Pro-lifers utterly confused why nobody wants to eradicate abortion

Pro-lifers still losing, still surprised they’re losing: This article from Dave Weigel at WaPo is just all kinds of delicious. We’ve seen polling throughout the months that shows that Americans views of Planned Parenthood has largely remained unchanged. That was until this weekend, when Planned Parenthood’s favoribility rating actually increased, and 60 percent of voters do not want to see a shutdown over the funding of Planned Parenthood. Now, pro-lifers have their own set of defenses, namely it’s all the liberal media’s fault because nobody has heard of the scandal (as if we’ve talked about anything else aside from Donald Trump for the last three months). In other related PP news, executive Cecile Richards was grilled this morning by a ton of men who have never had to worry about getting pregnant or breast cancer. Naturally, Richards held her own and defended PP from the outrageous attacks you would expect to hear from House Republicans.

Limbaugh pretty sure that water on Mars = liberal agenda: This… I gotta be honest, I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ve heard Rush make a lot of specious and ridiculous arguments before, but this one just takes the cake. So anyway, some brainy scientists with their smarty-smarts found water on Mars and now Rush Limbaugh thinks that this news is “…somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda.” First question, was Rush paying attention four years ago when Newt Gingrich was talking about his plans to build a new colony on the moon? Second, is Rush afraid that if there’s water on Mars, that may mean there is possibly life on Mars, and that possible life on Mars is receiving welfare? Or maybe Rush thinks that if there is possibly life on Mars, Democrats will want more social programs for said possible life on Mars and will want to raise his taxes to fund them? Or maybe Rush is afraid that Obama and ACORN will bring the possibly existing life on Mars to the U.S. and register them as Democratic voters? There’s all kinds of fun I can have with this level of stupid, but I’m going to move on.

Somebody else says what I feel about Boehner: Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker calls it exactly like I see it. John Boehner, soon to be former Speaker of the House, could have passed immigration reform. Boehner had two years to pass the immigration bill that was passed by the Senate in May of 2013. Boehner was already strongly disliked by the most conservative members of the House of Representatives (i.e. the Freedom Caucus). The Freedom Caucus constantly threatened to usurp his role as Speaker, although they could never find a candidate that would win a majority of the vote for that position (probably because even a majority of Republicans can’t stand them). But no, Boehner capitulated to the “get out of my country” crowd, and still received a complete lack of respect or support from the Freedom Caucus. As Toobin put it, “…the choice for Boehner… was clear: pass a historic bill that would be good for the Republicans and for the republic, or appease the extremist elements in his party in hopes of hanging on to his position as Speaker. Boehner caved, refusing to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, and he suffered the fate of all those who give in to bullies; he was bullied some more.” This is exactly 100 percent right. Boehner not only did not do the right thing by allowing a vote for immigration reform, he allowed the “false prophets” to claim a victory and gain further control of the House (and unfortunately for the rest of us, the GOP). Looks like Rep. Kevin McCarthy, from Southern California, will be the next Speaker. Yikes. But hey, it could have been worse.

Please stop calling Trump a “populist”: So the funny thing is, whenever people talk about Trump and call him a “populist”, they’re usually referring to the fact that he claims he won’t cut social security or Medicare funding. However, the only “populist” part of Trump’s campaign is his immigration plan, which are similar to those found in right-wing parties in Europe (the UKIP, the Christian Democrats in Sweden, and the Fidesz Alliance in Hungary who has been in the news recently for refusing to take Syrian refugees and treating them like dirt). This is further cemented in reality by the release of Trump’s tax plans, which of course are structured to overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. Furthermore, the tax plan is not even remotely “revenue-neutral”, Trump has no idea which deductions or loopholes (supposedly those used by hedge-fund managers, which would barely affect their incomes as taxes on investments are non-existent in Trump’s plan) he would eliminate, and the idea that this plan would balance the federal budget is about as likely as Trump becoming president of Mexico. Trump pretty much stole the elements of his plan from Jeb Bush, which should give Jeb ammunition for the next debate. I can’t wait to see Trump steal Jeb Bush’s energy plan, too.

No, Hillary Clinton is NOT the original birther (and others)…

Hillary Clinton did not start the birther movement: Hi there. Have you been hearing this talking point recently? Like a lot of us recently, you’ve been led to believe that it was actually Hillary Clinton who started the whole “Obummer was born in Kenya” movement”. Oh, what’s that? You knew it was total B.S. when you first heard it? Join the club. Anyway, so Dave Weigel at WaPo took a look at the history of birtherism and came up with the same answer that we all did. Sure, it’s true that a pollster who worked for Clinton during her 2008 campaign warned Democratic voters how electing someone with Obama’s background (i.e. the whole growing up in Indonesia thing, which was only for a few years of his early life) might have been too far of a reach for Democrats at the time. But this man, Mark Penn, did not say Obama was born in Kenya or deny he’s really a christian. Furthermore, there is absolutely no record of Clinton herself (nor her campaign) endorsing any theory that Obama is not an American citizen whop was born in Honolulu. Unless you can find some proof that Orly Taitz or Larry Klayman work for Hillary Clinton, it’s time to drop this obviously false talking point. As for me, I’ve always maintained that this was purely a story manufactured by the conservative movement who was (and still is) determined to make Obama look unfit for their criteria as to what it means to truly be an American. I have yet to see any evidence that proves me wrong.

Jonah Goldberg, false and “pretty accurate”: The infamous conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg says liberals are right to point out that Carly Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood rant was based on false evidence (because it was), but still believes that Fiorina’s description was “pretty accurate.” Gary Legum at Salon already commented on how this is a conservative editorial strategy to give their supporters rhetorical pats on the heads to reinforce what they are so sure is happening, if only the “liberal media” would cover it properly. After assuring us that the Planned Parenthood videos have not been discussed on the nightly news, even though NBC News has, Goldberg believes that liberals are harping on Fiorina’s inaccuracies as a distraction “…to conceal the fact that late-term abortions offend the conscience when discussed or displayed with anything like journalistic accuracy.” While Goldberg has a point that many Americans are troubled by the videos and late-term abortions, the notion that a majority of Americans want to ban abortion or even defund Planned Parenthood is ludicrous. And in the response I linked to above, Legum states what we all know that only “…about 1.2 percent of all abortions performed yearly are late-term.” I would suggest that it is Goldberg who is creating a distraction to cover Firorina’s behind for stretching the facts while he attempts to prevent the latest Trump challenger from self-destructing (Goldberg, like the rest of the NRO crew, hates Trump).

The latest polling: First we have a poll of Florida voters, brought to us by Matt Wilstein at Mediaite. The poll, conducted by Florida Atlantic University, came up with the following results: Donald Trump is at 31.5%, Rubio is at 19.2%, and Jeb Bush is at 11.3%, while Carson and Fiorina follow the top three. Now, the more obvious headline here is that among the “Establishment” vote, Rubio is beating Jeb Bush. Rubio receiving more votes may also be a consequence of Walker dropping out of the race. The more subtle headline is that Carson’s appeal is probably limited to states with a more conservative (and religious) Republican primary voter base. Carson is still second in New Hampshire, but after the second debate it seems his numbers are waning there, too.

On the Democratic side of things, Hillary’s in the lead with 59.5% of the vote in Florida, followed by a recently surging Joe Biden at 15.9%. Bernie Sanders continues to see his normal second-place spot decline, albeit only slightly (15.2%). It should be noted that this poll is only based on Florida voters. A significant amount of Florida Democrats are of Latino descent, and along with Black voters, this is the base that Sanders has struggled with the most. And as I stated a week ago, the only real way that Sanders can seriously challenge Clintion is to perform better in bigger states with more ethnically diverse populations. Based on the evidence from some of Sanders’ Twitter supporters, this may prove difficult. As for Biden, there is no question he would do better than Sanders with Latino and Black voters. But would he do better than Clinton in this area? Too soon to tell.

Second, a new Reuters poll is out and it shows that Trump is still in a commanding lead at 30%, while Carly Fiorina’s numbers have only bumped up to 8%. To be clear, that is an improvement for Fiorina (last time she had 6% in this poll).  But with Carson still at 18% and Bush still at 10%, it’s clear she has a way to go before making a real dent in the race.

Hillary also comes in first with Democratic voters in this poll, standing at 40 percent. Sanders does come in at 30% in this poll, but it’s not clear if Joe Biden was one of the options available for Democratic voters. I’m also of the opinion that these polls will mean more after the first Democratic debate, which takes place on October 13th. Will Joe Biden be in that debate? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be in the second Democratic debate.

Ann Coulter now trying to piss everyone off (instead of just liberals)…

Coulter v. catholics: Everyone remembers this tweet from Ann Coulter during the last debate, right? Well Coulter had to explain herself that she didn’t really mean that, and she loves jews, but she wants the whole country to be christian and yadda, yadda, yadda. Well interestingly enough, she now desires to piss off catholics, too (you know, since that guy with the funny hat is in town). According to Sophia Tesfaye at Salon, Coulter is now claiming (via the Tweet-machine) that “… our founders (not “immigrants”!) distrusted Catholics & wouldn’t make them citizens.” Coulter also claims that catholics were not accepted into the U.S. unless they swore off their Roman ties (seriously?) and that the pope’s “… philosophy of worshiping the poor, blaming the rich leads to Latin American poverty. American Catholicism leads to success.” See, with Ann Coulter you always have to bring it back to Latinos. If Latinos are involved in the story in any way shape or form, you know Ann Coulter will be there trying to make it seem nefarious. Also, I can’t wait to hear what catholic Sean Hannity thinks of these tweets.

Biden rising?: According to this latest Bloomberg poll, Vice President Joe Biden is now polling ahead of Bernie Sanders by one point (25 percent for Biden, 24 for Bernie). What do you mean I have an evil smile on my face? I have no idea what you’re alluding to, but you better quit it. In no way am I delighted by this latest poll. I mean, come on, I’d have to be some sort of jerk to be smiling ear to ear at the inevitable fall of Bernie Sanders. Come on. Seriously. Anyway, Hillary Clinton leads the poll at 33 percent, and you can read the methodology and questions here. So I have to give the perfunctory disclosures that we still don’t know if this is an accurate trend, we haven’t seen any New Hampshire polls since last week (Sanders’ strongest state by far) and that Hillary Clinton’s e-mail story could get worse since the Fed recovered some of her deleted e-mails yesterday from her server. Also, Biden has to declare an actual candidacy for this to matter, which so far he has not. (H/T Taegan Goddard)

Ben Carson believes crazy things: So I usually try to avoid Buzzfeed, but sometimes even gossip rags have some very juicy and unavoidable details. So apparently Ben Carson once said that the big bang theory is a “fairy [tale]” that was thought up by “highfalutin scientists”, or something. Oh, Carson also said that “personally [believes] that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary…”. Apparently “adversary” is a christian codeword for the devil. I mean, personally, I think this story will only elevate Carson’s rise in the polls. I mean, lets say Buzzfeed is really a part of the “drive-by liberal media” (for all you kids who aren’t familiar with conservative talk radio speak, that’s a Limbaugh quote) and released this story to make Carson look like an uneducated idiot. Well naturally, conservatives would love that because they now get to point to us evolution-believing-elitists with our sodomy and whatnot and say “ha-ha, we have a world renowned neurosurgeon on our side, what do you have to say to THAT, heathens!”. To which I would respond, “sure, but we have the other 99% of scientists who do believe in evolution and the big bang theory… so there’s that”. The only question is will Donald Trump try to apply this strategy to his campaign and start denying gravity.

House conservatives want to oust Boehner, part 38,421: We’ve all heard this story before and it never goes anywhere. So why am I posting about it now? Hell if I know. This is obviously about funding Planned Parenthood and the inevitable government shutdown that’s coming unless Boehner can find enough Democrats to vote for some kind of clean-funding bill. Honestly, even if one of these lunatics did run against Boehner (and they won’t, they’re all talk just like the tea party), it wouldn’t go anywhere. But it is cute to see the most extreme nutcases in Congress throw a temper-tantrum every now and then. They’re the ones who made government dysfunctional to begin with, so it is a nice feeling knowing that they’re unhappy with their own actions just like the rest of us.

Other Hillary news: Hillary just came out against the Keystone XL pipeline. I can’t say I’m surprised, since the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party is forcing her to capitulate to their every demand on every single issue. The funny thing is, I still hear progressives complain and whine about the prospect of Clinton’s candidacy, and they still call her a corporate shrill who is a neocon or whatever. Regardless, Clinton sees the winds of change and is unafraid to embrace them. I do admire her for that, even though I’m also dissapointed that she is unable to show her “centrist” or “moderate” side as long as she is still in the primary. The truth is the Keystone XL pipeline is just not that big of a deal. It’s an issue that the left-wing of the Democratic Party pretends is some scary thing that’s going to destroy the country (see: TPP), but in reality is just a small and insignificant piece of the issue that they’re concerned about. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just spiteful of their activism, much in the same way that I castigate the Tea Party for being too loud and raucous. Speaking of activists, Hillary is also meeting with the Black Lives Matter people soon. So there’s that.

20-week abortion bans, explained: Nathalie Baptiste at The American Prospect goes over the true goal of the 20-week abortion ban legislation; to make poor people’s lives harder. Baptiste explains that “[n]ot only does the bill place an undue burden on women attempting to exercise their constitutional rights, the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act allows for little exceptions and further victimizes women and children who have been sexually assaulted. The bill does exempt women whose lives are “endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury” but says nothing about psychological or emotional issues.” A short but sweet explanation of a bill that seems “moderate” but is truly very conservative in its practice.

Donald Trump is boycotting Fox News: As usual with these types of people, it’s a “I quit my job before they could fire me” type of situation. It all started this morning when Donald Trump tweeted that Fox News doesn’t respect him enough. You see, Fox News only talks about Trump every 2.5 seconds, whereas MSNBC and CNN cover him every single second of the day (when CNN isn’t busy covering missing airplanes, of course). (H/T Catherine Thompson at TPM)

Two more weeks until hockey season starts…

Well, then…

Walker’s out, Fiorina’s rising?: In case anyone hasn’t heard by now, Scott Walker’s campaign is finito. Liz Mair, a Republican digital media consultant, made a series of tweets as to why Scott Walker was a good Presidential candidate on paper but a disaster in practice. Mair was fired from Walker’s campaign about five months back because she insulted Republicans in Iowa who accept ethanol subsidies. I have to admit, I got this one plain wrong. See, I saw Walker as the guy who was crazy enough to drug test welfare recipients, but not crazy enough to promulgate birtherism. I thought Walker was the perfect candidate to bridge the divide between the “Republican Establishment” and the blue-collar conservatives/tea party crowd. However, as Trump’s campaign has shown us, there is seemingly no one capable of bridging that divide between Republican primary voters and the center-right establishment vote. Maybe as the focus shifts to Carly Fiorina there will be future attempts to bridge that divide. However, based on several conservative pundits skeptical comments it doesn’t look like Fiorina will be an easy sell to the tea party crowd.

People who support Planned Parenthood = Nazi’s: This one was brought to my attention by Amanda, who heard it from a friend (Roy Edroso), who heard it from A.D.P. Efferson at The Federalist. Basically, she’s not saying people who support Planned Parenthood are nazi’s, but she is saying that much like how good people watched the nazi’s commit genocide against the jews, good people can also watch the Planned Parenthood videos and still support the women’s health organization. Here’s the kicker quote: “The abortion industry, specifically Planned Parenthood, with a skilled slight of hand, has distracted the general public from being too curious about the mechanics of abortion. They’ve done this brilliantly through mass manipulation, by creating “rights” where there are none (women do not have a right to government-provided birth control and tampons), exploiting women’s fears, viciously pillorying the opposition, and raking in a tidy sum along the way. Most importantly, Planned Parenthood and its ilk have hit upon what murderous regime leaders have known for centuries: normal, good people will believe and justify anything under the right circumstances.” Well, it’s official: I’m a supporter of genocide against babies (and also a supporter of contraception and breast cancer screenings, but whatever).

Republicans and muslims; a marriage made in mecca: Yes, by now we all know about the lunatic who shouted at the top of his lungs at a Trump rally in New Hampshire last week that we need to “get rid of the muslims” and our president is one of them. And yes, for some reason Dr. Ben Carson (it feels so weird calling him Dr. considering what an idiot he continually shows himself to be) said that he would not support a muslim being president of the United States, a view so insane that Ted Cruz disagreed with him. But what is the real relationship between muslims and the conservative base that actually is Islamaphobic? Jonathan Chait explains: “…social conservatives have treated their Muslim-hating contingent just as they treat their anti-same-sex-marriage brethren: as idealists persecuted for their convictions. Rick Santorum, who is not shy about interjecting his opinion into the controversy of the day, hid behind the First Amendment as a reason to abstain from comment on recent outbursts within his party…”. I would add to this that this is about what conservatives see as a threat to their dominant religion. My guess is that they notice that Islam is a growing religion inside the U.S. and that will result in the implementation of sharia law, hence we need to be irrationally skeptical of muslims. Speaking of irrational, Glenn Beck once again exposes his deranged paranoia and claims that while he doesn’t believe Obama is a muslim, he understands why others do; it’s because he views the world “through the lens of an islamist…”. Also there’s some Dinesh D’Souza plagiarism in his rant (i.e. the whole “anti-colonial” B.S.).

The “Hillary is doomed!” movement is temporarily silent: Could it be because of news stemming the latest poll from CNN/ORC? From the article: “Clinton leads Sanders 42-24 percent, according to a CNN/ORC poll released yesterday. That 18-point advantage is an increase over the 10-point lead she held over Sanders only two weeks ago, 37-27 percent.” We’ll see if there has been any changes in New Hampshire, so far Sanders’ strongest state. But I have a different question; if Bernie Sanders momentum is indeed slowing (and to be clear, that’s something we have not seen yet), will there finally be another candidate on the Democratic side who gets some attention from the media? No, I’m not talking about Joe Biden, who still is undecided at the moment. Regardless, I’m excited to see a rational debate take place where I don’t hear “OH MY GOD THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING BOMB THEM DRONE THEM KILL THEM WITH FIRE AHHHHHHHH SO SCARY” every second (October 13th on CNN in Vegas).

RIP Jake Brewer: Brewer, who is a staffer of the Obama Administration and the late husband of conservative opinion columnist Mary Katherine Ham, died in a bike accident over the weekend. I’ve always liked MKH and her columns and hope she gets through this terrible time in her family’s life. My thoughts are with her and her children.

Other headlines – 09/16/2015

Yes, yes, I know, there’s other stuff going on besides the GOP debate tonight. But see, because I am just a lowly blogger, I am not allowed to just focus on Trump 24/7 like the rest of the media does. I have standards.

When you’ve lost Tom McClintock: Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) has just resigned from the House Freedom Caucus, or as I like to call them, the “Do Nothing” Caucus. As we all know by now, these are the individuals with short-term memories and the only people who think the shutdown the GOP brought upon us two years ago did anything remotely successful. Of course, the 2013 shutdown did not stop Obamacare (more on that below), the GOP’s favorability ratings are well below those of the Democratic Party’s, and everyone still thinks that Congress is incapable of doing anything right. The last part of course is not true, it’s just that the House Freedom Caucus gets tons of fundraising money by not doing anything, and of course they are the most vocal resistance to immigration reform and anything else with the word reform in it. Anyway, the letter of resignation, brought to us by Tierney Sneed at TPM, shows us that Congressman McClintock has had enough of the caucus’s B.S. and wants nothing to do with the impending shutdown over Planned Parenthood. It’s always funny when one crazy guy looks at a bunch of other crazy guys and goes “screw these guys, I’m going home”.

Obamacare is working, part 11,672: Jordan Weissman at Slate brings us some charts that show us that Marxist-Socialist-Communist-Kenyan-Care brought the number of uninsured individuals down from around 14 percent in 2010 to 10.4 this past year. Thanks to Marxist-Socialist-Communist-Kenyan-Care, 8.8 million fewer Americans are uninsured. Even if it is true that most Americans sought coverage through Medicaid expansion, it still means that accessing basic care has become easier for millions of Americans. Even conservative lawmakers like this State Senator in Kansas is now considering being open to Medicaid expansion in Kansas. Back to the original article, Weissman shows that the uninsured rate declined much more precipitously in states that went through with the Medicaid expansion. Furthermore, the doomsday predictions from conservatives failed to materialize and we’re not seeing Grandmothers and Grandfathers being executed by government enforced death squads.

Attention anyone named Hillary Clinton; please read this: I know Hillary Clinton won’t actually read this (she’s kinda busy at the moment), but a lot of other people should. Tommy Christopher at Mediaite has a great column which discusses the various onslaught of negative attention Clinton is getting from all different types of political media. It’s not just Fox News hammering her, MSNBC and the New York Times are lambasting her despite the fact that the State Department gave her clearance to delete the infamous e-mails that are in question (as part of “e-mail/server-gate” scandal), her hard drive actually wasn’t wiped and she has agreed to testify (yet again) that she didn’t actually orchestrate Benghazi. Regardless, as Christoper notes, because Hillary is common enemy number-one among the political media, she will continue to be hammered even though the scandals attributed to her are largely exaggerated for the benefit of those reporting on it (not to mention Republicans). Christopher concludes his column by recommending that Clinton “Apollo Creed” Trump and challenge him to a one-on-one debate on CNN (hosted by Jake Tapper). I have to admit, I have no idea what Christopher is referencing, but I do recommend that Hillary not take the bait from the media and question her front-runner status. Challenge Trump as if you already know you’re going to face him in the general election. Show the media that you’re unafraid and you’re not going away quietly. Don’t be scared of Bernie Sanders, either. Sanders’ is clearly elevating himself in the polls and has run an increasingly impressive campaign, but don’t take the media’s bait. Please.

Read more Amanda Marcotte: Just do it. You won’t regret it.

Predictions for tonight’s CNN debate…

I’m going to do the same thing I did last time for my debate predictions format. It’s just easier this way than going over every single candidate individually. The first thing I will predict is that Jake Tapper, Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash will all do a terrific job and it will probably be a lively event with maybe some twists and turns.

6 PM debate: Once again, we have yet another “kids table” debate. The only difference is that the candidates participating in this debate are even more irrelevant than they were a month ago. Also, there will be one less candidate since Rick Perry suspended his campaign due to lack of any interest whatsoever. Also, he’s terrible at running for president. As far as I know, the moderators will still be conservative talk-radio star Hugh Hewitt, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash (as they are scheduled to host the main event at 8 PM). Here are the following participants in tonight’s “kids table” debate:

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; former New York Gov. George Pataki; and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore

What to look out for: So last time I predicted there would be strong performances from Santorum and Graham. I turned out to be very, very wrong on Graham, and sort-of right on Santorum. Graham looked very depressed and bored last time, and I haven’t really seen an acknowledgement on his part that he needs to change that for tonight. Moreover, even if the questions tonight are geared towards foreign policy (supposedly his “area of expertise”), I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that he will give answers that will make him stand out. As far as Santorum is concerned, he doesn’t seem to be playing up the same “blue collar voter” angle as he did last time. I think Santorum will try to steer the conversation towards foreign policy, but it’s possible he may be asked about the GOP’s impending plan to shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood. Or perhaps he will get a question regarding Kim Davis and use that as an opportunity to play the “christians are so totally persecuted in America” angle. Either way, it’s not clear if this crowd will really eat it up like they would in the South or in Iowa. Yes, it’s true that certain parts of Southern California (i.e. San Diego and Orange Counties) are very conservative, but I think immigration, foreign policy and economic issues will be more on their minds than social issue.

As far as Governor Jindal is concerned, it’s true that last time I thought he would do poorly and he did prove me wrong. However, we saw no bounce in the polls after his debate performance, hence he is still participating in the early debates. It’s possible he may have another opportunity to shine tonight, particularly because there are two less debate participants than there were back in August. But as I stated last time, if he gets questions that pertain to his record as Governor of Louisiana, he’s screwed. As evidence by a recent interview he conducted with Chris Wallace of Fox News shows, he just cannot dig himself out of the hole that his state is in. I’ve always maintained that Jindal is a smart guy, but in truth that doesn’t really matter if your state is in the crapper. Not to mention the fact that this is a Southern California audience, which is definitely not his crowd. I’m not going to bother wasting my time posting anything regarding Former Governors George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, as they are nothing but joke candidates. Neither of them will have anything interesting to say, and frankly, I would be surprised if anybody in the audience knew who either of them were.

Predictions: Moderately strong performances from Santorum and Jindal and unnoticable performances from Graham, Pataki and Gilmore.

And now we have the second “Grown Up Table” debate. Here are the candidates who are scheduled to appear in the main event:

Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Carly Fiorina; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich

What to look out for: Just an FYI up front, the CNN format tonight will be pretty much the same as it was with Fox News last month. Furthermore, people are already predicting that the winner of tonight’s debate will be Donald Trump. Josh Vorhees of Slate correctly states that since Trump was able to get his feet wet a month ago, he now understands the format and the level of scrutiny he will face as the current front-runner. Vorhees also makes a good point that the GOP loyalty pledge issue is now a dead issue as Trump signed it a few weeks ago. Once again, I doubt Trump will engage in any substantive ideas, except maybe this time on immigration. Trump will inevitably be asked to explain why he supports repealing the 14th Amendment and how exactly he plans on rounding up an entire population that is roughly the size of Ohio. Trump also hit it out of the park with the Rosie O’Donnell joke last time, so if he gets a chance to engage in celebrity bashing, he will definitely take it. Trump will undoubtedly be attacked from Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul. Carly Fiorina is coming off of a strong performance she had at the “kids table” debate last month, and she knows in order to be taken seriously she has to attempt to outshine Trump. Fiorina may be able to do so, but she will run into trouble because she is an outsider when ti comes to building the wall along the Mexican border (which she has expressed skepticism of). Fiorina and Trump will also compete based on their business acumen, and frankly it’s going to be hard for her to explain how her business record is better than Trump’s. Regardless, this may be her only chance to steal the spotlight, so she has to take it.

As for the other candidates who will inevitably throw bombs at Trump, Rand Paul is going to go with the “Trump is a celebrity” line and continue to be a cantankerous curmudgeon. Naturally, after this strategy gets him nowhere (yet again), Paul will blame Trump for his woes instead of blaming his own campaign missteps. As for the other person who will go for the jugular, Jeb Bush has been hammering Trump claiming he is an insufficient conservative. Perhaps Jeb Bush may receive a question tonight regarding his tax plan, which according to the Citizens For Tax Justice would give the biggest cut (specifically, 53 percent of the benefits of his tax cut) to the richest one-percent of taxpayers (H/T Jonathan Chait). This would be a perfect opportunity for Trump to strike back at Bush, as Trump has indicated that he is okay with someone with his income paying higher taxes (and he will need to be if he wants to fund that very expensive “deport all the immigrants” plan of his).

As for the other participants, the only real questions left are will Ben Carson continue to go any higher after tonight’s debate and will Scott Walker’s numbers continue to get any lower? Carson has been mostly stand-offish regarding the topic of Trump, even though he had some unkind words about his faith last week (which Carson subsequently apologized for this week). Carson has to prove himself worthy of the second in command status, so you have to figure he has something in his back pocket planned for tonight (Alex Isenstadt certainly does). As for Ted Cruz, his numbers haven’t been too bad as of late. Cruz usually polls somewhere around 6-8 percent, but interest in his campaign hasn’t really taken off. Cruz did better than I thought he would back in August (I said he would do somewhere in between decent and strong, he ended closer to strong), but there is still a certain cloud hanging around his campaign. I think it mostly has to do with him being the ringleader for advocating yet another government shutdown in a few weeks, but hey, what do I know? As for Scott Walker, it’s clear that any interest there was in his campaign is clearly dissipating, and quickly. Walker is polling around 3 percent, and frankly his time as a campaigner may be over in the next six weeks. I would say the same for Marco Rubio, but Rubio still has some tricks up his sleeve. Not to mention the “Republican Establishment” needs a back-up candidate in the event that Bush’s campaign fails to gain any traction in the next few months. In the debate previews that I’ve read, people are clearly overlooking Rubio, but I’m not ready to call him dead just yet. As for Kasich, this is not his territory. It’s true that Southern California Republicans are probably closer to him than Republicans in the South and Midwest are (yes, I know Ohio is in the Midwest but moderates are still viable there), but Kasich hasn’t seen the jump he needs to compete in New Hampshire. I simply fail to see how Kasich makes himself a viable establishment-friendly tonight. As for Chris Christie, he got into an interesting spat with Rand Paul last time, and has since tried to recruit Trump supporters by comparing tracking undocumented immigrants to tracking Fed-Ex packages. While the Southern Californian Republican climate is probably more favorable to Christie than most other candidates, it’s still hard to see a way for him to stand out tonight. The “Republican Establishment” have clearly given up on him and Kasich, and I don’t see much road further ahead for either of these guys. Speaking of not much road left to pursue, Mike Huckabee will go unnoticed tonight.

Predictions: Strong performances from Rubio, Cruz and Fiorina. Decent performances from Trump, Bush and Walker (again). Rand Paul will continue to sound like a spoiled and ungrateful pissant. Despite the fact that I thought Ben Carson did a terrible job last month, the Republicans who were watching clearly liked him and he’s gotten a significant bounce since then. I will keep my prediction that I think he will be dull and boring but Republicans who are watching may continue to be enthralled by his calm demeanor. Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and John Kasich will go unnoticed.

On debate’s eve…

Alright, so we have the second GOP debate coming up tomorrow, let’s begin with some topics surrounding tomorrow’s debate:

Trump at 40% in NH: It was surprising enough when Trump hit 30 percent, but 40 percent? In New Hampsire? I mean, wow. Just. wow. This is going to give Trump a whole lot of confidence going into tomorrow’s debate (as if he needed more things to feed his ego), and it’s bound to be frustrating for candidates like Paul, Christie and Kasich who were hoping to make a surprise victory in New Hampshire.

RIP Criminal Justice reform?: It’s a bit of a speculation piece, but one of my favorites, Michael Grunwald at POLITICO, begins to connect the dots between a Donald Trump presidential campaign and what effect that will have going forward on contemporary public policy. As I’ve written before, criminal justice reform is a bipartisan hot topic that has support from people like Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). But with Trump putting the topic of crime back in the spotlight (even if it’s mostly talk of undocumented immigrants’ crimes, which are fewer than actual U.S. citizens), will that derail the impending criminal justice reform legislation? Not to mention, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is one of Trump’s biggest supporters. Sessions is also someone who coincidentally is the biggest objector to criminal justice reform (as well as immigration reform). I have to say, it is very scary that we have now gone from talking about what a Trump presidential run would look like to what a Trump presidential administration would look like. But if Trump’s lead holds through December (now a glaring possibility), we may be discussing this topic a lot more.

The next shutdown?: It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the GOP Freedom Caucus, a Caucus within the GOP House Republicans who refuses to support anything but the most conservative legislation imaginable, is telling GOP leadership (Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell) that they will not support any bill that contains funding for Planned Parenthood. McConnell and Boehner desperately wants to avoid a shutdown, but if Congress doesn’t pass anything by September 30th, the federal government will shut down (again). At the same time, McConnell isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of yet another stop-gap budget measure that will simply keep current spending levels where they are for another year.The reason being is that he is the one who is going to have to sell the idea to the House conservatives, and they will be a major pain in the ass for him. Not to mention McConnell will be the one who will be excoriated by several presidential contenders including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and possibly others (Trump? Walker? Carson?). It should be said that shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood is an extremely dumb idea. It was sort-of understandable why Ted Cruz wanted to shut down the government over Obamacare in October of 2013. First of all, Cruz was looking for a way to make a name for himself (and that he succeeded in doing). But more importantly, at least the polls showed that Obamacare was unpopular, even though the polls also showed that the voters did not want to repeal Obamacare, but instead wanted Congress to fix it. This time though, the polls aren’t on their side. The overwhelming majority of the public wants to continue federal funding for Planned Parenthood. No doubt this will be a topic that comes up tomorrow, so be prepared for that.

Sanders and the “front-runner” status: As always, this is the topic on the Democratic side of things. We all know by now that Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been skyrocketing, and that no doubt the horrible summer Hillary Clinton had may carry into the fall after all. But is Bernie Sanders now the Democratic front-runner. I’m still skeptical, but less so than I was a few weeks back. That being said, I do think it’s safe to call Bernie Sanders the front-runner in New Hampshire. Poll after poll shows him topping Clinton by larger and larger margins. Furthermore, Sanders may even be the front-runner in Iowa, as more and more polls are showing that Sanders’ sagacious ground-campaign is beginning to really pay off. However, Sanders is still down in South Carolina. Moreover, his support from minorities is still tepid at best. Of course, those two things may change by the time we get to the first Democratic debate next month. The difference now is that with the first Democratic debate coming up in less than a month, the candidates are actually starting to go after one another. A pro-Hillary super-PAC just released a widespread e-mail that according to Ryan Grim and Samantha Lachman at HuffPo connects Sanders to “…controversial remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn, the United Kingdom’s new Labour Party leader, including his praise for the late Hugo Chavez”. After stating that Clinton is comfortable with being labelled as a “moderate” or “centrist”, it should be no surprise that pro-Clinton super-PACS are going with that angle to paint Sanders as too liberal of a candidate to compete in the general election. For his part, Sanders has responded with attacks of his own. According to Jonathan Swan at The Hill, Sanders sent an e-mail to supporters “[linking] Clinton to three things her campaign has been trying to disassociate itself from: Wealthy donors, dirty tactics, and yes, even the biggest bogeymen in left-wing American politics – the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.” Where will the next few weeks take us in terms of the escalation between Sanders and Clinton? Will Sanders continue to rise in polls in later Democratic primaries such as South Carolina and Nevada? Will Clinton regain some of her strength back after the next debate and after the Benghazi testimonies in a few weeks? Time will tell.