Benghazi, part 2,967…

Hillary, Benghazi, etc.: Want to know how much of a BFD the Benghazi hearings are? There’s a snapchat filter for them. Now, I have no idea what that means and I don’t care. Regardless, here’s the transcript from the hearings. Expect the results from this hearing to be something along the lines of “we’re still trying to get at the truth, and to do that we’ll need another 150,000 hearings”.

CNBC GOP debate next week: Here’s the lineup. For some reason, we continued to be tortured by the kids table debate. Not surprisingly, Jim Gilmore was officially not invited to either debate. Surprisingly, Jim Gilmore is still running for president.

Trump isn’t necessarily inevitable: For the establishment types like myself, here is presidential historian Mark Updegrove cooling our fears about the likelihood of Trump actually being nominated.

On the other hand: Trump is ahead of the GOP pack with 32% according to the latest ABC News poll. Interestingly, there is a new poll showing that in the first GOP Primary state of Iowa, Carson’s momentum may perhaps be for real. According to Quinnipiac, he’s ahead of Trump 28-20%. We’ll see if that continues after next week’s debate.

Speaking of polls: In New Hampshire, it appears Bernie Sanders has lost his lead over Clinton. Thus far, this has been Bernie Sanders best shot at winning a primary. If he can’t get a victory over Clinton in 3.5 months in New Hampshire, then we’ll lose our best shot at seeing more Larry David impersonations of Bernie Sanders. In other good news for Clinton, Harry Enten at 538 tells us that she is currently at the strongest position since she declared her candidacy to win the Democratic nomination. Did I say that Clinton would get a bounce after the first debate? Yes. Does this prove my theory that summer sucks? I’d like to think so. Is there another B.S. scandal brewing to try to derail Clinton’s presidential ambitions? Probably.

Makes me very sad: Apparently according to Gallup, 58% of Americans views the NRA favorably. Gross. As a close friend and very cool person told me yesterday, “Trump is not the President we need, yet he is the President we deserve.” Thanks again for the selfie-stick gift.

This thing still exists…

Yeah, I’m still here. Let’s do some recaps.

Jim Webb is out: Okay, we all know the guy never had a chance to begin with. But I would argue that of all the candidates on the Democratic side not named Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, Webb by far had the best chance. Frankly, he also had the best platform as well. As much as I am happy with the Democratic Party embracing the incoming demographic changes of the country (i.e. less white folks), there is a good argument to also try to make the platforms in the party palatable to rural white voters. First and foremost, because there are plenty of rural areas in swing states such as Virginia, Colorado and Ohio where someone like Webb could have taken away votes from the Republican nominee. But also because poverty is something that affects people of all nationalities and people in all areas of America. Democrats should remember that going forward and not hesitate to embrace trying to use government to improve the lives of all Americans. That doesn’t mean we abandon our support for a path for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, affirmative action, gun control, and using government intervention to attempt to reduce income inequality through social programs and other avenues.

All that being said, Webb clearly faced an uphill battle because of his poor debate performance. Instead of using the debate as an opportunity to establish himself as a credible alternative with a ton of valuable public sector experience, he whined and complained the whole time (ala Rand Paul) and came off as entitled and bitter. Furthermore, Webb did not want to do anything outside the box in terms of campaigning and which made him look stale to many Democratic voters (i.e. young folks). Webb also faced a ton of unfair criticism from liberals who treated him as if he were a Republican because of his reticence to embrace strict gun control and affirmative action (for non-Black Americans). So anyway, the debate confirmed what we already know: this is a horse race between Sanders and Clinton. Expect Webb to get a position in Hillary’s administration (maybe running the VA?).

Do they really want to repeal Obamacare?: So apparently there’s an upcoming vote in the House to do a full repeal of Obamacare. But Heritage Action, otherwise known as the most awful group in America, says that if any member of the GOP House vote for it, they will primary them. Here’s further information from Tierney Sneed at TPM:

“The repeal legislation, Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Ac, is being brought through a legislative procedure known as budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority to advance in the Senate and thus could overcome Democratic opposition to land on President Obama’s desk. However, the maneuver is only workable, under parliamentary rules, if it reduces the deficit and a full-on Obamacare repeal would add $353 billion to the deficit, the Congressional Budget Office has found. So Republicans are targeting only certain aspects of the law — such as the individual and employer mandates — that, if repealed, would reduce the deficit. It would also almost certainly be vetoed by the president.”

I don’t know what the point of all this is. Even if this made it past reconciliation (i.e. the “nuclear option” where you only need a simple majority to pass it) , President Obama would veto it and then what? The public still doesn’t want to see the law repealed and you end up right back where you started. As for Heritage, the chances of the law being repealed in 2017 aren’t good either considering that the Democratic debate last Tuesday showed everyone that there’s only one political party in this country that’s actually serious about governing (or even semi-capable of it). Dream on, morons.

The return of Trudeau: Canada, our neighbor in the Great White North, had an election last night. Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Canada Liberal Party (sort of a middle-ground between the Conservative Party and the social-democracy leaning New Democratic Party) gained enough seats to form a majority in their parliamentary government. In case anyone is unfamiliar with the name Truedeau, Justin’s father Pierre was the 15th Prime Minister of the country who served in the early 80’s. So anyway, while Stephen Harper (the Prime Minister of Canada until last night) tried to get the country to continue to embrace an economic platform centered around oil production in the Province of Alberta, Truedeau campaigned on running a budget deficit of  $10,000,000,000 for three years to invest in infrastructure. Now, while I consider myself a Canadianphile, I have to confess that I have no idea why Canada voted for Truedeau. I do know that Truedeau beat expectations in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland), where the Liberal Party tends to not do as well as they do in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario. I’m guessing the Country was just sick of Harper. Harper, the previous Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, had been Prime Minister since 2011. I’m guessing it was time for a change.

Trump still ahead: Latest polls (CNN/ORC as well as NBC) still show Trump ahead. Just a reminder folks, it’s only October. We have two months until we should start seriosuly pondering the implications of a Trump administration. According to the polls, Trump is ahead with every faction of the GOP with the exception of the Very Conservative voters (Carson wins that group). The next GOP debate is on the 28th, and it’s in Boulder, CO hosted by CNBC.

It’s not like we didn’t know it already…

New Speaker, same witch-hunts: So everyone is making a big deal out of the admission (see video below) from soon-to-be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):

Basically, Congressman Mccarthy admitted the whole Benghazi Committee is a Hilary Clinton campaign takedown clown show. I mean, we already had our suspicions this was the case, but it’s nice to hear it straight from the Speaker’s mouth. As usual with these gaffes, Democrats are using this as proof that this is all about disparaging Clinton while conservatives are defending the existence of the Committee, even if they think what McCarthy said was “ill-considered“. As for me, keep the Committee open and let the mud keep flying. Remember, conservatives were so sure that the Benghazi incident would make PResident Obama lose his chance at re-election in 2012. As we know by now, the were wrong. So if the GOP thinks Benghazi is the key to keeping Hillary out of the White House (and clearly that’s what they believe), let them. We all know that if this is the best they can do to try to damage Hillary, they’re goners next November.

Shutdown averted until December: The House and Senate passed a two-month Spending bill to avert another government shutdown that would have occurred at midnight. Now of course, this means the shutdown scenario could be a possibility in December. Expect Ted Cruz to play the role of Santa Claus, delivering all us Democrats another opportunity to roll our eyes at his non-stop grandstanding (i.e. “standing for principles”). I don’t know what leverage he thinks he’s going to have in December that he didn’t have now. Yes there will be a new Speaker (see above), but the Freedom Caucus (the House Republican Caucus who wanted a shutdown over Planned Parenthood) still won’t have any popularity or significant backing. If they really want to test a President’s patience who’s not up for re-election, by all means challenge him over the debt ceiling. And if Boehner takes that issue off the table before he leaves (which many suspect he will), then what will the fight be over? Will anybody still be talking about the Planned Parenthood videos? And if not, what excuse will the House GOP use to shut down the government?

New rules coming to next GOP debate: The next Republican presidential primary debate will take place on October 28th, and will be hosted by CNBC, otherwise known as Fox News without the christianity. However, as Josh Feldman at Mediaite points out, there is some interesting criteria for the next debate:

“Any candidate who wants to be in the primetime 8 pm debate has to be polling at least 3 percent (they’ll average up any candidate between 2.5 and 3), and anyone who wants to be in the 6 pm debate has to be polling at least 1 percent.”

If you follow CNBC’s requirements literally, that would mean that based on the Real Clear Politics polling averages, it would only be Rand Paul at the kids table debate. Also, why the hell is there yet another kids table debate? Does anybody really expect Lindsey Graham or Bobby Jindal to win the nomination (let alone George Pataki or Rand Paul)? Regardless, this is certainly going to ruffle some feathers in the GOP camp. As much as I loathe CNBC, if John Harwood is present then it may end up being a good night of entertainment. Hell, it couldn’t be worse than the last CNN debate, which was mostly awful. If you don’t know who John Harwood is, this video of him positing a question to Rick Perry in 2011 might ring a bell.

The hit pieces on Biden begin: Even though it appears that Vice President Joe Biden will not appear in the first Democratic debate on the 13th, that hasn’t stopped Bernie Sanders outlets from digging up dirt on him. The first of many hit pieces to come is from Ryan Grim at HuffPo (I just want to say that I like Grim, but let’s call a spade a spade here), and it’s about what Joe Biden thought about abortion and immigration back in the 1970’s (source: Washingtonian magazine). This is the passage that everyone (mostly progressives) may begin to raise hell about:

“When it comes to civil rights and civil liberties, I’m a liberal but that’s it. I’m really quite conservative on most other issues. My wife said I was the most socially conservative man she had ever known. I’m a screaming liberal when it comes to senior citizens because I really think they are getting screwed. I’m a liberal on health care because I believe it is a birth right of every human being — not just some damn privilege to be meted out to a few people. But when it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I’m about as liberal as your grandmother. I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” (Grim highlighted the prior text in his article, not me)

Biden goes on to say that he supports “limited” amnesty and does not support legalizing weed. Before we all start haranguing Biden for these comments, we have to remember this was back in 1974. Rove vs. Wade was only a year old by that time. Also, the Democratic Party was far more conservative back then then it is now. Gay marriage, abortion and immigration were all contentious issues back then (as they are now), and the country wasn’t nearly as open-minded on those issues as we are now. So before we start going back to Biden’s political viewpoints back in the day, let’s all take a minute to breathe and remember the guy is going to be 73 in November. If Biden really wants a shot at the presidency, let’s give him a chance and see what the guy has to say. Vice President Biden hasn’t even announced yet and already there are some very positive polls out there for his candidacy.

Russia, Syria and doing things we don’t want to do: By “we”, of course I mean the U.S. By now everyone has already heard that Russia has started bombing areas near Homs (Central-Eastern Syria). For anyone that doesn’t already know why this is happening, Russia has an ally in Bashar al-Assad (President of Syria), who is currently engaged on one side of the Syrian Civil War. On the other side are a variety of Sunni Islamist militant factions, some of whom the U.S. has tried to form an alliance with in order to train them to fight ISIS (that hasn’t ended up going so well). Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that Russia is only bombing areas where ISIS is present, but U.S. intelligence is saying otherwise.

The reason I bring all of this up is to bring an article to everyone’s attention written by Fred Kaplan at Slate. Kaplan asserts that we need to form a military partnership with Iran, Russia and Syria to defeat ISIS. I think it’s a pretty good idea, and the article is interesting to say the least. I mean, it’s either this strategy or we can nominate Lindsey Graham for President, who has vowed to send 10,000 troops to Syria and 20,000 to Iraq. Anyway, here’s the money paragraphs from Kaplan’s article:

“The United Stares has no vital interest in Syria, and Obama has no desire to get bogged down in a messy civil war. And yet the war is spreading; its disorder threatens allies in the region, and it has unleashed the most calamitous refugee crisis the world has seen in decades. When Obama first realized he had to act, he tried to build a coalition based on Sunni nations—Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, the Gulf states—and a new government in Iraq that pledged to be more inclusive toward Sunni militias and tribal leaders. But the Sunni nations proved less forceful—and the new Iraq less inclusive—than he hoped; the most promising coalition partner, Turkey, seemed more interested in pounding Kurds than jihadists.

And so, Obama has been forced to join an alliance of powers—Iran, Russia, and (take a deep breath) Assad—that always seemed to have the most potential, because their interests in fighting ISIS were most vital and least ambivalent. Alliances are rarely purebreds. Had Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill resisted allying with Joseph Stalin to fight Adolf Hitler, on the grounds that Soviet Communism was hardly less evil than Nazism, then they would have lost World War II while standing on their moral dudgeon. The war against ISIS isn’t nearly as titanic, but the principle is the same: Sometimes the world presents you with terrible choices, and you have to go with the least terrible—at least for the moment.”

Kaplan ends by saying that only the “serious powers” in the world can quell this ever-growing conflict with the Islamic State. The U.S. will definitely continue to monitor the situation with Russia taking more aggressive military action in Syria, but in all honesty I doubt this will change very much from our perspective. Even a significant amount of Republicans are uneasy about getting into the entanglement with Syria. But we’ve all seen the refugee crisis emanating from Syria, and that is going to force countries to make difficult choices. At the moment, Russia is making the difficult decision to defend Bashar al-Assad and indirectly Iran as well (another moderate ally of Russia).

Lastly, I’m sorry to have to comment on yet another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. RIP to all the victims (the Oregon Attorney General just said there have been 10 people killed and 20+ injured).