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Former Arkansas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee addresses supporters during the third session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 29, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES  - Tags: PO
And then there were ... [counts on fingers] ... six Republicans running for president. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his run Tuesday morning at an event in his doubly symbolic birthplace of Hope, Arkansas. Naturally, Huckabee's announcement featured the hottest and most relevant entertainment:
Tony Orlando, a music start from the 1970s, is performing a song in Hope he wrote for Mike Huckabee called "America is my hometown."
@jameshohmann
What, no Ted Nugent? No Duggars?

Huckabee also signaled an entertaining campaign to come on his own merits:

“I never thought about using a firearm to murder someone”  — Huckabee, 2016
@samsteinhp
Not to mention that "As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism, we will conquer it. We will deal with jihadis just as we would deal with deadly snakes." In short, this should be entertaining.
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U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to reporters with a Secret Service agent looking on (L) in an auto shop as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monti
Political junkies, even relatively casual ones, have long known that as soon as she stepped back into partisan politics, Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings would drop. During her time at the State Department and in private life, Clinton was an extremely popular figure, but we knew that would take a hit once she was under attack by Republicans and represented a choice on the ballot. The question was how big a hit and how she would compare to leading Republican candidates, and a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal has some preliminary answers:
In the new NBC/WSJ poll, Clinton's favorable/unfavorable rating stands at 42 positive, 42 negative (even) - down from 44 percent positive, 36 percent negative in March (+8).

Still, that break-even rating exceeds the fav/unfav scores for Republicans Marco Rubio (22 percent positive, 23 percent negative), Scott Walker (15 percent positive, 17 percent negative), Rand Paul (23 percent positive, 28 percent negative) and Jeb Bush (23 percent positive, 36 percent negative).

In head to head match-ups, Rand Paul comes the closest to Clinton, trailing by just three points while Bush and Rubio trail by six and Walker by 10. And then there's this:
The Latino Vote: In new NBC/WSJ poll, Hillary leads both Jeb (66%-28%) and Rubio (63%-32%) among Latino voters
@mmurraypolitics
I guess Marco Rubio isn't a magic solution to Republican problems with Latino voters, after all. Gee, who could possibly have foreseen that?

Obviously, Clinton's name recognition is much higher than that of the Republicans, so they have more room to define themselves positively or be defined negatively by opponents. But so far, the drop in Clinton's favorables is no more than you'd expect given the relentless Republican attacks she's already facing, and her likely Republican opponents don't look poised to catch up with her—not to mention that they have to climb over each other to get to the nomination to begin with.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles after delivering the keynote address at the Women in the World summit in New York April 23, 2015.   REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RTX1A1P6
Remember when she already testified to committees in both the House and Senate about Benghazi?
The back-and-forth over when and about what Hillary Clinton will testify to the House Benghazi Committee continues. Because of course it does, what with Republicans wanting to drag out the process as much as possible in an ongoing attempt to create scandal. The big question these days is whether Republicans are more interested in talking about Benghazi itself or about Clinton's emails. House Benghazi Czar Trey Gowdy tried to get Clinton to submit to a private interview on the emails before a public Benghazi hearing, only to have her say no thanks, she'd rather do both publicly and at the same time:
David Kendall, Clinton's lawyer, said Clinton would testify once on both topics, on a day designated by the committee during the week of May 18th or later.

"On such day, she will stay as long as necessary to answer the committee's questions, but will not prolong the committee's efforts further by appearing on two separate occasions when one will suffice," Kendall wrote in a letter delivered on Monday.

The likely Republican play is to start out with hours of questions on Clinton's emails, then declare her answers on that topic inadequate and refuse to ask her about Benghazi as time runs out, "forcing" them to call her back to talk about the ostensible subject of their entire committee. Gowdy has made clear that since Clinton did not personally vet every single one of her emails and decide which to turn over to the State Department, but had a lawyer do it, he won't accept her personal assurance that everything relevant was turned over. David Corn writes:
Clinton is trying to avoid being so cornered. On Monday, Kendall sent a letter to Gowdy, asserting there was no need for two rounds of testimony. "Respectfully," he wrote, "there is no basis, logic, or precedent for such an unusual request." Clinton, he added, was prepared to come before the committee and stay as long as necessary to answer all queries about the Benghazi attack and her emails. Kendall reminded Gowdy that Clinton has already testified about Benghazi before other House and Senate committees (which, by the way, have found no wrongdoing or conspiracies on her part). In a not-so-veiled jibe at Gowdy, Kendall noted that Clinton "believes that the Members of the Committee are able to decide how much they will focus on the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, including what can be done to keep those who serve our country safe—and how much they will focus on how she e-mailed."

After all this parrying, the question is, does Gowdy want to have Clinton testify about the what transpired in Benghazi (and Washington) and proceed with the investigation—the House GOPers have already spent more time investigating Benghazi than Congress devoted to the Iran-contra scandal—or does he want to play cat and mouse with Clinton far into the election cycle?

Let's take that as a rhetorical question. Benghazi was always an excuse for Republicans to go looking for a scandal to attach to first President Obama and then Hillary Clinton. In a move many voters will remember from previous episodes between Republicans and the Clintons, the initial investigation has now turned up something else—Clinton's emails—that Republicans are hoping will be juicier campaign fodder than Benghazi. Because let's face it, the only voters who care about Benghazi are voters who were never in a million years going to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Discuss

Tue May 05, 2015 at 07:00 AM PDT

Cartoon: Texas takeover

by Jen Sorensen

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill


(Click to enlarge)

For more info on the "Jade Helm 15" set of conspiracy theories, this TPM article offers a nice rundown. Fears are so widespread that Wal-Mart literally just issued a statement denying involvement in a U.S. military invasion of Texas.

To think we could have had Wendy Davis as Governor instead of Greg Abbott... it is to weep.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy
Leading Off:

FL-Sen: On Monday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee offered its endorsement to Rep. Patrick Murphy, making him the third candidate to earn the group's formal backing this year. The committee also joins a long list of Murphy supporters, including several members of Congress, approximately half the Democrats in the state legislature, and ex-Gov. Charlie Crist.

The move might be aimed at dissuading Rep. Alan Grayson from pursuing a Senate bid of his own, but the wealthy Grayson, who has a big donor list and can also self-fund, isn't likely to be deterred by such a development. Indeed, his only response was to scoff:

"Florida Democratic voters choose our party nominee, not out-of-touch party bosses sipping cognac in a smoke-filled room in Washington, D.C."
D.C.'s had a smoke-free workplace law in effect for almost a decade, so this Tammany-esque imagery is probably as alien to average folks as rotary phones and 8-tracks. Be that as it may, despite his characteristic brashness, Grayson is proceeding cautiously. He went on Fox News Radio on Friday to tell Alan Colmes he'll decide whether to run "in the next 30 days," and he recently informed Roll Call that he's "doing the kind of due diligence that one does before announcing, looking at polls, things like that."

So while Grayson may profess not to care about what the DSCC thinks, he evidently does care—somewhat surprisingly—about what the polling says. But there's a lot polls can't tell you, particularly because both Murphy and Grayson have limited name recognition, and that's where historical knowledge, pattern recognition, and intuition all come in. Most strategists believe the centrist Murphy would make the stronger general election candidate, while many progressive activists are convinced the outspoken Grayson would motivate voters better. It's clear which side the DSCC comes down on.

But more worrisome than the possibility that Democrats might put forward the weaker of two candidates is the prospect of a nasty primary sapping resources from the eventual nominee and damaging his reputation, making it that much harder for the party to pick up this open seat. Grayson has already publicly sniped at Murphy, so the idea that we might see a clean fight focused on the issues doesn't seem especially likely. That's why Murphy and the DSCC are still hoping that Grayson will stay out. Grayson has said he'll "probably" run, but who knows? Maybe he won't like what his polls have to say after all.

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We'll get back on track with the news after yesterday's "free form" special. Greg will get us started with a grounding in reality, and I'll derail it all with wild tangents into our recurring themes.

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Fiorina and Carson formally join the 2016 race. Noted crazy person goads with a "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest, curiously herding her flock into a "gun-free zone," though they all miraculously survive. Guns Everywhere Georgia GunFAIL roundup: The Gwinnett Co. Sheriff accidentally shoots a real estate agent at a model home showing, and 1-year-old kids are accidentally shot on three successive days in Augusta, Macon & the AL border town of Phenix City. Republicans resume reconciliation rumblings. In the wake of a spectacular drone strike story and the Baltimore uprising, how did Rand Paul suddenly become invisible on two issues he says are top priorities? Hot topic: current policing crisis and the Clinton crime bill. Can you run from the cops? Depends where you are! 7th circuit upholds local assault weapons ban. Mutual funds and inequality. Are they the new trusts?

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

I'm Feeling Haikuish

Carly, Huck and Ben
So many hats in one ring
Jeb revs Steamroller

Japanese art
Century-old man
Nepal quake says: time's up, gramps
Reply: not yet, bub

Loaded pistol sits
in Capitol bathroom stall
Gift from Glock Fairy?

This trade treaty rocks!
But you can't ever see it
It would melt your face

Finally! Feels like spring
Leopard thong snaps into place
Down go neighbor's blinds

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Poll

Of the presidential candidates who have declared in the past week, which one do you believe has the best ideas for dealing with the absurd level of economic inequality in the U.S.?

1%38 votes
1%32 votes
96%2609 votes
0%17 votes

| 2697 votes | Vote | Results

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We begin today's roundup with Michael Brendan Dougherty at The Week who analyzes the GOP's circus of candidates:
A brain surgeon with no particular feel for politics. A business executive who lost the only election she ever entered. And the most famous graduate of Ouachita Bible College, who made a stop in the Arkansas' governor's house before becoming a talk-show host. Just throw Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee on the pile.

It's already a big pile: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio are official. Jeb Bush is officially unofficial, just as Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and George Pataki are. Lindsey Graham and John Kasich are unofficially unofficial. But they are thinking about it! A few of these would-be candidates are sure to find the likelihood of embarrassment too great, and will stop before they officially start. But I'm betting that the first debates will include 10 or more candidates. [...]

There is broad agreement among elite Republicans that the sheer number of serious and unserious candidates may hurt the party. It crams the debate stage, elicits shallow questions, and reduces the nationally televised answers to the tiniest sound-bites or hand-raises. It's bad for the party, and the country. It's also a can't-lose deal for any would-be candidate willing to endure flights to Des Moines and house parties in Nashua.

Dana Milbank writes about Ben Carson's "over-the-top ego":
The video, which Carson’s campaign says was set to the music of hip-hop producer Alexi von Guggenberg, is delightfully over the top. And this is why Carson’s long-shot candidacy should be such an exciting addition to the presidential race. His positions, his provocations and his showmanship are all delightfully over the top. Since coming to prominence a few years ago when he blasted President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, he has called Obama a psychopath, compared the United States to Nazi Germany, and labeled Obamacare the worst thing since slavery. [...]

Carson has little in common with the political class but for one thing: his absolute confidence in his own greatness — as seen again in his kickoff extravaganza. A lengthy, multi-group musical performance preceded his kickoff speech Monday morning at the Detroit Music Hall. The program included “America the Beautiful,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and, of course, a screening of the Rushmore-Lincoln-King-Carson video.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.
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In case you can't see the video here, try this link.

This video debuted on the third season of Inside Amy Schumer on April 21. Now it's going viral on social media. And for good reason. Christine Nangle, one of the show's writers, told Cosmopolitan in an interview:

I had the idea [for the birth control sketch] in 2012. [...] I remember when [stories about birth control] died down a little bit I was like, "Oh man, I wish I could have done that idea," and then also being excited and super disappointed that birth control became topical again [with Hobby Lobby]. It was like, "How are we still fighting about this? ... Oh shit, I had a funny take on this!" Unfortunately it will be topical again in the future.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004A View From Two Oceans:

Rice in TV plea over abuse photos
US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice took to Arab airwaves to appeal for trust from a sceptical public after a scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody. "We have a democratic system that holds people accountable for their actions," Rice said on Al-Jazeera satellite television station, which is widely seen across the Arab world and by Arab and Muslim communities elsewhere. "The president guarantees that those who did that be held accountable," Rice said in remarks dubbed into Arabic by the station.   

US troops 'told to abuse prisoners'
Abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers may be widespread and orchestrated by US intelligence agencies including the CIA, it has been claimed. A secret investigation by a US General into abuse allegations uncovered "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" of prisoners to soften them up for interrogation. Meanwhile, lawyers for some of the soldiers shown humiliating Iraqi detainees in photographs claimed that the service men and women were following orders.

There's more in the extended text. But clearly the US is not being spared. The snips are from a Blair-friendly Brit paper (PA via the Times).

Tweet of the Day
In 1978, a student working minimum wage job could pay for 4 year of college with no debt. If only that were true today. #BraveNewEdu
@bravenewfilms


On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Fiorina and Carson are in. Noted crazy person goads with a "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest, curiously herding her flock into a "gun-free zone," though they all miraculously survive. Guns Everywhere Georgia GunFAIL roundup: Gwinnett Co. sheriff accidentally shoots a real estate agent at a home showing; 1 year-old kids accidentally shot three days in a row in Augusta, Macon and Alabama border town of Phenix City. Republicans resume reconciliation rumblings. Drone strikes. Baltimore. Where's Rand? Policing crisis and the Clinton crime bill. Can you run from the cops? Depends! 7th Circuit Court upholds assault weapons ban. Mutual funds and inequality. Are they the new trusts?




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In a weekend with a lot of entertainment distractions, including a boring "fight of the century," thoroughbred horses running around a Kentucky track, and possibly the first NFL Draft where Jets fans weren't booing or weeping afterward, Avengers: Age of Ultron scored the second-biggest domestic opening ever, taking in $191.3 million. It was a forgone conclusion this film would pull in money, but just how much was an open question. And if you were looking for the first signs the superhero trend among filmgoers is dissipating, this doesn't seem to be the "bomb" that's going to unravel the entire concept.

We're currently in an age of serialization with movies. Most of the big film properties over the past decade have been multi-installment franchises (e.g., The Hunger Games, Fast & Furious, Star Wars, Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, etc.). And the result is that television has become the medium for risks and experimentation, with big movie actors agreeing to do things like True Detective and House of Cards, while film has become the domain for action movies based largely on young adult literature and comic books. No other franchise exemplifies that change, or been as successful, as the Marvel Studios films.

Unlike the first Avengers film, reviews are not as glowing among critics this time around. Writer-director Joss Whedon's talent for constructing dialogue between the characters is still there, and the best parts of the movie are when the characters interact, joke and feel like real people trying to deal with stuff that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Things go boom and people fly around the screen in fun ways. But Age of Ultron suffers from some of the shifts from the source material, while throwing too many characters and too much unnecessary plot into the mix.

Continue below the fold for more.

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Real Time with Bill Maher was worth watching this week. Most of the sparks of consequence occurred in the Overtime segment. Bill Maher's main panel consisted of Fmr. Rep. Jane Harman, Republican neocon Dan Senor, and actor/political commentator/comedian D.L. Hughley.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz appeared to introduce his new book The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them. He described President Obama's inability to fulfill many of his promised middle-class centric policies while fulfilling many for the wealthy as cognitive capture. It is likely that the same phenomenon, cognitive capture, is the reason for his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Chess champion Garry Kasparov pretty much made a one dimensional fool of himself by his continued existence in a Cold War mentality. He may be a great chess player but he is not very smart or intuitive outside that realm.

The best part of Overtime, however, was when D.L. Hughley watched Republican neocon Dan Senor in a most assertive rant. Senor slammed President Obama's new Iran agreement. D.L. Hughley stayed quiet most of the time but was impatient to get something out.

"Isn’t hearing somebody who was so wrong about a war lecture you about what is going on now like Kim Kardashian telling how to be a wife," said D.L. Hughley. "It's kinda like that. I just know that so many mistakes were made, and they were argued just like this, so many points and facts and figures. And it was so wrongheaded that we will suffer for that for decades. And how you all speak with such certainty and if you were right we wouldn't be in the situation we are in right now."

It was obvious that Dan Senor felt deflated at that moment as Hughley broke his rhythm. Bill Maher piled on. "I could ask you the same question I asked Professor Stiglitz out there. I mean, 60 billion was the estimate from Rumsfeld and George Bush and ended up costing over 4 trillion dollars. What else can you be so wrong about? Where else could you even be close to that wrong?"

Dan Senor came back with a lame response. "You could say we won the war against Al Qaeda when we haven't." It was an attack on President Obama's statement that Al Qaeda was on the run. Bill Maher asked if that is really comparable. Dan Senor conceded that he did not know if it was comparable but that it was a big deal. What was Bill Maher's response?  "WOW."

There was a learning moment here. Neocons and those on the right are loud and are good at talking points. When they are challenged with irrefutable realities they crater and where able, they run. It is imperative that one engages them and not allow their fallacies to cauterize.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces a newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, January 9, 2013. Arpaio plans to start deploying a volunteer posse to Phoenix-area schools as part of a new program to boo
The $10 million man
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has cost the people of his county nearly $45 million in lawsuits that were filed by victims whose civil rights were violated—people who were unfairly harassed, illegally detained or arrested, tortured or even killed. Arpaio was charged by the Department of Justice with abuse of powers, and a federal judge ruled that his office engages in racial profiling. The former county attorney and most of the sheriff's senior staff have been disbarred or fired for their role in helping to build Arpaio's police state.

Currently Sheriff Arpaio is in the middle of a civil contempt hearing for ignoring federal court orders to cease his immigration patrols and turn over evidence. Previous to the hearing, Arpaio admitted his guilt and tried to block the contempt hearing by offering to donate $100,000 to a civil rights organization. The judge declined that offer and the hearing began last month. During the first phase of the proceedings, which continue next month, Arpaio revealed that his attorney had hired a private detective to investigate the judge's wife. You can't make this shit up.

Here's something else that's hard to swallow: Sheriff Arpaio will run for re-election again in 2016, when he'll be 84, and unless he's jailed or otherwise prevented from running due to his legal battles, he will likely win. No strong candidates have registered to oppose him next year, and the few who have haven't raised a dime. Meanwhile, Arpaio's campaign has pulled in $5.5 million over the past two years, and more dollars are flowing in as a result of the federal charges, which nativists are spotlighting nationally.

"We have seen an uptick in fundraising. Whether it's related to this case, I don't know," said Chad Willems, Arpaio's campaign manager. "A flurry of calls have come into the office, with people saying they want to contribute, whether it's with a credit card or check."
Arpaio's professional fundraisers have been paid millions to wring every dollar possible from an active donor list of 250,000 people in all 50 states—suckers who love the sheriff's get-tough attitude, his anti-immigration yap, the birther investigation BS and the giant middle finger he constantly shoves in the Fed's face.

The current contempt charge provides the perfect fundraising tool: an "us-against-them" victimization scheme that turns a negative situation into a positive money-maker, and it appears to be working. The Arizona Republic reports that Arpaio currently has $2 million in his war chest and he hopes to raise at least $5 million more, with the possibility of reaching $10 million for a county sheriff's race! Heck, most Arizona congressional candidates in 2014 didn't even spend $1 million.

People often ask: How and why do voters in Maricopa County keep electing this blowhard? He costs you money and he's not a good lawman. But it matters little to his base that, in addition to the millions in lawsuits, his office misspent nearly $100 million on tanks and other toys. Nor does it matter that he mishandled hundreds of child sex abuse cases. The wingers don't care, they really don't.

Truth is, if it were up to longtime residents Joe Arpaio would not win—it's generally newer voters, often retirees in places like Sun City, who form his base. Also, if it were up to voters in Phoenix, Tempe and other urban areas, he would not win as his support lies mostly in outlying regions, which this 2012 election map illustrates. What's even worse is that most of the $10 million Arpaio's fundraisers hope to raise will come from people who don't even live in Arizona. The Maricopa County Democratic Party website says "we need to stand strong and united, determined to defeat Arpaio." And the plan is?

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