Saturday, October 31, 2015

Photo Of The Day - Halloween At The White House

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(President Obama greets "baby Pope" at White House Halloween event Oct. 30; photo Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty Images)

Republicans Getting Away With Their "Dishonesty And Buffoonery"

If nothing else, the Republican clown car bus "debates" have demonstrated anew that, when their crackpot lies are challenged by the media, the most successful course of action is to lie some more and blame the media (and, as Catherine Rampell explains below, the media is to blame -- for abetting this behavior).   It's a guaranteed winner with their low- information base, and it puts the media on the defensive in future encounters (example:  following their "suspension" from a February "debate," NBC News is already trying to make nice with Republican National Committee Chairstain Reince "Prepuce" Priebus, saying they want to "work in good faith to resolve this matter," i.e., make sure there are no hardball questions or followups the next time, and that the moderators' lips are firmly attached to the candidates' arses).  Please read both pieces in their entirety to see how the rules work for Republicans.

Brian Beutler on the "GOP's Grotesque Festival of Lies":
In the long run, conservatives suffer more the deeper they burrow themselves into an ecosystem of convenient misinformation. But in the short run, they've figured out that denying documented reality and attacking the messenger can completely snow over the truth. That creates a big problem for journalists, who should view the attacks against Harwood and the others as an affront to the profession.
Catherine Rampell on how the media rewards the liars and demagogues:
The Republican presidential candidates are right. The media do suck.

But not for the reasons the candidates complained about Wednesday night.

We in the media suck because we have rewarded their rampant dishonesty and buffoonery with nonstop news coverage. Which, of course, has encouraged more dishonesty and buffoonery.
Hence the aggravating behaviors that candidates doubled down on during the debate, based on lessons that we in the media taught them. To wit:
Lesson No. 1: Lie, but lie confidently.  [snip]
Lesson No. 2: Invent your own math.  [snip]
Lesson No. 3: If you can’t think of something better to say, just bash the media.   [snip]
Accordingly, by Wednesday, the candidates had all learned to dodge difficult questions by accusing the moderators of bias. Usually, the charge was that they were too liberal. (Yes, CNBC, the channel that launched the tea party and employs the United States’ most famous supply-sider, is apparently a commie paradise.) Or they accused the media of not asking substantive questions, right in the middle of ducking substantive questions.
In the end, the biggest applause lines were all media insults. They came from Rubio, Ted Cruz and Christie.
Guess whom CNBC then crowned the winners of the debate? Rubio, Cruz and Christie.
Well done, gents. We’ve trained you well(our emphasis)
This is a potential tipping point in how the media (especially corporate media) take on the challenge of confronting the Republicans' "dishonesty and buffoonery."  Judging from the initial reaction, they're going to fold like a cheap suit.

BONUS:  David Atkins at Washington Monthly has a good read about why this "attack the messenger" strategy will backfire come the general election;  color us skeptical.

BONUS II:  When you're Fox Business, the RNC never has to worry about who's asking the questions.

BONUS III:  Joan Walsh is right;  might as well let Hannity and Limbaugh moderate the next Republican "debate."

Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekend Song - Bush's Only Way Out

No, not "J.E.B.!" Bush.   British rock band Bush, whose lead singer (and Gwen Stefani's ex) Gavin Rossdale turns 50 (!) today.  This is the most recent song of his to chart (in 2014), "The Only Way Out."  ("J.E.B.!" may be looking for a way out soon, too.)

Tweets Of The Day - Break Out Your Tiny Sad Violin

Following Wednesday night's CNBC Republican debate whine fest, Republican National Committee Chairderp Reince "Prepuce" Priebus announced he was "suspending" plans to have NBC broadcast a debate in February (in conjunction with Telemundo), because of the CNBC panel's "gotcha" questions.  Those meanies!  Here are our favorite rejoinders (h/t Raw Story):

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Republican Trick Or Treaters

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(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Scary stuff!!

"Marco Is A Risky Bet"

With Halloween just around the corner, and the scary- bad campaign of "J.E.B.!" Bush receiving its last rites from many pundits, there's an October 26 presentation to fat cat donors by the Bush campaign that's leaked out which indicates they've located some, um, skeletons in the closet of chief rival Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (R-AWOL).  Only 45 pages of the Power Point presentation was made public;  the full 112 pages included some hints of oppo research that may be unleashed on "Glug Glug" shortly. This summarizes a section of the Bush presentation entitled "Marco Is A Risky Bet:"
While the slides released to the press highlight Bush's Sunshine State endorsements and Rubio's lack of experience, another page for donor edification gets dirtier.
It's titled "Marco Is A Risky Bet," and it bullet-points Rubio's "misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera."
When Rubio was a state lawmaker, he used the state party credit card for personal expenses, a decision he later called a mistake. In 2005, he and Rivera jointly purchased a home that later faced foreclosure.
Another bullet point says Rubio's "closeness with Norman Braman, who doubles as personal benefactor[,] raises major ethical questions."
Braman, a billionaire auto dealer, is expected to pour $10 million into Rubio's White House endeavor, The New York Times reports. He's also paid Rubio's wife to oversee his charitable work.
The Bush team also mocks Rubio's "tomorrow versus yesterday" argument as one that would be "widely ridiculed by media" should he run against the first potential female president.
So far, this is on- record chicanery from ethics and court proceedings.  What else ya' got?
The most cryptic slight is left for last: "Those who have looked into Marco's background in the past have been concerned with what they have found."
A Bush aide says that line refers to concerns Mitt Romney's team unearthed when they vetted Rubio for vice president in 2012.   (our emphasis)
You can be sure any further "concerns" about "Glug Glug" will eventually come out during Republican primary vetting.  We have some doubts, though, whether the chronically non- confrontational "J.E.B.!" has the cojones to go for "Glug Glug's" soft underbelly.  (We see that necessary fratricidal chore more likely being undertaken by someone with the instincts of a psychopath and the  ethical standards of a lizard -- someone like, hmmm, let's see...  Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz!)  Or maybe a "J.E.B.!" ratf*cker (think the late Lee Atwater) can handle the dirty work with a wink and a nod from the "low- energy" "J.E.B.!"

"Is it irresponsible to speculate?  It is irresponsible not to."   Also, "it's out there."

This is the kind of dirt Republicans are so good at spoon- feeding to a water- carrying media.  It's much harder for the likes of "Glug Glug" to try to change the subject when the accusations aren't weak soundbites lobbed at him with no intention of follow- through.  Let 'er rip, boys!

BONUS:  Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly has a good read on vetting "Glug Glug."

BONUS II:  Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog found something in the presentation that demonstrates "J.E.B.!'s"  tin ear when it comes to appealing to the Republican wingnut base.

(Photo:  He's also a thirsty bet.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tweet of the Day: Media Horse Racers Saddle Up Rubio

"We decide, you abide."  Shades of 2000, when the "mainstream" media fell in love with the boorish Governor of Texas' folksy b.s. and contrived swagger, while mocking Vice President Gore for everything from his clothing choices to their false accusations that he claimed credit for inventing the Internet.

Bye Bye Boehner

With the vote today electing Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan to be the next Head Inmate of Bedlam Speaker of the House, outgoing Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner (boy, we're going to miss saying that) bids a fond adieu.  The merlot will be flowing freely tonight.

Republican Whine Fest Wrap-Up

You can take your pick of many excellent reviews of last night's Republican clown car bus debate whine fest, but since we didn't watch the "roaring trash fire," we'll arbitrarily pick Simon Maloy's (excerpted) take at Salon:
Well, that was awful. The third and, sadly, not final 2016 Republican primary debate wrapped up a short while ago and it was, from start to finish, a roaring trash fire. The big storyline going into the debate was decline of Jeb Bush and the ascendance of Marco Rubio, and that narrative got a huge boost with this evening’s cacophonous disaster.
Early on in the festivities, Rubio was asked about his Senate absenteeism, which gave Jeb the opening he needed to spring the clever trap he’d been planning and publicly telegraphing. “You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job,” Jeb said. “There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well. They are looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.” Rubio was ready, telling Jeb that the only reason he was attacking him over this is “because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” The crowd went wild.
And that was it for Jeb. He came into the evening needing a standout performance, and the attendance jab at Rubio was clearly supposed to be his big moment. Rubio handled it easily and made Jeb look ridiculous in the process. From that point on, Jeb was his same uninspired self, mechanically reciting the bullet points of the record he put together in Florida a decade ago that no one really cares about.
As for Rubio, he’s going to be crowned the winner of the debate. He got his talking points in, he got the favorable contrast with Jeb he wanted, and he was helped out by the moderators, who asked him aggressive questions about his Senate attendance record and personal finances. Rubio, with the help of Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, used the tone and content of the questions to turn the crowd against the moderators and score some cheap digs against the “bias” of the mainstream media. [snip]
As for the rest of the field, there weren’t many surprises. John Kasich kicked off the debate by reiterating his complaint that candidates like Ben Carson and Donald Trump are ridiculous clowns, and then largely disappeared for the remainder of the event. Rand Paul was a nonentity, Christie got a couple of shouty tough-guy moments in, and Huckabee popped off some folksy zingers. Carly Fiorina spent the evening sermonizing about the evils of government without ever veering into specifics. Ben Carson somnambulated through the night and made clear that his grasp of complex economic issues is tenuous at best. Trump was Trump – nothing you haven’t seen before.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, probably did do himself some favors. He got the moderator hate-fest rolling by ducking a question about the budget deal currently before Congress and instead listing off all the evil crimes of bias the CNBC personnel had committed to that point.
Whenever the focus can be shifted away from the insane, unpopular positions of the candidates to a Republican Playbook 101 attack on a (laughably absurd) "liberal mainstream media," you'll get the Republican peanut gallery to erupt as it did in the studio and in Republican messaging guru Fred "Dunce" Luntz's buzz- o- meters.  Besides any advantage to be gained by this "working the refs" strategy, it clearly stimulates endorphins in the conservative lizard brain.  A know- nothing will likely remain a know- nothing as long as they refuse to entertain thoughts that upset their predetermined views and prejudices.

As far as the "mainstream media," what Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein advised in 2012 still applies:
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
To which we would humbly add, "Who is deflecting tough questions by attacking the messenger?"

BONUS:  The French Ambassador to the U.S. calls J.E.B.!'s jab at the 3-day French work week "bombastic nonsense."  Mr. Ambassador, you have to remember he's a Bush.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mid-Week Close the Door Song

Folk singer Eric Andersen's star rose in the early 1960's folk music boom, along with contemporaries Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton and many others.  Many of Andersen's compositions were recorded by those same artists, who performed in the same Greenwich Village coffee houses as he did.  One of his early songs that's been covered by dozens of other musicians is "Close The Door Lightly When You Go," a slow, wistful and bitter ballad about a lost love.

Stand With Gary Busey - Vote Trump!

On the eve of tonight's Republican clown car bus "debate" in Boulder Bedlam we have the latest in celebrity endorsements for Donald "Rump" Trump, courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel:

You can judge a person (in this case a candidate) by the company he keeps. As far as celebrities go, we'll take Hillary Clinton's company of Katy Perry, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, and on and on and on.  (Not to mention one that means as much as all the others put together:  Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH.  Let's get that Ohio organization revving.)

Department of Just Desserts, Koch Division

After the election of President Obama, the far-right began a campaign to destroy his Presidency under the guise of curbing Government spending.  Referring to themselves as the Tea Party, they engaged in some of the most radical (and racist) rhetoric against the first African American President and his efforts to revive the economy after 8 years of Rethuglican mismanagement.  Behind the so-called tea party movement was the enormous wealth of the far-right Koch brothers and their political front organizations, "Americans for Prosperity," and "Freedom Works." When Rethuglican politicians weren't radical enough, they were "primaried" by tea partiers starting in the off-year elections of 2010.  Whether they succeeded in either winning seats or in influencing incumbents, the tea baggers shifted what was already a right-wing Republican Party even further to the right in successive elections.

Now, one of the notorious brothers, Charles Koch, is lamenting in a Wall Street Journal profile that the far right movement that they created has become uncivil and lacking in substance (and, of greatest importance to the manipulative Kochs, unelectable).  The tea bagger obstructionists that they helped elect to Congress are wreaking havoc on the "establishment" Rethuglicans and have emboldened a radical, no compromise, shut-the-Government-down bloc of voters that support the likes of narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump and Ben "On Meds?" Carson (indeed, Rump's campaign manager is a product of "Americans for Prosperity").  Now, with their hundreds of millions of big-polluter dollars ready to buy viable Rethug candidates, the Koch brothers are nervous that their own pet political project has spun out of control and threatens to wreck the Rethuglican / New Confederate / Stupid Party's chances at the ballot box.  Aww, so sad.

"Marco Rubio - Quits When Frustrated"

Recently, Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (R- AWOL) has defended being absent from the most votes of any Senator this year by saying:
“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”
“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes. 
Here's what the Sun-Sentinel, the largest circulation newspaper in the Miami area, had to say to "Glug Glug:"
Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We've got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.
If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.
Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day's work. Don't leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.
You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy — declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare.
You are ripping us off, senator.

As the once great Washington Post's Bezos Bugle's Tom Toles (our increasingly go- to guy it seems) has it (click on image to enlarge):

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Today's Cartoon - The Republicans' Wile E. Coyote Plan (And The Sherrod Brown Endorsement)

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(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

"Committee adviser: Wile E. Coyote."  Brilliant!

Another boost for Clinton:  progressive favorite Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is endorsing her for President.

Lyin' Ryan Looks Gift Horse In Mouth

Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan wants the pitchfork mob on his right to think he's upset about the proposed budget deal (see post below) that his own staff played a major part in drafting. Of course, he won't say it, but he knows that outgoing Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner gave him a big gift.  Quite the performer.

Pump that cheese, Lyin', and try to look angry for the Freedumb Carcass.

UPDATE: For anyone deluded enough to think Ryan is a "moderate," he's apparently acceded to "Freedom Caucus" demands not to bring up immigration reform during the remainder of President Obama's term. 

Budget And Debt Ceiling Deal In The Works? (Updated)

The White House and Congressional leaders appear to have a deal on the budget and raising the debt limit into 2017:
Just before midnight on Monday, congressional lawmakers and the White House tentatively agreed on a major budget deal that would end such standoffs in the Obama presidency and solve a potentially catastrophic debt default coming within days.  [snip]

Under the arrangement detailed by congressional aides, the debt limit, predicted to be hit on Nov. 3, would be extended into March 2017 -- well into the next president's term.
Additionally, over the next two years, government spending would rise $80 billion above the caps that sequestration currently allows. That money would be doled out evenly between defense and non-defense accounts, with $50 billion budgeted for the first year and $30 billion for the second.
On top of that, the bill would include $32 billion for the overseas contingency fund -- a veritable piggybank for administrations to cover the costs of wars -- split over the next two years. That would bring the deal's total spending increase to $112 billion over two years.  [snip]
... The deal would extend the sequester's cuts to mandatory spending through 2025, which mostly involves a 2 percent cut in reimbursements to Medicare doctors. That reduction was scheduled to expire in 2021 under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which put sequestration into place. It was extended to 2023 under Murray-Ryan deal.
The new agreement also would prevent a 20 percent cut in benefits next year to the 11 million Americans enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The cut would be avoided by diverting some of the incoming payroll tax money from Social Security's much bigger retirement insurance program for six years, something Republicans previously said they wouldn't do without cuts to benefits.
If the deal passes, it would accomplish (at least on the fiscal side) what outgoing Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner promised as his "cleaning out the barn" before his retirement at the end of this month, removing some contentious issues from Weeper- to- be Paul "Lyin'" Ryan's to- do list.   It would also mean Congress wouldn't be sabotaging the economy, at least for the balance of the Obama Administration.

The bill may be brought to the House floor for a quick vote in the next 24 hours.  As a "tell" for who got the best of the negotiations, look for the percentage of Republicans voting against it versus the percentage of Democrats voting for it.

UPDATE:  At least the head of Social Security Works thinks "the hostage has been released" as far as Social Security and Medicare are concerned  -- good news for getting Democratic support.

Apocalypse -- No

Establishment Republican hack and former Dumbya speechwriter Michael Gerson seems to have had a long- delayed, yet self- serving and probably short- lived "epiphany" concerning the extremist, apocalyptic rhetoric that has been the hallmark of Republican politics for decades (a tradition to which he gladly contributed - he didn't get the nickname "Mushroom Cloud" for nothing).  Much like David "Bobo" Brooks' recent discovery that the party he both promoted and made excuses for over the years had "suddenly" become "willfully ignorant" and "incompetent," Gerson has this moment of clarity today about the party that he both promoted and made excuses for over the years, starting with the admission that America isn't "going to hell":
The United States has a long list of social and economic challenges, disturbingly (and unjustly) concentrated in certain communities. But we are not slouching toward Gomorrah. Over the past few decades, divorce rates and abortion rates have both declined. Levels of violent crime have dropped dramatically. The U.S. economy, for all its problems, still attracts the world’s capital and the world’s best students. We have a wonderful country, thank you, flawed and free, carrying the highest political ideals of humanity, always capable of hope and healing. [snip]

Apocalyptic rhetoric is more than the evidence of historical ignorance and bad speechwriting. It leads to a distorted politics. If the United States has reached its midnight hour, it means that the institutions that have gotten us here are utterly discredited. The normal avenues of political reform are useless. Proposals for incremental policy change are so much deck-chair arranging. Political persuasion and compromise evince a lack of urgency. What we really need is to call a constitutional convention. Or to conduct a massive police action removing 11 million undocumented immigrants. Or to elect a really strong leader who knocks heads and sets everything straight.  [snip]

Trump and Carson can succeed only if the end times are upon us. And I don’t mean that in a theological way. In normal times, innovative policy and governing skill would matter most in selecting a president. Successful governors and legislators would naturally rise to the top. Only in a crisis of institutional legitimacy does the outsider become the savior. This means Trump, Carson and other apocalyptic politicians must encourage a mental state of emergency among Republicans. Lacking any relevant qualifications in the current political system, these candidates must bring that system into complete disrepute. Since the politicians have made such a hash of things, they insist, a businessman or a neurosurgeon couldn’t possibly do worse(our emphasis)
Oh, yes they could.
It's funny how, when the enraged pitchfork- wielding yahoos that you've cultivated are finally coming after you, the clouds -- even mushroom clouds -- part and the truth finally ekes out.

UPDATE:  Driftglass takes us back a short while to demonstrate Gerson's complicity.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Somebody's Birthday Today ...

Happy Birthday to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who turns a very presidential 68 today.

Today's Cartoon - Republican Id-iocy

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(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

The Crackpot Talks Rocks, Bricks and Hammers

Watching loony Rethuglican presidential contender Ben "On Meds?" Carson ("The Scariest Republican Crackpot") in interviews and speeches, one forms the impression that he's sedated when delivering some of the crazy talk that's propelled him to top of the Rethuglican pile, along with narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump. Slow talking, perpetually squinting, and smiling or frowning at awkwardly inappropriate times is all part of the impression, too.

Now, "On Meds" wants us to know that, contrary to what Rump has said about his "low-energy" persona, he's had a volatile and violent past:
"There was a time when I was, you know, very volatile. But, you know, I changed. As a teenager, I would go after people with rocks, and bricks, and baseball bats, and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone. And, you know, fortunately … my life has been changed. And I’m a very different person now.” (emphasis added)
One of the people he threatened with a hammer was his own mother, by the way. That's reassuring for someone who aspires to a position that controls the U.S.'s nuclear launch codes. He says he's a very different person now, but his angry, hyper-aggressive rhetoric (delivered in his creepy quiet voice) says not.  Seriously, there's something off kilter with "On Meds," and it's not just his bizarre statements about Jews should have armed themselves to prevent the Holocaust, or that "Obamacare" is the worst thing since slavery.  It's his mind, personal demons and delusions that make him an ideal candidate for the Republican base, but extremely dangerous for the country.

BONUS:  Meanwhile, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog has a theory why this guy and the Rump are leading in the Republican polls.

The Great Uniter

Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid Party front runner (except in hayshaker country) Donald "Rump" Trump has ludicrously self- styled himself as a "uniter," despite his manifestly racist, Islamophobic, nativist campaign.  Now the "Great Uniter" is turning to the religious beliefs of his closest rival, comparing his church to that of Dr. Ben "On Meds?" Carson (a.k.a., The Scariest Republican Crackpot ) this past Saturday:
"I'm Presbyterian, he said. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
If we thought Carson was capable of subtle thought, we might wonder if he could see in retrospect how his comments about Muslims were of the same intolerant nature as Rump's comments about his own Seventh-day Adventist religion.  But, nah!

There are over 1.2 million Americans (over 18 million world-wide) who are Seventh-day Adventists. There are 2.6 million Muslim Americans.  There are 52 million Hispanic Americans.  As much as Rump and his cretinous followers =cough= the Republican base =cough= would like, those Americans are not going away.  And we don't think they look upon Rump as a "uniter."

BONUS:  He's also salt of the earth, a Horatio Alger of our times.  (h/t Grung_e_Gene)


News item:  Blowhard bully Gov. Chris "Krispykreme" Christie takes a seat in an Amtrak train's "quiet car," and proceeds to bloviate too loudly on his cell phone, saying things like "this is frickin' ridiculous" and swigging a strawberry smoothie.

Like the people of New Jersey, the people in the quiet car didn't want him and his big mouth there, so the conductor made him move.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Quote Of The Day

The "Scariest Republican Crackpot" speaks:
"Rape or incest, I would not be for killing a baby because the baby came about in that way.  And all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who are the result of rape or incest."  Droopy Dog doppelganger Dr. Ben "On Meds?" Carson today on "Meet the Press" "Press the Meat" with Chuck "Not My Job" Todd.  He also compared abortion with slavery and said he would "love" to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  And he soars in the Republican polls.

Sunday Reflection

At the conclusion of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis had some hard truths for the right- wing bishops who thwarted his desire to have the Catholic Church adopt a more forward- leaning position toward the LGBT community.  We hope he can find new postings for the medieval clerics (largely from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe) who opposed him -- as well as a few sedition- minded American right- wing clerics = cough= pedophile protector Cardinal Dolan =cough= who richly deserve early retirement as well. 

Sunday Comics Twofer - The Witchhunt FAIL

(click on image to enlarge)

(Robert Ariail, via

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch)

The House Republican Benghazi! Kangaroo Court's spectacularly incompetent partisan prosecution of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been judged by most observers as, well, a spectacularly incompetent partisan prosecution.  It reached perhaps its most bizarre and revealing climax during the questioning involving Clinton friend and adviser Sidney Blumenthal, as pundits across the spectrum observed.

Dana Milbank
The House Select Committee on Blumenthal, as some are now calling it, came to order at 10 a.m. Lawmakers didn’t finish questioning Hillary Clinton until 11 hours later — just after the Democratic presidential candidate succumbed to a coughing fit.
In that period of time, the name of Sidney Blumenthal was invoked more than 75 times, and scores of questions were asked about the longtime Clinton friend. By lunchtime, Blumenthal had been invoked 49 times — exactly the number of mentions of J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya whose death in Benghazi is the supposed subject of the congressional probe. The other three Americans slain in Benghazi — Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods — got seven or eight mentions apiece, then-CIA director David Petraeus and former defense secretary Robert Gates each got two, and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had none.
Kathleen Parker
Who the blast is Sidney Blumenthal?
Doubtless many watching Thursday’s House select committee hearing on Benghazi must have wondered the same. This obviously important person’s name was mentioned so many times, it was challenging to remember that Hillary Clinton, not he, was the one on trial, for lack of a more-accurate word.  [snip]
None of this was remotely relevant to the alleged purpose of the hearing — to find out once and for all what happened before, during and after that terrible night in Benghazi when four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed. The real purpose was as obvious as the shine on Gowdy’s nose — to discredit Clinton both as secretary of state and as a leading presidential candidate — and, if possible, to make her head explode. All the questions about Blumenthal’s e-mails ultimately resulted in a rather wispy point: That he had Clinton’s personal e-mail address and Stevens, also a friend, did not. 
The focus on Blumenthal, of course, belied the unctuous vows by Chairdolt Trey "Deuce" Gowdy and his merry band of Republican knuckle-draggers that they were after "the facts" on Benghazi!  The angrier the questioning and the more Clinton refused to rise to the bait, the more the true intent of the Kangaroo Court was made apparent to all but the most deluded in the right- wing echo chamber.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mommy and Daddy's Money Quote of the Day

"Here's a guy who wants to run our country, and [Jeb Bush] can't even run his own campaign. And you know what? He's cutting back big...Bush has no money. He's cutting. He's meeting today with mommy and daddy and they're working on their campaign." -- (emphasis added)  Narcissistic blowhard Donald "Rump" Trump today in Jacksonville, FL.   Rump always manages to land a punch right to the gonads of House of Bush pretender to the Presidency John Ellis "J.E.B.!" Bush.  J.E.B.!'s campaign is mired in the mid-single digits to the chagrin of his big donor benefactors, and his campaign announced a 40% cutback in salaries and significant reductions in staff yesterday.

UPDATE:  Rump also had choice words for Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio and Ben "On Meds?" Carson:
"You've got Rubio doing poorly, and he sweats like a dog," Trump said. "You've got Carson. I don't know what the hell's going on there. I don't get it."

The Roots of Clinton Derangement Syndrome

Former Secretary Clinton's calm, measured and knowledgable appearance before the partisan Benghazi Benghazi! BENGHAZI! House Select Committee stood in stark contrast to the angry, disjointed and prosecutorial behavior of the Committee's Republican cohort. Aside from President Obama, who provokes their enmity for a range of other reasons (race being one), Hillary Clinton has always managed to press the right-wing's rage button. Why?  Adele Stan's article suggests that much of it goes to the right's antagonism to professional, breadwinning women like the former Secretary, who had her own successful career outside of the Arkansas Governor's mansion.
In the right-wing mind, there is nothing so ruinous to America as the liberation of women. The right’s entire ideological structure is built on worship of the Great White Father and veneration of the stern, Caucasian, disciplinarian dad. It’s a worldview centered on a jealous, blue-eyed Father God, a military dispatched to teach the world a lesson, and a president who serves as the national patriarch.
We've certainly seen over the past decades the clear bias of the right wing (Phyllis Schafly, anyone?) against women who choose both families and careers. We'd also propose some additional clues as to the right's Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

First, Hillary Clinton served on the professional Democratic staff of the Watergate Committee, something that the right will never forgive, even though their work rid the country of a truly bad guy. That doesn't matter to the right: Richard Nixon was their guy, the guy with an "R" next to his name.

Second, when Bill Clinton's star began to rise as the charismatic Governor of a southern state, he and Hillary ("you get two for the price of one") represented a mortal threat to the Republicans' "Southern Strategy," formulated by Nixon to peel conservative Dems and Dixiecrats off of the Democratic Party. The Rethugs saw their future viability rested in locking up the old Confederacy for the Republican Party, and this Democratic duo from the South had to be stopped. They weren't, and the Rethugs had to resort to a virtual Constitutional coup in the form of impeachment, which failed and resulted in greater public support for the Clintons. (Impeachment was also a neat form of indirect retaliation to Hillary Clinton for her service on the Watergate Committee).

Something to think about as the 2016 campaign season begins, and as the assault on the former Secretary continues unabated.

President Obama Does Grumpy Cat

For anyone not familiar with "Grumpy Cat," a.k.a. Tardar Sauce, she's a long-running internet star with a Facebook page with over 7 million likes:

Now, here's President Obama at yesterday's Democratic Women's Leadership Forum doing his best "Republicans are like Grumpy Cat" imitation:

We would offer that a better depiction of Republicans would be the character of "Taz," the Looney Tunes Tasmanian devil, who's described thusly:
..."a ferocious albeit dim-witted omnivore with a notoriously short temper and little patience. His enormous appetite seems to know no bounds, as he will eat anything in his path. He is best known for his speech consisting mostly of grunts, growls, and rasps (in his earlier appearances, he does speak English with primitive grammar) as well as his ability to spin like a vortex and bite through just about anything."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Weekend Song

One of the songs featured in Matt Damon's new film "The Martian" is this Gamble and Huff hit by the O'Jays from 1973 (and if you haven't yet seen the movie, we highly recommend it), a song we've featured before, "Love Train."  It doesn't have quite the same punch unless you see the "Soul Train" line dancers kicking it (featuring the late Fred "Rerun" Berry in the still, below, and doing the "slo-mo" at approximately 1:08).  (Bring back any memories, Silver Spring Bureau Chief?)  Fro's, hot pants and proof your parents could dance!

Today's Face Asking To Be Punched

With so many to choose from on the abusive House Benghazi! Kangaroo Court yesterday, from lop- headed Chairdolt Trey "Deuce" Gowdy to Rep. Mike "Can I Visit You At Home?" Pompeo to Rep. Peter "Peter" Roskam, we selected this uber- douche:  Rep. Jim "Jethro" Jordan (Freedumb- OH) as Today's Face... (not that we would encourage anyone to do such a thing).  Jordan merits special consideration for a virtual knuckle sandwich because he's one of the founders of the ultra- ultra- right- wing "Freedom Caucus" in the House, whose mission is to make it impossible to have nice things in this country.

(Photo:  He looks bright, doesn't he?!)

The Paul Ryan Con Continues, But For How Long?

It's apparently a done deal.  Republicans are expected to select this Very Serious Man narcissistic twit next week as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives:

A stupid man's idea of what a smart person sounds like*, Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch) is a far- right extremist considered not far- right extremist enough by some of the nihilist nitwits in so- called Republican "Freedom Caucus."  One of the "concessions" that the faux- wonk con artist Ryan asked for, and received from the unruly knuckle- draggers in his caucus, was to have weekend "family time" back in his home state of Wisconsin Kochland.  The rank hypocrisy of this has been quickly pointed out, coming as it is from a man who opposes so many family- friendly policies.  But here's Larry Wilmore's takedown (after a looong piece about the NY Mets going to the World Series, yada yada), complete with side swipes at easily- duped jackasses like Mika Brzezinski and Sheryl Sandberg:

We can only hope this does for Ryan's political career what it's done for John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner's.  Perhaps someday Paul Krugman's assessment of Ryan will prevail:
What makes Mr. Ryan so special? The answer, basically, is that he’s the best con man they’ve got. His success in hoodwinking the news media and self-proclaimed centrists in general is the basis of his stature within his party. Unfortunately, at least from his point of view, it would be hard to sustain the con game from the speaker’s chair.  (our emphasis)
* Paul Krugman's description of another Republican Speaker of the House, Leroy "Newt" Gingrich, which applies in equal measure to Ryan.

Pig Sty Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

The consensus across political lines was that Hillary Clinton benefitted from the marathon partisan spectacle yesterday, which dragged on from morning to evening and which elicited no new information or finding. She looked calm and knowledgeable in the face of nasty insinuations and false charges leveled by the Rethugs. Her impressive performance yesterday capped a good week for her, with Vice President Biden deciding not to enter the race for President and her post-debate poll numbers rising.

The Rethugs on the committee, led by a red-faced, perspiring and angry Trey "Deuce" Gowdy, came across as "vituperative" and "spiteful".  After the inquisition, Deuce himself admitted -- surprise! --  it produced no new information that hadn't already been disclosed in one of the previous eight inquiries on the Benghazi attack. Right wingers are grieving, aware that this exercise in partisan opposition research had not only failed miserably, but had strengthened the hand of their hated enemy Hillary Clinton.

BONUS:  Let's not forget the role of the "mainstream media" in keeping the Republican narrative alive.  They share in the utter shame and travesty of this taxpayer- funded partisan opposition research.

(cartoon: Jeff Danziger, via

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Benghazi! Kangaroo Court Wrap Up

We didn't by any means watch the whole (still) unfolding House Benghazi! Kangaroo Court inquisition of Hillary Clinton today.  We saw enough pretty early on.  Beyond the obvious fact that Clinton and the Democratic representatives on the Kangaroo Court handed Rep. Trey "Deuce" Gowdy and his band of nihilist nitwits their asses, we couldn't improve on Charles Pierce's observations:
I would like to congratulate the United States House of Representatives for the very fine show they put on today on the stage provided by the Special Committee To Keep Benghazi In The News Until The Polls Drop. There has been no better example of non-governance displayed on TV since the last time Marco Rubio gave a speech. There has been no better view granted of the sheer stupidity and incompetence that has run riot in those halls because of the last two midterm elections since the last time Steve King parted his brain on the left side. There has been no more sterling example of the now-undeniable truth that modern movement conservatism has declined into a tangled mess of myth, shibboleth, and outright fabulism since the last time Ed Klein wrote a book.  A whole philosophy of government, and still an influential one, stands exposed as little more than a puppet show for the national Id, and not a particularly sharp one, either. A movement full of grifters and ignorami, acting out a simulacrum of representative government for the benefit of an audience steeped in comfortable, narcotic delusion.  [snip]
This whole thing started because of a ginned-up controversy about what Susan Rice had said about the attacks on​ Meet The Press in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. (Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio is still howling about this.) Responding to a question from Cummings, HRC actually got to explain that the video at least was partly responsible for the rage that broke out from Indonesia to Tunisia. That, alas, was beside the point. So also was Congressman Adam Schiff's boot in the ass in which he pretty much demonstrated that Blumenthal's appearance before this committee—the transcript of which Gowdy refuses to release—​was a fishing expedition after material about the Clintons that could be used for future ratfcking purposes.And not even Hillary Rodham Clinton's ability to stand up against the gales of innuendo and fakery will make it less so.​
This was a performance piece for the people residing within the conservative media bubble—​who already are hip to the lies of the lamestream media, and who already are too smart to be fooled by the Hildebeast and her alleged facts because Mark Levin has told them that they are too smart to be so fooled, and who watch their favorite TV news stars every night, where there is always Another Question, or Another E-Mail, or, for all I know, Another Witness who saw the ghost of Vince Foster wandering through the Mena Airport with Kathleen Willey's cat in his mouth. The people out in the world are one problem, but now they're pretty plainly electing each other to the national legislature. That makes it our problem.
The defense rests.

BONUS:  Wingnuts are displeased that the inquisition made their Congresscritters look like jackasses and bullies (which, of course, they are).  Also, HRC ate their lunch.

Twit Tweet of the Day, Pot Meet Kettle Edition

From House of Bush princeling, John Ellis "J.E.B.!" Bush, who wants us to forget the eight years his incompetent brother Dumbya was President and presided over the worst foreign policy blunder (Iraq) and homeland security disaster (9-11) in U.S. history:

Reminding people, if only indirectly, of your brother's ineptitude -- the brother and his advisors from whom you seek advice on foreign policy -- may not be the best political move, Cletus.

Benghazi! Kangaroo Court Convenes Today

The House Benghazi! kangaroo court is convening shortly to "question" Hillary Clinton, a spectacle that may prove to be a tipping point in this shameful exercise in political chicanery.  Kurt Eichenwald has an excellent read this morning, which is highly recommended in that it comprehensively covers the evolution of this political hatchet job.  It deserves to be bookmarked for present and future generations as an example of pure political ratf*cking, at taxpayer expense no less.  Here's a sample:
The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.
Republicans and their media cheerleaders need to have a reckoning for their behavior.  We hope today's "hearing" will be the beginning of that overdue process.

UPDATE:  Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) comes out swinging about the purely partisan nature of the hearings. Blasts waste of taxpayer money, exclusion of other witnesses from DOD and CIA, etc. Full transcript here.

UPDATE II:  If you're so inclined, you can watch live stream video of the kangaroo court here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bibi Bomb Bomb's Latest Incitement

If anyone needed any further evidence of Likudnik Israeli Prime Minister Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu's deep hatred of the Palestinians, he supplied it yesterday in a speech to the Zionist Congress.  In his speech, Bomb Bomb engaged in some revisionist history when he accused the then Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, of convincing Adolph Hitler to exterminate the Jews in Europe, rather than just expel them.  From Reuters:
"Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu said in the speech. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here (Palestine).'

"'So what should I do with them?'" Netanyahu said Hitler asked the mufti, who responded: "Burn them."
Reaction to Bomb Bomb's false history was swift, including from Dina Porat, the chief historian at Yad Vashem, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Israel:
"To say that the mufti was the first to mention to Hitler the idea to kill or burn the Jews is not correct. The idea to rid the world of the Jews was a central theme in Hitler's ideology a long, long time before he met the mufti."
Indeed, Hitler announced his genocidal plan to the Reichstag in 1939;  the Mufti met with Hitler in Berlin in November 1941. It should be acknowledged that while the Mufti's primary antagonism was toward the British colonialists, he was a notorious anti-Semite who helped recruit Muslims in the Balkans for the Waffen SS. But seeming to absolve Hitler of his enormous crime?  Even Bomb Bomb's ally and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon spoke out against that:
"It certainly wasn't (Husseini) who invented the Final Solution," he told Israel's Army Radio. "That was the evil brainchild of Hitler himself."
This is the extremist Prime Minister that President Obama has to deal with on U.S. - Israeli relations.

BONUS:  Israeli Knesset member Zehava Galon reminds Bibi Bomb Bomb,
“Perhaps we should exhume the corpses of the 33,771 Jews murdered in Babi Yar [in Ukraine] in September 1941, two months before the Mufti and Hitler met, and bring them up to speed on the fact that the Nazis had no intention of destroying them.”

Joe Biden's NOT Running

As successfully sussed out (not) by always- wrong Wee Willie Kristol, Vice President Biden announced in the White House Rose Garden early this afternoon that he will not be seeking the Democratic nomination for President:
"While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent [...] Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record."
Condolences to Fox "News," the Republican clown car bus, CNN, the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle, Maureen Dowd and all the Clinton- haters and other writers of Biden fan fic.  Now you can all STFU.  Another potential distraction Hillary Clinton won't have on her mind, especially tomorrow.

BONUS: "Dewey Defeats Truman"  Sunday "news" shows' favorite Republican ratf*cker Wrong Again Wee Willie Kristol updated his prediction of a Biden run yesterday;  welp, wrong place, wrong decision.  What an irredeemable ass.  LMFAO.

BONUS II: Biden's notorious political tin ear was apparent in recent remarks, as Digby pointed out.  Wrong man, wrong time.  Right decision.

Quote Of The Day - Pot, Meet Kettle

"This should actually be the rule in the entire government. If you're not doing your job, you should be fired."  --  Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (R- AWOL) casting his first (symbolic) vote in weeks on a dead- on- arrival bill  to defund sanctuary cities (the latest wingnut anti- immigrant obsession).  Rubio should know something about "not doing your job";  he has missed the most votes of anyone in the Senate this year.  Since he's running for President (hahaha) and not re-election, his firing will take care of itself.

Conditionally Yours...Or Not

Following last night's announcement by failed 2012 VP candidate Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan that he would accept the Speaker of the House position only if certain conditions were met, those conditions aren't selling to the radical nihilist "Freedom Caucus" in the House. Right-wing radical Representatives like bigot Steve "Cantaloupe Calves" King, and delusional hayseed Tim Huelskamp rejected Ryan's conditions because it would cede power to him that's held by their 40-some tea bagging Rethuglican colleagues. And to think that just three years ago, Lyin' was put on the Rethuglican ticket as the "real conservative" balance to corporate shape-changer Willard "Mittens" Romney.

Wingnut media figures are also piling on Lyin', from the likes of hate radio's Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, to the far right internet world's panjandrum Erick Erickson and the Drudge Report, calling him everything from "Emperor Ryan" and "moronic" to "spoiled," and threatening a far-right grass roots revolt if the "Freedom Caucus" goes along with the conditions.

Nothing is more satisfying than to watch this cage fight of radical nihilists and their would-be right wing overlords. Chickens coming home…..

Testifying Outfit Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Guaranteed: if Hillary Clinton were to drop out of the Presidential race today, her Benghazi Benghazi! BENGHAZI! hearings tomorrow would magically evaporate.  A year-and-a-half of "investigations" and "hearings," $4.5 million  (and counting) in taxpayer funds, and three years after the attack, the partisan farce continues.

BONUS:  Frequent blind squirrel Dana Milbank traces the unraveling of the Benghazi! witch hunt (read the entire piece!):
If this were one of Trey Gowdy’s murder prosecutions, it would be declared a mistrial.
For 17 months, the former prosecutor who leads the House Benghazi committee has labored to give the appearance of diligence and impartiality. But, in an inexplicable and ruinous outbreak of honesty in recent weeks, the thing is unraveling just in time for Gowdy’s moment in the spotlight: Hillary Clinton’s testimony Thursday.
In an attempt to alter the "optics" of their unraveling witch hunt, Republicans on the panel have new marching orders:  grill Clinton, but do it "gently."  Brilliant!

(cartoon:  Tom Toles, formerly great Washington Post Bezos Bugle, via

Letters We Wish We'd Written - "He Kept Us Safe" Dept.

In today's once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle:
Would that there was a WASPish equivalent for the Yiddish word “chutzpah.” That term would nicely apply to Jeb Bush’s grossly tone-deaf claim that his brother George W. Bush “kept us safe” during the course of his presidency. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 financial crisis were the most destructive and harrowing assaults on U.S. domestic security since World War II. The Bush administration’s ineptness in each inflicted unprecedented levels of peril and loss on this country.
Perhaps the privileged dynast Jeb Bush felt safe during those times, but many Americans paid huge costs in blood and property and a sense of security. Anybody and everybody running against Mr. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination should make him convince us that he is, unlike his brother, someone we can trust with the security and well-being of our families.
Jon S. Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.
With all due respect, we don't think "J.E.B.!" will ever convince us that he's "someone we can trust with the security and well-being of our families."

Mid-Week Step It Up Song

Grammy-nominated jazz artist Jeff Lorber has been around creating mellow, "fusion" jazz songs for over 30 years, first with his group Jeff Lorber Fusion, and more recently as a solo artist.  His keyboard work not only pops up on jazz radio stations, but also on such eclectic venues as the Weather Channel and on video games.  Here's his newest single, "Step It Up," from his newly-released album with the same title. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is Joe Biden Looking At These Polls?

Today's polls don't offer much in the way of encouragement to a Biden presidential run.

Hillary Clinton has widened her lead in the Democratic primary race after a strong performance in the party’s first televised debate, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
The poll offered little encouragement for Vice President Joe Biden as he wrestles with whether to enter the contest. For all the respect the vice president enjoys within his party, just 30% of Democratic primary voters said they would like to see him run for the presidential nomination, with 38% saying he shouldn’t run.
The survey, conducted Oct. 15-18, found Mrs. Clinton leading the primary field with 49% support, compared with 29% for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and 15% for Mr. Biden.
Without the vice president on the ballot, Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Sanders opened to 58% to 33%—a margin 10 percentage points wider than in a Journal/NBC News poll taken in late September, before the Oct. 13 Democratic debate.  (our emphasis)
ABC News/Washington Post:
With anticipation surrounding Biden at a peak, Clinton has 54 percent support in interviews Thursday through Sunday, compared with Sanders’ 23 percent and Biden’s 16 percent. That’s 12 percentage points better for Clinton than her position a month ago, bringing her halfway back to her level of support in the spring and summer, before her September stumble.  [snip]
Clinton’s support for the nomination is more than double Sanders’ and triple the unannounced Biden’s. Leaving Biden out of the equation, she has even more support, 64 percent, compared with 25 percent for Sanders, with others in the low single digits. That’s improved slightly for Clinton from a 56-28 percent race vs. Sanders in September. (our emphasis)
As we noted the other day, we tend to agree with brother Tomasky that Biden's best course of action would be to say he's sitting out the primaries; he keeps his reputation and legacy intact while gaining great favor with Clinton (and maybe even some Sanders) supporters.  At the same time he'd be leaving the door ajar ever so slightly for a draft in the highly unlikely case Clinton's campaign implodes.  Either way, this mindless tease that's been going on with the media's active involvement should end, and end very soon.