Paul Ryan is bold (just ask him) and has a vision (just ask him)

Newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan addresses the House for the first time  on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron  - RTX1TU6I

“Trust me, I’m bold.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday and was asked about immigration reform (he’s against it), Obamacare (he’s against it), the Freedom Caucus (they’re his friends) and more, and his answers (or non-answers, if you’d prefer) boiled down to this:

I think if you offer the people of this nation […] a bold alternative vision … And I think we have to offer people a bold agenda … people are starving for an alternative to this vision … we have got to be a bold alternative party … I think what we haven’t done is offer a vision … And so I do believe that means we have to be bold … to offer the people of this nation a better way forward, a very bold agenda.

So there you have it. If you were looking for any substance here, sorry. But at

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Here’s the major takeaway from Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony

Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speaks to reporters after questioning Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a day-long testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington October 2

This is what flop sweat looks like

It was a grueling session that spanned more than 11 hours, and boy howdy, it was worth it. Because when asked what new details had emerged from Hillary Clinton’s marathon grilling, Republican Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said:

“Uh … In terms of her testimony? I don’t know that she testified that much differently today than she has the previous time she testified.”

Kaboom! Totally worth the $4.5 million of taxpayer money the committee has spent (so far).

House Republicans finally manage to browbeat Paul Ryan into becoming the new speaker

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) pauses as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS5DA3

Late Wednesday night the crazies were calmed—for now—Paul Ryan backed down—it won’t be the last time—and House Republicans finally managed to browbeat someone into replacing John Boehner as speaker of the House:

A strong majority of anti-establishment conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus voted on Wednesday night to support Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin for House speaker, assuring that he will have the votes to secure the post next week and averting a leadership crisis for Republicans.

One might say that the “averting a leadership crisis” ship had already sailed with the stunning resignation of Boehner because he could no longer deal with the Freedom Caucus, the crash-and-burn of Kevin McCarthy’s bid to replace him and the days of outright begging by the party for Ryan to take this thankless job, but okay, crisis averted.
Then there was this:

“I’m grateful for the support of a supermajority of the

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Team Jeb claims Dubya ‘inherited’ 9/11 and recession

The Republicans' Magic Calendar.

Stung by Donald Trump’s self-evident truth that history did not begin on September 12, 2001 and end at noon on January 20, 2009, Jeb Bush asked, “Does anybody actually blame my brother for 9/11?” As it turns out, this is hardly the first time the former Florida governor complained about the unkindness the calendar has shown his brother. In August 2012, Jeb declared it was “unbecoming” for Barack Obama to continue to “blame others” for the economic calamity he inherited from George W., and went so far as to suggest the president should be “spanked” for pointing the finger at his brother. And in April 2009—just weeks after Obama entered the Oval Office in the midst of the greatest American economic calamity since the Great Depression—Jeb protested:

“If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing

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Trey Gowdy blasted for politicizing Benghazi … again

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Timing is everything. On the same day that Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Republican-led House Special Committee on Benghazi, sobbed to Politico that it really hurts when people say his committee’s investigation is politically motivated:

I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life. Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically — at least it is for me.

… Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the committee, blasted Gowdy for his claim on October 7 that Hillary Clinton passed along classified information via email, with Gowdy calling it, “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.” Said Cummings:

The problem with your accusation—as with so many others during this investigation—is that you failed to check

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The comical cult of Paul Ryan

Not since LeBron James announced “The Decision” to “take my talents to South Beach” have so many Americans waited with bated breath for one man to declare his intentions. Hoping for white smoke from the chimney of his Jaynesville, Wisconsin home, most Republicans and even some Democrats are hoping that Paul Ryan will decide to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus save the GOP from itself.
While Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman remains huddled with family in his Badger State conclave, politicians and pundits sing Paul Ryan’s praises in almost hagiographic terms. Josh Marshall noted that “a defining principle of modern Republican ideology is that ‘Paul Ryan is awesome.'” Jonathan Chait argued that Ryan “is already the president of Republican America” because “no other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.” While

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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After more than five years, GOP is ‘coalescing around the outlines of a plan’ to replace Obamacare

Elderly woman in bed asleep

Hang on, grandma, Republican help is on the way!

Well, this is exciting news. After more than five years, more than 50 votes to repeal, along with endless predictions of Obamacare bringing about the End Times, and finally, finally, Republicans have come up with the replacement plan they’ve been talking about since 2010:

After years of trying, Republicans are coalescing around the outlines of a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Oh. Never mind. They still haven’t come up with a replacement plan as much as they’ve agreed to a general idea that “seems to reflect an emerging consensus among Republicans” on what that plan should be. So, when will the bill that will at last end our long national nightmare of millions of Americans having access to health care be introduced in Congress?

But despite the general agreement on the outlines of a plan, Republicans are a long way

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Another Republican admits Benghazi Committee designed to go after Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference after talking about her strategy for rural America during a campaign stop at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa August 26, 2015.

At what point will there be a special committee to investigate House Republicans spending $4.5 million in taxpayer money to conduct a political witch-hunt?

Rep. Richard Hanna, R-New York, said Wednesday on New York’s’ WIBX 950 said “Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth.”
“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton,” said Hanna, who is not a member of the committee.

So add Hanna to the list of Republicans, along with Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner, who have committed the biggest D.C. sin there is.
Said a Clinton spokesman:

“House Republicans aren’t even shy anymore about admitting that the Benghazi Committee is a partisan farce.”

That’s been clear for a very long time, but

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Studies: Raise capital gains tax rates to lower income inequality

On Monday, Donald Trump became just the latest Republican White House hopeful to propose a Treasury-draining, tax cut windfall for the richest Americans. But while Trump calls for slashing the top marginal income tax rates at a time of record income inequality, a new study from the Brookings Institution argues that hiking those same rates will have little impact on the immense income gap in the United States.

That finding from former Obama budget official Peter Orszag and his co-authors William Gale and Melissa Kearney may seem counter-intuitive. But it’s not, for the simple reason that Orszag and company focused their attention on the wrong set of tax rates. As it turns out, historically low capital gains tax rates haven’t fueled greater investment in the U.S. economy, but instead helped fuel the biggest income gap since 1929.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that from reading Peter Orszag:

We

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John Boehner press conference on his resignation

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wipes away tears during his remarks at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring members of the First Special Service Force at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 3, 2015. The

Probably.

After bailing earlier Friday morning, soon-to-be former Speaker of the House John Boehner will be speaking to the press shortly. Follow his remarks here.
For more on his shocking announcement, see here, here, here and here.

10:08 AM PT: Boehner opens by singing “My, oh my, what a wonderful day,” and then starts a laundry list of Republican accomplishments (pause to laugh).

10:10 AM PT: Reiterates that he originally planned to only serve two terms as speaker, but Eric Cantor’s primary loss changed his mind. Says he then planned to leave at end of year, but “it’s become clear” that the long fight over his speakership would do “irreparable harm.”

10:10 AM PT: Says he woke up this morning and decided “Today’s the day I’m going to do this. Simple as that.”

10:12 AM PT: So far, no tears.

10:13 AM

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John Boehner press conference on his resignation

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wipes away tears during his remarks at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring members of the First Special Service Force at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 3, 2015. The

Probably.

After bailing earlier Friday morning, soon-to-be former Speaker of the House John Boehner will be speaking to the press shortly. Follow his remarks here.
For more on his shocking announcement, see here, here, here and here.

10:08 AM PT: Boehner opens by singing “My, oh my, what a wonderful day,” and then starts a laundry list of Republican accomplishments (pause to laugh).

10:10 AM PT: Reiterates that he originally planned to only serve two terms as speaker, but Eric Cantor’s primary loss changed his mind. Says he then planned to leave at end of year, but “it’s become clear” that the long fight over his speakership would do “irreparable harm.”

10:10 AM PT: Says he woke up this morning and decided “Today’s the day I’m going to do this. Simple as that.”

10:12 AM PT: So far, no tears.

10:13 AM

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Trump supporter asks when we can get rid of Muslims. Trump assures him he’s looking into ‘things’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares

Ladies and Gentlemen, the leading Republican candidate for president, speaking Thursday night at a rally in New Hampshire:

TRUMP: Okay, this man, I like this guy.
UNIDENTIFIED JACKASS: (Unintelligible) We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED JACKASS: You know he’s not even an American.

TRUMP: (Big smile) We need this question. This is (unintelligible).

UNIDENTIFIED JACKASS: But anyway, we have training camps, growing, where they want to kill us. That’s my question: when can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. I mean you know a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there and we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.

Discuss.
Full video below the fold.

Thu Sep

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Trump insults Carly Fiorina’s looks, then says ‘I’m not talking about look’

Donald Trump, CPAC 2011

(Offered without comment)

Here’s Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s leading candidate for president, with his deep thoughts on Carly Fiorina, one of his opponents for the 2016 nomination:

… Trump’s expression sours in schoolboy disgust as the camera bores in on Fiorina. “Look at that face!” he cries. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! … I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

And doing Trump-style damage control this morning:

“Probably I did say something like that about Carly,” Trump said. “I’m talking about persona. I’m not talking about look.”

Uh huh. Or he’s a jackass and a liar. You make the call.

Mr. Trump: Don’t build that wall!

Border wall which previously divided Phillippstal, West Germany from Vacha, East Germany.

Border wall which previously divided Phillippstal, West Germany from Vacha, East Germany

The photo above was taken in 1987, when I was a 19-year-old private first class in the U.S. Army. My unit, Co. D, 54th Engineer Battalion, was attached to the 1/11 Armored Cavalry Regiment. We were a part of the 1/11 ACR’s rotation on the inner-German border. While the Berlin Wall got most of the press, there was a combination of walls, fences, minefields, and other obstacles dividing East and West Germany.
From the the West German side of the border, we primarily watched the East Germans/Soviets, and what they were up to. On the other side of the border, they did watch us, too. But their primary mission was not to keep people out of East Germany—it was to keep people in.

The inner German border will forever be a part of who I am. Two

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Unicornomics

Farmville Dream Unicorns loading page

Unveiling the Congressional Budget Office’s latest long-term forecast this week, new CBO Director Keith Hall made an unremarkable statement. “The evidence,” Hall explained, “is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves.” For the overwhelming majority of economists, or just about anyone familiar with the U.S. budget since Ronald Reagan first took the oath of office, Hall’s conclusion is about as close to a self-evident truth as his profession can offer.
But for Republicans and their conservative water carriers, Hall’s remark came as an unpleasant surprise indeed. After all, congressional Republicans chose Hall over incumbent Douglas Elmendorf precisely to implement “dynamic scoring” models. These would show the GOP’s tax-cutting schemes wouldn’t hemorrhage red ink, thanks to amped-up economic growth the cuts themselves would magically produce. Worse still, virtually every one of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates is counting on Arthur Laffer’s 40-year-old myth and other

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GOP a threat to U.S. economy, say economists

While all eyes have been focused on the worldwide stock market plunge, a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal identified a different threat to the vitality of the U.S. economy. But it’s not the instability of Chinese stock prices, the devaluation of our currency, the Eurozone’s Greek tragedy, or even a premature Fed interest rate hike that has WSJ’s economists so concerned. Instead, the fear is that the GOP-controlled Congress will once again precipitate a fiscal crisis this fall.
Despite pledges from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that his party will not shut down the government or once again hold the debt ceiling hostage, the Journal’s round table isn’t convinced:

After watching Congress repeatedly crash into fiscal deadlines in recent years, a majority of economists are expecting a repeat performance, with 55 percent of respondents to the latest Wall Street Journal survey of 62 economists–not

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The Holocaust, slavery, and the Republicans’ routinely repulsive rhetoric

In the course of American and world history, slavery and the Holocaust are sui generis cataclysms. Any comparisons—especially casual ones—to the Nazi genocide of European Jewry and the bondage and oppression of African Americans necessarily diminish these unique and unparalleled horrors. To seriously equate the ordinary to the almost unimaginable is a special kind of blasphemy that rightly prompts most reasonable people to recoil in disgust.
Sadly, the ranks of reasonable people apparently don’t include many of the leading lights of the Republican Party and its amen corner in the conservative movement. Over just the past several days, former Arkansas governor and 2016 GOP White House hopeful Mike Huckabee accused President Obama of preparing to “march Israelis to the door of the oven” with the Iran nuclear deal. Conveniently forgetting 50 years of history during which the GOP welcomed Southern conservatives, the Klan, and the Confederate flag with open arms,

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McConnell and Hatch voted for fetal tissue research

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledged this week to fast-track a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. But the move to strip the organization of some $528 million in annual funding from the federal and state governments is more than a little ironic.
It was about Planned Parenthood, after all, that the then number two ranking Senate Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona acknowledged his 30-fold error that “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does” is related to abortion introduced the “not intended to be a factual statement” defense into the GOP lexicon. As Texas Governor Rick Perry learned the hard way in 2012, defunding the women’s healthcare group would have tripled expenses for his state. (As the Guttmacher Institute explained, “every dollar spent on publicly funded family planning services saves $7.09 in public expenditures.) And Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, hadn’t

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