McCarthy Drops Out of Speakership Race - GOP Caucus Implodes
by Deacon Blues
And now the inmates are in charge of the asylum:
Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.
"I have the deepest respect and regard for each member of the conference and our team as a whole,” Mr. McCarthy said in a prepared statement shortly after a meeting in which he told Republicans of his decision. “It is imperative for us to unite and work together on the challenges facing our country.
"Over the last week it has become clear to me that our conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader. I have always put this conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for speaker of the House. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to help move our conference’s agenda and our country forward."
McCarthy was pushed off the plank when he found out late Wednesday that the 40 most conservative members of his caucus rejected his bid and would not vote for him, and instead would cast a protest vote for fellow nutcase Daniel Webster. Since that news, several of the "freedom caucus" have stated that they can only support someone who will work with them and not against them, which in reality narrows their list of acceptable Speaker candidates to only a few. In the aftermath of McCarthy's shocking announcement, Utah's Jason Chaffetz now says he may not be able to get the votes to be Speaker, and Wisconsin's Paul Ryan declined again today to jump in.
Some inside the GOP caucus are openly talking about simply electing a "caretaker" Speaker just to get the House to the 2016 election, and letting the voters decide the political direction of the body. Worse yet, the delusional fringe 40 nutcases who caused this think that they now should run the House of Representatives.
That may sound fine in theory, but there are major votes necessary right away on increasing the debt limit and funding through the remainder of the current fiscal year. Can a GOP "caretaker" Speaker get those votes past the 40 crazies? No. Could a fringer from the freedom caucus even get 218 votes? No again.
How does this end up? After today, it's very likely that John Boehner now stays on long enough to get a debt ceiling deal and government funding measure through the House as his last act as Speaker, with Democratic votes. He then sends the package over to the Senate, and resigns, leaving the House GOP caucus in total uproar over the deal-making, enraging the crazies even more into demanding one of their own as the next Speaker, which will never happen.
Nancy Pelosi just became very powerful, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just had its job made far easier for 2016.
Hillary Goes Against Obama (and Biden) On TPP
by Deacon Blues
The pundits on MSNBC said as late as yesterday that Hillary was having a great 7-10 days, with the gift from House GOP (Mis)Speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy admitting the obvious about the Trey Gowdy Benghazi Kangaroo Court, Hillary’s strong statements on gun safety (at Bernie Sanders’ expense), and her successful Saturday Night Live appearance.
And then, after saying that, those same pundits said it would all go bad for Hillary because to date she’s avoided taking a position on Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and now must pick a side: Obama and the free-traders or Bernie Sanders and organized labor.
Well, so much for those Hillary naysayers. Today, Hillary surprised many by going against Obama and coming out against TPP. In doing so, she gives Bernie no room on the left and holds onto labor’s support while at the same time sending Joe Biden a message that he’ll have to wear Obama’s TPP horse collar all by himself and piss off organized labor in the process.
Well done Hillary, well done. Let Biden and the Wall Street Republicans defend more (allegedly) free trade to the shrinking middle class, and we’ll see how Fox and Trump choke on their oatmeal over this.
No one should be surprised that Hillary broke from Obama on this; she’s been signaling since her recent Benghazi and gun safety comments that had she been president, the Gowdy Kangaroo Court would have been shut down and a Clinton administration would have gotten around Congress by way of Executive Order to implement her gun safety measures. Since the time Obama signaled acceptance of a Biden run, Hillary has been freed to do whatever she needs to improve her situation, even at Obama’s expense.
Even if it means harming the deal itself.
Confirming the Obvious
by Deacon Blues
After likely incoming House (mis)Speaker Kevin McCarthy bragged to Sean Hannity's Fox TV audience Tuesday night that the GOP's Benghazi strategy all along was to politicize Trey Gowdy's hearings into a political weapon against Hillary Clinton's candidacy, there are really only two remaining questions:
1. Why shouldn't committee Democrats stop the charade and immediately quit the process and committee?
2. Why in hell should Hillary appear next month?
What's Gowdy going to do if Hillary tells him to stick it - threaten her with a congressional contempt action? Go for it Skippy.
I didn't think it was possible for the GOP to rescue Hillary from her self-inflicted wounds of late, but I was wrong.
Biden Will Run and St. Marco Awaits
by Deacon Blues
Some short items over the last several days:
Look for Joe Biden to get into the race, and look for him down the road to select Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. Biden’s entry won’t automatically knock out Hillary, but it makes her path even more difficult.
As for Jeb Bush, yes, his check writers are getting skittish. No matter how much money Jeb’s 100 millionaires have poured into his campaign, many of them will pivot to the new bright shiny object of Marco Rubio in the next month or so.
As for Donald Trump, is anyone really surprised that he came up with a tax reform plan that drastically cuts his taxes and bankrupts the Treasury?
Lastly, again no one should be surprised that Vladimir Putin stepped into the vacuum that represents the Obama foreign policy and created a way for him and Russia to become major players again. Obama and his administration can complain all they want about Russia’s real motives and (alleged) lack of real world thinking, but it is Obama’s own failed policies on Syria, Iraq, and fighting ISIS that got us to this point. Frankly, if Putin wants to step into this mess and have Russia take a forceful role in the middle of the Islamic world, perhaps the United States should let him until President Marco Rubio arrives in 2017 to get tough with him (stop chuckling).
Boehner Resigning Next Month
by Deacon Blues
If the reports just now about House Speaker John Boehner resigning next month are true, it means:
-He will do a deal with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood;
-He's finally grown tired of herding the cats in his caucus and wants to be free of any more leadership threats;
-Boehner's visible emotion during Pope Francis's address to Congress yesterday had an explanation; and
-His exiting press conference will be a doozy.
Judging by the initial comments from the far right cabal that brought Boehner down with their latest threats over Planned Parenthood, it also means the scramble inside the House GOP caucus to replace Boehner should destabilize them even further. Clearly, the crazies may feel they won, but they are about to lose the war. And the irony is that Nancy Pelosi just gained more power.
As for Boehner himself, I'll resist heaping platitudes upon him, because he was a lousy Speaker who did a disservice to both the institution and the country. Only the most stupid of conservatives would think Boehner is being noble here. Time after time, he made strategic mistakes and caved in to the crazies because he placed his desire to hold onto the Speakership ahead of people and the country. The House, and more importantly the country are now worse off than they were in 2010 because we've gone five more years without an immigration reform, tax reform, jobs bill, infrastructure program, climate change legislation, etc. . . . The list goes on and on.
So please spare me the talk about John Boehner's selflessness. The only good that comes out of this is that a President Biden gets to work with a House in Democratic hands in 2017. After the electorate sees the GOP civil war in the coming months, Republicans from only the most gerrymandered districts will be safe in 2016.
Trump and Cruz: Small, Little Men
by Deacon Blues
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz now want to blame Hillary Clinton for being the first "birther", the first national politician to question Barack Obama's citizenship. You shouldn't be surprised that these two little men run like cockroaches from the light and blame Hillary for their own despicable behavior. But as Dave Weigel of the Washington Post points out, it (once again with Trump and Cruz) is all another lie.
Both Trump and Cruz routinely lie, just as Carly Fiorina does. It's in the Republican DNA to lie about the Clinton, and to lie about everyday facts. None of them care about being revealed as charlatans and frauds, because GOP voters live in an alternate universe where they are all victims and not responsible for their own ignorance. That's why this GOP campaign season will continue for a while longer with laughingstocks like Trump, Carson, Cruz, and Fiorina at the top of the smoldering heap of misfit toys masquerading as Republican candidates for president. The party, and its electorate deserve no better because the GOP machinery, both in the media and inside the Beltway created this Frankenstein.
See Ya, Chump
by Deacon Blues
Scott Walker entered the 2016 GOP presidential race as the fully-bankrolled candidate of the Koch Brothers. He told everyone who’d listen that he was the best candidate because he was tough on the unions and was a successful governor (if you define "successful" as "smoldering pile"). He got off to a good start with decent poll numbers in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then couldn’t give consistent or well thought-out answers on immigration and foreign policy. And with Donald Trump grabbing the oxygen, and now the phony Carly Fiorina, Walker has suddenly fallen off the map.
Now he’s gone, because 1) the Koch’s hate losers, and didn't want to bankroll his burn rate, and 2) something else about Walker may be about to break.
The rise and fall of Scott Walker is a canary in the coal mine for the 2016 GOP presidential field. Walker wasn't the first candidate with a "chief executive" selling card to get out for money reasons, as that honor fell to Rick Perry. It may soon claim Chris Christie as well, with only his ego preventing it from happening sooner rather than later. John Kasich may stick around a little longer, if only because he is the stealth candidate for VP, that is, until the Carly boomlet started.
But the problem for the GOP is that despite the conventional wisdom, this field may now thin out quicker that anticipated, and with the wrong people dropping out. Imagine a scenario where the marginally-qualified candidates, namely their governors and some senators drop out because Trump, Carson, and perhaps Fiorina suck out all the attention and donors at a time of maximum vulnerability for the rest of the field. How many of the remaining candidates can actually get the nomination?
Worse yet, how electable will the remaining field look?
One More Time: Bring Back the Twelfth Fleet
by Deacon Blues
The Obama administration is worried about Russian intentions with their recent moves to send military hardware and advisors to prop up Assad in Syria. According to the NYT, the White House now worries that Vladimir Putin is trying to reestablish a military presence in the Middle East, instead of trying to play a helpful role in combating the Islamic State. Oh please.
We are in this mess because Joe Biden and Barack Obama wanted out of Iraq and the region at all costs. Any direct intervention in the evolving Syrian civil war was warily rejected by the President. His now laughable policy of training and arming a small number of resistance fighters to deal with Assad has yielded only enough fighters to count on one hand, while his CENTCOM command structure lies to him about the effect of our pathetic air and remote ground effort against ISIS. And now the White House (and Turkey and our Arab allies) are worried that Putin may take advantage of the situation? Of course Putin is going to take advantage of the situation. It's in his DNA as a Russian nationalist.
As I have argued before, Obama should re-establish the Twelfth Fleet in Greece, Crete, or hell, even Turkey. Since Putin will not change his spots, and since both countries feel they have national security interests and rights to military expansion in the region, no matter how ill-advised that may be, Obama should send the biggest, loudest message possible and bring back the Twelfth Fleet.
He won't, but he should.