Friday, October 30, 2015

Last Call For A Capital Mistake

Hillary Clinton is in a rather lonely position on the death penalty among Democrats right now, and it's not a good place for her to be.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had planned to focus her remarks Wednesday at a Politics and Eggs breakfast in Manchester, N.H., in support of the politically fraught, if somewhat arcane, issue of the Export-Import Bank and how it helps small businesses in the United States. 
But a voter’s question about the death penalty pushed Mrs. Clinton to confront the heated issue for the first time in the Democratic nominating contest. 
Asked her position on capital punishment, Mrs. Clinton said she did not support abolishing the death penalty, but she did encourage the federal government to rethink it. 
“We have a lot of evidence now that the death penalty has been too frequently applied, and too often in a discriminatory way,” she said. “So I think we have to take a hard look at it.” 
Mrs. Clinton added, “I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states.”

O'Malley and Sanders wanting to correctly abolish capital punishment aside, someone really, really needs to tell Hillary's folks the ship on this has already sailed, thanks to President Obama last week.

Amid new scrutiny of American capital punishment practices, President Barack Obama said in an interview released Friday he was disturbed by the practical effects of the death penalty. 
While Obama said he wasn't opposed "in theory" to killing criminals convicted of heinous crimes, he said that data showing racial biases and wrongful convictions have prompted him to wonder whether the death penalty remains a legitimate tool. 
Obama was speaking to former New York Times editor Bill Keller, who now runs The Marshall Project, a news organization focused on criminal justice issues. 
"There are certain crimes that are so beyond the pale that I understand society's need to express its outrage," he said. "So I have not traditionally been opposed to the death penalty in theory. But in practice it's deeply troubling." 
Saying he's "struggled for quite some time" over the death penalty, Obama also said recent botched executions have led him to wonder whether the application of capital punishment is still legal.

"We know that in the application of the death penalty we've had recent cases, by any standard, it has not been swift and painless but rather gruesome and clumsy," he said. 
In the aftermath of one of those executions gone wrong -- an Oklahoma incident that left an accused murderer writhing and convulsing for several minutes -- Obama asked the Justice Department to conduct a review of death penalty practices.

The death penalty is barbaric and we need to abolish it.  President Obama publicly questioning the legality of it is a big, big move.  For Hillary to come along a week later and say that the death penalty is both legal and justified is a bad, bad look for her.  The Democrats have officially moved away from that, and "safe, legal and rare" isn't going to work here.  Right now it's none of those three.

I'm hoping that she'll change her mind on this going forward.

Meanwhile, In Arkham Asylum...

The train wreck that is the Republican presidential primary campaign has now gone from "the inmates running the asylum" to "the inmates forming their own even crazier asylum, now with Taco Tuesday."

Republican presidential campaigns are planning to gather in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to plot how to alter their party’s messy debate process — and how to remove power from the hands of the Republican National Committee.

Not invited to the meeting: Anyone from the RNC, which many candidates have openly criticized in the hours since Wednesday’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado — a chaotic, disorganized affair that was widely panned by political observers.

On Thursday, many of the campaigns told POLITICO that the RNC, which has taken a greater role in the 2016 debate process than in previous election cycles, had failed to take their concerns into account. It was time, top aides to at least half a dozen of the candidates agreed, to begin discussing among themselves how the next debates should be structured and not leave it up to the RNC and television networks.

The gathering is being organized by advisers to the campaigns of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham, according to multiple sources involved in the planning. Others who are expected to attend, organizers say, are representatives for Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. The planners are also reaching out to other Republican candidates.

Spokespersons for the RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I think the campaigns have a number of concerns and they have a right to talk about that amongst themselves,” said Christian Ferry, Graham’s campaign manager. The objective, Ferry said, was to “find out what works best for us as a group.”

Figuring that out could be contentious as each campaign has a number of different complaints about the process. Some — such as Bush and Paul — have griped about unequal speaking time. Others have complained bitterly about how polling is used to determine who qualifies for the prime-time and undercard debates. Some have insisted on giving opening and closing statements, despite the networks' desire to have the candidates spend as much time as possible clashing with each other on stage.

I imagine the meeting will go something like this.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what these jokers come up with, as the next debate is less than two weeks away on CNBC's rival channel FOX Business.

And the best part?  It just simply hasn't occurred to any of the Dunning-Kruger Clown Posse that the fact that this debate was a screaming disaster was that the CNBC hosts were asking the candidates real questions about economics, and none of them have an economic plan that isn't entirely based in Laffer Curve tax cut fantasy and the ugly reality of trying to sell massive austerity for 90% of America in order to loot the country for the top 1%.

That next debate is also supposed to be about economics, so don't be surprised if it devolves into a mess too.

Pissed Christie's Last Ride

The NY Times has had enough of New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie and is demanding that the Republican drop out of his "vanity" run for President and get back to dealing with all the problems awaiting him in Trenton.

Mr. Christie has been called a lot of things, but until Wednesday’s debate performance, “barely there” was not among them. In eight minutes of speaking time, Mr. Christie said little of substance. As for his parting pitch that he’s “deadly serious about changing this culture” of government, well, his constituents in New Jersey know better. 
This isn’t strictly about Mr. Christie’s fitness for the presidency. His role in New Jersey’s budget crisis, betrayal on affordable housingand the interlocking scandals on his watch, from Bridgegate to “the chairman’s flight,” say a great deal about that. 
The point is that New Jersey is in trouble, and the governor is off pursuing a presidential run that’s turned out to be nothing more than a vanity project. Mr. Christie’s numbers are in the basement, and he’s nearly out of campaign cash. This is his moment, all right: to go home and use the rest of his term to clean out the barn, as Speaker John Boehner would say
Mr. Christie emerged as a national politician because his constituents saw him as a leader who put New Jersey first. His state battered by Hurricane Sandy and his party riven by the Tea Party, he sought needed federal assistance, and if that meant embracing a Democratic president, so what. “So what?” was a positive Christie characteristic back then. One could disagree with his methods, but he managed to make his efforts on behalf of his state seem sincere. 
It must have been rough for those who re-elected him to see him hold forth Wednesday in a debate that centered on the national economy, when he’s been a net failure on the New Jersey economy. On his watch, one of the per-capita richest states in the nation has become one its biggest laggards in economic growth, its budget woes prompting an appalling series of credit downgrades. Mr. Christie’s promises, from fixing the state’s pensions shortfall to its infrastructure, have come to less than nothing. More galling still is that he was not the only such politician on the dais. Since when does shortchanging your home state — looking at you, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal — qualify a public servant to be president?

Two observations:  One, as I said years ago, Chris Christie would have to tilt too far to the right to be able to sell his record as a blue state Republican to 2016 GOP primary voters who hate him.  And two, given the record of the the Republican politicans who have wrecked their states: Perry, Walker, Christie, Jindal, Bush and Rubio, no wonder they are turning to Trump, Carson and Fiorina.  They haven't failed them yet.

Christie has run New Jersey into the ground and continues to face serious questions about using his office to damage his political opponents.  Of course he was never going to win, and he never had a chance.

Not that New Jersey is going to be glad to see him, but he owes the state his best effort to fix the problems he left behind when he ran for the White House.


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