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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
'And furthermore ...'
Ah, the political roast. Those glorious annual events in which politicians and the press get together and say terrible but perfectly true things about each other for charity:
“We don’t give a s--- about this or any of you,” Christie, a 52-year-old Republican who is considering a run for president, said to laughter and applause from about 350 people at a Hamilton banquet hall. He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the s--- out of your ears.”

“This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day,” Christie said of the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club president. “Then just get the f--- away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

We may have found Chris Christie's wheelhouse. He should do this for a living, once he gets the notion of being president out of his system.
Of a car accident involving a reporter on his way to the event, he said: “Why wasn’t the car bigger and why weren’t more of you in it?”
The best part about these things comes in the days afterward, as reporters try to decide what parts were all in fun and which parts (see: Stephen Colbert) were too "mean" for them to enjoy. This particular event is intended to be off-the-record and unrecorded, but some spoilsport recorded it anyway, possibly because they intended to make Chris Christie yelling swear words their new ringtone. No, it wasn't me.
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President Obama devoted his weekly address to those who have given their lives in service to the country.
This weekend also reminds us that, around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives. In Afghanistan, our troops now have a new mission—training and advising Afghan forces. John Dawson was one of them. From Massachusetts, he loved the Bruins and the Pats. In April, he gave his life as an Army combat medic—the first American to give his life in this new mission. This Memorial Day, we’ll honor Corporal Dawson as well.

Like generations of heroes before them, these Americans gave everything they had—not for glory, not even for gratitude, but for something greater than themselves. We cannot bring them back. Nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.
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A man hides from the rain under his sign at a Tea Party Patriots rally calling for the repeal of the 2010 healthcare law championed by President Barack Obama, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 24, 2012.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Not satisfied.
According to a new Pew poll, the Republican base isn't too happy with their leaders.
Today, just 41% of Republicans approve of the job their party’s leaders in Congress are doing. [...] And just 37% of Republicans say their party’s leaders are keeping their campaign promises, while 53% say they are not.
The reason they don't approve, though, is because they think House and Senate Republicans aren't doing enough to oppose Barack Obama. Yikes.
The survey finds deep differences in how Republicans and Democrats want President Obama and GOP leaders to deal with issues. Fully 75% of Republicans want GOP leaders to challenge Obama more often; just 15% say they are handling relations with the president about right and 7% say GOP leaders should go along with Obama more often.
Three quarters of Republicans want the party to "challenge" the president more? Short of shuttering government entirely or declaring Texas to be its own country, what would that even look like? Was there something that Republicans agreed with the president on when we weren't looking? Is this a Jade Helm thing?

Greg Sargent:

That doesn’t bode particularly well for what’s ahead. It could complicate things if the Supreme Court guts subsidies for millions, and Republican leaders decide that a contingency fix is a “must-pass” to punt political fallout until after 2016. It could make Republicans dig in even harder against Obama-negotiated Iran and global climate deals. It could complicate the push to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which Obama will demand on the grounds that failure will kill jobs and infrastructure projects around the country.
Along with everything else. If there's any silver lining to this, it's that the Republican base will be pushing the party even farther to the right in the run-up to these next elections. That might be good news for the base, but very bad news for a party that needs to attract (or at least not terrify) more independent-minded voters if they hope to avoid a 2016 shellacking.
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U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum greets patrons at the New Beginnings Restaurant in Kentwood, Michigan, February 28, 2012.  REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
The announcement that Fox News will be limiting the first Republican primary debates to the ten candidates with the highest polling average at the time is not sitting well with candidates who are pretty sure they won't be making even that generous cut.
Likely presidential hopeful Rick Santorum criticized Fox News on Thursday for instituting what he described as "arbitrary" debate criteria. [...]

"The idea that a national poll has any relationship to the viability of a candidate -- ask Rudy Giuliani that, ask Phil Gramm that," the former Pennsylvania senator told National Journal after a speech at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City.

He may have a point. After all, he won Iowa last time around and nobody, not even Rick Santorum, thought he was a viable national candidate!
Santorum said he was "probably the best person to comment on this," because he had only 4 percent in national polls in January 2012, and won the Iowa caucuses anyway. "I don't know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last," he said.
That's the spirit. We can't just have the top ten candidates up on that stage, Fox, we need the ridiculous, absurd, insulting, absolutely batshit crazy candidates up there too. Because when Iowa rolls around, they're the ones most likely to win.
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Mugshots of the Baltimore Police officers who killed Freddie Gray
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced that a grand jury has returned indictments for six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. The officers are Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward M. Nero, Officer Garrett E. Miller, Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., and Officer William G. Porter.

All face charges ranging from assault and involuntary manslaughter to, in the case of Goodson, "Second degree depraved heart murder." The officers are to be arraigned on July 2nd.

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Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in this file photo from May 21, 2009. Cheney, 69, was hospitalized in George Washington Hospital on February 22, 2010 after experienci
No kidding.
In the much-needed pile-on lambasting the most recent round of Iraq War whitewashing, Ex-CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell appeared on the TV to say that yes, the Bush administration lied to the public about the intelligence presented to them. He was the one briefing the White House on that intelligence at the time, and so he is among the most very qualified people on earth to make that assertion. But he didn't pipe up with this at the time, you must understand, because that wasn't his job.
[CHRIS MATTHEWS]: You're the briefer for the president on intelligence, you're the top person to go in and tell him what's going on. You see Cheney make this charge he's got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he knew how to deliver it…and nobody raised their hand and said, "No that's not what we told him." [...]

MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA's best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they're saying on TV.

Given the magnitude of death and destruction unleashed as a result of those misrepresentations, you have to admire the man's devotion to his own job security. A true hero.
MATTHEWS: So you're briefing the president on the reasons for war, they're selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn't. So they're using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted. [...]

MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects.

Add this to the pile, then. There were many, many Americans that knew at the time that the intelligence being presented to justify the Iraq War was weak or simply fraudulent; the case being made against the war at the time relied on U.N. weapons inspectors, nuclear experts, foreign policy experts and others who regularly piped up to say that assertions about "aluminum tubes" or "yellowcake uranium" or an "Al-Qaeda connection" were simply false. The intelligence community knew it as well, which is why the neoconservative team of Cheney, Rumsfeld and so on quickly began to rely on a separate, less rigorous intelligence pipeline of their own design.

The question of whether or not a candidate would go to war knowing what we know now is moot; nearly all of these people supported the war at the time, because it simply would not do to be seen as weak on terror, whether that terror was real or invented, and so we have a very good idea whether they would have supported the war using known-dubious claims unsupported by intelligence. Because they did that thing.

The more salient question (below the fold):

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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
Hang on, we have to savor this for a while:
Chris Christie says the media owes him an apology over the Bridgegate scandal.
Oh yeah, that's the stuff.
“I do believe there's an absolute bias and a rush to judgment. You all know this, you saw the coverage of me 15 months ago. I was guilty, I had done it,” Christie said on CNBC Thursday morning. “Now we're 15 months later, where are the apologies pouring in? Not one thing I said the day after the bridge situation has been proven wrong.”
"... beyond a reasonable doubt, I mean," he did not hasten to add.

And so we are left in the curious position where Chris Christie has had his own staff and associates indicted for doing an illegal thing that endangered the public safety for no other reason than to further the career of Chris Christie, but the man in charge sees his own non-indictment as vindication. As presidential material, no less. He's New Jersey's own Scott Walker, he is.

On Thursday, Christie said the uproar over the lane closures was overblown and covered more than other stories like the IRS scandals or Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

“I think if you objectively looked at it you would say it was. At the time Bridgegate was outgunning, six or seven to one the IRS scandal,” Christie said.

If you're not going to pity him, Chris Christie will pity himself, thank you very much.

Expect Christie to be running on a platform of not indicted. It's a crowded platform, but it at least differentiates him from Rick Perry.

Discuss
An Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias at Dover Air Force Base, Del., April 7. Specialist Candelaria Mejias died April 5 near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when a mine detonated near him during combat ope
Simon Maloy:
New York Times columnist David Brooks was once an enthusiastic backer of George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. He’d write columns for the Weekly Standard – the official journal of bankrupt neoconservative thought – glorifying Bush for his steely-eyed determination and tartly mocking the pansy liberals and other anti-war types who opposed Bush’s righteous exercise in nation-building and freedom-spreading. “History will allow clear judgments about which leaders and which institutions were up to the challenge posed by Saddam,” Brooks prophesied in the March 2003 column, “and which were not.”

That prediction didn’t quite pan out. Yes, the Iraq war ended up being a disaster, but contrary to Brooks’ assurance, the “clear judgments” about who was right and who was wrong about Iraq are still pending, as evidenced by the fact that so many people who got it so terribly wrong haven’t faced any real consequences.



Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Appalachia's Last Chance to Show It Doesn't Have an Obama Problem:

I've written quite a bit about over the last few months about voting patterns in Appalachia.  Beginning with Super Tuesday and then the Potomac primary, the pattern became clear: many counties of Appalachia have voted by margins of over 2 to 1, and sometimes even 9 to 1 for Hillary Clinton.  It's inescapable that race is playing a factor in some voting everywhere, but that it's a much greater factor in Appalachia than anywhere else in America.  Only in Appalachia has Hillary Clinton won huge margins.  As I've written before, Obama does not appear to have a problem with white voters.  However, Appalachia has a problem with Obama.

Last week, before the West Virginia primary, I enlisted the help of Kossack Meng Bomin to make maps that showed the counties where Obama and Clinton have posted big wins.  Obama has posted big wins in overwhelmingly white counties in places across the country.  Clinton has done well in many places.  But her biggest margins, outside of Arkansas and a few counties in Western New York, have almost all been in the counties of Appalachia.  

As was obvious to anyone who was looking at the results of the previous primaries, Clinton coasted to a huge win in West Virginia.  She will again win huge tonight in Kentucky, because, as Markos showed, voters in Kentucky long ago made up their minds.  Some will portray it as evidence that Obama has a problem with white voters.  It won't be.  Rather, it will be further evidence that Appalachia has a problem with Obama.


Tweet of the Day
Alls I'm saying is the Dixie Chicks had better information than my brother.

- former frontrunner Jeb Bush
@LOLGOP



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, we kicked off with a recap of the Pinterest fiasco. Greg Dworkin walked us through his always-excellent APR, with news on Hillary &the 2016 field, David Brooks being terrible, Luis Lang quitting the Gop, and KY-GOV results. Biker menace spreads to Applebee's! Twin Peaks HQ shocked at the clientele attracted by its rogue franchise! Joan McCarter on the looming deadlines on NSA reform, the bin Laden "treasure trove" that has appeared all of a sudden, the  awful "bad intel" dodge, a new TPP-related shell game that pays for "trade adjustment assistance" out of Medicare money, and how Idaho saved kids & defeated Sharia!


High Impact PostsTop CommentsThe Evening Blues

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Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) questions U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on
Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert:
“Everybody else wants to ask that question of, ‘Gee, would you have gone into Iraq if you’d known what you know now?’” Gohmert complained to Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks.

“If President Bush had known that he would have a total incompetent follow him that would not even be able to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq and start helping our enemies and just totally put the Middle East in chaos, then he would have to think twice about doing anything if he had known he would have such a total incompetent leader take over after him,” Gohmert said. “That should be the question.”

You are a very stupid man. You are a very stupid man, and the world is measurably worse for having you in it.
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Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
I don't know how these people remember to keep breathing.
Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, responded to a BuzzFeed News report Wednesday with a statement saying he did not trust Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei over President Obama when it comes to negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

“The headlines accusing me of saying I trust the ayatollah in Iran are false,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement on his website. “Simply reading my actual words in the stories below those headlines shows this. And let me say for the record, I certainly do not trust the ayatollah.”

What he actually said:
“I don’t know, I hate to admit it, but in terms of this framework, do I trust President Obama, or do I trust the Ayatollah? In terms of what the framework actually says? I’m not so sure I’m trusting President Obama on this.”
So his clarification isn't on that he trusts President Obama even a tiny bit more than the hated leader of America's super-scary theocratic enemy, he just needed to clarify to the drooling members of his base that he doesn't trust that Iranian guy either, lest they think he too is a sekrit musslim. So he doesn't trust either the American president or the Iranian theocratic ruler to a roughly equal extent, I guess. I don't know the precise numbers there, he didn't provide a chart.

All right, let's play that always-fun game called Imagine a Democratic Politician Said This. If a Democratic senator spoke to constituents during the run-up to the Iraq War or Not-War and told them "Do I trust George Bush, or Saddam Hussein? I'm not so sure I'm trusting President Bush" here is an approximate list of what would happen to that person.

It would be the top news story on every network. It would be the topic of discussion on every cable punditry show, on all channels. The senator would be called un-American in newspaper columns. Other senators would hold a press conference to denounce that senator's statements. That senator would need to give, at minimum, a press conference apologizing for his remark. The senator's staff would be inundated with furious phone calls. That senator would get hate mail. That senator would likely receive anthrax in the mail, and several letters containing a white powdery substance that looked like anthrax, but was not. Bullets might or might not be fired at the senator's in-state offices. The quote would be featured on every campaign mailer funded by every PAC in that senator's next election: Senator SoAndSo says he trusts Saddam Hussein more than our own president. He would be branded a traitor.

Sen. Ron Johnson, on the other hand, can tell a town hall full of his supporters that when it comes down to trusting President Obama or the ayatollah of Iran, he is "not so sure" he trusts the American president more. And the only clarification he needs to give is one condemning the idea that he trusts the ayatollah either, lest his frothing base of God's worst humans get a bee in their bonnets over that one.

And, presumably, that will be the end of that.

You know, I really do think this current crop of conservative legislators is the dumbest we've ever had. You have to credit the tea party Republicans for that one—they know what they want, and by golly if it can ooze its way into a suit and tie they'll vote for it—but I also think the media has been ratcheting down their own expectations as a result. There's no way to write a news article that truly conveys the empty craptacularness that is a Ron Johnson, and it's not like there are that many fresh Republican faces that are much better, so the pundit class all just grits their teeth and tries their best to present all of this as the new normal.

Discuss
New Jersey Governor Chris Christiestands on stage before being sworn in for his second term as governor in the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey, January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie takes on civil liberties, domestic espionage, and the stupid Founding Fathers.
“And there are going to be some who are going to come before you and are going to say, ‘Oh, no, no, no. This is not what the Founders intended,’” he said. “The Founders made sure that the first obligation of the American government was to protect the lives of the American people, and we can do this in a way that’s smart and cost-effective and protects civil liberties. But you know, you can’t enjoy your civil liberties if you’re in a coffin.”
That Patrick Henry fellow offered up give me liberty or give me death. Christie disagrees.

Christie still seems to consider himself a presidential contender, God knows why, which was why he was in the Live Free or Die-motto-having state of New Hampshire. (No word on whether their motto also has to go. Perhaps it can live on under a Chris Christie presidency as an ironic reminder of the before-times.) Like the other Republican candidates, he appears to be running on the need for more of everything that 9/11 brought us; more surveillance, more Patriot Acts, more money and more dying in more wars, and in general more of the pants-wetting terror that is required of the general public in order to stomach the things each of these Republican candidates want to do to them. So Christie is breaking out the have you forgotten 9/11 card, which he presumably nicked from under Rudy Giuliani's pillow.

“The thing that’s demoralizing to me is I think there are so many sectors of our country who haven’t forgotten 9/11 -- everyone will always remember 9/11 -- but have forgotten what 9/11 felt like,” Christie said. “I can remember a week afterwards, they canceled our kids’ soccer games for a week. The next week, we had soccer. I can remember standing on this big open field in our suburban town in New Jersey, and an airplane flew overhead, and we all jerked up and looked up. We never used to do that. And we don’t do it now. We did it then. That’s what I’m talking about. What did it feel like for us? That’s what terror does to you.”
Don't you wish we could feel like that again, America? That we could go back to blind panic over little things, and pass bizarre laws, and just trust our leaders to do whatever the hell they wanted? Don't you miss the fun times of calling anyone who opposed the Republican administration a traitor, or anti-American, or telling them that they did not understand 9/11 like you understood 9/11?

You can almost hear the wistfulness in his voice. Good times, they were. A conservative could really get things done back then.

Discuss
U.S. Republican Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham talk during the Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House in Washington February 23, 2009.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   (UNITED STATES)
Lindsey Graham took to the airwaves yesterday to answer the what we know now question himself. He turns in an effort that manages to match Jeb Bush's half-week debacle in a single brief appearance.
"If I knew then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer," Graham told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room," detailing the record of abuse and rogue behavior by Saddam Hussein. "He had a lot to do with destabilizing the region."

Graham later said he would have "kept the pressure to get rid of Saddam," though he did not detail what that would mean.

Would he invaded, knowing that all the so-called "intelligence" was bunk? He might have. He might not have. He would have done it differently, perhaps using fewer troops and more weaponized Roombas, but he's not telling. The mark of a very serious politician is that when someone asks you a question about which choice you would have made in a matter of utmost national importance, you answer "all of them."
"At the end of the day, I blame President Obama for the mess in Iraq and Syria, not President Bush," Graham said.
Another well-worn conservative trope. This one requires you to believe that Iraq was going Just Peachy when George W. Bush left office, and that a precipitous withdrawal by the next president is the reason for all our troubles today. It more conspicuously requires you to forget that the troop withdrawal plans were negotiated by the Bush administration, and that straying from the Bush-crafted, Iraq-demanded negotiated withdrawal would have amounted to an illegal occupation.

Graham says what we need now is 10,000 troops in Iraq. These would be military advisers, training the Iraqi army to stop losing so badly to a Mad Maxian force of other nations' rejects. Otherwise we'll all die.

"It will take us thousands of American soldiers over there to protect millions of us back here at home," the South Carolina Republican added.
So that's what the "serious" Republican foreign policy looks like. You'll note it doesn't look any different than the "un-serious" foreign policy; this, I presume, speaks for itself.

And again, as an ongoing reminder, what we know now is itself a dodge. We knew at the time that the intelligence being used to promote the war was flawed or simply fictional. Those pushing for war didn't care.

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