Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Con't.

With just over a week left before October 1, Forbes's Stan Collender upped his odds over the weekend of a GOP government shutdown to 75% as Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have all but completely lost control of the Republican rank and file.

In the face of the House and Senate leadership’s effort to come up with a compromise, many primarily Republican anti-abortion groups intensified their demand for a shutdown aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, even if it ultimately won’t be successful. 
House GOP leaders offered to provide ways other than through a continuing resolution for members to demonstrate their opposition to Planned Parenthood, but the Freedom Caucus and its supporters rejected those options as meaningless gestures. The prospect of voting on these alternatives (one of the votes happened in the House last Friday) didn’t stop the shutdown talk and may have further infuriated those opposing funding for Planned Parenthood. 
Meanwhile, the threat to John Boehner continuing as speaker became so real that senior members of the House Republican caucus began to campaign to move up in the leadership ranks if there’s an election. The three top members of the GOP House leadership after Boehner – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) – reportedly were all openly jockeying for position. 
The campaigning then pushed McCarthy and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to announce that they supported Boehner even though having to make such an announcement demonstrated the true weakness of the speaker’s position. 
Adding to the forces working against a CR, Texas Senator and GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz vocally and vociferously supported a shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding during last week’s Republican presidential debate while the three other Republican senators also running for president – Lindsay Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL) and Rand Paul (KY) – either said nothing or were far less strident about it. Cruz’s position put significant added pressure on the other three either to support a shutdown or cede ground in the GOP presidential nomination with a key group of Republican voters. If, as is likely because of Cruz, all four oppose a CR, McConnell’s position on the issue will become untenable.

Now, House Republicans trying to depose Boehner has been a loser bet for years because literally nobody else wants the job, and the mess the GOP is in, a mess of their own creation, is exactly why. But the Planned Parenthood garbage, getting completely beaten on the Iran nuclear deal, and 2016 primaries being right around the corner makes it far more likely that the GOP in the House or Senate will do something monstrously stupid and shut down the government for a while, and as Collender says, Boehner's position is too weak to stop it.  Nancy Pelosi's price to bail his ass out will rightfully be high and she'll win.

The wild card remains the Senate.  Cruz already shut the place down once before.  Voters refused to punish this behavior and effectively rewarded the Republicans with more House seats and the Senate as a result.  Marco Rubio may still try to be the voice of "moderate "reason, but Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Lindsey Graham are running in the low single digits and have to do something to stay in the 2016 race, and that "something" is likely going to make for a very long October for America.

Even Collender admits that the 75% prediction is optimistic.  I think the odds at this point are close to 95% if not 99%.

But as Greg Sargent points out, it's a massive con job by the GOP.

Their argument that Democrats will take the blame for a shutdown isn’t actually about somehow spooking Dems into fearing this fight or persuading GOP leaders to adopt this shutdown strategy and stick to it. They know GOP leaders won’t actually do that. Rather, their argument is targeted to conservatives voters: it’s designed to keep alive the illusion that there was indeed a way to win the battle if only GOP leaders had the stomach to see it through to the end.

Enhancing the hall of mirrors effect in play here, this is exactly what makes it possible to simply repeat the same argument two years later. The fact that Republicans lost previous government shutdown fights, which should ideally cast doubt on that argument and strategy, is — poof! — easily transformed into more fodder for the idea that Republicans only lose these fights due to a failure of will. Republican Congressional leaders have become the preferred pummeling dummies for presidential candidates who want to persuade conservative primary voters that they have cracked the code that has tormented them for years: Why can’t the GOP succeed in rolling back the Obama agenda?

Shutdowns cannot fail, they can only be failed by "weak Republican leaders" who aren't strong like the Republican senators running for the White House.  So yes, absolutely expect a repeat from 2013 starting next week.

The Papal Chase

Pope Francis's speech this morning greeting President Obama and members of Congress and guests was relatively short, but powerful, as he challenged America to act on climate change directly in front of members of the legislative body the least likely on Earth to do so.

Mr President, 
I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people. 
During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization. 
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it. 
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it. 
We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home. 
The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children. 
Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

We'll see how that goes with his address of Congress, tomorrow, but if this is any indication, Republicans are not going to like what's coming.

And that's fine with me.

So Who's Next Out Of The Clown Car?

Good question.  The Washington Post's Philip Bump crunches the numbers in the aftermath of Scott Walker's disastrous run:

Walker, like many other candidates, saw a bump in the polls shortly after he announced. But the top of that bump wasn't as high as his poll numbers had reached earlier on either nationally or in Iowa, where he was consistently the front-runner for months. He announced, he got the bump -- and then it vanished. 
The vanishing, it's worth noting, happened shortly after the first debate, in which Walker offered an unimpressive performance. 
That sort of erosion isn't as common as it seems. Rick Perry saw it in 2012. Rudy Giuliani saw it when the bottom fell out in 2008. Usually, fade-outs are less steep and more extended. Walker plummeted.

Specifically, Bump found the high point of Walker's national polling since announcing and measured the change in that number, then did that for the rest of the GOP field.

Walker and Perry had the worst drops in national polling averages since announcing.  They are both now out.

The lowest-performing candidate left is now Rand Paul, but the continual zero candidates (Gilmore, Graham, Pataki, Jindal) are still at zero too.  There's not too much pressure on people who started with nothing to leave, they can only go up (case in point, Fiorina.)  However, these guys are to the point of desperation now, needing attention and donors, and are willing to say whatever they need to in order to get both.

Also, both candidates out have been governors who couldn't catch on nationally.  That means Santorum or Christie.

I think Rand Paul will stick around.  He's already invested a lot of cash in his Kentucky GOP caucus scheme in order to be able to run for both offices, dropping out before the caucus and he loses his investment (and he's got his dad's network to fall back on.)  Besides, like the other sitting GOP senators in the race, he's still got his cards to play during the upcoming Shutdown Season, something Perry and Walker didn't have.

Santorum on the other hand, well, let's just say the guy knows what losing looks like, because he's been there before, and he's there now.

I'd keep an eye on him being the next out, if I had to venture a guess.

Going in the other direction, well, it's Trump, Fiorina, and Carson, the three candidates who haven't held office.  Seeing Kasich and Cruz be the only two politicians in office who have improved their positions since announcing is notable.

Keep an eye on them, too.


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