–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).