and the GOP will think there were sterling moments of gotcha brilliance. The Democrats will think there were sterling moments of fundraising opportunity for Hillary Clinton. The press will ignore it all. And the 70% of Americans not on twitter or following the hearings today will go on with their lives.

Yup.  Slate said it even better:

All in all it was a bust for Gowdy and the Benghazi committee, to the point that conservative pundits were griping about how poorly the Republicans fared against Clinton. Anyone who doubted that the committee was a partisan exercise in Clinton-bashing came away free of doubts. The only sliver of good news for the Republicans is that it likely won’t matter. The notion that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engineered some sort of evil Benghazi cover-up is already assumed to be true in the minds of conservatives and Republican voters. The fact that Gowdy and crew spent the day stepping on rakes and scoring own-goals in a failed attempt to “prove” it won’t change their minds. And the House GOP won’t put the brakes on the investigation because the committee’s utility as a vehicle for strategic press leaks outweighs the bad press it’s enduring at the moment. The Benghazi committee will grind on, performing much the same role it always has.

Hillary Clinton vs. Benghazi Committee

Before I get into this, if you’re not up to speed on what the whole Benghazi controversy is about, Vox has a really great primer on the issue.

As the primer states, the number of investigations and hearings into the Benghazi incident is unprecedented.  Check out these graphs:

investigations-02-816x487

investigations-03-816x438

Today, Hillary Clinton is appearing before the House Benghazi Committee to testify, and the media is playing it up like a wrestling match.  “What Hillary needs to do is blah blah blah”.  They keep saying the stakes are high for Hillary.  They say emotions are high, and if she slips up just once, that sound bite will be repeated over and over again.

I don’t think the stakes are high at all.  I think all Hillary needs to do is go in there and tell the truth.  If the Committee beats her up, she’ll look good, and they will look bad.

The Committee has been under fire because members within the Committee have basically revealed that their raisen d’etre is to ding Hillary, rather than investigate what happened in Benghazi.  In fact, a new CNN poll released today says that 73% of Americans think the Committee is politically motivated.

Is this political?  Listen to this NBC reporter:

Here’s a livefeed which obviously won’t be working once the whole thing is over:

I’ll be having live updates as the day goes on…. if anything happens.

UPDATES:

10:09 am:

Gowdy (the chair of Committee) seems to be launching into an impassioned defense of the Committee’s existence, stating the goals of the Committee.

He’s very much in a defensive crouch.  He strains to make the link between Hillary’s email and the “whole point” of the Committee — what happened in Benghazi.  Also, he uses the word “truth” a million times.

Oddly, he’s bashing all the other investigative committees (all led by Republicans) in order to justify his own committee.  Sounds like SOME Republicans were wasting taxpayer money.

10:20 am:

Elijah Cummings (D-Md), the Democratic ranking member.of the Benghazi Committee, is speaking now… and he has turned it up to 11.  A viscous attack on the Committee and its politically motivated investigation.  He points out that Trey Gowdy cancelled interviews with DoD and CIA officials in favor of interviews with Hillary Clinton campaign staffers.  Boom!  Says “Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Sec. Clinton’s campaign.”  Pow!  He makes the point that all the Republican-led national security committees already exonerated the administration.  Bam!

As he wrapped up, Cummings mocked the accusation that Sidney Blumenthal was Clinton’s “primary foreign policy advisor on Libya” and noted that it been awarded four Pinocchios by the Washington Post.

The thing for Hillary to do now is be quiet, responsive and helpful.  Cummings is doing the fighting.

10:28 am:

Cummings is done.  I’m trying to be objective, but Gowdy just looks like a guy who got spanked publically.

Hillary is talking. “I am here to honor the service of those four men…and the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world.”  Unlike the two previous speakers, she talks about the people who died in Benghazi.  HUGE points.

Hillary Clinton on death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi: “I was the one who asked Chris to go to Libya as our envoy … after the attacks, I stood next to President Obama as they carried his casket”

Hillary Clinton on foreign policy post-2012 Benghazi attack: “America must lead in a dangerous world and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places”

Hillary’s strategy is to rise above the din.  She’s the only one paying tribute to those who died in the Benghazi attacks.  She’s the only one talking about the history of embassy attacks.  Her strategy is very effective.  She’s coming off as the only grown-up.  She says she “took responsibility” and “launched reforms to better protect our people in the field.”

“There is more to do, and no administration can do it alone. Congress has to be our partner as it has been after previous tragedies.”

CR7d0s9UEAAlZ5w

10:45 am:

Gowdy pats himself on the back for not interrupting Hillary’s opening statement.

And now we’re into the Q&A.  Here’s the part where it get boring and everybody tunes out.  Because nobody cares about details.  In truth, THIS is how the an investigation SHOULD be.

9 more hours of this?  Yawn.  Don’t expect more fireworks or updates for a while.

11:05 am:

Cummings destoys a talking point.  He played a clip of Darrell Issa lying on cable television about Clinton denying requests for extra security in Benghazi. In truth, that decision was made without Clinton’s knowledge or input, as all previous investigations have already concluded.

Clinton clarified that all State Department cables carry a stamp with the secretary’s signature, so a signature stamp doesn’t indicate that she has seen something. She claimed that the State Department didn’t have enough money appropriated for their security requirements and so naturally they had to make decisions about priorities.

Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., presents piles of Hillary Clinton’s emails from 2011 and asks why so many from 2011 and so few from 2012 when Libya became a hot spot.  Weird GOP pivot from “How could you use email for such sensitive work?” to “Why are there not way more emails about this stuff?”  Is Sen Brooks upset that Hillary did NOT conduct classified business via email?? Clinton answers that she didn’t work primarily from e-mails (she didn’t even have a computer in her office, which to me is the biggest scandal to be revealed so far), and that she got classified briefings, met with staff, etc.  That was how she got informed.

12:15 pm:

Hillary Clinton blows back against myth that she denied security requests from our embassy in Libya:

12:30 pm:

Generally speaking, the questions are Benghazi-centric and not email-centric.  I’ve scanned a few popular rightwing blogs, and there seems to be little interest (other than repeating long-debunked talking points).  The few that are following it seemed discouraged and angry at the “feckless” Republicans on the Committee who are “incompetent” at bringing Clinton down.  These people just refuse to accept the possibility that Clinton didn’t do anything wrong.

12:45 pm:

Jim Jordan (R-Oh) is laying into Clinton (and not letting her respond) about why the attacks happened.  He openly states that Hillary was part of an administration lie saying that the attack was caused by a protest against a video, rather than a pre-planned terrorist attack.  His focus is on statements and emails coming from Clinton within the first 24 hours of the attack, when, of course, nobody was quite sure why. Clinton to Jim Jordan: “I’m sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative, congressman. I can only tell you what the facts were.”  She points out that even today, you can’t get into the head of every attacker to determine why they attacked the embassy, and some were there because of the video.  And not for nothing, but the CIA initially thought it was the video as well.

1:15 pm:

Gowdy banging Secretary of State about emails from Sydney Blumenthal.  He’s saying that the Obama team rejected Blumenthal to work in State Dept., but that Hillary used information from Blumenthal anyway.  (Ironically, this is just after Gowdy insists that this isn’t a prosecution where you try to prove something).  Not sure what relevance this has to Benghazi, and Hillary says so. It will not help us understand security at the Benghazi mission or why we didn’t know an attack was imminent. It’s just an attempt to undermine Clinton’s reputation by linking her with Blumenthal. I think everyone watching this show understands that.

Fireworks at the end before the break as Cummings demands a recorded vote to release Blumenthal transcript.  He says that if Gowdy is going to ask questions about the Blumenthal emails, why not release his testimony so people can understand the context?  Cummings and Schiff accuse Gowdy of selective releasing of emails to make Hillary look bad. Gowdy adjourns. In a snit. He threatens more and bigger Blumenthal drama to come. I’m still not sure what this is all about or why it has anything to do with the Benghazi attacks.  I guess Gowdy is trying to say that Blumenthal advised Clinton on Libya, and he shouldn’t have been so important.  Yet, Clinton has already testified (today and many times before, as well as in her book) that Blumenthal was not her primary source on Libya. Actually, at one point Gowdy claimed Blumenthals emails are relevant because former Libya ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the Benghazi attack, had to read them. As if to say, “well Chris Stevens read these emails, and just look what happened to him.” It doesn’t come close to passing the laugh test. And I assume Republicans know it. Or maybe the objection is that Clinton had more access to Blumenthal than Stevens?  No, that’s dumb too.   Anyway, if Blumenthal’s emails are so important, the Committee should release his deposition transcript.

Aaaaand why CNN is going downhill….

I like Josh Marshall’s take on how things are at halftime:

Listening to the questions from Republicans questioning Hillary Clinton, it’s hard not to step back and ask what it is they’re even trying to prove or what their point is. The lines of questions are disjointed and they’re pressing points she either freely concedes (yes, it was terrible and she’s ultimately responsible) or the point of which isn’t even clear (why did Sid Blumenthal send you so many emails?). It’s not going well for the committee at all. And what’s most revealing about the testimony so far is that they definitely get that: they know it’s going badly for them. And that’s led to a rather churlish and defensive tone to the whole proceeding that’s further deflated any sense that this is more than a clown show where the clowns are struggling. As I’ve now said several times, it’s a world of difference that this happening post-McCarthy and not pre-McCarthy. The questions wouldn’t necessarily have been different. The arguments from the GOP would not have been any better. But now the assumption from the press is that Hillary is on the upswing (both in her poll numbers and on the ‘Benghazi’ question) and the committee members are on the defensive. At least to a degree, she’s been vindicated in this whole drama and the committee has been discredited. *** Because of all this, Republican committee members just seemed pissed because this was supposed to be awesome – after all, a committee designed to bring down Hillary and circulate all those numskull conspiracy theories about Chris Stevens wearing a chest cam and how President Obama was watching everything happening live on his iPhone. Hillary’s yet to get at all flustered and has even had the opportunity to gently explain to Republican members how the State Department works. She looks poised; they’re radiating spittle.

But Gowdy hinted at some kind of Blumenthal-related bombshell in the next segment… is it something actually damaging?  Or is it one of those insinuation-if-you-read-between-the-line things that maybe could be damaging if you hold it up to the light at just the right angle?

3:30 pm:

Hearings restarted about an hour ago.  No flashbangs, a little more about Sid.  But we can all relax because Chuck Woolery has weighed in:

3:50 pm:

Peter Roskam (R-Il) is asking questions now and….

Very true.  And of course, this relates to security at Benghazi how?

Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam:

Let me tell you what I think the Clinton Doctrine is. [Reads from prepared card.]I think it’s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton. And at the precise moment when things look good, take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Qaddafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things.

See? This hearing is nothing more than a disinterested investigation into the events surrounding the Benghazi attacks of 9/11/2012. You partisan naysayers who think it’s just about attacking Hillary Clinton on national TV should be ashamed of yourselves.

And now we’re on another break.

Don’t need no credit card to ride this train.

Kids And Guns

182647_1887961402558_2622945_n-1-2-1024x0-c-default

This is Sean Smith when he was 10.  Hes with his little sister Erin, age eight.  This photo was taken the day before he unintentionally shot and killed her.

There are around 110 fatal shootings involving children under 14 each year, according to a new study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that at least another 1,000 are shot but survive.

But those are numbers.  Read a story about what happens after the fatal shootings.

Biden Announces He’s Not Running

Like I said. You should all listen to me.  Now will you believe me when I say Rubio will be the GOP nominee?

UPDATE:  Yup to this….

But seriously, for the last month I’ve been hearing stories about how Joe will get in the race.  A politician says he heard from an inside source that Joe will run.  And that gets tweeted.  And the reported on.  Look at this screen capture of CNN I just took: bidenrunning Not to mention….

The wish became father of the fact, except the fact wasn’t true. It was never going to happen.  He would be entering too late.  He had zero dollars in the campaign war chest and a short time to raise it.  He would need staffers in all 50 states, and guess what?  They have jobs now. And what’s more, he is ideologically trapped.  He would have to run on Obama’s record, which would be fine, except that is mostly where Hillary is at (except on things that Dems hate, like TPP). Biden wasn’t going to out democratic socialism Bernie Sanders. Let’s face it — Clinton and Sanders are the two poles that define the Democratic party – and there are two people currently in the race with strong holds on them. Personally, I like Joe Biden.  And I like Clinton.  I wouldn’t want to have to choose between them. Now I won’t have to. By the way, Bill Kristol is having a bad week…

 

In that last one, Kristol is talking about Star Wars, saying that there is no evidence that the Empire is evil.  Right.  Not evil. Except that part where the Death Star destroyed an entire planet that was neutral in the war.

Then again, Bill Kristol is always wrong. By way of review, whatever Kristol says, the opposite must be true. Some of his greatest hits include:

  • “Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.”
  • 1993 was the “high water mark” of the LGBT rights movement.
  • After encouraging John McCain to invoke Bill Ayers during his campaign for president, Kristol chastised the campaign for doing exactly that, calling it “stupid” politics.
  • “[The Iraq War] will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. […] It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime.”

UPDATE #2:  In his non-announcement speech, Biden chided the political tone, and said that the opposing party should not be treated like the enemy.  He is right, of course, but many see that as a swipe at Hillary who, in the last debate, said she was proud to have made some Republicans an “enemy”.  I don’t know if that was a swipe at Hillary, but I think Joe is wrong about Democrats not treating the opposing party like the enemy.  Maybe in a different era, but not in the current one.  Because God knows they treat Democrats like the enemy.

Republican voters think about politics differently. They see politics as an enduring contest, not a series of discrete events. They are more apt to see the big picture, and therefore are easier to motivate.  Republican voters, being older and somewhat wealthier and more likely to own property, are more apt to see politics as a continuing conflict of interests that roll over from one election to the next — they can always be convinced that some undeserving person is coming to take away what they’ve earned.

Democrats, by contrast, “are less likely to view politics in such stark terms.” Younger voters, minority voters, single women, the non-propertied, might have more to gain from an active government, but it is much easier in general to motivate people if they fear they’re going to lose rights and privileges and stuff. Especially stuff. Especially stuff that they earned.

The result is that Republicans are more motivated politically, which is why they come out in droves during mid-terms and off-presidential election years.  That’s how they come to dominate on the local level.

The only way to counter that is for Democrats to understand that they need to view the Republicans like the Republicans view the Democrats: as an enemy.

Which is why good-government, consensus, let’s-get-along, politics-can-be-pure strategies — like the one Biden was advocating — are bad for Democrats.  The original premise of Obama’s first presidential campaign was that he could reason with Republicans—or else, by staking out obviously reasonable stances, force them to moderate or be exposed as extreme and unyielding. It took years for the White House to conclude that this was false.

I think Hillary Clinton, who knows a little bit about Republicans witch hunts from the 1990s and right now, understands that Republicans are out for blood.  She is a fighter.  And a winner.

RT @danagould: The amount of shit someone is full of is in direct proportion to how many times they use they use the word “freedom.”

RT @JohnDeVore: Remember that Back To The Future is a Baby Boomer fantasy about a white guy teaching Chuck Berry how to play guitar

GOP In Disarray: House Freedom Caucus Cools To Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced Tuesday night that he will consider a bid for House speaker as long as a few conditions are me and one of those conditions is that he doesn’t have to kiss ass to the House Freedom Caucus, the group of 40 far-right Republicans who don’t want to compromise, who want to shut down government, etc.  Basically, he doesn’t want to do what Boehner had to do, dealing with all the in-fighting and spending most of his time fundraising for people who are giving him problems.

You can’t really blame Ryan.  It’s not a great job, trying to lead the contentious and fractured GOP.

But political reporters suggest that the unbendable House Freedom Caucus may not be warming to Ryan today.

You know you’re in trouble when the voice of reason is Peter King.

King is right.  Anyway, the HFC is supposed to meet with Ryan later today.  Could be fireworks if they push Ryan too far and he says “screw it”.  I don’t think that will happen, but it could.

40 Years Ago Today — Game 6: Red Sox v Reds

It’s arguably the best major league baseball game ever played, and it was played 40 years ago today.  The Reds-Red Sox rivalry revived national interest in the national pasttime.  And when you look back at all the hall-of-famers playing — Johnny Bench, Pete Rose (okay, not a hall of famer, but….), Carl Yastremski, Fred Lynn,. Luis Tiante, Carlton Fisk….

Boston’s Carlton Fisk waves the ball fair, then rounds the bases with a 12th-inning homer as the Red Sox beat the Reds, 7-6, to even the Series at three games apiece. Before Fisk homered, Boston’s Bernie Carbo tied the game with a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, the Reds’ George Foster, in left field, threw out the potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and Boston right fielder Dwight Evans robbed Joe Morgan of a home run in the top of the 11th and then doubled off Ken Griffey, who was on first base. All of which is why many consider this the greatest World Series game ever.

Have three and a half hours?  Watch it:

Well Played USA Today

Today is “Back To The Future” Day.  In the movie Back To The Future II, Marty McFly gets in the DeLorean time machine and travels from 1985 to October 21, 2015.  At one point, he sees a copy of the “future” USA Today (that’s how he learns the date).  So what does the actual USA Today look like for today?  The newspaper is marking the date that graced the front page of its appearance in Back to the Future II more than 25 years ago with a wrap-around supplement that features an elaborate recreation of the edition featured in the iconic movie.

USA-Today_Back-To-The-Future

And by the way….

Benghazi Committee Gets Laughable

The House Benghazi investigation committee was supposed to be Hillary’s downfall, but it’s just turned out to be a huge ugly albatross around the GOP and the neck of the committee’s chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Here’s the latest screw-up:

Also, the Star Wars prequels happened on Bush’s watch.

2016 Election Tidbits

biden-hat-ring-reporter-luckovich1)  Biden His Time.  I have written much about Joe Biden entering the Democratic race because I think it is a news story ginned up by the media.  Oh, I’m sure he has considered it, but I took him at his word that he was wiped out by his son’s death and that he might not have the emotional energy for a campaign.  And Hillary, I’m sure he knew, was not going to disappear in a sea of scandal.  So I don’t think he wants to get in the race; I don’t think he’s politically any difference from Hillary.  He also doesn’t have the organization in place.  He’ll make it interesting for a while, and then he’ll lose.  Anyway, the media is thinking he might announce today.  In fact, the Washington Post accidentally put the “Joe’s Running!” story online:

The Washington Post accidentally published the article it had prepared in the event Vice President Joe Biden announces his presidential campaign on Monday night, due to a “technical glitch” when someone was attempting to embed a video. The story included background and analysis, if Biden were to become a candidate.

The article was quickly replaced with an editor’s note: “This file was inadvertently published.”

2)  Jim Webb is out of the race.  He might run as an independent, which means he gets all the debate time for the Independent nomination to himself.

Jim, we hardly knew ye.  No, seriously.  Nobody knew who you were, which is why you never hit 1%.

3)  Trump not fading.  Despite predictions from me and other, Trump doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, if the polls are accurate.  NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, released last night, says:

1. Donald Trump: 25% (up four points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 22% (up two points)
3. Marco Rubio: 13% (up two points)
4. Ted Cruz: 9% (up four points)
5. Jeb Bush: 8% (up one point)
6. Carly Fiorina: 7% (down four points)

The remaining candidates are at 3% or lower, including Chris Christie, who has seen his support steadily drop in recent months, falling to just 1% in this poll. Trump’s 25% showing, meanwhile, represents the strongest support any GOP candidate has in any NBC/WSJ poll this year.

A new CNN poll offers similar results:

1. Donald Trump: 27% (up three points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 22% (up eight points)
3. Jeb Bush: 8% (down one point)
3. Marco Rubio: 8% (down three points)

The remaining candidates are at 5% or lower. Fiorina, in particular, has seen her standing collapse, dropping from 15% to 4% in the CNN poll just over the course of one month.

National Review published a striking piece yesterday noting that the GOP establishment, long confident that Trump’s backing would be fleeting, is starting to reevaluate its assumptions.
It began as whispers in hushed corners: Could it ever happen? And now, just three months from the Iowa caucuses, members of the Republican establishment are starting to give voice to an increasingly common belief that Donald Trump, once dismissed as joke, a carnival barker, and a circus freak, might very well win the nomination.
“Trump is a serious player for the nomination at this time,” says Ed Rollins, who served as the national campaign director for Reagan’s 1984 reelection and as campaign chairman for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
The same piece quoted Steve Schmidt, an MSNBC political analyst who managed John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, saying, “Trump has sustained a lead for longer than there are days left” before voting begins in Iowa.

Yes, Trump will take Iowa.  And probably New Hampshire too.  But I still say Trump will fade, as will Carson, and every will settle for Rubio. The blue collar GOP riff-raff have consolidated on Trump.  That is why he leads.  The white collar GOP is still fragmented.  When the field thins out, Trump will see a decline.  Wait for it.

4)  My campaign advice to Jeb!  Jeb Bush, in one of the GOP debates, got the loudest applause line when he defended his brother saying, “He kept us safe.”  Now, the Jeb campaign seems to be doubling down by continuing to embrace Bush 43.  I think that is a terrible mistake.  For one thing, I don’t think the audience was applauding Jeb’s brother during that debate, but the fact that Jeb retorted at all.  It was an unscripted moment from Jeb that pleased the audience.  It wasn’t an endorsement of Bush 43, who — I think the record is clear — did NOT keep us safe.  I think this explains why Jeb! is going down in the polls — his running as a Bush.  Big mistake.

5)  Liberals take Canada.  The centrist Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority.  Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said Canadians had voted for real change. Incumbent Conservative PM Stephen Harper – in power since 2006 – has congratulated his rival.  Justin Trudeau is son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, considered the father of modern Canada.

Maybe that’s why Scott Walker proposed building a wall on our northern border.

For what its worth, this was the longest-lasting federal election campaign in Canada since 1872 – 78 days (By contrast, the US campaign began when Ted Cruz declared himself a candidate on Mar 23, 2015. Elections will be held on November 8, 2016. – 596 days or 1 year, 7 months and 16 days)

Preliminary results show voter turnout in Canada to be in excess of 68% of eligible voters (In 2012 election, 53.6% of US eligible voters cast a ballot)

Guy in Kansas went to movies with concealed carry gun. New KS law allowed it. He ended up shooting himself in leg. #thankyouNRA

Dumbest Man Ever Still Leading The GOP Polls

Holy Mary Mother Of God, the man doesn’t know how seasons work!  Chris Mooney tackled this subject last year in a blog post aptly titled “Dear Donald Trump: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming”:

1. Statements about climate trends must be based on, er, trends. Not individual events or occurrences. Weather is not climate, and anecdotes are not statistics.

2. Global warming is actually expected to increase “heavy precipitation in winter storms,” and for the northern hemisphere, there is evidence that these storms are already more frequent and intense, according to the draft US National Climate Assessment.

[…]

When it’s winter on Earth, it’s also summer on Earth…somewhere else.

Also….

B2-47d6IMAAXnmo

First Human Trials On An HIV Vaccine Start Today

Researchers may be one step closer to creating an HIV vaccine.

This month, the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore launched the first phase of clinical trials for a new treatment. The immunogen, known as the Full-Length Single Chain (FLSR), could potentially induce protective antibody responses to HIV-1 strains, going where previous trial vaccines have fallen short.

And it only took three decades and millions of deaths.

The Problem With Trump-Bush-9/11 And Clinton-Benghazi-9/11

I know I’m not the first to bring it up, but there is a huge disconnect going on right now when you tie together to seemingly separate stories.

Trump is saying that since 9/11 happened during Bush 43’s watch, Bush 43 bears some culpability.  This makes Jeb Bush act all defensive, because (he seems to argue) the President cannot micromanage every aspect of national security so he cannot be held responsible for the actions of terrorists.

Fair enough, I suppose, although it begs the question: if that rationale is true, doesn’t it apply to Obama and Hillary Clinton with respect to the attacks on the embassy in Benghazi on the night of 9/11 (2012)?

This point was driven home when Jake Tapper brought up Benghazi in this context:

TAPPER: Obviously Al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attack of 9/11, but how do you respond to critics who ask, if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?

JEB BUSH: Well I — the question on Benghazi which, is hopefully we’ll now finally get the truth to, is was the place secure? They had a responsibility, the Department of State, to have proper security. There were calls for security, it looks like they didn’t get it. And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack, was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That’s what the investigation is about, it’s not a political issue. It’s not about the broad policy issue, is were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates and during the period, those hours after the attack started, could they have been saved?

TAPPER: Well that’s, that’s kind of proving the point of the critics I was just asking about, because you don’t want to have your brother bear responsibility for 9/11 and I understand that argument and Al Qaeda’s responsible, but why are the terrorists not the ones who are responsible for these attacks in Libya?

BUSH: They are, of course they are but — of course they are, but if the ambassador was asking for additional security and didn’t get it, that’s a proper point and if it’s proven that the security was adequate compared to other embassies, fine, we’ll move on.

Now, had the conversation continued, I suppose Tapper could have reminded Jeb that there was a call to beef up security prior to the 9/11 attacks as well.  We all remember this, yes — which went to then Secretary of State Rice as well as Bush 43?

bin-laden-doc

So how is this different from a communication or email to Clinton saying that embassy security in Benghazi needs improvement?

Jeb went on to defend his brother by saying “it’s what you do after that matters”.  I suppose.  But that highlights another difference: both Clinton and Obama have acknowledged that what happened in Benghazi was indeed a failure on their part (albeit not a direct one).  Bush, Cheney and Rice have yet to do the same re: 9/11.  Just sayin’.

Benghazi Committee Now Deciding What Is Classified (Hint: Only Things That Hurt Clinton)

The letter speaks for itself (but I will highlight for emphasis):

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On October 7, 2015, you sent me a 13-page letter making a grave new accusation against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Specifically, you accused her of compromising national security and endangering lives.

The problem with your accusation—as with so many others during this investigation—is that you failed to check your facts before you made it, and the CIA has now informed the Select Committee that you were wrong. I believe your accusations were irresponsible, and I believe you owe the Secretary an immediate apology.

It appears that your letter was rushed out to the press to counter the public firestorm caused by Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stark admission that Republicans are using millions of taxpayer dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president. However, your letter only provided further evidence of this fact.

In your letter on October 7, 2015, you stated that Secretary Clinton received an email from Sidney Blumenthal on March 18, 2011, that included the name of someone who purportedly provided information to the CIA. You asserted that this information was classified, arguing that Secretary Clinton “received classified information from Blumenthal—information she should have known was classified at the time she received it.” You then alleged:

Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded that email to a colleague—debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address.

In your letter, you went to great lengths to highlight the gravity of your accusation, stating:

This information, the name of a human source, is some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.

To further inflate your claim, you placed your own redactions over the name of the individual with the words, “redacted due to sources and methods.” To be clear, these redactions were not made, and these words were not added, by any agency of the federal government responsible for enforcing classification guidelines.

Predictably, commentators began repeating your accusations in even more extreme terms, suggesting in headlines for example that “Clinton Burns CIA Libya Contact.”

Contrary to your claims, the CIA yesterday informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified. Specifically, the CIA confirmed that “the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.”

Unfortunately, you sent your letter on October 7 without checking first with the CIA. Now that we have done so, we have learned that your accusations were incorrect.

As a result of your actions, the State Department yesterday asked the Select Committee not to reveal the individual’s name publicly, not for classification reasons, but to protect the individual’s privacy and avoid bringing additional undue attention to this person.

Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure of this Select Committee has become to put out information publicly that is inaccurate and out of context in order to attack Secretary Clinton for political reasons. These repeated actions bring discredit on this investigation and undermine the integrity of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives.

Sincerely,

Elijah E. Cummings
Ranking Member

If you credit Bush for “keeping us safe” AFTER 9/11, you have to give him at least SOME blame for failing to keep us safe ON 9/11. Right?